August 15, 2012

Felix Hernandez Perfect Game vs. Tampa Bay


Felix Hernandez just continued his winning ways with a Perfect Game against the Tampa
Bay Devil Rays (at home in Seattle).

This marks the fourth shutout in less than two months for Felix Hernandez. A guy who, for all his accolades, had never had more than 1 shutout in a season up until this year. Now he has 4 complete game shutouts in his last 10 starts.

Of course, there is not much fantasy baseball analysis with Felix since he was expected to be a fantasy front runner in the starting pitching department (albeit with a somewhat weak year the year before). He is one of the safest AL starters in large part because he gets to play in the spacious Safeco Field in Seattle. The complete game shutouts are nice in a matchup league to give you a leg up; even nicer if he pulls them off come fantasy playoff time in September.

Read on for High School Baseball News

September 2, 2008

Best Yahoo Fantasy Player

bigcc.jpg(AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

Normally, hitters seem to carry the most value to me. They play every day whereas sometimes you get as little as 1 start per week from your stud pitcher. Even if Ryan Braun has a poor Monday, he is likely to turn it on and give you a few HR's and a nice average the rest of the week.

This year though I am starting to see the immense value of the Roy Halladay / CC Sabathia types, especially in Yahoo! leagues which have CG's and SO's in their standard scoring.

Sabathia's transformation once joining the NL is worth noting as well. His season started off disastrously in Cleveland, as he gave up 27 runs in 4 games. The K's were still present as was the workhorse-type pitch counts. However, people were blaming the struggles on fatigue from the year before and the amount of innings CC pitched.

After a 6 inning 0 run 11 K effort at Kansas City at the beginning of May, CC slowly began to turn things around. From this day forward, his ERA has gone from 10.13 to 2.82. His ERA as a Brewer is 1.43!!!!! 208 K's in 210 Innings with 9 complete games and 5 shutouts.

In one of my oldest leagues, a buddy of mine's team has been going as CC has gone. Initially CC (and Erik Bedard) were sabotaging his season, but now he is taking CG's / SO's every week, and dominating in K's, ERA and WHIP as well. In that same league, I own Jake Peavy and Johan Santana. They are good, sure, but if you add up the CG's and SO's for their entire career it is similar to what CC has put up this year. Another shutout to add to the total on Sunday at Pittsburgh, in what likely should have been a no hitter for CC.

Clearly, the move to the NL has even bettered CC's situation, though he was starting to turn it around in Cleveland. This will earn him a good chunk of change from someone, possibly those New York Yankees with 90+ million in payroll coming off the books.

Meanwhile, one has to wonder about Johan Santana after seeing Sabathia's move to the NL. Johan's stats were sliding last year, but most assumed an elite, all-world performance was on our hands with his move to an NL superpower. Alas, it has not been the case. Johan is just 12 - 7 with a 2.71 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP, his worst WHIP since his first year in 2003. Looking at his elite years, he was producing between 235-265 K's and 45-55 walks. He has 51 walks already this year with just 169. Still a top pitcher, but not the elite, sure #1 pitcher that he used to be. Combined with the fact that even out of Minnesota (notorious for their pitch counts), he is lacking in the CG / SO department. A recent shutout at Pittsburgh helps with that, but he has just one other CG besides that this year. Considering his ERA / WHIP / K totals are no longer the best in the league, CC has to be considered the #1 SP right now. With maybe Tim Lincecum coming in at 2nd, with his ERA / WHIP / K Totals.

August 19, 2008

Kinsler's hernia forces DL stint

kinslermurphy.jpgDavid Murphy telling Ian Kinsler about the DL (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Terrible news for Ian Kinsler and his fantasy owners yesterday. Hopefully the rest in the offseason will allow him to come back to play as he was in 2008. Kinsler fell off after a brilliant 1st half but still was on pace for a .320 average, 132 runs, 23 home runs, 92 RBI and 34 steals, arguably a better overall season than his rival at 2nd base Chase Utley.

