Thursday, November 17, 2011


In what might go down as the most disappointing yet most exciting draft ever, the MLB Blog was on hand to give a blow by blow account of draft night.  Ace reporter FW_Kekionga (no relation to ace GM FW_Kekionga) was there to record the live proceedings held at the Radio City Music Hall in NYC.  Here is the draft as it happened, raw and uncensored!

6:50pm - The air in the room is electric, commissioner hopkinsheel is on the stage giving his last few bits of his pre draft speech, and in 10 minutes San Francisco will be on the clock.  The Giants have already announced their intention to draft 1B Jeff Phelps, the monster slugger sensation from Suffolk County Community College-Grant Campus. That's right, SCCCGC, more initials than a directional college from North Dakota!  Word on the street is that Phelps will be happy to play for a team with a mere two initials on the ball cap.

6:56pm - Rumblings have abounded about how poor this draft class is, and the top 5 teams have all expressed disappointment in having to choose from this crop of players, with owners FW_Kekionga and hurricane384 calling it "underwhelming."  The lack of draft buzz pretty much cemented that opinion.  Still, it is draft night and all the owners are at least mildly excited about the prospects of new talent.

6:59pm - hopkinsheel has left the podium and a video display is being projected to the big screen showing great players from the past three years of MLB history.  The big question is, "are any of these new players going to ever be able to perform well enough to end up in a video themselves?"  Consensus answer is no.
7:00pm - SF GM Allsox is officially on the clock.  Although everyone in attendance knows who he is going to pick he seems to be waiting until the last minute to drop his card off with the commissioner.  Sources indicate he is working an angle that would possibly trade Phelps for a seasons worth of paid team salary and a fifth of Jack Daniels.  There was a deal in place with Anaheim but SF backed out after the Angels GM mskakunan lowballed Allsox with a fifth of Old Crow instead. 

7:05pm - It's official!  Jeff Phelps is the first pick of the season 4 draft.  He makes his way to the podium and dons a Giants jersey with a giant smile, knowing that he really lucked out to be the top pick as 1B with elite power but limited durability and ability to pick up movement at the plate.  Had this been any other year he would be looking at 1/2 the bonus money.  Still, Allsox is pleased, although that may be attributable to the drink glass in his hand.

7:06pm - Now the big question arises, who will be picked second?  Anaheim has been mum on the subject, and they are taking their sweet time getting their envelope to the front.  Cincy GM hurricane384 can be seen nervously pacing back and forth while checking his depth chart every 3 seconds.  The look on his face is grave, and he seems to be sweating quite a bit from the stress.

7:09pm - Still nothing from the Anaheim camp.  Their high school scouting was pretty slim so you would have to think they will be taking a college kid here. 

7:10pm - At the last second the Angels deliver their envelope and with the second pick of the draft select SP Trever Crawford from Liberty University!  The Angels fan section erupts as mskakunan presents the lefty with his jersey.  He looks pretty thrilled.  Meanwhile the Reds GM hurricane384 looks as if he has just seen his Ferrari catch on fire, not happy at all.

7:11pm - Crawford is a hard throwing lefty with great control, great GB/FB skills, excellent pitches, and good stamina.  But he is a bit of an injury risk, and more importantly, has real trouble against right handed hitting.  It may have been a bit of a reach to take him 2nd overall, but sadly he was the best college pitcher available this season, and took full advantage of that, leaving school at 19 years old. - The Reds camp is scrambling, you can tell they clearly wanted either Phelps or Crawford.  Meanwhile the Detroit GM dakar is looking on in amusement, and seems to have already resigned himself to a less than desirable draft pick.  In his camp are his scouts, his manager, and the rap crew D12.  Looks like there is going to be a Detroit party going on no matter what.

7:13pm - For the first time activity in the Phillies camp can be seen.  GM FW_Kekionga can be seen talking rapidly with his head scout.  Could they have something up their sleeve?  They invested quite heavily in scouting this year, maxing out both college and high school budgets, while the Reds didn't invest at all in the prep school kids. 

7:15pm - Having run out of time (and options) the Reds submit their pick to the commish, RP Ned Gold out of the University of Mississippi.  Gold dons his Reds jersey and GM hurricane384 does his best to look happy about it, but he is a very bad actor.

