Thursday, October 9, 2008

C-Gouds' UltiMET Site

Startimg in December, I will be startimg a new site, devoted entirely to the New York Mets!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Change of Plans: Game of the Week

Sorry about the last two weeks. I've been too busy with school and the start of the baseball season, so I took a little break. Since I was unable to do a "Game of the Week" like I promised, I am now changing plans.
Instead, every Saturday I will have a "C-Gouds' Saturday" game that I'll cover. In each C-Gouds' Saturday post, I'll recap the game and critique the managers. So, tune in for this Saturday's game: Johan Santana's perfect game against the Milwaukee Brewers!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

'08 RAPs: Final NL West Rundown and Predictions

The time has come for the final installment of '08 RAPs. It's been fun doing this, but I'm glad that its time for the season to start.

After covering the Entire NL Western division this week, it is time to make my final predictions for the 2008 campaign. But first, as always, let's break down the division according to pitching and offense.


5. Rockies:
While the Rockies' ace, Jeff Francis was very impressive in the playoffs last year, in my mind he is nothing more than a good number 3 type guy. Also, the last two spots in that starting rotation are either inexperienced or bad.
The Rockies' young closer, Manny Corpas looks like a stud, however, the rest of the pen, including oft-trade rumored, Brian Fuentes, is anything but a sure thing.
4. Dodger:
Unless Jason Schmidt returns to top form soon, the Dodgers are in pretty big trouble in their starting rotation. While Billingsly impressed greatly last year, Derek Lowe is getting old and Brad Penny is very inconsistent. That leaves import, Hiroki Kuroda in a position where he has a lot of pressure on him: not good for his first year.
I'm a big fan of Johnathan Broxton as a future All-Star closer. However, if the Dodgers are insistent on leaving aging closer, Takashi Saito in that role, they could be let down by their pen.
The Giants have a very strong, young duo in Lincecum and Cain who they'll be able to rely on for years to come. Also, I honestly feel that Barry Zito will have a tremendous year, with an ERA in the low threes.
Also Brian Wilson and Johnathan Sanchez should do an adequate job in the San Francisco pen.
2. Diamondbacks:
Brandon Webb and Dan Haren at the head of the rotation sounds a lot better than Brandon Webb and Livan Hernandez. Also, if Randy Johnson wants to reach 300 wins, he must have a good year this year.
While the D'Backs did lose their closer, Jose Valverde, they picked up a more reliable and consistent guy in Chad Qualls. However, if Tony Pena and Brandon Lyon can't pitch as well as they did last year, this bullpen could be a mess.
1. Padres:
Last year I thought it would be the Padres year. Everything went well: Jake Peavy and Chris young dominated, the bullpen was scary good, and the Padres had, in my opinion, the best closer in baseball history entering the last game of the season to the prototypical baseball song: Hells Bells, ready to finish off the Wild Card birth. But it all fell apart.
This year, I believe the Pads will once again have a dominant pitching staff.


5. Giants:
Not much explanation needed here. Without Bonds, the Giants are nothing.
4. Padres:
Outside of Adrian Gonzalez, the Padres have a pretty soft offense. They need Khalil Greene and Jim Edmonds to step up. Also look for Chase Headly to make a big nise.
3. Diamondbacks:
The time has come for stud prospect, Justin Upton to reach stardom. The Diamondbacks last year had to rely on Chris Young and Eric Byrnes for most of their production. However, this year they should be able to count on Mark Reynold, and all the other young guys.
2. Dodgers:
With Andruw Jones added to a group that includes Jeff Kent, Russell Martin, and James Loney, you have enough for an above average offense. Imagine if Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier excelled as well.
1. Rockies:
After getting screwed out of the NL MVP last year, expect another huge year from Matt Holliday. Company that with all the other solid, young guys in that lineup and you've got an unbelievable lineup for years to come.

Final Predictions:

1. Arizona: 95-67
2. San Diego: 84-78, 11 GB
3. Los Angeles: 83-79, 12 GB
4. Colorado: 82-80, 13 GB
5. San Francisco: 65-97, 30 GB


Division MVP: Dan Haren: He will make the difference for Arizona this season.
Runner Up: Adrian Gonzalez
Divisional CY-Young: Brandon Webb: He's solid every year.
Runner Up: Jake Peavy

Well, that concludes '08 RAPs. Looking forward to '09 Raps next year. However, please be here for the first "Game of the Week" tomorrow!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

'08 RAPs: Arizona Diamondbacks

Last year, the D'Backs won the NL Western division on the backs of a strong starting rotation and bullpen. While, they've been able to strengthen their rotation, they were unable to better their rotation. Also they lost their closer.
-Acquired pitchers Dan Haren and Connor Robertson from the Oakland Athletics for pitchers Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland and Greg Smith, outfielders Aaron Cunningham and Carlos Gonzalez and infielder Chris Carter.
-Acquired pitcher Billy Buckner from the Kansas City Royals for second baseman Alberto Callaspo.
-Acquired pitcher Jose Marte from the Texas Rangers for pitcher Dustin Nippert.
-Acquired pitchers Chad Qualls from Houston for closer Jose Valverde and Juan Gutierrez and utility-man Chris Burke.

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Brandon Webb
SP2: Dan Haren
SP3: Doug Davis
SP4: Micah Owings
SP5: Edgar Gonzalez
CL: Brandon Lyon
SUM: Chad Qualls

C: Chris Snyder
1B: Connor Jackson
2B: Orlando Hudson
SS: Stephen Drew
3B: Mark Reynolds/Chad Tracy
LF: Eric Byrnes
CF: Chris Young
RF: Justin Upton

Easiest- The D'Backs will win the division again.
Boldest- Brandon Lyon will have a better ERA and more saves than Jose Valverde.
Team MVP/Best Pitcher- Brandon Webb (17-19 wins, sub-3.45 ERA)
Best Hitter/Breakout Player- Justin Upton (25-30 HRs, 110-120 RBIs, +.300 AVG)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Information: The Future of C-Gouds' Ultimate Baseball

As you may realize, there is only two posts left in my '08 RAPs installment. However, there is no need to fear: I have plenty of content planned for the season.

-Starting on Monday, I will have a weekly discussion about one "Game of the Week". The first Game of the Week will, of course, be a Mets game. In fact, it will be Johan's debut.
-Also, my next installment will be a grand continuation of my often controversial Prospect Perspective posts. I will cover the top prospect of each team over the course of the Spring and Summer.
-Finally, with the Rule 4 draft rapidly approaching in June, I'll be covering many of the best draft eligible players between now and then; leading up to the first ever, "C-Gouds' Ultimate Baseball Draft Predictions Spectacular", where I'll try (and probably fail) to predict the first two rounds (including the supplementary round) of the draft.

It should be a great year... unless you're a Phillies' fan. Hope you can enjoy the season here.

If you have any other ideas for keeping this summer interesting, let me know by leaving a comment or e-mailing me at using Ultimate as the subject.

'08 RAPs: Colorado Rockies

As I said about ten minutes ago, the Rockies made the playoffs thanks to a bad call at the end of their one game playoff against San Diego. However, I'll give them that they had one of the greatest stretch runs in baseball history.
Here are the Rockies off-season moves:
-Signed catcher Yorvit Torrealba to a two-year contract.
-Signed outfielder Scott Podsednik to a minor league contract.

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Jeff Francis
SP2: Aaron Cook
SP3: Ubaldo Jimenez
SP4/5: Mark Redman/Franky Morales
CL: Manny Corpas
SUM: Brian Fuentes

C: Yorvit Torrealba
1B: Todd Helton
2B: Jason Nix/Jeff Baker
SS: Troy Tulowitzki
3B: Garret Atkins
LF: Matt Holliday
CF: Willy Taveras
RF: Brad Hawpe

Easiest- The Rockies won't make the playoffs.
Boldest- Troy Tulowitzki will hit under .260.
Team MVP/Best Season- Matt Holliday (40-50 HRs, 130 RBI)
Breakout Player/Best Pitcher- Manny Corpas (40 sv., sub 1.00 ERA)

08 RAPs: San Diego Padres

The two best teams in the NL failed to reach the playoffs. Those two teams were the San Diego Padres and the New York Mets. However, many (including me) feel that one or both teams got treated unfairly by the umpires. In other words, Matt Holliday STILL hasn't touched home plate, and C.B. Buckner would interference if the ball was hit on a line drive to center field if there was a player leading off first (referring to the Marlon Anderson "interference" call). Anyway, before I start to bring the Mets into a non Mets article again, lets get to the Padres off-season acquisitions:
-Acquired first baseman-outfielder Justin Huber from the Kansas City Royals for a player to be named
-Signed first baseman Tony Clark Diamondbacks to a one-year contract.
-Claimed pitcher Enrique Gonzalez off waivers from the Washington Nationals.
-Signed Mark Prior to a one-year contract.
-Signed infielder Tadahito Iguchi to a one-year contract.
-Acquired outfielder Jim Edmonds from the St. Louis Cardinals for infielder David Freese.
-Signed pitchers Shawn Estes and Glendon Rusch on minor league contracts.
-Signed pitcher Randy Wolf to a one-year contract.

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Jake Peavy
SP2: Chris Young
SP3: Greg Maddux
SP4: Randy Wolf
SP5: Justin Germano
CL: Trevor Hoffman

C: Josh Bard
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
2B: Tad Iguchi
SS: Khalil Greene
3B: Kevin Kouzmanoff/Chase Headly
LF: Chase Headly/Jody Gerut
CF: Jim Edmonds/Scott Hairston
RF: Brian Giles

Easiest- The Padres will have the best pitching staff in the NL West.
Boldest- Jim Edmonds will hit 20-30 HRs and have an average between .290 and .300.
Team MVP/Best Season- Jake Peavy (16-18 wins, 225-240 Ks)
Best Hitter- Adrian Gonzalez (30-35 HRs, 100-120 RBI)
Breakout Player- Chase Headly (15-20 HR)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

'08 RAPs: Los Angeles Dodgers

At the end of last season the Dodgers found themselves failling to hold onto their spot atop the NL West. After that kind of collapse, of course, it is necessary to have a good off-season. Despite only making a few moves, Ned Colletti had a very efficient winter.
Here are the Dodgers' winter moves:
-Signed outfielder Andruw Jones to a two-year contract.
-Hired Joe Torre as manager.
-Signed catcher Gary Bennett, who had been with the St. Louis Cardinals, to a one-year contract.