Look for a 'stache by the name of Ramon Vazquez to replace Ian Kinsler at 2nd base. Vazquez has had a fine year playing multiple positions in the infield, mostly third base, and has put up a .309 average 44 runs 6 home runs 39 RBI in 269 at bats. Vazquez could be a useful 2nd baseman in fantasy leagues now that he will be guaranteed playing time and is already eligible at 2nd base, short stop and 3rd base.

Fantasy owners can take solace in the fact that Kinsler had fallen off greatly since the break, and surely most owners noticed this. Now they can play the hot hand at 2nd base (guys like Ian Stewart, Alexei Ramirez) or take a flier on Ramon Vazquez, and they will probably produce close to what Kinsler has in the last month (.277 average, 4 home runs, 18 runs, 13 RBI). Alexei in fact has a .308 average 6 home runs 13 runs 21 RBI in the same span (he is beginning to be owned in every league however).

Those who own Kinsler in a keeper league will have to stash him away on the DL or just absorb a roster spot if there is no DL or it's taken up. Kinsler is one of the very best young players at a scarce position, and he is right up there with Utley and ahead of other 2nd base fantasy studs like Brandon Phillips and BJ Upton.

August 12, 2008

Adam Dunn to DBacks for Prospects

bigadamdunn.jpgPhoto by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

There have been quite a few trades after the trade deadline, none being more important than this deal that sends Adam Dunn to Arizona. The Diamondbacks have been struggling to get runners on base and score runs, and Dunn should provide the ability to walk and get on base along with leading the NL in home runs. Chase Field favors hitters more than any ball park in MLB, but the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati is a renowned hitter's park as well, so his value should not be effected in that sense.

It is unclear exactly what the Diamondbacks plan on doing with their lineup. Conor Jackson will likely stay at 1st, while Adam Dunn plays right field in Justin Upton's absence. Positions will likely be shuffled though to ensure Chad Tracy and Mark Reynolds still play, but also to have Augie Ojeda in as a defensive presence at second. Either way, don't expect this playing time issues to reach Dunn - he will play and play well.

As for Cincinnati, they are at least not losing Adam Dunn for nothing. They get a former top pitching prospect in Dallas Buck, who's star has faded a bit in recent years, and two more prospects to be named later. In the meantime the Reds will lose a lot of power, but will be playing Corey Patterson and Jeff Keppinger all the time and maybe trying out Chris Dickerson in the minors. Of course none of these players will be as fantasy-worthy as Dunn.

August 9, 2008

Cards Wainwright : Closer Starter

Adam Wainwright has recovered from his injury and is pitching in the minors. The bad news is, Wainwright has been told he will close the rest of the season but will be back starting in 2009. For Wainwright owners this is a downer, as he was a borderline #1 fantasy starter with a great whip, K / BB rate, ERA, and a 6-3 record. If you remember in late 2007, Wainwright was dominant as well.

However like John Smoltz in the past, we may be getting an elite closer out of the deal. Ryan Franklin has been inconsistent saving games for the Cardinals and Jason Isringhausen is in dire straights. Chris Perez has flashed some ability, but considering Adam Wainwright's closing performance in the 2006 Playoffs, it is quite likely he will get the finishing role. The Cardinals team is sliding a bit in the standings, but are still good enough to present Wainwright with ample chances to save games.

Wainwright is still a short while away from returning to the big league club. In the meantime you can choose between Franklin and Perez if you are hoping to find a save chance.

July 21, 2008

2nd half 2nd base ranking list

iankinsler.jpg Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Because is it so shallow, 2nd base is the type of position in fantasy baseball that can kill your team if you cannot find an elite or at least efficient player. This holds true this year, though there are many young 2b's with potential that are emerging.

1. Ian Kinsler Texas Rangers - The biggest surprise comes out of Texas, with Ian Kinsler leading all of fantasy baseball in overall rating. Really, Kinsler should be an MVP candidate for the Rangers. Kinsler has cooled off since the break, going 0-11. However Kinsler still sports a .328 batting average with 14 home runs 24 stolen bases 58 RBI and a whopping 84 runs scored. His 24 stolen bases are even more efficient when you consider he has been caught just once.

