Posts Tagged ‘Miami Marlins’

“Isn’t it strange? The same people who laugh at gypsy fortune tellers take economists seriously.”

I think it’s important for baseball fans on both sides of Chicago to understand that neither the Sox nor the Cubs will be seriously competing this year. The Sox have a better shot at catching lightning in a bottle this year if they get great years from their roster, but it’s a big if at this point and oddly enough it can all hinge on Jake Peavy’s health, which is a scary proposition. The Cubs have virtually no hope, the rosters of the teams in front of the Cubs are all better. The Reds, Brewers and Cardinals will fight for the Central lead leaving the Cubs in a slap fight with the Astros and the Pirates to avoid the cellar.

So a lot of people are going to tune out without properly understanding what you’re watching. For the Sox this is Kenny’s last stand. His acquisitions all have a strange propensity to blow up in his face. Manny Ramirez, Ken Griffey Jr., Jake Peavy, Alex Rios and Adam Dunn were all massive faceplants to this point. He let fan favorites Ozzie Guillen and Mark Buerhle take their talents to Miami. He hired a manager that no one knew was a serious candidate and took full control of this team moving forward. Any success the team enjoys will be his, but so will the failure. Not many GM’s get to fire 2 managers, so Kenny’s on the clock

Epstoyer is enjoying a honeymoon currently, but they’ll have to work efficiently to rebuild a decimated Cubs organization. The Cubs have almost no pitching help in the minors. There are a few Cub fans that will want the Cubs to win now . When Cubs start getting traded most of these will get restless and wonder what the aim of the organization is. There are even a few that believe Theo and company only won because they spent Yankee money. This is true to an extent, but the Red Sox also drafted wisely and had good talent come up from their farm system. The make over the Cubs are going to get will be impressive, but the clock will start once the Cubs trade a marquee name.

Which brings me to the purpose of these two pieces. AL/NL Central “Predictions.” I’m placing the teams in order of believed finish, but I’m not going to place a W-L value on it. We’ll start with the AL Central. NL Central will go live tomorrow.

1. Detroit Tigers – They are the favorite to win the division and they are a candidate tot make some noise in the playoffs. They added Prince to Miggy and have a potent offense. The lose of Victor Martinez will hurt as Ryan Raburn will get more burn in the lineup, but Prince more than makes up for that. We all know what Prince can do with the bat, ditto with Miggy. The real question is how awful that IF defense will be. Prince-Raburn-Peralta-Cabrera has a serious chance at being the worst IF defense of all time.

Especially considering that this dude played third 60 lbs ago.

It would be pretty astounding to see what Verlander would do with a good defense, but as it stands the defense shouldn’t affect him too much. He probably won’t be as great as his 2011 season, but he’ll still be a Cy Young candidate in 2012. The rotation guy that might suffer is Doug Fister. Verlander and Scherzer both strikeout batters at an above average clip, but Fister’s career SO/9 is 5.5. He upped it to 7.3 in 70 ip with the Tigers, but I would expect that rate to fall. The ‘pen is solid and a name to look for is Daniel Schlereth. If he can gain some semblance of control he can become a high leverage pitcher.

2. KC Royals – It’s hard to predict a 2nd place finish for a team that boasts Bruce Chen in it’s rotation, but here they are, on the back of what should be a rather impressive offense. The kids can play, Hosmer is legit and should emerge as KC’s best player overall this year. Alex Gordon is going to be a great leadoff hitter this year, and Moustakas should make some positive gains at the big league level this year. The question with this team is when will the pitching help get here? All of their starters are projected to be below average this year, the only pitcher that may be worth his salt will be Jonathan Sanchez. Daniel Duffy is a few years away and like I said, Bruce Chen is an important part of this rotation. A lot of what this team does moving forward will depend on what they can do to solidify the starters. The bullpen has some names to keep an eye on, but losing Joakim Soria hurts. I think the Royals take a major step forward but the rotation will hold them back from competing for a wild card spot.

3. Cleveland Indians – Carlos Santana is the damn truth. He will emerge as the best catcher in baseball this year. He’s great with the stick and he’s a good defender. The Indians should surprise people this year, but a bad offense will keep them from really making noise in the central. Shin-Soo Choo is key for the Tribe. If he can get back on his star track this year the Indians can scare the Tigers for a few months. If not, the Indians will be relegated to fending off the Sox and the Twins in third place. Ubaldo Jimenez won’t be competing for Cy Young’s anymore, but he is a solid top of the rotation pitcher. He should emerge as the ace over Justin Masterson this year. Josh Tomlin needs to increase his K rate to his minor league levels to have a breakout year, but he should still remain as a decent mid-rotation option. The Bullpen will keep this team from being a complete cellar dweller.

4. Chicago White Sox – It’s not an awful rotation. Danks should have a rebound year, Gavin is a candidate to have a great year, Chris Sale will make some noise in the rotation, but their success or failure all depends on the offense. Adam Dunn was historically bad and that saved Alex Rios from more criticism. Gordon Beckham lost his swing and will have a difficult time getting it back. AJ Pierzynski is hitting second in the lineup. Brent Morel will get significant playing time. It’s just a bad offense. Dunn should rebound somewhat, he’s currently crushing fastballs which is a good sign considering how slow his bat looked last year. Dayan Viciedo has light tower power but we have to wait and see how his game translates in the MLB. Rios is likely to hit 3rd for most of the season. The Sox have too many questions regarding the offense to be a serious contender, you have to hit HR’s in the Cell to compete, because everyone else will.