7:16pm - Ned Gold is a....  Wait!  Phillies GM FW_Kekionga is running up immediately after the Reds announcement, trying to get his pick in to lock down the Reds selection.  The first three GM's are looking on quite obviously stunned and confused!  I'll have more as soon as I figure out what is going on here. 

7:16pm - Meanwhile, Gold is the best relief prospect in the draft, he has wicked control and nasty stuff, great movment, pitches, etc...  He is the complete package for a shutdown closer.  But normally relievers aren't chosen #3 overall.

7:17pm - The commissioner announces the Phillies pick at #4 overall, SP Sam Phelps from Clarksville HS, Clarksville AR.  Simultaneously the Giants, Reds, Angels, and Tigers GM's all look up in complete confusion, then immediately start looking back down at their draft charts.  You can see now Giants GM Allsox frantically yelling at his team for paperclipping the Sam Phelps file to the Jeff Phelps file, mskakunan of the Angels still looking confused, and Reds GM hurricane384 trying to leave through the back door.  Tigers GM dakar looks stunned, but quickly recovers and downs a 40oz with D12 to dull the pain.  All the while Phillies GM FW_Kekionga is leprechaun hopping up to the front.

7:18pm - Sam Phelps isn't in the building to be at the draft, as his parents said he needed to study for finals, but from what we can gather about him he is an elite SP prospect.  The Phillies scouting team says he projects to elite control, splits, pitches, and pretty much everything else.  If this is true it is a stunning development, as he would clearly be the top player in the draft pool this year.  It's shocking that four of the top five teams missed this guy!

7:20pm - Houston GM drichar, clearly amused by this spectacle, submits the Astros pick at #5, SS Adam Hannahan, from Cresten HS in Stuart IA.  Hannahan is everything you would expect from a top 5 pick, an above average hitter and defender at the position, and a great all around utility pick.  It's definitely a safe pick, as Hannahan will clearly be a big leaguer, but whether or not he will be an all star is up for debate.

7:22pm - Tigers GM dakar throws his papers down in disgust, walks up to the podium, and hands a hastily scribbled note to the commissioner.  It appears the Tigers pick at #6 is SP Howard Watkins, from Rarity Valley Community College.  The commissioner gets a bit of a shocked look as dakar then says, "screw it, this sucks" and leaves the front to go back to his desk to hang with D12.  It looks like D12 aren't the only ones over at the desk, as now hurricane384 and Allsox seem to have left their teams to share in the misery over some Colt .45s.  Over at the Angels table mskakunan still looks shocked.

7:23pm - Howard Watkins can basically be described as very similar to Trever Crawford, but not quite as good.

7:27pm - The Indians continue the run on pitchers with the selection of SP Chance Malloy, as GM abeseman hands him a Jersey.  Chance is a good name for this young fellow, as that is what you are taking every time you put him on the mound thanks to his control.  But when he has it, his stuff is pretty good. - Just got a text on my phone, there's an afterparty in the suite that dakar is staying at, word is Eminem is going to be there in addition to the D12 B team.  Text also says there will be beer and ladies.

7:29pm - Looks like every  GM who has made their pick, and some who haven't, are leaving the building, following the Detroit crew out the door. 

7:30 - There are obviously more picks, but forget this, it's not like any of them are going to be any good.  Look for my tweets from the party!  Welcome to D12 World!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Baltimore Orioles trade 3-time Cy Young winner Edgar Martin to the Cleveland Indians

The Orioles and Indians finalized a bonafide blockbuster today. Edgar Martin (3-2, 3.89ERA), world leader in wins and innings pitched gets a new home in Cleveland. He switches sides in the sure to be epic battle between Cleveland and Baltimore for the AL North title. He immediately improves a Cleveland rotation that had been sitting at 7th overall in ERA and should allow Cleveland to immediately close the 1.0 game gap and make them a favorite in the race.

