Archive for the ‘ 2011 Preview ’ Category

On Paper Series Links Page

To those unfamiliar with my “On Paper” series, I have provided links to all the previews below.

2011 MLB Picks and Predictions

2011 Atlanta Braves Preview

2011 Florida Marlins Preview

2011 New York Mets Preview

2011 Philadelphia Phillies Preview

2011 Washington Nationals Preview

2011 Chicago Cubs Preview

2011 Cincinnati Reds Preview

2011 Houston Astros Preview

2011 Milwaukee Brewers Preview 

2011 Pittsburgh Pirates Preview

2011 St. Louis Cardinals Preview

2011 Arizona Diamondbacks Preview

2011 Colorado Rockies Preview

2011 LA Dodgers Preview

2011 San Diego Padres Preview

2011 San Francisco Giants Preview

2011 Baltimore Orioles Preview

2011 Boston Red Sox Preview

2011 New York Yankees Preview

2011 Tampa Bay Rays Preview

2011 Toronto Blue Jays Preview

2011 Chicago White Sox Preview

2011 Cleveland Indians Preview

2011 Detroit Tiger Preview

2011 Kansas City Preview

2011 Minnesota Twins Preview

2011 Los Angeles Angels Preview

2011 Oakland Athletics Preview

2011 Seattle Mariners Preview

2011 Texas Rangers Preview

2011 MLB Preview: Looking at Hanley Ramirez and the Florida Marlins ‘On Paper’

Founded in 1993, the Florida Marlins took little time to make an impact as they won the 1997 World Series crown in seven games over the Cleveland Indians.  Due to financial issues that team was blown-up, restocked with young talent and once again struck gold by winning another World Series in 2003.  Just look at some of the young stars on that team; Derrek Lee, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Beckett, Juan Pierre and Brad Penny to name a few.

The Marlins have shown more financial commitment since 2003 with contract extensions to Hanley Ramirez in 2008 and Josh Johnson before the start of last season.  It’s been now eight years since their last Championship, so the young talent they’ve acquired over the years are ready to blossom. 

ATLANTA - JULY 02:  Pitcher Josh Johnson #55 of the Florida Marlins against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 2, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Josh Johnson)

  • C-  John Buck 7.25 
  • 1B- Gaby Sanchez 7.25
  • 2B- Omar Infante 7.25
  • SS- Hanley Ramirez 9
  • 3B- Matt Dominguez 7

John Buck (31) 409 AB .281 BA 53 R 20 HR 66 RBI 0 SB 

  • After years of mediocrity Buck broke out last season in Toronto hitting a career-high 20 home runs.  More impressive than his home run total was his average.  His previous career-high was just .245 in 2006.  Was last season a one-hit wonder? 

Gaby Sanchez (27) 572 AB .273 BA 72 R 19 HR 85 RBI 5 SB

  • At 26, Sanchez had a solid rookie year.  He’s not the prototypical power hitting first baseman, but he has solid patience at the plate.  He’s also an underrated defender. 

Omar Infante (29) 471 AB .321 BA 65 R 8 HR 47 RBI 7 SB

  • If you want to talk about a guy who’s earned his stripes, Infante is it.  In 2008, the Braves acquired Infante for Jacque Jones from the Tigers.  Infante struggled at the dish in Detroit.  He’s come a long way since his.222 batting average in 2005. 
  • In Atlanta, the coaching staff shortened Infante’s swing and he’s reaped in the benefits; he was selected to his first All-Star Game last season. 
  • He was seventh in the NL in batting average.  Uggla’s a big loss, but Infante is a very solid replacement.  Oh, and he’s got a great glove.

Hanley Ramirez (27) 543 AB .300 BA 92 R 21 HR 76 RBI 32 SB

  • Ramirez has said during Spring Training that he’d like to steal more bases this season.  I guess he’d like to equal his 51 stolen base totals in 2006 and 2007. 
  • Ultimately if the Marlins want to be successful, Hanley needs to mature and be the leader of this young team.  He was benched for several games in May due to his inadequate effort and hustle in the field.

