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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.