Tag:Casey Blake
Posted on: June 30, 2008 1:40 am
 

American League Midseason Report Cards

The half way point of the season is here and it's time to grade the performance of each team. How well has your team done this season?

American League East

Baltimore Orioles
Record:
41-39, 4th Place in the AL East
Grade: A -

The Orioles made the right moves during the off-season by trading both Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada. Those two trades brought the team some quality players in return that the team can build upon. While many people wrote the Orioles off this season--some going as far as predicting the team would have 100 losses--the O's have remained competitive all year long. The only step left for GM Andy MacPhail is to continue the firesale and trade off the remaining veterans for prospects. With the team having a top 3 relief pitching staff, there will be quite a bit of demand for veteran relievers like Chad Bradford, Jamie Walker, and George Sherrill. Trading them would make the team much better in the long run.


Boston Red Sox
Record:
50-34, 2nd Place in the AL East
Grade: A

The Red Sox have played very well this season. Despite the fact that David Ortiz started out slow, Curt Schilling is done for the year, and multiple players have spent time on the DL, they still have one of the best records in baseball. However, because they play in baseball's best division, they are finding themselves in the middle of what should be a three team race for the American League East. With regards to that, I give the team an "A" for overall performance. However, because Schilling is out with injury, I don't trust anyone on their team other than Josh Beckett to start in the playoffs. Despite Tim Wakefield having his best season since 2002, he has never been a good postseason pitcher. The young guys--Lester, Buchholz, & Masterson--have only one playoff start between them and lack longevity in the regular season. Meanwhile, Daisuke's walk totals are increasing and his performance in the postseason last year was terrible. It will be interesting to see if the team pursues a veteran starter at the deadline.


New York Yankees
Record:
44-38, 3rd Place in the AL East
Grade: B

The Yankees haven't exactly been playing their best ball, yet they haven't played bad baseball either. The team has consistently remained around .500 and have just recently made a run above it. In my opinion, the Yankees can't get much worse, but they have the potential to be much better than they are playing. With Joba finally making the transition to the rotation, if the Yankees can add one more starter, they'll be right in the thick of it. The teams offense is potent, especially with the return of Jason Giambi to the lineup and the bullpen has been holding its own so far. The Yankees were my prediction to win the division and I still think they will do it.


Tampa Bay Rays
Record:
49-32, 1st Place in the AL East
Grade: A

Wow. Who would have thought the Tampa Bay Rays would have been in first place in the American League East at the halfway point? I certainly didn't. This team has been loaded with talent, but it never fully developed until now. The off-season trade of Delmon Young for Matt Garza has payed dividends as well and given the team a formidable front three of Scott Kazmir, Garza, and James Shields. In addition, Evan Longoria is showing that he will be a true superstar in this league for years to come. What the team really needs going forward is one more bat, perhaps in right field or DH, to solidify the lineup. Other than that, the Rays will stay competitive until the very end. You can be assured of that.


Toronto Blue Jays
Record:
40-43, Last Place in the AL East
Grade: D

Everyone's favorite preseason pick is in last place in the division right now. The Blue Jays haven't played bad baseball, but they just haven't been given a commitment to winning by their management. The early season release of Frank Thomas (who is hitting .319 with the A's) is a perfect example. The team has the pitching staff to be a good team and they could make a 2nd half run, but it might be too little too late in the toughest division in baseball. If the team wants to remain competitive, they need to make a trade for an impact bat. You can't expect to win too many games with Matt Stairs, Brad Wilkerson, Kevin Mench, and Shannon Stewart in your lineup. It just doesn't happen.



American League Central

Chicago White Sox
Record:
45-35, 1st Place in the AL Central
Grade: A

Maybe we were a bit too harsh on GM Kenny Williams this offseason as many of his signings have proven to work out great. The additions of Octavio Dotel and Scott Linebrink have shored up the bullpen problems the team has been having for years. Meanwhile, Carlos Quentin is among the league leaders in home runs this season, while Alexei Ramirez is batting over .300 and has shored up the the 2nd base spot for the team. Even the decision to keep Joe Crede is looking brilliant now. The only move that isn't looking great is the Nick Swisher deal as Ryan Sweeney is outperforming him in Oakland. However, Swisher is batting .302 with 5 homers and 18 RBI in the month of June so he might be on the verge of turning it around.


Cleveland Indians
Record:
37-45, Tied for Last Place in AL the Central
Grade: F

I don't understand how a team this talented could perform so poorly all year long. The Indians aren't even putting themselves anywhere close to contention which is making the decision to trade C.C. Sabathia easier by the day. The more and more I see of Travis Hafner, the uglier that 6 year extension is looking that he signed a year ago as well. The only two Indians ballplayers that are performing are Grady Sizemore and Casey Blake and Blake is as good as gone at the seasons end. The Indians better hope that Sabathia brings them back players that will help them in the immediate future, because the Indians window of opportunity is closing.