Matt Dominguez (21) ROOKIE

  • Everyone in Florida is making comparisons to Mike Lowell.  The 2007 First Round pick has a stellar glove.
  • LF- Logan Morrison 7.25
  • CF- Chris Coghlan 7.25 
  • RF- Mike Stanton 7.25

Logan Morrison (23) 244 AB .283 BA 43 R 2 HR 18 RBI 0 SB

  • I’ve yet to see Morrison swing at a bad pitch; his plate discipline is remarkable.  He’s not going to hit a bunch of home runs, but he makes solid contact and does possess gap power (20 doubles and seven triples). 

Chris Coghlan (26) 242 AB .268 BA 30 R 6 HR 24 RBI 7 SB

  • The 2009 Rookie of the Year is coming off a pie mishap, which caused season-ending knee surgery.  We’ll see how the knee holds up this season because he’s a main cog at the top of the lineup. 
  • Entering year three, Coghlan suffered a sophomore slump after a stellar rookie year where he hit .321 and scored 84 runs in 128 games.

Mike Stanton (21) 359 AB .259 BA 45 R 22 HR 59 RBI 5 SB

  • Stanton’s a big boy!  Only four players have hit more home runs at 20 or younger than Stanton; Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson.  This is a future home run leader here.   

Josh Johnson- 9

  • 2. Javier Vazquez- 7.25
  • 3. Ricky Nolasco- 7.25
  • 4. Anibal Sanchez- 7.25
  • 5. Chris Volstad- 7
  • Josh Johnson (27) 184 IP 11-6 2.30 ERA 1.11 WHIP 186 K

    • Last season’s ERA winner is the most underrated pitcher in baseball.  The key to Johnson is his health as he missed several starts last year due to numerous nagging injuries.  He led baseball in quality start percentage; 23-of-28 starts (82 percent).
    • I’ve said it before; he could turn in a 2003 Postseason version of Josh Beckett if he gets the chance to pitch in October.

    Javier Vazquez (34) 203 IP 10-11 3.33 ERA 1.17 WHIP 173 K

    • This may wind up to be a key offseason signing if Vazquez can forget about last season.  After a phenomenal 2009 season with Atlanta where Vazquez was 15-10 with a 2.83 ERA, he blew up with the Yankees.  He had a 5.32 ERA last year.
    • How can we possibly explain this?  Well, some guys just don’t have what it takes to pitch mentally in the Big Apple.  Now, Vazquez gets to pitch in front of 549 people each night in Florida.  I think Vazquez bounces back.

    Ricky Nolasco (28) 158 IP 14-9 4.51 ERA 1.28 WHIP 147 K

    • After a great 2008 season where Nolasco went 15-8 with a 3.52 ERA, he was anointed as the next big thing.  He’s shown the potential to become an “elite” pitcher with some dominant outings, but at 28, Nolasco has yet to fulfill the elite designation.  He hasn’t shown enough consistency, but when he has that curveball going, he’s tough to hit.

    Anibal Sanchez (27) 174 IP 13-12 3.55 ERA 1.34 WHIP 157 K

    • Sanchez is fully back from a torn labrum he suffered in 2007; he struggled mightily in 2008 with a 5.57 ERA.  His 91.3 MPH fastball average was the highest of his career.

    Chris Volstad (24) 175 IP 12-9 4.58 ERA 1.41 WHIP 102 K

    • Volstad showed promise as a rookie in 2008, but it seems like he has regressed each season since. He does eat up quite a few innings for a fifth starter.

    RP- Ryan Webb- 7

    RP- Edward Mujica- 7

    LRP- Randy Choate- 7

    SU- Clay Hensley- 7

    CP- Leo Nunez- 7.25

    Ryan Webb, Edward Mujica, Randy Choate

    • Mujica and Webb come over from San Diego in the Cameron Maybin trade.  They were solid pieces in the Padres bullpen.  The 35-year old Choate is a solid lefty.

    Clay Hensley (31) 75 IP 3-4 7 SV 2.16 ERA 1.11 WHIP 77 K

    • Hensley is another former Padre.  He found his way in Florida, but let’s see if he can duplicate last season’s success.