Kinsler's only question is consistency; he started off last year leading the AL in home runs and stealing a ton of bases, but fell off towards the middle of the season. That decline has not happened this year, and with the offense now in Texas it may not happen. But it is the only thing along with injury that can stop this fantasy juggernaut.

2. Chase Utley Philadelphia Phillies - It is hard to not rank Chase Utley #1 despite his relative struggles coming into the break. Along with Kinsler, Utley still holds top 10 overall value and is yet another middle infield MVP candidate for the Phillies.

Utley's average has dropped under .300 (it's .298) but his 25 home runs 69 runs 70 RBI and 10 stolen bases at the break are hard to complain with. And like Kinsler, Utley bats in a powerful lineup in a hitter's park, leading you to believe these numbers are not going anywhere. Plus, Utley has performed at this level for a few years now. If you have Utley you paid the price to get him, so enjoy it.

3. Brandon Phillips Cincinnati Reds - One of the few 2nd basemen to bat in the 3 or 4 spot of a lineup consistently. Phillips is much like Kinsler except Phillips favors the long ball instead of base stealing. However, Phillips has still been an efficient base stealer with 32 steals in 40 tries last year, and 20 steals in 24 tries this year.

When comparing Phillips 2008 stats to his 2007 stats of last year, it is clear he is on a similar pace. He may not reach the 30 - 30 plateau, but his home runs should settle in the high twenties and he probably will reach 30 bases stolen. He still strikes out a lot and does not walk enough to produce a .350 OBP season, but how many other 5 tool 2nd basemen are there?

4. BJ Upton Tampa Bay Rays - BJ has the talent to be at the top of this list, and early on in 2008 it looked like that potential might be realized. He has been mired in a batting slump of .217 in his last 30 games. Lots of strike outs and not as many walks as he was getting (although he still heads 2b's with walks and has a .380 OBP despite a .271 AVG).

Upton goes ahead of Roberts here because of his potential for power. Both are similar base stealers, who could grab 50 bags a year but both have been caught more than they had planned this year. Upton has 28 steals in 40 tries, not the best percentage and considering the meat in the order behind him, may lead to less stealing opportunities in the future.

He is just 23 years old, so as far as keeper value, Upton has to be somewhere near the top here (though the rest of the elite 2nd basemen aren't exactly old either). Upton has reportedly corrected his swing, so stay tuned to see if BJ can get his average back to .300 and cut some strike outs out of his game.

5. Brian Roberts Baltimore Orioles - Roberts always seems to be that 2B who slides in my drafts past the elite and provides good value compared to the rest of the crop. His power will always be limited, but Roberts quietly has become one of the top base stealers in the MLB.

36 steals in 43 attempts two years ago, 50 steals in 57 attempts last year, and 27 steals in 37 attempts this year. He has already been caught more than the last two years, but Roberts should still net 45+ stolen bases. Roberts had a .290 AVG and .377 OBP last year, and he has a .291 AVG and .373 OBP this year. So not much has changed at the plate, though he has been slugging more doubles and triples.

Remember all of the Roberts to Cubs rumors early in the year? Looks like Roberts will continue to put up his solid numbers at the top of the Oriole lineup.

6. Robinson Cano New York Yankees - Based on his current stats, Cano should not be ranked this high. But few players light it up in the 2nd half like Robinson Cano (at least with the last few years worth of sample size that we have to work with). Will the turn around happen again, after another sub-par 1st half?

A few things are looking up for Cano, namely the fact that he has been hitting better lately (8 for his last 14). Also the Yankees have turned it around, and with some injuries to other members of the lineup, Cano will find himself closer to the middle of that 100 million dollar+ batting order.

