Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Case For Cleveland



  In an off-season where star players, such as Josh Hamilton, got paid big time, there has been one stud that has been quietly overlooked.  Kyle Lohse.  Perhaps it was that he was "overshadowed" by the big names of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.  Maybe it was that he wasn't that successful in his past career in Minnesota and Cincinnati.  Or is it because of the penalty of losing a draft pick that comes with signing him?  Please.  Kyle Lohse finished seventh in the Cy Young voting last year.  Seventh.  How is it not worth it for a contending team to sign a guy like that and give up a draft pick?

  Lohse had an incredible season last year, and the year before that.  He was the most consistent on the Cardinals 2011 World Series staff with a 14-8 record and a 3.39 ERA.  Last year, in 2012, Lohse pitched his best season of his career heading into free agency.  He led St. Louis with a 16-3 record and an even lower ERA of 2.86.  He led the league in win/loss percentage and games started and, as I said before, finished seventh in the Cy Young voting.  Kyle also gave up just four runs in seventeen and a third innings during the post-season until his last start where he was roughed up in Game 7 of the NLCS.... but surely that wouldn't deter teams from signing him?  He's only 34, enough for a couple years left in him, and it's not like Lohse was a workhorse in his early years.  So why hasn't he been picked up yet?  To clarify the new rule in the MLB since the whole "Type A, Type B" stuff was scratched, if Lohse is signed, because he declined the qualifying offer of 13.3 million from the Cardinals, the Cardinals end up with a compensation pick from the team that signs Lohse.  While this is a pretty steep penalty, again, think about it this way.  It would be similar to a deal where say the Angels gave up first base prospect, C.J. Cron, to the Cardinals for Kyle Lohse.  That deal's a no brainer for anybody.



  Because of his caliber, it makes sense for a lot of teams to sign him.  He's pitched like an ace, there's no question about it.  You could say all 30 teams should be in the market for a pitcher like this, but for some reason there isn't.  And while I'd love for a team like Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas City, or San Diego to stick to the big market teams and get a top line pitcher in free agency for once, I can't see it happening for these cellar dwellers this off-season.  Where do I think Lohse will and should end up?  If your eyes skipped the article's title, here it is: Cleveland.  Here's three reasons why.

How's that for an off-season.


  First of all, it would only increase the excitement in Cleveland about this year's Indians for ticket sales.

  1. Signed Nick Swisher
  2. Signed Michael Bourn
  3. Hire Terry Francona

  If a team can do that in the off-season, they mean business.  Cleveland has been the punching bag of teams in the A.L. Central for over a decade, with the exception of a few years off and on.  They finally decided enough was enough this off-season and brought in some big pieces to the team.  Bourn and Swisher were arguably the next best two outfielders available after Hamilton.  Francona, ignoring the last year in Boston where he let some pretty bad activity slide, is a proven winner and brings a recognizable face to the Indians clubhouse.  What better to prove to a fan base in Cleveland that has had to endure this and a hopeless NFL franchise that you're not going to settle for losing?  How do you get the fans to buy in hook, line, and sinker?  Take the "chance" and sign the the 34-old pitcher that had a shot to win the Cy Young last year.  I'm not sure what else would send a stronger message to the fans that they aren't taking this season lightly.  Want to boost season ticket sales?  Here's your opportunity.

Jimenez and Masterson


  Secondly, Not only does this move make sense for the organization in attracting fans, but it also makes sense for the team that's playing on the field.  The Indians rotation is led by two declining young, but talented pitchers in Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez.  Both had terrific seasons in the past (Masterson two years ago, Ubaldo three), but each is under the pressure to perform well this season in the rotation if the team is to have any success.  Enter a new staff leader.  Sign Kyle Lohse, let Masterson and Jimenez start behind him.  Tell me those three can't match up to most teams in the American League.  While the team does need a southpaw in this rotation, having Lohse over an average lefty is an obvious choice.  And think about this: the Indians acquired former top prospect Trevor Bauer from Arizona.  Imagine the domination potential of this rotation if Bauer gets himself going.

