Tag:Sean Burnett
Posted on: November 26, 2011 1:46 pm
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Homegrown Team: Pittsburgh Pirates

Jose Bautista

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no waivers, 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.

In 2011 the Pirates extended their streak of losing seasons to 19, finishing 72-90 after a promising start. However, there are signs of the team finally putting it together, with much of their talent coming from within the organization. Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker are among the future stars the team has drafted and kept. If Pittsburgh had been able to keep a couple more of its homegrown players, the Pirates could at the very least be looking at fielding a winning team.

Lineup

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF
2. Neil Walker, 2B
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5. Ryan Doumit, 1B
6. Jeff Keppinger, SS
7. Ronny Paulino, C
8. Nyjer Morgan, LF

Starting Rotation

1. Paul Maholm
2. Bronson Arroyo
3. Tom Gorzelanny
4. Brad Lincoln
5. Chris Young

Bullpen

Closer - Juan Oviedo (Leo Nunez)
Set up - Matt Capps, Mike Gonzlaez, John Grabow, Sean Burnett, Tony Watson
Long - Tim Wakefield, Zack Duke

Notable Bench Players

Pedro Alvarez, Rajai Davis, Brent Lillibridge, Nate McLouth, Alex Presley

What's Good?

The top of the lineup is the envy of just about any organization -- there's speed at the top and power throughout the first four batters. Jose Bautista will forever be the one that got away, but not just for the Pirates, who drafted him in 2000, but also for the Orioles, Rays, Royals and Mets, who all acquired -- a got rid of -- Bautista at some point. But still, the Pirates had him twice and are now watching him blossom as one of the game's best players while in a different uniform. In addition to the top of the lineup, the bottom of the lineup isn't too bad, while the bullpen is stout. 

What's Not?

The rotation isn't going to intimidate too many batters, but the team will put up some runs and leads have a good chance of being held with that bullpen. Keppinger is a solid bat and makes all the plays in front of him, but doesn't quite have the range most teams look for at shortstop. He can play there, but it isn't an ideal spot.

Comparison to real 2011

The Pirates rotation overachieved in the first half of 2011 and flopped in the second -- as Pittsburgh went 25-47 after finding themselves trailing by just a game in the NL Central at the All-Star break. While this lineup would put up more runs, its starters would allow more. That said, the improved lineup and bullpen would be good for several more wins and probably even give the team a winning record. 

Up next: Chicago Cubs

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Posted on: July 21, 2011 4:43 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 5:07 pm
 

Trade Deadline Primer: NL East

By Eye on Baseball team

Leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the National League East has an actual race -- as well as a team with a bloated payroll and no hope -- which leads to a great chance of some pretty interesting trades to and from the division. Here's a look at the five teams in the NL Eeast:

Philadelphia Phillies

Status: Buyers

Needs: Bullpen, RH bat

Notes: Manager Charlie Manuel said he'd love a right-handed bat (Philadelphia Daily News), probably in the outfield, but this is the Phillies and expect the team to focus on pitching -- at least that's what history tells us. And because their rotation is pretty good (you may have heard about some of these guys), they focus on relievers, likely ending a streak of five years of adding a starter midseason. The team is likely one of the many suitors for Padres closer Heath Bell, although some suggest the Phillies prefer Mike Adams. Padres owner Jeff Moorad has reportedly told Adams he won't be traded. However, according to Tom Krasovic of Inside the Padres, the Phillies are willing to give up Class A first baseman/left fielder Jonathan Singleton in return for Adams.

Another bullpen trade partner could be the Orioles, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler said. The Phillies could be interested in Jim Johnson or Koji Uehara.

MLB Trade Deadline

As for the right-handed bats, the Phillies are in on the same folks everyone's chasing -- Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence and maybe Jeff Francouer. The biggest hurdle of all for the Phillies is money, as in they've already spent it and they're worried about the luxury tax. The team has just between $2 and $3 million to spend and avoid the luxury tax.

According to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Phillies and Royals have already exchanged names in a possible Melky Cabrera trade. Cabrera is a cheaper, younger switch hitter for those who fall short in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes.

Now, if they're going big and bold, Buster Olney of ESPN.com, tweeted the Phillies could go for Pence, centering the deal around right-hander Vance Worley.