Reasons to doubt Cano? He does not steal bases, and even if he tears through the 2nd half, Cano will have a hard time beating last year's .306 average (considering he is hitting .258 right now). With Cano, the thing to watch in the 2nd half is the power. Historically Cano has put up the majority of his home runs and doubles near the end of the season, right when you need it; the fantasy playoffs.

7. Dan Uggla Florida Marlins - What a guy. Few fantasy players have polarizing views quite like Uggla. People either hate him for his power or nothing approach, while fans claim that his immense power (and sneaky runs scored total) make him a valuable commodity at a position that rarely sees 20 home runs hit, let alone 23 home runs at the break.

Uggla had been injured going into the break, surely a reason for his 8 hits / 44 at bat output. Another home run has been hit now that he is back healthy, and look for 35 home runs to be the low number. 40 home runs from Uggla is definitely possible, and if he comes through it will be hard to find a second baseman with as good of value as Uggla has provided. The .278 average is going to drop, but if you can afford a hit in average then jump on Uggla for his power and runs scored.

8. Howie Kendrick Los Angeles Angels - Howie Kendrick is always battling injuries, but is in the lineup and producing with a .345 average in July so far. He never walks and the power is minimal (2 HR's all year, and they were in the same game) but Kendrick can win you average.

Another important factor is Los Angeles' offensive burst now that Vladimir is hitting a little more like the old Vlad, and Chone Figgins is back in the lineup as the sparkplug. Kendrick is at the bottom of the order, but there will still be RBI opportunities (along with guys who can hit Kendrick in).

9. Dustin Pedroia Boston Red Sox - I'm sure Boston fans are groaning at this placement, but I've never been a believer. That said, it's hard to complain with the stats Ped has put up so far this year. More home runs and steals than he put up all of last year, to go with a superior batting average (.322). Dustin has gone 11 for his last 21 and has flourished as summer has come.

Pedroia is nearly on pace for 100 runs scored, though that will likely hinge on the effectiveness of David Ortiz coming back from injury. If you can sell high based on Pedroia's current stats, you're likely to gain value as his 1st half numbers will be hard to replicate.

10. Alexei Ramirez Chicago White Sox - As a White Sox fan, it was a treat to see Juan Uribe supplanted in the lineup. Ramirez is wiry, and many have compared him to Alfonso Soriano. Since coming up a few months into the season, Ramirez has not disappointed.

In just 241 at bats, Alexei has 7 home runs 7 steals and a .311 batting average. He will have to pick his spots on the base paths better (the 7 steals come with 4 caught stealing attempts) but now that he has been moved back to the bottom of the lineup, he will likely have the green light to run more often. Ramirez has been similar to Kendrick in that he does not walk, but that has not prevented him for batting under .300.

This 10 spot might be a little high for a less proven player like Alexei, but few have the talent to really break through as a 5 tool player like Ramirez.

Key fantasy 2nd base trade

Ray Durham (Brewers) - Durham's trade to Milwaukee results in a higher value for him, and Rickie Weeks falls even further down the ladder. Will Durham play everyday now? Or will he switch off and on with Weeks? This would hurt both of their value, but it is hard to see the Brewers moving on completely from a talented player like Weeks especially in favor of a veteran who has seen his best days pass before him.

If you remember in 2006, Ray Durham was a stud in the summer of 06, launching home runs at a ridiculous rate. 26 home runs 93 RBI and a .293 average made Durham a solid 2nd base option. 2007 was a disaster for Durham (.218 average 11 home runs) but Ray has rebounded nicely in 2008 to recover his batting average (back up to .293). The fluky power he displayed is gone, as evidenced by Durham's 3 home runs so far. Still, a high average bat with the potential to steal a few bases and hit a few home runs should be augmented by the fact Durham is in a better hitting lineup.

Rickie Weeks (Brewers) - What do we make of the Weeks situation? Despite the strike outs and .216 average, Weeks still is walking a lot which gives him the opportunity to steal (14 steals in 17 attempts). With that lineup though, Weeks is often times better served waiting for Braun or Fielder or Hart to pound him in instead of risking stealing. This situation will need to be monitored, as either Durham or Weeks could be a solid 2B but playing time is going to decide this battle.

