Saturday, December 29, 2007

December Transactions

This week I will analyze all the major December transactions made in baseball, except for Rangers transactions (covered last week).

12-2-07 The Houston Astros signed Kaz Matsui to a three-year contract.

Kazuo will take the starting second base job from Mark Loretta. Mark only did okay last year and Kaz will definitely be an upgrade. It should help the Astros, but they’re still far from a playoff team.

12-3-07 The Arizona Diamondbacks traded Carlos Quentin to the Chicago White Sox for Chris Carter.

Carlos Quentin has good potential, but struggled last year. I thought he would do well at the beginning of the year, but he hit .214 with only 5 homers and 31 RBI’s. Chris Carter has played very well in the minors, only hitting under .300 in 2005, when he hit .296.

12-5-07 The Detroit Tigers traded Burke Badenhop, Eulogio De La Cruz, Dallas Trahern, Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo and Cameron Maybin to the Florida Marlins for Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera

The Tigers traded some very good prospects, but adding Miguel Cabrera to their already good lineup makes their batting as good as it gets. Also, Dontrelle will make a very good #3 pitcher in the rotation. From the Marlins side, they got a lot of good prospects and in 2 or 3 years, they should be pretty good.

12-10-07 The Milwaukee Brewers signed Eric Gagne to a one-year contract

Gagne could help the Brewers, he could hurt them, or he could not play. We’ve seen all those things in his career. He helped the Dodgers and the Rangers, he hurt the Red Sox, and he played only 2 games for the Dodgers in ’06. He might be able to fill in for Francisco Cordero’s absence, so I think this was a decent signing.

12-10-07 The San Diego Padres signed Randy Wolfe to a one-year contract

Wolfe had a shoulder injury in July last year and didn’t come back the rest of the season. He should make a good #5 starter, though.

12-12-07 The San Francisco Giants signed Aaron Rowand to a five-year contract

Rowand was an All-Star last year and should really help the Giants. He will take center field over Rajai Davis, a big jump in talent. The Giants are definitely not going to make the playoffs even with Aaron Rowand next year.

12-12-07 The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Andruw Jones to a two-year contract

Andruw really struggled last year in Atlanta and now is in a pitchers park. I don’t think he will do very well, but he definitely could help them, since their center fielder would have been Juan Pierre who will get moved to left, taking the job from Matt Kemp. So basically, Jones takes the job from Kemp.

12-12-07 The Houston Astros traded Luke Scott, Matt Albers, Troy Patton, Dennis Sarfate and Mike Costanzo to the Baltimore Orioles for Miguel Tejada

Since Tejada was mentioned in the Mitchell Report, his value goes down, but he’s still a very talented player. But trading all those prospects for one player who was in the Mitchell Report (unknown at the time, though) isn’t very good. Scott can hit for power. Albers throws lots of strike-outs and has had good minor league ERA’s in ’03, ’04, and ’06. Patton has had very good ERA’s for pretty much his whole minor league career. Sarfate has a minor league ERA of 3.68, and Costanzo had 27 homers and 86 RBI’s last year in AAA. Orioles won this trade.

12-14-07 The Toronto Blue Jays signed David Eckstein to a one-year contract

Since it is just a one-year contract, the Blue Jays will probably not get to the playoffs with Eckstein, but he should help them out next year. He will definitely be better than John McDonald would have been this year. David will fill in nicely until they can get a long-term shortstop.

12-14-07 The Oakland Athletics traded Dan Haren and Connor Robertson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland, Greg Smith, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, and Carlos Gonzalez

The A’s will definitely struggle next year, but in a few years they should be better than they would have been. Carlos Gonzalez is a very good prospect and 4 of these players are probably in the A’s top 10 prospects. The Diamondbacks now have two of the best pitchers in baseball in Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. Good trade for both teams.

12-14-07 The Houston Astros traded Chris Burke, Juan Gutierrez, and Chad Qualls to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Jose Valverde

I don’t understand why either team makes this trade. The D’Backs are going for next year and Valverde is one of the best closers in baseball. The Astros completely stunk last year and probably won’t do good next year, so I don’t get why they would give up prospects.

12-20-07 The Seattle Mariners signed Carlos Silva to a four-year contract

Carlos Silva might have had a losing record last year (13-14), but is still a good pitcher. His losing record was because of his team, though. He only had a 4.19 ERA. He will definitely help the Mariners’ not-so-good pitching.

12-24-07 The Florida Marlins signed Luis Castillo

Luis is just going to be a filler-inner for the Marlins, who aren’t going to do well next year. He will probably hit around .300. But why do this when you have Dan Uggla at second? I don’t get it.