Progressive Field - Home of the Indians


  Finally, thinking about Lohse here, Progressive Field, where the ball seems to stop mid-air, is a pitchers park.  And while Busch Stadium was already pitcher's paradise, Progressive is right up there on the list of tough parks.

  So, in conclusion, I believe the Indians should step out and sign this guy.  Lohse is a proven winner, and he could obviously help the team.  Give him the 3 year deal, spend the money, it'll be worth it.  Don't let your team be another disappointment to a city that's had to endure more than most.  Quick, name another city/state that have lost the best player of a sport to free agency without getting anything back.  Okay, okay, St. Louis got spurned with Pujols, but hey, they won a World Series didn't they?  And who was their best pitcher that year?  Sign him Cleveland.

Spring Training Wrap: 2/23/13


I seem to have forgotten to introduce you to our new series. I will be publishing wraps of the previous day's headlines, so that you can keep up on daily position battles and exciting stories from around the league.

Stories: Jason Bay, Stephen Strasburg

cleveland.com

Jason Bay hit a home run in the second inning off of the Padres' Tyson Ross yesterday, and after the game said he has regained his stroke. The Jason Bay of old could give the Mariners a very good bat, with all the low risk, high reward bats the Mariners added, they could have a potent lineup. The Mariners and Padres are in similar positions, bringing in the fences and hoping the offense does well. If Bay returns to his pre-Mets form, he could easily hit .260 with 25 home runs. His $1,000,000 dollar salary could be a huge bargain, but there is always a chance he isn't really back to his old form. It is only spring training, which hasn't always been a good predictor in the past.

sdsu.edu

The San Diego State alum and Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg, tossed two innings, striking out one, allowing three hits including a first inning two run home run to Ruben Tejada. After tossing 42 pitches, he was pulled for Craig Stammen. Strasburg claimed that the home run was due to over-excitement (excuses, excuses, excuses!). The big news is Strasburg will not have an innings limit this year, which is huge for the Nationals(as well as fantasy owners), who have arguably the best rotation in baseball. It is very similar to the Phillies rotation of 2010....

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Spring Training Wrap: 2/22/13

MLB.com
After a long, miserable offseason, baseball season is back. The Padres played in their first spring training game of the year, routing the Mariners by a score of 9-3. San Diego native Sean O'Sullivan tossed two scoreless innings, but the biggest story of the game was Jedd Gyorko. The second baseman walked up to the plate for his first spring training at bat of his career. With the bases loaded and a 2-1 count, Hector Noesi threw a fastball which was launched by Gyorko over the left field wall for a grand slam. He finished the day one for three, before being removed for Chris Denorfia. Here is the MLB.com video of the hit.



Gyorko can be expected to win the second base job this spring, and this display of power will help explain why. The 24-year old was drafted as a 2nd rounder in 2010, the same draft that Karsten Whiston rejected the Padres bonus offer. My favorite comparison for him is second baseman Jeff Kent. Jedd's only competition for the second baseman's job is Logan Forsythe, who is taking balls in the outfield, and will likely take on a super utility role.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Prospect Report - Nolan Arenado - Colorado Rockies

  

Today, I'm going to look at Rockies third base prospect, Nolan Arenado.  First, here's a look at the current situation for Colorado at third.

