Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Dan Uggla
Posted on: February 25, 2012 9:51 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 10:23 pm
 

Spring primer: Atlanta Braves

Chipper Jones

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Thanks to the Red Sox collapse, the Braves' September disappearing act seems to have been forgotten by everyone outside of Atlanta and St. Louis. Atlanta led the wild card race by as many as 8 1/2 games in September before conceding the final NL playoff spot to the Cardinals, going 9-18 over the last month of the season, losing their last five and 13 of their last 18. While there were rumors of big changes in the offseason, none of that materialized and the Braves head into 2012 with the same team that appeared to be headed to the playoffs before the final month of the season.

Danny Knobler's camp report: After epic collapse, inaction brings optimism | Likes, dislikes

Major additions: None
Major departures: RHP Derek Lowe, SS Alex Gonzalez, OF Nate McLouth, RHP Scott Linebrink, LHP George Sherrill

Probable lineup
1. Michael Bourn CF
2. Martin Prado LF
3. Chipper Jones 3B
4. Brian McCann C
5. Dan Uggla 2B
6. Freddie Freeman 1B
7. Jason Heyward RF
8. Tyler Pastornicky SS

Probable rotation
1. Tim Hudson
2. Tommy Hanson
3. Jair Jurrjens
4. Brandon Beachy
5. Mike Minor

Hudson's status for the beginning of the season is in doubt, which would make room for right-hander Randall Delgado

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Craig Kimbrel
Set-up: Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty, Kris Medlen

Important bench players
OF Jose Constanza, 1B/OF Eric Hinske, OF Matt Diaz

Prospect to watch
In three starts and two relief appearances, Julio Teheran went 1-1 with a 5.03 ERA and only struck out 10 batters in 19 2/3 innings, while walking eight batters. But it should also be noted he was just 20. Teheran will likely start 2012 back in Triple-A, where he went 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA. The right-hander has four pitches, including a fastball in the mid-90s. He may not be an ace right away, but few pitchers in the minors have his potential.

Fantasy sleeper: Mike Minor
"His strikeout and walk rates showed he has the skills to become a top-of-the-rotation-type pitcher, and with Derek Lowe banished to Cleveland, he suddenly has a rotation spot to refine them. The Braves' decision to clear that spot for Minor this offseason should give the 24-year-old a renewed sense of purpose entering spring training. If his performance during his final nine starts last year, when he posted a 3.83 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning, was a sneak peak at what he can do with a defined role, he'll be a late-round find on Draft Day." -- Scott White [Full Braves team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bounce-back player: Jason Heyward
"He developed numbness in his shoulder in spring training and, in an effort to play through the injury, altered his mechanics. His popout rate was through the roof, which is a clear sign his swing wasn't right. With an offseason of rest and the fresh perspective of new hitting coach Greg Walker, Heyward should be in for a bounce-back season. Expecting other-worldly numbers from him would, of course, not be prudent, but even a return to his rookie form would make him a top-25 outfielder." -- Scott White [Full Braves team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Everything that went wrong last year -- Uggla's early-season struggles, Heyward's sophomore slump, manager Fredi Gonzalez's overuse of the bullpen -- goes right this year, while the young pitching studs are as advertised. If all that happens, the Braves could win the NL East. Then with their starters and relievers, the Braves would be a tough out in any series.

Pessimistic outlook
Uggla plays the entire season like he did last May (.160/.241/.260 with two home runs), Heyward's 2012 is a repeat of 2011 and Hudson, Hanson and Jurrjens have a large chunk of time on the disabled list with varying injuries. Meanwhile, the rookies the team is counting on to perform -- Pastornicky and Minor -- struggle and the veteran Jones can't hold up for an entire season at 40. There's plenty that can go wrong and with the improvements made by the Marlins, the growth of the Nationals and the Phillies' pitching, the Braves could battle with the Mets for the bottom of the division rather than searching to avenge 2011's collapse.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 1, 2012 7:57 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 8:48 am
 

Baseball's worst contracts, Part I: IF/C



By Matt Snyder


This past weekend I posted a blog about Joe Mauer feeling healthy so far this offseason and in the comments section a small discussion about bad contracts broke out. So, I figured, why not sort through all the contracts in baseball and come up with some of the worst? We're still more than two weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting, but it would be shocking to see a free agent sign for a contract that would rank among the worst in baseball -- considering the players left unsigned. So the timing works well. Let's check it out and discuss, shall we? If there's one thing baseball fans love, it's arguing.