Results of last week’s poll:
Who do you think will win in the Hamilton-Volquez trade?
Rangers – 77%
Reds – 23%

Come back next week for part 3 of the Tom Grieve Trade Analysis.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hamilton Acquired

This week I’ll analyze three recent Rangers moves.

Transaction 1:

On December 21st, the Rangers traded pitchers Edinson Volquez and Danny Herrera to the Reds for outfielder Josh Hamilton.

Josh Hamilton – Hamilton is a RANGER!!!! Yeah!!!! After some serious off-the-field issues limiting him to 15 games from 2003 to 2006, he came back last year with a good year with the Reds. In 2003, Josh left the Devil Rays in Spring Training, and only came back twice to work out with the minor league teams. In 2004, MLB suspended Hamilton for 30 days for multiple drug violations. Later on, they changed it to a year for two more violations in just those 30 days. In 2005, Hamilton was DFA’d and passed through waivers. He had been drinking, taking illegal drugs and had three suicide attempts. In 2006, he injured his left knee, and the D’Rays let him go to the Rule 5 draft, where the Reds ended up acquiring him. Last year Hamilton batted .292 with 19 homers and 47 RBI in 298 at-bats. Hamilton has a real chance at becoming a top 3 center fielder in baseball in the next few years. Plus, he has 5 years left where the Rangers will control him. This is a fantastic addition to the Rangers organization. Josh should be our center fielder for years to come.

Edinson Volquez – Edinson can become a great pitcher or be the next Ruben Mateo. His major league ERA is over 7.00, but was 4.50 last year. He’s got incredible potential, though. Last year he worked his way up from High-A to the majors. As he went up in the minor leagues his ERA’s went down going in order, 7.13 (high-A), 3.55 (AA), and 1.41 (AAA). He’s probably going to start off next year as a number 4 or 5 starter.

Danny Ray Herrera – He was drafted in the 45th round. In his two years in the minor leagues, Herrera has an 11-5 record and a 2.65. He may end up being a solid piece of a major league bullpen someday.

Evaluation:It’s tough to give up Volquez, but we needed a center fielder badly. Also, we have more depth with minor league pitchers (Blake Beavan, Fabio Castillo, Thomas Diamond, Armando Galarraga, Matt Harrison, Eric Hurley, Kasey Kiker, Luis Mendoza, A.J. Murray, Josh Rupe) than center fielders (Julio Borbon, Engel Beltre, John Mayberry Jr.). I think that this is a pretty good deal for the Rangers.
Grade: A

Transaction 2:

On December 12th, the Rangers traded minor league infielder Tug Hulett to the Mariners for first baseman Ben Broussard.

The best Tug Hulett was ever going to be for the Rangers was a utility player. The Rangers really needed a first baseman for this year and Broussard can be that guy. Last year in the majors he batted .275 with 7 home runs and 29 RBI’s in 240 at-bats with the Indians. Tug Hulett hit .275 with 11 homers and 67 RBI’s for triple-A Oklahoma. I think that this is a very good trade, filling a major league need without giving up a high prospect.
Grade: A

Transaction 3:

On December 13th, the Rangers signed Japanese RHP Kazuo Fukumori to a two-year deal. Last year, with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, Kazuo had an ERA of 4.75 with a 4-2 ERA, 17 saves, and 33 strike-outs in 36 innings pitched. Last year, Fukumori was the highest paid player on the team. He didn’t do that well last year, but I think he will do pretty well, given his 2.17 ERA in 2006.

Results of last week’s poll:
Who do you think is the best player in the Rangers' moves the past 2 weeks?
Milton Bradley – 72%
Kazuo Fukumori – 8%
Ben Broussard – 6%
Francisco Cordova – 4%
Chris Shelton – 4%
Edgardo Alfonzo – 1%
Levi Romero – 1%
Tug Hulett – 1%
Clayton Hamilton – 1%
All others – 0%

Record amount of votes – 75 - Thanks!!!

Come back next week for an analysis of December MLB Transactions.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Newberg Report Release Party

On Friday the 14th, Jamey Newberg had his Newberg Report Bound Edition Release Party. This time his guests were John Whittleman, German Duran, Blake Beavan, Chris Davis, and Doug Mathis. The Release Party is always very fun and is where Jamey releases his new book for the year. This week I will write about the Release Party.

