Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Rule 5 

The Rule 5 Draft was held at the Winter Meetings in Nashville yesterday and the Phillies made some interesting choices … For those not in know, the Rule 5 Draft is an event that baseball holds each off-season which gives teams the opportunity to snare major leaguers languishing on another team’s bench for $50,000. If that player remains on his new team’s roster for the full season, then that team can keep him, otherwise, he has to be offered back to the original team for $25,000. Basically, Rule 5 says that you can’t hoard all of the talent. It is one of the small ways that baseball occasionally tries to level the playing field for small market teams.

The Rule 5 Draft is a favorite tool of the Phillies to collect talent. They utilized the Rule 5 Draft to snare Shane Victorino away from the Dodgers in 2004 and look at the player he has become! The Phillies were very active in the 2007 Rule 5 Draft, taking two of the eighteen major league picks and two of the thirty-six Triple-A picks. The Phillies lost two players in their minor league system.

The Phillies utilized the 14th and 18th picks of the Rule 5 Draft to snare Travis Blackley from the Giants system and Lincoln Holdzkom, both pitchers, from the Red Sox system. In the minor league draft the Phillies acquired Patrick Sellers, a third baseman, from the Astros system and they snared Luke Appert, a second baseman, from the Oakland A’s. Will this turn out to be the Phillies big move?

First, Blackley: he threw 162 innings for the Fresno Grizzlies in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (PCL) and finished with a 10-8 record and a 4.66 ERA. Blackley’s numbers aren’t great – most were pretty much in-line with the PCL’s averages – but he has a lot of upside and might still develop into the pitcher he was going to be when he was named the Texas League Pitcher of the Year in 2003. (Point in his favor: Blackley seems to be a groundball oriented pitcher.) Blackley is apparently being brought in to press Adam Eaton as the fifth starter or go to the bullpen as middle relief. My gut tells me that Blackley will work middle relief.

Holdzkom struggled a lot with his control: a whopping 5.79 walks per nine innings in Double-A ball and 7.41 BB/9 for Triple-A. Holdzkom’s upside is there too: he gets a lot of strikeouts. If he can master his control, he’ll be good. Holdzkom is also off to a solid start this season with the Mesa Solar Sox, striking out ten in seven innings of work. Both might work out and be solid additions for the Phillies, or they simply get returned to their teams and the Phillies are $50,000 poorer.

In other news … the Santana deal is still unconsummated. Too bad. Looks like the Tigers emerged as the big winners of the Winter Meetings, loaded and ready to roll. I wonder if the addition of Miguel Cabrera might push Brandon Inge, the team’s Gold Glove-calibur third baseman, onto the trading block. Might Inge turn out to be a Phillie?

Chris Coste is busy writing a book about the 2006 season. I wonder if Hollywood might still pursue a movie on him?

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tigers - Marlins deal and Santana... 

Much to the shock of the baseball establishment, the biggest deal of the Winter Meetings was pulled off by the Detroit Tigers when they dealt six prospects to the Marlins in exchange for Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. While the world waits for the Twins and Red Sox to consumate their deal, the Tigers stole a march and suddenly became a chic pick to win the World Series in 2008. At a minimum, the move makes the Tigers the certain favorite to win the A.L. Central and puts pressure on the Angels, Yankees and Red Sox to compete with the Tigers. I think it also makes the Twins decision to deal Johan Santana a near-certainty, as the Twins have little hope of breaking through the log-jam at the top of the division with the Indians and Tigers and make the playoffs in 2008.

In exchange for their prospects, the Tigers are adding a Cy Young-caliber pitcher in Willis, who struggled in 2007 with a 10-15 record and 5.17 ERA, but whom pitched dominating baseball the last several seasons (e.g., 22-10, 2.63 ERA in 2005), and a potential MVP candidate in Cabrera, who clubbed 33 home runs and 119 RBIs in 2007. Cabrera’s 119 RBI, by the way, is pretty much what he’s done for four consecutive seasons:

2004: 112
2005: 116
2006: 114
2007: 119

Willis helps upgrade a pitching staff that was average in 2007, while Cabrera adds his bat to a lineup that scored 887 runs last season. The new, revamped Tigers could top 1,000 runs.