We'll go at this in three different parts. First (now) is infielders and catchers, Thursday we'll look at the outfielders and designated hitters while Friday is pitchers.

One last note before we proceed. The way baseball's salary structure is set up, the overwhelming majority of the players can't make big bucks -- relatively speaking, of course -- until they've been in the league for about three years. Then there is arbitration, so they aren't free agents for another few years. So, most of the time, the overpaid players were underpaid -- again, relatively speaking -- when they were young studs. So you could argue it evens out. And I would in many cases. I also don't begrudge any of them for making gobs of money to play a game. They have a special talent that people pay to watch. They deserve a huge cut. So let's just try to stay on topic here, OK? Great. Let's dive in.

Catcher

Worst: Joe Mauer, Twins
Remaining contract: 7 years, $161 million

Mauer is obviously coming off a disastrous season and should improve greatly in the next few years. That being said, his health issues throughout 2011 were a bit of a wakeup call on how bad that contract will likely prove to be. He has to remain behind the plate to be worth anywhere close to $23 million per season, and what are the chances that he stays productive and healthy as a full-time catcher for the next seven years? If he moves to first base, he's a well-below average power hitter at the position and that harms the offense as a whole. While Mauer is certainly a stand-up guy and a hometown hero, it's hard to see this contract coming close to paying off for Minnesota in the end.

Honorable Mention
Victor Martinez, Tigers: This one is mitigated by the fact that the Tigers have insurance (that will reportedly pay almost half), but he's still owed $38 million over the next three seasons. In fairness to the Tigers, though, this wasn't really a bad deal when signed. They didn't know he'd get badly hurt and they'd then sign Prince Fielder to a gargantuan contract. It's just that there aren't really any other bad catcher contracts. I'm even cheating by putting Martinez here because he's predominantly a DH. I just had to list someone here.

First Base

Worst: Ryan Howard, Phillies
Remaining contract: 5 years, $125 million

The achillies injury wasn't taken significantly into account because there's no way the Phillies knew that was coming. Still, this deal was signed in April of 2010 but is just now kicking in for the start of the 2012 season. We're talking about a guy who hit .253 and only had a .488 slugging percentage last season. Jose Reyes and Shane Victorino had higher marks in slugging, which is a power stat. The 33 home runs and 116 RBI look good, but Howard is set to make $25 million per season for the next five years. He also hit just .105 with a .263 slugging percentage in the 2011 NLDS, where the Phillies lost in five games to the Cardinals due predominantly to a lack of offense. When Howard is 36 and making $25 million, it'll be an albatross of a contract.

Honorable Mention
Albert Pujols, Angels: It's actually a huge bargain for the next two seasons, when Pujols will make a combined $28 million, but by the time you get to age 42 and $30 million per year, it's pretty rough. The Angels are counting on having already made their money by then. And they very well might do so, which is why he's only in "honorable mention." We'll see.

Prince Fielder, Tigers: Similar to Pujols, the nine-year, $214 million deal doesn't look bad until several years down the road. We'll see, part two.

Mark Teixeira, Yankees: Teixiera is similar to Howard in several ways. He is actually coming off back-to-back seasons of sub-.500 slugging percentages (Howard was only below in '11) while getting most of his value from home runs and RBI, the latter of which is a team stat. The difference is Teixeira is a great defender and is owed slightly less ($115 million and change in five years). And he is completely healthy, which bodes better in his chances to right the ship these next few years.

Second Base

Worst: Dan Uggla
Remaining contract: 4 years, $52.8 million

Uggla salvaged what could have been an awful 2011 season by getting insanely hot in the second half. He ended with a career-high 36 homers, but that's about all that looks good, on the whole. He hit .233/.311/.453 with 156 strikeouts, poor defense and a career-low 22 doubles. He'll be 35 in the final year of his contract.

Honorable Mention
Chase Utley, Phillies: Past performance means he's probably earned this, but $30.575 million for the next two seasons seems awfully high for a 33-year-old coming off a .259/.344/.425 season.