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Brad Penny
SP2: Derek Lowe
SP3/4: Hiroki Kuroda/Chad Billingsly
SP5: Esteban Loaiza
CL: Takashi Saito
SUM: Johnathan Broxton

C: Russell Martin
1B: James Loney
2B: Jeff Kent
SS: Rafael Furcal/Chin-lung Hu
3B: Tony Abreu/Nomar/Delwyn Young
LF: Andre Ethier/Matt Kemp/Juan Pierre
CF: Andruw Jones
RF: Matt Kemp/Andre Ethier

Easiest- The Dodgers will not make the playoffs.
Boldest- The Dodgers will have the worst rotation in the NL West.
Team MVP/Best Hitter- Andruw Jones (35-40 HR, 90-100 RBI, .260-.270 AVG.)
Best Pitcher/Breakout Player- Johnathan Broxton (20-25 sv., sub 1.50 ERA, 12 K/9)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

'08 RAPs: San Francisco Giants

In their final year with Barry Bonds as the face of the franchise, the Giants continued to go way downhill; a slide that began shortly after their 2002 World Series defeat. So the Giants of course went into full-on sell mode... or not! Instead of trading away veterans like Bengie Molina, Omar Vizquel, or Ray Durham, most overrated GM in the world, Brian Sabean, went out and over-paid for an aging center fielder in Aaron Rowand.
Here are the Giants only two significant off-season moves:
-Signed outfielder Aaron Rowand to a five-year contract.
-Claimed infielder Jose Castillo off waivers from the Florida Marlins.

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Tim Lincecum
SP2: Barry Zito
SP3: Matt Cain
SP4: Kevin Correia
SP5: Johnathan Sanchez
CL: Brian Wilson

C: Bengie Molina
1B: Rich Aurilla
2B: Ray Durham
SS: Omar Vizquel
3B: Euginio Valez
LF: Dave Roberts
CF: Aaron Rowand
RF: Randy Winn

Easiest- The Giants will finish dead last.
Boldest- Barry Zito will earn his money by posting a sub-3.75 ERA.
Team MVP/Best Pitcher- Barry Zito (7-8 wins, sub 3.75 ERA)
Best Hitter- NONE (Rowand will have the best year with 10-15 HRs and 60-70 RBIs)
Breakout Player- Tim Lincecum (5-6 wins, 200 K's, 160 IP)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

'08 RAPs: NL West

Last year we saw two teams from the NL West make the playoffs. Man... what a quick turn around that division has made over the last few years. Anyway, time for the final 2007 Rundown:

On May first, the Dodegers were in first, half a game ahead of Arizona and two games ahead of both the Giants and Padres. The Rockies were five back.
On June first, the Dodgers and D'Backs were tied for first with San Diego one back. The Giants were 5.5 back and the Rockies were a whole 7.5 games out of first.
On July first, the Padres took over the division lead, one ahead of Los Angeles, 1.5 ahead of Arizona, eight ahead of the Rocks and eleven ahead of the Giants who were officially out of the race.
At the All-Star Break, San Diego and Los Angeles retained their spots from two weeks earlier, the D'Backs slid down two games to 3.5 back and Colorado made a slight move to 5.5 behind the Padres.
On August first, Arizona was one ahead of LA, San Diego was 2.5 back and Colorado was 4.5 back.
On September first, LA was fading, now 5 out of first, behind Arizona and San Diego, who were tied for the lead. The Rockies were six back.
A week later, San Diego was 2 back of first place Arizona, Los Angeles was 4.5 back and Colorado was still six behind Arizona.
Another week passed and the Pads and Backs held the same positions as a week earlier. LA gained a game and Colorado lost half-a-game.
After one more week, in which the Dodgers collapsed, and fell out of the race mathematically (now they were 9 games back), Arizona held first, 2.5 ahead of San Diego, and 5 ahead of the surging Rockies.
In one week, with only one game left to play, Arizona was one ahead of San Diego, and two ahead of Colorado, who were now only playing for the Wild Card.
We all know what happened next, the Pads lost (courtesy of Trevor Hoffman and Tony Gwynn Jr.) and Rockies won. This gave Arizona the division, despite their loss. The Rockies and Padres; therefore, played a one game playoff, which the Rockies were given credit for the win. However, we all must wait for the start of the season for that game to officially become official because... in the words of Tony Kornheiser, "Matt Holliday STILL hasn't touched home plate!!!"

Here are the final standings for your 2007 NL Western Division:
1. Arizona Diamondbacks: 90-72
2. Colorado Rockies: 89-73, 1 GB
3. San Diego Padres: 89-73, 1 GB
4. Los Angeles Dodger: 82-80, 8 GB
5. San Francisco Giants: 71-91, 19 GB

Stayed tuned for the final week of '08 RAPs, concluding Sunday , just in time for Opening Day!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

'08 RAPs: Final NL Central Rundown and Predictions

After covering the Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Reds, Cardinals, and Pirates this past week, it is finally time to make my final predictions for the 2008 AL Western Division. But first, as always, let's break down the division by pitching and offense.


6. Astros:
Roy Oswalt had a bit of a down year last year. However, even if he bounces back the 'Stros bullpen will be mediocre at best.
The Astros parted with Brad Lidge and Chad Qualls and picked up Jose Valverde and Geoff Geary. While I fully understand why the Astros went in this direction, I do not think it helped improve the team in any way. Valverde has had one nice year and Geary, well... I just don't like Geary because he was a Phillie.
5. Brewers:
I just heard today that Chris Capuano will probably need Tommy John Surgery. That puts this rotation in serious jeopardy. With Ben Sheets likely to get hurt and only make about 10 starts, I don't see the Brewers accomplishing much with this rotation.
Eric Gagne was a tale of two seasons last year. He was terrific in Texas, as the closer, and terrible in Boston, as a setup guy. This year, he'll get another chance to close in the National League. However, he better perform, because if he doesn't, Derrick Turnbow and the rest of that pen won't help much either.
4. Cardinals:
I love the acquisition of Kyle Lohse here. With Lohse and Wainright at the helm of the rotation the Cards could have two 15 game winners this year. However, unless Carpenter comes back very soon, the rest of the rotation is a mess.
The Cardinals bullpen is also weak, and that includes unpredictable closer, Jason Isringhaussen.
3. Pirates:
The Pirates have a rotation stocked with improving young talent. Moholm, Snell, and Gorzelany have proven themselves while Zach Duke has been very inconsistent. With an experienced pitcher in Matt Morris to aid in the development of the young kids, the Pirates rotation can very easily be a surprise to a lot of people.
In the bullpen, Matt Capps has been a very good, young closer over the last couple years. While the loss of Salamon Torres will hurt, the pirates pen still has a solid core with Marte, Capps, and company.
2. Cubs:
Holding on to Big Z was huge for Chicago. Now that Dempster is back in the rotation (where I always felt he should've been) this rotation could be very, very good.
Kerry Wood, Bob Howry, and Carlos Marmol will make up the back end of the bullpen. While it appears Wood will get the nod as the closer, it is unknown whether he'll be able to pitch back-to-back days. Still I think this bullpen core is the best, young core second only to Boston.
1. Reds:
The Reds have a ton of upside in their starting rotation. Good, young starters, Johnny Cueto, Edison Volquez, and Homer Bailey, coupled with ACE, Aaron Harang and a solid number two guy in Bronson Arroyo give the Reds, by far, the most promising rotation in the NL Central.
The Reds' bullpen has been a weak area the last few years. However, signing Francisco Cordero this off-season gives that pen a much needed boost.


6. Pirates:
Outside of Xavier Nady, I have no clue how the Pirates will perform. Jason Bay and Adam Laroche are way too inconsistent to count on. The rest of the Pirates lineup just isn't good.
5. Reds:
With Griffey Jr. continuing to age and Corey Patterson being the Reds biggest winter acquisition offensively, the Reds are in pretty bad shape here. However, if Adam Dunn exceeds his normal production in his contract year and Joey Votto and Jay Bruce come up and perform well in the majors, the Reds offense could surprise some people.
4. Cardinals:
Everyone knows about Albert Pujols' nagging injury. Everyone knows about Troy Glaus and Rick Ankiel's HGH usage. However, if spring is any indication, at least for Pujols and Ankiel, this lineup could be very formidable, meaning trouble for the Central.
3. Brewers:
This Brewers lineup could be amazing for years to come. Ryan Braun looks like the real deal. Give him a full year, along with Fielder, Hardy, Hall, newly acquired, Mike Cameron, and Corey Hart and you've got a very talented, young lineup.
2. Astros:
Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman are one of the best tandems in baseball. Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence are two very skilled ballplayers. Ty Wigginton and Miguel Tejada add a huge boost to this lineup. Over all, this is the most balanced lineup in the Central. However, outside of Berkman, the lack of a true left handed bat and an aging core worry me a bit.
1. Cubs:
Kosuke Fukudome. Kozz-OO-K Fook-oo-doe-mAY. The only two word and seven syllables that matter to this Cubs lineup. A-Sor, Aramis Ramirez, Derek Lee, Felix Pie, and possibly Brian Roberts mean nothing if Fukudome bombs. He is the glue in this lineup. Very expensive glue if you ask me; but glue nonetheless.

Final Predictions:

1. Cubs: 88-74
2. Reds: 83-79, 5 GB
3. Brewers: 81-81, 7 GB
4. Cardinals: 78-84, 10 GB
5. Astros: 78-84, 10 GB
6. Pirates: 70-92, 18 GB


Division MVP: Kosuke Fukudome: you know, the whole "glue" thing that I just talked about.
Runner Up: Alfonso Soriano
Divisional CY-Young: Carlos Zambrano: there's a reason he made so much money, and he'll prove that he deserved it right away.
Runner Up: Kyle Lohse

* By the way, I apologize for taking off for two days, but it was Easter. I'll do my best finish by the start of the season (for every team except Boston and Oakland).

Friday, March 21, 2008

'08 RAPs: Chicago Cubs

The Cubs, after finally being willing to spend a few bucks, captured the NL Central. This year, the Cubs were once again willing to spend money: this time on Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome. Lets see if they will also be able to repeat as Champs.
Here are the Cubs off-season moves:
-Signed outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to a four-year contract.
-Agreed to terms with pitcher Jon Lieber on a one-year contract.
-Signed pitcher Shingo Takatsu to a minor league contract.
-Agreed to terms with infielder Alex Cintron on a minor league contract.
-Acquired pitcher Tim Lahey from the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations.