    Leo Nunez (27) 73 IP 4-3 25 SV 3.60 ERA 1.28 WHIP 67 K

    • Nunez throws hard, but his changeup is his best pitch.

    Projected Lineup

    •  
      1. Chris Coghlan- 7.25
      2. Omar Infante- 7.25
      3. Hanley Ramirez- 9
      4. Mike Stanton- 7.25
      5. Gaby Sanchez- 7.25
      6. Logan Morrison- 7.25
      7. John Buck- 7.25
      8. Wes Helms
    • 1-3- 23.5
    • 4-6- 21.75
    • 7-8- 14.25

    Pitching

    1. Josh Johnson- 9

    2. Javier Vazquez- 7.25

    3. Ricky Nolasco- 7.25

    4. Anibal Sanchez- 7.25

    5. Chris Volstad- 7

    RP- Ryan Webb- 7

    RP- Edward Mujica- 7

    LRP- Randy Choate- 7

    SU- Clay Hensley- 7

    CP- Leo Nunez- 7.25

    Bench- Emilio Bonifacio, Scott Cousins, Wes Helms, John Baker 7.25

    Manager- Edwin Rodriguez 7

    INF- 37.75

    OF- 21.75

    SP- 37.75

    RP- 7

    CP- 14.25

    MISC- 14.25

    Hitting- 59.5

    Pitching- 59

    TOTAL- 132.75

    This team has talent, but it’s up to the Marlins to translate that talent on to the field. 

    The loss of Uggla in the middle of the lineup hurts, but I think the acquisition of Vazquez will ultimately be a positive one.  This is a potential wild card team this year. 

    89-73 2nd NL East

    2011 MLB Preview: Looking at Jason Heyward and the Atlanta Braves ‘On Paper’

    LAST YEAR- 91-71

    The Braves sent long-time manager Bobby Cox out in style with a playoff appearance.  Cox spent 25 years in Atlanta winning five pennants and a World Series in 1995.

    Dan Uggla and Freddy Gonzalez have reunited.  Atlanta acquired the power hitting second baseman via trade during the offseason.     

    At 38, Wagner walked away from the game despite a dominant 2010 campaign.  He saved 38 games to go along with a minuscule  1.43 ERA.  We’ll see if Craig Kimbrel is ready to fill in and close games.

    2011 MLB Preview: Looking at Jason Heyward and the Atlanta Braves ‘On Paper’

    (Jason Heyward)

    INFIELD

    • C-  Brian McCann 8 
    • 1B- Freddie Freeman 7
    • 2B- Dan Uggla 7.75
    • SS- Alex Gonzalez 7.25
    • 3B- Chipper Jones 7

    Brian McCann (27) 479 AB’s .269 BA 63 R 21 HR 77 RBI 5 SB 

    • McCann is one of the most consistent hitting catchers in baseball.  Coming off his fourth Silver Slugger Award in his last five years McCann has hit 20-plus home runs, and driven in 80-plus RBI’s in four of his last five seasons.  I’m curious to see if he can get his batting average back over .300 again after a two-year dip.  He’s had two Lasik surgeries done because of ongoing eye problems.

    Freddie Freeman (21) 24 AB .167 BA 3 R 1 HR 1 RBI 0 SB

    • Freeman is a NL Rookie of the Year candidate at first base.  He doesn’t have the pop that you would expect out of a first baseman, but he’ll hit for average; reminds me a lot of James Loney.  He also has a solid glove.

    Dan Uggla (31) 589 AB .287 BA 100 R 33 HR 105 RBI 4 SB

    • Uggla was brought over from Florida in the Infante deal.  Defensive lapses in the infield cost the Braves dearly against the Giants in the NLDS.  Uggla isn’t exactly the greatest infielder in the world.  Talent wise, Uggla is better than Infante, but I really liked the tandem of Infante and Prado at the top of the lineup.  They’re solid hitters and they get on base.  They set up the rest of the batting order.

    Alex Gonzalez (34) 595 AB .250 BA 74 R 23 HR 88 RBI 1 SB

    • Atlanta management didn’t want to wait around for Yunel Escobar to mature, so they went out and traded him for Sea Bass.  Gonzalez is purely a glove man, but he can also give you some pop at the bottom of the lineup in the 7-8 slot.