The conventional wisdom about the Marlins – Tigers deal – the Tigers mortgaged their future to win now – is largely incomplete. The Tigers will have Willis and Cabrera under contract for 2008 and 2009 before they become free agents. This isn’t a simple one-shot, win-now type deal: the Tigers have positioned themselves to dominate their division for two years at least and more if they can manage to re-sign one or both players. This is a deal to help them win and give them a chance to establish a long-term dynasty in Detroit. In exchange they surrendered some prospects who may never develop into successful major league players.

Perhaps Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller, the two top prospects in the deal, will become terrific players. Maybin, in particular, is a highly regarded prospect. However, the Tigers know what they are getting with Willis and Cabrera: two young players who can contribute now. The Marlins are losing two superstars and are getting a big pile of uncertainty. Buy season tickets Marlins fans! See future Tigers and Yankees superstars today!

Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein has some nice analysis indicating that the Marlins might have gotten fleeced in the deal because Maybin and Miller aren't can't-miss prospects after all.

From my perspective the deal is a spectacular victory for the Phillies: say goodbye to the Marlins as a contender for the next two or three years. Cabrera and Willis won't be going to an N.L. team now either.

Tomorrow or Friday I'll have some analysis on the Red Sox - Twins deal for Santana when it goes down.


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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

New Unis 

The Phillies have new unis that they’ll wear for home games. Apparently this is in honor of the team’s 125th Anniversary for 2008. To the right see J.Roll, Cole Hamels and former Phillies great Robin Roberts. I guess these will replace their usual home unis. What does everyone think? They don't look bad. In fact they actually bear little-to-no difference from the Phillies usual home uniforms with the red pinstripes.

The Washington Nationals are in the midst of turning themselves into the Trail (Jail) Blazers of the MLB (or would a more apt and geographically relevant comparison be to the Baltimore Ravens?) by adding El ijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge to their roster. Milledge adds some speed and Dukes adds some power to a lineup sorely lacking in both. The Nationals finished dead-last in runs scored in 2007, so adding Dukes and Milledge will help, despite whatever character negatives they bring to the table. I doubt that Dukes or Milledge will make the Nationals contenders, but they will help them win a few more games.

I am rather surprised to see the Red Sox emerge as the contender to bring Santana aboard. After getting outflanked on the A-Rod deal back in 2003-2004, they’ve done a nice job competing with the Yankees and look like they’ve outflanked the Yankees for once. The prospect of teaming Santana with Josh Beckett must be too tantalizing for Red Sox fans to contemplate, with a pair of Cy Young contenders teamed up with veteran ace Curt Schilling and Dice-K. That’s four potential 20-game winners on the same pitching staff.

The other thing to consider here is that the Yankees, who need to upgrade their pitching badly and sought Santana to bolster a pitching staff filled with aging stars like Andy Pettite, Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina and unproven talent like Chien-Ming Wang. If Santana does wind up in Beantown, the balance of power will continue to shift in the Red Sox direction.

The Santana situation is really sucking the air out of the Winter Meetings. There is virtually no other news to report. Aaron Rowand hasn't landed anywhere. Neither has Kyle Lohse or Carlos Silva. No other major deals are being discussed. Until the Red Sox and Twins consummate their deal, there is nothing much going to happen.

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Monday, December 03, 2007


Alright … Today I was supposed to post my Season in Review for Pitching, but I’ve gotten a little bit behind because it turns out there was a lot more I wanted to say about pitching than I intended. So we’re going to comment on a few odds ‘n ends sort of things before talking about subjects other than baseball.

No movement on the Aaron Rowand front. No movement on any front, really. This has been a sloooowwwww off-season. Eventually Rowand will sign a massive 5 or 6 year deal worth $70-80 million, but not any time soon. I think teams are waiting to see how the Yankees and Mets play out their negotiations with the Twins for Johan Santana before they jump. Once Santana is unloaded and the A’s decide what they want for Dan Haren, I think you’ll see Rowand, Carlos Silva and Kyle Lohse finally find homes.