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Carlos Zambrano
SP2: Ted Lilly
SP3: Rich Hill
SP4: Ryan Dempster
SP5: Jon Lieber
CL: Carlos Marmol/Bob Howry/Kerry Wood
SUM: Kerry Wood/Carlos Marmol/Bob Howry

C: Geovany Soto/Henry Blanco
1B: Derek Lee
2B: Mark DeRosa/(potentially Brian Roberts)
SS: Ryan Theriot/Ronny Cedeno
3B: Aramis Ramirez
LF: Alfonso Soriano
CF: Felix Pie
RF: Kosuke Fukudome

Easiest- The Cubs will win the division again.
Boldest- Ryan Dempster will win 12 games.
Team MVP- Ryan Dempster (11-13 wins, sub-4.25 ERA)
Best Hitter- Alfonso Soriano (35-40 HR, 110-120 RBI)
Best Pitcher- Big Z (15-18 wins, sub-4 ERA)
Breakout Player- Kosuke Fukudome (15-20 HR, +400 OBP, 70-80 RBI, +20 OF assists)

'08 RAPs: Milwaukee Brewers

After coming up a bit short in 2007, the Milwaukee Brewers have had a very eventful off-season. They picked up two solid relievers in Dave Riske and Eric Gagne, as well as a great all-around center fielder in Mike Cameron. However, the Brewers failed, in my opinion, to address their biggest problem: starting pitching.
Here are the Brew Crew's winter moves:
-Signed catcher Jason Kendall to a one-year contract.
-Signed pitcher David Riske to a three-year contract.
-Signed pitcher Eric Gagne to a one-year contract
-Signed catcher Eric Munson to a one-year contract.
-Signed outfielder Mike Cameron to a one-year contract with a club option for 2009.
-Signed Abraham Nunez and Russell Branyan to minor league contracts.

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Ben Sheets
SP2: Jeff Suppan
SP3: Carlos Villanueva
SP4: Dave Bush
SP5: Manny Parra
CL: Eric Gagne
SUM: Derrick Turnbow

C: Jason Kendall
1B: Prince Fielder
2B: Craig Counsell/Rickie Weeks
SS: J.J. Hardy
3B: Bill Hall
LF: Ryan Braun
CF: Mike Cameron
RF: Corey Hart

Easiest- The Brewers will not finish first in the NL Central.
Boldest- The Brewers will have the second worst starters' ERA in the Central.
Team MVP/Best Hitter- Ryan Braun (38-45 HR, 120-125 RBI)
Best Pitcher- Dave Riske (sub-3 ERA)
Breakout Player- Corey Hart (18-24 HR, 75-85 RBI)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

'08 RAPs: St Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals have had, in my opinion, one of the best off-seasons of any team in the MLB. I love the signing of Kyle Lohse and acquisition of Troy Glaus.
Here are the moves the Cards made this off-season:
-Signed pitcher Kyle Lohse to a one-year contract.
-Acquired third baseman Troy Glaus from the Toronto Blue Jays for third baseman Scott Rolen.
-Signed first baseman-catcher Josh Phelps to a minor league contract.
-Signed pitcher Matt Clement to a one-year contract with a club option for 2009.
-Signed shortstop Cesar Izturis to a one-year contract.
-Acquired infielder David Freese from San Diego for outfielder Jim Edmonds.

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Adam Wainwright
SP2: Kyle Lohse
SP3/4/5: Braden Looper/Joel Pinero/Anthony Reyes
CL: Jason Isringhaussen

C: Yadier Molina
1B: Albert Pujols
2B: Adam Kennedy
SS: Cesar Izturis/Aaron Miles/Brendon Ryan
3B: Troy Glaus
LF: Chris Duncan
CF: Rick Ankiel
RF: Brian Barton/Skip Schumaker

Easiest- The Cardinals will finish under .500.
Boldest- Kyle Lohse will lead the NL Central in wins.
Team MVP- Albert Pujols (30-35 HRs, 110-130 RBIs)
Best Season/Breakout Player- Kyle Lohse (14-17 wins, sub-3.80 ERA, 190-210 Ks)

'08 RAPs: Houston Astros

Houston had a very busy off-season. Most of the moves that Ed Wade made focused on improving the bullpen, which he did very effectively. However, signing Kaz Matsui to a ridiculously bad contract was a huge mistake.
Here are the Astros moves this winter:
-Signed outfielder Reggie Abercrombie to a one-year contract.
-Signed pitchers Shawn Chacon, Chad Paronto, Doug Brocail, and Geoff Geary to a one-year contracts.
-Signed pitchers Brian Moehler and Runelvys Hernandez,infielder David Newhan, and outfielder Nick Gorneault to minor league contracts.
-Signed pitcher Oscar Villarreal to a two-year contract.
-Acquired pitcher Jose Valverde from the Arizona Diamondbacks for infielder Chris Burke and pitchers Juan Gutierrez and Chad Qualls.
-Signed second baseman Kazuo Matsui to a three-year contract.
-Acquired shortstop Miguel Tejada from Baltimore for outfielder Luke Scott, pitchers Troy Patton, Matt Albers and Dennis Sarfate and third baseman Mike Costanza.

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Roy Oswalt
SP2: Woody Williams
SP3: Wandy Rodriguez
SP4: Brandon Backe
SP5: Chris Sampson/Shawn Chacon
CL: Jose Valverde
SUM: Doug Brocail/Geoff Geary/Oscar Villarreal

C: Brad Ausmus/J.R. Towles
1B: Lance Berkman
2B: Mark Loretta
SS: Miguel Tejada
3B: Ty Wigginton
LF: Carlos Lee
CF: Michael Bourn/Reggie Abercrombie
RF: Hunter Pence

Easiest- The Astros will finish under .500.
Boldest- The Astros Bullpen will be among the top 5 in ERA in the NL.
Team MVP/Best Season- Carlos Lee (35-30 HRs, 100-115 RBI)
Best Pitcher- Roy Oswalt (10-12 wins, sub-3.75 ERA)
Breakout Player- Ty Wigginton (28-32 HR)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

'08 RAPs: Cincinatti Reds

I love what the Reds have done this off-season. They were able to bolster their pitching staff without giving up Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, or any other prospects. The Reds are once again contenders in the NL Central.
Here are the Reds off-season moves:
-Signed pitcher Francisco Cordero to a four-year deal.
-Signed pitcher Jeremy Affeldt to a one-year deal.
-Signed pitcher Josh Fogg to a one-year deal.
-Signed outfielder Corey Patterson to a one-year deal.
-Signed infielder Jerry Hairston Jr to a minor league deal.

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Aaron Harang
SP2: Bronson Arroyo
SP3/4/5: Homer Bailey/Matt Belisle/Johnny Cueto/Edison Volquez
CL: Francisco Cordero
SUM: David Weathers

C: David Ross/Javier Valentin
1B: Joey Votto/Scott Hatteberg
2B: Brandon Philips
SS: Alex Gonzalez
3B: Ryan Freel/Edwin Encarnacion
LF: Adam Dunn
CF: Corey Patterson/Ryan Freel
RF: Ken Griffey Jr.

Easiest- The Reds will not make the playoffs.
Boldest- The Reds will finish second in the NL Central.
Team MVP/Best Season- Adam Dunn (45-50 HRs, 110-120 RBI, under 200 Ks)
Best Pitcher/Breakout Player- Homer Bailey (12-15 wins, sub-4 ERA

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

'08 RAPs: Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates have been the second most pathetic team in baseball over the last 20 years (Also the second most pathetic in Pennsylvania). Ever since losing Barry Lamar Bonds to free agency, this franchise has been unable to rebound. That is why it puzzles me to see the Pirates do so little in the off-season year, after year, after year... and once again this year.
Here are the Pirates' moves this off-season:
-Acquired pitchers Marino Salas and Kevin Roberts from the Milwaukee Brewers for pitcher Salomon Torres.
-Signed pitchers Jaret Wright, Hector Carrasco, Casey Fossum, Elmer Dessens, Adam Bernero, and T.J. Beam, catcher Raul Cavez, utility man Jose Macias, and first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz to minor league contracts.
-Claimed shortstop Ray Olmedo off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Ian Snell
SP2: Tom Gorzelanny
SP3: Paul Moholm
SP4/5: Zach Duke/Matt Morris
CL: Matt Capps
SUM: Damaso Marte

C: Ronny Paulino
1B: Adam LaRoche
2B: Freddy Sanchez
SS: Jack Wilson
3B: Jose Batista
LF: Jason Bay
CF: Nate McLouth/Chris Duffy
RF: Xavier Nady

Easiest- The Pirates will finish last, once again.
Boldest- Ian Snell will have over 200 strikeouts.
Team MVP/Best Season/Breakout Player- Ian Snell (14-16 wins, sub-4 ERA, +200 Ks)
Best Hitter- Jason Bay (30-35 HRs, 80-95 RBI)

*P.S.: The reason there was no '08 RAP yesterday was because I was out all night. However, I will be able to do two posts on Thursday and Friday.*

Sunday, March 16, 2008

'08 RAPs: NL Central

Many say it is the worst division in baseball. I personally am inclined to agree. However, it is also a very deep division, in which the Pirates are the only horrible team. Anyway, it was an exciting division this year; culminating in the emergence of the Chicago Cubs and their new concept of spending money. Here's the rundown:

On May first, the Brew Crew was in first place, 4 ahead of the Reds and Pirates, 6 ahead of fourth place Chicago, and 6.5 ahead of Houston and the defending champion, St. Louis.
On June first, Milwaukee was starting to run away. They had a 6.5 game lead on second place St. Louis, a 7.5 game lead on Chicago and Pittsburgh, an 8.5 game lead on fifth place Houston, and a 9.5 game lead on last place Cincinnati.
On July first, the Brewers still had a commanding 6.5 game lead; however, it was now over Chicago. St. Louis was the only other team within 10 games at 9.5 back.
At the break, Chicago was 4.5 games back and the Cards were 7.5 back, in third place.
On August first, Chicago and Milwaukee were tied for first with third place St. Louis 6 back.
On September first, Chicago was in full possession of first place with the Brewers 1.5 back and St. Louis 2 games back.
Two weeks later, St. Louis dropped to third place and 6 games out (out of the race) following the Rick Ankiel HGH revelation. Chicago was still in first, one game ahead of Milwaukee.
A week later, on the 22nd, Chicago had pushed Milwaukee 2.5 back. The Brewers post-season aspirations were now on life support.
Chicago clinched the division on the 28th despite only being 3 ahead of Milwaukee at the time and only having a 84-76 record.

That was an exciting division. It should not be as weak this year as in the previous years. Anyway, here are the final standings for your 2007 NL Central Division:
1. Cubs: 85-77
2. Brewers: 83-79 (2 GB)
3. Cardinals: 78-84 (7 GB)
4. Astros: 73-89 (12 GB)
5. Reds: 72-90 (13 GB)
6. Pirates: 68-94 (17 GB)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

'08 RAPs: Final AL West Rundown and Predictions

After covering the Angels, Mariners, Athletics, and Rangers this past week, it is finally time to make my final predictions for the 2008 AL Western Division. But first, let's break down the division by pitching and offense.

