Friday, December 18, 2009

2010 Team Analysis: Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs:

2009 Record: 83-78

General Manager: Jim Hendry

Manager: Lou Pinella

Organizational Philosophy: In October 2009, Ameritrade founder Jim Ricketts became the majority of owner of both the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field along with a 25% stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago.  Shortly after the purchase, Ricketts vowed not to be too hands on during the 2010 season but he did lay out plans praising the organizational structure of teams like the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies.  He also promised to build a team focused on player development as well as signing players to a dollar amount dictated more towards a player's predicted value rather than current market value.

It's a philosophy more and more teams are headed towards and one current Cubs Gm Jim Hendry needs to embrace if he wants to direct this team after next season.  Hendry has been the GM since 2002 and despite a few post-season appearances the results have been mixed, at best.  Their payroll has slowly risen towards one of the highest among all MLB clubs and only one of their projected starters will be under 30 and their farm system is at least a few years from producing anyone to get excited about.  I'm expecting another ho-hum performance from the Cubs as players will be signed or retained slightly above value before a new regime comes in and tries to figure out the best ways to salvage this franchise as many expensive contracts are set to expire in 2011 and 2012.

2010 Team Analysis: St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals:

2009 Record: 91-71

General Manager: John Mozeliak

Manager: Tony La Russa

Organizational Philosophy: after the firing of former GM Walt Jocketty many wondered if this would point to the end of Tony La Russa's clout within the organization.  Jocketty and longtime manager La Russa were considered allies and usually one didn't make a decision before getting an okay with the other but the recent hire of Mark McGuire as the hitting instructor does signify that La Russa may have more say than one may think.

Since John Mozeliak was hired after the 2007 season, the Cardinals have become much more dependent on acquiring and cultivating young prospects in order to supplement their roster.  Last season, the team made major moves in order to acquire Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa in order to fill needs in the INF and OF and in the middle of the lineup after Rick Ankiel suffered a major neck injury.  This season may force Mozeliak to either go big for a big free agent or look to sign a short-term option until their battered farm system can regroup and produce prospects that are ready.  My guess is that the team will go for the latter in order to not derail their current (original) philosophy.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Chapman Factor (*in brief **with footnotes)

Later today, 21 year old Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman will throw a side session in Houston for a variety of MLB teams.  Much has been said about Chapman's abilities and those more qualified have written about this kid here and here.

Here are the facts we know:

1.  He is left-handed, stands at 6'2", weighs roughly 180 lbs and his fastball can top off at 100 mph (although some rumors persist that Chapman can hit 102 mph on the radar guns).

2.  Chapman pitched for Holguin in the Serie Nacional, Cuba’s professional league, and posted an overall record of 24-21 and would go on to lead the league in strikeouts in two different seasons.

3.  During the World Baseball Classic in March of 2009, Chapman displayed an above average slider but scouts feel that his change-up needs work.

4.  Chapman did struggle against Team Japan at the WBC.  According to scouting reports, his command was off and his lack of secondary pitches (especially his changeup) was apparent against the more patient Japanese hitters.

5.  The Boston Red Sox have "unofficially" presented Chapman with a package totaling $15.5M.

Here is a video taken in 2007 from the World Baseball Cup against Japan:

I'm guessing the bidding won't get too out of hand and that will be a good thing since other teams besides the Yankees and Red Sox will find themselves in the hunt.  Should be interesting.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

2010 Team Analysis: Oakland Athletics

Oakland A’s

2009 Record: 75-87

General Manager: Billy Beane

Manager: Bob Geren

Organizational Philosophy: the key to this offseason is focused on player development with their primary focus on pitching and cultivating high upside positional prospects.  Since Billy Beane has assumed GM duties since 1997, the Athletics have been a team not afraid to remold themselves with shrewd trades, MLB prospects and finding key short-term free agents.

This offseason I expect the Athletics to focus on utilizing their minor league talent pool in various positions while looking to trade certain valuable pieces all with an eye to be contenders in the AL West by 2012.

Roy Halladay Trade Scenarios

After Day 3 of the Winter Meetings it's been reported that the Angels made an official offer for Roy Halladay.  The purported deal would send LHP Joe Saunders, SS Erick Aybar, and top OF prospect Peter Bourjos to the Blue Jays for the highly sought after RHP.

Looking at the financials behind this deal, Saunders will be under team control until after the 2012 season and is set to make $475K and is eligible for salary arbitration.  Aybar is also under team control until after the 2012 season and is set to receive $460K and is also eligible for salary arbitration.  Peter Bourjos will be 23 years old at the start of next season and has yet to use his MLB service time. Halladay, on the other hand, is set to receive $15.75M and is eligible for free agency after this season.

