Sunday, November 29, 2009

Free Agent Infielders

This week I analyzed the top free agent infielders on the market, and I determined which teams might be the best fits for them.

1B/3B Russell Branyan – Russell only hit .251 last year, but he also hit 31 home runs with 76 RBI’s in just 431 at-bats. He was a huge part of the Mariners’ success in the early part of the year, hitting .333 in April, and .317 in May, with 11 home runs and 23 RBI’s in those two months. The Mariners need Branyan as they don’t have another good option at first base for this year, so I think he will go back to Seattle.
Good fits – Mariners, Yankees (as DH), Braves, Giants

1B Adam LaRoche – Adam had a great year after being traded to the Braves in 2009. With the Braves he hit .325 with a .401 OBP, 12 HR, and 40 RBI’s in 212 at-bats. He is a Type B free agent, so the Braves would get compensation if he signed with another team. But I don’t think he will sign with another team, because in Atlanta he was well-liked, played well, and the Braves can’t afford to lose him, as their second best option is Barbaro Canizares.
Good fits – Braves, Giants

2B Orlando Hudson – Orlando hit .283 last year, well down from his .305 average in 2008. He is not much of a power hitter, as his career high is just 15 home runs, and last year he hit only 9. The Dodgers will definitely try to keep him, as Ronnie Belliard is a free agent also, but I’m not sure if he’ll stay, since he was only a platoon player with Belliard in last year’s playoffs.
Good fits – Angels, Tigers, Braves, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants

2B/SS Marco Scutaro – Marco had a very good year last year, as he hit .282 with a .379 OBP, 12 HR, and 60 RBI’s. He is always a very good fielder, and he had a .984 fielding percentage. He had an OBP over .390 in every month except for June (.328) and September (.310). He could change a team with a poor middle infield from a borderline playoff team to a definite playoff team.
Good fits – Angels, Twins, Tigers, Red Sox, Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants

2B/3B/SS/OF Mark DeRosa – Mark had a down year last year (hitting .270 with Cleveland, .228 with St. Louis). But the three previous years, he had averages of .296, .293, and .285, respectively with 44 home runs and 233 RBI’s total. The Cardinals might not bring him back, since they will have to pay Pujols big next off-season, and Mark will probably want to start somewhere, and not be on the bench.
Good fits – White Sox, Tigers, Red Sox, Braves, Phillies, Cardinals, Giants

3B Chone Figgins – Chone is on the Angels’ top priority list along with John Lackey. Chone had a very good year last year, hitting .298 with 5 home runs and 54 RBI’s along with a .395 OBP. That was following a down year in 2008, when he hit just .276. Chone is a good lead-off hitter who could help a lot of clubs, even though he was just 3-for-35 in last year’s playoffs.
Good fits – Angels, Twins, Phillies

SS Orlando Cabrera – Orlando qualifies as a Type A free agent, and the Twins will probably not be looking to keep him in Minnesota, as they traded for JJ Hardy earlier in the offseason. Orlando had a fine year batting average wise, hitting .280 with the A’s, and .289 with the Twins. But he did not have a very good on-base percentage, with only a .318 OBP with Oakland, and a .313 OBP with Minnesota. He also is not much of a power hitter, with just 9 home runs and 77 RBI’s total last year. He is a good player, but he will probably want a contract larger than what he deserves.
Good fits – Tigers, Cardinals

SS Miguel Tejada – Miguel is also a type A free agent, and he will also want a large contract. The Astros almost surely will not resign him for next year, as they are not considered a contender for next year, or anytime in the near future. He had a very good year last year, hitting .313 with 14 home runs and 86 RBI’s. He is 36, so he probably won’t get a long-term contract.
Good fits – Angels, Tigers, Red Sox, Cubs

Come back next week for free agent outfielders.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Free Agent Starting Pitchers

This week I analyzed the top free agent starting pitchers on the market, and I determined which teams might be the best fits for them.