  As of spring training, Colorado has patched together a few players to compete for the starting job at third.  They didn't make a move during the off-season to fill that hole in their offense, which for their 2012 record, wasn't all that bad (second in the MLB in batting average and in the top half in a lot of categories).  Consequently, the team will look to their youth to find the guy to play opposite Todd Helton in the infield.  Leading the way for the Rocks at third will be second year player, Chris Nelson.  Nelson was labeled as a play-anwhere-in-the-infield guy coming up through the farm system.  In the midst of the Rockies' disastrous 2012 season, Nelson got the call for the majors mid-season and responded well, hitting .301 in 111 games last year.  However, his play wasn't spectacular, and he appears to merely be an average to mediocre third baseman.  After Nelson comes the enigma of the Rockies organization, Jordan Pacheco.  He was brought up for years as the catcher that could hit, but was blocked behind Wilin Rosario.  Last year, when he got to the majors, he showed his versatility by playing games at third, first, second, and catcher during his 132 games played.  On the offensive side, he hit .309 and batted in 54 RBI's in his first season.  He's shown that he's committed to improving this season as he showed up early with the pitchers and catchers to spring training to work to further improve his hitting.  A late demotion at the end of the year sent him to AAA, but Pacheco hit .433 so it's a safe bet that he'll be back in the majors in 2013.  After these two front-runners, you have Jonathan Herrera, a utility infielder with a decent swing, and DJ Lemahieu, who hit fairly well in his back-up infielder role in 2012.  As you can see, Nelson and Pacheco at least have potential to improve, I especially like Pacheco's bat, but I think it should go elsewhere, perhaps first once Helton finally retires.  This brings us to the fact that the Rockies are not set for the now or the later at third, and leads the door wide open for a great talent waiting in the minors: Nolan Arenado.



  Arenado was drafted by Colorado Rockies in 2009 out of El Toro High School in California.  His bat had drawn attention, but not enough to get him picked in the first round for more money.  Arenado settled down in the Pioneer League playing for the Casper Ghosts and played 54 games in the 2009 season.  He hit .300 and added support to his cause as the season came to a close.



  Going into 2010, Arenado was starting to be recognized as a figure in the Rockies organization. John Sickles, the writer for Minor League Ball, said this about Arenado heading into his first full season with the Rockies"Very promising young hitter, but I want to see how his power and defense develop before going (grading him) higher." The Rockies agreed with the praise for the young third baseman and Arenado started off his 2010 season in A ball in the South Atlantic league with the Asheville Tourists (strange name for a team). He lived up to the hype, and Arenado posted fantastic numbers by hitting .308 with 12 HR and 65 RBI in 92 games. The success shot him straight to the top of the Rockies farm system. Baseball America proclaimed him the best hitter in the system in 2011 ahead of catcher Wilin Rosario.  He was ranked #80 in the Pre-2011 Rankings released by Baseball America.  So, going into 2011, Arenado was the most scrutinized hitter in the Rockies system, and average Colorado fans were starting to hear the whispers of talent in their farm system.  The young third baseman got even better.  He hit .298 with 20 HR and 122 RBI in 134 games for the A+ team: the Modesto Nuts (what is it with these Rockies farm team names).  Arenado was then ranked the #22 prospect by MLB.com the following season and #42 by Baseball America going into 2012.  It was rumored that he could be headed up to the majors sometime that season to help out a team that was struggling from injuries and a lack of talent, but Arenado didn't improve enough to get the call.  His numbers dipped and he hit .285 with 12 HR and 56 RBI in 134 games for the AA Tulsa Drillers (I guess this one isn't so bad).  And so here we are, Nolan Arenado is projected to be a factor at some point in the Rockies in 2013, but he will start the year in AAA until the organization feels the team is ready for him or that Arenado is ready himself.



  So what makes Arenado such a standout talent?  He's not a slugging, power hitting third baseman like Beltre or Rodriguez, he's more of a lineup drive, gap hitter.  He has a short, quick swing that drives the ball with force.  Scouts think his gap power can eventually translate into more home runs, but for the time being he won't be leading the MLB in home runs upon his arrival.  His defense was once considered a problem by many, but he's worked hard to improve it where it's not really an issue.  You can say this and that about this guy, but there's one solid fact about him: he can hit, and he can hit very well.  He's also pretty clutch, and wasn't afraid of the big moment last year when he hit this bomb (see hyperlink).