My initial impression of this trade is that it seems fair but it lacks that multiple upside a team needs to cite this trade as a major turning point in one's franchise.  Don't get me wrong, I like Bourjos a lot and I think he'll be ready to contribute as a quality leadoff hitter in 2011 and could be the missing key in a solid young nucleus of Adam Lind in RF and Travis Snider in LF.  However, Vernon Wells' contract does pose a block to any young OF coming up since all three spots seem to be locked up until 2013 at the earliest. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

2010 Team Analysis: Seattle Mariners

Seattle Mariners:

2009 Record: 85-77

General Manager: Jack Zduriencik

 Manager: Don Wakamatsu

Organizational Philosophy: The Mariners have one of the better front offices in baseball led by Jack Zduriencik who made his name scouting and acquiring much of the young talent now leading the Milwaukee Brewers. The M’s did well this season diversifying their roster which focused on cheap defensive-minded talent while stockpiling on young pitching.

This team is very aggressive in moving its young prospects through the ranks.  So far the results have been less than spectacular on that front but with another year of Jack Z. weighing in on the team's draft picks things should look up very soon.

2010 Rule 5 Draft preview

Looking over tomorrow's scheduled Rule 5 draft, I felt it would be wise to preview a few of the favorite players the early teams scheduled are scheduled to choose from.

The Yankees, through their trade of relief pitcher Brian Bruney a few days ago to the Nationals, are set to receive the first pick in the 2010 Rule 5 Draft.  A lot of speculation has them trading this pick after its selection based on their prior history of not taking the Rule 5 too seriously.  I'm guessing that the Yankees will select (or have Washington select the Yankees perferred choice) and keep him. Lots of speculation has the Yankees grabbing a high ceiling arm like Aneury Rodriguez or Edgar Osuna but my guess is that they may go after an MLB ready bullpen arm or a AAA outfielder to shore up depth.

The Pirates are then scheduled to pick second followed by Orioles, Royals, and Indians rounding out the top five.

Notable players after the jump:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

2010 Team Analysis: Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers:

2009 Record: 87-75

General Manager: Jon Daniels

Manager: Ron Washington

Organizational Philosophy: Club President Nolan Ryan seems to have taken the reigns, at least on a public level, and is not shy in making statements to the media about everything from payrolls to pitch counts. Ryan expects the 2010 payroll to stay roughly the same from its ’09 season $68M. They also have an unsettled ownership situation which definitely factors in their finances, so don’t expect them to sign any long term free agents this offseason.

This offseason the Rangers will strongly adhere to a more streamlined approach as the front office looks to improve their communication into a single thinking organism focused on scouting and player development rather than free agent acquisitions.

Friday, December 4, 2009

2010 Team Analysis: Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels:

2009 Record: 97-65

General Manager: Tony Reagins

Manager: Mike Scioscia

Organizational Philosophy: The Angels recently signed GM Tony Reagins to a long term extension. Reagins has shown, unlike former Angel GM Bill Stoneman, a willingness to pull off a trade involving their younger players.  With Reagins at the helm not much has changed in terms of acquiring talent geared towards speed and defense.  This offseason should be interesting with a few key figures set to test free agency

2010 Team Analysis: Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks:

2009 Record: 70-92

General Manager: Josh Byrnes

Manager: A.J. Hinch

Organizational Philosophy: Before the 2008 season, Derrick Hall succeeded Jeff Moorad as President and CEO. Both he and GM Josh Byrnes signed a long term deal that is set to expire after the 2015 season. The first two years of this “plan” has been rocky and a lot of regression has occurred in terms of overall team advancement.  During this time of succession, Byrnes began to make a few key gambles that never paid off.  The extension given to Eric Byrnes was one widely debated at the time and I'm sure split the front office between taking a chance on rookie Carlos Quentin (who struggled in his first full season with the D-Backs due to a lingering shoulder injury) or appease the fanbase and retain Eric Byrnes.  The other gambles that seemed logical at the time, such as signing OF Chris Young and C Chris Snyder to long-term deals, have slowly gone sour thereby making these players difficult to trade.

