Tag:Ichiro Suzuki
Posted on: February 22, 2012 1:22 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 2:35 pm
 

Spring primer: Seattle Mariners


By Matt Snyder


The Mariners are coming off a 67-95 season, when they finished 29 games out in the AL West -- seven behind the third-place A's. It was the sixth time in the past eight years Seattle came in last and they haven't seen the postseason since 2001. One big trade headlined the offseason as they attempt to turn the tide.

Scott Miller's Camp Report: With Jesus, Seattle seeks resurrection | Likes, Dislikes

Major additions: C/DH Jesus Montero, RHP Kevin Millwood, C John Jaso, RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
Major departures: RHP Michael Pineda, UT Adam Kennedy

Probable lineup
1. Chone Figgins, 3B
2. Dustin Ackley, 2B
3. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
4. Justin Smoak, 1B
5. Jesus Montero, DH
6. Mike Carp, LF
7. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
8. Miguel Olivo, C
9. Brendan Ryan, SS

Probable rotation
1. Felix Hernandez
2. Jason Vargas
3. Hisashi Iwakuma
4. Kevin Millwood
5. Hector Noesi

Blake Beavan and Charlie Furbush are also in the mix.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Brandon League
Set-up: RHP Shawn Kelley, LHP George Sherrill

Important bench players
C John Jaso, IF Kyle Seager, OF Casper Wells, OF Trayvon Robinson

Prospect to watch
With the second overall pick in the 2011 draft, the Mariners pegged left-handed starting pitcher Danny Hultzen from the University of Virginia. It's likely his presence -- in addition to Furbush, Beaven and prospects Taijuan Walker and James Paxton -- made it easier to deal Pineda for some offensive help. Hultzen appeared in the top 30 overall in most prospect rankings this spring and is said to be close to big-league ready. The M's likely don't have a reason to rush him, but if he's ready come June or July, it wouldn't be surprising to see him make an impact this season.

Fantasy sleeper: Kyle Seager
"Seager isn't much of a home-run threat, and playing home games at Safeco Field won't help matters, but his gap power and keen batting eye could help him to an average in the .290 to .300 range, if not higher. Owners may look at last season's .258 mark, his lack of prospect hype and his place in a less-than-imposing Mariners lineup and discount him. However, Seager's ability to get on base and rack up doubles makes him worth a late-round flier in mixed league formats." - Al Melchior [Full Mariners team fantasy preview]

Fantasy "head-to-head hero:" Dustin Ackley
"Ackley's in-the-park extra-base hits will make him one of the seven or eight best second basemen in Head-to-Head, but the potential for mediocre homer and run production makes him a later-round option for mixed league Roto owners." - Al Melchior [Full Mariners team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Ackley and Montero become stars, Figgins returns to form, a finally-healthy Gutierrez returns to form as well and Ichiro thrives in the 3-hole, finally giving the Mariners a viable offense. Iwakuma adjusts to America impressively while Hultzen storms onto the scene in early June to provide an additional pitching boost. The Rangers and Angels suffer major injury and underachievement issues, and the Mariners shock everyone by winning the AL West.

Pessimistic outlook
Heading into this season, expect the Mariners to be picked third by pretty much everyone. Thus, the pessimistic outlook would be that the Mariners find a way to finish below the A's. If the offense sputters, younger players stall in their development and the rotation behind King Felix proves thin -- which is possible -- that last place finish could repeat.

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Posted on: January 26, 2012 8:35 pm
 

Mariners may drop Ichiro from leadoff spot

Ichiro Suzuki

By C. Trent Rosecrans


In the end, lineup construction has been shown not to matter much, but this time of year it always becomes a topic of discussion, because, well, there are no games.

Since Ichiro Suzuki joined the Mariners, the Seattle skipper du jour has had an easy start when filling out his lineup -- writing Ichiro in first and then figuring out the rest from there. Ichiro's batted leadoff in 1,722 of the 1,749 games he's played with the Mariners in the last 11 years.

Eric Wedge said Wednesday night in a radio interview that he was considering moving Ichiro from the top spot and reiterated those comments on Thursday at the Mariners' spring training luncheon. Here's exactly what he said, from Larry Stone of the Seattle Times:
"It's as much to do about his teammates as it does with him -- in regard to the collective nine we're putting down on paper. I haven't made any firm decisions. I've made it very clear over the course of the winter I'm thinking about it. I'm even further down the road to where I'm leaning in that direction to have Ichi hit somewhere else.