Atlanta Braves

Status: Bargain shoppers

Needs: Right-handed bat

Notes: The Braves need a right-handed bat like Roy Halladay needs air conditioning. Atlanta looks like the front-runner for the National League wild card, but don't have much money to spend. The biggest issue right now for Atlanta is its inability to hit left-handed pitchers. Braves hitters are hitting just .211/.285/.337 against lefties, with Jason Heyward, Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer all below the Mendoza line against southpaws. That's why Jon Paul Morosi's report of the Reds' Jonny Gomes drawing the interest of the Braves makes sense, Gomes kills lefties to the tune of a .340/.446/.547 slash line this season and .281/..377/.510 in his career. There's also the regular names such as Ludwick and Beltran.

To make room for more payroll, the team could trade right-hander Derek Lowe, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien wrote. The Tigers could be interested in Lowe, but would have to take up the rest of the $20 million he's owed through 2012.

New York Mets

Status: One-stop shopping

Needs: Young talent under team control; pitching

Notes: Outfielder Carlos Beltran is the top position player on the market, but his future is clouded by the number of teams that could use an upgrade in the outfield and the fact that he's not for sale, he's for rent. Whatever team gets him won't even get compensation picks if he leaves as a free agent after the season.

The Mets would reportedly rather pay Beltran's salary and get a good young player or top prospect in return. They could unload him to a team willing to pay the roughly $8 million left on his contract, but then they wouldn't get much in return. The Mets would prefer big-league ready pitching talent. New York seems confident it can re-sign Jose Reyes, meaning they're not ready to throw in the towel and go full-on rebuilding anytime soon. 

Beltran, however, does have a no-trade clause. According to Tim Brown of Yahoo!, Sandy Alderson gave Beltran a short list of teams interested -- the Phillies, Red Sox, Braves, Giants, Brewers and maybe the Yankees -- and Beltran hasn't ruled any of them out.

It's pretty certain now that the Mets won't deal Reyes, but it appears they may be holding on to Jason Isringhausen, too, Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweets.

Washington Nationals

Status: Listening to all offers

Needs: Leadoff man/center fielder of the future

Notes: The Nationals have pieces to deal -- from catcher Ivan Rodriguez to relievers Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Todd Coffey and Sean Burnett, plus starters Jason Marquis, Livan Hernandez and Tom Gorzelanny. In short, they're open for business, with GM Mike Rizzo saying no player is "untouchable" -- but then following that up with "we're not going to touch our core." That means, "after a while, they don't ask for [Danny] Espinosa," Rizzo told the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore. Ryan Zimmerman is also likely untouchable, as well as catcher Wilson Ramos.

One name to watch is shortstop Ian Desmond, but that would take quite the return for the team to move the 25-year-old.

More likely to go are some of the team's relievers. The Nats are deep in the bullpen and it's a position that's always in demand. The top tier would be Clippard or even Storen, but that would require Washington receiving a leadoff-hitting center fielder in return, someone like B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Colby Rasmus or Denard Span, FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal writes.

Florida Marlins

Status: Sellers

Needs: Third baseman, starting pitchers

Notes: The Marlins have starting pitchers that would interest many teams, but they may not part with them. Next year they rename themselves the Miami Marlins when they move into a new stadium and ownership would like a competitive team on the field when that happens.

Ricky Nolasco is the top starter to be had, but Knobler says they'd have to get a younger, cheaper starter in return for the 28-year-old right-hander.

The one the team may part with is Javier Vazquez, but it's not really their decision. Vazquez has a full no-trade clause and isn't in any hurry to leave South Florida. There are few places he'd accept a trade.

Sure to be gone is closer Leo Nunez. The Phillies are interested in Nunez. The other teams desperate for bullpen help -- like the Cardinals and Rangers -- are likely to at least inquire what it may take to get him.

Randy Choate has been verbal this week about his problems with current manager Jack McKeon and could get shipped off for not being a good soldier.

Also on the block are free-agents-to-be Greg Dobbs and Omar Infante. Infante's value is a lot less than it was a year ago.

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Posted on: June 28, 2011 1:16 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Ramirez blasts two homers

Ramirez

By Evan Brunell


UpAramis Ramirez, Cubs -- Ramirez blasted two home runs, with Carlos Pena joining in on the fun too. But Ramirez gets the props here for a 3-for-4 showing, scoring three runs and driving in three while adding a double as the Cubs raked Jhoulys Chacin over the coals. Ramirez hasn't been the same the last couple of seasons but is still a quality hitter who was in sore need of a power display such as this, as his slugging percentage prior to the game was at .417. It's up to .446 now.

