Tag:Elvis Andrus
Posted on: November 28, 2008 4:41 am

GM for a Day: Texas Rangers

I'm going to update these with extra categories as they come to me, I may eventually go back and break down the first few into this manner as well.

Untouchables on the MLB roster:
Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis, Taylor Teagarden,

Elite Prospects (for these I will only be listing those not on the major league roster):
Justin Smoak, Elvis Andrus, Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, Michael Main, Martin Perez  (the Rangers probably have the top farm system right now, helped a lot by the fleece of Atlanta in the Teixeira trade.  The last 3 are in the low minors but are potential aces dominating their leagues)

Holes to fill:
SP, RP, Closer

Potential major losses:
Milton Bradley

Major Free Agents after 2009:
Hank Blalock, Vincente Padilla, (probably) Kevin Millwood.

Bad Contracts:
Kevin Millwood, 2 years $23 million left, can be voided after this season if Millwood pitches less than 180 innings saving $12 million.
Vincente Padilla, 1 year $13.75 million left (including buyout).
Michael Young, 5 years $80 million left, no trade thru 2009, limited no trade (8 teams) thru May 2011 when he becomes a 10 and 5 player.

Large arbitration increases:
No salary's are likely to increase more than $1-2 million thru arbitration

the infield:
The infield is filling fast.  Ian Kinsler is one of the best offensive 2B in the league.  Chris Davis looks like a real power option at 3B (not his ideal defensive position but its where his future fits).  Hank Blalock will likely keep 1B warm for a year until Justin Smoak is ready to make an impact.  Michael Young is an established (allbeit overated) star at SS, with a good prospect in Joaquin Arias major league ready, and an elite prospect in Elvis Andrus a year away.  It's probably time to explore trading Michael Young....  Catcher is set with a veteran in Laird behind a group of top young talents in Teagarden, Max Ramirez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  Salty is likely wearing another uniform on opening day.  The other 3 can share C and DH duties with Max Ramirez serving as Hank Blalock's backup at 1B.

the outfield:
Josh Hamilton is an emerging superstar with one spot locked in.  Nelson Cruz put up a ridiculous line of .345 125-52-144-25 in his last 545 AB  in AAA before hitting .333 with 7 HR and 26 RBI in 31 games in the majors last season.  I don't think he'll be a star or put up anywhere near those numbers next season, but he is a former top prospect so the pedigree is there.  He should be able to put up a strong .280, 30 HR, 100 RBI season hitting in a strong lineup in the home run haven that is Arlington.  David Murphy, although not very highly touted, is a solid league average player, making close to the league minimum, who fits in well for a team that already has a strong offensive presence.  Marlon Byrd is a solid defensive 4th OF, hitting .302/.361/.460 in 814 AB for Texas.  Furthermore, in case there are injuries on the field, prospects Greg Golson and Julio Borbon should be ready to fill in.  This team should not need to sign a replacement for Milton Bradley.

the rotation:
I would characterize as abysmal.  Millwood and Padilla are overpaid for little production and beyond that is a group of young unproven players.  Brandon McCarthy and Eric Hurley probably have the most upside, although neither figures to be a break out player.  Next is a group of guys whose ceiling only reaches mid-backend types in Harrison, Nippert and Gabbard.  The rotation needs a lot of work.  Padilla and likely Millwood will both be off the books next season so there will be money to spend.  They need to bring in at least one guy.

the bullpen.
The bullpen is not good, like the rotation, but there is a few bright spots.  Francisco is currently the closer, although he isn't suited for the job.  CJ Wilson and Joaqin Benoit have both closes in the past, although they are both coming off poor injury plagued seasons, and again, neither is really suited for the job.  One strong arm to close is likely a must.  The three aforementioned former closers could all be suitable setup men if they can stay healthy.  Also adding to the rotation could shift a starter or two into the bullpen giving an extra boost.

the moves to make

1.  Attempt to trade Michael Young for major league ready pitching.  He is a pretty good player yes, but there is no way he is worth $16 million a year and he is under contract until 2013 (age 36).  He's more likely to be a product of his environment than a star level talent and you have two very good young players behind him.  Try and trade him now while he is still considered a star, because I doubt he will be in 2-3 years.  Remember the old saying, it's better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late.  If he won't waive his no trade clause, wait til the end of the season and trade him to whoever will take him before his 10 and 5 kicks in and he can go block any trade.  I'd love to say Young for Matt Cain but I doubt that works.  Jonathan Sanchez (I wouldn't do) and James McDonald are probably the most realistic targets right now, so it may be worth waiting until next season.  Note:  This would also free up cash to sign one of the top pitchers from this year's market.

2.  Trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia for Clay Buchholz.  The Sox say they won't do it but I don't mind it.  I bet they change thier mind after signing Junichi Tazawa.  Hold out and they'll cave.  The Rangers stole a good group of prospects for Gagne from the Sox and they can do it again.

