August 9, 2008
Because this is a rarity, I thought I would savor the moment for Brewer fans and bask in CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets’ masterful outings the past two nights. Here are their lines, you decide which is more impressive:
Sabathia: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 103 pitches (77 strikes)–>Overall: 12-8, 3.11 ERA
Sheets: 9 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 113 pitches (78 strikes)–>Overall: 11- 5, 2.95 ERA
Obviously Sabathia was more efficient, but I’ll tell you what, I struggle to think of another pitcher with as dominant a pitch as Ben Sheets’ curve ball. Unbelievable. Either way, both very impressive performances by these guys. National’s manager Manny Acta probably won’t be getting much sleep tonight.
Just to put this this whole feat into prospective, the Brewers are the first team to record back-to-back shutouts since the Twins did it in 2004 (Brad Radke’s 4 hitter followed by Johan Santana’s 3 hitter).
The last time the team did it was in 1992. That was courtesy of Cal Eldred’s 4 hitter and Chris Bosio’s 5 hitter.
February 9, 2008
For the third time in a matter of months, an ace is on the move. After the Athletics and Twins raffled off their studs, Dan Haren and Johan Santana respectively, the Orioles decided it was time to part ways with southpaw Erik Bedard. Bedard will be headed to Seattle for highly-touted outfielder Adam Jones, along with pitchers George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio, and Tony Butler. I this deal upgrades both teams, obviously Seattle for the short-term and Baltimore for the long-term. Listening to Bedard’s press conference, it didn’t seem he was too happy in Baltimore, saying quote “we were going backwards.” He will give the Mariners one of the top starting pitching duos in the league along side Felix Hernandez, but the D-Backs’ Haren and Brandon Webb still get the nod for that nomination. Talk has already began regarding the M’s chances in the AL West, and it certainly is some food for thought, but in the end the Angels are just to deep. As far as this deal goes for Baltimore, I think they did the smart thing, unlike the Twins’ Bill Smith, by seeking some value for their ace. Adam Jones could be a top player in the league within a few years, and along with Nick Markakis, should form quite an outfield. Sherrill gives them some bullpen depth, and has a chance to compete for the closer’s role along with incumbent Chris Ray. As far the prospects are concerned, only Tillman was rated among the Mariners’ top 10 by Baseball America, but all things considered, the Orioles will be just fine. They got younger in this deal, while still maintaining a solid young rotation. Hayden Penn, Adam Loewen, Jeremy Guthrie, Daniel Cabrera, along with newcomer Matt Albers (acquired in the Tejada deal) should be adequate.
January 29, 2008
After discussions of a Johan trade last week, conventional wisdom would have led one to believe the price-tag on the franchise ace to drive up so high all teams in negotiations would have said “The heck with this.” Wrong. Just months after the Twins flirted with the possibility of acquiring a real stud, either the Yanks’ Phil Hughes or the Red Sox’s Jacoby Ellsbury, GM Bill Smith got too greedy. Instead, he slept on it, perhaps conjuring up a counter that he thought may have been just too tantalizing to pass up. I’d be willing to bet it was that very strategy which cost the Twins a future difference maker. And I don’t care which angle you look at this deal from, they didn’t nearly get enough. Carlos Gomez is definitely a major-league ready player, but doesn’t the Yanks’ Melky Cabrera equate to if not surpass his ability? And wouldn’t you prefer a sure-fire future star in Phil Hughes included in a deal instead of question marks Phillip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and an A-baller in Deolis Guerra? Props to the Mets’ Omar Minaya for rectifying a crucial mistake, dealing outfielder Lastings Milledge for a package centered on Ryan Church. Then again, he was most likely backed into a corner, with his job jeopardized unless he made a splash of this magnitude. Despite Johan’s demands of a six year, $150 million contract, Omar’s decision will finally give the team from the east side of the Big Apple the #1 pitcher they’ve been coveting for the past pennant-races.