The event was held at the Texas Rangers Dallas Office downtown. It was very rainy and trafficy getting there. The first thing my dad and I did was get the 2008 Bound Edition. The Bound Edition has every report Jamey did from the whole year, plus all the stats of every player in the Rangers organization and awards and articles by Jamey on the Rangers’ top prospects. It’s always a great book to read and the best reference anywhere on the Ranger farm system. This year, Jamey’s daughter, Erica Newberg, wrote Jamey’s biography at the end of the book. She did a very good job. Also, this year’s cover looks great.

After we got the books, I played my dad in the video game they had there (MLB2K7). We played as the Rangers (me) vs. Reds (my dad). I beat him 4-3, but we only played three innings. We’ve been to the Rangers Dallas Office twice now and they always seem to have that video game set up for anyone to play.

They had free food for the event. The food they had was hot dogs, pickles, sugar cookies, and sodas. It was pretty good and it was nice of the Rangers to provide it. While we ate, we got to talk with some of the other fans, Allen Cordrey, and Jamey’s wife, Ginger, who was there with Max and Erica and some of Erica’s friends.

After all the players got there, the five of them signed autographs. To get an autograph you had to buy a book. All the players were really nice about signing. I also got Erica’s autograph (on the bio page she wrote on her dad).

One of my friends from school, Ryan Wolfson, was also there with his parents. Once we got autographs, we played each other in MLB2K7. We replayed the World Series, I was the Red Sox, and he was the Rockies. I beat him 13-3.

The Q&A session started pretty soon after we finished. Here are some of the questions and answers:

Q: John: Did you really predict that you’d hit a homer when your suspended regional semifinal game against the Mustangs resumed? Can you tell us the story?
A: John said that he did. He also mentioned he had predicted that he’d homer on the 1st pitch, which he did. He led off the bottom of the12th when the game resumed and after one pitch, the game was over. He said he was no Babe Ruth and wouldn’t be calling any more shots.

Q: John and German: What was it like playing in the futures game?

A: John said it was unbelievable and that it was playing with the best of the best. German said that it felt like the big leagues, with 10,000 people watching.

Q: German: Why didn’t you sign with the Reds after being drafted in 2003?

A: German said that he wanted to go to school, and that he was a little scared because he was 17.

Q: German: What was the key to your offensive success this year?

A: He said that it was because he had a development plan. He was an aggressive hitter, but then became more selective. He also said that last year he tried to pull the ball every time, but that this year he tried to go with the ball. When he was successful with that, pitchers had to pitch him differently and gave him pitches that he could pull successfully.

Q: Doug: Why did you not sign when you were drafted out of Arizona High School or when you where drafted out of Central Arizona State?

A: Doug said he likes college and that he likes Central Arizona. He also said he ended up going to the Big 12 and that he doesn’t regret it.

Q: Chris: Why did you go to Navarro Junior College instead of staying with UT?

A: He said that he had some off-the-field problems at UT and that he wasn’t focused. He also said he was more at home in Navarro.

Q: Chris: Do you prefer pitching or playing the infield?

A: He misses pitching in some ways, but in other ways he doesn’t. He said he has more fun playing the infield.

Q: Blake: What was it like playing on the USA Junior National Team and going to Cuba?

A: Blake said that it was a good experience and that it was fun. He said it made him appreciate what he has, since there were so many poor people in Cuba.

Q: All: What role do you want to play with the Rangers and what role do you think you’ll play?

A: Everyone said that they didn’t really care what role they play as long as they get to the big leagues. They all said that they wanted to help the team. Doug said that he sees himself realistically as a back of the rotation guy. Chris said he thinks he can be a corner infielder or corner outfielder.

Here’s some information from other questions:
- Blake said that he had no idea where he was going to start the season.
- When asked what goes through their heads when they hear trade rumors, Chris said that you never want to see someone go but that trades do open up the door for other people.
- John was asked what he thinks of Elvis Andrus. He said that Elvis is a good player who can hit and run and is an all-around player. He also said that he speaks really good English.
- When asked about his hitting streak, Chris said that he didn’t even know about it until he was more than 20 games into it.
- Someone asked who everyone looked up to. John said he looked up to Derek Jeter and Manny Ramirez. German said Marcus Giles, Blake said Randy Johnson, Chris said Jim Thome, and Doug said he used to look up to Nolan Ryan, but that now he looks up to Brandon Webb (because he’s the same type of pitcher as Doug).
- When asked who they’ve played against or with that they knew would be great, John said Chris Davis.

After that it was over but we hung out and talked to Jamey, Scott Lucas, Mike Rhyner (from The Ticket), and Eleanor Czajka (and her mom) for a while. Jim Sundberg was also there but we didn’t get to talk to him much.

