Friday, July 30, 2010

The Matt Capps Trade

I realize of all of the trades that have gone on recent days (Jorge Cantu, Roy Oswalt, Miguel Tejada, Dan Haren, etc.,) the Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos trade is probably one of the least exciting. However, most of the other trades (except for maybe the Dan Haren trade) made sense to me for both teams, and both teams got a pretty fair deal out of it.

I don't think that is the case with this trade. I think that the Nationals clearly got the better deal, which in some ways is nice to see I guess.

Ramos, who was a stud prospect at the end of last year, at the premium position of Catcher, has had an off year. His value has certainly declined, but I don't think that it has declined to the point that a 1-for-1 trade for Matt Capps makes any kind of sense, especially because Matt Capps is not exactly amazing. Last year, he was non-tendered by the Pirates after putting up a 5.80 ERA as their closer. Certainly his ERA was a product of bad luck, since his 7.6 K/9 and low walk rates were pretty good. However, the ERA he has put up this year of 2.74, is on the opposite end of that spectrum and is pretty much the product of good luck. His strike out rate has actually gone DOWN since last year, although his Walk rate has improved.
Basically, my point is that for most teams, Matt Capps is a serviceable 7th or 8th inning guy, and certainly not a closer. He was a closer for the Pirates and the Nationals because the Pirates had no other options, and the Nationals aren't quite ready to thrust Drew Storen or Tyler Clippard into the role -- although I guess they are going to now. The Twins plan to insert Capps into the closer role, although obviously he will only have it for the rest of this year (pending results I'm sure) as Joe Nathan returns next year.

I understand that the Twins needed bullpen help with the recent struggles of John Rauch as closer, but bullpen help usually comes a lot cheaper than someone with as high of a ceiling as Wilson Ramos. Yes, the Twins will have control of Capps for a number of years before he reaches free agency. And yes, Joe Mauer would have been blocking Wilson Ramos for the rest of time, but the Twins could have included Ramos in a much better deal (in fact he was part of their attempted package for Cliff Lee) than for Capps.

Some people, such as Fangraphs' Dave Cameron think that Ramos' struggles this year (.241/.280/.345 at AAA) decrease his value enough for the trade to be fair for both sides. What Dave Cameron, who I usually agree with, fails to mention is the fact that Wilson Ramos is a 22-year-old catcher, who destroyed AA pitching last year and will probably take a little bit of time to adjust to AAA. His numbers against AAA pitching have not been great, but it's not like he's below the Mendoza line or anything. He has plenty of time, Catchers are one of the slowest position players to make it all the way to the majors, and he is still playing above his age level for a Catcher. It's also kind of important to note that Ramos already has a handful of games in the Major Leagues from earlier this season when Mauer had an injury.

Tomorrow is deadline day, and I will probably make a post about my favorite trades of the last few weeks and how I think they will effect contenders.
Have a good weekend everyone!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Alberto Callaspo Trade

The Trade Deadline is quickly approaching, and some teams have already started making deals.

Earlier this week Alberto Callaspo was traded to the Angels. Here is a brief run-down of the trade.

Angels get:
Alberto Callapso (2B, 3B)

Royals get:
Sean O'Sullivan (RHP)
Will Smith (LHP)

The Angels were desperately in need of an upgrade at third with the way Brandon Wood has played so far this season, and Alberto Callaspo certainly represents that. Callapso is not the most patient of hitters, having only drawn 19 walks thus far this season in 89 games. He also does not strike out much either though, striking out only 29 times over that same span. His current line is .275/.308/.410, and if he stays on that same space he will certainly represent an improvement over the .168/.185/.225 line that Brandon Wood has been putting up.
The other bonus is that the Angels will hold on to Callapso for a number of years. I could not find how much longer the 27-year-old Callaspo has before he reaches free agency for the first time, but I did find out that he won't be a free agent this off-season, or next year, representing a pretty good deal for the Angels in that he is (at minimum) locked up through the 2012 season. It will probably be hard for the Angels to make the post-season this year, although Callaspo probably slightly improves their chances. This move seems to have more impact on the next couple of seasons, in that the Angels had a big question mark at third base.

The Royals also seem to have come out pretty alright in this deal. O'Sullivan and Smith are both fairly young, and have decent upsides, although both have struggled to find any consistency this year. O'Sullivan is only 22 and has already spent some time in the major leagues, albeit with not the best results. Smith is a little further from getting a call-up, more than likely, but he projects as someone who will make it to the major leagues some day.

Overall, I think I'd put the Angels as the winners of this trade because they filled a major need they had and did not have to give up any of their biggest prospects. They did give up a couple of guys who will probably be serviceable major leaguers some day, but they received (at least) two and a half years from a proven major league player at their weakest position, who will probably hit around .280 every year with lots of doubles.

In coming years if Smith and O'Sullivan prove to have the ability to be more than solid major league pitchers, then maybe the Royals finally did some good scouting before a trade.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lou Piniella's Retirement

For those of you who haven't heard, Lou Piniella has announced his retirement. At the end of this season he will be leaving his every day job as a manager, although possibly becoming some type of consultant in the future.

