OK, as baseball season approaches, us at Total Bases hope to start writing daily. There is a chance the blog moves to a new address, but that is still up in the air.
Main point is, I will continue to write about Boston sports with some national news also. Hopefully I can be at some live events for you too. But for lacrosse stuff, read inlaxwetrust.com
The Boston Bruins blew their second straight game after leading by two goals with a 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders. This is the first time the Bruins lost in regulation after leading by two goals. They have three OT losses, one to Montreal and two to Buffalo. Zdeno Chara and Nathan Horton scored for the Bruins. Look for full recap tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Celtics also lost to the Philadelphia 76ers, their second straight loss after Wednesday’s loss to the LA Clippers. The Celtics were down most of the game, and made a nice little comeback in the fourth, only to blow it. Will probably also have a recap of this also.
In other relevant scores, The Washington Capitals defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-1. The win keeps the Caps in second overall in the east. As I write this, the Ottawa Senators are leading the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in the third.
As far as spring training goes, the Red Sox split their split squad games. They lost 3-2 to the Minnesota Twins, while Jon Lester pitched a good game and Jonathan Papelbon struggled. They did defeat the Houston Astros, 9-3. Kyle Weiland got the win for Boston, and Brett Myers took the loss.
Meanwhile, the NFLPA decertified. Shocker. So we miss out. Does the MLL take advantage of this? We will have an article up on ILWT at some point on this.
So to all our loyal followers still here, thanks for sticking around, you will see more action hopefully. Maybe some more youtube videos too.
* Justin Upton talks heated up in the GM meetings, with conculded yesterday. The team we heard the most were the Boston Red Sox, but according to Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman, the Arizona Diamondbacks are looking for Daniel Bard and Jacoby Ellsbury. The Red Sox are unlikely to part with those two, when they can sign Jayson Werth for just money.
Other teams interested are the Yankees, Rockies, Padres, Dodgers and Rays.
* Derek Jeter was reportedly offered a 3 year $42 mm contract by the Yankees. If I were him, I would jump on that. But according to sources, Jeter is looking for at least a four year deal, and maybe up to six.
* The Tigers began talks with Adam Dunn yesterday, and even thought reports origanlly indicated they were deep into talks, they were just preliminary. The Tigers are also known to be targeting Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez and Manny Rameriz. It is possible they could sign Martinez and Dunn
The Rockies are interested in both Upton and Gavin Floyd and Kevin Millwood
Jonathan Papelbon is unlikely to be traded
Rangers, White Sox, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Rays interested in Miguel Olivo
Orioles interested in De La Rosa
Josh Willingham getting trade interest
A busy last few days in baseball….
* The Red Sox traded Dustin Richardson to Florida for Andrew Miller. An interesting trade. Boston needs bullpen help and Richardson was supposed to be a candidate next season. However, Richardson did not have the greatest stint in Boston last year. The case with Miller is very different. Miller was the #6 overall pick in 2005 by Detroit, and traded to Florida for Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. Boston likes to take chances on pitchers with potential, so maybe a diamond in the rough.
* Florida also traded Cameron Maybin to San Diego for two prospects. This may have been to make room for Mike Stanton long term in the outfield, and the fact Maybin really needed a change of scenery. I wonder how this affects a possible Adrian Gonzalez to Boston trade, as Jacoby Ellsbury was always rumored to be a centerpiece in that deal. With Maybin now, does that change the picture for San Diego?
* The Padres have been talking with the Brewers about prospect infielder Brett Lawrie. What is Milwaukee interested in that San Diego has? Probably not Gonzalez, seeing they already have Prince Fielder. You could also say Heath Bell, but Milwaukee seems comfortable with John Axford. Now you think of starting pitching. Who could the Padres give up for Lawrie. Clayton Richard? Keep your eyes on this.
* The Blue Jays are the favorites for Dan Uggla. First thought is why, seeing they have Aaron Hill. But then you think they may move him to third base as they consider non tendering Edwin Encarnacion. It would make sense for Toronto, but they would certainly have to give up some pitching, for Florida preferably bullpen. They’ve already acquired three young relievers this week, and Toronto has plenty of them. That would be an interesting infield for Toronto with Uggla, Yunel Escobar and Aaron Hill.
I had the oppertunity to talk with Over the Monster’s Ben Buchanan about the Red Sox offseason over the weekend. Here were my questions and his answers.
Q: What do you think is the area the Red Sox need to improve most on in the offseason?