4. Rangers:
You know your rotation is in bad shape when your ace is Kevin Millwood. The Rangers are relying on Jason Jennings to bounce back in a big way to have a somewhat decent rotation. However, the good news for Rangers fans is the fact they they managed to pick up both Blake Beavan and Micheal Main in last years draft, giving them two big pitching prospects on the way.
The Rangers bullpen is young and promising; however, don't be surprised if C.J. Wilson or Joaquin Benoit are flipped at the deadline.
3. Athletics:
The A's rotation could get significantly worse if Joe Blanton is dealt anytime soon. Then the A's would be fully relying on Rich Harden to stay healthy in order to win 70games this season. Since Blanton is still an A though, the A's still have a better rotation than the Rangers.
The A's also have a good pen; but, that could very well fall apart it Huston Street can't remain healthy.
2. Mariners:
The acquisition of Erik Bedard has put the Mariners rotation over the top. If King Felix produces like he did at the beginning of 2007 and Erik Bedard duplicates his 2007 season, the Mariners could have a special season.
Also, keeping up the trend of trying to repeat their '07 magic, J.J. Putz will be trying to, once again be among the top players in the game.
1. Angels:
With the addition of Jon Garland, the Angels have one of the top three rotations in baseball. If Ervin Santana performs half as well as last year, there will be no stopping the Angels at all.
And of course, K-Rod is K-Rod, so the Angels pen is in fine shape as well.

4. Athletics:
After losing Nick Swisher, the core of the A's offense last year, the A's seem to be done. Unless of course, Jack Cust improves greatly AND Mike Sweeney returns to the form he was in in his prime.
3. Mariners:
Outside of Ichiro, I don't see much production coming from the Mariners offense. Sexson and Ibanez will continue to age as usual. The only way for the M's to have a decent offense is if Ichiro hits for as much power in the game as he apparently does in BP.
2. Rangers:
The Rangers have a great young offense. If Josh Hamilton and Jarrod Saltalamacchia use their great potential properly and Milton Bradley stays out of trouble, the ever consistent Michael Young and company will be very good this year.
1. Angels:
After signing Torri Hunter this off-season to compliment Vlad Guerrero and company, the Angels stay ahead of the rest of the division in the offensive department.

Final Predictions:

1. Angels, 98-64
2. Mariners, 88-74
3. Athletics, 72-90
4. Rangers, 70-92

Division MVP: Vlad Guerrero; nothing much to say about this pick. He's the best player on the best team.
Runner Up: Torri Hunter
Divisional CY-Young: Felix Hernandez; hopefully for King Felix he will put his past injury problems behind him, allowing him to finally show why he was brought up to the majors at such a young age.
Runner Up: John Lackey

Friday, March 14, 2008

'08 RAPs: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

There's not much to say about the Angels off-season. They only made one major move. It's not like they needed to do much more anyway.
-Acquired pitcher Jon Garland from the Chicago White Sox for SS Orlando Cabrera

Pitching Staff:
SP1: John Lackey
SP2: Jon Garland
SP3: Jared Weaver
SP4: Ervin Santana
SP5: Joe Saunders
CL: Francisco Rodriguez
SUM: Scott Shields

DH: Gary Matthews Jr./Garret Anderson/Juan Rivera
C: Mike Napoli
1B: Casey Kotchman
2B: Howie Kendrick
SS: Erick Aybar/Maicer Izturis
3B: Chone Figgins
LF: Garret Anderson/Gary Matthews Jr./Reggie Willits
CF: Torri Hunter
RF: Vlad Guerrero

Easiest- The Angels will win the AL West.
Boldest- NONE
Team MVP/Best Season- Vlad Guerrero (30-35 HR +100 RBI)
Best Pitcher- John Lackey (14-17 wins, sub-4.00 ERA)
Breakout Player- Casey Kotchman (25-28 HR, 85-95 RBI)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

'08 RAPs: Seattle Mariners

General Manager Bill Bavasi has had quite a good winter. Despite leaving his somewhat feeble offense alone, he has managed to better his team tremendously. With the acquisitions of Erik Bedard and Carlos Silva, the M's now have a rotation that is good enough to compete with the Angels... almost.
Here are the Mariners' off-season moves:
-Signed pitcher Carlos Silva to a four-year contract.
-Signed pitcher Arthur Rhodes to a minor league contract
-Signed outfielder Brad Wilkerson to a one-year contract.
-Signed infielder Miguel Cairo to a one-year contract.
-Acquired pitcher Erik Bedard from the Baltimore Orioles for outfielder Adam Jones and pitchers George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio and Tony Butler.
-Signed infielder Greg Norton to a minor league contract.

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Erik Bedard
SP2: Felix Hernandez
SP3: Carlos Silva
SP4: Jarrod Washburn
SP5: Miguel Batista
CL: J.J. Putz
SUM: Brandon Morrow

DH: Jose Vidro
C: Kenji Johjima
1B: Richie Sexson
2B: Jose Lopez
SS: Yuniesky Betancourt
3B: Adrian Beltre
LF: Raul Ibanez
CF: Ichiro Suzuki
RF: Brad Wilkerson

Easiest- The Mariners will finish in second in the West.
Boldest- Erik Bedard and King Felix will combine for over 400 innings.
Team MVP/Best Pitcher/Breakout Player- Felix Hernandez (17-19 wins,3.50 ERA,+230 K's)
Best Hitter- Ichiro Suzuki (15-25 HR, +.340 AVG.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

'08 RAPs: Oakland Athletics

"Money-balling" GM Billy Beane was in full sell mode this off-season. He traded away both his best pitcher (Dan Haren) and posittion player (Nick Swisher) after realizing that his team has no chance of winning.
Here's the list of Beane's moves:
-Traded pitchers Dan Haren and Connor Robertson to the Oakland Athletics for pitchers Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland and Greg Smith, outfielders Aaron Cunningham and Carlos Gonzalez and infielder Chris Carter.
-Acquired outfielder Ryan Sweeney and pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Fautino De Los Santos from the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Nick Swisher.
-Signed outfielder Emil Brown to a one-year contract.
-Signed first baseman Mike Sweeney to a minor league contract.
-Signed catcher Matt LeCroy to a minor league contract

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Joe Blanton
SP2: Rich Harden
SP3: Chad Gaudin
SP4: Justin Duchserer
SP5: Lenny DiNardo
CL: Huston Street
SUM: Keith Foulke

DH: Jack Cust/Mike Sweeney
C: Kurt Suzuki
1B: Dan Hohnson/Daric Barton/Mike Sweeney
2B: Mark Ellis
SS: Bobby Crosby
3B: Eric Chavez/Jack Hannahan
OF: Travis Buch/Emil Brown/Chris Denorfia/Carlos Gonzalez/Ryan Sweeney/Jack Cust

Easiest- The A's will trade Joe Blanton mid-season.
Boldest- Mike Sweeney will lead the West in OBP this season.
Team MVP/Best Season- Mike Sweeney (10-15 HRs, .320-.350 AVG, 400-450 ABs)
Best Pitcher/Breakout Player- Rich Harden (8-12 wins, sub-4.25 ERA)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

08 RAPs: Texas Rangers

After several years of irrelevance, GM Jon Daniels finally earned his paycheck at the trade deadline last year. Along with their stellar first round of the Rule 4 draft, thanks to the prospects picked up at the deadline, the Rangers have one of the best farm systems in the game. Daniels has also had a very good off-season.
Here are his off-season moves:
-Signed pitcher Sidney Ponson to minor league contract.
-Signed outfielder Kevin Mench to a minor league contract.
-Signed pitcher Jason Jennings to a one-year contract.
-Signed pitcher Eddie Guardado to a one-year contract.
-Signed pitcher Kazuo Fukumori to a two-year contract with a club option for 2010
-Signed infielder Edgardo Alfonzo to a minor league contract
-Acquired first baseman Ben Broussard from the Seattle Mariners for infielder Tug Hulett
-Acquired outfielder Josh Hamilton from the Reds for pitcher Edison Volquez

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Kevin Millwood
SP2/3/4: Kason Gabbard/Jason Jennings/Vincente Padilla
SP5: Luis Mendoza
CL/SUM: Joaquin Benoit/C.J. Wilson

DH: Frank Catalanotto
C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia/Gerald Laird
1B: Ben Broussard/Jason Botts
2B: Ian Kinsler
SS: Michael Young
3B: Hank Blalock
LF: Marlon Byrd
CF: Josh Hamilton
RF: Milton Bradley

Easiest- The Rangers will finish in third place.
Boldest- The Rangers' team ERA will be over 6.00 for the season.
Team MVP/Best Season- Michael Young (20-25 HR, +.320 AVG.)
Best Pitcher/Breakout Player- Kason Gabbard (9-12 wins, sub-4.oo ERA)

Monday, March 10, 2008

'08 RAPs: AL West

For the most part, the AL West was the most boring division in baseball last year. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were clearly, by far the best team. Despite a brief run by the Mariners, the Angels completely dominate rotation, pretty strong pen, and relatively formidable lineup had the division rapped up from Opening Day on. Here's the rundown:

On May first, the Angels were two games ahead of second place Seattle and 2.5 ahead of third place Oakland.

On June first, LAA was ahead of second place Seattle by 5.5 games and ahead of the third place A's by 6.5. Texas, by the way, was already 13.5 back.

On July first, the Mariners were 4 back, while Oakland slipped to 8.5 back (out of the race for good).

At the break, the M's moved to two-and-a-half back of the Angels.

On August first, the M's were still hanging in there at 3 back.

By September first, the M's were 6.5 back and pretty much out of the race.

The Angels clinched the division on September 23.

Well, that was boring! Will it be a more exciting division this year? Find out on Sunday, when I make my predictions. Anyway, here are the final standings for the 2007 AL Western Division:

1. Angels: 94-68

2. Mariners: 88-74 (6 GB)

3. Athletics: 76-86 (18 GB)

4. Rangers: 75-87 (19 GB)

Stay Tuned: Texas Rangers tomorrow!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

'08 RAPs: Final AL East Rundown and Predictions

After covering the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Rays this past week, it is finally time to make my final predictions for the 2008 AL Eastern Division. But first, let's break down the division by pitching and offense.