The night was a lot of fun like always. I would like to thank Jamey for putting it on every year. If you haven’t been before, you should go when he does it next year.

Results of last week’s poll:
Who do you think is the best player in the Rangers' moves this past week?
Milton Bradley – 90%
Chris Shelton – 7%
Freddy Guzman - 3%

Come back next week for the December Transactions Report, including an analysis of this week’s Rangers transactions (Kazuo Fukumori and the Ben Broussard trade).

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Shelton Acquired and Tom Grieve Trade Analysis Part 2

This week, I will analyze the Freddy Guzman trade and continue my analysis of Tom Grieve’s trades.

On December 6th, the Rangers traded Freddy Guzman for Chris Shelton.

Evaluation: I think that this is a win. Freddy Guzman is a scrappy, speedy guy who hasn’t come around for the Rangers. He only had 13 at-bats during parts of two seasons with them and obviously wasn’t part of their plans. Chris Shelton had a very good year in 2005 and can hit for power against righties. He can really help out at 1st base and goes to spring training with a chance to be a starter at that spot. This is a good trade because we gave up someone who wasn’t part of our plans with little potential for someone with good potential to help us.

Grade: A

Also, the Rangers signed Milton Bradley to a 1-year contract for $5 dollars. I think he will be a good center field addition. He’s good defensively (.983 career fielding percentage) and can play well offensively. He has a career .273 average over 8 seasons but has had averages as high as .306 (last season) and .290 (2005). He has hit as many as 19 home runs in a season (2004).

This is part 2 of an analysis of the trades Tom Grieve made while he was Rangers GM. This week I will cover the end of 1985. Each trade will be scored a win, loss, or tie. The score is based on how each player contributed to the Rangers at the major league level.

7. 6-20-85 The Detroit Tigers traded Duane James (minors) to the Texas Rangers for Frank Tanana.

Loss – Duane James never made it to the majors. After being traded, Frank Tanana had ERA’s of 3.34, 4.16, 3.91, 4.21, 3.58, 5.31, 3.77, 4.39, and 4.35. Not a very good trade.

Record: 2-3-2

8. 7-19-85 The Cincinnati Reds traded a player to be named later and Duane Walker to the Texas Rangers for Buddy Bell. The Cincinnati Reds sent Jeff Russell (July 23, 1985) to the Texas Rangers to complete the trade.

Win - Duane only hit .174 as a Ranger but Jeff Russell was incredible for us. He played 6 and a half very good years of relief for the Rangers. He was a 2-time All-Star, won the Rolaids Relief Man Award and led the league in saves, all as a Ranger. Buddy Bell didn’t do too much after the trade, his most RBI’s were 75 and best batting average was .284.

Record: 3-3-2

9. 8-28-85 The Texas Rangers traded Cliff Johnson to the Toronto Blue Jays for players to be named later. The Toronto Blue Jays sent Matt Williams (August 29, 1985), Jeff Mays (minors) (August 29, 1985), and Greg Ferlenda (minors) (November 14, 1985) to the Texas Rangers to complete the trade.

Tie - Cliff Johnson didn’t do much after the trade, only playing 1 more year. Matt Williams only pitched 26 innings as a Ranger, Jeff Mays never made it to the majors, and neither did Greg Ferlenda.

Record: 3-3-3

10. 9-13-85 The Philadelphia Phillies traded Rick Surhoff to the Texas Rangers for Dave Stewart.

Loss - Rick Surhoff only pitched 8 and a third innings as a Ranger. Dave Stewart had 5 years of over 225 innings pitched after the trade with ERA’s in those years of 3.68, 3.23, 3.32, 2.56, but then 5.18. Interestingly, Stewart only pitched 16.6 innings for the Phillies over parts of two seasons (with ERA’s of 6.23 and 6.57) before they released him. He then signed with the A’s, where he had some great years.

Record: 3-4-3

11. 11-2-85 The Montreal Expos traded Pete Incaviglia to the Texas Rangers for Jim Anderson and Bob Sebra.

Win - Pete Incavilia had 5 good years with the Rangers and a total of 124 home runs in those 5 years. Jim Anderson didn’t play in the majors after the trade, and Bob Sebra only had a career total of 366 and two-thirds innings pitched over 94 games in 6 years.

Record: 4-4-3

12. 11-25-85 The Chicago White Sox traded a player to be named later, Ed Correa, and Scott Fletcher to the Texas Rangers for Wayne Tolleson and Dave Schmidt. The Chicago White Sox sent Jose Mota (December 11, 1985) to the Texas Rangers to complete the trade.