  All in all, the Rockies look like they've made a steal by taking this guy in the second round way back in 2009.  We'll see if he can bring a strong presence in the middle of the lineup if he gets called up mid-way through this season.  Best of luck to Nolan!


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Injury Update

I have another injury update for you today, according to Corey Brock, Rymer Liriano's elbow "healed overnight". He will be optioned to the minors but will not have Tommy John surgery. This may be the best news of the offseason. I wonder if this was a ploy to get positive news out into the atmosphere. We got the bad news, and then it was taken away. If I am the Padres, I make sure Liriano takes it extra slow.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Injury Round-Up: Liriano, Wieland, Cashner


I have good and bad news to share with you today (for Padres fans). The bad outweighs the good. I will give you the bad news with the angry rant first, and the good news with the upbeat optimism second.

Rymer Lirano felt a pop in his elbow on his throwing arm while playing long toss in the Dominican Republic. He will require Tommy John Surgery. After a strong year and a very good AFL, Liriano was being touted as the RF of the future. He was expected to have a chance to reach the majors by the end of the year, but that is now out of the question. It was speculated he could have been part of a package for super-star Giancarlo Stanton. It also was brought to my attention that Joe Wieland will not likely see major league action next season. This is all the bad news I have for today, now here is the upside to this particular bad news. Remember that Tommy John for a position player is a much quicker recovery for a position player, so he will be swinging a bat in 6 months and playing ball in 9 months. The organization sees him playing winter ball or in the AFL next year. This is much faster than the traditional 12-18 month recovery time for pitchers. It could be much worse. Joe Wieland will recover, but he will spend the remainder of the year in the minors. This would likely just be to shake off some of the rust and get him some in game action. By July, we will have five starters (hopefully) that are in the rotation. If there is an injury, I wouldn't be surprised if Wieland would be the one to come up. A rotation of Edinson Volquez-Cory Luebke-Tyson Ross-Robbie Erlin-Casey Kelly wouldn't surprise me at all. I did leave out Clayton Richard. If the rotation holds up, Richard could be a nice trade chip to get a bat at the deadline. 

Here is the good news. In case you are wondering why I have a picture of Andrew Cashner up, it's because it is likely he will be ready for opening day, which is huge. According to Corey Brock, the Padres feel like Cashner will be a starting pitcher, which is bad news for about 13 other players. This spring will be a big audition, and Cashner, Kelly, and Erlin hopefully win those three spots. (I bet it is Stults, Marquis, and Garcia).

Cabrera and Gyorko should be the opening day SS and 2B respectively. This is a preview of the opening day line-up. Things could change. (I think Kyle Blanks kills spring training and steals the RF job out of thin air.)

SS Everth Cabrera
2B Jedd Gyorko
3B Chase Headley
LF Carlos Quentin
1B Yonder Alonso
RF Kyle Blanks
CF Cameron Maybin
C Nick Hundley

Here is what I'd expect mid-season if we are in contention (It is a hope not an expectation at this point):

CF Cameron Maybin
1B Yonder Alonso
3B Chase Headley
LF Carlos Quentin
RF ACQUIRED BAT
C Yasmani Grandal
2B Jedd Gyorko
SS Everth Cabrera

If we could acquire a bat and Cameron Maybin breaks out, this could be a very excellent offense. This team has potential, but it needs some GOOD luck to see a decent season. We can't say this was the worst possible off season we could have had, because we didn't trade Chase Headley. Speaking of, I have a side note.

