Category: Offseason

The Tigers? Really?

With the signing of Prince Fielder, is Detroit the new favorite in the AL?

By Cam Cain 1-27-12

In an offseason of surprises like Albert Pujols joining the Angels, this is up there as one of those shockers. The nine year deal is reportedly worth 214 million dollars.  Only a few thought Fielder was heading anywhere other than Arlington, Miami, or the capitol. Then, Texas signed Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. Now all was left was the built-to-win-today Marlins and the built-to-win-in-two-or-three-years Nats. But he chose to head to the Motor City, already the heavy favorites in the Central. I was confused for a while about this one. Then, it hit me. Fielder’s dad, Cecil, played at the old Tiger Stadium for 6 1/2 years, the best of his career, making three allstar teams and hitting 51 home runs in 1990. It was there that  young Prince learned the game, hitting monster shots over the fence as a teenager. And the fans sure remember him. The Prince was merely heading home, albeit to a different castle.

So, who does this affect?

Milwaukee:

This loss, as inevitable as it was, is a tough one to swallow. Especially if Ryan Braun’s appeal of his 50 game suspension for allegedly taking performance enhancing drugs is denied. This is a huge step back for Milwaukee who has not made any big signings or trades so far.

St. Louis:

The Cardinals benefit  from this deal. This could possibly put this young team into the playoffs with a wild card spot. Besides, they won the World Series despite Adam Wainwright not pitching a single inning due to injury.

Pittsburgh:

Despite peaking in July and struggling towards the end of the year and finishing below .500, don’t count out the Pirates as a dark horse candidate.

Cincinnati:

This puts the Reds over the top. They have so much young talent including power hitting right fielder Jay Bruce, and speedy center fielder Drew Stubbs. They signed closer Ryan Madson,  who saved 32 games for Philadelphia. They also made a statement by trading away Edinson Volquez and first base prospect Yonder Alonso for pitcher Mat Latos of the Padres. This told the fans that they are willing to keep superstar Joey Votto and this is exactly what they needed. Their only worry in the division is St. Louis. The Reds hope they pull a long term Indianapolis Colts, struggling after losing the face of their franchise. Either way, the Reds are the favorites in the Central, if not the NL.

Detroit:

This team is strong from top to bottom. Despite losing Victor Martinez for probably the season, they will likely move Miguel Cabrera to DH. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Doug Fister are at the top of the rotation and all have had success. Also, Alex Avila is a rising star behind the plate and had 85 RBIs last season at age 24. They are my early pick for the World Series.

Yanks Ship Top Prospect Out West

Catcher Jesus Montero sent to Seattle for Michael Pineda

By Cam Cain 1-16-12

This could be one of the most influential trades in recent memory. Just not yet. The 6’3” 22-year-old Montero has been rated the the top prospect in the New York organization and one source has him as the 6th top prospect in all of baseball. In 61 September at bats, the Venezuelan hit .328 with 4 home runs. On the other hand, Pineda, a Dominican pitcher who turns 23 this Wednesday, cemented himself the second spot in the Seattle rotation in 2011. He finished 8th in the AL in WHIP and 4th in Opposing Batting Average and won 9 of Seattle’s 67 games. Pineda pitched especially well during the first 2 months of the regular season, going 6-2 with a WHIP of 0.99 and a 2.42 ERA.

The Yanks are reluctant to trade away Montero, who has reminded many scouts. of Mike Piazza, hitting-wise at least. However, they feel the deal needed to be done. New York desperately needed a second pitcher at the top of the rotation to compliment C.C. Sabathia.  They also signed Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda who has proven himself. Now, the Yankees have gone from mound questions to a solid top 4 in the rotation, with second-year pitcher Ivan Nova.

However, I think that this deal benefits the Mariners more. I think the problem with the Yankees is setting their priorities. They need a young bat in their lineup and Montero was that guy.  Mark Teixeira turns 32 in April, Jeter and A-Rod turn 38 and 37 respectively over the summer. They did need a pitcher though, missing out on C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle. The Mariners already have a star young pitcher, the 25 year old 2010 AL Cy Young winner King Felix who is going into his 8th season. We are going to definitely see the benefits of this trade for each of these teams. We’ll just have to be patient.

Statistics from baseball-reference.com

The King Of Anaheim

Pujols signs near-record deal with Angels

By Cam Cain 12-8-11

Well, Albert Pujols has officially signed with a team. And it’s not the Cardinals or the Marlins. Not even Theo Epstein’s Cubs. Nope. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (phew that’s a mouthful) have swooped up out of nowhere and signed the superstar to a 10-year-deal worth reportedly $254 million.  This news comes much sooner than expected as the Winter Meetings in Dallas. are only a couple days in. You can make a strong case for him as the greatest first baseman of all time. That’s saying something since he plays the same position as did Gehrig and Foxx. He is a three time MVP but has also won 2 Gold Gloves. Only once has Pujols “failed” to hit 35 or more Home Runs. 2007 was the only year in which he didn’t. He hit 32. Following that year, Pujols won back-to-back MVPs. He also has a career batting average of .328, first among active players, as well as 455 career home runs, or 42 per 162 games.