July 16, 2008

All Star game ends in 15 innings

ugglaslam.jpgAP Photo/Kevork Djansezian

What a way to say goodbye to Yankee Stadium. The longest All Star Game in history is bound to keep our fantasy studs tired heading out of the break.

Although most of the positional players were the second-tier types, they put on a great show. Several times the game was close to ending, with both teams protecting home plate and leaving nearly 60 runners left on base throughout the entire game. This is a credit to the pitching on both sides, as there were a lot of questionable roster decisions (Aaron Cook, George Sherrill, Brian Wilson, etc) but each performed well.

How bad must Dan Uggla feel, 0-4 with 3 K's and 3 errors? His two consecutive errors in the 10th inning were seemingly the final nail in the coffin for the NL team. But Aaron Cook took a bases loaded no out situation and got a few ground balls, something he is well versed with.

JD Drew
for the AL team received the MVP, going 2 / 4 with the game tying HR in the 7th.

July 15, 2008

Media must take blame for no Arod

arodmedia.jpgAP Photo/Mary Altaffer

With the Home Run Derby being in Yankee Stadium, baseball tried desperately to bring in superpower Alex Rodriguez to please the local fans. A-Rod declined, even after being asked again once Big Papi David Ortiz could not make it.

One does not need to look hard to figure out the reasons for Alex not participating in the Home Run Derby. He had everything to win with the Derby taking place in his stadium in the last year of it's existence. That said the only option for him was to win as anything less than that would mean A-Rod being cut up in the papers the next day. Especially with all the Madonna / Divorce news circulating with Alex.

This is where the 24 hour media circus ruins sports. Alex already knows that he's going to be followed around considering he plays for the Yankees, makes 250+ million, etc. But what a travesty it is that this player is so alienated that he does not feel comfortable playing in the Home Run Derby.

Worse yet, his game has not been suffering at all. Alex started off poorly to 2008 after an ungodly 2007 season. But after returning from the DL, Alex is back to his high end ways at the plate, with the average well over .300 and the slugging continuing.

Of course at the end of the day, A-Rod will get the blame for not performing. This is the media's fault though, as A-Rod is painted as a villain instead of the savior of 21st century baseball: an all-world talent clean as can be. This should be the poster boy for Baseball coming out of the Steroid generation, where players couldn't dream of putting up Alex's stats unless they were juiced. The guy puts up a .314 average 54 home runs 156 RBI 24 steals, yet we hear more about his marital life.

Morneau wins Home Run Derby but

hamiltonshot.jpgPhoto by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Justin Morneau took home the Home Run Derby title with 5 home runs in the final round, but he was overshadowed by the ridiculous Round 1 that Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers produced.

Hamilton put up a Home Run Derby record of 28 home runs in Round 1. There was a time where he had 13 straight home runs. 71 year old Claybon Counsil, who was tossing balls to Hamilton, needed a break in the middle. All for a guy who is fortunate to even be alive right now let alone the big leagues.

Josh Hamilton's past has been well documented. #1 overall pick by the Tampa Bay Rays, but becomes a bust and is out of baseball and on the streets doing heroin and cocaine. He came back last year and performed well, but has been an absolute power machine in 2008 with the Rangers. This is a guy who is hitting .310 this year with 21 home runs and 95 RBI.

Amazingly enough, when Hamilton was out of baseball in 2006 he had dreamed he was in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium. Hard to fathom. These were not little shots by Hamilton, but 500 foot blasts to the upper deck. It is safe to say Yankee Stadium has not seen anything like this, and it is a treat for the fans who are seeing the stadium at the end of the year.

But after the 28 home runs in Round 1, it was clear Hamilton had taken his aggression down in Round 2, and old pal Claybon Counsil was tiring as well. Hamilton only notched 4 home runs in Round 2 and just 3 home runs in the Final Round.