Rumor Mill: Turns out all this Johan talk isn’t all that’s filling up sports message boards. A rumor leaked last night that the Orioles finalized a deal sending their ace, Erik Bedard, to the Mariners for reliever George Sherrill (who would be their closer) and perhaps the most intriguing outfielder in the minors Adam Jones, among other prospects. But now these grumblings have sparked nothing but controversy, causing one like myself to unsuccessfully sift through jumbles of inaccurate information. The Santana deal will certainly impact this one, how much remains to be seen. But if it were me, and this was true, pull the trigger Andy MacPhail (O’s GM)! Adam Jones is worth it, and Adam Loewen and Hayden Penn can anchor your rotation in the upcoming years. You just witnessed what can happen, so don’t be the next GM caught with your hand in the cookie jar.
January 24, 2008
With Johan Santana still presiding in the Twin Cities, the probability of him packing his bags continues to dwindle. Talks throughout the off-season have continued to flicker on and off, and Twins GM Bill Smith has yet to fully commit one of the three suitors for the southpaw’s services. Those remaining in contention? (it’s not difficult) The Yankees’ Brian Cashman, the Red Sox’s Theo Epstein, and the Mets’ Omar Minaya have all anted up, but a match has yet to reach heavenly heights. The problem? On top of acquiring the top pitcher in the game, the recipient would need to divvy up a substantial portion of their salary cap to resign him, precisely the reason an agreement has failed to reach fruition. After all, if you don’t plan to resign him, what’s the point of dealing some top players? Not to mention, who other than these “Cash Cows,” could afford such an exorbitant luxury? All three have offered their own “a la Cart” package of sorts, each containing a main course. For the Yanks: future ace Phil Hughes (meatloaf), along with outfielder Melky Cabrera, and pitchers Ian Kennedy or Jeffrey Marquez. For the Bo-Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury (turkey) or Jon Lester (chicken)–can’t have both!–along with Jed Lowrie, Justin Masterson, and Michael Bowden. The team who no one has been talking about however, the New York Mets, have appeared to pull even with the AL Kings, but in order for a deal to get done, Minaya would have to fork over one of his steaks, outfielder Carlos Gomez or Fernando Martinez, along with side dish Deolis Guerra, Phil Humber, or Kevin Mulvey. These all appear to be smokescreens, but either way, the deal hinges on Smith, and unless he musters up the courage to pull the trigger, Santana will again dawn a Twins jersey in 2008.
December 20, 2007
Thank goodness Doug Melvin is smart with his money–the majority of the time. Don’t get me wrong, paying Jeff Suppan $10 million for what he did last season was a mistake for a small-market team such as the Brewers. But at least Melvin has kept his team in heathly cap status. This off-season, the price of even an average pitcher has gone from ridiculous to insane. I’m sure a number of Royals’ fans were livid last off-season after their team’s big signing, Gil Meche at 5 years, $55 million. He posted a 9-13 record with a 3.67 ERA. Nice job Royals, you got yourselves a real quality signing there. While that was quite a disappointment for many I’m sure, after today’s signing, the meaning of ridiculous has been raised to whole new level. The Seattle Mariners, who’ve had a habit of dishing out serious cash to average players, did it again. Two years after signing southpaw Jarrod Washburn to a 4-year, $37.5 million dollar deal, they will fork over another 4-year deal worth $48 million to injury-plagued Carlos Silva, who went 13-14 last year with a 4.19 ERA. I can just envision Angels’ GM Tony Reagins saying to himself, “Alright, another overpaid pitcher to throw batting practice to [Vladimir] Guerrero!” Once again Doug Melvin, thanks for being a little bit more sensible with your money. I mean at least Suppan did something to deserve his contract, but this? What a joke. If I was a Mariners fan, I would be sick to my stomach.
Phillies equally guilty spendthrifts: Apparently, Phillies’ GM Pat Gillick didn’t get the memo either. I’m officially deeming him the second “spend-a-holic” today after in my opinion, overpaying for yes, that Geoff Jenkins. Two-years, $13 million, with incentives that could push the deal to $20 million. Wow, for a 31-year old defensive specialist that only plays hard in contract years, congrats Geoff, at least you can still fool one team with your antics. The point I’m trying to make is contracts now days are getting out of hand. The astounding part is, only a select few live up to their contracts. Talk is cheap, which makes me seriously question players’ integrity and passion for the game. Unfortunately, it’s just the sad reality fans are forced to live with.