"I know it's a big deal to everybody. I can't get caught up in that. My job is to make sure I communicate that to Ichiro, make sure everyone understands what the options are, and what they're fighting for, and what I'm thinking about. That's what I'm going to continue to do.

"Right now, I'm going to be very open-minded to what I'm going to do, but I'm going to go into spring training leaning a certain direction. And we'll make the decisions from there."
As for where Ichiro would hit? Wedge said he's thought about all three of the top three spots in the lineup, including leadoff. And who would lead off? The candidates, in addition to Ichiro, are Dustin Ackley, Chone Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez.

Suzuki is coming off a career-worst .272/.310/.335 season with 40 stolen bases. He has a career .370 on-base percentage. The problem may be that the candidates to replace Ichiro aren't going to be any better. Figgins has been an unmitigated disaster in Seattle and hit just .188/.241/.243 last season, but does have a career .352 OBP and even put up a .340 OBP in 2010, his first year in Seattle. Guiterrez was plagued by a mysterious stomach ailment the last two seasons and put up a .224/.261/.273 line last season and has just a career .308 OBP. Ackley hit .273/.348/.417 last season, but that was in his only 90 games in the big leagues.

As most lineup discussions this time of year, it's purely conjecture and subject to change once games starts, injuries happen and performance patterns take shape. But when it does happen, it will seem pretty odd for Ichiro not to lead off games for the Mariners -- but not as odd as seeing him in a different uniform. Ichiro is in his last year of his contract with the Mariners and could easily be in his last season in Seattle.

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 5:54 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 6:49 pm
 

Seven active borderline Hall of Fame candidates



By C. Trent Rosecrans


It's Hall of Fame season, so instead of whining about how other people vote and hiding our ballot envy behind the safety of snark and namecalling, the Eye on Baseball team is looking ahead to future Hall of Fame classes. Yesterday, Matt Snyder looked at five sure-fire, no-doubt, if-their-career-ended-today active Hall of Fame players.
Hall of Fame coverage

Today, we'll look at what makes the Hall a little bit more fun -- the borderline guys. These are guys that if their career ended today would have an argument for the Hall of Fame and could get in or may not. What makes it a little more fun is that Matt and I couldn't even agree on the lists -- so here we go.

Vladimir Guerrero -- Guerrero's best years were in Montreal, where he was invisible to most baseball fans, like Tim Raines and Andre Dawson before him. Still, Guerrero has made nine All-Star teams and won the American League MVP in 2004, his first season outside of Montreal. Through 16 seasons, Guerrero has 2,590 hits and 449 home runs. At this point, it seems like he just doesn't have enough in the tank to get to 3,000 and 500 -- marks that would make his chances much better. Still, he's a career .318/.379/.553 hitter and has a career OPS+ of 140. He also has a career WAR of 59.2 (according to Baseball-Reference.com). 

If Guerrero's career ended now (which isn't a stretch, considering he's currently not under contract and is limited to DH), he'd be one of six players to finish their career with more than 400 home runs and a career batting average better than .315, joining Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Stan Musial. Guerrero had 12 seasons with a .300 average and more than 25 homers -- only Williams (14), Ruth (14) and Hank Aaron (13) have as many as Guerrero.

Todd Helton -- Like Guerrero, it appears that he'll fall just short of the magic numbers of 3,000 hits and 500 homers. Helton, 38, has 2,363 career hits and is coming off another .300 season, but needs another 637 hits to get to 3,000 -- and over the last five seasons he has 663 hits. While he's signed through the next two seasons and could play into his 40s, his recent back problems make it seem like he's unlikely to get there.

Helton's a career .323/.421/550 hitter -- with his .421 on-base percentage the highest among active players.  Helton made five straight All-Star teams from 2000-2004, finishing int he top 10 in MVP voting in three of those years. He also won four Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves, all during that same period.

The biggest strike against Helton, though, is where he played. All 15 of his seasons have been with the Rockies and he's certainly benefitted by playing half of his games in Colorado. His career splits are .354/.451/.620 at home and .291/.391/.478 on the road. It should be pointed out those are still pretty darn good numbers -- another Hall of Fame first baseman, Tony Perez, hit .279/.391/.463 in his career. Overall, Helton has a career OPS+ of 136. That number accounts for not only what other players are doing, but also includes park factors. Helton's career WAR, according to Baseball-Reference.com, is 59.9 -- better than Dave Winfield, Richie Ashburn, Willie Stargell and Hank Greenberg, among other Hall of Famers.