Brian Roberts, Orioles: Let's just hope he finds a way to recover from all the post-concussion symptoms for the sake of his quality of life. The Orioles have far bigger problems than the $20 million Roberts will make the next two seasons.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins: OK, so $6 million for two seasons isn't much money to any team in the majors, but Nishioka was probably the worst position player in baseball last year and it's hard to see any improvement.

Shortstop

Worst: Jose Reyes, Marlins
Remaining contract: 6 years, $106 million

I don't think this was an awful signing at all, from a certain point of view. The Marlins wanted to make a splash and Reyes is the type of player that can single-handedly energize an entire lineup ... when he's in it. Yep, there's that qualifier and that's why he's here. Leg injuries -- on a player who relies on speed -- have limited Reyes to 295 games the past three seasons. Can he stay healthy for the next six? That's a tall order. Again, though, I don't think this one is egregious, and it's possible he ends up well worth the money. It's just that there aren't many bad contracts at shortstop and this represents a huge risk.

Honorable Mention
Derek Jeter, Yankees: What he means to the franchise -- in addition to how much money the Yankees can afford to spend -- says this deal isn't hurting anyone at all. But if you look at what he's likely to provide in the next two seasons, there's no way it's worth the $33 million Jeter is owed. Again, though, Jeter has earned the "pension," if you will, by this point in his legendary career.

Third Base

Worst: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
Remaining contract: 6 years, $149 million

If A-Rod hit the free agent market right now, what would he get ... half that contract? He's 36, he hasn't played in more than 138 games since 2007 and is coming off a season where he hit .276/.362/.461. I have no doubt if he stays healthy he has another two or even three great seasons left in him, but he's set to make at least $20 million during the season in which he turns 42.

Also, there are marketing bonuses in the contract for several home-run milestones from A-Rod's 660th to 763rd home runs (he currently has 629). It's probably not worth getting into in this space, because if A-Rod actually breaks the home run record, the Yankees will be rolling in the promotional dough from the event(s) and aftermath.

Honorable Mention
Brandon Inge, Tigers: When the Tigers signed Fielder and announced Miguel Cabrera was moving to third base, it made Inge a $5.5-million backup for the 2012 season.

On the other hand ...

Evan Longoria, Rays: Even if the Rays pick up all their club options on Longoria -- which they surely will, barring major injury -- the All-Star third baseman is only owed $40.5 million over the next five seasons. He's only 26 years old and already has two Gold Gloves, 113 career homers, an .874 career OPS and three postseason appearances in just four seasons. He's received MVP votes in all four of his seasons at the majors. He'll make $4.5 million in 2012 while A-Rod will make $29 million. Now that is a club-friendly contract, one that is surely the envy of general managers -- and certainly owners -- across the league.

Next

Thursday: OF/DH

Friday: Pitchers

Source for all figures was Cot's Baseball Contracts

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:43 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 11:02 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Arizona Diamondbacks



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

If you're exhausted by the constant rumors we're circulating at the Winter Meetings, here's your fun little break. Today's installment of Homegrown brings the most powerful team in the bigs. Everyday in Chase Field would be like this past All-Star break's Home Run Derby. And the fans wouldn't even have to boo the entire time.

Lineup

1. Stephen Drew, SS
2. Miguel Montero, C
3. Justin Upton, RF
4. Carlos Gonzalez, CF
5. Dan Uggla, 2B
6. Carlos Quentin, LF
7. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
8. Mark Reynolds, 3B

Starting Rotation

1. Jorge De La Rosa
2. Brett Anderson
3. Max Scherzer
4. Josh Collmenter
5. Chris Capuano

Both De La Rosa and Anderson had season-ending surgeries in the real 2011 season, so if they did, we'd have to turn to Brad Penny and Ross Ohlendorf. We also have first-rounders Jarrod Parker and Trevor Bauer waiting in the wings. And good ol' Brandon Webb, too.

Bullpen

Closer - Jose Valverde
Set up - Javier Lopez, Sergio Santos, Daniel Schlereth, Vicente Padilla, Esmerling Vasquez
Long - Penny, Ohlendorf, Micah Owings

Notable Bench Players

Rod Barajas, Chris Snyder, Lyle Overbay, Conor Jackson, Scott Hairston, Emilio Bonifacio, Gerardo Parra

What's Good?