December 14, 2007
The Diamondback front office must not have been satisfied with last year’s NLCS appearance. The D-Backs were wheelin’ and dealin’ today, first acquiring ace Dan Haren from the Oakland A’s. Haren, who had been rumored in numerous deals throughout the Winter Meetings, was highly coveted by GM Billy Beane due to the length of his current contract, which would have kept his in an A’s uniform through the 2009 season, with a 2010 option. Beane was rumored to be asking for more in return for Haren than the Twins were for Johan Santana, mainly because of his age and contract status. Haren, who went 15-9 with a 3.07 ERA last year with little run support, will form arguably the best 1-2 punch in the league for the D-Backs, along with NL Cy Young runner-up Brandon Webb. In return for Haren, the A’s were able to pick up six prospects, four of which were listed on Arizona’s 2008 Top Ten List, according to Baseball America: outfielders Carlos Gonzalez (#1) and Aaron Cunningham (#7), southpaw Brett Anderson (#3), and 1st baseman Chris Carter (#8). Carter, who was acquired by the D-Backs from the White Sox on December 3rd for outfielder Carlos Quentin, will be packing his bags for the second time in less than three weeks.
And Arizona wasn’t done either. Shortly before the Haren swap, another fairly significant deal was completed, as the D-Backs sent their stud closer, Jose Valverde, east to Houston for reliever Chad Qualls, infielder Chris Burke, and highly-touted pitching prospect Juan Gutierrez. Burke will most likely be slotted into the starting lineup at second for the D-Backs, after the departure of 2B Alberto Callaspo to Kansas City earlier this afternoon. As for Houston, who traded for Miguel Tejada Wednesday, they were able to fill another need, closer, after dealing struggling Brad Lidge to the Phillies in early November. Valverde, 28, who converted 47 of 54 save opportunities (87%) last season in Arizona, shouldn’t have too much trouble adjusting to NL Central hitting.
December 12, 2007
With the offseason in full swing, the Milwaukee Brewers have certainly had their fair share of ups and downs. One week, they lose both Francisco Cordero and Scott Linebrink, then find themselves with a surplus of quality bullpen arms the next. One area the Brewers haven’t been forced to focus on during the Hot Stove months has been the offense, with the exception of Jason Kendall. The Cubs and the Astros, however, who had comparable offensive units to the Brewers in 2007, have had different thought-processes. They’ve swayed there attention to adding another big name slugger, perhaps feeling they must out-hit there opposition rather than out-pitch them to be successful in 2008. And this week they certainly added some of that desired batting moxy, not cheaply of course, with Kosuke Fukudome (Cubs) and Miguel Tejada (Astros).
The Cubs, who have been searching for a replacement for slugging-outfielder Jacque Jones ever since he was traded by the team Nov. 12, must not have felt satisfied with what the MLB free agent crop had to offer, and decided to pursue talent on the international stage. Outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, left, a member of the Chunichi Dragons, was their #1 target, drawing interest from many others teams as well. Now, after accepting the Cubs reported 4 year, $48 million dollar deal, the Japanese star’s name will not only be penciled into the starting lineup (in rightfield), but will be a magnet for media-attention and endorsement deals in the Windy City, as he is the only foreign player on the Cubs roster. The 30-year old played nine years in the NBP, Japan’s highest level baseball league, averaging better than 21 homers per campaign. With Alfonso Soriano, Derrick Lee, and Aramis Ramirez already in the fold, the Chicago Cubs look to have as potent a lineup as any in 2008.
The Astros, another growing threat in the NL Central, made a rather suprising counter move Wednesday, acquiring shortstop Miguel Tejada in a 6-player deal with the Baltimore Orioles. Houston will essentially give up their future rotation, dealing pitchers Matt Albers, Troy Patton, and Dennis Sarfate to the Orioles, along with outfielder Luke Scott and minor leaguer Mike Costanzo. Tejada, 31, who hit 34 homers and drove in 150 in his best season with the Orioles (2004), will join Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman, and Hunter Pence to create another frightening lineup within the division.
One thing is clear: the Cubs and ‘Stros clearly want to win now and will both undoubtedly field pennet contenders in 2008. Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin should be thanking his lucky stars he shored up his pen before watching them groove fastballs to each respective teams’ studs.