Baseball Diamond News

Sunday, February 27, 2005

IBL Team Report - After Draft team Analysis

Well my team in IBL is pretty much set. Within the next 10 days I need to trade or cut one player as I am acquiring CHN Wuertz from SPO as part of a draft deal we made with one another.

My team is going to look like this:

C: BAL Lopez and CHN Barrett - I reacquired Lopez last season and he carried me into playoffs before getting hurt. I expect less from him this season, but I still expect an above average performance from him. Barrett was the #1 pick in the draft in 2000 by the previous owner. Since then his cards have been awful and I am actually looking forward to using his card this season. At some point in the year I expect to make a trade to acquire a 3rd catcher, but for the moment I ran out of space.

1b: NYN Valent, PIT Ward, FLA Conine - Valent was scheduled to be my LF vs. righties this year, but his defense was so poor out there we are planning on using him at 1b. He should provide us with some power and his D range makes him very usable at 1b. Ward was acquired in a trade last year and I regret it to this day. I am hoping he can give me some good PA's off the bench. Conine who I acquired for Palmeiro this off-season will help out vs. lefties and also is very strong defensively at 1b. I also have Travis Lee and Brad Fullmer, but Travis Lee is uncarded and Fullmer mostly DH.

2b: CHN Grudzielanek, CLE Belliard, CIN Freel - Grudzielanek will be my starting 2b vs. righties and will probably bat 2nd this year. Since Grudzielanek was hurt half of last year and was just awful verse lefties I was forced to trade for another 2b this off-season. That 2b is Belliard who kills lefties and we expect him to be able to step in if needed for Grudzielanek if he is hit with a serious injury.

SS: FLA Gonzalez, TB, Lugo, TOR Gomez - For the last 4 years FLA Gonzalez has been the starter for COU, but now he will only play vs. lefties and for defensive replacement. Why? Well after looking over Gonzalez's splits we decided that having him in the lineup vs. Righties would kill any chance of us making playoffs and acquired Lugo. Lugo will be our started vs. righties and if Gonzalez is moved will be our everyday starter with Gomez providing insurance in case of injury.

3b: SF Alfonzo, CIN Freel - Alfonzo is our primary 3b and will get most of the starts there this year. Freel will get about 45-50 games at 3b this year because of his usage need and also his defense is better than Alfonzo. In key games Freel will start vs. righties as he hit them better than Alfonzo did.

LF: TEX Mench, MON Sledge, FLA Conine, OAK Kielty - Coming into the off-season we did not have any LF, now we have 4. We traded a #1 for Mench and have high hopes for him in the future and hope he will be our everyday starting LF, but this season Mench will start vs. lefties in LF this year and also DH a lot vs. righties. Sledge whom we were very surprised lasted until 3-21 was drafted and will start vs. righties. He adds a more power to a lineup that is missing power. Conine will play in LF if either Sledge or Mench get injured and have to be inactive. Kielty can play both LF and RF and will only be used in RF for my team.

CF: CHN Patterson, CIN Freel - In 2001 Patterson was the 6th pick in the draft. He has not yet developed into what I had envisioned, but is getting better and shows signs of major improvement. His defense this year will be better and he will be iron, so him getting injured is not a concern. The major concern is the 160+ k's he had and how that will look on his card. I am hoping his bunt rating is high as last season he was 10-20 bunting for a hit with no one on. Freel will get about 30 starts out in CF for usage reasons.

RF: SD Giles, CHA Ordonez, OAK Kielty - Giles who went from LF to RF this year is my starter vs. Righties in RF. Also Giles has always been a defensive liability, but moving to RF his range went to a C which helps out as a major part of my success will be defense this year. Ordonez who is a liability on the field due to his injury rating will mostly be DH as Kielty will be my vs. lefties RF. Kielty acquired in off-season has a major split, but when playing vs. lefties adds more power and as I stated earlier something we are lacking overall.

Bench: TEX Fullmer, TOR Gomez, CIN Freel - These guys got very little mention above. Fullmer will be a DH only if he actually does something in MLB 05 if not he will be a usage casualty for my team. Gomez is a sub off bench who gets on vs. lefties and allows me to carry a lot of 1b's because of his versatility. Freel will get about 400 + pa's off bench as a super-sub. He can play almost every position and adds a lot of speed to the team.

SP: CHN Zambrano, HOU Oswalt, TEX Drese, BAL Bedard, TB Bell - I was debating going with a 4-man rotation, but after drafting Bedard have decided to go with the traditional 5-man rotation most of the season. Zambrano and Oswalt are my aces and will hopefully have great seasons. Drese was a fa-pickup last season and he ended up having a pretty good year. He gives up a lot of singles, but he also gives up a ton of ground balls and hopefully they can turn into DP’s. With Bedard and Bell we don't have the strongest back end of a rotation, but we will be looking to upgrade during the season if needed. I have a few more sp's but they are for the future and don't have a major role on team and will be talked about after the rp's.