Wow, that's some serious power in the lineup. If everyone stayed healthy for a full season, there's every reason to believe all eight hitters would have at least 20 home runs, with Montero and Drew really being the only questions there. A handul of them would hit more than 30. So, yes, the power of the offense immediately jumps out, but really everything is pretty good here. There is depth, a solid rotation -- albeit injury-riddled -- and a good closer with quality setup men.

What's Not?

Reynolds is a butcher at third base. If Anderson and De La Rosa both fell injured before Bauer and Parker were ready, the rotation would become awfully thin. Even if they stayed healthy, there isn't a bona fide ace. The outfield defense isn't great, with Gonzalez and Quentin, but it isn't awful either.

Comparison to real 2011

The real Diamondbacks went 94-68 and won the NL West before bowing out in Game 5 of the NLDS to the Brewers. This team would be every bit that good, if not better -- and again, being that this is a hypothetical exercise, we're hypothetically assuming health to the top two starting pitchers. If this team played like it was capable, it could very well be a World Series champion.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 27, 2011 1:04 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 3:35 pm
 

Reports: Agent used porn star to sign clients



By C. Trent Rosecrans

A twit pic of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and porn star Bibi Jones got the football player some unwanted attention, but it could have more serious repercussions for baseball agent Terry Bross.

After the pictures of Gronkowski and Jones showed up on Twitter, Jones appeared on a Boston radio show and said an agent in Phoenix would "kind of use me to get baseball players to sign him as an agent." A report by Maury Brown of the Business of Sports Network, cited several sources as saying that agent was Bross of Gaylor Sports Management. Business Insider has also reported the news, and Bross refused comment when reached by the publication.

On 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston with Toucher and Rich, Jones said she had sex with "lots (of professional athletes), but most of them aren't married."

When asked about players that weren't married, she named Braves second baseman Dan Uggla. "There's a lot, but I can't say."

Uggla, it should be noted, is represented by Bross. The Braves second baseman left Jeff Borris of the Beverely Hills Sports Council to join Bross in 2010, before he was traded to the Braves and signed a five-year, $62 million extension.

Jones also spoke with Business Insider earlier this week and was asked about helping the then-unnamed agent recruit players.

"I haven't done that in a year. But he would just take me to a bar and introduce me after a Diamondbacks game in Arizona," she told Business Insider. "You know, baseball players would come and I'd introducee myself. And then I got to hook up with baseball players and have fun. It was like a dream come true because I love athletes and baseball's my favorite sport."

Jones said she slept with "over 10" baseball players that Bross introduced her to, all in 2010. She said she believed "a couple" of those players ended up signing with Bross.

She said she hasn't spoken to him for more than a year, but "he was a very nice guy."

Uggla's Marlins played in Arizona from July 8-11, 2010 and Uggla signed with Bross on July 28, 2010.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 4, 2011 1:28 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Cincinnati Reds

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Cincinnati Reds
Record: 79-83, 3rd place, 17 games back
Manager: Dusty Baker
Best hitter: Joey Votto -- .309/.416/.531 with 29 HR, 103 RBI
Best pitcher:Johnny Cueto -- 9-5, 24 GS, 156 IP, 2.31 ERA, 104 K, 47 BB

Coming off the 2010 National League Central title with pretty much the same team intact, the Reds were expected to challenge for the title again. However, the team could never quite get consistent starting pitching and were on the outside looking in by the All-Star break, close enough not to become sellers at the deadline and ultimately irrelevant for the last two months of the season.

2011 SEASON RECAP

Cueto took a step forward in his development and Votto showed he was anything but a one-hit wonder, while Brandon Phillips played at an All-Star level. Other than that, most every other Cincinnati Red took a step back from their 2010 performance. Bronson Arroyo and Drew Stubbs set dubious marks -- Arroyo allowing 46 homers and Stubbs striking out 205 times. Opening-day starter Edinson Volquez was twice demoted to the minors and third baseman Scott Rolen was limited to just 65 games. Lefty Travis Wood struggled in his second year and right-hander Homer Bailey has yet to find consistency. The team's gaping holes at shortstop and left field were magnified and its rotation wasn't as deep as promised in the spring. In all, disappointment was all around in 2011 as Cincinnati was unable to defend its crown.

2012 AUDIT

The Reds need to follow the lead of the Brewers, who decided to go for it in 2011 instead of worrying what would happen when Prince Fielder left. The Reds still have two more years of Votto, they need to take advantage of that and try to win before Votto goes to greener pastures, not fret about what's going to happen in two years. The Reds still need some help at the top of their rotation, a right-handed power bat for the middle of the lineup and to make a decision about left field and shortstop.