John Lackey – Lackey qualifies as a Type A free agent, which means that whichever team signs him would have to give up their first-round pick, unless they have one of the top 14 picks (in which case they would give up their second-round pick). Lackey has had an ERA under 3.85 every year since 2005. He has been consistently good, and could push a borderline playoff team into elite status.
Good fits – Twins, Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers

Erik Bedard – Bedard is very injury prone and qualifies as a Type B free agent, so he will probably sign with a team who has enough depth to recover if he gets injured again. Other teams with big budgets could also go after him. Bedard hasn’t thrown 90 innings since ’07, and has never thrown 200 in his career. He would be a risky sign, but could also turn out to be a big addition.
Good fits – Angels, White Sox, Tigers, Yankees, Phillies, Cubs

Justin Duchscherer – Duchscherer is also a Type B free agent, but he is coming off an injury. He didn’t pitch at all last year, but in 2008 (his only season of starting so far) he was great, with a 2.54 ERA on the year. When he pitches, he is dominant. There are a lot of teams who would love to have this guy on their team.
Good fits –Twins, Tigers, Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Braves, Phillies, Cardinals, Rockies

Kelvim Escobar – Escobar is about as injury-prone as you get, as he has thrown 5 innings in the past two years. But when he has pitched, he’s been effective. In the last three years where he’s pitched a substantial amount of innings, his ERA has been 3.40, 3.61, and 3.93. He is likely to just sign a one-year contract since he is always injured.
Good fits – White Sox, Twins, Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, D-Backs

Rich Harden – Rich qualifies as a Type B free agent. Harden had a let-down, although solid, year in 2009. After having a 2.34 ERA with the A’s, and a 1.77 ERA with the Cubs in 2008, he had only a 4.09 ERA for the Cubs in ’09. He still had a solid year, and he would be a solid #2 starter wherever he goes.
Good fits – Angels, White Sox, Twins, Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers

Joel Pineiro – After a horrible year in 2008 (5.15 ERA), Pineiro had a breakout 2009, winning 15 games with a 3.49 ERA. He did well enough to qualify as a Type B free agent, but it looks as if he’ll go somewhere else instead of staying in St. Louis.
Good fits – Braves, Cardinals, Reds, Yankees

Randy Wolf – Randy qualified as a Type A free agent, after he had a great 2009 for the Dodgers, throwing 214.1 innings, with a 3.23 ERA. But the Dodgers can’t afford to lose him, so it’s unlikely that he will leave LA. He has also never left the National League, so an AL team would be unlikely.
Good fits – Dodgers, Cubs, Phillies, Braves

Come back next week for free agent infielders.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Brennan Garr Interview

This week I interviewed Rangers pitcher Brennan Garr. Brennan has been in Frisco for the last couple of years, and I have gotten to know him there. He is a great guy and I would like to thank him for doing this interview for my blog.

Me: Can you please describe the whole experience of the Arizona Fall League and what that experience has been like so far?

Brennan: So far it has been a great experience. The part I have enjoyed the most is meeting different players from other organizations. A lot of the guys have been in the big leagues before so I have been really trying to pick their brains and learn as much as I can from them. Another thing I like is being able to wear the big league uniform and I feel proud to represent the Rangers.

Me: When you were in college, did you enjoy hitting or pitching more?

Brennan: That’s a tough question. I really enjoyed hitting in college because I was successful at it and I liked the feeling of hitting a home run, but when I got the chance to pitch, I liked that better because the game was always on the line and the feeling of striking someone out to end the game and get the save was it for me.

Me: Why do you think the Rangers chose to use you as a pitcher, even though you led Northern Colorado in batting average, hitting .346, and had 44 RBI’s in just 46 starts?

Brennan: I think they chose me because I had a lot more potential to be playing in the big leagues as a pitcher because I was very raw, only throwing, I think, 33 innings in my college career and my arm was very fresh.

Me: What did you change in your approach in 2007 after you had a 6.35 ERA in April, but then had a 1.29 ERA in May, a 2.38 ERA in June, and a 1.13 ERA in July of that year?

Brennan: Well, I was very fortunate to have Danny Clark as my pitching coach in Spokane my first year and then having him in 2007. When I struggled in April, we looked over some video and since he knows me and knows my mechanics very well he found something I was doing. We fixed it and made an adjustment. From then on I was locating my pitches, throwing strikes, and being confident.

Me: Were you excited to make the 2007 Midwest All-Star team or would you rather have had the off days?

Brennan: I was really excited about making the team. My parents flew out to see me throw and it was a good feeling knowing I had a good first half of the season and was rewarded by being able to go to the game. It was also cool meeting guys from other organizations and I still see a lot of those guys now when we’re playing each other.

Me: You’ve had a lot of success when pitching with runners in scoring position (for example you had a .150 batting average against with runners in scoring position in 2008). What do you do to change your approach with runners in scoring position that leads to this success?

Brennan: When I have runners on I have a different kind of focus that I can’t really explain. I get a little angry when runners are about to score on me and I feel like I have a lot more conviction with my pitches during that time. Also, having runners not score is a big thing for me as a reliever because it is an important part of my job when coming out of the pen.