His retirement poses an interesting question, that question being: Does Lou Piniella belong in the Hall of Fame?
Obviously Piniella's numbers as a player do not get him into the Hall of Fame. He was a serviceable player, but didn't produce any eye-popping numbers. However, his managerial career has quite a few milestones that should certainly put him into consideration for the Hall of Fame.

The following are all things that I feel will support Piniella's candidacy for the Hall of Fame:

-He has the 14th most wins all time for any manager, at 1,826.
-He was the manager of the 116-win Seattle Mariners team in 2001, still the record for most wins in the regular season.
-He won a World Series in 1990 when he was with the Cincinatti Reds
-He won "Manager of the Year" Award three times (1995, 2001, 2008).

Overall, I think it's fairly clear that with all of these credentials, Piniella certainly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pre-Season Predictions: How Am I Doing? Part 2

So, as promised, I am going to see how good the predictions I made early in the season about the major awards are looking.

Here were my predictions:
AL MVP: Mark Teixeira (NYY)
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez (SEA)
AL ROY: Wade Davis (TBR)
NL MVP: Albert Pujols (STL)
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay (PHI)
NL ROY: Jason Heyward (ATL)

So, thus far, my predictions really are not looking very good.

In the AL, Miguel Cabrera and Josh Hamilton are the clear MVP candidates, as both are currently in the top 5 of all triple crown categories. Mark Teixeira is having an off-year putting up a .254/.360/.465 line. Teixeira could get hot and outpace the other guys for the MVP, but they have quite a head start on him. The most likely Yankee to get the award at this point is actually probably Robinson Cano.

The AL Cy Young if the season ended today would probably go to David Price. However guys like Jon Lester, Andy Pettitte, and Cliff Lee are probably also in the discussion. Felix Hernandez, who I liked as a candidate, has pitched well putting up a 2.88 ERA. However, the anemic Seattle Offense has only provided him with only 7wins. He will need a hot second half to live up to my prediction.

My AL Rookie of the Year prediction is probably the worst of all my predictions. Davis has pitched kind of solidly, but not good enough for Rookie of the Year honors. Guys like Neftali Feliz (23 saves) and Brennan Boesch (.342/.397/.593) are probably the likely candidates for that.

My NL MVP prediction is the only one I still have any confidence in, although if the season ended today it probably would not go to Albert. Instead, it would probably go to Joey Votto. However, Albert is hot on his tail, and also has history on his side in that Albert very rarely drops off in the second half. The same can not be said of Votto.

My NL Cy Young prediction is not completely horrible, in that I feel that Roy Halladay has had the third best season in the National League for a starting pitcher. However, I think Josh Johnson and Ubaldo Jimenez have him beat at this point, with Josh Johnson curretnly having an edge on Ubaldo.

My NL Rookie of the Year prediction is also not completely off-base, Heyward had a solid first half for a 20-year-old, hitting 11 home runs and getting on base fairly oftne. However, it does seem the league has corrected how they pitch to him, in that most of his pwoer was on display in April and May. The current leader in the NL Rookie of the Year voting is probably Mike Leake (3.53 ERA), with Gaby Sanchez (.302/.365/.467) a close second. Once Strasburg has more innings logged, he's probably also in the fight. Heyward still has a chance at the Rookie of the Year award if he can adjust to how pitchers have adjusted to him, and his immense popularity (as indicated by his selection tot he All-Star team) may end up getting it for him anyway.

That's it for now. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pre-Season Predictions: How am I doing?

Since it's mid-season, I figured I'd take a look back at my pre-season predictions to see how I'm doing.

For the American League, I have the New York Yankees, the Minnesota Twins, and the Texas Rangers as winning their respective divisions. I have the Red Sox winning the wild card. As standings are right now, I was correct on two out of the four.

With the Twins I clearly didn't foresee Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer's regression to the mean. I also didn't foresee Francisco Liriano pitching as well as he has, but having three of the guys in the middle of your line-up underperofrming seems to outweigh that. The Twins could of course still win their division, as they are only 3.5 games out, albeit in third place behind the surprising White Sox and the Tigers.

With the Red Sox I didn't foresee injuries taking 30+ days out of the season for Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Dustin Pedroia. Not to mention more minor injuries to Manny Delcarmen, Victor Martinez, Jeremy Hermida, Mike Cameron, Clay Buchholz, and Jason Varitek. Obviously those injuries are crippling, but guys will come back healthy sooner or later and the Red Sox are only 3 games back in the wild card.

My National League predictions look even worse right now. I predicted that the Phillies, the Cardinals, and the Rockies would be at the top of their respective divisions, and that the Atlanta Braves would win the Wild Card. Yeah, that's an 0 for 4.

The Phillies have heavily underperformed despite their powerful line-up and addition of Roy Halladay. Halladay has been every thing they wanted him to be, but the Phillies offense has been pretty horrible, something I didn't see coming at all. They are 4.5 games back in the East, and if they don't find a spark sooner or later they may sink further. I no longer feel they will win this division, as Atlanta seems fairly firmly entrenched in first place. There is the possibility of the Wild Card, however.