Ben: There are a lot of holes opening up for the Red Sox this offseason with Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez headed to free agency. But as for what really needs “improvement”, the easy answer is the bullpen. I don’t need to cite many statistics–everyone will agree that what we saw out of that group was horrendous last year. They were so bad, in fact, that I’d argue they hurt a number of the starters (especially John Lackey) as Terry Francona desperately tried to eek every last out from their arms. On the bright side, there seem to be plenty of options in free agency and possibly elsewhere to help out the relief corps.
Q: Which Red Sox minor leaguer can you see having a break out year?
Ben: For the purposes of this question, I’m going to assume guys like Ryan Lavarnway have already broken out and that rookies don’t count. The easy pick, who might be hard to count himself, is Drake Britton. Big lefty, great stuff, and all the way back from Tommy John surgery. For a couple of longshots, I’ll go with Xander Bogaerts and Henry Ramos. Both had solid seasons in the low levels, so it’ll be interesting to see how they handle promotions.
Q: What are your thoughts on John Farrell?
Ben: I’m not going to go out there and condemn John Farrell for being the source of all our pitching problems, but the fact of the matter is that, all the great reviews aside, pitchers don’t often get better after they show up in Boston. About the only one I can think of is Jon Lester. Beckett, Papelbon, Delcarmen, and Ramon Ramirez all have gotten appreciably worse. Most others have too small sample sizes or just haven’t changed much at all. And Clay only got better after heading down to Pawtucket. I’m not saying that whoever shows up will turn this staff into the best in the game, but I just don’t see that we’ll be missing out on anything more than keeping the status quo at best.
Q: How do you think Casey Kelly will rebound?
Ben: I’m not gonna lie: Kelly has me a little nervous. But that’s the reactionary part of me I should ignore. The fact of the matter is that Kelly looks pretty dominant at times, he has good peripherals, and he doesn’t exactly strike me as a headcase (at least based on his Twitter and interviews. Great sources, I know). All it’s gonna take is a little luck and some improved consistency, and he’ll be back to showing us why he’s been on the top of most people’s lists for the farm system.
Q: Which contract will Boston regret most; John Lackey or Josh Beckett?
Ben: Neither deal is beyond the point of no return, but if I had to guess I’d go with Lackey. He got better as the year went on, but the problem is that, at his age, the deal wasn’t particularly good to begin with, and really needed some productive early years to make up for what will most likely be a disappointing finish. Beckett, on the other hand, wasn’t even on his new deal in 2010. He’s younger, too, and is fully capable of coming off of any given year and being “good Beckett” for a season. I figure we’ll get two years of that, one year of average Beckett, and if we’re unlucky, one year of bad Beckett. But I just think he’s far more likely to hit that ceiling again than John Lackey.
Thanks to Ben for answering our questions and good luck as the new manager of Over the Monster!
Before I even do this, we all know the Indians will not be contenders this season at all, and probably not the next either. But they do have a good farm system and some good young players, so maybe they do have a good future.
Starting in their infield. Their first baseman is Matt LaPorta, who was acquired from Milwaukee for CC Sabathia. LaPorta has been somewhat of a disappointment in Cleveland, last year he hit only .221. They had Luis Valbuena starting at second base at the end of the year, but I don’t think they will stick with the .195 hitter there for long. I think Jason Donald is a good fit for them at second base. Their shortstop is Asdrubal Cabrera, who I think is a pretty good ballplayer. He hit .276 this year, and is only 24 years old, so I can see room for him to grow. Something tells me that Jayson Nix is not the Indians long term third baseman. Nix hit .224 with 14 home runs in 331 at bats. However, their only real backup there was Andy Marte, so they might have been happy with Nix. I do think that Cleveland will sign a veteren 3B in the offseason to help up and coming prospect Lonnie Cheisenhall.
We all knew Carlos Santana will be the starting catcher in Cleveland. Santana was having a terrific year with the bat before a home plate collision tore his MCL and he was done for the year. Cleveland had Lou Marson do the rest of the catching for the year, but I doubt if he will be back next season.
I was looking at the Indians outfield to write about and can you believe I forgot about Grady Sizemore? I wouldn’t be sur[prised if you did too. Sizemore has all the potential in the world if he could ever just stay on the field. The Indians do have another good outfeilder however, in Shin-Soo Choo. Choo had another terrific season, hitting .300 with 22 home runs and 90 RBIs, as well as carrying a .401 OBP. Trevor Crowe was supposed to be good too. But he hit just .251 with 2 home runs and a OBP of .302. Micheal Brantley was expected to have a big year, but he hit just .246. I’m sure Cleveland will be happy to welcome Sizemore back.