RP: TEX Cordero, FLA Benitez, PIT Gonzalez, ATL Cruz, TB Colome, ATL Reitsma, SEA Mateo, SD Tankersley, CHN Wuertz - This is my strongest part of my team. This season Benitez is going to be my closer and Cordero will be my setup man. PIT Gonzalez is a shutdown lefty who gets both righties and lefties out. Since I have become owner I have never had a lefty reliever that could do that so I am not sure how to use him best yet, but I am sure I will find ways to make him useful. Cruz is going to be my middle relief guy this season and probably log in some major innings. Colome gives up a ton of long balls to lefties so in Wrigley (where I play) you might not see much of him, but he will be used a lot vs. righties as he shuts them down. Reitsma, Mateo and Tankersley are all going to be used in mop-up innings and certain situations, i.e. in big parks Mateo will be used as his weakness is the long ball; Reitsma gets a ton of DP’s so with men on 1st and less than 2 out he will be used. Wuertz does not have many innings and we are hoping he is a long term investment in the pen. He has a high k/9 rating and shouldn't be too hard to get his innings in this season.

Extra Pitchers: STL Haren, COL Francis- Both these guys will get a few starts this year so they can make usage, but neither will help this team until next year at the earliest. If both have fine years in MLB05 then our rotation for the future will look very bright.

So my expectations this year are that we should contend for a wildcard spot again and hopefully do better in coaching and make it further into playoffs. Last year a bunch of mismanagement moves during the last 2 weeks and during the playoffs themselves helped me lose after doing so well all season. I have learned from my prior mistakes and hopefully will not be doomed to repeat them. I expect this team can win between 90-93 games. I need to somehow add about 5 more wins to the team to make them a playoff team and that won’t be easy to do without giving up some of the future, but it will be necessary to win. I am told by MCM owner Sean, “Flags fly forever.”

Opening Day Cubs

Well for the 1st time since 1993 and only the 3rd time since 1984, I have not purchased the Cubs home opener tickets. I might look on Ebay or even pay a scalper above ticket price to go, but at the moment it looks as if I am not going to go. This is one day of the year I always look forward to. It started way back in 1984, the first year I skipped school and took the Green line down town to the Red line and then to the opener. After that day I told myself to try to make home openers at all costs. For the next 6 years it was smooth sailing nothing got in my way of going to the games, that is until I went away to school. I went away to high school and the next 2 years I could not attend because I was not allowed to leave in middle of week to go back to Chicago and it usually conflicted with some high school sporting event I was involved in. Then in 1993 I figured I was set and nothing would stop me from going to the games as I was in college and my own boss. Well I was wrong there also. I had a religion teacher (who I swear was the devil) and she was a wicked old lady, and gave us a test that day and would not let me take it a day earlier or later and since it was half our grade I had to stay and take the test instead of going to game. After that class I made another vow to myself to not miss anymore openers and I made good on that vow, until now it looks like. I would love to go to the opener, but I did not feel like trying to beat out all the fair-weather fans getting bracelets and the scalpers flooding the phones and internet this year. So what will I be doing for the opener this year? Well if I don’t break down and get tickets, I can guarantee that I will be on my couch with Carl and Butkus (my 2 ½ year old Rottweiler and 10 month old English Mastiff) watching the game.

Cubs Update: Raul Valdez injured.

Well it looks like Raul Valdez is the first casualty this spring. He was actually hurt in the Domican Republic on a comebacker. He is still in a cast and is not expected to make the roster. I have been trying to read more about him because when I talked about him earlier I said I didn't know much about him. What I have heard is he has a lively arm and the Cubs hope for him to help out in the near future.
The Cubs also have had Jerry Hairston Jr. playing multiple positions for them during camp. This I think could be very beneficial to him and the Cubs. If Jerry can play some OF, 3b, and 2b for the Cubs he can be to the Cubs what Ryan Freel was to the Reds, but hopefully with better results (not that Freel's results were shabby). This then hopefully would mean some more playing time for Dubois, who I think will have a nice season for the Cubs.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