That’s not to say that Baltimore got hoodwinked in this deal. As tough as it was to trade inside the division, the prospects that Baltimore received in the deal make a possible 2nd place finish this season worth it. 19-year old pitcher Lance Cornelius (2-1, 3.96ERA, 25.0IP in AA) has the talent to be a very good pitcher. He has 2 excellent pitches and 2 average pitches to go along with great control, solid splits, and good velocity. He also received 20-year old flamethrower Don Aoki (0-0, 2G, 1.2IP, 0.00ERA in AA). Aoki doesn’t really have the stamina you look for in a starter, but he has solid splits, throws hard, gets ground-balls, and has 4 above average to good pitches. A concern would be his control, but that’ll be mitigated somewhat by him pitching out of the bullpen. The final piece of the puzzle is 24-year old pitcher Bernard Reid (1-2, 7.85ERA, 18.1IP). Reid started out the season in the Indians’ rotation, but struggled mightily and finds himself at Baltimore’s AAA club. That being said, he has solid control, good splits, and above average pitches. He does well to get groundballs, but isn’t going to throw the ball past many hitters.

When asked about this trade, the Indians’ abesmem responded, “I just got tired of trying to beat the guy.” When we pressed further, he provided some more insight into his side of the deal.
Well, it was a tough trade to make because of the young pitching talent I had to give up. That said, guys like Martin don't come along too often and it gave me a real chance to stabilize my rotation right away. This has been a weak point for me since the league started. This team can hit and given our fast start, it gives us a shot to compete right away.

We also caught up with the Orioles’ hopkinsheel and asked for his thoughts on this trade.
I'm trying to thread the needle between getting too old and all of my stars demanding free agency and not getting much for them (Martin has a 47 loyalty rating, no chance he re-signs)...I also have several young stars that I can build around now without going backwards too much. One of the toughest things was trading Martin inside the division, but I didn't have a lot of options the other option I had was to play out the string and let Martin win a lot of games, then leave for FA and I probably wouldn't have wanted to pay him enough...he'll be 32 with an average makeup rating and will get a 5 season deal.
hurricane384’s take:
This was a true win-win deal…you have to balance Baltimore’s worries about getting value for Martin while keeping his farm system intact and able to contribute down the road. This is a trade that hurts Baltimore short-term (chances of winning the division) but really helps them down the road. Cleveland gets a guy who is relatively young and could anchor the rotation for a few years if he gets re-signed. He gets to make a run at a title and collect the inevitable draft picks to restock his system. This should be a fun divisional race to follow.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Clocking In

Some talented rookies make their appearances in the big leagues this week with the potential to alter a team’s fortunes this season. These late spring call-ups are significant because they are normally impact players left to marinate in the minors at the start of the season in order to delay their service clock.

Last year’s group of call-ups included seven impact players. Before we examine this year’s group, let’s first look back for fun to see how that class fared:

#1 - Carlos Ordaz, LF Milwaukee Brewers
Ordaz was ranked as the top impact call-up and he didn’t disappoint, as the rookie hit major league pitching like a seasoned veteran. He struck out just 37 times in 516 plate-appearances while posting a line of .307/.407/.557. Hitting for average and power, he swatted 31 doubles to lead the team despite only playing 112 games and scored 92 times. His 25 home runs were icing on the cake.

#2 - Shayne Everett, COF, Oakland Athletics
I felt Everett was a close second to Ordaz at the time of his call-up and he posted similar numbers to him all season long. The A’s slugging rookie finished the season with a line that read .303/.398/.491. He lead the team in walks, finished tied for second with 27 doubles, scored 89 times and chipped in 18 home runs. His post-season play was even more impressive, as his 16 walks and .344 batting average helped him lead the club by crossing the plate 25 times.

#3 - Sawyer Cross, SP, Montreal Expos
When the Expos called up Cross, they added their number one to the starting rotation and he helped deliver a world championship to the unlikely wildcard team. The rookie worked like a warhorse all season, starting 33 games while finishing 15-10 with a WHIP of 1.29. His 164 strikeouts were second on the club.

#4 - Elmer Kozlowski, RP, Baltimore Orioles
At the time of his call-up, I wrote that Kozlowski stood to play a very big role in the Orioles bullpen, and he did just that. He made the most appearances out of the bullpen (74) and finished the season with nearly 97 innings pitched, the most of any non-starter. His K’s per 9 of 8.57 lead the team.

#5 - Ariel Mateo, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals
After appearing in 95 games, Mateo was leading his team in Slugging Percentage when he tore his hamstring and landed on the 60-day DL, bringing a premature and disappointing end to his rookie campaign. At the time of injury, he posted a line of .269/.307/.485 while driving in 67 runs, helping St. Louis to complete a run to the division title.

