August 2006

Girardi On the Outs in Florida

The Marlins’ front office appears to be feeding negative info to the press in an attempt to tarnish his reputation before he’s ultimately fired after the season.  The latest is a leak of a series of moves Girardi wanted to make. From David Hyde this morning:

"For instance, back in spring training, according to two Marlins sources, here’s some changes Girardi pushed for: Miguel Cabrera from third to first base; Dan Uggla not at second base but in left field; Josh Willingham at catcher, not Miguel Olivo; Alfredo Amezaga might not have made the team; and young pitchers like Ricky Nolasco and Josh Johnson would have started in the minor leagues."

According to Buster Olney, that kind of info could only have come from a front office leak.  If so, they’re doing a pretty poor job of taking Girardi down a peg.  Remember, it was Marlins’ upper management that screwed Girardi over by conducting an unexpected fire sale after his hiring.  He thought he signed on to manage a contender; he got 25 kids.  I didn’t hear much complaining.

Hindsight is 20/20, and those decisions did not look disastrous before the season began.  Is it really a bad thing to move Cabrera a bit further down the defensive spectrum?  He’s not Scott Rolen, either for defensive skills or effort. 

And the left field situation was a mess before the season began.  The Fish had Jeremy Hermida in right and open auditions for the rest of the outfield.  Whether Willingham could even handle left capably was a complete unknown.  And personally, I still like the idea of Willingham at catcher.  He’s hitting .265/.341/.470 this year.  That’s top-notch for a backstop, and average for a left fielder. Miguel Olivo has worked out behind the plate, but that doesn’t make Girardi a bad manager for considering other options. 

Alfredo Amezaga?  Who cares?  He’s versatile, but he’s 28 and hitting .266/.337/.345. 

It’s just plain unfair to suggest that starting Nolasco and Johnson in the minors would’ve been a bad decision.  Nolasco had shown zero ability to get out Triple A hitters.  Johnson skipped Triple A.  There’s nothing wrong with skipping that level, but it’s not bad for a player’s development to try it when he’s been less than dominant at Double A.

Girardi’s done a capable job managing a ridiculously inexperienced team.  He’s not entirely responsible for their success, but a ton of young guys have come along nicely under his watch.  That’s a feather in his cap.  I’d love to see the Cubs hire him.

Will Roger Clemens Pitch In 2007?

Deja vu all over again: it looks like we’re in for another winter of Roger Clemens rumors.  With a 2.50 ERA in 80 innings, his delayed debut has been a smashing success.  The only problem is that the Astros have a nearly unsurmountable deficit in the playoff standings.

As Buster Olney speculates in his blog today, the Red Sox will probably be willing to pay the Rocket $4MM a month to get them to the World Series in 2007.  Olney figures the chances of this happening are better than 50%.  Would the Yankees counter with $5MM a month and a game-used Luis Sojo baseball bat?  Perhaps.

2007 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

Been to recently?  We’ve just posted an early list of 2007 fantasy baseball sleepers for you to peruse and comment upon.  The list will be continually updated until the ’07 season begins.

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Friday Reading Material

Haven’t done one of these in a while.  It’s time for some Friday Reading Material.

David Pinto tries to determine whether David Ortiz has a shot at Roger Maris‘s single season home run mark.  Why is this relevant?  Maris’s 61 home runs have been topped six times by the likes of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa.  It’s just that Ortiz has managed to stay above any steroid controversy and the other three haven’t.

Speaking of which, check out  I discovered this last week and it’s well done.

Walt Jocketty has blamed everyone but himself for the current group of Cardinals.

Fire Joe Morgan skewers a particularly idiotic column.  Good times.

Why didn’t I think of this?

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Olney: Waiver Trade Candidates

In case you missed it, Buster Olney posted a list of players who have passed through waivers and can be traded to any team before Thursday’s deadline.  Here’s the list:

David Wells
Shawn Chacon
Jae Seo
Sidney Ponson
Bruce Chen

Jeromy Burnitz
Jeff Conine
Jay Payton
Bobby Kielty
Reggie Sanders
Luis Matos
Jay Gibbons
Geoff Jenkins
Gabe Kapler

There are some truly awful players on that list.  But there are also some solid guys who are there simply because they make too much money for what they’ve done this year. Wells and Gibbons are the two names that jump out at me. 

Wells starts tomorrow at Safeco Field, and then has a matchup with Roy Halladay on deadline day.  In four starts this month (against the Yankees, Tigers, Orioles, and Devil Rays), Wells has posted a 2.67 ERA and 1.37 WHIP.  Boomer is a battle-tested big game pitcher, with 120 innings of playoff experience and a 3.15 ERA in the postseason.