FREE AGENTS

CL Francisco Cordero (team holds a $12 million option for 2012)
2B Brandon Phillips (team holds a $12 million option for 2012)
C Ramon Hernandez
SS Edgar Renteria
LHP Dontrelle Willis

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • Sell high on first baseman Yonder Alonso. In his first extensive big-league action, the 2008 first-rounder was impressive, hitting .330/.398/.545, displaying a keen understanding of the strike zone. That said, the Reds struggled to find places to play him, considering he's a first baseman and the guy they have there is one of the game's best players. Alonso played 16 games in left field, and aside from a rough weekend in Wrigley Field, didn't embarrass himself. He also played a game at third base without a single ball coming his way. In the end, he's a first baseman. That's where he'll thrive and that's where some team could certainly use him -- just not the Reds. See what you can get for Alonso in a package or straight up. At 24, he's young for a major leaguer, but old for a prospect. His highest value is this offseason.
  • Make a play for a true ace. Yes, Cueto has the potential to be an ace and he looked at times to be an ace this season. However, the Brewers could have said the same thing about Yovani Gallardo after last season. Be bold and bolster the top of the rotation. The Reds were second in the National League in runs scored and fifth in OPS -- there's enough offense to win if the pitching is sound. Sure up the rotation and by default you sure up the bullpen. The Brewers thought bold and they didn't have half the farm system the Reds have. You can send some combination Alonso, Billy Hamilton and one of the two catchers -- Devin Mesoraco or Yasmani Grandal -- away in a deal or two for true front-of-the-rotation help.
  • Pick up Phillips' option, but don't sign him to the long-term deal he's seeking. Phillips will win his third Gold Glove this year and is as good as anyone defensively. He also hit .300/.353/.457. However, he'll be looking for a Dan Uggla-like deal (five years, $62 million), and that's just not something the Reds can afford, especially at non-premium position like second base. He adjusted well to the leadoff role late in the season, hitting .350/.417/.573 in 39 games (38 starts) at the top of the order, but he's still a career .322 OBP guy and his .353 on-base percentage this season was a career-best by .021, aided by a career-best .322 BABIP. Bottom line is he's the best second baseman in the National League, but that comes at a price -- and a price the Reds won't be able to afford past this season.
  • Speaking of not overpaying a specific position, the team vastly overpaid for closer Cordero after the 2007 season, giving him a four-year, $46 million deal plus a $12 million club option for 2012. There's no reason to pick that option up, even though the team has reportedly been talking about an extension with Cordero. Any extension would likely be two years for more than the $12 million he'd make by just picking up the option for next year, but would include a yearly pay cut. Again, that's a move big market teams can afford, but the Reds cannot. Even with likely deferred payments (much like last season's Arroyo extension), Cordero is too costly. He's done his job well in his time in Cincinnati, solidifying a bullpen that had been in tatters before his arrival, but it's too much to pay for a closer. Follow the lead of the Rays and Diamondbacks who were able to rebuild bullpens for less than $12 million based on scrap parts. It's risky, but no more risky (and less expensive) than paying inflated prices for relievers.
  • The team held on to Hernandez even when other teams were desperate for catching. That means either nobody was that desperate for catching, or Hernandez and his agents already told the team he would not accept arbitration -- or both. If the Reds can offer Hernandez arbitration without danger of him accepting it, they'd likely receive two draft picks if Hernandez qualifies as a Type A free agent. With Ryan Hanigan signed through 2013 at a team-friendly rate and Mesoraco left with nothing left to prove in the minors, it's time to move on from Hernandez, who has been productive in his time in Cincinnati. They also have Grandal waiting in the wings, plus Tucker Barnhart, who won the Minor League Gold Glove at catcher.
  • If the Reds are going to go young at shortstop with Zack Cozart and in left field with Chris Heisey, they need to commit to it -- no messing around with another veteran shortstop that will just take up playing time, like Edgar Renteria or Orlando Cabrera. In left, Heisey needs to play and play more, even against left-hander, even though he struggled against them. Juan Francisco has improved at third base and should be the first choice if Rolen isn't healthy.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 22, 2011 9:10 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 1:46 pm
 

Who are the NL's worst defenders?