5. Orioles:
After losing Erik Bedard to the Mariners, the Orioles have one of the three worst rotations in the game. The only pitcher who has a chance of having a decent season is Jeremy Gutrie. Guthrie exploded on to the scene last year after being a disappointment to all the scouts that heralded him as a potential future stud. For all the inconsistency in his career, I'm unwilling to say that Guthrie is nearly as good as he was last year.
The Orioles bullpen is below average as well. After acquiring George Sherrill in the Bedard trade, it appears to me that he'll assume the closer's role. If that happens, the Orioles will also have the worst closer in the game. It's okay Orioles fans, you still have the 4th pick in the draft in June to look foward to.
4. Yankees:
The Yankees fans will probably say that this is a biased choice to rank the Yankees behind the Rays; however, I feel it is completely justifiable. Andy Pettitte had a rough off-season and has a long history of elbow troubles. C.M. Wang is not a good pitcher; in my mind, he is at best a number 3 guy. Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy are unproven and Mussina struggled greatly last season.
The Yankees pen, with the addition of LaTroy Hawkins, has potential to be above average. While, as those of you who saw my "Prospect Perspective" post on him in December would know, I'm not too fond of Joba Chamberlain, I think he could do an adequate job as a 7th inning guy. However, the one concern Yankee fans should have is whether this is the year Mariano Rivera finally goes downhill.
3. Rays:
I love how Andy Friedmann has put together this pitching staff. With Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, and James Shields at the front of the rotation the Rays have the best rotation in franchise history. Throw in the fact that they have top major league ready pitching prospects in Jeff Niemann and David Price.
I also love the acquisition of Troy Percival. Percival and Al Reyes give the Rays a strong back end of the bullpen to close out games.
2. Toronto:
The Blue Jays pitching staff depends totally on health this year. If Roy Halladay continues to have injury problems and A.J. Burnett continues to get hurt every other day, the Jays rotation will struggle. If both pitchers remain healthy, Toronto should have a solid rotation.
In the pen, it all comes down to whether B.J. Ryan can make a successful return or not. If yes, the Jays will have a way of shortening games to eight innings. If not, the Jays can count on Jeremy Accardo to blow a few games a month.
1. Boston:
Although they took a big hit with the loss of Curt Schilling, the Red Sox rotation could be among the top 10 in baseball if Dice-K learns the strike zone a little better and Clay Buccholtz and Jon Lester can become the-top-half-of-the-rotation starters they're supposed to become.
The real strength for Boston is their pen. With Johnathan Paplebon quickly becoming the best closer in the game, that shortens most of Boston's games to 8 innings. Throw in the fact that they have three of the best 7th and 8th inning relievers in Hideki Okajima, Mike Timlin, and Manny Delcarmen; the only way to beat the Sox is to get to their starters early and often.

5. Orioles:
The Orioles have a very weak offense this year. With the loss of Miguel Tejada, and possible loss of Brian Roberts, the Orioles best Opening Day hitter could be Nick Markakis (who is the best Greek baseball player in the game). If the Orioles want to finish with anything other than the 30th ranked offense in the game, they'll need contributions from Adam Jones, Ramon Hernandez, and Melvin Mora in a big way.
4. Blue Jays:
The Jays offense took a bit of a hit. They traded away Troy Glaus for an inferior offensive third baseman in Scott Rolen. The only way the Blue Jays can have a league average offense is if the two ex-Cardinals can perform like they did at the peeks of their careers.
3. Rays:
The Rays offense is young, with a few skilled veterans, like Cliff Floyd, mixed in. However, with Cliff Floyd and Carlos Pena as the two major stabilizing forces in the lineup, prone to left handed pitching, the Rays could struggle against southpaws this season.
2. Red Sox:
The Red Sox still have one of the most dominant one, two punches in history in Manny and Papi.The only thing that keeps them out of the #1 rank is the fact that I don't know which Mike Lowell will be playing third for them this year; the one Florida couldn't wait to get rid of, or the one that had a tremendous year last year.
1. Yankees:
Thanks to Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees earn the top rank despite their rosters increased age. However, with Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, and Johnny Damon on the downside of their careers, the Yankees offense has a chance to struggle this year.

Final Predictions:

1. Boston; 89-73
2. Tampa Bay; 85-77, 4 GB
3. New York; 84-78, 5 GB
4. Toronto; 83-79; 6GB
5. Baltimore; 59-103; 30 GB

Division MVP: Manny Ramirez; How Manny performs this season could have a huge effect on whether or not he is in Boston next season. Everyone knows that Manny is the type of player that plays well when he wants to, and doesn't play as well if he doesn't feel like it. This is why I'm picking Manny to have a monster season; perhaps, the best of his career.
Runner Up: A-Rod

Divisional CY-Young: Josh Beckett; Beckett is one of the top five pitchers in the game. While some people try to diminish his regular season abilities by saying he is only one of the best in the postseason, I still believe that Beckett can win 20 games every year.
Runner Up: Scott Kazmir

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Do to some technical difficulties, I have to put off my AL East Predictions to tommorrow. Therefore, stating Monday I'll start covering the AL West. Since the West consists of only 4 teams, that should get me back on track by next weekend.

Friday, March 7, 2008

'08 RAPs: Boston Red Sox

While I will never criticize Theo Epstein, I must say that I am not a big fan of his off-season lack of action. Right now, without Curt Schilling, the Sox rotation is looking pretty weak. It will take a tremendous season from Daisuke to get the Sox anywhere near a repeat championship. Unless of course, Ultra-GM Theo Epstein can make a deadline move for a Sabathia, Kazmir, or Gil Meche.
Anyway, here's the off-season rundown:
-Acquired pitcher David Aardsma from the Chicago White Sox for pitchers Willy Mota and Miguel Socolovich.
-Signed fist baseman Sean Casey to a one-year contract
-Signed pitcher Bartolo Colon to a minor league deal.
-Signed infielder Junior Spivey to a minor league deal.

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Josh Beckett
SP2: Daisuke Matsuzaka
SP3: Tim Wakefield
SP4: Clay Buchholtz
SP5: Jon Lester/Julian Tavarez
CL: Johnathan Paplebon
SUM: Hideki Okajima/Mike Timlin/Manny Delcarmen

DH: David Ortiz
C: Jason Varitek
1B: Kevin Youkilis
2B: Dustin Pedroia
SS: Julio Lugo
3B: Mike Lowell
LF: Manny Ramirez
CF: Jacoby Ellsbury/Coco Crisp
RF: J.D. Drew

Easiest- Boston will repeat as AL East Champions.
Boldest- Boston will not win 90 games this season.
Team MVP- Theo Epstein (Will acquire a star pitcher; probably Sabathia)
Best Season/Best Hitter- Manny Ramirez (40-45 HRs, 120-130 RBIs; contract year)
Best Pitcher- Josh Beckett (15-19 wins, sub-4 ERA, 225-250 K's)
Breakout Player- Daisuke Matsuzaka (14-18 wins, sub-4 ERA)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

'08 RAPs: New York Yankees

With the new Steinbrenner regime in New York, the off-season strategy of the Yankess was changed this winter. Instead of going out and acquiring the best guys on the market, the Yanks are willing to allow their whole to hang on the shoulders of Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy. While I'm not a big fan of this strategy, I must say it takes guts and faith in your prospects to allow your opening day rotation to be two unproven, young pitchers, one pitcher who has spent the whole off-season talking about HGH, a sinker-baller who chokes in every game of any sort of magnitude, and either a 'dying' "Moose" or a "Kei" that hasn't quite work.
However, the worst move, by far, for the Yanks was allowing Joe Torre to go. Sure, old Joe had a tendency for burning out every pitcher in his pen, but he is great with the young players. Where as Joe Girardi, who was able to anger and ruin a franchise in one year, single handily destroyed the best young rotation in baseball in Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez.
Here are the Yankees off-season moves:
-Signed infielders Morgan Ensberg and Chris Woodward to minor league contracts.
-Signed pitcher LaTroy Hawkins to a one-year contract

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Andy Pettitte
SP2: Chien-Ming Wang
SP3: Phil Hughes
SP4: Ian Kennedy
SP5: Mike Mussina/Kei Igawa
CL: Mariano Rivera
SUM: Joba Chamberlain/LaTroy Hawkins

DH: Hideki Matsui
C: Jorge Posada
1B: Jason Giambi
2B: Robinson Cano
SS: Derek Jeter
3B: Alex Rodriguez
LF: Johnny Damon
CF: Melky Cabrera
RF: Bobby Abreu

Easiest- The Yankees will not win the division for the second straight year.
Boldest- The Yanks will finish in third or fourth, behind the Rays.
Team MVP/Best Season- Alex Rodriguez (30-35 HRs, 100-115 RBI)
Best Pitcher/Breakout Player- Phil Hughes (10-15 wins, sub-4 ERA, 160-180 K's)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

'08 RAPs: Toronto Blue Jays

Due to an increased comfort level and belief that the Jays will be able to contend this year, GM J.P.Riccardi has remained somewhat silent this off-season. While the notion that the Jays are going to be able to contend at all in the East, without an upgrade, is very premature, I can understand Riccardi's reluctance to venture out into the very shallow free agent pool. However, there is really no reason that the Blue Jays should be considered contenders after such a quiet winter, in which their only two moves involved downgrading their third baseman and signing a pesky, aging shortstop.
Here's just how quiet the off-season was for the Jays:
-Traded third baseman Troy Glaus to the Cardinals for third baseman Scott Rolen
-Signed shortstop David Eckstein to a one-year deal.
-Signed outfielder Shannon Stewart to a minor league contract.

Pitching Staff:
SP1: Roy Halladay
SP2: A.J. Burnett
SP3: Dustin McGowan
SP4: Shaun Marcum
SP5: Jesse Litsch
CL: B.J. Ryan
SUM: Jeremy Accardo

DH: Frank Thomas
C: Gregg Zaun
1B: Lyle Overbay
2B: Aaron Hill
SS: David Ecksein
3B: Scott Rolen
LF: Reed Johnson
CF: Vernon Wells
RF: Alex Rios

Easiest- Scott Rolen and David Eckstein will combine for less than 250 games.
Boldest- A.J. Burnett will post an ERA over 5.00.
Team MVP- B.J. Ryan (35-50 sv. sub-2.75 ERA).
Best Season- Roy Halladay (12-16 wins, sub 3.75-ERA).
Best Hitter- Alex Rios (25-35 HR, 90-110 RBI).
Breakout Player- Brandon League (sub-3.00 ERA).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

'08 RAPS: Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have been a franchise in a state of flux for many years; however, Peter Angelos was actually willing to let GM Andy MacPhail unload two top names in Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada. Plus, Angelos is also letting MacPhail shop Brian Roberts as well.

Here are MacPhail's off-season moves:

- Acquired outfielder Luke Scott, pitchers Troy Patton, Matt Albers and Dennis Sarfate and third baseman Mike Costanzo from the Houston Astros for shortstop Miguel Tejada
- Claimed pitcher Greg Aquino off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers
- Signed pitcher Steve Trachsel to a minor league deal
- Traded pitcher Erik Bedard to the Baltimore Orioles for outfielder Adam Jones and pitchers George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio and Tony Butler.