Brandon Phillips, Reds -- Phillips hadn't been performing up to expectations on offense this season but has turned things around since with his 4-for-5 evening pushing his batting average to .299 after collecting hits in half of his last 32 at-bats. Despite boasting the best run differential in the NL Central, the Reds have scuffled lately. Phillips' hot streak has allowed the Reds to more or less keep pace and are now a half-game behind the Cardinals for first place. The Brewers lead by three games over St. Louis.

Trent Oeltjen, Dodgers -- The 28-year-old Oeltjen, all due respect to him, is nothing more than an average backup outfielder. But Monday he was so much more, ripping four hits in four trips to the plate and making a case to get some more playing time. The Dodgers, who have struggled to find someone to fill left field with any measure of aplomb, will be all too happy to oblige. Despite hitting .350/.440/.650 in 20 at-bats, Oeltjen's career line only increased to .229/.286/.404 in 109 career at-bats.



DownNick Blackburn, Twins -- Blackburn, just like most other Twins pitchers, got raked over the coals Monday, dropping Minnesota's sixth straight game. The right-hander coughed up eight runs, seven earned, in a game the Dodgers would eventually go on to win 15-0. Blackburn got through 4 1/3 innings before he was yanked having given up 13 hits, walking and whiffing one apiece. Of the five Twins pitchers, only one -- Matt Capps -- was unscored upon, while the rest gave up at least two.

Michael Brantley, Indians -- The Indians haven't gotten much for their CC Sabathia trade. Matt La Porta only just claimed the full-time position at first base, but he's sidelined with injury currently and isn't quite a centerpiece. Brantley, meanwhile, hasn't delivered on his leadoff potential, striking out three times in five hitless at-bats against the Diamondbacks to drop his overall line to .272/.335/.392. For a punchless outfielder to start, he has to register a high OBP, which the 24-year-old certainly is not doing. Cleveland absolutely needs to continue playing Brantley, but he doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

Sean Burnett, Nationals -- Burnett couldn't give Davey Johnson a win -- or even a tie -- in his return to managing. The Nationals knotted the game at 3-all in the top of the ninth on a Danny Espinosa home run, but Maicer Izturis singled in a run in the bottom 10th to end the game. Burnett, who opened the year as closer and has been demoted to middle relief since, opened the frame by inducing an out, but quickly gave up a single and ground-rule double. Johnson ordered an intentional walk of light-hitting Bobby Wilson to set up a force at every base, but Izturis rendered that moot with a grounder that barely eluded Espinosa at second.

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Posted on: May 25, 2011 2:52 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 3:05 pm
 

Nationals elevate Rodriguez to setup duties

By Evan Brunell
RodriguezThe Nationals have elevated Henry Rodriguez into a setup role, dropping once-closer Sean Burnett into a middle relief capacity.

Burnett, who battled Drew Storen for the closer's job all season before recently losing it outright, will now be used to face tough left-handers and soak up innings in middle relief while Henry Rodriguez will join Tyler Clippard in high-leverage outings.

“To cut to the chase, I’ve got a guy throwing 100 miles an hour down there,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman told the Washington Post. “If I can pitch him in the eighth inning, he’s going to pitch. They’re going to have to beat him instead of my left-hander. [Right-handed batters], they’re going to thank me for not bringing Rodriguez in.”

Rodriguez, acquired from the Athletics in the offseason, has impressed during his short time in Washington. After missing the start of the year due to arm problems, Rodriguez has tossed 10 2/3 innings, whiffing 16. Despite adding seven walks, he's shown enough so far that Riggleman sees the potential of Rodriguez in the late innings.

Riggleman dropped Rodriguez, 24, into a one-out situation in the eighth inning with no one on base Tuesday. Rodriguez ended up blowing his chance as he gave up a single and a walk preceding a two-run hit that kissed the chalk, barely fair. However, those circumstances, tied in with Rodriguez's potential, will keep him in the eighth inning moving forward.

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Posted on: April 28, 2011 9:19 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 9:38 pm
 

Riggleman won't name closer

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jim RigglemanThe Nationals still don't have a closer, manager Jim Riggleman told reporters before Thursday night's game -- and it has nothing to do with Sean Burnett's four-run ninth on Wednesday.