To ESPN,
Please stop having your writers publish stories about how the Padres should trade Chase Headley. Josh Byrnes has said on multiple occasions that they will not trade him, and I have not seen an article about the Padres not concerning trading Chase Headley to the Yankees or Dodgers. The daily suggestion is getting on my nerves. I know that there will be another article soon that uses the loss of Liriano as another reason the trade Headley, but it really is the opposite. Give me a break from this and publish something useful. You have suggested we trade him since he broke out, is it not possible that we don't want to trade proven(ish) major league players for prospects at this current point? 
-Padres Fans Everywhere (All 4 of us)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Why The Curse May Be Broken



104 years.  What's happened in the last 104 years?  Two World Wars, a man on the moon, Michael Jackson, the birth of the NFL, a country going from racial intolerance to electing a black president, the internet, and now a mission to mars?  What hasn't happened in the last 104 years?  We don't have flying cars, teleportation doesn't exist, world peace is a joke, and the Chicago Cubs, one of baseball's most historic franchise, has yet to win another world series.  No streak of championshipless play exists in the current profession sports leagues today.  Of course, we did have the Red Sox until recently, but we know how that tale ended (by what GM I might ask?).  And yet after all these years of losing, the cubs still have one of the best fan bases in Major League Baseball.  The Cubs averaged 35,000 fans per game last year, top ten in the league.  Isn't it time that this franchise gives the fans what they deserve?  I think they're almost there.



  So why do I believe the Cubs will turn the corner to become an annual playoff team?  It all starts with upstairs.  Theo Epstein's brilliance that led to two titles in Boston came to Chicago last season, and he wasn't shy about shaking things up early.  The also brought in Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod from San Diego to reunite the talented trio in the front office.  They don't have it as good as Boston (but who does?), however, Chicago is a big sports market, and the team should have no trouble spending the necessary dollars to keep and bring in valuable players.

  As it stands now, the Cubs roster is not one that is going to compete in 2013.  The difficult NL Central lead by the St. Louis Cardinals (who now look more vulnerable without Carpenter) will be too much for Chicago to play in.  Nevertheless, here's my projected lineup, rotation, and valuable relievers for the Cubs 2013 season.

Cubs Shortstop - Starlin Castro


     2013

      Lineup

  • OF - David DeJesus
  • OF - Nate Shierholtz
  • 1B - Anthony Rizzo
  • OF - Alfonso Soriano
  • SS - Starlin Castro
  • 3B - Ian Stewart
  • C - Welington Castillo
  • 2B - Darwin Barney
  • P - Starting Pitcher


      Rotation


  • RHP - Matt Garza
  • RHP - Edwin Jackson
  • RHP - Jeff Samardjiza
  • RHP - Scott Baker
  • LHP - Travis Wood

     Bullpen

  • RHP - Carlos Marmol
  • RHP - Kyuji Fujikawa
  • RHP - Arodys Vizcaino


While this team could close in on a .500 record, it's going to be tough with a talented National League.  

The problems with the current state of the Cubs are:

1. Lack of a true power hitter
2. Below average speed on the bases
3. Lack of left-handed pitching
4. Questionable back-end of the rotation

How do you fix these issues?  Through free agency, trade, or your farm system.  In the Cubs case, and in Epstein's history, he has gone to free agency and the farm system to get most of his work done.  And while signing Edwin Jackson this off-season was a smart move, the team will look towards its youth to bring life back into the Cubs organization.  So who do the Cubs have that could turn this ship around, let's take a look. 

Here's my top ten prospects as now in the Cubs system:

1. Albert Amora - OF - Taken number 6 in the first round by the Cubs in 2012.  He's a smart hitter that does a bit of everything.  Hit .347 in the Arizona League in 18 games at the end of last season.

2. Javier Baez - SS (possibly 2B) - Looks to be a solid hitter in the infield to pair with Castro.  He can hit for power, but can be a little overaggressive at times.  Still, he hit 18 homers and swiped 24 bags in 80 games last year.

3. Jorge Soler - OF - The Cuban defector is quick and can hit for power.  Is this a young Alfonso Soriano?  Looks like the right-fielder for the future.

4. Brett Jackson - OF - He struggled a bit in his brief stint in the majors last summer.  He's the future center-fielder for this team with his balance of great speed and power on offense.

5. Dillon Maples - RHP - Yes, he's only in the lower levels messing with hitters with a nice curveball, and his delivery is a little off, but Maples is the best pitching prospect in the system of talented hitters.