The Cardinals have performed about as I expected them to, the only problem is how well the Cincinatti Reds have played. The Cardinals, who are only sitting one game behind those surprising Reds, are in a good position to still win the division, and despite their current position int he standings, I'm still fairly confident they will achieve that, especially with Matt Holliday finally hitting how he should be this season.

The National League West is probably currently the most shocking division in baseball, as far as who is in first place. The San Diego Padres, on the strength of their league-leading overall ERA and ridiculous bullpen, have managed to be in first place for the majority of the season. The Rockies had a late second half surge though, and are currently only sitting two games back from the Padres. The Rockies are currently missing a big bat in Troy Tulowitzki, but they have Ubaldo Jimenez having the season of his career with lots of other stand-out offensive performers carrying the team.

As far as the Wild Card goes, I predicted the Braves would win it, and at the very least they have played better than most had foreseen them playing and are winning their division.

That's about it for now. It has been an interesting season so far. Tomorrow I will try and go over how horribly I bothced my Awards prediction for the season.

Enjoy the first night of the second half!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Trade Talk: Yunel Escobar for Alex Gonzalez

So, I still don't have my computer, but should have it very soon at which I will resume posting tri-weekly. At this point I'm really just posting when I have free time and access to a computer.
Luckily I have both of those things right now, and an interesting trade happened today. Here is the basic run-down of the trade if you don't want to click on that link:

Braves Get:
Alex Gonzalez (SS)
Tim Collins (Double A LHRP)
Tyler Pastornicky (Single A SS/2B)

Blue Jays Get:
Yunel Escobar (SS)
Jo-Jo Reyes (RHRP)

Personally, I see this trade as a win for the Braves in many ways. The Braves off-loaded two players who they don't seem particularly keen on. Apparently the braves were not exactly thrilled with Escobar, and that extends to some of the players. Many of them viewed him as lackdaisical, and as an anonymous player said in the article I linked at the beginning of this post, "His behavior is easier to put up with when he's hitting .300". Escobar is batting below .240 right now. While it's fairly unlikely someone with Escobar's track record and talent will continue to play so poorly, the Braves clearly felt that his attitude was no longer tolerable.

Reyes on the other hand is a 25-year-old who doesn't seem like he will ever reach the vision that the Braves had for him, as being at the very least a set up reliever.

The Braves received Alex Gonzalez who is having a career year, although apparently aided by the park dimensions in Toronto, and has always been a very good defensive short stop with some decent pop. He's also got a good reputation in every club house he's ever been in, something that Escobar can't say he has.

The Braves also received two fairly solid prospects in Tim Collins and Pastornicky. Collins and Pastornicky are both in their early 20s (21 and 20 respectively), and Collins is already playing at Double A, and putting up fairly good numbers as a relief pitcher (2.51 ERA, 15.3 K/9). Something strange about Collins is the fact that he is only 5 ft 7 and 160 pounds but apparently sports a mid-90s fastball.
Pastornicky is progressing a little more slowly tgat Collins, but Collins has progressed exceptionally fast thanks to his K/9.

Pastornicky is in High-A Ball at this point, and is putting up a .258/.348/.376 line. That line is not super impressive or anything, but if he turns it on in the second half of the season it is likely that he ends up in AA by season's end. It's also important to note that he has 6 Home Runs in around 300 At-Bats, which may not sound like many, but many minor league prospects have zero power at the age of 20.

So, overall, I think the Braves come out on top in this trade. There is some chance that the trade and the comments about him light a fire under Escobar causing him to be more motivated, and maybe becomes a better player. The one thing that the Blue Jays DO get is a Shortstop who SHOULD hit well in the future, and will not be a free agent for three years.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Omar Infante? Really?

Hey everyone, sorry for the distinct lack of posts. I have had a lot going on in addition to my computer currently being out of commission, limiting how much time I have to update this. However, the advent of today's All-Star Game selection made me want to borrow a computer just so I could write about it.

For the most part, the All-Star Selections were announced today. For the most part, they are fairly typical. How ever, I definitely have a few problems with the selections.

The most obvious problem is the selection of Omar Infante to the All-Star team. While Infante sports a .311 batting average, he has also only played in 56 of the 81+ games that have passed so far, and not because of an injury. He also had a paltry .378 Slugging Percentage, and really offers nothing to the National League roster. He can play every position but center field and catcher, which is nice on a regular major league team, but not so much on an all-star team, where you have minimum two incredibly good guys at every position.

The other problem is simply that other guys in the National League deserved his spot more than he did. Joey Votto for instance, who is leading the League in On Base-Plus Slugging with a massive .988, while also batting over .300, is going to be left at home because of the Omar Infante selection. The only first baseman in the National League who even MIGHT be outplaying Votto is Albert Pujols, and even then it is not by much. It's clear that he didn't get selected by the vote because of a small fan base and little name recognition, but that's what the player selection of reserves is supposed to fix. Instead, Ryan Howard and Adrian Gonzalez were selected over Votto. While it's hard not to want to include Howard and Gonzalez because of their star power and their production, Votto has outplayed both of them. If a player's numbers at the time of the All-Star Break are not the criteria for selecting them, what is?