“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Yes, it truly was a tale of two seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011:
Casey McGehee, Rod Barajas, Clint Barmes, Erik Bedard, Ryota Igarashi (because he’s the only Major Leaguer I’ve played catch with), Nate McLouth, and Doug Slaten.
Paul Maholm, Joe Biemel, Ronny Cedeño, Ryan Doumit, Nelson Figueroa, Ross Ohlendorf, Chris Snyder, and Jose Veras.
Why?: The Pirates have had the most transactions of any team I have done a recap for (the total number of names is probably double that of the list of notable transactions. That said, they also don’t have the big names going back and forth so its kind of hard to account how much all of these little gains and losses will affect the team in the aggregate. Some of these additions might not even give the Pirates an extra win. I mean will Doug Slaten have much of an impact of the Pirates? Probably not. I’m not that sure of how these things will pan out in most predictions, much less so many of them.
Anywho, they did make some higher impact changes. Paul Maholm was a big part of their rotation that has left, and the acquisitions of Erik Bedard and Casey McGehee are sure to help the team have their first winning season of the last 20.
However, this grade could possibly and probably should be lower. The reason the grade isn’t where it most likely would be had I done this recap in a month is because two Pirates (Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick) are still on the free agent market and I have to leave the possibility open that they will return to the Pirates-even if they probably won’t. If both of those are on the “Notable Subtractions” list, my grade for the team is probably a half a grade lower, if not more.
Predicted Record Range: 79-84 wins. The NL Central is depleted, but this number will go down if Lee and/or Ludwick don’t re-sign.
I think this next image pretty well descirbes the Astros’ 2011 season, no? (even if it is fr0m 2004):
Jed Lowrie, Jack Cust, Chris Snyder, and Kyle Weiland.
Mark Melancon, and Clint Barmes.
Why?: Let me get one thing clear. I know the Astros are not in the AL West yet, but I think it’s better that I make transition now, because it just makes my life slightly easiser to have 15 teams in each league and 5 teams in each division. Secondly, I know the “Notable” names aren’t that notable, because I lowered my standards for the category especially for the Astros and they haven’t had much happening this offseason.
The Astros aren’t exactly an offensive power house. So I like their improvements on that front, but their most feared hitter is still Carlos, which doesn’t doom the lineup, but makes it less imposing than 90% of the other lineups in MLB. Long gone are the days of the Astros contending for the even the NL Central (at times the weakest division in the league), much less contending for the World Series as they did in 2005. It also doesn’t help that they are moving into the most improved division of 2011. Unless there is an extreme shift in culture, they may be lucky to win a division title before 2020.
I think I’ve covered the bases, right? The Astros stink, and they didn’t do much in the offseason.
Predicted Record Range: 60-65 wins
Up Next: In my last post, I put up a poll for what division you want next. You voted for the NL Central, for whatever reason. So, here is a poll of which team I should write about in said division:
I wrote in my blog description that I like to keep my writing positive. So, let’s focus on the fact that the Rangers got to the World Series for the second straight year:
Yu Darvish and Joe Nathan.
C.J. Wilson, Darren Oliver, Brandon Webb,and Taylor Teagarden.
Why?: For all the hype the Rangers have gotten, and all of the talks they’ve been in, they really have had an uneventful offseason. So, I actually have them losing talent as of January 26th when I write this entry. I see CJ Wilson as a superior to Yu Darvish in 2012, just because the strike zone in Japan is bigger and I don’t know how he’ll adapt. Then I see Darren Oliver and the other two subtractions as making up for the addition of Joe Nathan. I am a big Joe Nathan fan, but I don’t know how much more he can return to his former form, because not only is he dealing with the Tommy John surgery (which I predicted after seeing him in person in the last year of the Metrodome), but he is also dealing with age at this point. So he probably would be regressing anyway now.
Although, this situation could, and probably will get better. As I said, the Rangers have been in a bunch of talks for free agents, so they have money. Now maybe they just spend all of this money on re-signing Josh Hamilton, but either way I see them picking up at least another minor piece if not a major one.
Predicted Record Range: 92-97 wins- This can change if they get another player this offseason, but this is where I see them currently.
Up Next: Houston Astros, but what division would you like to read about?