Don’t count on the Phillies being too active. Now that they have Brad Lidge on the roster, I honestly think they might be out of moves. With Mike Lowell back in Boston, there are no available third basemen for them to scoop up, and with Jon Garland in Anaheim, I think their target for a trade for starting pitching is gone. This is the roster that the Phillies will probably go to Opening Day with.

Too bad Randy Wold inked a one-year deal with the Padres, because I wanted to see if the Phillies could re-sign him and bring him home. Oh well.

So the Eagles season is basically finished with their 28-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks yesterday. After this loss and last week’s 31-28 loss to the Patriots, the 5-7 Eagles don’t have much of a shot. The NFC East title is out of reach, about to be claimed by the Cowboys. The Eagles have to win next Sunday’s game with the New York Giants because a loss to them means that the Eagles can’t catch them for wildcard slot #1. After the Giants there are three teams locked in at 6-6 (Minnesota, Detroit and Arizona) and then there are a slew of 5-7 teams with the Eagles. The Eagles aren’t a lost cause – they beat Detroit and Minnesota earlier in the season, remember, so they own tie-breakers – but the road is pretty tough. They basically have to win every game from here on out. My gut tells me that we’ll soon see Kevin Kolb making his NFL debut.

College Football: another year, another BCS controversy. Isn’t about time to junk this idiotic idea? I know college football doesn’t want to kill the BCS because it means the end of the traditional bowl system, but the fact that you have a two-loss team like LSU and a pretender like Ohio State battling it out for the National Title while the undefeated Hawaii Warriors aren’t playing for a National Title is absurd.

After all of those seasons watching teams forced to play in other bowls rather than meeting for a climatic championship game (Penn State and Nebraska in 1994, Michigan and Nebraska in 1997), the BCS was meant to preserve the lucrative bowl system and still get a consensus #1 vs. #2 match-up. Does it ever really accomplish that? Honestly, I think there was less controversy about the National Champ before the BCS, back when Miami would go 12-0 and you’d say, “Yes, that’s the best team, no question.”

This year’s match-up features Ohio State, a Big Ten team with a soft schedule that didn’t have the burden of playing in a conference title game, against LSU, a team with two losses. If Ohio State wins, the Big Ten gets away with highway robbery: they get a national champ despite having a conference full of mediocre teams that play nobody and not having their team leap through the hurdle of a conference championship game.

If LSU wins, then it is chaos. Utter, utter chaos. How do you give LSU the title if Hawaii wins the Sugar Bowl? How do the Tigers get to be #1 when the Warriors went undefeated? How does one-loss Kansas get to be excluded when two loss LSU wins it?

Other teams have finished their regular seasons undefeated and never been given a chance at a National Title game: Utah in 2004 and Boise State last season in particular come to mind. Both of those teams proved they deserved to be in their games with impressive wins over their opponents.

Some of the match-ups are absurd: how did USC and Illinois get into a BCS bowl? Why did the people who run the Rose Bowl take Illinois over Missouri? Afraid of competition for USC if they took Missouri? I won’t even watch the Rose Bowl this year, it is a real snoozer of a match-up. Why is Arizona State relegated to the Holiday Bowl?

My alma mater, Pitt, helped to make the weekend controversial with their 13-9 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday. The Panthers, who limped into the game with a 4-7 record, were 28 point underdogs to WVU and still managed to win the game thanks to some tough running by tailback LaSean McCoy run 38 times for 148 yards, Pitt’s defense made terrific plays – they held WVU’s vaunted rushing attack to just 183 net yards – and WVU’s kicker missed two chip-shot field goals. It really fills you with confidence about Pitt’s 2008 prospects since McCoy and starting QB Pat Bostick are both freshmen.

How about some love for the Big East? WVU nearly played for a National Title. They went 5-0 in Bowl games in 2006. Connecticut had one of the best defenses in the country. Cincinnati was terrific, as was Rutgers. The Big East is clearly a great conference and definitely a better one than the Big Ten. Hey, at least one of our teams didn’t lose to a Division I-AA school.

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