Wright

By Evan Brunell

Over the past week, Eye on Baseball has taken a look at the AL Gold Glove award winners, along with the deserving NL candidates. In addition, the AL's worst defenders were scoured, and now comes the senior circuit's recipients of tin gloves...

Catcher: John Buck, Marlins -- One of the most important things a catcher can do is to throw out baserunners. To be sure, it's a total package -- calling pitches, acting as the general on the field, blocking pitches, framing pitches... but that pesky baserunner problem is also an issue, and Buck scores very low here. Out of 95 would-be basestealers, Buck only caught 17 of them, or 17.9 percent. Of all catchers who qualify for the batting title in the game -- not just the NL -- Buck's posted the worst caught-stealing rate. His reputation in all other aspects of catching are muted at best.

First base: Prince Fielder, Brewers -- Fielder looks as if he should easily clear $150 million in a new contract this offseason and $200 million is not out of reach given the right motivated bidder. Whoever is acquiring him, though, will be doing so for his home-run bat as opposed his defense, which has been consistently awful. This is a player who would have been shoved into the DH spot in the AL had he come up with an American League team, but the Brewers have had to live with his glove at first. Fielder offers nothing at first beyond a human blob that can block the occasional grounder.

Second base: Dan Uggla, Braves -- Uggla battled Jeff Keppinger for this honor, but Uggla takes the cake here by leading all NL second basemen in errors with 15, flashing both awful range and stone hands. It's surprising the Marlins didn't move him to third a while ago, and the Braves will certainly try to shift Uggla to third base once Chipper Jones retires. Until then, Atlanta's going to have to hope that Freddie Freeman at first and their shortstop can cover enough ground for Uggla to make his mark with the bat.

Third base: David Wright, Mets -- If David Wright's .929 fielding percentage holds, it will be the lowest mark by a third baseman since  2007, excluding Mark Reynolds who has "bested" Wright's fielding percentage twice in 2011 and 2008. In 2007, Ryan Braun tallied a .895 fielding percentage and was moved to left, which was always inevitable. Before that, you have to go to Edwin Encarnacion in 2006. Errors aren't always an indication of how good a fielder is, but in Wright's case, he's making them in such copious amounts without the benefit of superlative range.

Shortstop: Yuniesky Betancourt, Brewers -- Was there any doubt? The Brewers knew that they would have a horrendous left side of the infield, but the club could only hope that Betancourt and third baseman Casey McGehee's offensive production outstripped what they lost on defense. That hasn't been the case, and Betancourt remains the worst shortstop by a mile in the game. Really, there's no excuse for his still being considered a shortstop.

Left field: Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- There isn't much that left fielders are asked to do. Stand out there with a glove, catch the balls coming your way and smash lots of home runs. Well, Ibanez hasn't quite delivered on these fronts, especially defensively where he combines a noodle of an arm with a lack of speed or quickness, making him a statue. He's fortunate he doesn't play for the Cubs, otherwise the ivy on the outfield walls would already have overtaken him.

Canter field: Angel Pagan, Mets -- Pagan came out of nowhere to be a solid contributor to the Mets the last two seasons, but things have fallen apart this year. He leads all NL center fielders in erorrs and while he has good reaction time, his hands just aren't soft enough and his arm is a wash, too. Pagan may well have lost any shot at starting again after the year he's had.

Right field: Lance Berkman, Cardinals -- As I keep bringing up, a right fielder's arm is more valuable than a left fielder or center fielder. Thus, a player's defense in right should be judged with a bit more notice as to the player's arm. Well, one of the worst arms in the league belongs to Berkman, playing right consistently for the first time in his career. The verdict? The Cardinal has a lousy arm and lousy range. Maybe Berkman should stick to first base.

Pitcher: Matt Garza, Cubs -- A pitcher's job on defense basically comes down to this: field the grounders back to you and act as an irrelevant fly-ball pointer-outer. So when you make seven errors in just 191 innings for a fielding percentage of .774, you aren't doing too well. That's Garza, who has made five throwing errors while muffing two grounders. Garza's only made 10 putouts and 14 assists, so 22.5 percent of his involvement in fielding plays have resulted in an error. That's not good.