IBL Team Off-Season Update

Since the last update, my team has been very busy. I traded my 4-23 pick to COL for Julio Lugo who will step right in and become my new starting SS. This years card for FLA Gonzalez was just too bad to be in the lineup and I am finally throwing in the towel with him. With the 5-5 pick I traded that to WMS for OF Kielty who will be my starting RF vs. lefties. He plays good defense and has some power and allows me to put Magglio Ordonez at DH to avoid any injury to him. I also traded the recently acquired Raffey Palmeiro to CAP for Jeff Conine to help out against lefties with not too much of a one-sided split. I then had to trade the 6-1 pick because if I had not it would have not been able to be used because of a full 35 man roster.
With the 3-21 pick I got OF Termal Sledge. He was #1 on my list for that pick though I did not think he would last that long. I was at first upset about the pick and the way I made the list, but looking at my roster he actually fits well. He will platoon with Mench in LF this season and hopefully he does well with the Nationals or whomever he is traded to next year. Then with the 4-2 pick I had it down to 4 people: 1)Bucky Jacobsen who is a one year zoid card, but would have been very nice to have. 2) Jorge Piedra who did ok in his callup but could only hit the ball in Coors and that scared me. 3) Koyie Hill who will be given every chance to win the starting job in Arizona, but with Michael Barrett and Javey Lopez behind plate I decided to pass. 4) Erik Bedard the guy I picked. I took Bedard hoping last year was his tune-up year from surgery and he takes a step forward. He will be on a very short lease with me this year and if he has a disasterous year, he most likely might get cut at end of season.
My roster is set at 35 at the moment, but currently I am trying to trade one player and pick up another draft pick so I can draft 1 player that is still available. I think I should be able to contend for a playoff spot again which will be nice, but if my team falters early I will be dumping a lot of players and play for 2006.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring: Cubs Pitching Preview

Well the pitchers and catchers reported to Spring training yesterday. YIPPIE!!!!! Baseball time is here. Especially now that hockey is now officially over, this gives me something to look forward to watching.
The rotation looks set for the most part this year: Wood, Prior, Maddux, Zambrano and Rusch (though they have said he is not guaranteed a SP). This rotation is still very solid even with the subtraction of Clement. If either Rusch fails at the 5th spot or if someone gets hurt the Cubs have Angel Guzman, Sergio Mitre, and even Todd Wellemeyer whom they can insert into the rotation without too much nail biting.
The pen at the moment looks very crowded and the only guys guaranteed a spot are Dempster, Hawkins and Remlinger. If Borowski shows that he is healthy will also make the team even if he gets hammered in spring training, based on his 2003 results the Cubs will ignore the Spring Training stats. This may be a mistake on their part because if Borowski doesn't rebound a lot, he will be a 1 year wonder pitcher whom the Cubs should dump. The next guy in the pen should be Wil Ohman. He had a great showing in the winter leagues and looks to be recovered from arm surgery. A major plus for Ohman is that he is a lefty and would be a great addition to the pen especially since I think he is a major improvement over Mercker. I am not sure if the Cubs will go with 11 or 12 pitchers, but let’s assume it will be 12 pitchers for the sake of making it easier. This leaves 2 spots open in the pen with a battle between: Wuertz, Wellemeyer, Randolph, Novoa, Caruthers, Mitre, Oropesa, Jimmy Anderson and Chad Fox. Oropesa and Anderson will both be cut and/or offered spots in AAA, Caruthers will be appearing in AAA, Mitre will also be heading back to Iowa to get innings in as SP. This then leaves the battle between Wuertz, Wellemeyer, Novoa, Randolph and Fox. Fox probably will be headed to DL so he can get extra time to rehab his arm and make life easier on the Cubs decision making. Randolph should be cut and should have never been traded for, but with that said if he shows control in camp he might turn heads, but that doesn't appear likely. With Novoa being acquired for Farnsworth he is almost assured a spot on the team unless he goes into Spring and gets hammered to the extend it is like rewatching Matt Karchner pitch all over again. This leaves the last spot in the pen between Wuertz and Wellemeyer which might go to Wellemeyer though I think Wuertz has a better upside in the pen. Wuertz had a killer 2nd half last year after getting hit pretty hard in the 1st half with the Cubs. If he shows that the 2nd half was not a fluke, he will move up fast in the ranks of the Cubs pen.

So the staff should look like this:
Kerry Wood
Mark Prior
Greg Maddux
Carlos Zambrano
Glendon Rusch

Ryan Dempster
Latroy Hawkins
Mike Remlinger
Joe Borowski
Wil Ohman
Robert Novoa
Todd Wellemeyer

Now I am not sure if the pen shows much improvement over last season, but it is different. I think that even though losing Farnsworth talent hurts with him being a head case and very unreliable he can be replaced easily. Mercker I thought was overrated as he might have had a low ERA, but whenever he was in a key situation it always seemed like he was failing to get outs.
I will review the catchers tomorrow. Sorry for the slow posting, should be very regularly updated now, especially since baseball is finally here.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Kyle Farnsworth traded

The Cubs traded Farnsworth and a PTBNL today to the Detroit Tigers for 3 minor leaguers. The players acquired pitcher Roberto Novoa, infielder Scott Moore and outfielder Clarence “Bo” Flowers. Neither Moore nor Flowers made the Tigers Top 10 on Baseball America's prospect list.