Detroit Tigers
Record:
41-40, 3rd Place in the AL Central
Grade: C

Well, it isn't what we expected, but to be a game above .500 and only 4.5 back of the division leaders at the halfway sign is good for the Tigers who started the season off poorly. The pitching staff is starting to come around--though Dontrelle Willis may be done as a pro--and the team should get better in the bullpen when Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney start to come around. It wouldn't surprise me if the Tigers overtook the White Sox in the American League Central by the end of the year. Then again, it also wouldn't surprise me if the team remained mediocre for the rest of the season. Much like the Yankees, the offense will be there for this team. EVERYTHING relies on the pitching staff down the stretch. I would suggest the team making a trade, but after the deals with Florida and Atlanta, they can't have much left in their farm system.


Kansas City Royals
Record:
37-45, Tied for Last Place in the AL Central
Grade: D

We knew the Royals were going to be bad to start the year, so the fact that they have a higher grade than the Indians is because the Indians failed to meet anywhere close to their expectations. However, I still don't understand how many of these players on the Royals have jobs. I mean, how long is it going to be until Tony Pena, who has a .142 batting average and an OPS of -2 (yeah...negative two) is sent down? I mean, he can't be in their for his defense either as he has the 2nd worse. Their other alternative, Angel Berroa, was recently traded away to the Dodgers which made no sense at all. At least Berroa could hit the ball out of the infield. This team has some talented players, but they are nowhere near turning into a good ballclub.


Minnesota Twins
Record:
45-37, 2nd Place in the AL Central
Grade: B+

The Twins lost both Johan Santana and Torii Hunter this offseason and are still in contention. How you may ask? For one, Hunter has always been overrated and is just an average ballplayer. Secondly, Joe Mauer has been able to stay healthy this season which has given the offense a spark. And third, the bullpen (as usual) has been outstanding. The Twins really don't deserve to be where they are with the performance of the offense (as a whole) and the poor starting pitching they've had. However, they'd remained in the hunt the entire time and had tons of success against the National League this season. I gave them a B+ because of their record, however, I think both the White Sox and Tigers will finish ahead of them by the end of the year.



American League West

Los Angeles Angels
Record:
49-33, 1st Place in the AL West
Grade: A -

The Angels got exceptional performances from Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana while John Lackey was out, and now that he's back, the team has one of the most dangerous pitching staffs in the majors. However, the offense of the Halos has been a huge disappointment this season as the team is 2nd to last in the American League in team OPS. Only two players on the team have double digit home run numbers and one of them (Mike Napoli) is just a part time player. The Angels most obvious need for the second half is an impact bat, preferably at shortstop. The Angels should be able to keep pace in the west as the A's and Rangers aren't much of a real threat, but if they want to avoid another October disappointment, they'll have to make some changes.


Oakland Athletics
Record:
44-37. 2nd Place in the AL West
Grade: B+

If there is one thing I've learned over the years, it's not to doubt Billy Beane. He's the only guy that can make his team better the next season by trading his best pitcher and his best hitter. Many people had the A's predicted as the last place finishers in the west this season, but the A's have continued to succeed with their foundation of strong pitching. The team is on pace to set another record for most people on the disabled list in a season. Much like the division rival Angels, the A's offense has been terrible this season. However, I don't think it can get much worse than it already is. Daric Barton has struggled all year long, but the A's have no other options at the position now that Dan Johnson is gone and it's probably best to let Barton swing his way out of it. Carlos Gonzalez has finally arrived at the major league level and his swing is amazing. He is only 21 and you can tell that he'll be a great ballplayer in the future. The team has a lot of potential and was initially geared up to compete in 2010-2011. Anything they do now is just a bonus.


Texas Rangers
Record:
42-41, 3rd Place in the AL West
Grade: B

Nolan Ryan......."Take That!" At least, that's what I'd be saying if I were Rangers manager Ron Washington. After feeling the heat much of the first half, Ron Washington has the Rangers maintaining a respectable winning percentage. He is getting the most out of the players he has and it's turning into wins for the ballclub. Milton Bradley might just be the best offseason signing for the Rangers as he has continued to crush the ball. Now all the team needs to do is to finally get some decent pitchers to the big league level instead of trading their best talent away (i.e. Chris Young, Edinson Volquez, John Danks). If I were GM Jon Daniels, I know my team doesn't stand much of a chance at the postseason this year, so I'd look to see if I could trade Vincente Padilla (and his contract) to a contender.


Seattle Mariners
Record:
31-50, Last Place in the AL West
Grade: F

What a joke. I think I was the only person here to question how good the Seattle Mariners would be this season. I KNEW they weren't as good as everyone has been saying and they only proved me right by having the worst record in baseball. It's about time they fired Bill Bavasi as he did nothing good for the team. I don't even know what to say about the Mariners right now other than a firesale should be about to begin (with everyone except for Ichiro). The Mariners have a lot of rebuilding to do and now that Bavasi damaged the teams future, who knows how long it's going to take.

Posted on: June 16, 2008 9:19 pm
 

MLB Trade Fits: Deadline Deals That Make Sense

Everyone loves to be an armchair GM. and this blog is for any ideas for possible trade deadline deals. Immediately I thought of three. If anyone has any of their own, feel free to share.