6. Christian Villanueva - 3B - They got him from Texas, and he has great glove on the corner.  He's got a solid swing, but tends to chase a bit out of the strike zone.

7. Dan Vogelbach - 1B - He's got a beautiful swing, but will he stay in Chicago with the young stud Rizzo blocking his way?  Still hit .322 in total last year.

8. Pierce Johnson - RHP - Another right-hander with a nice curveball.  He's got a history of medical issue on his arm, but he's been fine so far.  Some can argue that his stuff is better than Maples, but I don't think he has as much upside.

9. Matt Szczur - OF - He's got the quickness to run the bases and patrol the outfield, but the hitting's a bit suspect.  I'm not sure if he can be an every day guy unless he bunts exceptionally well.  

10. Josh Vitters - 3B - He's had his troubles, but his bat is still one of the best in the system.  With Villanueva in now in town, the path isn't as clear for Vitters, but he could still get the job in the corner.


The farm system is deep compared to most, but is heavily favored towards the hitting.  Chicago will likely target a top arm in this summer's draft.  The Cubbies have the second overall pick, and I'm predicting that they'll take Indiana State's lefty Sean Manaea.

So when will this curse be broken, I think in the next five years it just might happened.  Here's my predicted 2015 lineup and rotation for the Cubs.

First Baseman for the future - Anthony Rizzo



    2015

   Lineup


  • CF - Brett Jackson
  • 2B - Javier Baez
  • SS - Starlin Castro
  • 1B - Anthony Rizzo
  • RF - Jorge Soler
  • LF - Albert Amora
  • 3B - Josh Vitters
  • C - Welington Castillo
  • P - Starting Pitcher
   Rotation

  • RHP - Edwin Jackson
  • RHP - Matt Garza
  • RHP - Jeff Samardzija
  • RHP - Dillon Maples
  • RHP - Sean Manaea
  
Bottom line, the lineup looks pretty solid.  Villanueva could outplay Vitters, but with Vitters getting the first shot, I don't think he'll give up the job.  Szczur could end up outplaying Brett Jackson, but I think he'll be more suited to the fourth outfielder role.  Vogelbach is likely a trade chip (coming to that soon), and Pierce Johnson be the fifth starter if Manaea (assuming he's drafted) isn't ready by then.  So you're probably wondering, what about Arodys Vizcaino?  As of now, he hasn't proven he can start on a major league team.  Some say he's more fitted to be a reliever, but if he can get it together, he's definitely in the rotation in 2015.  He'd probably take the place of Garza, as the Cubs would feel less of a need to resign him in 2014.

So this team looks pretty good, but there's some obvious weaknesses with it.  There's no elite starter at this point, unless Manaea simply dominates from the get-go, and the catching position is another weak spot.  Consequently, I've come up with a trade for 2013 that I believe works for both teams in the future.

The Seattle Mariners trade:

LHP - Danny Hultzen
C - Mike Zunino

The Chicago Cubs trade:

3B - Christian Villanueva
1B - Dan Vogelbach
RHP - Dillon Maples
OF - Tony Campana

The deal works out for both sides.  

Seattle:  The Mariners get to keep King Felix and Taijuan Walker as a dominant one and two.  So, they can afford to give up Hultzen if it improves their offensive production.    We all remember the trade for Jesus Montero, and his bat could possibly move to first, but I think it stays at catcher.  For this reason, Zunino, regardless of how good his bat is, doesn't fill a position Seattle needs.  The team receives a third baseman who will probably outplay Kyle Seager.  Vogelbach will finally unseat Smoak who's only playing because they have no one better.  The team receives a the speedy Tony Campana to run the bases off the bench.  Finally, Dillon Maples can be a nice starter behind Hernandez and Walker.