3.  Sign Ben Sheets.  3 years, $39 million.  They need to get some top level pitching talent badly.  CC won't go.  Lowe isn't worth the cash at his age.  Burnett isn't worth the risk for 5 years.  That basically leave Sheets and Oliver Perez as the two pitchers left with the potential to lead a rotation.

4.  Sign Mark Prior to an incentive laden deal.  It could probably be a minor league contract with an invite.  Again, they need pitching as badly as you can need pitching and should look everywhere for it.  He's still only 28 years old.

5.  Sign Mark Mulder  2 years, $4 million, with incentives, escalators and team option.  Still could have some good years ahead at only 31.  Is due for a giant pay cut from the $7 million he made last season.

6.  Sign Kerry Wood.  3 years $27 million.  From what I've heard about Kerry Wood's mindset, he is the type that would take less to play where he wants, and he has Texas ties.  This probably should be up higher, but to me the rotation is more important so I left it down.

Texas has a potent offense and will have one for years to come, but the pitching is finally on its way.  Holland should make an impact this season, with Main, Feliz, and Perez possible 2010 additions.  This team should be ready to make a serious run at a title in 2011 if it can pick up some solid veteran pitching in the mean time (Sheets this year, Bedard, Harden, and Myers are available next).  Sheets isn't the perfect fit, but he's better than the decisions they've made in the past.  Would you rather pay for 120 innings very good innings from Sheets or 170 awful innings from Millwood?  At least you know that when healthy he's as good as anyone (and 2011 will conveniently be a contract year).  I'm not expecting either Prior or Mulder to do anything but there is very little risk in the deals for a team desperate for pitching.  I don't think anyone questions the future offense built around Hamilton, Kinsler, Davis, Smoak, Andrus, Teagarden and Ramirez.  By 2011 an ideal rotation could be Sheets, Buchholz, Bedard, Holland and Feliz or Perez and could be quite formidable. There is also a lot of depth in the group they would have all of those 6, plus Michael Main having frontline potential.  If only 2 or 3 of the 7 pitch to their potential the team would be a strong playoff contender with a great chance to advance.

2009 lineup:
C.  Gerald Laird/Taylor Teagarden
1B.  Hank Blalock/Max Ramirez
2B.  Ian Kinsler
3B.  Chris Davis
SS.  Michael Young (as much as I'd like to see him traded, next year or midseason is a more realistic target)
LF.  David Murphy
CF.  Josh Hamilton
RF.  Nelson Cruz
DH.  Ramirez/Teagarden

Rotation:  Ben Sheets, Clay Buchholz, Kevin Millwood, Vincente Padilla, Hurley/Gabbard/McCarthy

LHRP.  CJ WIlson
Set up men:  Frank Francisco, Joaquin Benoit
Closer. Kerry Wood.

5 years ago how good would Sheets, Prior, Mulder and Wood look together?
Posted on: November 25, 2008 4:11 am

GM for a Day: Atlanta Braves

This won't just serve as my Braves edition of GM for a Day but as my forum to bash Frank Wren.  Two awful trades both involving Mark Teixeira may have ruined the franchise for the next few years.  The first was technically under Schuerholz, but as the assistant GM and obvious successor he could have blocked the deal. 

Trade 1.

The Braves send Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Beau Jones and Matt Harrison to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay.
The Braves also recieve a compensation pick for Ron Mahay going to the Royals, they take Brett DeVall with the 40th pick. 

Trade 2

The Braves send Mark Teixeira to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek.
The Angels will also recieve two compensation picks in the 25-35 range if Mark Teixeira signs somewhere else.

I really don't mind trade one if they would have only given up one of Feliz and Andrus.  Feliz wasn't as highly regarded at the time, but he was a 19 year old pitching lights out with ace potential.  He's the type of player that you either put off limits are count as a marquee prospect when you move.  You don't add him in as a throw in player.  He is now considered one of the top 10 pitching prospects in the game. 

I can see why they gave up Andrus when they had Escobar and Lillibridge in the system, but why Andrus of the 3?  He had the highest ceiling as a player.  If I'm a GM he is the guy I want to keep above all else.  Escobar is overrated to begin with.  He's all defense, has already topped out in the SB department, and you are looking at a max of 12-15 HR for his entire career.  Plus Escobar had more value because he was major league ready.  Lillibridge is a good prospect but nothing special.  Andrus is a great defender with plus speed and projectable on base skills.  He is now arguably the best SS prospect in the game.

I agree with trading Salty (blocked), Harrison (tops out as a #3) and Jones (probably ends up a lefty reliever).  When it comes down to it, 3 blue chip prospects is too much to give up for 1.3 seasons of Teixeira.  They could have gotten the deal done for only two of Salty/Andrus/Feliz if they'd waited a week.  There is no way another team was giving up a better 3 prospects than that group.  They bought high on Tex.....