Me: How disappointed were you to be put on the High-A team to start the ’09 season after pitching all of ’08 in Frisco?

Brennan: I was very disappointed, but I wanted to take advantage of what I could by being back in Bakersfield. I never got down or felt like I was getting messed around with by the organization. I got a lot out of pitching again in High-A. I was able to work on mechanics, throw pitches in counts that I normally wouldn’t and learned a whole lot more on how to pitch.

Me: Did you notice a difference between single-A and double-A hitters and, if so, what is it?

Brennan: I did notice a difference. I thought the 3-4-5 hitters were a lot better and all the hitters were a lot more patient. I really learned the importance of throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters.

Me: What meant more to you, being the D-1 MVP in both 2005 and 2006, being named Division-I First Team All-Independent, or being on the 2006 Brooks Wallace Award Watch List for National Player of the Year? Why?

Brennan: Being on the Brooks Wallace Watch List was pretty exciting for me because I felt like it was hard to get recognized since I was from a smaller D-1 school. Also, when I got to pro ball and looked back at that list, there are some really good players on that list and I felt honored to be a part of that.

Me: What do you think has been your best professional game and why?

Brennan: There was a game in Spokane that I really remember. I remember it because I threw 4.1 innings and struck out like 9, I think, didn’t give up any runs, and at that time I was very young as a pitcher and I had never thrown that many innings before and still haven’t.

Me: Who are your three favorite teammates since you joined the Rangers organization and why?

Brennan: That’s a hard one because I have met so many good friends, but I’ll try to name three. Andrew Laughter, Beau Jones, and Chris Gradoville (I played with him one summer in college ball). My favorite Latin players are: Pedro Strop, Jumbo Diaz, and Kendy Batista

Me: Can you please rate each of the ballparks in the Rangers organization that youʼve played in from 1 to 10 (10 being the best) and explain your ratings?

Brennan: Spokane – 8 - great atmosphere. Great place to start.
Clinton – 6 - the field was in great shape. The locker room was redone and huge. The town was terrible and smelled.
Bakersfield - 3 - Didn’t like the town, the field was in bad shape, no fans. Only good thing was the travel was easy.
Frisco - 9 - best field I have ever played in. There are a lot of fans. The city is great with a lot of things to do.

Me: What is the toughest thing about minor league life and why?

Brennan: Being away from family and friends for so long.

Me: Who are the three toughest hitters you’ve faced and why?

Brennan: Hank Conger- Played against him all the way up through the system. Hitter you have to be careful with.
Tommy Everidge - I played with him one summer college season, so we know each other, so it was always a cat and mouse game with him every at bat.
Eric Young Jr.-Tough hitter. Very hard to strike out. Very fast

Me: What was your favorite team growing up?

Brennan: Colorado Rockies. The Rockies were a new team in Denver while I was growing up, so I followed them closely. I loved watching the Blake Street Bombers. (Todd Walker, Andres Galarraga, Dante Bichette, and Vinny Castilla)

Me: What sports did you play growing up and which were you best at?

Brennan: Besides baseball, I played basketball and was on the golf team in high school. I was better at golf.

Me: What is the worst injury you’ve had to deal with?

Brennan: I have been pretty fortunate with injuries. Nothing major. In college I tore my meniscus in my knee and had to have surgery, but was playing again in 4 weeks and it hasn’t bothered me since.

Me: What are your hobbies?

Brennan: In the off season I do a lot of small game, big game, and waterfowl hunting. I also do a lot of ice fishing in the mountains of Colorado. I still play golf also.

I would like to thank Brennan again. It was very nice of him to take his time while he’s in Arizona for the Arizona Fall League to do this for me.

Come back next week for a free agent special.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

No Entry This Week

I just got back from a trip to Indianapolis and am taking the week off. We had a family reunion for my great grandfather's 95th birthday.

I will say that I'm disappointed both that the World Series is over and that the Yankees won. And am I the only one that got tired of hearing talk about how 'long' the Yankees and their fans have been waiting for a championship? I think most fans would be pretty happy to 'endure' a 9 year wait between championships.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

#21-25 All-Time Rangers List

I’m rooting against the Yankee and, also, I’m rooting for a long World Series.

I don’t like the 2-3-2 playoff format. The team with home field advantage shouldn’t have the chance of not coming back home if they lose one of the first two games.