#6 - Andy Montague, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals
Montague turned in a decent rookie season at the plate, posting a line of .267/341/.425, but when the Cardinals chose to leave the streaking Quentin Austin in the line-up at his natural position in right field, Montague struggled defensively at the hot corner. His 8 poor plays lead the team while committing 15 errors to finish second in that dubious category.

#7 - David Macias, SS, Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee’s young shortstop turned in a fine rookie season, with Macias doing more than he was asked to do at the plate. He finished with a line of .280/.346/.350. His work in the field came with mixed results: his field percentage of .963 was nothing to write home about, but he did make 8 positive plays from deep in the hole at short.

Will Season 4’s impact rookies measure up to the lofty standards set by Season 3’s "Magnificent Seven?" Here are the top seven players, listed in order of the impact they’ll make in my opinion, for your review:

#1 - Alex Hart, 1B, Baltimore
You have to feel some sympathy for AL North, as Hart is the latest addition to a club that’s been legitimately contending for a World Series title for four seasons now. Baltimore’s rookie has an elite understanding of the strike zone, and when he swings the bat, he usually hits it. Despite his lack of speed, he should finish with an OBP well above the norm. He can see the ball better against righties and thus drives it longer. He’s slightly underpowered at first but should post decent slugging percentages nonetheless.

#2 - Moises Gonzalez, C, Houston
Chosen with the fifth overall pick in last season’s amateur draft, Gonzalez finds himself calling the signals for the Astros less than a year later. While his defense and ability to call a game aren’t his core strengths, the Astros have called upon the rookie for his work at the plate. Gonzalez should add punch to a line-up that’s lacking a bit of power. He is blessed with great strength and an eye to put mistakes over the wall. He will struggle to make contact against someone’s out pitch, but he won’t be fooled too often into swinging at pitches out of the zone. He drives the ball well, and his power should translate those line drives into doubles and home runs. Surprisingly, Gonzalez is not the first player from season three’s amateur draft to make the bigs: two other players are playing key roles already.

#3 - Benj Fox, 2B, Oakland
The AL adds another impact rookie with the promotion of Fox, season one’s second overall pick in the amateur draft. The only question will be how many games Fox will appear in, as he is blessed with a diminutive frame (174 lbs) and the rigors of 162-game season will wear on his body. Fox has a good understanding of the strike zone and will walk his fair share of times. There are few holes in Fox’s game: he makes consistent contact on at the plate and drives the ball equally well against lefties and righties with decent power.

#4 - Bryant Koskie, SP, Baltimore
The Orioles’ blockbuster trade of three-time Cy Young uber-ace Edgar Martin to the division rival Indians did more than ship his 77-18 record over to the Land of Cleves, it cleared the way for Koskie’s promotion to the starting rotation. The Orioles won’t be asking Koskie to replace Martin’s production but they will be looking for a lot out of the rookie in the future. Koskie has a durable frame to pitch every fourth or fifth game and has a plus-plus fastball that hitters chase. He stands to K his fair share of guys.

#5 - Ronnie Robinson, 2B, Montreal
Blessed with good arm strength and accuracy, Robinson will bring good defense to the second base position in Montreal and strengthen their defense up the middle. As good as he can be defensively, Robinson will also hold his own at the plate. He stands to hit with decent contact and has an above average eye for pitching, so he won’t be fooled easily. While he doesn’t have major league power, he does drive the ball well off the bat so he will hit a few home runs between the foul poles and power alleys, but not to straight-away center.

#6 - Vladimir Gutierrez, 1B, Houston
The second of four players called up recently, Gutierrez is a decent hitting first baseman but lacks the power you might normal see at the corner infield spot. His best asset at the plate is his batting eye, but he will occasionally struggle to drive the ball well against either type of pitching. He makes decent contact at the plate, and when combined with his sense for the strike zone, should put him on-base a decent amount of time.

#7 - Bud Lackey, SP/LR, St. Louis
The Cardinals tap their pitching-laden minors to shore up a sore spot in the bullpen. Lackey gives the team a genuine long reliever and can be counted on to spot a start in the rotation. Of his five pitch repertoire, only one can be counted on as a plus-pitch but the rest are decent. Lackey will be far tougher on righties than lefties, and his Achilles heel is his lack of ability to pitch deep into a ball game.