    Chipper Jones (38) 317 AB .265 BA 47 R 10 HR 46 RBI 5 SB

    • Has anyone declined quicker over recent years than Chipper Jones?  After making a run at .400 for much of the 2008 season, Jones hasn’t eclipsed the .270 mark in each of his last two seasons.  At 39, Jones is on his last legs.

     OUTFIELD

    • LF- Martin Prado 7.5
    • CF- Nate McClouth 7
    • RF- Jayson Heyward 8

    Martin Prado (27) 599 AB 100 R 15 HR 66 RBI 5 SB

    • I’d rather have Prado’s glove at second over Uggla but that’s just me.  Another option is to move him to third if Chipper can’t recover from his ACL injury.  In his first year as a full-time starter Prado made the All-Star team.  He’s hit over .300 over the last two years. 

    Nate McLouth (29) 242 AB 30 R 6 HR 24 RBI 7 SB

    • McLouth has yet to regain his all-star form since his trade from Pittsburgh.  Last season was a nightmare.  After a dreadful start, Bobby Cox sent McLouth to Triple-A three months into the season.  To his credit, McLouth bounced back and had a solid September.  In 2008, he hit .276 with 26 home runs and 94 RBI’s.  You can see what McLouth did last year above.  (Three of those HR’s came in September)  He’s still just 29 so I wouldn’t count him out just yet, although Jordan Schafer is lurking in the shadows.

    Jason Heyward (21) 520 AB .277 BA 83 R 18 HR 72 RBI 11 SB

    • Heyward finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting to San Francisco’s Buster Posey.  He has all the tools at the plate; he’s disciplined who hits the ball hard.  His .393 OBP was fourth in the NL, not bad for 21-year old.

    STARTING PITCHING

    1. Tim Hudson 7.75

    2. Tommy Hanson 7.75

    3. Derek Lowe 7.25

    4. Jair Jurrjens 7.25

    5. Mike Minor 7

    Tim Hudson (25) 229 IP 17-9 2.83 ERA 1.15 WHIP 139 K

    • Following major elbow reconstruction Hudson won the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award.  The biggest question now is at 35, can he possibly duplicate his 2010 campaign, especially after logging 229 innings.

    Tommy Hanson (24) 203 IP 10-11 3.33 ERA 1.17 WHIP 173 K

    • An excellent first full season in the Big Leagues for Mr. Hanson.  He got no run support, which explains why he had just 10 wins last season.  His slider rate, at 28-percent, is double the league average.  For such a young starter, I’d like to see him cut that down; we don’t want his elbow turning into spaghetti now do we.

    Derek Lowe (37) 194 IP 16-12 4.00 ERA 1.37 WHIP 136 K

    • Lowe was simply phenomenal at the end of the season; 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA in his final five starts.  The sinker-baller gets the job done.

    Jair Jurrjens (25) 116 IP 7-6 4.64 ERA 1.39 WHIP 86 K

    • A hamstring and a torn meniscus sidelined Jurrjens for most of the year.  Atlanta fans are hoping that Jurrjens returns to his 2009 form when he was 14-10 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.  We’ll find out this year if Jurrjens peaked too early.

    Mike Minor (23) 40 IP 3-2 5.98 ERA 1.57 WHIP 43 K

    • Minor will battle with Brandon Beachy for the fifth spot in the rotation.  Minor has solid velocity, but it drops considerably as the game goes on.  His 9.52 K/9 rate is impressive.

    BULLPEN

    • RP- Peter Moylan 7.25
    • RP- Scott Linebrink 7
    • LRP- George Sherrill 7
    • SU- Johnny Venters- 7
    • CP- Craig Kimbrel- 7

    Peter Moylan, Scott Linebrink, George Sherrill

    • A situational lefty is imperative in the NL East with Philadelphia’s stacked left-handed lineup.  We saw what Javier Lopez did last year in the NLCS.  George Sherrill needs to regain his 2009 form.