On the Q&A at Baseball America someone asked about Scott Moore and this is what was said:
Pat Caputo: Once in awhile, he will drive the ball very hard or far, but not consistently. But honestly, it's difficult to see how he was taken eighth overall in the draft. Especially as a shortstop.

Not an encouraging sign, and there was not any questions asked about Clarence Flowers which also is not too encouraging. Novoa's name came up in the session and was described as limited.

Well my take on this is that the PTBNL should not be any good as the 3 guys the Cubs received don't look to be any good. I understand that the organization had to trade Farnsworth for leaving the last day of the year, so not to be hippocrates about trading Sosa for the same reason, but I think Hendry traded Farnsworth for almost no talent. For a pitcher with the arm Farnsworth has you'd think the Cubs would get one decent prospect.

This off-season I have to give Hendry a D on his trades and fa-signings. There hasn't been a think he has done this off-season to improve the Cubs. I will write more in-depth on this later, but I have to say I am very pessimistic about 2005.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Dave Hansen

Today the Cubs signed PH extraordinaire Dave Hansen to a minor league deal. Now a week ago I would have said there is no way on earth that Mr. Hansen would make the Cubs, but now I am not so sure. Since 1996 Hansen has had improved one year and decline the next in OPS: .524, .879, .806, .985, .721, .755, .691, and .716. So if he stays consistent and as the old cliché goes "history repeats itself" this year is going to be a down year for him and being under a .716 OPS is not worthy of a spot on the team especially when your job is to hit. The Sammy trade is official and by acquiring Jerry Hairston Jr. the Cubs have more flexibility to keep Hansen. I hope they don't keep him because his skills are declining and I think it will be the equivalent of the Lenny Harris signing two years back. Another reason he might stick is in winter league ball Dave Kelton injured his thumb. I don't know the extent of the injury so it might be very minor, as the Cubs think that he should be fine by camp.

More thoughts on JD Drew

My good buddy Chris from IBL and who also runs the blog @TheBallPark brought up a valid point to me that I really never thought about. What if JD Drew did not want to come to Chicago? Now I don't know why someone wouldn't want to play 81 games a year in Wrigley Field, but I do know there are many people that don't like the park and/or don't like the Cubs. Maybe those were factors in JD Drew not being a Cub. For all I know maybe Hendry offered him the same contract or even a better one (I doubt that happened, but could have). Maybe Scott Boras (Drew's agent) didn't answer the phone when Hendry called, or maybe Hendry didn't answer the phone when Boras called him. All I do know is that it would have been nice to have him in the outfield, Sosa or no Sosa.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Sosa Trade Official

Well Sosa is gone and received absolutely nothing for him in my opinion. What is worse is that the Cubs then went ahead signed Burnitz. What is even worse than that Burnitz costs as much as Sosa's contract if you look at it in depth. The Cubs have given the Orioles 12 million dollars and given Burnitz 5 million dollars, which almost equals what they would have paid him.
What makes no sense is if Hendry was so insistent on trading Sosa, why didn't he get into the FA pool much earlier? What is this man thinking? After ripping off the Dodgers in the Hundley trade and the Pirates in the Ramirez trade, I don't think he has the best track record. His FA signings have not impressed me. When you put a bench of Bako, Macias, Goodwin, and Martinez together last year and expect to win you aren't the brightest cookie in the world (I excluded Hollandsworth and Walker from list because they are decent players). He should have jumped at the chance to sign JD Drew when he was an FA, he was the perfect fit for the Cubs. His bat would have been a key asset in the lineup, instead Burnitz is in the lineup. Burnitz in some of the preseason predictions of stats looks like he will have a better year than Sosa, but you have to keep in mind Burnitz stat's were projected for Coors. This is a guy who kills the ball in Coors with a 1.057 OPS, but once he leaves it he hits a paltry .775 OPS. Over last three years in 38 plate appearances at Wrigley he has hit .286/.342/.371 equally an even lower OPS than he hit on the road last season. If anyone can see how this makes sense please tell me, I would really like to know how it does make sense.

Call me a pessimist, but with this team they have, I feel the Cubs will be lucky to finish more than 5 games over .500 and this is on the high end. They have some major holes which I think they can't overcome and a manager that can't manage during a game. As much as Baker gets his players ready for games and give 100%, when it comes to game time he has to be one of the worst managers in baseball. He is horrible with his pitchers, leaves starters in too long and never has any faith in pen. He kept "Wave them home" Kim around a year too long until some upstairs told him he had to go. He doesn't know when to steal, bunt or hit and run. Baker manages like he needs to win all his games on HR's and well without Alou and Sosa the Cubs are going to have a hard time hitting them.

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