SP1: Jeremy Guthrie
SP2-5: Fernando Cabrera/Adam Loewen/Steve Trachsel/Garret Olsen/Radhames Liz
CL: George Sherrill
SUM: Jaime Walker/Dennis Sarfate

DH: Aubrey Huff/Kevin Millar
C: Ramon Hernandez
1B: Kevin Millar/Aubrey Huff
2B: Brian Roberts/Freddie Bynum
SS: Luis Hernandez
3B: Melvin Mora
LF: Luke Scott/Jay Payton
CF: Adam Jones
RF: Nick Markakis

Easiest- The Orioles will finish dead last in the AL East
Boldest- The Orioles will lose over 100 games
Team MVP/Best Hitter- Nick Markakis (15-20 HRs, 80-90 RBIs, +.333 AVG)
Best Pitcher- Jeremy Guthrie (5-9 wins, 150-180 K's)
Breakout Player- Adam Jones (10-15 HRs, 20-30 SBs)

Monday, March 3, 2008

'08 RAPs: Tampa Bay Rays

After a dismal 66-93 2007 season, you'd usually expect a team to be pessimistic about the next year. This is not the case with the Rays. They have by far the best farm system in the game, and will be looking for contributions from the likes of Evan Longoria, Jeff Niemann, and quite possibly the first man ever taken in a televised MLB Rule 4 draft, David Price. The Rays have also picked up talent via free agency and the trade market this year:

  • Traded Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie to the Twins for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett: While I still think the Twins won this deal, it will certainly help out the Rays.

  • Traded Jeff Ridgeway to Atlanta for Willy Aybar.

  • Signed Cliff Floyd to a one-year deal with an option for 2009.

  • Signed Troy Percival to a 2-year deal.

  • Signed pitcher Trever Miller to a one-year contract.

  • Signed utility man Eric Hinske to a one-year deal.

  • Quick Rundown:

    Cather: Dioner Navarro
    1B: Carlos Pena
    2B: Akinori Iwamura
    SS: Jason Bartlett
    3B: Evan Longoria
    LF: Carl Crawford
    CF: B.J. Upton
    RF: Cliff Floyd
    DH: Rocco Baldelli


    SP1: Scott Kazmir
    SP2: Matt Garza
    SP3: James Shield
    SP4: Andy Sonnanstine/Edwin Jackson
    SP5: Jeff Niemann/Jason Hammel/David Price

    Stay Tuned: Tomorrow I will be covering the Orioles.

    Also, the reason this post may seem unorganized is I was having trouble with some of the tools, such as, centering, bullets, etc.

    Sunday, March 2, 2008

    '08 RAPs: AL East

    2007 was the year that the Boston Red Sox put an end to the Yankees' decade of dominance in the AL East. Not only did the Bosox win the division, they virtually dominated it most of the year:

    • On May 15th, the second place Yanks were 8 games back.
    • On May 20th, the Orioles and Yanks were in a tie for second, ten-and-a-half back of Boston.
    • On May 29th, the Yanks were a whopping 14.5 games behind the Sox. Second place Baltimore was 11.5 back as well.
    • By June 15th, the Yanks had gotten back into second, only eight games back.
    • The Yanks were 9.5 games out, in second, come the All Star Break.
    • By the Middle of August, Boston's lead was down to 5 games as the Yanks surged, and were in a battle with Seattle for the wild card.
    • On September 19th, the Yanks were within a game and a half following a 4 game winning streak, coupled with a 4 game skid for the Sox. Third place Toronto; however, was still 12.5 back.
    • The Sox clinched the division on September 28th, while the Yanks won the wild card.

    Here are the final standings for the 2007 AL Eastern Division:

    Red Sox: 96-66; 0 GB

    Yankees: 94-68; 2 GB

    Blue Jays: 83-79; 13GB

    Orioles: 69-93; 27 GB

    Devil Rays(Rays): 66-96; 30 GB

    Stay Tuned: Tommorow will be the Rays' RAP.

    Saturday, March 1, 2008

    '08 RAPs: Final NL East Rundowns and Predictions

    After covering the Mets, Phillies, Braves, Nationals, and Marlins this past week, it is finally time to make my final predictions. But first, let's break down the division by pitching and offense. By the way, I'm doing my best to not be biased against the Phillies in this post.

    5. Marlins:
    With Josh Johnson still injured, Dontrelle Willis now gone, and no real help brought in, the Marlins are in horrible shape. Unless Scott Olsen finally reaches his potential, their rotaiton will be centered around Sergio Mitre and former first round pick, Andrew Miller.
    The bullpen is decent, even with the fact that Kevin Gregg is the closer. Then again, Gregg is the highest paid player on the Marlins at a hefty $2 million. I'm personally a big fan of former Mets prospect, Henry Owens, if he can stay healthy. Look for the pen to be about 12th or 13th in the NL.
    4. Nationals:
    Jim Bowden made tremendous strides with this franchise in the off-season. This rotation could be league average if John Patterson and/or Odalis Perez pitch to close to their full potential. I've liked Tyler Clippard ever since he beat John Maine in the Subway Series last year. He could, in my mind, win 10 games if he wins the fifth starter job in spring this year.
    Then there's the Nationals bullpen. The Nationals have two of the best NL relievers in Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero. Behind them they should have a returning Luis Ayala. Also they have above average relievers in Ryan Wagner and Saul Rivera to round out the pen.
    3. Phillies:
    The Phillies have a somewhat decent rotation. They have Cole Hamels and Brett Myers fronting the rotation, giving them an above average one-two punch. Then they have Takeru Kobayashi...err, I mean Kyle Kendrick (who was 'traded' for Kobayashi), who had a good year last season, but is anything but proven. In the fourth spot, there's 45 year-old Jaime Moyer,who at any time during the season could turn to dust and become part of the Citizen's Bank Park mound. The fifth spot belongs to Adam Eaton who could be the difference maker in whether the Phillies will have a top-ten rotation in the NL.
    The pen is the definition of questionable. The only two relievers who could be counted on are Ryan Madson and J.C. Romero (I'm being generous with Romero). With Lidge hurt and Gordon really old, the closer and set-up spot is taking a huge hit. The Phillies would've been better off keeping Myers in the pen and signing Kyle Lohse.
    2. Braves:
    The Braves have a solid rotation, headed by Tim Hudson and John Smoltz. Glavine will add some depth to this rotation. Remember, Glavine was considered by many to be the best pitcher in the Mets rotation last year. The real thing that could establish this as a great rotation would be the return of Mike Hampton to old form. If Hampton pitches well, the Braves could win the Wild Card.
    The Braves pen is, in my mind, not to be counted on. With Mike Gonzalez out, Rafeal Soriano will be the closer. Remember, the Mariners believed that Soriano was bad enough to trade him for Horacio Ramirez, so he could very well be horrible this year. Peter Moylan had a great year last year, but hard-throwers with a funky motion (i.e. Dontrelle Willis) usually get figured out by their division, and thus struggle.
    1. Mets:
    The Mets rotation is headed by two Cy-Young winners; one is the best pitcher in baseball, and the other is, apparently, in the best shape of his life. Those two are followed up by two of the most promising young pitchers in John Maine and Oliver Perez, who each won 15 games last year. While El Duque can't be counted on in the fifth spot, Mike Pelfrey showed us that he could be pretty good, at the end pf last year.
    The Mets pen is all-around solid and well rounded. However, if Duaner Sanchez returns to his 2006 form, the Mets will, without a doubt have the best bullpen in baseball.
    5. Nationals:
    The Nats have a very young team filled with a promising young outfield. However, unless Nick Johnson returns to his Yankee form, the Nats offense will probably be below average.
    4. Marlins:
    The Marlins offense is weak depth wise. However, with Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla at the top, it was hard to rank them worse than Washington. Plus, I believe Mike Jacobs could be a good hitter, possibly a 30-homer-a-year guy.
    3. Mets:
    The Mets offense is not as good as most think. Yes they have, in my mind, two of the top five players in baseball (Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran), plus Silver Slugger winner, David Wright; however, with Delgado not the Carlos Delgado of old, there is no real stabilizing force at the bottom of the lineup.
    2. Phillies:
    The only reason the Phillies are ahead of the Mets is the fact that Pat Burrell is, right now, a better hitter than Carlos Delgado. I would never take Rollins/Howard/Utley over Reyes/Beltran/Wright even though I'd give Utley the edge over Wright.
    1. Braves
    This is a pick that I can see a lot of people disagreeing with. Even with Andruw Jones gone, the Braves lineup is very strong. Chipper and Teixeira give the Braves the strongest middle of the lineup, outside of Boston and Detroit. Also they're protected by Brian McCann. Jeff Francoer is a future star in my eyes; however, I don't see the same potential in Kelly Johnson or Yunel Escobar. Still, I like the depth in the Braves' lineup the most.

    Final Predictions:
    1. New York Mets (101-61)
    2. Philadelphia Phillies (88-74)
    3. Atlanta Braves (86-76)
    4. Washington Nationals (70-92)
    5. Florida Marlins (67-95)

    Division MVP: Carlos Beltran- Unlike Jimmy Rollins last year, Carlos Beltran will actually deserve to win the NL MVP this year. The more aggressive attitude Beltran has shown, if it transfers to the field, will lead to the best offensive season in Mets history. I was getting sick of Beltran's passive approach at the plate (remember the Wainright thing), I can't wait to see Beltran crushing homers on 3-0 counts.
    Runner Up: Duaner Sanchez

    Divisional CY-Young: Johan Santana- Who else? I still cannot wait for Santana to come over to the NL and dominate. While I believe that John Maine will also win 20 games, Santana winning 20 games is pretty much a lock.
    Runner Up: John Maine

    Tomorrow I will start the AL East RAPs.

    Friday, February 29, 2008

    '08 RAPs: New York Mets

    Following a year that ended in disaster, the Mets have turned the page as a franchise. The acquisition of Johan Santana have made the Mets a super-power for the next five years guaranteed. Despite not having a great off-season quantity wise, and starting off with some sub-par moves, Omar Minaya has had a quality winter that reastablished him as a top-notch GM.

    Here are Omar's moves:

    • Re-signed second baseman Luis Castillo, catcher Ramon Castro, and Damion Easley.
    • Acquired pitcher Brian Stokes from the Tampa Bay Rays for cash.
    • Acquired outfielder Ryan Church and catcher Brian Schneider from the Washington Nationals for outfielder Lastings Milledge.
    • Signed pitcher Matt Wise to a one-year contract.
    • Acquired outfielder Angel Pagan from the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Ryan Meyers and outfielder Corey Coles.
    • Signed outfielder Brady Clark, second baseman Jose Valentin, and pitcher Tony Armas Jr. to minor league contracts.
    • Acquired pitcher Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins for outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitchers Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra and signed him to a six-year contract with a vesting option for 2014.
    • Signed infielder Olmedo Saenz to a one-year deal.

