Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Montero for Pineda swap

Last night the Yankees agreed to send Jesus Montero along with Hector Noesi to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. As a Yankee fan, I must admit to being a bit surprised by this transaction since I figured we would finally get a full season of Montero in pinstripes, but looking at this trade on a long-term basis things seem to make sense for both sides.

The Mariners currently have a wealth of young starting pitchers with both Danny Hultzen and James Paxton expected to be added to the rotation by 2013 as well as 19 year old prospect Tijuan Walker arguably having the most upside among all pitchers currently in the low minors. Combine this with the pitching friendly confines of Safeco Field and one can see this franchise being able to replenish its pitching staff easier than others.

Pineda has all the makings to be a consistent ace, but his age and late season struggles do point to some drawbacks. In his rookie year last season, Pineda came out strong overpowering hitters with his fastball command that could reach into the high 90’s (his four-seam fastball had the average velocity of 94.6) as well as a wipe-out slider that generated a high whiff rate against opposing hitters from both sides of the plate. His one major weakness has been his lack of a legitimate change-up. This could prove troublesome especially for a pitcher with such an extreme home-road split who now must learn to overpower opposing left-handed hitters in a park that is generous to power from that side. Utilizing an effective change-up will help, but he has been effective with his slider which produced a 32.4 percent whiff rate as well as a groundball rate above fifty percent from lefties last season.

The trouble for the M’s have been offense and with issues at DH and Justin Smoak performing less than expected – the addition of Montero will give this team some offensive upside for 2012 and beyond.

Montero does project as an above average hitter, but with his positional limitations as well as being a right-handed hitter now playing half his games in Safeco, his value could be dicey. For the Mariners to get the maximum amount in this deal, it’s imperative they take a long look at him as a catcher in 2012. If that turns out to be a failure, the team still has first base to fall back on – assuming that Smoak is no longer an everyday player (which could be unfair still given his age, power potential and manageable strikeout rate).

The Yankees have been quiet this offseason leading many to believe that the team’s announcement to reduce payroll over the next few seasons could be a legitimate goal. Looking beyond 2012, the Yankees have a lot of money tied up in aging veterans and if the Yankees truly saw Montero as nothing more than a DH/occasional 1B he could be difficult to roster over the next few seasons as players like Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter creep closer to age 40.

Using a piece like Jesus Montero while his trade value remains high for Michael Pineda keeps their former clubs from overpaying for these needs this offseason. The Mariners have flirted with the idea of buying into the services of Prince Fielder, but his hefty price tag and long-term commitment could be troublesome down the road. This point is further heightened as other teams in its division such as the Angels and Rangers operate with higher revenues.

On the flip side, the Yankees need quality starters to balance out its rotation, but the premium price placed on All-Star pitching would either continue to drive their payroll abnormally high or cost them quality prospects (something the Yanks were made aware of in its pursuit of Gio Gonzalez last month). These options are untenable for a team looking to get leaner while still staying competitive in 2014

Like the Delmon Young for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett swap in 2007, this trade will be fiercely debated on both sides and it will be interesting to see how things end up in a few years.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week 10 NFL picks

Coming in a bit late, here are my weekly picks to win straight-up based on my confidence level of 1-16, with 16 being the highest:

Raiders at Chargers: I bit it on this one.  I figured the Chargers would have the upper hand at home and were a near lock to break their losing streak.  I failed, however, to account for teh Raiders defense and the Chargers horrible run defense.  I picked the Chargers with a confidence level of 14.

Lions at Bears: tough one, I took the Bears with a confidence level of 6 based on how well Chicago's offensive line has been playing of late.

Jaguars at Colts: Jacksonville has an excellent defense and should find a way to score against the Colts.  Jaguars with a con level of 15.

Broncos at Chiefs: I figure the KC had all week to figure out how to slow down Denver's option.  The Chiefs do have a sufficient run defense and should find a way to squaek a win at home.  KC with a con level of 2.

Steelers at Bengals: Tough game and I'm still on the Cincy bandwagon.  The Bengals with a con level of 1.

Bills at Cowboys: The Bills have too many holes and their offensive should hit another wall in what I think is still a good Dallas defense.  The Cowboys with a con level of 11.

Saints at Falcons: This game is a coin-flip.  I'm going with Atlanta at home with a con level of 3.

Rams at Browns: Cleveland's defense should give them the edge.  Browns with a con level of 8.

Redskins at Dolphins: I think Shanahan is still going to press his players enough to get this win.  The Redskins still have a good pass defense and should bring Matt Moore back down to earth.  Skins with a con level of 4.

Texans at Buccaneers:  Houston is for real.  I like the defense and their offensive line has been solid.  The Bucs can be tough at home but I'm still giving the edge to Houston, con level of 10.

Titans at Panthers:  two horrible defenses going up against each other, but I'm giving teh edge to the Panthers offense.  Carolina with a con level of 5.

Cardinals at Eagles: Despite which Philadelphia team shows up I still think it'll be enough to beat the Cards.  Eagles with a con level of 16.

Ravens at Seahawks:  No, I don't think the Ravens offense has turned a corner but their defense should be enough to make them victorious.  Ravens with a con level of 9.

Giants at 49ers:  This was tough and I'm probably not giving the Giants enough credit.  What can I say?  I love the 49ers this season.  SF with a con level of 12.