    Jonny Venters (26) 83 IP 4-4 1 SV 1.95 ERA 1.20 WHIP 93 K

    • Venters had a solid rookie campaign setting things up for Billy Wagner in the ninth.  He has a solid power sinker/slider combination.

    Craig Kimbrel (22) 20 IP 4-0 1 SV .44 ERA 1.21 WHIP 40 K

    • Due to Billy Wagner’s retirement, Kimbrel is now the favorite to close.  He needs to cut out his walks though, 16 in 20 innings is not good for a closer.  But his strikeout rate makes up for some of that.

    PREDICTION- 83-79 3rd NL East 

    To me it seemed like everything came together last season in Bobby Cox’s final run as manager.  The Braves have a young, solid nucleus, but to expect some of the same results as last year is a bit unrealistic.  I like Tim Hudson a lot, but is he going to repeat last year’s campaign; highly doubtful. 

    Projected Lineup 

    1. Prado 7.5
    2. Jayson Heyward 8
    3. Dan Uggla 7.75
    4. Brian McCann 8
    5. Chipper Jones 7
    6. Alex Gonzalez 7.25
    7. Freddie Freeman 7
    8. Nate McLouth 7
    • 1-3- 22.75
    • 4-6- 22.25
    • 7-8- 14

     Pitching

    • 1. Tim Hudson 7.75
    • 2. Tommy Hanson 8
    • 3. Derek Lowe 7.25
    • 4. Jair Jurrjens 7.25
    • 5. Mike Minor 7
    • RP- Peter Moylan 7.25
    • RP- Scott Linebrink 7
    • RP- George Sherril 7
    • SU- Johnny Venters- 7
    • CP- Craig Kimbrel- 7

    INF- 37

    OF- 22.5

    SP- 37.25

    RP- 7.25

    CP- 14

    Bench- 7

    Manager- 7

    MISC- 14

    Hitting- 59.5

    Pitching- 58.75

    TOTAL- 132 83-79

    KEY

    INF= 1B + 2B + SS + 3B + C

    OF= LF + CF + RF

    SP= SP X 5

    CP= SU + Closer

    Hitting= INF + OF

    Pitching= SP + RP + CP

    MISC= Manager + Bench

    Total= Hitting + Pitching + Misc

    2011 MLB Preview: Center Fielder Rankings

    1. Andrew McCutchen (Pit) 8.25
    2. Matt Kemp (LAD) 8
    3. Curtis Granderson (NYY) 8
    4. Grady Sizemore (Cle) 8
    5. Shane Victorino (Phi) 7.5
    6. Alex Rios (Chw) 7.5
    7. Jacoby Ellsbury (Bos) 7.5
    8. Michael Bourne (Hou) 7.5
    9. Adam Jones (Bal) 7.5
    10. Chris Young (Ari) 7.5
    11. Marlon Byrd (Chc) 7.25
    12. Austin Jackson (Det) 7.25
    13. Colby Rasmus (Stl) 7.25
    14. Carlos Beltran (NYM) 7.25
    15. Dexter Fowler (Col) 7.25
    16. Denard Span (Min) 7.25
    17. B.J. Upton (TB) 7.25
    18. Drew Stubbs (Cin) 7.25
    19. Rajai Davis (Tor) 7.25
    20. Julio Borbon (Tex) 7
    21. Chris Coghlan (Fla) 7
    22. Franklin Gutierrez (Sea) 7
    23. Nate McClouth (Atl) 7
    24. Coco Crisp (Oak) 7
    25. Nyjer Morgan (Was) 7
    26. Cameron Maybin (SD) 7
    27. Peter Bourjos (LAA) 7
    28. Andres Torres (SF) 7
    29. Melky Cabrera (NYY) 7
    30. Carlos Gomez (Mil) 7