And then they sold low on Tex a year later.  Kotchman is awful.  I'm sorry he is.  His ceiling is hitting about .300-.310 with 20 HR and 90 RBI. I honestly don't think he's going to reach those numbers with Atlanta.  Even if he does, he's a 1B, and that doesn't cut it, especially in the NL.  Can the Braves really base an offense around Kotchman, McCann and 120 games of Chipper?  Not if they expect to compete.  Frank Wren clogged what is supposed to be a power position with a below average player for the next 3 seasons.  Why?  So they could hang on to their miniscule playoff hopes last season?  A minor league journeymen 1B could have hit the .285, 18 HR, 85 RBI that Kotchman was on pace for before the trade, and replacing Tex with those numbers is throwing in the towel anyway.  Oh and Stephen Marek is failed starter converted to relief who projects as nothing more than a 7th inning guy.  Great haul.

Why didn't they just try for prospects?  They could have gotten at least one elite prospect and then a bunch of guys like Marek.  How about Nick Adenhart and Stephen Marek for Tex?  With the emergence of Saunders and Santana last year he became available.  Then they trade for someone like Hank Blalock or sign Joe Crede to incentive laden deal and move him to first to keep him healthy.  Isn't that better than Kotchman? (hel the two compensation picks and a FA would have been better than Kotchman and Marek) Then they could have tried Adenhart down the stretch, who probably would have fared better in the weaker NL than he did in his first callup with the Angels.  Maybe then the Braves only need one starting pitcher instead of two right now.

And one last point before I get to the actual intention of this article.  If the Braves don't trade for Teixeira, not only do they have the best farm system in baseball on the stregnth of Hanson, Feliz, Andrus, Heyward and Schafer, but they also likely fall a few places down the standings and their first round pick in the 2008 draft becomes protected.  Than the Tom Glavine signing looks slightly less bad when they don't have to give up their draft pick.  But really who would have thought that $8 million and the 18th overall pick for a 42 year old would have turned out bad?

OK now finally on topic and to the offseason moves

1.  Trade for Jake Peavy already.  It won't make you a playoff team, but do it anyway.  My reasoning is this.  Escobar has more value this offseason than he is likely to at any point after it.  Gorkys Hernandez will never play for Atlanta with Schafer and Heyward ahead of him.  Boyer and Morton are nothing special.  Add another prospect, upgrade one of the pitchers for someone like Kris Medlen or Randall Delgado and see if they bite.  Do something.  There is no special players in this group, but Frank Wren will be afraid to pull the trigger anyway after the Braves were fleeced in the first Teixeira trade.  It wouldn't surprise me if Wren being gunshy forced the deal to fall thru for good.  Besides, the Braves need to add someone to anchor the rotation and I guarantee they are outbid on CC, Burnett and Lowe.  It's a deal that has to be made.

2.  Sign Jon Garland.  I like sinkerballers who can eat innings, and an innings eater fits well into this team.  You can also expect a boost in his numbers in moving to the NL. 

3.  Offer Rafael Soriano to the Rays for Reid Brignac.  The Rays need help at the back of the bullpen and Brignac may have become expendable with Maddon's man crush on Jason Bartlet and the drafting of Tim Beckham.  With the rest of my moves they can't afford Furcal, and they need to spend on a power hitting OF instead of a leadoff type.  I had Renteria here for a second but changed it, his .239 average against RHP was just too bad to pay him the money he'll command.  Just let Brignac and Lillibridge fight for the spot, one of them will take over.  If that trade doesn't work Renteria is the guy to go with despite his flaws.  Something tells me he'd take less to go back to at Atlanta, and a 2 year deal would be relatively low risk.

4.  Sign Adam Dunn.  They need a power hitter in LF and I like him because he can eventually take over 1B.  In a year or two when Heyward and Schafer are both ready you play them in the OF with Francouer, move Dunn to 1B and then trade away Kotchman for whatever you get.  This could also work with Raul Ibanez, but I just think Dunn fits here better. 

I still don't think they are a playoff team in that division but they are better when they started.  Peavy, Jurrjens and Campillo are all controlled until 2013 and Tommy Hanson for longer so it at least stabilizes the rotation.  If some of the young hitters can come up and start producing they could make a few playoff runs in front of the rotaiton.  The bigger problem is that most of the top offensive prospects were HS draft picks, which normally take longer to develop at the major league level.  Really didn't know what to do with the Braves, they are in a bad spot after those two awful Tex trades.  More just picked them next so I could bash them for it.  Not sure if I did the best job, but I'm pretty confident my plan is better than Frank Wren's......
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