You'll notice no NL West players landed on the list. That's not surprising. With San Diego and Los Angeles playing in pitcher's parks and San Francisco's stadium rather spacious as well, defense is at a premium. Colorado also needs to emphasize defense as well to take away hits and patrol Coors Fields' cavernous gaps.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: September 8, 2011 7:35 pm
 

Rain could cost Kemp HR, RBI titles

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The second game of Thursday's doubleheader in Washington has been postponed -- well, actually canceled. The game will only be made up if it's necessary, and it won't be.

The Nationals, 26.5 games behind the Phillies in the National League East and are already mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The Dodgers are 70-72, 11.5 games behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West, but still have an elimination number of 9, so they still have a chance, but not a great one.

So what does it matter if the Dodgers and Nationals play 161 games instead of 162? Not much to either team, but it could mean something to Matt Kemp. The Dodgers' center fielder probably won't win the triple crown -- his 1-for-5 performance earlier on Thursday dropped his average to .318, well below Jose Reyes (.336 after a pinch-hit single in Game 1 against Atlanta on Thursday) and Ryan Braun (.332 before Thursday's game), but still good for third in the race for the batting title. Even without the batting title, he's still very much in the race for the home run and RBI titles. Kemp has 32 homers, tied for third in the National League. He's two homers behind Albert Pujols and one behind second-place Dan Uggla. His 107 RBI is third in the league, just one behind Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard. While the average could benefit from one less game, it's the counting stats that hurt -- at this time of the year and with margins as close as they are in those two races, the rain on the East Coast this week could cost Kemp one of the only titles the Dodgers have a shot at winning.

If Kemp finishes a homer shy of the title or an RBI short, tonight may have been the difference. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 2:53 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 11:36 pm
 

Players of the Month: Avila, Lee



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every year August is the month when some teams pull away in the playoff race and others fade -- it's one of the biggest months of the season, even if it doesn't have the drama of September or the stakes of October. By the time August is done, there are few surprises -- what you see is what you get.

August's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Ortiz Lee
Miller Granderson Lee
Brunell Avila Kershaw
Rosecrans Votto Lee
Snyder Avila Lee
Fantasy Avila Lee

While one surprise team (Pittsburgh) fizzled, another (Arizona) sizzled. The Diamondbacks started August two games back in the NL West and now lead the defending champion Giants by six games. The D-Backs finished August on a nine-game winning streak -- they also had a seven-game winning streak earlier in the month. Kirk Gibson's club did have a six-game losing streak in the past 31 days, but the Giants have struggled all month, allowing some breathing distance for the D-Backs. 

This August has seen Atlanta's Dan Uggla go from a disappointment to, well, Dan Uggla. His hitting streak ended at 33 games, but his average increased from .206 at the end of July to .232 at the end of August. In all, he hit in 22 of 26 August games and went .340/.405/.670 with 10 homers as the Braves solidified their hold on the NL wild-card spot. 

Uggla was one of three players with 10 homers in the month, along with the Yankees' Curtis Granderson and the Rays' Evan Lognoria.

But it's Detroit's Alex Avila who gains the nod as our Batter of the Month.

His value to the Tigers lineup sealed the deal. Avila hit .360 with seven homers, 19 runs, 18 RBI and a 1.169 OPS in the August. Getting that kind of production from anywhere is incredible, but from a catcher it's just gravy. Even better, Avila bounced back from an awful July in which he hit .197 with a .584 OPS. Some may have thought his breakthrough season was coming to an end, but August was his biggest month of the season.

Meanwhile nine different pitchers picked up five wins. Some of the names (Cliff Lee, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander) aren't surprising, while some (Ivan Nova, Ian Kennedy, Ricky Romero) were young guns making their mark. Another was a pitcher (Hiroki Kuroda) finally getting run support and the last (Bruce Chen) was a total surprise.

But Lee was The Man. He started five games. He won five games. He only allowed two earned runs, which both came in the same game. He averaged nearly eight innings per start, saving the Phillies bullpen some extra work. He struck out nearly a batter per inning while allowing less than one baserunner per inning, meaning he kept the pressure off his defense. Basically, Lee did it all for the Phillies in August, and that's why he snags this Pitcher award for a second consecutive month.