The Rangers made the unfortunate decision to close the Legends of the Game Museum. Yesterday was its last day before closing permanently. I don’t understand this decision. The museum was unique part of the ballpark and from what I’ve read was profitable. They plan to turn the top two levels into meeting rooms, which is lame. They plan to turn the bottom floor into a Rangers Hall of Fame (open during home games), which is a great idea. But they could have done that and still left the rest of the museum in place. Half of the second floor was already dedicated to Rangers history, so they could have turned that area into the Rangers Hall of Fame and left the rest of the museum alone. There used to be a lot of things you could do at the Ballpark in the off-season. My dad and I would sometimes go to the museum on a Saturday morning in the winter and then eat lunch at the Fridays that used to be in right field. We could then walk around the stadium and read the bricks that outlined each year’s teams, showing each player on the team (with stats) and any awards won by team members. Now the museum is closed, the restaurant is closed, and they tore up all of the bricks (except for two years’ worth, which sit by themselves looking odd and lonely). Now the only thing you can do there during the offseason is shop at the team store. That’s really sad.

This week I will continue my Top 50 Rangers All-Time List. I will do numbers 21-25. My last entry in this series was on August 16th.

25. Bobby Witt: 104-104 (3rd in wins), 1680.2 IP (3rd), 1405 K (2nd), 4.85 ERA

Bobby appeared in 430 games for the Rangers over parts of 11 seasons, which included 2 different stints with the team. He started with the team in 1986 and was part of the Jose Canseco trade to Oakland in 1992. He returned to the club in August 1995 as part of a trade with the Marlins. He was a major part of the Rangers’ first-ever playoff team, going 16-12 in 1996. He was later sent to the Cardinals during the 1998 season. Bobby is 3rd on the Rangers’ all-time list in wins, is third in innings pitched with 1680.2 IP, and is third in strikeouts with 1405 of them. If it weren’t for him having 104 losses (the same amount of losses as he has wins) and a 4.85 ERA (not at all a great ERA), he’d be higher on the list. But the stats he has are good enough to get him #25 on this list. He also had a cool moment in 1997, when he hit a home run at Dodger Stadium during the first year of interleague play, becoming the first AL pitcher to homer in years. Bobby was a good guy (I got to meet him once) with a tough attitude, and I’m glad he was able to win a World Series ring with the Diamondbacks in his last year as a player.

24. Kevin Brown: 40 CG, 78 W, 1278.2 IP, 742 K, 3.81 ERA, .549 W%, 78-64 W-L, All-Star (‘92), 21-Game Winner (‘92), T-Win Leader (‘92)

Kevin was 78-64 as a Ranger, a .549 winning percentage - very solid. He also had a 3.81 ERA, which is very good. He had a great season in 1992, as he won 21 games, which was tied for the league lead, and was an All-Star. He also threw 40 complete games, and struck out 742 in 1278.2 innings pitched. If he had stayed a Ranger for maybe even just one more year, he would’ve easily cracked the top 20 on my list. But he left the Rangers after 8 years to go to Baltimore as a free agent in 1995, later taking his sunny personality to Florida for their first championship season.

23. Will Clark: .308 AVG (2nd), 397 RBI, 77 HR, All-Star (‘94)

Will is 2nd all-time among Rangers in batting average with a .308 average. He also had 77 home runs and 397 RBI’s as a Ranger. He was an American League All-Star in 1994, his first season with the Rangers. Clark was only with the Rangers for five years (in between Rafael Palmeiro’s two runs with the club), but was a key part of the 1996 and 1998 playoff teams (both with his stats and with his leadership). He did not play well in the postseason with the Rangers, going 3-for-27 between the two years. He was also hurt a lot, playing more than 125 games only once. His batting average plus his contribution to the Rangers’ first two playoff teams is what got him so high up on this list.

22. Pete O’Brien: 3351 AB, .273 AVG, 114 HR, 487 RBI

Pete O’Brien had 3,351 at-bats as a Ranger over seven seasons, which is a lot of at-bats with one team. He also had a decent batting average, as he hit .273 in his career as a Ranger. His power numbers as a Ranger are very good, though, as he had 114 home runs, and 487 RBI’s. Even though his batting average is just average, his power numbers make him #22 on this list.

21. Larry Parrish: 149 HR, 522 RBI, .264 AVG, All-Star (‘87)

Larry Parrish’s average as a Ranger wasn’t all that hot, at just .264, but his power numbers are very good and make up for that. He hit 149 home runs as a Ranger over seven seasons, and he also had 522 RBI’s. He made the All-Star team in 1987, and that was his only All-Star game as a Ranger. His power numbers deserved to be higher on this list, but with a .264 batting average, you can only go so high.

Come back next week for a ‘Predictions vs. Results’ Special.