So here we see another example of a star leaving his team for a load of money. Like A-Rod in the offseason before 2004 leaving the Rangers to head to Steinbrenner’s Yankees.

So what does this deal mean to the other teams?

Cardinals:

First they will have to deal with the shock of losing their franchise player who they’ve had since 2001. But they won the World Series for reasons besides only Big Albert. They’re not just a one-dimensional team. They will definitely be crippled, especially with first year manager Mike Matheny, who has never managed at any level.

Marlins:

Sure, they missed out on the big free agent prize but Prince Fielder is still out there. They don’t even need a first baseman anyway with 2011 All Star Gaby Sanchez playing the position. They are still the big free agent getters this offseason with Shortstop Jose Reyes and closer Heath Bell. They also signed pitcher Mark Buehrle. Buehrle played under Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen on the White Sox.  I think Miami will be just fine without Pujols.

Reds and Brewers:

Both of these teams are in a great position. The Reds are hoping that the Brewers lose Prince Fielder so that they could have a clear path with their talented youth. They have also shot down Joey Votto trade rumors several times. The Brewers have the best team now and could be ready for a deep run.

Of course the Angels themselves:

These 2 additions have strongly boosted the Angels. There have been rumors of trading Rookie of the Year candidate Mark Trumbo who is a first baseman. The signing of pitcher C.J. Wilson from the rival Rangers has boosted an already superb rotation which already included Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana. Is it too early to slap on the Dream Team tag?

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NOTE: This photo is not mine. Statistics from baseballreference.com

Should Pitchers Win the MVP?

Verlander, Braun win MVP

By Cam Cain 11-22-11

With 13 out of the 28 first place votes, the Tigers ace has become the first MVP in franchise history since closer Willie Hernandez in 1984. He is the first pitcher to win MVP since 1992 when A’s closer Dennis Eckersley won with 51 saves. There has long been a debate as to whether  pitchers should win the Cy Young Award. Both sides have decent points. I am split on this decision.

Yes. Pitchers should win the MVP:

Pitchers should definitely be able to win the MVP if they are deserving. It is most valuable player, not just most valuable hitter. Since 1991, 6 pitchers have led their respective leagues in WAR. Verlander is the only MVP of the bunch. If they are the best player in the league, why not give the award to them?

No. Pitchers should not win the MVP:

I am not denying that pitchers should be eligible for MVP. I just wouldn’t vote for one if I had the choice. The thing is, pitchers aren’t everyday players like your first baseman. It rarely happens nowadays that your pitcher is on the field for 250 of your innings. I could see picking a pitcher if it was back in the ’20s when pitchers threw 350+ innings a season and complete games on 2 days rest regularly. This was before there was a real bullpen. But this is not how it works anymore.

As a side note, Ryan Braun won the MVP of the National League. Braun’s vote was boosted largely by playing for a first place team. Many people expected Matt Kemp, who led the majors in WAR and runs batted in, to win the MVP. Kemp also led the NL in home runs. I do think that the writers made the right decision in picking Braun. Braun led the NL in OPS, a simple measure of being effective at getting on base and hitting for power. He was also very valuable to the success of his team.

In other news…

Free agent outfielder Grady Sizemore will remain in Cleveland. “We look forward to Grady getting back on the field and having a healthy and productive 2012 season,” says Indians GM Chris Antonetti. When Sizemore declined his option earlier this offseason, it officially made him a free agent. Sizemore signed a 1 year deal with the club.

The Twins signed catcher Ryan Doumit and the Royals resigned pitcher Bruce Chen. Texas has signed closer Joe Nathan. Nathan had been a star with Minnesota since 2004, making 4 all-star games and saving at least 40 games 3 times with 47 saves in 2009. Nathan did not pitch in ’10 due to injury.

50 Million Dollar Gamble

Free Agent closer Papelbon signs record deal with the Phillies. 

By Cam Cain 11-12-11

This just may be the missing link to Philadelphia’s championship. Ruben Amaro Jr. has just added another name to a lengthy list of free agent acquisitions as the GM of the Phillies. This deal makes Jonathan Papelbon the highest paid closer of all time. Him and the Phillies have agreed to a 4 year deal worth $50 million dollars. This is a risky move due to Papelbon’s inconsistence. This also is a huge case of overpaying for a player. We’ve seen it last year with Jayson Werth and the Nationals. The Phillies will still be paying Papelbon over $10 mil. a year 4 years from now. I wouldn’t have paid more than $25 million for him. Jonathan was never the best closer in his time with the Red Sox. Amaro Jr. felt that he needed this large sum of money to lure Pap away from Beantown.

