5 Surprises Rumors
Five surprises about the Dodgers I would not have predicted in the offseason...
- Zach Lee signing. Signability concerns dropped Lee to #28 in the June draft, and many accused the Dodgers of purposely taking a player they knew they wouldn't sign. Instead, they gave Lee a club-record $5.25MM bonus to pass on a baseball and football career at LSU.
- Manny Ramirez claim. It wasn't shocking that the Dodgers let Manny go to save $3.8MM. It was a surprise that a team that still considers itself a contender felt they'd be better off without Ramirez.
- Matt Kemp's struggles. The .299 career hitter slumped to .255 this year and his defense dropped off too, according to UZR. The difference from '09 might end up being a matter of four wins or so.
- Jonathan Broxton's struggles. More than anything, Broxton's batting average on balls in play jumped up. He's also lost a few miles per hour on his average fastball, bringing him back to his still-respectable '07 level of about 95. It's been enough to allow Hong-Chih Kuo to sneak into the closer role.
- Rafael Furcal's season. He's missed significant time due to injury, but is having his best season outside of his 36-game '08 stint.
Five Rockies surprises I would not have predicted in the offseason...
- Brad Hawpe released. During the offseason Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd said he was willing to listen to trade offers for Hawpe, but he wasn't shopping the player. Hawpe's playing time dwindled until he was released in mid-August.
- Chris Iannetta's demotion. The Rockies agreed to a three-year deal with Iannetta in December, but signed Miguel Olivo to split time with him the following month. Before the end of April, Iannetta was demoted to Triple A for about a month. Iannetta could be attractive on the trade market this winter, but the Rockies may need him if Olivo's club option turns mutual and he becomes tough to re-sign.
- Huston Street making his season debut on June 23rd. In January, the Rockies were so enamored of Street they extended him through 2012 at a minimal discount even though they already controlled him for '10. Street had a decent-sized injury history, though, so this year's shoulder issue didn't come out of nowhere.
- Jhoulys Chacin's season. Chacin wasn't a household name, though he was ranked fourth among Rockies prospects by Baseball America before the season. He's been a crucial member of the team in 2010, with a 3.79 ERA in 102 innings. Aaron Cook hasn't performed as expected and Jeff Francis and Jorge de la Rosa have dealt with injuries, so Chacin has been a godsend.
- Carlos Gonzalez's season. Given Gonzalez's strong 2009 trial, his performance this year isn't a shock. Still, I didn't expect an MVP-caliber year from the center fielder.
Five Diamondbacks surprises that I would not have predicted in the offseason:
- Josh Byrnes' firing. Byrnes' contract ran through 2015 and included an ownership stake, so his July dismissal took me by surprise. The departure of Jeff Moorad may have been a factor, reported the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro. General Managing Partner Ken Kendrick cited the team's weak farm system as a primary reason, in that Piecoro article.
- Brandon Webb a non-factor. Byrnes and the rest of the team's management saw enough in Webb to exercise his club option in January at an $8MM net cost. Presumably they expected at least five months out of him. Instead, his recovery from August 2009 shoulder surgery will delay his 2010 debut until September, when he'll try to make a few relief appearances.
- The terrible bullpen. I wasn't thrilled with the D'Backs' additions of Aaron Heilman and Bob Howry, but I did not expect their pen to post an ERA near 6.00. Chad Qualls and Juan Gutierrez were much worse than expected, but the D'Backs haven't found much on the scrap heap or in the minors either.
- The Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson trades. Haren is signed through 2012 and Jackson through '11, but once Byrnes was fired these trades became much more realistic. I also thought Haren would bring a better package in return if dealt.
- The performances of Chris Young, Ian Kennedy, and Kelly Johnson. The bounceback seasons for Young and Johnson were not shocking, as they've had big league success before. The feeling on Kennedy heading into the season was that he made for a questionable #3 starter who would be decent if healthy. The 25-year-old righty is having a fine season with 140 strikeouts in 158 innings.