The Indians have awful pitching. Except for Fausto Carmona, who seems to have turned it around this season. He posted an ERA of 3.77 and pitched over 200 innings. The rest of their rotation was not so good. Josh Tomlin had an ERA that would round to 5.00, Jeanmar Gomez had an ERA of 4.68 with a WHIP of 1.65. However, Gomez is only 22 and I believe he has a bright future.
Carlos Carrasco did have a pretty good year, with an ERA of 3.83. He only started in seven games, but maybe he can anchor the Indians staff in years to come. Aaron Laffey was pretty bad, with a WHIP of 1.62. Another pitcher who might be in their rotation is Justin Masterson. Acquired from Boston for Victor Martinez, Cleveland had high hopes for Masterson. They ended up moving him to the bulppen due to his 4.70 ERA. Masterson is only 25, so he could turn it around. He was at one point the top prospect in the Red Sox system.
The Indians had the worst bullpen in the American League. Tony Sipp had an ERA of 4.14. Frank Herrmann and Joe Smith had bad years as well. They had two bright spots, and those were Rafael and Chris Perez. Chris Perez had an ERA of 1.71, while Rafael had one of 3.25. Maybe that is something Cleveland can build off, but they are going to need more. David Huff, who was sent down to the minors, could be a bullpen piece next year. Or they could go out and sign someone.
That is all I really have to say about the Indians. They are really bad, and will not improve any time soon.
Pirates and Mariners; Check. No it’s on to Arizona…..
The Diamondbacks weren’t expected to be good; They projected to be what they were. And that is a last place team. Arizona was one of the worst teams in baseball, period. So, how is it possible to fix a team this bad? It may not be, but they can’t be worse.
The pitching always seems to be the issue with bad teams, and the Diamondbacks are no exceptions. I mean, Ian Kennedy is their ace! He put in an ok season, with a 3.80 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, but he is not an ace on any other staff in baseball. Joe Saunders, who was acquired midseason (For their real ace, Dan Haren) had an ERA of 4.47 and a WHIP of 1.46. Rodrigo Lopez had an ERA of exactly five, but is anyone really surprised about that? They do have two young promising pitchers in Barry Enright and Daniel Hudson. Hudson, acquired from Chicago for Edwin Jackson, was the White Sox top prospect. In his time with Arizona he went 8-2 with an ERA of 2.45. Enright, who was drafted by the Diamondbacks, had a 3.91 ERA in 17 starts.
The rotation does not look too terrible. Their real pitching issue was the bullpen. Their closer, Juan Guteirez, posted an ERA north of 5 with only 15 saves. Aaron Heilman, their long man, had an ERA of 4.50. Sam Demel, an Arizona prospect, had an ERA of 5.35. Blaine Boyer had one of 4.26. Esmerling Vasquez had another ERA over five. Their only bright spot in the pen was DJ Carrasco, also acquired by Chicago.
So it’s pretty obvious that was the problem. The worst bullpen ERA in the National League. But how about the offense? How did that do this season?
The infield had a pretty good season, Adam LaRouche hit .265 with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs. Mark Reynolds, the third baseman, led the world in strikeouts but hit 32 home runs, despite his .198 batting average. Kelly Johnson had a huge bounce back year, hitting .284 with 26 home runs. Stephen Drew hit .278 with 15 home runs and an OBP of .352. So that infield had some power. It almost reminds me of Toronto a bit this season with all the homeruns. If Arizona had any pitching, maybe they could be that kind of team.
Now onto the outfielders. They have a very promising player in centerfield of Chris Young. He was the lone Representative of Arizona in the all-star game, and participated in the home run derby. Young hit 27 home runs on the season, with 91 RBIs. The rest of their outfield is very promising too with Brandon Allen (.267, 1 HR, 22 gms) and Justin Upton (.273, 17 HRs), along with prospects Gerado Parra and Cole Gillespie.
After trading Chris Snyder to Pittsburgh, that left all the catching duties on Muguel Montero. Montero was the subject of many trade talks in the offseason, particularly in a rumor to be traded for Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox. Arizona kept him, and made him their starting backstop. Montero hit .266 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs in 85 games, after missing a lot of the beginning of the season.
What is Arizona going to have to do this offseason? Adam LaRouche is a free agent. With Upton returning to the outfield after an injury, Brandon Allen is going to be a first baseman again, so I can see LaRouche walking and getting money elsewhere. Johnson and Drew will man the middle infield, and there is a chance Reynolds will be nontendered. The outfield looks set, in Upton, Young and Parra.
They may want to work on some pitching help. Kennedy, Enright, and Hudson are locked up. Sauders could be nontendered, and Lopez is a free agent. And they have Brandon Webb returning next season. So their real issue now is bullpen. Who can they pickup to improve it? They have been linked to Rafeal Sorinao and Francisco Rodriguez.