Chicago:  The Cubs have Vitters and Rizzo set at the corners, so dealing Villanueva and Vogelbach is inevitable for this team to improve the pitching.  The plethora of right-handers is a problem, as the team will need a lefty starter in the rotation.  So, dealing Maples will decrease the depth slightly, but a prospect like Trey McNutt or Pierce Johnson could possibly fill this role.  Campana or Szczur will be the fourth outfielder at this point, so it only makes sense to keep one of them.  In return, the team will get a possible number one starter in Hultzen in return who is a lefty that the team desperately needs.  With Hultzen, the Cubs don't have the pressure to resign Garza, and can spend the money elsewhere.  Also, they get a top hitting catcher in Zunino who can mash the ball from the right side of the plate.

So, after this potential trade, the lineup/rotation would look like this:

    Lineup
  • CF - Brett Jackson
  • 2B - Javier Baez
  • SS - Starlin Castro
  • 1B - Anthony Rizzo
  • RF - Jorge Soler
  • C - Mike Zunino
  • 3B - Josh Vitters
  • LF - Albert Almora
  • P - Starting Pitcher
    Rotation

  • LHP - Danny Hultzen
  • RHP - Edwin Jackson
  • RHP - Jeff Samardjiza
  • RHP - Pierce Johnson
  • RHP - Sean Manaea

Regardless of if the Cubs complete a trade of this nature, I think the Cubs will turn the corner by 2015 and become a playoff contender, and as we've seen, all it takes is for a team to make the playoffs, and a championship can be in sight.



Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Fresh Start for Correia

2012 Team by Team Pitching Rankings:

Earned Run Average (28th)
Quality Starts (29th)
Strike Outs (30th)
Batting Average Against (30th)

and as a result: Loses (4th)

So which team in Major League Baseball had these horrific struggles in pitching during the 2012 season.  The Rockies?  Nope.  The Indians?  Wrong again.  It's the Minnesota Twins.  Once the model of consistency, the Twins organization has plummeted into the depths of standings.  So, entering the 2012 off-season, it was apparent that pitching would be something that the Twins would have to address.  When asked before the start of free agency if he would chase after some talented starting pitching, GM Terry Ryan replied, "We better."  There's no doubting that the Twins made moves this off-season regarding their pitching, and the first of these came in the form of Kevin Correia. Correia was signed on December 10th for two years, ten million.  A name that made diehard Twins fans scramble to ESPN to look up the stats for this guy, shrug, and hope for the best. So for anyone less than a real baseball junkie who has no idea who Correia is, or just how good he can be, here's a look.




"It's been a great season so far. To get an Opening Day start and now add this to it, it's so far one of the best seasons I've had."  - Kevin Correia.

Those were the words said in mid-July 2011 as Kevin Correia was elected to the National League all-star team following his hot start with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The 30 year old right hander had 11 wins (tied for third in the majors) and a 4.01 ERA.  He'd brought hope to a fan base that had experienced one all-star pitcher in the past decade.  However, Correia hit the wall after his all-star appearance. He struggled and only won a single game for the rest of the year while increased his ERA to 4.79.  


Correia during the 2011 season - sporting the incredible 'stache


Questions circulated which Correia would show up going into the 2012 season.  Thankfully for the Pirates, they got their all-star to pitch somewhat like one, and Correia was one of the reasons Pittsburgh got off to a hot start in 2012.  In a wild turn of events for Correia at the trade deadline, the Pirates made a move to acquire Wandy Rodriguez from Houston.  Consequently, Correia, who was coming off four straight starts of not allowing more than three runs in a game, was relocated to the bullpen despite his recent success. 

A very frustrated Correia replied to the media following the news, "I want to start.  For that to happen, I'll have to go somewhere else."  In other words, "Please trade me Pittsburgh" was the plea issued from the starter.  




Well, it didn't happen, and a slightly irked Correia headed into the off-season a free agent. He wanted to go somewhere he could pitch.  He wanted to be a guy that was counted on by a team to shoulder a load in a rotation.  He wanted a shot to prove that he was still an all-star pitcher from that first half of 2011.  The Twins needed someone eat up innings in a rotation starting from scratch.  The Twins needed consistency after a year of everything but that.  It was the perfect match.  Correia fits perfectly with the Twins pitching philosophy. Control, ground balls, get outs. You won't see a 200 K guy coming out of Minny very often. 