This now widens the gaping hole in Boston’s bullpen. Flamethrowing Daniel Bard is very inconsistent. Bobby Jenks could close but he hasn’t pitched well since 2008. There are many more viable pitchers out there. Jonathan Broxton is only 27 and has had a 36 save season only 2 years ago. Or, if they decide to go the route of Jenks, which is what I would do, Mike Gonzalez, who spent last year with Baltimore and the Rangers, is available and is a left handed reliever who would be a good fit.

In other news…

Kidnapped Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has been rescued on Friday after over 50 hours. Venezuelan authorities rescued him in a 15 minute gunfight. Ramos and his family have been provided bodyguards by Venezuela’s government.

The Florida, now Miami Marlins have switched to the official worst logo and uniform set in baseball history.  You can view them here. They remind me of a three star hotel chain. The Miami Gardens Marlin Suites. They even got rid of their iconic teal. Oh when will people learn IF IT AIN’T BROKE DON’T FIX IT!? They do move into a nice new stadium this year. I do agree with the name switch. There is another team in the state. It’s not like Minnesota. Florida Marlins had a nice ring to it. I’m sure these new uniforms will grow on me eventually. I hope they’re not just an eyesore until they’re gone.

Thome Heads Back to Phillies

His Hall-of-Fame career is nearly done, but there’s one thing missing, a World Series ring

By Cam Cain 11-5-11

Last year, we thought Jim Thome’s career was over when he decided to return to the Indians, the team in which he spent his first 12 seasons. We thought it was nice for him to return to the team where he started his career. Well, it turns out he’s coming back and now in the City of Brotherly Love where he spent 3 seasons from ’03 to ’05.

Who can blame him? There are two things missing from his outstanding career. (You and I both know he’s not winning an MVP anytime soon.) The other is a World Series win. Yes, he’s been very close twice in Cleveland twice (’95 and ’97) but Thome thought that his best chance to win a ring was in Philly. Thome will primarily be a bench player and pinch hitter.

Philadelphia has also shown interest in Minnesota utilityman Michael Cuddyer. The Phils like Cuddyer, a right handed bat, who has spent his first 11 seasons with the Twins. Cuddyer can regularly play any of the three outfield positions as well as the corner infield positions and second base. He will most likely play first with Thome while Ryan Howard is ailing a left achilles injury. Then, he will move to left.

 

In other news…

Rangers’ pitching coach Mike Maddux has met with the Cubs. He has recently dropped out of the race for the same job in Boston for inconvenience reasons. Sandy Alomar Jr. is interviewing sometime soon.

The Giants and Royals completed a trade in which San Fransisco received Outfielder Melky Cabrera and sent Pitcher Jonathan Sanchez. This was a great trade that filled the needs of both teams, Kansas City’s need of pitchers and overabundance of outfielders, and San Francisco’s desperate lack of hitting with an overabundance of starting pitching. Cabrera had a breakout season, setting career highs in every category besides triples en route to 201 hits, 4th in the American League. Sanchez has never had stellar numbers but he has promise, pitching well in key games as well as a no-hitter under his belt.

Best of Luck, Tony

Cards Manager LaRussa retires after 33 years as skipper.

By Cam Cain 10-31-11

His legacy will surely never be forgotten. Tony LaRussa spent 33 years managing ballclubs, the most recent 16 with the Cardinals. This came as a huge surprise, not 48 hours after winning the World Series for the third time, and second with St. Louis. Just like that, 33 years of baseball for him have come to an abrupt end. LaRussa becomes the first manager to retire following a World Series victory. LaRussa also retires with the third most managerial wins of all time behind Connie Mack and John McGraw.

“I think everybody was a little sad,” said Matt Holliday. “But I think at the same time, for us to see a guy that’s had such an amazing career, 33 years of managing, you don’t see it very often, where a guy gets to go out on top with a team and a run that was very symbolic of the kind of manager and the kind of leader that Tony was.

This is truly the end of an era. He leaves behind a legacy. He is beside Sparky Anderson as one of 2 managers to win a World Series in both leagues.  He has also won 6 pennants, going 3-3 in those World Series. I never knew Tony but I wish him best of luck in retirement.

In other news…

The Mets have moved portions of the fences in at the very large Citi Field. It was getting to a point that these hitter-unfriendly confines were disliked by the players. A good example, David Wright has hit nearly 30 points better away from home and has also had a significant increase in slugging percentage on the road. “I really do believe a ballpark like ours has a more dramatic impact on the home team than on the visitors,” says Mets GM Sandy Alderson.

C.C. Sabathia has signed a contract extention with the Yankees until 2016. They still will need a decent no. 2 starter with Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon likely leaving. Maybe C.J. Wilson? If so, New York must hope he doesn’t turn out like another A.J. Burnett.

The Indians have made a move to acquire pitcher Derek Lowe from the Braves. Lowe is 38 years old currently and hasn’t pitched well in years. They lost a single A pitcher for him. Also, Cleveland did not pick up Grady Sizemore’s option making him a free agent. Sizemore has played 8 seasons, all with Cleveland.