Gibbons, 29, has been plagued by injuries for years.  This makes his four-year deal signed this January all the more curious.  Gibbons slugged .516 last year and seemed on the verge of a breakout if he could stay healthy.  He’s suffered a complete power outage this month since coming back from a sprained knee ligament.

2007 Free Agent Market: Starting Pitchers Part 6

Time to finish off our free agent starter review.  The position-based free agent posts are more of a summary of the market; I’ll also do writeups of a lot of individual free agents.

Paul Wilson – Wilson’s two-year, $8.2MM deal signed before the 2005 season has turned out horribly for the Reds.  He had his second labrum surgery in June of last year and has been unable to regain velocity.  A guaranteed contract would be a bad idea, and Wilson’s career may be in jeopardy.

Mets Could Still Add Alou

According to Jon Heyman at Sports Illustrated, some Mets officials still hope to trade for Moises Alou even with Shawn Green already in the fold.  An independent source of mine has verified that given Cliff Floyd‘s inability to stay healthy, the Mets would still like to add Alou.

Alou has spent plenty of time in his career at both outfield corner positions.  He’s playing right field for the Giants right now more out of necessity, as his defense can be ugly at age 40.  He’ll be a free agent after this season, and still mashes when he’s on the field.  He’s hitting .292/.350/.522 this season in 247 ABs.  Alou has dealt with a myriad of injuries this season, and would make a great candidate to play in the AL for the first time in his career next season.  He’s making $6MM this year.

San Francisco is five games out after last night’s win and have won seven of their last nine.

Gil Meche Trade In The Works?

Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist and blogger John Hickey indicates that a trade could be brewing involving Mariners starter Gil Meche.  Meche was scratched from his start against the Yankees tonight.

Meche turns 28 in a few weeks, and he’s a free agent after the season.  He’s been mediocre or worse this season aside from a lights out June.  Meche has been awful in August, allowing 12 earned runs in 11.1 innings in three starts.  Often it’s said that his struggles are largely mental.   

The skipped start could just be a demotion for the way Meche has been pitching, similar to what happened with Joel Pineiro.  The Mets had expressed interest in Meche earlier this season. 

Mets Trade For Shawn Green

The Mets’ much-anticipated acquisition of 33 year-old right fielder Shawn Green was completed today

As I mentioned a week ago, Green represents only a mild improvement over Endy Chavez.  Still, Green has heated up over the last week (.316/.409/.526) and probably didn’t cost much besides money.  It’s not a difference maker, but I can see why the Mets would prefer Green and his track record. The only reason I don’t like the deal for New York is that they’re stuck with Green and his age 34 season in 2007.  I just hope that Willie Randolph can push Green aside if Lastings Milledge is the superior player next season.

2007 Free Agent Market: Starting Pitchers Part 5

Click here to view all of our previous 2007 MLB Free Agent posts.  Today I’ll continue my look at the free agent starting pitchers.

John Thomson – Thomson turned 33 in October.  Elbow soreness and a blister slowed him down in the beginning of the season, followed by shoulder problems from a mild labrum tear.  He’s going to take the rehab approach and hopes to start fresh in ’07.  Thomson made $4.75MM this year; he spent two years as a solid innings eater from 2003-04.  That seems like a long time ago. 

Steve Trachsel – Trax will turn 36 on Halloween. He’s been with the Mets since ’01, and had been quietly dependable until last year.  Trachsel’s K rate is dangerously low this season and he hasn’t walked this many in a long time.  He’s dealt with back spasms this season but has been fairly healthy overall.  The 15 wins look nice, but Trachsel may no longer belong on a contender by 2007.  He’s another one of these guys who can be had for $5MM.

Jeff Weaver – Weaver turned 30 this season.  His awful 2006 has been surprising.  When the Angels signed him for one year and $8-9MM, it seemed like a smart, low-risk move.  On the plus side, Weaver has maintained good control and a tolerable strikeout rate.  On the other hand, he’s allowed a ridiculous number of hits and home runs.  Those rates almost have to regress, and Weaver could be a mild bargain in 2007.

David Wells – Boomer, 43, returned in August from knee problems.  I’m sure it’s still hurting him, but it was a good month (2.67 ERA in four starts).  That month enabled the Red Sox to trade him to the Padres for George Kottaras.  Wells still makes for an intriguing $3MM mercenary that a lot of teams would love to have pitching in a big game.