So there you have it. Your preview of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Yesterday we took a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates, now it is time to look at Seattle.
The Mariners were predicted by most people to win the American League West this season, because of their off-season additions. They added Cliff Lee in the trade with the Phillies, signed Chone Figgins, and acquired Brandon League for Brandon Morrow. They were projected to be one of the best defensive and pitching teams in the league.
…..That was not really the case. The Mariners finished 10th in the American League in fielding, only Boston, Kansas City, Cleveland and Anaheim behind them. Figgins had 19 errors, primarily at second base. Josh Wilson had 20, playing shortstop and third base. Jose Lopez made 18 at third base. So that must be the primary concern for the Mariners, right?
No. Have you seen their hitting stats? They finished worst in the American League in runs scored and batting average. And can you see why? Their cleanup hitter, Lopez, hit .239 with three home runs! Their first baseman, Casey Kotchman, hit .217 with nine home runs. Other than Ichiro Suzuki, who hit .315, their highest batting average was .259, by Figgins.
The Mariners will probably look at a first baseman next season. They have Justin Smoak, but he hit only .213 on the season, in both Texas and Seattle. They have Russel Branyan, but despite the twenty five home runs, he hit only .237. And do not be surprised to see Kotchman be non-tendered.
The rest of the infield does not look so pretty. They still have Figgins locked up another four years, and they are stuck with Jose Lopez and Josh Wilson. There is not too much infield depth after that, with Chris Woodward, Matt Tuiasosopoo, and Mark Mangini. I gave you the stats on Lopez, Figgins, and Wilson. The other three? Woodward hit.158, Tuiasosopoo .173, and Mangini .211. So that infield is not looking sharp heading into 2011. They might pick up a guy like Mark Ellis or Bill Hall to backup the infield and solidify some depth.
Now the outfield, which has some promise. Of course you have Ichiro, but what else? The Mariners are very high on left fielder Micheal Saunders. Saunders hit only .211 when he was up this year, with ten home runs. But it was his first year, and he is a top prospect of Seattle. He was ranked as their third prospect going into the season.
Their center fielder, Franklin Gutierrez, is an interesting case in himself. Gutierrez was acquired from Cleveland before the 2009 season. He did not hit for a high average in Cleveland, but he looked like a promising young player. When he was traded to Seattle, he had a career year, hitting .283 with 18 home runs and 16 stolen bases. Seattle had thought they had something in Gutierrez. This season, he hit .245 with 12 home runs. At age 27, in his fifth year, it’s time to say he is what he is.
The Mariners had yet another problem this season, and that is pitching. Many people,myself included, were calling Seattle the best pitching staff in the league because they had Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee. Hernandez had a terrific year, putting up Cy Young numbers with a 2.27 ERA to lead the American League. His WHIP is 1.06. Cliff Lee had himself a good season too…. Just not all in Seattle.
When Seattle knew they had no shot in mid July, they traded Lee to the New York Yankees. The deal was done all but the paperwork, and Seattle was getting Jesus Montero, one of the best prospects in the game. But Texas jumped in at the last second, and offered Justin Smoak, their top prospect. Seattle ripped up their deal with New York, and sent Lee off to Texas, who won their division.
The rest of their rotation served a problem. Ryan Rowland-Smith, who they considered a promising young player, put up an ERA of 6.35 in 27 games. He will most certainly be non-tendered. Luke French, who Seattle acquired from Detroit for Jarrod Washburn, posted a 4.83 ERA. Jason Vargas, who was acquired from the Mets, had a decent year, with a respectable ERA of 3.83. His career best before that was 4.03 with Florida in 2005. Doug Fister’s ERA soared to 4.11, after leading the American League in ERA for around three months. The last pitcher on the Mariner’s staff was David Pauly, with a 4.07. So that pitching and defense thing? Yeah… That didn’t really work.
The bullpen was not much better. David Aardsma, who was Seattle’s closer last season, five blown saves and an ERA of 3.44. Brandon League had a good year, with an ERA of 3.42 13 holds. He did, however, have six blown saves. Garret Olson, who was acquired from Baltimore, had an Earned Run Average of 4.54 with a WHIP of 1.51. Sean White had an ERA north of five. Two young pitchers who had okay years in the M’s pen were Jamey Wright and Brian Sweeny.
So, what do the Mariners have to fix? Not much, just the bullpen, rotation, hitting and defense. That’s all. Some players Seattle may target in the offseason, trade or free agency, are Daisuke Matsuzaka, Juan Uribie, or Cody Ross