Andruw Jones -- The knee-jerk reaction to Andruw Jones and the Hall of Fame is of course not -- the thought just doesn't seem right. Instead, for many, Jones represents the squandering of talent, not the Hall of Fame. Jones came up at 19 and immediately made an impact in the 1996 World Series.

Jones is just a career .256/.339/.488 hitter and will need a couple more years in his current role of a fourth outfielder to get to 2,000 hits. He does have 420 homers, but hit just .256/.339/.448 in his first 16 seasons in the big leagues.

But then there's the defense. Jones is a 10-time Gold Glove winner in center field, but that only starts to tell how good Jones was defensively in his prime. In a Hall of Fame discussion, it may be best to compare Jones to Ozzie Smith -- another transcendent defensive player. Smith was a career .262/.337/.328 hitter, with Jones' power numbers more than making up for the difference in batting averages. While shortstop is unquestionably the most important defensive position on the field, center field is probably second. And at his prime, there's probably no center fielder as good as Jones.

Overall, Jones checks in with a 60.4 career WAR from Baseball-Reference, but FanGraphs.com's formula rates him even higher, at 71.7. Both numbers are inflated by defense, but few players were ever as good as Jones was defensively.

Jorge Posada -- Posada's always been lumped in with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera as the trio came up with the Yankees at the same time in the mid-90s and were parts of not only the late-90s World Series dynasty, but also the team's run in the 2000s. While Posada isn't a slam-dunk like Jeter and Rivera, he has a case.

In his 17 seasons, all with the Yankees, Posada hit .273/.374/.474 with 275 home runs and 1,664 hits. He's not going to reach any of the magical numbers, but as a catcher, those are tough to achieve. Over his career, he has an OPS+ of 121 and a WAR of 44.7. His career OPS+ is better than Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter, the last two catchers inducted in Cooperstown.

While many can point to his participation in so many postseason games, he was hardly a great player during the fall, hitting .248/.358/.387 with 11 home runs and 42 RBI in 125 career postseason games. In 29 World Series games, Posada hit just .219/.333/.333 with two homers.

Defensively, Posada probably wasn't as bad as his reputation, but he was hardly Ivan Rodriguez, his contemporary -- and along with Johnny Bench one of the top two defensive catchers ever.

Scott Rolen -- Really. He's not the type that you think of when you think of Hall of Famers. Some people -- and I used to be one -- say you know a Hall of Famer when you see one. And Rolen never fit in that mold. He was always seen as good, but maybe not great. But when you look at his career as a whole, he certainly merits discussion and consideration.

While Rolen's counting stats of 2,005 career hits and 308 homers and the fact he'll be 37 in April mean he's unlikely to hit the big milestones, has a .282/.366/.494 career line with an OPS+ of 123. He has a Silver Slugger to his resume, was the 1997 Rookie of the Year and finished fourth in the 2004 MVP voting.

Third base is the most underrepresented position in the Hall of Fame, and Rolen may not be Mike Schmidt or George Brett, but he does rank up with the best to ever play the position. Of players who played more than 50 percent of their games at third base, only three third basemen have 2,000 hits, 300 home runs, 1,200 RBI and 500 doubles -- Brett, Chipper Jones and Rolen.

And then there's the case of defense -- Rolen has been an outstanding defensive third baseman his entire career, winning eight Gold Gloves. Only Brooks Robinson and Schmidt have more Gold Gloves at third than Rolen.

Ron Santo will get his well-deserved enshrinement in Cooperstown this summer, and the two have similar career numbers. Santo hit .277/.362/.464 with 2,254 career hits, 342 homers and five Gold Gloves. Santo's career OPS+ was 125.

Rolen's career WAR is 66.2 according to Baseball-Reference.com, tied with Craig Biggio and just behind Gary Carter (66.3) and Santo (66.4) and better than Willie McCovey (65.1) and Ernie Banks (64.4).

Ichiro Suzuki -- While I seem to think if the border is located in Brownsville, Ichiro is Houston -- and at the very least Corpus Christi. But Matt thought differently, so I guess that makes him ineligible for the "no doubt."