Past players of the month: April | May | June | July


Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
David Ortiz David Ortiz, Red Sox
Picking a player of the month wasn't easy, but David Ortiz's big two-run home run on Aug. 31 against the Yankees clinched it. Not exactly, but it helped. Even before that, Ortiz had a 1.308 August OPS that was the best by any major-league regular. In a month where no one player really stood out, he was definitely in the mix. And then he homered against the Yankees. So it's him.
Curtis Granderson Curtis Granderson, Yankees
Granderson's August catapulted him squarely into the AL MVP running. I love the symmetry, too: 29 RBI in August, and 29 runs scored. The runs led the majors and ribbies ranked second. Texas' Mike Napoli had a higher OPS (1.094-1.016) and deserves consideration, but if I picked one player to start a team with right now, it's Curtis G.
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Avila has really come into his own in 2011. In August, he hit .372/.481/.721 with seven homers in 25 games. Did I mention he's a catcher? Avila's grip on the starting spot is so strong, he caught 18 consecutive games at one point during August. "He's been absolutely unbelievable," manager Jim Leyland told  MLive.com. "He's been tremendous. There's no question about it. Pretty impressive. Pretty darn impressive." Indeed.
Joey VottoJoey Votto, Reds 
Votto's August was much like Votto himself -- quiet and excellent. The Reds first baseman hit .347/.483/.716 with nine homers and 19 RBI in August. The Reds aren't in the postseason race, so it's unlikely Votto will get much consideration for MVP, but he may have had a better season than he did a year ago when he won the award.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Al Melchior
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Have you seen his average and slugging percentage in the month? That's just sick, especially for a catcher tasked with scouting opposing hitters and working with his pitching staff day in and day out. The young backstop just keeps getting better for the Tigers, who meanwhile keep winning games and appear headed for the postseason.
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Avila wasn't the most productive hitter in Fantasy formats, but he was probably the most productive relative to his position. He lapped the field of catchers, hitting .360 with seven homers and 18 RBI. He also helped owners in formats that reward walks by drawing 19 free passes in his 109 plate appearances. While he didn't have the overall production of Granderson or Carlos Gonzalez, Avila helped his Fantasy owners immensely by providing elite-level production at a thin position.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
In June, Cliff Lee went 5-0 and allowed just one run. In August, he went 5-0 and allowed two. That means he was slightly better in June than in August. It also means he's had two incredible months, and that he's my pitcher of the month -- again.
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
This is why Philadelphia re-signed this guy. No, not to pitch in August. But to pitch in October LIKE he's pitched in August. Yeah, the 5-0 record in five starts grabs your attention, but that's just the beginning of the dominance. The 0.45 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the 39 strikeouts against just eight walks, the 0.78 WHIP ... until Wednesday night, the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw was my guy, but Lee's WHIP and strikeouts/walks ratio even tops Kershaw's (0.95, 39/10).
Brunell Rosecrans
Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Kershaw has been bandied about as one of the next great pitchers, but he's great right now, with a 5-1 August catapulting him into the Cy Young Award chase. Don't look now, but Kershaw has a better record (17-5 to 16-5) than Halladay, thrown more innings (198 2/3; 196 2/3) and has a lower ERA, with a 2.45 mark compared to 2.47 on the year. That's thanks to a month in which the lefty hurled 46 1/3 innings, checking in with a 1.55 ERA.
Cliff LeeCliff Lee, Phillies
Only three times in baseball history has a pitcher had two months in one season with five wins, no losses and an ERA under 1.00 -- Walter Johnson in 1913, Bob Gibson in 1968 and Lee in 2011. Lee threw 551 pitches in the month and just one resulted in runs -- a two-run homer by Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt on Aug. 17 in 9-2 Philadelphia victory.

Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
August was the second month this season where Lee's just been lights-out. This time around, he went 5-0 with a 0.45 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in his five starts. His worst outing in the month came when Lee gave up three hits and two earned runs in a win against the first-place D-Backs.
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies 
Lee made five starts in August and allowed zero runs in four of them, accomplishing the feat for the second time in three months. He won each of those five starts, averaging eight innings. He'll have his bouts with inconsistency, as was the case during an uneven July, but when he's on, he's arguably the best pitcher in Fantasy Baseball. He showed it again in August.

Danny Knobler and Scott Miller are Senior MLB Writers; Evan Brunell, C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder are Eye on Baseball Bloggers; Al Melchior is a Fantasy Data Analyst; and Scott White is a Fantasy Writer.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com