This opened up a path for the second contestant in the Finals, Justin Morneau. Morneau blasted 8 home runs and 9 home runs in the first two rounds to reach the Finals, as the Yankee Stadium crowd yawned in the meantime. After Hamilton's 28 home runs, the other batters were left in silence from a crowd that has seen it all already. Then Morneau got to the Final's and hit 5 home runs, which seemed like it would not be enough.

But Hamilton was never able to capture that 28 home run magic he found in Round 1. It is amazing to think he did not win the Home Run Contest, but even so most will remember his exploits when thinking of the 2008 Home Run Derby.

July 12, 2008

Cubs Rich Harden debuts with 10 Ks

Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images

So far so good for Rich Harden. For one, he's still healthy. And as can be expected when he's healthy, he had a monster opening start for the Chicago Cubs today.

5.1 Innings, 5 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 10 strike outs. The only issue would be the 96 pitches through 5.1 innings. Harden will need to work more efficiently but it's hard to argue with almost 2 K's per inning from Harden. He has this potential to be a strikeout machine, especially in the weaker NL (with pitchers batting no less). No signs of wear and tear from his first two starts. No DL stint for Rich Harden. Being at home against San Francisco is a good start for anyone, but the Giants have been an underrated team this year.

On the Oakland Athletics side of the deal, Sean Gallagher had maybe a more impressive start last night against the Los Angeles Angels. Gallagher went 7 innings with 2 hits 2 runs 3 walks and 7 walks (96 pitches thrown, like Harden). Considering the opponent, this is probably the more valuable start with Gallagher's 5 hits / walks in 7 innings, a spectacular WHIP.

Also, Harden is surely owned in every Fantasy Baseball League. The same cannot be said of Sean Gallagher, but he will get the opportunity to pitch in a pitcher's ballpark, and his ability to at least miss bats should prove him a useful spot start and maybe a permanent spot on 10 team mixed leagues.

Matt Murton came over to Oakland from the Cubs and batted 2nd (going 1 / 5 with 2 RBI). As long as he continues to bat that high in the lineup, expect a lot of runs scored with Murton's ability to get on base (though Oakland's cleanup hitters leave much to be desired).

July 8, 2008

Rich Harden to DL Cubs

harden.jpgJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Cubs have countered the Milwaukee Brewers trade with one of their own. While not the proven veteran that CC Sabathia is, few can match Rich Harden's stuff as a pitcher. That said, few players have ever been as injury prone as Harden has over his career.

This trade came to fruition out of no where. That is not to say the A's just started trying to trade Harden; GM Billy Beane just felt he would not get enough in a trade to give up a talent like Harden. He had become too injury prone and certainly was not expected to be as reliable as he has been this year. Now that Harden started this year with a 5-1 record, 92 strikeouts in 77 innings, and a sub 2.50 ERA, Beane and the A's probably felt like they should trade him while they still can. Sure enough, there were reports on his July 1st start that Harden's velocity dropped, and he labored through 5 innings against Chicago on the 6th in his first loss. Not necessarily meaning a DL stint is on the horizon but warning signs are showing.

No doubt the Cubs are taking a risk here, but they did not give up a top-end prospect in the trade. Sean Gallagher is a decent middle of the rotation pitcher who could possibly be a #2 guy, and Matt Murton / Patterson are solid OF's. Murton in particular has been an OBP monster but has had a tough time breaking into the Cubs lineup for years.

Imagine Billy Beane's thought process with Rich Harden. In 2004-2005, Harden looked like a breakthrough talent with a low ERA and high strikeout rates. Then in 2006 and 2007, he pitches 70 innings total. All of a sudden in 2008 when the A's expect nothing out of Harden, he starts off the year hot (albeit with a DL stint) and thus has trade value around the league again. If you own Harden in a fantasy league, you might want to use the momentum of this trade to make a trade of your own while Harden's value is up.

The Cubs look to be one of the top contenders in the NL, if not the top contender. Chances are, Rich Harden is going to pitch well when he pitches healthy. This trade will largely be decided by whether or not Harden is there for the Cubs in the stretch run and through the playoffs.