Leave aside for the moment Suzuki's accomplishments in Japan -- in just the United States, Suzuki has 2,428 hits, 423 stolen bases and a .326/.370/.421 line. He's also been named to 10 All-Star games, won two batting titles, won the MVP in 2001, the same year he won the Rookie of the Year, and has finished in the top 10 of MVP voting four times and in the top 20 eight times. He also has 10 Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers. He also had more than 200 hits in each of his first 10 seasons in the United States, leading the majors in that category seven times. 

Honestly, like I said, I'm not sure why he's on this list and not the "no doubt" list. Maybe his career WAR is a little low at 54.5 (according to BaseballReference.com), but remember that's just 11 years.

Suzuki is 38 and will likely play at the least two more years and with three, he's nearly a lock to get to 3,000 career hits in the United States. If he gets to 3,000 in the big leagues, he'll have 4,278 career hits combined between Japan and the United States.

Omar Vizquel -- Only Ozzie Smith has more Gold Gloves at shortstop than Vizquel's 11, and if any shortstop can be mentioned in the same breath as Smith defensively, it's Vizquel.

The two are also similar offensively. Vizquel's career line is .272/.337/.353 with an OPS+ of 82, picking up 2,841 hits, while stealing 401 bases. Smith was a career .262/.337/.328 hitter with an OPS+ of 87, accumulating 2,460 hits, while stealing 580 bases.

Vizquel has just one top 20 MVP finish, while Smith had four. Smith also had 15 All-Star nods to Vizquel's three, but Vizquel played in the post-Cal Ripken era when more was expected offensively out of shortstops.

Vizquel will be 45 in April and hopes to play another season, but it seems unlikely he'll be able to get the 159 hits he needs to get to 3,000 and make him an easier choice.

Wednesday: Surefire active Hall of Famers
Coming Friday: Players over 30 who have a shot of getting there with a few more good years
Saturday: Players under 30 building a good foundation
Sunday: Asterisk candidates -- on-field numbers good enough but PED issues cloud matters

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 17, 2011 12:26 am
Edited on: December 17, 2011 7:48 am
 

Swallows accept $2.5 million bid on OF Aoki

Norichika AokiBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Yakult Swallows have accepted a $2.5 million posting fee for outfielder Norichika Aoki, the team announced at a press conference on Saturday. Which team bid the $2.5 million on Aoki is not yet known. Whichever team it is will have 30 days to negotiate with Aoki, who will turn 30 next  month.

The three-time Central League batting champion hit just .292/.358/.360 in 2011, but was a career .336/.411/.472 in his first seven years. He is one of just four players to collect 200 hits in a season in Japan, joining Ichiro Suzuki, ALex Ramirez and Matt Murton.

"All I could do was wait, so I feel relieved now," Aoki said (via YakyuBaka.com). "I feel as if I am now one step closer to realizing my dream. I will allow my agent to handle the rest while I focus on my practices to make sure I am fully prepared." 

Yahoo's Jeff Passan tweets Aoki at $2.5 million is a bargain, calling him "Ichiro Lite, emphasis on Lite."

Aoki is a left-handed hitter, throwing right-handed. He won three Gold Gloves earlier in his career, but his throwing arm could limit him to left field in MLB.

Aoki appeared for Japan in both World Baseball Classics, earning All-Tournament honors in 2009, when he played left and batted third for Japan.

The Mets, Nationals and A's have all been rumored to be interested in Aoki.

Check out the CBSSports.com Free Agent Tracker to see all of the off-season's movements

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

Posted on: December 14, 2011 11:48 pm
 

Checking in on past products of posting system



By Matt Snyder


With Yu Darvish having been posted and the deadline to submit bids having passed, we now wait in anxious anticipation to see which team wins the honor to negotiate with the 6-foot-5 right-hander. Due to some of the past failures within the system, there seems to be a certain amount of stigma attached to paying so much money just to negotiate with a player. Let's check out the players who signed major-league contracts after going through the posting system and see how they fared.