"I don't think I even want to use the word," Riggleman said, according to Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com. "I just what to get outs in the ninth. Let's finish the game, get outs. I'm not going to get too caught up in who gets the save. I just want us to get the save."

Good for Riggleman -- who even though his radio ads shun sabermetrics, he's going with prevailing sabermetric theory that the closer is overrated and the save stat is silly.

I'm actually more neutral in the debate. I understand the argument against the closer and think the rules to get a save are arbitrary and silly -- but I do believe a guy who can handle the last three outs is rare. Just because a guy usually goes into the ninth inning doesn't make him a closer. A closer has an attitude and brings an attitude. If you have a closer -- and not a lot of teams do -- you use him.

But if you don't have a closer -- like Riggleman -- why not go with matchups, like the Nationals manager says he will.

"If it's a situation where it's predominantly right-handers, definitely it would be Drew [Storen]," Riggleman said. "If it's predominantly left-handed, I would want to have Burnie there, but I would also want to do is not eliminate Burnie from being available in the seventh or eighth."

It would seem by conventional standards, Storen would be the choice -- he's saved each of his last four save opportunities (including Thursday's win over the Mets) and Burnett has allowed six runs in his last seven innings. But when you don't have a closer, why name one? Kudos to Riggleman.

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Posted on: April 20, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Closer watch: Franklin, Nathan, Thornton out

By C. Trent Rosecrans

John AxfordAs we're getting deeper into the first month of the season, some of the "small sample size" arguments are losing their luster and managers are getting itchy. There's no position in baseball that causes more consternation than the closer's spot -- and few are easier to change. 

On Tuesday, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Ryan Franklin was out as his closer, joining Ozzie Guillen and Ron Gardenhire in making changes in closers already this season, a common April occurance.

Here's a look at where all the closers in baseball stand at this moment:

Out -- Ryan Franklin (Cardinals), Joe Nathan (Twins), Matt Thornton (White Sox).

We won't know who the replacement for Franklin is until it comes to a save situation (Matt Snyder took a look at who may get the call -- and I'll agree that Mitchell Boggs gets the first shot) and even then, we'll have to have a few save situations until we get there.

Matt Capps has taken over for Nathan, who is not back 100 percent from Tommy John surgery, in Minnesota.

Thornton may get the call if the White Sox get in a save situation, but Ozzie Guillen has no confidence in anybody in his bullpen and has said he just doesn't have a closer.

Hanging by a thread -- John Axford (Brewers), Sean Burnett (Nationals), Kevin Gregg (Orioles).

Axford (pictured) started his season off by blowing a save in Cincinnati and added another Monday night. He's struggled with his command this season, but the Brewers don't have too many better options.

The Nationals have gone from no closer, to Burnett back to no set closer. After Burnett blew a save on Friday, Drew Storen closed with two innings on Sunday against the Brewers. The two are expected to share the job, but Burnett's not "out" because he's still half in.

Hand wringing -- Jonathan Broxton (Dodgers), Joakim Soria (Royals), Francisco Rodriguez (Mets).

These are three marquee names, but there's plenty of worry surrounding the trio.

Soria has struggled and has a 5.59 ERA, blowing one save, while Broxton hasn't blown a save, but has given up plenty of runs. He has an ERA of 6.14 and his manager's vote of confidence.

K-Rod, well, he's got plenty of issues, including a contract with a vesting option that the Mets aren't really interested in seeing him meet. That said, it's not like he's getting a lot of chances to close out Met victories for the team with the National League's worst record.

Nobody's perfect --  Brian Fuentes (Athletics), Carlos Marmol (Cubs), Jon Rauch (Blue Jays).

Rauch has been good, converting all three of his saves this season, but the return of Frank Francisco complicates things for him in Toronto.

Solid -- Mariano Rivera (Yankees), Heath Bell (Padres), Neftali Feliz (Rangers), Huston Street (Rockies), Joel Hanrahan (Pirates), Leo Nunez (Marlins), Chris Perez (Indians), Brian Wilson (Giants), Craig Kimbrel (Braves), J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks), Jose Contreras (Phillies), Jose Valverde (Tigers).