    Team Rundown:

    Pitching Staff:
    Johan Santana
    SP2: Pedro Martinez
    SP3: John Maine
    SP4: Oliver Perez
    SP5: Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez/Mike Pelfrey
    CL: Billy Wagner
    SUM: Aaron Heilman/Duaner Sanchez

    Brian Schneider/Ramon Castro
    1B: Carlos Delgado
    2B: Luis Castillo
    SS: Jose Reyes
    3B: David Wright
    LF: Moises Alou/Endy Chavez
    CF: Carlos Beltran
    RF: Ryan Church/Endy Chavez

    The Mets will win the division.
    Boldest- John Maine and Johan Santana will both win 20 games.
    Team MVP- Duaner Sanchez (sub-2.00 ERA)
    Best Season- Johan Santana (20-23 wins, sub-2.50 ERA)
    Best Hitter- Carlos Beltran (40-50 HRs, 145-160 RBI, NL MVP)
    Breakout Player- John Maine (18-21 wins, 2.75-3.25 ERA)

    Stay Tuned: Tomorrow will be the final Rundown and Predictions for the 2008 NL Eastern Division!

    Thursday, February 28, 2008

    '08 RAPs: Philadelphia Phillies

    After a promising season in Philly, and a trip to the World Series last year, it all came to an end after a blast off the bat of Joe Carter, as the Blue Jays won their second straight World Series.

    Here's how the Phils shape up this year:

    1: Danny Jackson
    2: Bobby Munoz
    3: Shawn Boskie
    4: Curt Schilling
    5: Mike Williams
    CL: Doug Jones

    C: Darren Daulton
    1B: John Kruk
    2B: Mickey Morandini
    SS: Kevin Stocker
    3B: Dave Hollins
    OF: Jim Eisenreich
    OF: Lenny Dykstra
    OF: Milt Thompson

    So you can see... What's that? Oh, it's not 1994. Then why are the Phillies' fans bragging about the playoffs? The last playoff game they won was in 1993, and they're bragging in 2008 about something with the playoffs. What kind of freaks are they?

    Anyway, here's the real Phillies '08 RAPs:

    After getting extremely lucky in 2008, the irrationally arrogant Phillies, and GM Pat Gillick, have been inexcusably irrelevant this off-season.

    Here are the moves they made this off-season:

    • Acquired pitcher Brad Lidge and infielder Eric Bruntlett from the Houston Astros for pitcher Geoff Geary, outfielder Michael Bourn and third baseman Mike Costanzo.
    • Acquired outfielder Chris Snelling from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for cash.
    • Signed outfielder Geoff Jenkins to a two-year contract.
    • Signed pitcher Chad Durbin to a one-year contract.
    • Signed third baseman Pedro Feliz to a two-year contract with a club option for 2010.
    • Signed pitcher Kris Benson to a minor league contract.
    • Claimed infielder Ray Olmedo and pitcher Shane Youman off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates

    Here's the outlook:

    Pitching Staff:

    SP1: Cole Hamels
    SP2: Brett Myers
    SP3: Kyle Kendrick
    SP4: Jaime Moyer
    SP5: Adam Eaton
    CL: Brad Lidge
    SUM: Tom Gordon


    Carlos Ruiz
    1B: Ryan Howard
    2B: Chase Utley
    SS: Jimmy Rollins
    3B: Pedro Feliz
    LF: Pat Burrell
    CF: Shane Victorino
    RF: Geoff Jenkins/Jason Werth

    The Phillies will finish in second in the division.
    Boldest- Ryan Howard will not hit more than 25 homers.
    Team MVP/Best Hitter- Chase Utley (20-25 HRs, 90-110 RBIs)
    Best Season- Cole Hamels (14-18 wins, sub-4.00 ERA)
    Breakout Player- NONE
    Stay Tuned: New York Mets Tomorrow! By the way, the reason I did the Phils before the Mets is because, as far as I'm concerned, if you get swept in the first round of the playoffs and haven't won a playoff game in 15 years, you're not allowed to be called a division champion.

    Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    '08 RAPs: Atlanta Braves

    It's not the best of times for Braves fans. Not only did they finish in third, making it back-to-back years without a division title, they lost long-time GM John Schuerholz. Shuerholz, along with an expert scouting team that included Royals' GM Dayton Moore, was the main reason for the Braves 15-year dynasty. Schuerholz was replaced by John Wren, a less than average GM.

    Here are Wren's moves as GM of the Braves:

    • Acquired pitcher Jeff Ridgway from the Tampa Bay Rays for infielders Willy Aybar and Chase Fontaine.
    • Acquired outfielder Mark Kotsay from the Oakland Athletics for pitchers Joey Devine and Jamie Richmond and cash.
    • Acquired pitcher Will Ohman and infielder Omar Infante from the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Jose Ascanio.
    • Signed pitcher Tom Glavine to a one-year contract.
    Here's the team rundown:


    SP1: John Smoltz
    SP2: Tim Hudson
    SP3: Tom Glavine
    SP4: Chuck James (Middle of April)
    SP5: Mike Hampton/Jair Jurrjens/Jo-Jo Reyes
    CL: Rafeal Soriano
    SUM: Peter Moylan

    Brian McCann
    1B: Mark Teixeira
    2B: Kelly Johnson
    SS: Yunel Escobar/Omar Infante
    3B: Larry "Chipper" Jones
    LF: Matt Diaz/Brandon Jones
    CF: Mark Kotsay
    RF: Jeff Francoer

    Mike Hampton will not start more than five games.
    Boldest- Peter Moylan/Rafeal Soriano will blow more than 25 saves combined this year.
    Team MVP- Larry Jones
    Best Season- Mark Teixeira (30-35 HRs, +100 RBIs)
    Best Pitcher- Tim Hudson (14-18 wins, sub 3.75 ERA)
    Breakout Player- Brandon Jones (8-12 HR's, +.300 AVG.)

    Stay Tuned: Tomorrow; Philly Steaks

    Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    '08 RAPs: Washington Nationals

    Thanks in large part to first-year manager, Manny Acta, the Nationals, a team picked to be historically bad by many, were a splendid surprise. General manager, Jim Bowden, has proven to me with his aggressive offseason that he is indeed an above average GM. He, much like Florida GM Larry Beinfest, spent the offseason building for his club's future in their new ballpark, Nationals Park, while bringing in veterans to help out the kids (and a special aid for Elijiah Dukes).
    Here's a list of Bowden's impressive offseason:
    • Acquired outfielder Lastings Milledge from the New York Mets in exchange for outfielder Ryan Church and catcher Brian Schneider.
    • Acquired outfielder Elijah Dukes from the Tampa Bay Rays for pitcher Glenn Gibson.
    • Acquired pitcher Tyler Clippard from the New York Yankees for pitcher Jonathan Albaladejo.
    • Signed infielder Aaron Boone to a one-year deal and his older brother, Brett (2B) to a minor league deal.
    • Signed catcher Paul LoDuca to a one-year deal.
    • Signed outfielders Rob Mackowiak and Willie Harris to one-year contracts.
    • Signed catcher Johnny Estrada to a one-year deal.
    • Signed pitcher Odalis Perez to a one-year deal.
    SP1: Shawn Hill
    SP2: John Patterson
    SP3: Jason Bergmann
    SP4/5: Matt Chico/Odalis Perez/Tyler Clippard/John Lannan
    CL: Chad Cordero
    SUM: Jon Rauch

    Paul LoDuca/Johnny Estrada/Jesus Flores
    1B: Nick Johnson/Dmitri Young
    2B: Ronnie Belliard
    SS: Christian Guzman/Felipe Lopez
    3B: Ryan Zimmerman
    LF: Wily Mo Pena/Elijiah Dukes/Dmitri Young
    CF: Lastings Milledge/Austin Kearns/Elijiah Dukes/Willie Harris
    RF: Austin Kearns/Elijiah Dukes/Dmitri Young

    The Nats will finish in fourth place.
    Boldest- Lastings Milledge will hit 20-30 HR's and drive in 75-85 RBIs.
    Team MVP- Chad Cordero (25 saves/traded at deadline)
    Best Season- Lastings Milledge (20-30HRs, 75-85 RBIs, 25-30 SBs)
    Best Pitcher- Shawn Hill (8-10 wins, sub-4 ERA)
    Breakout Player- Tyler Clippard (5-7 wins, sub 4.25 ERA)

    Monday, February 25, 2008

    '08 RAPs: Florida Marlins

    After a strong showing in 2006, the Marlins fired manager Joe Girardi and hired Fredi Gonzalez. This move, coupled with injuries to the Marlins top young pitchers, led to a last place, 2007 season in which the Marlins only achievement was knocking off the Mets on the last day of the season. General manager, Larry Beinfest has spent the offseason bringing in veterans to aid in the growth of the young players while also stockpiling young players (mainly from the Cabrera/Willis deal) who will be the faces of the franchise heading into their new stadium.

    Here's a list of Beinfest's moves:
    • Signed Luis Gonzalez to a one-year deal.
    • Signed Mark Hendrickson to a one-year deal.
    • Signed Dallas McPherson to a one-year deal.
    • Trade pitcher Dontrelle Willis and third baseman Miguel Cabrera to Detroit for outfielder Cameron Maybin, catcher Mike Rabelo and pitchers Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Eulogio De La Cruz and Dallas Trahern.
    Here's the roster rundown:

    Pitching Staff:
    SP1: Sergio Mitre
    SP2: Scott Olsen
    SP3: Andrew Miller
    SP4: Mark Hendrickson
    SP5: Ricky Nolasco/Rick Vanden Hurk
    CL: Kevin Gregg
    SUM: Justin Miller/Henry Owens/Matt Lindstrom

    Matt Treanor/Mike Rabelo
    1B: Mike Jacobs
    2B: Dan Uggla
    SS: Hanley Ramirez
    3B: Dallas McPherson/Jorge Cantu/Jose Castillo/Alfredo Amezaga
    LF: Josh Willingham/Luis Gonzalez
    CF: Cameron Maybin/Alejandro De Aza/Cody Ross
    RF: Jeremy Hermida/Brett Carroll

    The Marlins will have a worse record than last year.
    Boldest- The Marlins will finish at least 30 games back of first.
    Team MVP/Best Season- Hanley Ramirez (28-32 HRs, 85-90 RBIs, 20 SBs, 100-115 RS)
    Best Pitcher/Breakout Player- Andrew Miller (7-9 Wins, sub-4 ERA)

    Stay Tuned: Nationals Rundown and Predictions Tomorrow afternoon!