Before we get to the players, though, let's clarify a few things. First of all, the posting system didn't begin until December of 1998. So Hideo Nomo, for example, was never posted. Also, not every single Japanese import since 1998 went through the system, either. Players who get to free agency in Japan become international free agents -- this is the route Hideki Matsui and Kosuke Fukudome, to name two, have taken. International free agents can sign with whatever MLB team they wish and have no posting fee paid to their former teams. And some players went through the posting system and either ended up signing minor-league contracts or not signing at all.

The following eight players did go through the posting process prior to last season and end up with a major-league contract. Let's look at each, chronologically.

(player, year posted, winning team, posting fee paid -- which does not include player salary)

Ichiro Suzuki, 2000, Mariners, $13.125 million
The 10-time All-Star won the MVP his first season in America. He's led the league in hits seven times and sports a career average of .326. He's become a franchise icon and could be headed to the Hall of Fame despite not playing in America until he was 27. So, yeah, this one worked out just fine.

Kaz Ishii, 2002, Dodgers, $11.26 million
The left-handed pitcher lasted just four seasons, with control being a major problem. Ishii led the majors with 106 walks his rookie year and then offered up 101 and 98, respectively the next two seasons. He ended with a 39-34 record, 4.44 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in his MLB career.

Akinori Otsuka, 2003, Padres, $300,000
This couldn't have turned out much better for the Padres. Not only did Otsuka post a sparkling 1.75 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 87 strikeouts in 77 1/3 innings in 2004, but he was also a valuable member of the 2005 playoff NL West champs. Then, the Padres traded him to the Rangers with Adam Eaton in a move that landed both Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young (the pitcher). That's a pretty nice return for originally posting less than the current league minimum salary.

Shinji Mori, 2005, Rays, $750,000
The relief pitcher tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder and missed all of the 2006 season. He was then released by the Rays and returned to Japan, having never appeared in a major-league game.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, 2006, Red Sox, $51,111,111.11
Yes, "Dice-K" has been awful for the past three seasons and is now trying to recover from an injury. He might never be a valuable member of a rotation again, but he's still only 31 and did produce for two seasons. He finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting in 2007, also pitching well in winning Game 3 of the World Series (which the Red Sox would sweep). Then in 2008, Dice-K went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA and finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting. So, yeah, he's been really bad the past three years, but to call him a complete and utter bust would be a stretch. Over the duration of his deal, he's definitely been way overpaid, but was still valuable for two seasons.

Darvish Posting
Akinori Iwamura, 2006, Rays, $4.5 million
He was helpful for two seasons for the Rays, including when he was the starting second baseman on the 2008 American League champions. He hit .281 with a .354 on-base percentage during his Rays' career, but he lost his job in 2009 to Ben Zobrist and then fizzled in 2010 for both the Pirates and A's. Iwamura was released by the A's at the end of the season.

Kei Igawa, 2006, Yankees, $26,000,194
If you want to find a colossal waste of money in the posting system attached to a gigantic bust, this is the guy you're looking for. He's far more a "bust" than Dice-K. In 16 major-league appearances, Igawa went 2-4 with a 6.66 ERA (which just looks eerie, no?) and 1.76 WHIP. And get this, Igawa hadn't pitched in the majors since 2008, yet still made $4 million from the Yankees this past season as he played out the duration of his five-year contract. The left-handed pitcher appeared in four Triple-A games and 16 Double-A games. And the Yankees paid more than $45 million total for him. Wow.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2010, Twins, $5.329 million
It was a season to forget for the skinny middle infielder. Nishioka broke his leg during the first series as Nick Swisher took him out on a potential double-play turn. When Nishioka healed up and came back, he was one of the worst offensive players in the majors, hitting .226/.278/.249. He was so bad, in fact, that the Twins went out and signed Jamey Carroll to be the everyday shortstop while Alexi Casilla will play second. So the posting fee and $9.25 million contract (which is a three-year deal) is for a backup that they definitely never want stepping in the box for any important at-bats. That's money not-very-well spent.

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 4:06 pm
 

Pujols won't join exclusive Hall of Fame club



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Albert Pujols will most likely wear a St. Louis Cardinals hat when he's ultimately inducted into the Hall of Fame, but there still may be a question. We just don't know at this point. There are those players who go into the Hall without a doubt of which hat they'll wear, because it's the only one they ever wore. 

While the Hall of Fame is an elite club, there's a more elite club -- one of Hall of Famers who played their entire career with one organization. Currently there are 47 such players in Cooperstown, with the possibility of one more joining their ranks if Barry Larkin is voted in when the next class is announced in January.