June 27, 2008

Reds droppable prospect Bruce

AP Photo/Al Behrman
Jay Bruce's MLB debut has been a wild ride so far. His first seven games produced a .577 average, 12 runs, 3 HR's, and 7 RBI. However he has batted in the .160's the last 17 games and his average has plummeted to .288.

Some fantasy owners were lucky enough to trade Bruce when he was the hot prospect who looked to be putting up Ryan Braun numbers. Now those owners are stuck holding onto him, guessing as to whether or not he's going to break out of this slump. A few games back Bruce got ejected after a called third strike; clearly he is frustrated.

In a few shallow leagues I am close to dropping him. Still haven't, but he has not been in my active roster for a week or so. He has not had a multi-hit game in 17 games after having 7 in his first 12, and Bruce has but 3 RBI in the last 17 games.

That is generally how it goes for rookie pitchers or hitters. Players like Ryan Braun last year are the aberrations.

June 19, 2008

GM Lee Pelekoudas fires McLaren

AP Photo Ted S Warren

GM Bill Bavasi was fired earlier this week and replaced with Lee Pelekoudas. Just a matter of days on the job and Seattle Mariners GM Lee Pelekoudas has fired the carried-over Manager, John McLaren.
Replacing him is former Cubs Manager from 1995-1999, Jim Riggleman. Only one of those seasons was successful, the 1998 Wild Card year for the Cubs. Before that Riggleman managed the San Diego Padres in the early 90's to an abysmal record. If nothing else Riggleman has experience at the position unlike McLaren before him.

McLaren was dealt an impossible hand with the extremely questionable personnel moves by the Bavasi regime in previous years. Despite a 110+ million dollar roster, the team is lacking talent with a lot of that money going to players who are not performing.

Of the most expensive players making 6+ million a year, only one of them is providing worthwhile numbers for the contract (Ichiro, and even he could be producing more for a 17 million dollar player). Richie Sexson at 15.5 million is really dragging the team down with a pathetic average and little power. Thankfully it is the last year of what has turned out to be a putrid contract (though at the time it was somewhat justifiable) and Sexson may even be released before the end of the season.

Jose Vidro is another example of a terrible Mariners personnel move, playing DH and taking at bats away from younger Seattle players that are the future of the organization. A .219 average / .264 OBP is just not acceptable for a full time player especially a DH who does not provide anything on the field.

Why not overpay for a catcher too? Kenji Johjima has had a solid few seasons, but like a lot of Mariners he is struggling mightily in 2008 with little power and a .224 average. Worse yet the Mariners are talking about putting these numbers at first base! The good part would be that stud prospect Jeff Clement could play Catcher, but having two catchers in the lineup and on defense is hardly an ideal situation.

The common bond among the expensive Seattle pitchers is that none of them has the 'stuff' to be paid what they are being paid. Washburn, Silva and Batista are control pitchers for the most part yet the Mariners felt compelled to pay Silva 10 million a year over 4 years. Batista has not even been a good control pitcher, as he has been out of the starting rotation after a 6 walk game. He is 3-8 with a 6.09 ERA and a lovely 1.87 WHIP. Washburn is not much better with a 2-7 recorde, 5.83 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. Washburn has however turned it around his last few starts.

Ultimately with the Mariners, they are the victims of their own past fortune. Despite having a negative run differential, the Mariners stole a bunch of games in 2007 and had a respectable 88-74 record. This often leads GM's to think their team is closer to contention than they really are, and was probably one of the driving forces behind the franchise-altering trade that brought Erik Bedard to Seattle.

Bedard has not been awful, but his first half-season in Seattle definitely has not been a success. Bedard is no where near the pitcher who dominated the AL in 2007 for Baltimore and injuries have hampered him (which have long been a worry for Bedard). Chances are he will turn it around and have a better 2nd half of the year, but take a look at what the Mariners gave up in this trade.