You know it’s not a good year for the Mariners offense when even Ichiro is slumping:
Jesus Montero, Hector Noesi, George Sherill, Kevin Millwood, John Jaso, Chris Gimenez, and Aaron Heilman. (Again, I deem a player notable by my personal name recognition of said player. Feel free to correct me if you think you know the players better than I do.)
Michael Pineda, Jose Campos, Willy Mo Peña, Josh Lueke, Adam Kennedy, Milton Bradley, and most likely David Aardsma.
Why?: I don’t know. I personally like the Pineda trade for the Mariners, even though I have heard negative feedback given by people who were Mariner fans at the time of the trade. Let me explain my point of view, and then you can either decide to agree or disagree. Michael Pineda was definitely good in the first half. He made the All-star team with an ERA of 2.74. That was a great pitcher on display. However, he ended up the year with a 3.74 ERA, which means he had a 5.12 ERA in the second half. This just leads to the argument of uncertainty with Pineda. Personally, I think this argument is BS when saying that the Mariners benefited from the trade, because we haven’t seen much of Montero.
Here are two arguments I *do* agree with. First, I think that having Montero around is better than having Pineda around, because the Mariners are stacked in their farm system as far as pitching goes. Pineda is way more replaceable to the Mariners than Montero is. The Mariners were a good pitching team while they were the worst offense in the MLB. Their team ERA was 3.90, or 15th best in the league while their team AVG was .233, or worst in the MLB (Personally, I don’t like AVG, because it’s too subject to luck, so I saw the indication of their terrible offense in their league low 556 runs scored). The second point is that Montero outperformed the league more than Pineda did (both were rookies). Pineda’s ERA was 3.74 compared to the league average of 3.94 or 5% better than the league average. Meanwhile, Montero’s AVG was .328 compared to the league average of .255 or 29% better than the league average.
I really can’t evaluate the other prospects swapped in this deal, because as I mentioned in the first entry of this variety, I really don’t pay much attention to prospects who haven’t tasted “The Show”.
Other than this trade, nothing EXTREMELY notable happened. I guess they essentially brought back “The Brim Reaper” George Sherill to close for them, although they could still re-sign David Aardsma as no one has picked him up as I write this entry.
Predicted Record Range: 65-70 wins I think it could easily be 70-75 wins with prospects coming to fruition, but this is the record range based purely on the exchange of talent taking place over this offseason.
Up Next: Which ever Texas team has most votes by midnight tonight January, 25th, 2012, will be the next entry
Vernon, oh Vernon, where wert thou?
Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, Brad Mills, Chris Iannetta, Latroy Hawkins, and Jorge Cantu.
Fernando Rodney, Joel Pineiro, Jeff Mathis, Scott Kazmir, and Tyler Chatwood.
Why?: The Angels did do an A+ job in getting their team better for this year, but I am not a big fan of paying big dollars for players in their older years. Yes, Albert Pujols is worth $25+ million NOW. Actually, he’s probably worth more than that, but he showed signs of regression this year, having one of his worst seasons to date. Will he be worth $25+ million ten years from now? Ten years is almost half of a career for most players. Will he even be a $15 million player at that stage of his career? Well, it doesn’t matter, because the Angels will still be paying him $27.5 million.
I am more okay with C.J. Wilson’s contract, but I still wouldn’t do it myself. I liked him the first season he was a starting pitcher, and was amongst the first people to identify him as an ace as I actually said he was an ace in the first (real) entry I ever wrote on this blog. The main beef I have with it is that he does only have two seasons as a starting pitcher. He has been really good in those two seasons, but I predict that he will pitch less than 200 innings in one of the next two seasons due to injury. Another thing is that I think they over-paid for him, because it was a pitching starved market. I think they should have waited until next year to sign a pitcher. The only benefit I can see from signing a pitcher this year is that it takes away an ace from the Angels
primary only competition in the AL West in the Rangers and it probably led them to overpaying for Yu Darvish
Besides this, they did lose Fernando Rodney from a bullpen that was a far cry from those of the early 2000’s, but it is still pretty solid and the improvement in the rotation more than offsets his loss, because they might not need a stellar bullpen with their starters constantly going 7 innings.