GM Terry Ryan said this following the signing, "He's won in double figures the last four years in a row, and he's certainly a competitive guy," Ryan said.  "He throws the ball over and does a lot of the little things right, like control a running game, and he handles left-handed hitters OK.  He's been durable."

So did the Twins get a good deal at 10 million for 2013-2014?  I certainly think so.  Correia brings experience to a rotation that really needs it.  He enters one of the best pitchers parks in baseball.  Correia joins a team that brought home AL Central title after title with control pitchers who Correia emulates in his game.  And, aside from a disappointing second half in 2011, Correia has been just below the all-star quality pitchers.  With prospects Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia, Byron Buxton, and Miguel Sano possibly on the way in late 2013 or 2014, the offense will also get a boost to put the Twins back on the map.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not proclaiming Correia the ace and savior of the Twins pitching troubles.  He's simply a piece in the puzzle, but that's how you build a championship team: getting the right pieces over time (unless you're from Miami and have a logo of a basketball on fire).  




From a fantasy sports perspective, I don't expect Correia to be drafted outside of a few leagues in Minnesota.  However, he's a low risk player with not a huge upside, but he can get the job done.  If you're simply looking for someone who can fill in off the waiver wire for that inevitable injury that seems to plague you every year to your stud ace.  Correia has a chance to be the number one in Minnesota while they build this rotation.  He definitely won't pile on the strikeouts for category leagues, but he'll keep your ERA down and pick up wins.  In keeper leagues, he could be a solid acquisition to a playoff team looking to strengthen its depth.  The age (32) is a possible deterrent, but with a low velocity, control guy like Correia, age shouldn't be a factor yet.

In conclusion, Correia got what he wanted.  The man will be starting for the Minnesota Twins in 2013.  We'll see how he holds up.



I also want to introduce myself as this is my first post here at "If I Were GM".  My name is Alex Monseth.  I'm an avid sports fan of mainly baseball and basketball.  I love writing about and analyzing/drawing conclusions about sports and the stories and drama that comes with them.  Thanks to Noah for the opportunity!

Padres sign Freddy Garcia, Tim Stauffer


The San Diego Padres have signed pitchers Freddy Garcia and Tim Stauffer to minor league contracts. Garcia's deal is worth $1.3M (if he makes the team) with $1.25M in incentives. The contract details may seem insignificant, but it shows that the Padres are willing to include incentives in a free agent contract. The reason this is such a big step forward is that old ownership did not approve of incentives in free agent deals, but this means we now are able to do that. We missed out on signing Chris Young (the pitcher) multiple times in free agency because of a reluctance to include incentives.

Freddy Garcia, 36, was 19-14 with a 4.29 ERA over the past two seasons with the Yankees, averaging 127 innings a season. Garcia pitched well in a hitter friendly stadium, in the toughest offensive division in baseball. I'd expect the ERA to go down about 3/4's of a run next season. If he makes the ball club, he would probably be the 5th starter. Garcia has spent his entire career (excluding a dreadful 11 starts for the 2007 Phillies) in the American League, so a switch to the NL will help as well. This is a very smart, no risk, very high reward signing. 

Tim Stauffer, 30, missed most of last season due to shoulder issues. He has been plagued by injuries for his entire career. He was 9-12 with a 3.73 ERA for the 2011 Padres, and was looking to build on it in 2012, but was injured. He is expected to be ready at the end of April. If Stauffer can stay healthy, he will be an excellent addition to the pitching staff.

I do have bad news, it appears Jason Marquis and Freddy Garcia were the two starting pitchers who Josh Byrnes mentioned at the start of the offseason. There is still a small chance you see a trade in spring training, and a smaller chance you see a big trade in spring training.