Tie - Ed Correa only played two years with the Rangers and didn’t pitch very well either (ERA’s of 4.23 and 7.59 during two seasons). Scott Fletcher had 3 good years as a Ranger, with batting averages of .300, .287, and .276. Jose Mota has 38 career at-bats. Wayne Tolleson only had 9 career home runs and the best batting average he had after the trade was .265. Dave Schmidt pitched pretty well for the next 3 years after the trade, with ERA’s of 3.31, 3.77, and 3.40 in those three years.

Record: 4-4-4

Results of last week’s poll:
Who do you think is the best player the Rangers got in last week’s trades?
Mitch Williams – 52%
Toby Harrah - 41%
Don Slaught – 5%
All others – 0%

Come back next week for a write-up on Friday’s Newberg Bound Edition Release Party.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tom Grieve Trade Analysis Part 1

This week I’m starting a multi-part analysis of all the trades Tom Grieve made when he was Rangers GM. This week I will cover the first half of his first year as GM. Each trade will be scored a win, loss, or tie. The score is based on how each player contributed to the Rangers at the major league level.

1. 11-7-84 The Montreal Expos traded Chris Welsh to the Texas Rangers for Dave Hostetler.

Win – Dave Hostetler didn’t play in the majors again after the trade until ’88, and even then it was with Pittsburgh and only for 6 games. The Rangers got one good year out of Chris Welsh. Chris had a 4.13 ERA in 76 innings pitched, in his one year as a Ranger.

Record: 1-0-0

2. 1-18-85 As part of a 4-team trade: The Texas Rangers sent a player to be named later and Danny Darwin to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Milwaukee Brewers sent Jim Sundberg to the Kansas City Royals. The New York Mets sent Tim Leary to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Kansas City Royals sent Don Slaught to the Texas Rangers. The Kansas City Royals sent Frank Wills to the New York Mets. The Texas Rangers sent Bill Nance (minors) (January 30, 1985) to the Milwaukee Brewers to complete the trade. (From a Rangers standpoint, this was basically Danny Darwin and Bill Nance for Don Slaught.)

Loss – Bill Nance never played in the majors. But Danny Darwin pitched pretty well throughout his 21-year career including 11 years after the trade (career ERA of 3.84). He had an ERA under 4.00 (3.80 and 3.17) in both of the two years he spent with Milwaukee after the trade. In the three years Don Slaught was here, the most at-bats he got in a year was 343. His playing time decreased each of the three years he was here (343 AB to 314 to 237) as did he batting average (.280 to .264 to .224). He was good defensively behind the plate while here but I would rather have a solid pitcher than a part-time catcher.

Record: 1-1-0

3. 2-27-85 The New York Yankees traded Toby Harrah to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later and Bill Sample. The Texas Rangers sent Eric Dersin (minors) (July 14, 1985) to the New York Yankees to complete the trade.

Loss – After the trade Toby Harrah did almost nothing for us, batting .270 and .218 in the two year he played for us after the trade, with little power (16 homers over two years). He played in only 126 games in 1985 and 95 games in 1986 (his last year in the majors). Bill Sample was a solid back-up for the two years following the trade (.288 in 59 games in 1985 and .285 in 92 games in 1986) and Eric Dersin never made it to the majors.

Record: 1-2-0

4. 4-4-85 The Seattle Mariners traded Orlando Mercado to the Texas Rangers for Donnie Scott.

Tie - Orlando Mercado only had 102 at-bats as a Ranger. Donnie Scott had a .217 career batting average on 443 career at-bats.

Record: 1-2-1

5. 4-4-85 The Texas Rangers traded Kevin Buckley to the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later. The Cleveland Indians sent Jeff Moronko (April 29, 1985) to the Texas Rangers to complete the trade.

Tie - Kevin Buckley only had 7 career at-bats. Jeff Moronko only had 30.

Record: 1-2-2

6. 4-6-85 The San Diego Padres traded Mitch Williams to the Texas Rangers for Randy Asadoor.

Win – Randy Asadoor only had 55 career at-bats. Mitch Williams pitched three good years for the Rangers with ERA’s of 3.58, 3.23, and 4.63.

Record: 2-2-2

Results of last week’s poll:
What team do you think has had the best off-season so far?
Angels – 83%
Red Sox – 8%
Tigers – 4%
Other – 4%
All other teams – 0%

Come back next week for Part 2 of the Tom Grieve Trade Analysis.