Sure, Rivera blew a save last night. I think Joe Girardi may give him another shot.

If a save falls in a forrest -- Francisco Cordero (Reds), Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox), Brandon Lyon (Astros), Brandon League (Marienrs), Kyle Farnsworth (Rays), Jordan Walden (Angels).

If the rest of the closers are in a "small sample size" argument right now, these guys have a "tiny sample size."

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Posted on: March 24, 2011 11:45 am
 

Pitch alterations lead to dominating Sean Burnett

Burnett

By Evan Brunell

When Nyjer Morgan was dealt to the Nationals at the end of June, 2009 for Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan, left-handed relief pitcher Sean Burnett was included but overlooked by many in the game.

That's not terribly surprising, as Burnett was coming off a year in which he posted a 4.76 ERA in 56 2/3 innings, walking 34 and whiffing just 42 as a 25-year-old. Although he had a 3.06 mark in a Pirates uniform during 2009, that looked to be a fluke as his walk and strikeout numbers were eerily similar to 2008. That continued in Washington, so despite finishing the year with a 3.12 mark, Burnett was viewed as nothing but middle-relief fodder for the Nats entering 2010.

And then, suddenly, things changed, thanks to Adam Dunn, Adam Kennedy and Ivan Rodriguez as the Washington Post reports.

Burnett was especially interested in how to reverse his fortunes against left-handed hitters, which were the bane of his existence. Dunn and Kennedy encouraged Burnett to throw his sinker inside to lefties, something he had previously not done due to thinking these type of hitters prefer balls inside and low.

However, Burnett listened and suddenly found out that lefties could do nothing but make weak contact on his sinker, especially given his sidewinding motion which makes the ball feel uncomfortably inside to left-handed hitters who then have to contort themselves to get a good angle on the ball.

"When I can get that sinker low and in to lefties, it’s a tougher pitch for them to get the barrel to," Burnett said. "It opens up that slider to me on the outer half."

"I never was a guy who was going to blow you away. I’m going to sink it. My changeup was my best pitch since I was a little kid. I wish I would have taken the same approach starting that I take now relieving," Burnett, who came up through the Pittsburgh system as a starter and had a failed 13-start stint in 2004, noted. "Just pound the zone and try to get quick outs. Don’t give the hitter too much credit. Just go right after him."

The slider was another revelation for Burnett, but for the opposite handedness. Burnett previously shied away from using the pitch against right-handers as pitches coming toward an opposite-handed batter tend to be discouraged.

Except that's usually when you try to throw the pitch outside or over the middle of the plate. Burnett's slider took an entirely different aspect when Rodriguez called for sliders inside. The tight spin on the slider caused the pitch to look like a fastball, but with a sudden veer down and in at the end, which befuddles hitters.

"You got one [pitch, the sinker] going away from a right-hander," pitching coach Steve McCatty said. "Now you got one that’s biting down at your ankle. It’s hard to make that adjustment and lay off it."

The difference is in the numbers. Righties teed off Burnett to the tune of a .817 OPS in 2008 and 2009, but that number crashed to .487 last season, second behind Hong-Chih Kuo. After the second half, Burnett punched out 33 batters in 32 1/3 innings, giving up a paltry six earned runs. That's put Burnett in pole position to get the bulk of the saves this year, especially after Drew Storen's struggles.

Closer is "the one position on the baseball field I thought I’d never play," he said.

Well, he is now.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: December 23, 2010 11:38 am
 

Nationals extend reliever Burnett

Sean Burnett
As reported by the Washington Post, the Nationals have avoided arbitration with reliever Sean Burnett and signed him to a two-year extension with a mutual option for a third in 2013. He'll make $1.4 million in 2011 and $2.3 million in 2012, and option year is at $3.5 million.

In a perfect example of how meaningless relievers' win-loss records are, Burnett went 1-7 last season while the rest of his numbers were great: a 2.14 ERA, 62 strikeouts and 20 walks over 63 innings. In the final two months of the season, he pitched 26 1/3 innings and allowed just three earned runs. The Post says the 28-year-old lefty is a candidate to close.

This looks like a decent deal for both sides. The Nats get cost certainty for the next two years as opposed to being subject to arbitration surprises (they beat him in arbitration last season, but he was in line for a big raise this year), and the player option on 2013 allows Burnett to hit the free agent market if he chooses after 2012.

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
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