    Sunday, February 24, 2008

    '08 RAPs: NL East

    We all know how the NL East ended in 2007. It was the single most shocking week in baseball history. The Philadelphia Cheese-Steaks proved that the best team doesn't always win. They also proved that luck is a vital aspect of professional sports. Well, anyway, here's the rundown:

    On May 1st, the Braves were a half game ahead of the Mets, while the 4th place Steaks were 3 back.
    On June 1st, the Mets were in first, 3.5 ahead of Atlanta and 8.5 ahead of Philly.
    On July 1st, third place Philly was back in the race, 5 back of the Mets, and one back of second place Atlanta.
    At the break, Atlanta was only 2 back, while Philly was still 4.5 back.
    About a week later I made a bet of $20 that the Mets would win the division... oops!
    On August 1st, the Braves were 3.5 back and the Phils were 4 back.

    Here it is: The Month of September
    On September 1st, the second place Phils were 3 back; Atlanta, at 6.5 back were pretty much dead.
    On the fifth, Philly was 5 back; seemingly, out of the race.
    On the 10th Philly was 6 back; still, out of the race.
    On the 15th, the Phils were back within 4.5; yet, nobody was worrying.
    On the 20th, Philly got back within 1.5 games.
    On the 23rd the Phils were back 2.5. Whew... that was close!
    On the 26th they were a game back. Good thing there's only 4 games left... Right?
    September 27th: OH MY GOD!!! They tied it up! That's not good.
    28th: What the Hell!? The Steaks take a one game lead.
    29th: Johnny Maine to the rescue. No hitter into the eighth, 14K's. Just for those of you who don't think this kid's an ace, here are his numbers in the two must win games he ever pitched in (2006 NLCS game 6 and the game on the second to last day of the '07 season):
    13.1IP 3H 19Ks, NO RUNS!!!

    Anyway, the day all you have been waiting for:
    September 30th, 2007: Tom Glavine takes the hill in the biggest game of his life. He fires 8 shutout innings, Billy Wagner comes in and strikes out Miguel Cabrera in his last at bat as a Marlin. After the game, the Mets watch as Brett Myers blows a 5 run lead in the ninth to the Nationals. And there you have it, the Mets are the 2007 NL East Champs!!!

    What? 7 Run 1st? Impossible... Tom Terrific was on the mound... Seriously??? The Phillies couldn't of won. I just looked it up, they haven't won a playoff game in over a decade! Liars!

    Oh, I remember now. Glavine sucks! Well, we're just about out of time.

    Anyway, here's the 2007 NL East Standings:

    Phillies: 89-73 0GB
    Mets: 88-74 1GB
    Braves: 84-78 5GB
    Nationals: 73-89 16GB
    Marlins: 71-91 18GB

    Saturday, February 23, 2008

    '08 RAPs: AL Central Final Rundown and Predictions

    The time has come to finally make my predictions for the 2008 AL Central Division. During the past week I've covered the Royals, White Sox, Twins, Tigers, and Indians offseason moves, team outlook, and made my predictions about each. So, before I make my final predictions as to the outcome of the division, I'll first break down the division by offense and pitching.
    5. Minnesota Twins:
    The loss of Santana clearly hurts. The only thing that can save the Twins is if Liriano returns and dominates. Livan Hernandez, who's got to be like 50, is their #2 starter, after a mediocre year in the NL. I can see his ERA reaching the 7.00 marker with ease.
    I do love the Twin's pen though. Neshek and Nathan are two of my favorite relievers in the game. However, Billy Smith cannot possibly hold onto Nathan all year.
    4. Cleveland Indians:
    I can hear you all laughing at the Indians being ranked fourth, but trust me on this one. If Joe Borowski posts an ERA under 5.00 this season, I'll be shocked. Whoever believes that a team with Joe Borowski as their closer can reach the playoffs in back-to-back years is crazy. Sure, Rafeal Betancourt, who was recently granted an extension, is talented enough to take over the closer's role if need be, but then Cleveland's middle relief would take a horrible blow.
    As for the rotation, I'll give you that C.C. Sabathia is a great pitcher. I'll give you that Paul Byrd and Jake Westbrook are more-than-capable veterans. But, I will not give you that Fausto Carmona is anywhere near as good as he performed last season. If he proves me wrong, then he proves me wrong, but every time I think of him I see him blowing games a couple of years ago as the closer for the Tribe. Also, who knows how Paul Byrd will do after the HGH revelations he suffered through, or how Sabathia will do with his mind on his next contract.
    3. Chicago White Sox:
    They have a great back end of the pen in Jenks and Dotel. However, neither one of those two is a sure thing. While the back end of their rotation is very weak, Buehrle and Vazquez are two of the most reliable and consistent starters in the game. If Contreras returns to his old form, this team could have a solid pitching staff.
    2. Detroit Tigers:
    The Tigers weak pen is the only thing keeping them out of first in this category. I have serious doubts that Todd Jones holds onto the closer's role for more than a couple of months, if that. And if Fernando Rodney has to close for the Tigers, they're in serious trouble!
    That being said, Detroit's rotation isn't dominant by any means. Who knows what they'll get from Willis, Rogers, Robertson, or even Bonderman (Who, I'll admit, I don't believe to be anything more than an overrated 4th starter). The only sure thing is Justin Verlander, who I'll admit I had my doubts about; however, I believe he is the AL's best regular season pitcher.
    1. Kansas City Royals:
    Now before you start calling me crazy, hear me out. The two teams considered to be the powerhouses of the league (Detroit and Cleveland), have Joe Borowski and Todd Jones as their closers. Whereas, although he's not as proven as Joe Nathan or Bobby Jenks, Joakim Soria is more youthful than Nathan; and, in my opinion, more talented than Jenks. Their acquisition of Yasuhiko Yabuta is perhaps the most underrated move of the entire offseason. Japanese relievers have had tremendous success (Okajima, Otsuka, ect.) in the States recently. Combine that with the fact that Yabuta will not take as much time to adjust as Okajima since Trey Hillman is an accomplished Japanese manager and I'm confident Yabuta will post an ERA well under 2.00 this season. Yabuta as well as recently signed, veteran lefty, Ron Mahay, as well as the other young, talented arms in the KC pen gives KC the best pen.
    As for rotation, sure the Royals lack a true "ace" and are filled with unproven talent I believe they have the second deepest rotation from top to bottom. Leo Nunez, considering he is the #5 guy, is better than every fifth starter in that division other than Robertson. Also, I'm one of the few that thought Gil Meche was going to succeed last year (I thought he'd win 14-16 games), so I am optimistic that not only will he repeat, he'll do even better than last season!

    5. Twins:
    I feel very sorry for Mauer and Morneau. The only way the Twins can come close to having an average offense is if Carlos Gomez and Delmon Young have monster seasons. I can see Gomez stealing a bunch of bases, but not much more this season. I don't trust Delmon Young as a person. He's no longer the center of attention like in Tampa. I can see him imploding because of the fact that Morneau and Mauer are going to steal his thunder. Of course he can combat that by having a monstrous year.
    4. Royals:
    Question marks and potential. That's the theme of the Royals offense. The question marks include Jose Guillen who Dayton Moore over-spent on. If Guillen can have a good year, the Royals' offense won't be terrible.
    There is a ton of potential in the likes of Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mark Teahen, John Buck, Joey Gathright, and Alberto Callaspo. All of those players are capable of having an All-Star type year this year. Also, all of them are extremely capable of hitting under .250 and striking out 200 times, you never know.
    3. Indians:
    The only real stars in this squad are Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore, and Victor Martinez. Behind that, their probably won't be much production. Casey Blake and Jhonny Peralta will probably have average to slightly above average seasons. Other than that, there's pretty much nothing.
    2. White Sox:
    The additions of Nick Swisher and Orlando Cabrera make this a highly formidable lineup. They still have their potent old bats in Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, and Jermaine Dye, and now they have youth in the likes of Danny Richar, Josh Fields, Carlos Quentin, Alexei Ramirez, and Jerry Owens. Sox fans should be proud of Ken Williams for creating this potentially dominating mix.
    1. Tigers:
    What can I say? Just look at this for a second:
    1. Curtis Granderson
    2. Placido Polanco
    3. Miguel Cabrera
    4. Magglio Ordonez
    5. Edgar Renteria
    6. Carlos Guillen
    7. Gary Sheffield
    8. Pudge Rodriguez
    9. Jaque Jones
    That is better than some of the past few All-Star lineups. It's just indescribable, unstoppable, unfair, and unmatched. Imagine, Miguel Cabrera, out of Dolphin Stadium, now in Detroit, with Magglio Ordonez hitting behind him instead of Mike Jacobs. Is 73 HRs out of the question? I mean, he'll get at least 50 easily. This could be the greatest lineup of all time!

    Final Predictions:

    Now for the final prediction. Let me guess, you're expecting Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Minnesota, KC. If that's what you're expecting don't bother sitting down (although you're probably already sitting down since you're at a computer) cause you'll just stand up when you see this. Just know; honestly, this is NOT a joke.

    Final Standings:
    1. Kansas City Royals; 89-73
    2. Detroit Tigers; 89-73
    3. White Sox; 84-78
    4. Indians; 75-87
    5. Twins; 67-95

    That's right! Remember that you heard it here, at C-Goud's Ultimate Baseball, first! The KC Royals will win the AL Central in 2008. Notice the fact that Detroit and KC have the same record. I believe that the Tigers are strong enough to over-power the league... except for the Royals. Trey Hillman is a smart guy who wants to win. He'll use his strong bullpen to beat Tigers no matter how many arms he has to use. I can see the Royals beating Detroi 15 times this year!
    Honestly, before the Cabrera/Willis deal I was much more confident about this than I am now. The Royals are a weak team offensively and filled with question marks elsewhere. However, I will not back down from this prediction, even if the Royals lose their first ten games this year! I just have a feeling that the KC Kiddies will use their youthfulness to shock the world! (Or it could just be a manner of my Greek pride getting the best of me.)

    Awards Prediction:
    Division MVP: Yasuhiko Yabuta - Since I picked the Royals to win the division, I had to pick a Royal as the league MVP. Also, I do believe Yabuta will have the greatest effect on the outcome of the division. I can see him coming in and disposing of Cabrera, Maggs, and Renteria 1,2,3 several times in key games this year. Runner Up: Miguel Cabrera
    Divisional CY-Young: Justin Verlander - With the offensive production he is going to get this year, he could lead the league in wins. Do I hear 23 wins anybody? Runner Up: Mark Buehrle (if Sabathia is traded)

    Stay Tuned: Tommorow I will start the NL East RAPs!