    2011 MLB Preview- Left Field Rankings

    1. Josh Hamilton (Tex) 9.5
    2. Ryan Braun (Mil) 9
    3. Carlos Gonzalez (Col) 8.75
    4. Carl Crawford (Bos) 8.5
    5. Matt Holliday (Stl) 8.5
    6. Delmon Young (Min) 8
    7. Vernon Wells (Tor) 8
    8. Carlos Lee (Hou) 7.5
    9. Jason Bay (NYM) 7.5
    10. Martin Prado (Atl) 7.5
    11. Alfonso Soriano (Chc) 7.5
    12. Raul Ibanez (Phi) 7.25
    13. Juan Pierre (Chw) 7.25
    14. Logan Morrison (Fla) 7.25
    15. Johnny Damon (TB) 7
    16. Josh Willingham (Oak) 7
    17. Jonny Gomes (Cin) 7
    18. Juan Rivera (Tor) 7
    19. Brett Gardner (NYY) 7
    20. Jose Tabata (Pit) 7
    21. Cody Ross (SF) 7
    22. Felix Pie (Bal) 7
    23. Alex Gordon (KC) 7
    24. Rick Ankiel (Was) 7
    25. Xavier Nady (Ari) 7
    26. Will Venable (SD) 7
    27. Ryan Rayburn (Det) 7
    28. Jay Gibbons (LAD) 7
    29. Michael Brantley (Cle) 7
    30. Michael Saunders (Sea) 7 

    2011 MLB Preview- Third Base Rankings

    1. Evan Longoria (TB) 9
    2. Alex Rodriguez (NYY) 8.75
    3. Ryan Zimmerman (Was) 8.75
    4. Kevin Youklis (Bos) 8.25
    5. David Wright (NYM) 8.25
    6. Jose Bautista (Tor) 8
    7. Mark Reynolds (Bal) 8
    8. Adrian Beltre (Tex) 8
    9. Aramis Ramirez (Chc) 8
    10. Scott Rolen (Cin) 7.75
    11. Casey McGhee (Mi) 7.75
    12. Placido Polanco (Phi) 7.5
    13. Pablo Sandoval (SF) 7.25
    14. Chone Figgins (Sea) 7.25
    15. Pedro Alvarez (Pit) 7.25
    16. Chase Headley (SD) 7.25
    17. Kevin Kouzmanoff (Oak) 7.25
    18. David Freese (Stl) 7.25
    19. Chris Johnson (Hou) 7.25
    20. Chipper Jones (Atl) 7
    21. Casey Blake (LAD) 7
    22. Brandon Inge (Det) 7
    23. Maicer Izturis (LAA) 7
    24. Danny Valencia (Min) 7
    25. Mike Aviles (KC) 7
    26. Melvin Mora (Ari) 7
    27. Ian Stewart (Col) 7
    28. Jayson Nix (Cle) 7
    29. Wes Helms (Fla) 7
    30. Brett Morel (Chw) 7

    2011 MLB Preview- Second Base Rankings

    1. Robinson Cano (NYY) 9
    2. Chase Utley (Phi) 9
    3. Dustin Pedroia (Bos) 8.5
    4. Brandon Phillips (Cin) 8
    5. Ian Kinsley (Tex) 8
    6. Dan Uggla (Atl) 7.75
    7. Brian Roberts (Bal) 7.5
    8. Gordon Beckham (Chw) 7.25
    9. Kelly Johnson (Ari) 7.25
    10. Aaron Hill (Tor) 7.25
    11. Rickie Weeks (Mil) 7.25
    12. Omar Infante (Fla) 7.25
    13. Neil Walker (Pit) 7.25
    14. Orlando Hudson (SD) 7.25
    15. Howie Kendrick (LAA) 7.25
    16. Freddy Sanchez (SF) 7.25
    17. Juan Uribe (LAD) 7
    18. Mark Ellis (Oak) 7
    19. Jose Lopez (Col) 7
    20. Alexi Casilla (Min) 7
    21. Skip Schumaker (Stl) 7
    22. Blake DeWitt (Chc) 7
    23. Sean Rodriguez (TB) 7
    24. Will Rhymes (Det) 7
    25. Bill Hall (Hou) 7
    26. Dustin Ackley (Sea) 7
    27. Ruben Tejeda (NYM) 7
    28. Danny Espinosa (Was) 7
    29. Chris Getz (KC) 7
    30. Luis Valbuena (Cle) 7