***Note: These trades are ideas of my own and have no truth to them happening


Trade Idea #1

St. Louis Cardinals Get:

San Francisco Giants Get:
Why This Trade Works For Both Teams:

As evidence by his demotion at the end of May, the Cardinals are currently down on Chris Duncan and it seems logical that they would try to shop him for a need rather than decrease his value at AAA. Duncan is naturally built to play first base and has quite a bit of pop in his bat. However, because the Cardinals already have Albert Pujols at first, Duncan has been forced to play out of position. His lack of range in the outfield has hurt the Cardinals at times and his only real value to the team comes with his bat--something the Cardinals haven't been impressed with this season.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals main need at this point in the season is a second basemen and relief pitching. A trade with San Francisco, for Ray Durham and Jack Taschner would answer both of those problems. Since signing with the Cardinals two seasons ago, Adam Kennedy has been terrible with his bat and while his defense remains average, he offers nothing to the team. Ray Durham, on the other hand, is having a great season with San Francisco hitting nearly .300 and is in the final year of his two year extension he received back in 2006. Since Durham is a free agent at the end of the season, the Giants would also have to throw in a bullpen reliever (like Taschner) to make this deal fair. The Cardinals need a strong reliever that can help them out as their bullpen is ranked 14th in the National League right now. Of course, if this deal were to happen, it would have to wait until Albert Pujols came off the DL (as Duncan has currently been called up to replace him). Still, I think it makes sense for both teams involved.


Trade Idea # 2

Cleveland Indians Get:
Pittsburgh Pirates Get:

Why This Deal Work For Both Teams:

As bad as the Indians have been playing, they are only five and a half games back in the American League Central. While the Indians pitching staff has been one of the best in the league, the teams offense is ranked 10th (out of 14) in the American League. With both of the teams superstars--Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez--struggling to hit the ball, the Indians could use a big bat in the middle of their lineup. And who better than Jason Bay? Bay is having an excellent season so far batting .283 and leading the Pirates in home runs with 14 and walks with 45. Bay is a franchise player on many teams in the league, but with the Pirates looking to rebuild, he becomes expendable. In addition, the Pirates new GM, Neal Huntington, used to serve as Mark Shapiro's assistant GM in Cleveland and has great relations with the ballclub.

In ANY deal that the Indians made, I figured they'd have to center a package around top prospect Adam Miller. As for the other prospects remaining in this trade, I figured that even though Beau Mills is more talented than Wes Hodges, the Indians would prefer to keep Hodges as he is the most major league ready player and can take over at 3rd base when Casey Blake leaves in the offseason. Hodges hits for a much higher average than Mills, but Mills has solid power and is ranked 3rd (just ahead of Hodges) on Baseball America's top 10 prospects for the Indians. As for Josh Rodriguez, he wasn't on the top 10, but he seems like a perfect fit for the Pirates, who have zero middle infield prospects (because they traded Lillibridge to Atlanta in the LaRoche deal), but he hit 20 homers, had 80+ RBI, and stole over 20 bases in A+ ball last season. With Jhonny Peralta locked up through 2011, the Indians can afford to let Rodriguez go in any deal.


Trade Idea #3

Minnesota Twins Get:
Seattle Mariners Get:
  • LHP Tyler Robertson
  • OF Chris Parmelee

Why This Trade Works For Both Teams:

If the Twins want to make a push for the postseason, they are going to need to get more power into their lineup. With 43 home runs so far this season, the Twins are in last place in the American League in homers. Both Mike Lamb and Adam Everett are struggling to hit the ball this season, so the left side of the infield seems to be the logical place to improve at. Meanwhile, with the Mariners hosting baseballs worst record at 24-45, now would be the most opportune time for them to rebuild. Richie Sexson, Raul Ibanez, and Jose Vidro are all coming off the books after this season, while Miguel Batista, Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn, and Adrian Beltre will enter free agency the following season. The Mariners would benefit by trading some of these players away before their contracts expire. In this case, it's Adrian Beltre.

Beltre is just batting .229 this season, but I wouldn't be surprised if that climbed up to .270 by the end of the season. He already has 14 homers on the season and would be an instant upgrade on both offense and defense for the Twins. Also, the fact that he's a right handed hitter helps as well. The Twins, who are 15 million dollars under what they paid a year ago would be able to take on Beltre's contract without problem. The team already has their key players, Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau, and Joe Mauer locked up long term and the team doesn't need to add much pitching as they have plenty of depth in the minors. In return for Beltre, I had the Mariners getting LHP Tyler Robertson from the Twins. Robertson seems to be an forgotten prospect since the Twins traded with the Mets, but the kid has great stuff. So far this year at A+ ball, Robertson is 4-2 with a 2.76 era and 58 strikeouts in 65 innings while last season at low-A ball, he was 9-5 with a 2.29 era with 129 strikeouts in 102 IP. Also, I have OF Chris Parmelee heading back as well. Parmelee has great power for the Twins, he just lacks average and with Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez already locked in the outfield for years to come, he is expendable. Parmelee isn't viewed as a top prospect, but he could be an average regular once he hits the pros.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com