Patriots at Jets: Amazing what two weeks can do.  I'm officially a Jets believer.  At home, I'm taking NYJ with a con level of 7.

Vikings at Packers:  This should be a high-scoring affair, but the rivalry should be enough to keep the Packers from napping.  I'm going with Green Bay with a con level of 13.  Total score (as tiebreaker) is set at 56.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Week 9 NFL picks

Since this is my first post on the matter, let me explain: currently I am knee-deep in a football pool with some friends who work at Antigua.  Nothing special, the buy-in is a mere $10 per week and you are then given an excel spreadsheet to fill out before the Thursday evening deadline.

I haven't shared my previous picks, but I thought I would start here with week 9 and quickly jot down my reasons why.

Here are the rules.  You are given a sheet listing each matchup with home teams on the right-hand column and visitors on the left.  Simply mark an X next to the box of the team you think will win (no point spreads, everything is straight up) and signify your confidence with each pick by placing a number from 1-14 (sometimes 16, depending if it's early in the season and no bye weeks are given out). 

The higher the number, the more confident you are and the person with the most points wins the buy-ins... in case of a tie, each person must record the total score for the Monday Night game.  Hopefully the people who are tied gave different scores, if not - the money is shared.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

AFL notes: 10/21/11 (Scottsdale at Surprise)

Scottsdale Surprise
Gary Brown (SF) CF CF Kevin Mattison (FLA)
Jean Segura (LAA) SS SS Leury Garcia (TEX)
Will Middlebrooks (BOS) 3B DH Wil Myers (KC)
Bryce Harper (WAS) LF 3B Mike Olt (TEX)
Alex Hanssan (BOS) DH 1B Joe Terdoslavich (ATL)
Cody Overbeck (PHI) 1B C Kyle Skipworth (FLA)
Joe Panik (SF) 2B LF Todd Cunningham (ATL)
Dan Butler (BOS) C RF Ryan Strausborger (TEX)
Tyson Gillies (PHI) RF 2B Tyler Bortnick (TBR)
Matt Purke (WAS) LHP RHP Shane Dyer (TBR)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Arizona Fall League notes

With some free time my plan is to catch a few extra AFL games this season.  I'm hoping to catch every team and try to throw out some amateur (very amateur, mind you) scouting reports as a way to record my initial thoughts and reactions on a few players.  Please be advised.

To do this right, my objective is to sit directly behind home plate in an effort to eavesdrop on a few scouts... this will be difficult since many of them are spread out and tend to not loudly verbalize their notes (my loss).  But my goal is to become friendly with a few within my earshot and possibly see what kind of relationship develops.  (Not promising anything.)

On to the notes:

The game I attended was the October 18 game at the Peoria Sports Complex between the Peoria Javelinas hosting the Surprise Saguaros. Below is the starting lineup:

Surprise Peoria J.
Kevin Mattison (FLA) CF CF Logan Schafer (MIL)
Tim Beckham (TBR) SS SS Nick Franklin (SEA)
Wil Myers (KC) RF 3B Jedd Gyorko (SD)
Mike Olt (TEX) 3B 1B Matt Adams (STL)
Matt Dominguez (FLA) DH DH Ryan Jackson (STL)
Joe Terdoslavich (ATL) 1B LF Jaff Decker (SD)
Mikie Mahtook (TBR) LF C Adam Moore (SEA)
Kyle Skipworth (FLA) C RF Chih-Hsien Chiang (SEA)
Leury Garcia (TEX) 2B 2B Wilfred Tovar (NYM)
Miguel De Los Santos (TEX) LHP RHP Anthony Bass (SD)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Notes on the 2011 MLB Trade Deadline: NL East edition

As expected, this is forming into a two-team race between the Phillies and the Braves with the latter expected to be named as the league's wild card.  The Mets have installed a talented front office and should be competitive in the next few seasons but no one expected them to hover around .500.  The Marlins are a mess and will be unpredictable while Jeffrey Loria is in charge.  Meanwhile, in the nation's capital, I like to believe that GM Mike Rizzo has a plan since I do trust the direction they are heading.

NL East

Looking at BP's projections, both favorites in this division should easily crack 90 wins with the Phillies coming in at 96-97 and the Braves settling for 92-93.

2011 Payroll 2012 FA's 2012 Arbs.
Phillies $166 M 8 7
Braves $91 M 6 6
Mets $142.8 M 9 5
Marlins $57.7 M 5 11
Nationals $68 M 10 7

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Notes on the 2011 MLB Trade Deadline: NL Central edition

Looking over the NL Central things are looking rather interesting at the top of the standings.  So far, with one week of games played in the second half, we have a mere four and a half games that separate the Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds.

Obviously, the Pirates are a huge surprise and have played .500 baseball since the first few weeks of June.  Many expected them to fade away but they have gained ground and briefly had their time in first place as recently as July 19th.


Going over the playoff odds report at Baseball Prospectus, the Brewers are the favorite but it should be very, very close as it could take as few as 87 wins to wrap up this division.

2011 Payroll 2012 FA's 2012 Arbs.
Brewers $83.5 M 6 9
Pirates $42 M 6 12
Cardinals $109 M 8 6
Reds $80.8 M 6 8
Cubs $134 M 7 6
Astros $77 M 2 7