It seemed like Pujols would be one of those guys -- there was even talk of a statue being built at Busch Stadium while he was still active. That statue will have to wait -- and it could be a long time before he's honored like that in St. Louis. 

So, if Pujols isn't going to join that club, who may? Here's four who may be able to claim they spent all of their entire major league career with one team.

Both Derek Jeter and Mariano River are first-ballot Hall of Fame players, both are nearing the end of their careers and both received new contracts with the Yankees last season. Jeter, 37, has two more years on his contract, plus a player option for 2014. He may play after he turns 40, but there's an almost zero percent chance the Yankees let him do it in another uniform. The same can be said for Rivera, 42. The all-time saves leader is under contract for 2012 and is unliekly to play anywhere else.

The third guy is Chipper Jones, who will turn 40 on April 24 and is under contract through 2012 with a club option for 2013 that becomes guaranteed if he plays 123 games this season. Jones has been on the verge of retiring the last two years. Like Jeter and Rivera, it seems unthinkable he'd ever wear another uniform as a player.

And that leads us to the fourth player, who will not only have an asterisk on this list if he does go into the Hall with his current team, but also the one of this group most likely to play for a different team (but even that chance seems slight -- but not as slight as the other three), and that's Ichiro Suzuki. The asterisk is that of course he played the first half of his career for the Orix Blue Wave in Japan before coming to the Mariners in 2000. Some will debate whether he'd be in the Hall if he retired today, but I find it hard to believe he could be left out. Suzuki is in the final year of his five-year extension he signed in 2007 and with the Mariners going through a rebuilding phase, he may not fit into their plans. Another team could be interested, or he could return to Japan. However, it's been suggested he really wants to get to 3,000 hits in the United States. He's at 2,428 right now and would need at least three more years to get there -- that could be two with a different team.

There are some other players that aren't sure-fire Hall of Famers that could still get there and do it with one team, but there's still a lot to be proven. The closest to the end of his career is the Rangers' Michael Young, who would need to get to 3,000 hits before he had a shot at the Hall. Young, 35, has 2,061 hits, so even that seems unlikely. Then there are the young, talented players who have a lot more to prove before getting there. However, Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Braun, Evan Longoria and Matt Kemp all have one thing in common -- long-term contracts with their current team. 

Here's the list of Hall of Famers who played for just one team, sorted by team:

Yankees: Earle Combs, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizzuto.

Dodgers: Roy Campanella, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson.

Giants: Carl Hubbell, Travis Jackson, Mel Ott, Bill Terry, Ross Youngs.

Pirates: Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski, Willie Stargell, Pie Traynor.

Red Sox: Bobby Doerr, Jim Rice, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski.

Indians: Bob Feller, Addie Joss, Bob Lemon.

Orioles: Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken, Brooks Robinson.

White Sox: Luke Appling, Red Faber, Ted Lyons.

Cardinals: Bob Gibson, Stan Musial.

Reds: Johnny Bench, Bid McPhee.

Tigers: Charlie Gehringer, Al Kaline.

Brewers: Robin Yount.

Cubs: Ernie Banks.

Padres: Tony Gwynn.

Phillies: Mike Schmidt.

Royals: George Brett.

Senators: Walter Johnson.

Twins: Kirby Puckett.

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Posted on: November 28, 2011 11:54 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 4:43 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Seattle Mariners



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 of this feature, click here.

The Seattle Mariners have finished last place in the AL West six of the past eight seasons. Would things have been different if management had done a better job of keeping the right organizational pieces? In a word: Yes. Check this out ...

Lineup

1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Adam Jones, CF
6. Shin-Soo Choo, LF
7. Dustin Ackley, 2B
8. Raul Ibanez, 1B
9. Jason Varitek, C

Starting Rotation

1. Felix Hernandez
2. Michael Pineda
3. Doug Fister
4. Brandon Morrow
5. Joel Pineiro

Bullpen

Closer - J.J. Putz
Set up - Rafael Soriano, Matt Thornton, Eric O'Flaherty, Brian Fuentes, Damaso Marte, George Sherrill
Long - Derek Lowe

Notable Bench Players

Adam Moore, Greg Dobbs, Bryan LaHair, Luis Valbuena, Jose Lopez, Yuniesky Betancourt, Willie Bloomquist, Michael Saunders, Carlos Peguero

What's Good?