5. Minnesota Twins – This team is awful. Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham will carry the load on offense, and their pitching rotation will be flat out awful. Carl Pavano’s K-rate might dip below 4 this year. They have no frontline starter in their rotation. The bullpen will be using gasoline to put out the fires this year, there’s little help down on the farm, Justin Morneau is probably done playing baseball, they will be in the cellar this year. They have a long rebuild ahead of them and Gardy should probably get fired this year.

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I’ll always remember Carlos Zambrano as the guy who didn’t. He didn’t win 20 games. He didn’t win a Cy Young award, he didn’t help the Cubs win a championship, he didn’t deliver on the promise his career flashed early. He didn’t care about staying in shape, he didn’t become better, overall, Carlos Zambrano didn’t, and in this case it’s an extreme negative.

And now he is ex-Cub Carlos Zambrano.

While a certain part of me was always entertained by his antics, I’m not lamenting his loss. For those that question why the Cubs would eat so much money and only get Chris Volstad in return, you should probably understand that there were no offers for Z. Miami was the logical choice for him, he is finally united with his compatriot, his brother in arms as it were, Ozzie Guillen.

Carlos is a headcase. I’m not sure there are many other ways to put it. He was absolutely crazy and he was an asshole teammate. He had that competitive fire, he was intense, he fielded his position well, he was a good baseball player for awhile, but overall he could never strike the delicate balance between his talent and his passion.

I’ll never know for sure, but I believe that if Carlos is restrained more in his early, developmental years he ends up being a better pitcher. There was always something combustible with Z. He always seemed on the edge of a huge cliff, waiting for the slightest breeze to push him over. It was evident on the mound, with all of the histrionics.

He was enabled by the previous regime to be sure, but ultimately it was up to Zambrano to figure himself out and become a better pitcher. There were flashes like the bittersweet 2003 season where he managed to allow only 9 HR’s in 214 innings, no small feat at Wrigley. He was borderline brilliant through 2007 when the wheels slowly started falling off.

Zambrano has always out-pitched his peripheral stats. He had control issues on the mound, he walked too many batters, if his 2-seamer was off he didn’t have the guile to pitch over it and he was prone to the big inning. He placed too much pressure on himself to become the staff ace. He wanted to hit too many home runs.

At times it seemed like Zambrano cared more about his hitting stats than honing his craft as a pitcher. At times Zambrano lashed out at teammates, like Michael Barrett, Alfonso Soriano and, rather inexplicably, Derrek Lee.

The final straw came against the Atlanta Braves, as a frustrated Zambrano threw behind Chipper Jones for no reason. It was a confusing moment, so much so that I was hardly shocked when he did it again. In the same at bat. On the next pitch.

Most telling was the number of Cubs that took the field to defend Z. Absolutely not one of his teammates came to his defense as the Braves stormed the field after the second pitch to kick Z’s ass.

Zambrano will struggle in the NL East, or he might be brilliant, I have no idea honestly. All I know is that he is no longer the headache of the Chicago Cubs. He’s Ozzie’s problem now.

Let’s take a moment

Posted: November 12, 2011 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Baseball, MLB
Tags: , , , ,

And step back from the Penn State Story and all it’s sordid details. Let’s instead focus on the Miami Marlins and their bid to become a baseball superpower in one offseason.

As it turns out, the outfit from south beach has decided to make offers to Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Albert Pujols. Given that the Marlins have a substantial amount of young talent on the team and a crazy manager that no one in Chicago is quite ready to let go of yet, it would appear that the Marlins are tired of recycling superstar talent and are hellbent on outspending all of MLB to win this year.

Our Audio Technician Raul Parra called it. He Steve Stone’d it as soon as Ozzie was traded to the Marlins. The last time the Marlins did anything like this was in 1997 when they assembled a team loaded with all star talent and promptly unloaded them after winning a ring.

I like the offers to Jo-Jo Reyes and redneck Tommy John, but the Pujols deal will always be something that I’m wary of. Consider that he is coming off his worse season as a pro, he is likely in his decline phase, and will likely demand an 8 year deal at the minimum and I can see the Pujols contract hamstringing an organization for a long time.

Pujols at his peak was a pure monster, he was the rare slugger in that he was a hitter with power, rather than a power hitter. In 2006, for example, he hit 49 HR’s and only struck out 50 times.

That’s more than impressive, that’s damn near inhuman in the modern day of baseball.

There are significant signs that he is in his decline phase however, as his walk rate was significantly slashed, his ISO (isolated power) avg. number dipped to an all time low for him, and I believe he was simply hitting the ball with authority less often, as indicated by his all time low in BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play), and a high GB% (groundball percentage).

I wouldn’t give him the outlandish deal he is looking for. Cubs fans have dealt with the Fonzi contract, and White Sox fans will have to deal with the remaining Adam Dunn years, but this is likely to be different than both of those. For one, Pujols is playing in a position that is abundant with power talent. When you break down 1B players you have Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Cabrera, just to name a few.

1B is clearly a position that is not lacking in the power hitting department.

You’re also likely to get more John Olerud-like performance out of Pujols rather than Ruth-like. It seems that given the numbers above, Pujols is sacrificing power to save contact.

This isn’t the 90’s anymore, there aren’t likely to be any secondary career peaks after 30 for these players. I respect the Marlins for going after it, but I don’t like the idea of giving Pujols a boatload of cash.