Just something I want to throw in,I do think that Pujols’ impact on the offense is overrated, though. The offense may indeed be a good one, but if it is, it won’t be because of Pujols alone. Lost in all of this hoopla is that Kendrys Morales, the main anchor of the line up in 2010, will be back in 2012. Also, the line up last year wasn’t all that good to begin with. I saw them for three games last year (linked here, here, and here) over “Balhawk Fest” weekend. I think there was no Slugging Percentage over .500 in the line up and no OBP over .400. The two most feared bats in the line up were rookies!
Predicted Record Range: 92-97 wins
P.S. Sorry to the person who voted for the Mariners, but I had already written this entry when I saw your vote. So, to make it up to you, I will vote for the Mariners to give them an extra vote.
Trevor Cahill, Andrew Bailey, Gio Gonzalez, Craig Breslow, David DeJesus, Andy LaRoche, Guillermo Moscoso, Josh Outman, Ryan Sweeney, and Josh Willigham.
Why?: Let’s clear up a few things right away as most of the people reading this haven’t read one of these entries before, 1) I know nothing about prospects unless they are highly touted 2) my lists of “Notable” additions and subtractions are simply done by my name recognition. Feel free to correct me on any of them if you know more about the given team than I do. 3) Most of what comprises the “grade” in these entries is in the impact it has on the team’s 2012 season. The GM could have done a masterful job in getting back a bunch of talent for an aging star, but unless the young players he traded for project to help the team’s record in 2012, the grade will suffer. Generally, a C grade is the team treading water and keeping their team at the same level, a C+ would be a slight improvement, and a C- would be a slight regression.
Now, the reason I gave the A’s a D- is because Billy Beane essentially crippled them for the 2012 season. Their offense was anemic enough without losing Josh Willigham and David De Jesus among other, and he traded away arguably the two best starting pitchers on a very good rotation in Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez. If that wasn’t enough, he also traded away a very talented closer in Andrew Bailey, who was a big part of this team, because when they did win, it was usually in a save situation due to their lack of offense.
I’m not saying the A’s can’t win in a few years, but the situation looks dim for 2012. Also, as I write this, Hideki Matsui is still unsigned. If he comes back, they will still be in an interesting situation, but if he doesn’t, you can add him to the list of Notable Subtractions.
Predicted Record Range: 62-67 wins
Next team: I don’t know, you tell me. The poll shuts off automatically at 2:37 am, but I might close it off at midnight if their is a team with a majority already selected by then.
First of all, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it. As I type this, it is already halfway through said holiday her in France. I hope, though, no matter what a anybody believes, that this be a good day for them. Now, here, is the link to the first entry predicting the then Florida Marlins’ 2011 season.
Predicted Record: 75-80 wins
Actual Record: 72-90
So I was a little off on this prediction. Though, I was a LOT closer than I thought when I initially looked at the discrepancy between the two records. That is because, I failed to put Josh Johnson in the Notable Subtractions column. Does anyone remeber the first two months or so of the season? Josh Johnson had about 3 or4 starts it seems that he had a no-hitter for the first 6 innings of a game. He was THE best pitcher in baseball when he got injured, and that is with Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw included. Johson was their bonafide Ace and had I known he would have been down for most of the season, I would have down graded the Marlins about four wins. Case in point, the second to last video on Johnson’s Player Page is entitled, “J.J. is key to Marlins’ success.”
Just a side note, as much as I like Josh Johnson, I don’t think he will get over his injury woes. Last Year, when Stephen Strasburg was coming up, everyone and their mother had their eyes on him. Curt Schilling was no exception. He did a segment with ESPN or MLBN where he looked at both Josh Johnson side-by-side with Stephen Stasburg because he wanted to look at a Pitcher of the same height of 6’5″ (Strasburg is 6’4″ and Johnson is 6’6″, but whatever)
Had Josh Johnson been out from the beginning of the season, I would have adjusted my prediction correctly. So all things considered, I predicted the Marlins’ season pretty well. They were who I thought they were! A team that was above average offensively, but not so spectacular to overcome any lack in pitching. I’m not saying their pitching staff was horrible without Johnson, but they have a lot of slightly above average homegrown Pitchers and some below average mercinaries. All in all, this is a well run organization for the funding it provides its GM with.