It can be argued that lately this team has settled on finding many under-the-radar reclamation projects.  Josh Byrnes has also developed the reputation as a GM not afraid to trade away many of his prospects once acquired by their former Scouting Director (and current Washington Nationals GM) Mike Rizzo.  Last June, the D-Backs did run into a wealth of early picks in the 2009 amatuer draft so they do have a lot of upside prospects swimming in the lower levels but I wouldn't be surprised if a few of them are dealt within the next few years in order to address other needs.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2010 Team Analysis: San Diego Padres

San Diego Padres

2009 Record: 75-87

General Manager: Jed Hoyer

Manager: Bud Black

Organizational Philosophy: Former GM Kevin Towers is considered one of the better GM’s in effectively finding bargain talent. It was a surprise to find him let go by the Padres earlier this week. Rumors have speculated that new CEO Jeff Moorad wanted to fill the GM spot with someone who shares his ideas on how to properly construct a baseball team; it's been speculated that those "ideas" center on acquiring high-ceiling talent and dropping the conservative approach once practiced in player development. Moorad has stated to the media that he would be comfortable assembling a team with a payroll between $70-80M within the next few years. Right now the Padres have $21M committed before arbitration and free agent acquisitions but don't expect this team to make any moves towards acquiring a major free agent... yet.

2010 Team Analysis: San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants:

2009 Record: 88-74

General Manager: Brian Sabean

Manager: Bruce Bochy

Organizational Philosophy: After hearing for the past twelve seasons that he may be one of the worst GM's in baseball, Brian Sabean has finally learned to embrace the youth movement (to some extent in terms of pitching although his offloading of Tim Alderson and 21 year old LHP Scott Barmes did have that same futile stench to it) but his need to overpay key positional veterans does leer its ugly head every so often.

2010 Team Analysis: Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies:

2009 Record: 92-70

General Manager: Dan O'Dowd

Manager: Jim Tracy

Organizational Philosophy: After years of focusing on acquiring power hitters to take advantage of their home run friendly enviroment, the Rockies have spent the past four seasons stockpiling an assortment of talented young pitchers and defense. The team is also fond of picking up cheap reclamation projects and cast-offs in the hopes that they can contribute in a smaller role. The results have been quite successful as Colorado now has a farm system loaded with promising young pitchers and high ceiling positional prospects along with a cost-effective bullpen and a few productive bench players.

2010 Team Analysis: Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers:

2009 record: 95-67

General Manager: Ned Colletti

Manager: Joe Torre

Organizational Philosophy: The Ned Colletti era still moves forward with he and the Dodgers coming to terms to a long-term deal last month. Among baseball circles a lot of debate has sprung up on who exactly in the front office (or used to be in the front office) is responsible for the Dodgers recent success. Recent reports have stated that the Dodgers will avoid pursuing any long term free agents due to the lagging economy (although I’m more inclined to believe this is the reason). Spending restrictions or not, Colletti has never been shy of trading away promising prospects for established veterans and with glaring holes in next season’s starting rotation I would expect Colletti to be busy this off season.

MLB 2010 Team by Team Analysis Preview

Beginning today and concluding until the 2009 Winter Meetings in early December, I will be conducting a team by team analysis first beginning with the NL West.  Each team will be presented by order of their 2009 standings.

Before I begin I want to send out a very special thanks to a couple of amazing baseball resources/websites.  The first is Cot's Baseball Contracts, an incredibly detailed and comprehensive center of information dealing with the financial side of baseball and critical to any laymen (such as myself) who feels the need to play hypothetical GM.

Second, I want to thank Tim Dierkes for creating and maintaining my favorite source of MLB information:  Since I discovered this goldmine I've found myself, almost exclusively, going there for any and all baseball news.  Their Offseason Outlooks are incredibly concise and have pretty much laid out the groundwork (for me) on how I would like to format my own offseason analysis (in terms of info and financial obligations each team faces in the coming season).

With all that said, I want to welcome everyone to what I see in store for each MLB team in 2010.  The commentary on each team will be pretty much objective based on recent news sources but I will insert a few personal predictions based both on team needs and each teams unique organizational philosophy.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Born out of the pages of Thoughts + Words = Genius!

It is official!

For the time being all writings and notations that deal with baseball will be posted here. For the past month I've been putting together an off season report on all 30 Major League baseball teams. I'm hoping to have this report on every team done before the Winter Meetings are set to begin on December 7th.

In the meantime, you can take a look at an early draft of my analysis of the National League West over at Thoughts + Words = Genius.  I've also posted some preliminary thoughts on a few teams over at SB Nation where I currently moonlight under the humble guise of The Brain Part II (it seemed that Dodger and D-Back fans found my analysis to be welcoming while Giant fans... not so much). What will follow here is an updated version of that same division along with a similar analysis of the AL West, NL Central, Al Central until finally concluded by my thoughts on the NL East and AL East, in that order.

Thanks and welcome to the site.