Almost everything. The lineup is solid, the starting rotation is very good, the bullpen is great and there is some bench depth. There are superstars like King Felix and A-Rod with up-and-comers like Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Pineda. And 2011 first-rounder Danny Hultzen (starting pitcher) will soon be added to the mix.

What's Not?

Age in some areas. A-Rod, Ortiz, Ichiro and Ibanez are all in different levels of decline, but there's no doubt they're all certainly in decline. Catcher is also a problem, as we're left deciding between a has-been (Varitek) and a possible never-will-be (Moore). Pick your poison there.

As for the lineup, I tried to figure out how to best work it. Maybe swap Jones and A-Rod spots? I'd be OK with that, considering the seasons those two had in 2011. Also, Ichiro's OBP was terrible for a leadoff man last season (.310), but wouldn't it make the back-end of the lineup too punchless if you batted Ackley leadoff? With the way I left it, the leadoff spot is weak.

Comparison to real 2011

The 2011 Mariners lost 95 games and this team above would have a shot at winning 95. You can take away from the older stars all you want, but with that pitching staff, the offense doesn't have to be great. It only has to be good, and it's easily good enough to get plenty of wins when only needing to put three or four runs on the board. Plus, as those older guys continue to decline, the likes of Jones, Ackley and Cabrera just get better. In Sunday's Homegrown Team, I said to expect to see the Cubs toward the bottom of the rankings (when we do them). This entry is the complete opposite. Expect to see the Mariners toward the top of the rankings. This is a great team. For now.

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Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:05 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 7:07 pm
 

Rookie award may not predict future success

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Rookie of the Year awards are unique among baseball awards in that they are somewhat less about an individual year's performance as much as they are for the hope of better things to come. A Rookie of the Year win is a footnote on any Hall of Fame argument, not a bullet point. Meanwhile, any Hall of Fame argument will start with MVP wins for position players and Cy Young trophies for starting pitchers. If you have those, you have an argument, and if you won Rookie of the Year, that's nice.

Rookie of the Year
Miller
The Rookie of the Year award voting went exactly as Scott Miller predicted.
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No, Rookie of the Year is something to dream on -- there's the potential and what a player could become based upon a solid rookie year.

Jeremy Hellickson and Craig Kimbrel may end up being the best players of the 2010 rookie class, but it wouldn't be a real shock if they don't.

With that in mind, I wanted to look back on the past Rookie of the Year winners and what players had the best careers after winning the award and which ones peaked in their first year. Because this particular argument needs time for perspective, I've broken up the last 20 years in five-year increments. Below are the winners of the awards each year for both leagues, as well as their Wins Above Replacement (from Baseball-Reference.com) for both their rookie year and their career, as well as a decision on the best player in retrospect, the worst and the best duo from one year.

 

2006-2010 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
2010 Neftali Feliz 2.3 5.0 Buster Posey 3.1 4.4
2009 Andrew Bailey  3.9 7.2  Chris Coghlan 2.1 2.8
2008 Evan Longoria  3.8 24.1 Geovany Soto 4.1 10.1
2007 Dustin Pedroia  4.3 24.3 Ryan Braun  1.5 21.8
2006 Justin Verlander  3.7 27.2 Hanley Ramirez  5.2 29.3

Best: This is where we need perspective -- and time. Right now it looks like you could go with any of six candidates -- Justin Verlander (AL 2006), Hanley Ramirez (NL 2006), Dustin Pedroia (AL 2007), Ryan Braun (NL 2007), Evan Longoria (AL 2008) and Buster Posey (NL 2010). In 10 years this may be easier to pick, but right now it's just way too close to call. Of the group, Ramirez has the highest career WAR.

Worst: Again, this is still way too early to call, but Chris Coghlan (NL 2009) may take this dubious honor. There's plenty of time for him to turn it around, but he finished 2011 hitting .230 at Triple-A New Orleans.

Best duo: Another toss-up -- 2006 had Ramirez and Verlander, while 2007 featured Pedroia and Braun. Check back in 10 years and this may seem to be an easier choice, but right now it's too close to call.



