Things definitely regressed for the Reds a year after winning the NL Central by a comfortable margin:
Mat Latos, Andrew Brackman, Ryan Madson, Sean Marshall, and Dioner Navarro.
Francisco Cordero, Yonder Alonso, Ramon Hernandez, Edison Volquez, Dontrelle Willis, and Travis Wood.
Why?: I just matched up all the additions and subtractions, and it looked like, in my opinion, that the Reds did add some big names, but the people they lost were marginally better (for this upcoming year). The two main examples are Volquez for Latos and Madson for Cordero.
I think that the Reds package sent to the Padres will be marginally better than Latos, because Volquez is on his way back up from the Tommy John surgery a few years ago ( I believe it was Tommy John, but I’m not 100% sure). He may still return to his form of 17 wins in. This was his only season where he has pitched in more than 20 games. This shows that if he is healthy, he has shown he can pitch. Latos’ struggles as of late, on the other hand, come from over-usage. Therefore, from my experience in seeing over-used pitchers, his struggles will mildly continue into 2012, because he has to get back into the rhythm of pitching. He may not, in which case all of this is null and void, but he probably will. Also, Volquez will be going to PETCO Park while Latos now gets to call the Great American Launch Pad his home. That said, once Latos does get over his <insert clever over-usage pun here> syndrome, I think he will be better than the Volquez group, but I think he won’t until after 2012, so I have Volquez and package being better than Latos this year.
Madson for Cordero is a bit more complicated. I think that Madson may be better than Cordero and it definitely was good to get rid of Cordero before he starts declining, but Cordero has been one of the most consistently excellent closers over the last half-decade, while Madson only has a year of closing experience. I do like Madson over Cordero, but I think the Reds would have been better served letting him go to another team for a year and getting what I think is the last good year before he really declines from Cordero, and letting Madson mature for another year and become a better closer. Either that or sign Madson to a multi-year deal, because I see Madson’s price tag only going up after this season. The only reason I could see them signing Madson to a one-year deal is if they think this is their last year of contention before Joey Votto leaves, either via trade in 2013 or free agency in the 2013-14 offseason.
Other than this, I don’t know what to say. Last year, I predicted their youth to be an advantage, and I got burned because they actually regressed a little. I guess I’ll just say that their youth gives them room for growth again and hope it actually does this year.
Predicted Record Range: 82-87 wins
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:
Lyle Overbay, Scott Olsen, Matt Diaz, Garrett Atkins, Jose Veras, and Joe Biemel.
Joe Martinez, Brandon Moss, Brian Bass, Delwyn Young, Zach Duke, and Chan Ho Park.
Why?: The best way to describe the offseason is, eh. Not fantastic but not devastating. They lost some faces of the past and solid players but also gained solid players. Although unlike other teams, the Pirates gained and lost the talent in different places. They might have lost
some stability in the outfield but also became stronger in the infield.
Right now they are in the seemingly never ending stage of rebuilding. I warn Pirates fans that for this particular organization this stage will never end until they invest some into the ball club. What the Pirates ownership is doing at the moment is cost cutting and making money off of the league’s revenue sharing. This may be a way to beat the system and make a profit but it does not do them well when it comes to winning.
Predicted Record Range: 60-65 wins. Just put in the last part of my last paragraph of “Why?” here. The Pirates will not win until the ownership stops trying to beat the system.
Up Next: San Francisco Giants
They were doing well until:
From then on out not much winning.
Matt Garza, Carlos Pena, Kerry Wood, Reed Johnson, and Todd Wellemeyer.
Tom Gorzelanny, Xavier Nady, Christopher Archer, and Mason Tobin.
Why?: I understand that the Cubs did give away a lot of prospects for Matt Garza but I don’t exactly remember the quality of those prospects so I will judge the Cubs’ offseason just by the number of prospects and the net talent.
They got: front-of-the-line starter, set-up man, power hitting lefty, outfielder, and solid bullpen pitcher. They lost: middle-of-the-rotation starter, solid hitting righty and a bushel of prospects. To me, this evens out to a B grade but again, I don’t know how good the prospects were so I can’t judge this that well.
Predicted Record Range: 77-82 wins. This is one of those overhyped big market situations… I think. They only reason I can see them improving is if the pitchers previously on the team (mainly silva and Zambrano) stabilize and become more consistent.
Next up: Pittsburgh Pirates
Why?: Really nothing to report here. There won’t be anything to report until the prospects they received in their garage sale come to fruition. They had the most uneventful offseason I have reported so far.
Their rotation is young and can be a good one for years to come headed by Wandy Rodriguez and J.A. Happ. Those two still have room for improvement and will be helped by sharing a staff with, now veteran leader, Brett Myers. This is where I think future success will come from if any exists in the next few years.
Predicted Record Range: 60-65 wins. I don’t know how they will wins besides pitching. This record is a product of my ignorance to their players. If I weren’t two weeks behind I would bother to learn them but now no.
Up Next: Chicago Cubs
Although the result was not what they would have wanted, one good thing came out of the 2010 season for the Brewers:
Zack Greinke, Shawn Marcum, Yuniesky Betancourt, Sean Green, Takashi Saito, and Mark Kotsay.
Dave Bush, Chris Capuano, Todd Coffey, Carlos Villanueva, Brett Lawrie, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, Lorenzo Cain, Gregg Zaun, Doug Davis, and Trevor Hoffman.
Why?: Yeah, sure they got two front-of-the-line pitchers (yes I do consider Shawn Marcum front-of-the-line when he is not in the AL East) but also look at all the players they lost. They lost: 4 starters, 3 relievers, two infielders, an outfielder, a catcher, and one prospect I didn’t bother to look up.
I think their rotation should be fine despite losing those four starters as they are a strong five… but if (read: when) one of their starters goes down in the season this offseason has created a canyon of talent between the 5 starter and next in line.
Their offense should be great as always and might even increase seeing as Prince is in a walk year and might get up a little extra for it. I am not saying he doesn’t try hard but for many stars it enables them to use their family as motivation to do well.
There is also the factor of good pitching affecting the hitting. It will be interesting to see whther this hurts or helps. As far as I can see, it will either help to not feel like they have to score 10 runs a game and they will relax/ hit better or they will relax too much and not score enough.
Predicted Record Range: 85-90 wins. I am not expecting that much of them because they did only win 77 games last year and didn’t imporve that much when you think about it. This is still giving them an improvement of 8-13 wins which is a lot for a team to accomplish (and in retro spect might be a bit much).
Up Next: Chicago Cubs
They thought they were the champs. They fought the Reds strongly:
They took the competition late into the season. Then this happened:
Jim Edmonds, Ryan Theriot, Lance Berkman, Gerald Laird, Miguel Bautista, Ian Snell, and Nick Punto.
Brad Penny, Randy Winn, Pedro Feliz, Brendan Ryan, Aaron Miles, and Jeff Suppan.
Why?: Initially I was going to give them a C- but then I typed in all the notable additions and they are all solid players. I then looked and saw they didn’t have many subtractions worth crying about. They boosted each of the four Cardinal (pun intended) categories of Relief Pitching, Stating Pitching, Infield, and Outfield.
The losses are also solid players but everywhere they replaced the players and then added some more. This entry was supposed to be before Wainwright went out so I won’t count him as a subtraction but looking at these players they did decently in the offseason.
Predicted Record Range: 80-85 wins. The Wainwright isn’t enough alone to lower the wins THAT much so I say with his actual stats gone and the emotional blow it adds, 3-5 wins should be expected off of last year’s win total.
Up Next: Milwaukee Brewers