Adam Jones is going to be a star CF, and is already having a serviceable performance for Baltimore. George Sherrill was the other major leaguer given up in the trade, and he has been a lock down closer for the Orioles with 23 saves, near the league lead. Worse yet there are three more pitching prospects traded to Baltimore in this deal for Bedard so the trade will look even worse if any of them hit the big leagues soon, doubly so considering the Mariners starting pitching issues.

Losing Bill Bavasi and John McLaren at least provides a fresh opportunity for whichever GM comes in. Seattle has a beautiful ballpark and a top 10 payroll, so the GM job will be attractive no matter how big the current mess is. It is clear 2007 was a mirage for the Mariners and they will need to rebuilt without all the prospects sent away in the Bedard trade. They may cut their losses and trade Bedard, under the assumption that they are not going to be able to resign him in 2 years anyway. Expect the Mariners to hire a competent GM, but Mariner fans will need to wait until 2010 or possibly later to see the rebuilding process come to fruition.

June 11, 2008

Mariners Closer Brandon Morrow

Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

During an afternoon game on Wednesday June 11th, Seattle Mariners closer JJ Putz again has an injury flare up. Throughout the year J.J. Putz has been battling injuries, missing 18 games earlier in the year. Another DL trip and possibly an extended one could be coming up, with the Mariners going no where and Putz clearly not able to pitch.

Meanwhile for fantasy, this means one of the top closers is out. Hurry and rush to see if Brandon Morrow is available. Check out his numbers, as he has pitched superbly setting up Putz throughout the year, and just received his first career save coming in for Putz today who had already walked a batter.

A couple things about Brandon Morrow's situation in Seattle. For one, Seattle is pretty bad so they will not get many save opportunities. However like a lot of bad teams, the closers end up getting a lot of saves anyway because when the team is in a winning position, it is usually not in a blowout fashion so there are generally save opportunities to be had.

Meanwhile, teams that took Putz early in a draft will have to stick with him if a DL stint is coming up.

June 8, 2008

Kinsler, Milton Bradley, Rangers

Over the last month, there are a few Texas Rangers that have been scorching hot. And we're not just talking about Josh Hamilton, because Hamilton has been raking balls all year. Anyway, over the last month Josh Hamilton is ranked #1 in Yahoo! Baseball, with Kinsler #2, and Milton Bradley #5.

AP Photo David Pellerin

Ian Kinsler started off last year with a ton of home runs and some stolen bases, and ended as a decent yet not top-end second baseman. Then 2008 started, and Kinsler decided he was going to steal a ton of bases this year. Kinsler stole 23 bases in 25 attempts last year, and has stolen 17 bases in 17 attempts and half the 2008 season is left.

Ian Kinsler has been #2 in Yahoo the last month because of this. He is still not getting on base as much as he should, with just a .350 OBP. He had a .350 OBP last year and he hit .263 instead of .305! Kinsler has a whopping 53 runs already, in so small part to the quality bats behind him in the lineup.

Which brings us to the mercurial Rangers Outfielder Milton Bradley. Normally he is getting suspended or injured, but Bradley has proven that when he plays he has all-star potential, with a great eye for getting on base. Milton is batting an absurd .364 last month, with a ton of power. For the season, Bradley has posted a .337 average, an insane .450 OBP, 13 home runs, 41 RBI and 41 runs. Ride the wave but be wary of something coming up in the future as he has not been able to sustain performance for a full year.

We would be remiss not to mention David Murphy, who has really came out of nowhere. Bradley, Hamilton and Kinsler were at least known entities; David Murphy had a little over 100 at bats to his name before this year. However Murphy has produced at a Top 50 overall, top 20 outfielder clip. David Murphy is undoubtedly a huge piece in this resurgent Rangers lineup hitting 5th or 6th as an almost .300 hitter with 7 home runs 39 RBI 35 runs and 5 steals. A bad sign is the 45 strikeouts to 16 walks rate, but if you stole him in a deep league for nothing you have to be feeling good about yourself.