2001-2005 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
2005 Huston Street 3.2 10.7 Ryan Howard 2.4 23.1
2004 Bobby Crosby 1.4 5.0 Jason Bay  2.2 19.7
2003  Angel Berroa 4.0 3.3 Dontrelle Willis 3.7 13.0
2002 Eric Hinske  4.0 10.3 Jason Jennings 1.7 7.4
2001 Ichiro Suzuki 7.6 54.5 Albert Pujols 6.9 88.7

Best: Albert Pujols (NL 2001). He may be the best player of our generation and best right-handed hitter of all time. With apologies to Ichiro Suzuki (AL 2001) and Ryan Howard (NL 2005), it's Pujols and it's not close.

Worst: Oh, Angel Berroa (AL 2003). Acquired in the deal that sent Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis to Oakland, Berroa last appeared in the big leagues in 2009. The Royals shortstop won the award over Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli and Hideki Matsui, earning the scorn of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. 

Best duo: Pujols and Suzuki would be a heck of a Hall of Fame class, not to mention a rookie class. Suzuki won not only the Rookie of the Year in 2001, he also took home the American League MVP.

 

1996-2000 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
2000 Kazuhiro Sasaki 1.5 4.0 Rafael Furcal 3.6 33.1
1999 Carlos Beltran  4.4 60.8 Scott Williamson  2.7 8.2
1998  Ben Grieve 2.5 6.7 Kerry Wood 3.7 24.9
1997 Nomar Garciaparra  5.9 42.5  Scott Rolen 4.5 66.2
1996 Derek Jeter 2.6 70.4  Todd Hollandsworth 1.3 6.5

Best: Scott Rolen (NL 1997) and Carlos Beltran (AL 1999) have had fantastic careers, but Derek Jeter (AL 1996) is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a baseball icon. Jeter also has the highest career WAR among the group of rookies.

Worst: This one is tough, if you guy by WAR, it's Kazuhiro Sasaki (AL 2000), who had just a 4.0 career WAR. However, Sasaki was 32 when he started in the United States and played just four seasons in the majors. In addition to his Rookie of the Year, he made the All-Star team in 2001 and 2002, recording 129 saves in four seasons. I'm going to take Ben Grieve (AL 1998) slightly over Todd Hollandsworth (NL 1996) based solely on Hollandsworth holding on longer (12 years to nine) and finding his late-career niche as a pinch hitter, while Grieve did appear in the majors after his 30th birthday -- and just 17 after his 29th birthday.

Best duo: How about Rolen and Nomar Garciaparra (AL 1997)? Garciapparra never quite lived up to the rival to Alex Rodriguez and Jeter as the greatest shortstop of his generation, but he was in the conversation for a time there. While each year from 1996-2000 had at least one pretty good pick, 1997 was the only one to produce two players that finished with double-digit career WAR.



1991-1996 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
1995 Marty Cordova 3.0 6.4 Hideo Nomo 4.5 50.6
1994  Bob Hamelin 2.5 2.4 Raul Mondesi  2.2 27.2
1993  Tim Salmon 5.2 37.6  Mike Piazza 7.0 59.1 
1992 Pat Listach  4.5 3.9  Eric Karros 0.3 9.0
1991  Chuck Knoblauch 2.3 41.2 Jeff Bagwell 4.7 79.9

Best: WAR likes Jeff Bagwell (NL 1991), the Hall of Fame will like Mike Piazza (1993). Either way, it's tough to go wrong. Unlike the Hall of Fame voters, I'll take Bagwell over Piazza, but can see both sides of the argument. I"m in the camp that Bagwell is one of the more underrated players of his generation. 

Worst: Yet again, the award goes to a Royal. Bob Hamelin (AL 1994) had a 2.5 WAR in his rookie year and 2.4 for his career. Pat Listach (AL 1992) also has a lower career WAR (3.9) than single-season WAR for his rookie season (3.9), but the be speckled Hamelin did less in his career than Listach, even if most of Listach's value came from his rookie season.

Best duo: Again it comes down to the 1993 choices (Piazza, Tim Salmon) and 1991 (Bagwell, Chuck Knoblauch), with 1991 taking the crown. Knoblauch and Salmon both had good careers, with Knoblauch winning four rings and Salmon one. Knoblacuh was a four-time All-Star, Salmon never appeared in the game. Knoblauch also won a Gold Glove, despite his woes throwing later in his career. Going by WAR, the 1991 duo beats the 1993 pair, 121.1-96.7.

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