Passing the Buchholz

October 19, 2007

Entering Thursday night’s game five in Cleveland, the Boston Red Sox were on the cusp of being eliminated from the playoffs. Despite a dominating win in game one by a score of 10-3, the Sox would go on a tail spin losing their next three games. But thanks to another brilliant performance from their ace and Cy Young candidate Josh Beckett, the Red Sox jumped right back into the series and now head back to Boston. The only problem they face now is that Josh Beckett can’t pitch every game.

To show you just how much they are in need of someone in their rotation to step up, here’s a quick peek at how Red Sox pitchers have done in the ALCS:

Josh Beckett: 2 GS, 2-0, 1.93 ERA, 14.0 IP, 18 SO
Curt Schilling: 1 GS, 0-0, 9.64 ERA, 4.2 IP, 3 SO
Daisuke Matsuzaka: 1 GS, 0-1, 7.71 ERA, 4.2 IP, 6 SO
Tim Wakefield: 1 GS, 0-1, 9.64 ERA, 4.2 IP, 7 SO

Looking quickly at these stats the obvious thing that jumps out is the horrible ERA’s everyone but Beckett have posted. But what might be even scarier is the fact that no one other than Beckett has been able to pitch out of the fifth inning. Not only is that not what you want to see from your starters, but it wears out your bullpen. Oh, and while we are on the subject of bullpens, that hasn’t exactly been rock solid either. Whlie Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima and Mike Timlin (combined 0.00 ERA) have all done well at the ends of games, their middle relief of Manny Delcarmen (16.20 ERA), Eric Gagne (13.50 ERA) and Javier Lopez (36.00 ERA) have been horrible. So basically what I’m saying is that unless Beckett starts, pitches his 7-8 innings, and then hands it over to the late inning guys, the Sox are in trouble. If anyone else starts or you need a bridge from starter to closer with your middle relief, well, let’s just hope Big Papi and the boys can knock in ten runs a game.

This of course (and unfortunately) is not always feasible.

As a proud, long-time member of the Red Sox Nation, what frustrates me more than anything is that all of this could have been avoided. I believe that when the Red Sox management elected to leave top prospect Clay Buchholz off the post season roster, they made a huge mistake.

The young right-hander pitched spectacular for the Red Sox down the stretch run and deserved a spot. In four games (three starts), Buchholz was 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA, 22.2 IP, 22 SO and capped everything off with a no-hitter in Fenway Park against the Baltimore Orioles on September 1. I don’t know about you, but I think his performance down the stretch more than warranted a roster spot. This is especially true considering Matsuzaka’s physical breakdown since mid-August.

Now I know the reason the Red Sox kept him off the playoff roster was because they say he was showing signs of arm fatigue, but I really have to wonder if that was a good enough reason. I know its not worth injuring the top prospect in your system, but at the same time, Buchholz would have been invaluable to this pitching staff in the ALCS. If you don’t want to throw him out there for a start, he would have been great in any one of those games as a middle reliever that you received short outings from your starter (similar to how Lester did the other night). If not, wouldn’t you like the opportunity to run him out there as a spot starter if Wakefield or Matsuzaka continue to struggle? I know I would.

So while I understand wanting to protect your young gun, you have to remember he is just that: young. Young arms have a tendency to bounce back if they are getting tired so even if you wanted to leave him out of the division series against the Angels, adding him before the ALCS would have been the smart thing to do.

But then again what do I know? It’s not like I predicted the collapse of Dice-K during the second half of the season.

Oh wait…

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2008 Top 25 Prospects’ AFL Stats

October 17, 2007

Today I thought we’d take a look at how the players listed on my 2008 top 25 prospects list are doing in the Arizona Fall League. For those of you not familiar with my Sunday Ranking Round-Up that I used to write for my Minor League Baseball column “Minor Details” over at MVN.com, you can click here for an example from last Spring. This feature will be returning for the 2008 season and occasionally between now and then as needed.

Here’s a quick snapshot of how the players participating are doing in the AFL. While not all of them are playing this fall, I figured it would be good to keep up with how the ones that are in Arizona have been fairing. Here’s how their stats look through today:

NAME RNK AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Brignac #14 .136 5 22 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 7 0 .136 .136
Clement #22 .400 4 15 4 6 0 0 1 3 2 3 0 .500 .600
Longoria #6 .240 7 25 5 6 0 0 3 5 2 10 0 .296 .600
Maybin #3 .222 5 18 3 4 1 0 2 2 3 4 1 .333 .611
McCutchen #12 .273 6 22 5 6 0 1 0 1 2 3 2 .333 .364
Snider #17 .353 5 17 4 6 2 0 0 0 4 6 0 .476 .471

As you can see, the higher on my list a player is, the worse they are doing so far.

Of course.

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Dice-K Coming Up Snake Eyes

October 16, 2007

Daisuke Matsuzaka has hit a wall.

Hard.

In fact, the 27-year old from Tokyo has been under some heavy criticism as of late for possibly not living up to the hype, and $100 million the Red Sox shelled out, that everyone expected from him. But is this criticism warranted? Here’s a look at Dice-K’s 2007 season stats:

GS W-L CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA WHIP BAA
32 15-12 1 0 204.2 191 100 100 25 80 201 4.40 1.32 .246

Now while these stats may not blow your socks off, put aside how much money was spent to bring him here and the fact that he pitched so many years in Japan. For a first year MLB pitcher, those are some pretty good stats. So I really don’t think Matsuzaka can be criticized overall for his play. However his play as of late has been anything but spectacular. Here is a look at some of Matsuzaka’s key numbers since August 15:

GS W-L IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
10 2-5 56 61 44 44 9 29 51 7.07

Like I said, anything but spectacular. He’s posted an ERA of 7.07 and averaged only 5.6 innings per start in his last 10 starts. If Dice-K is going to be criticized, it should be for this stretch, not his season as a whole. But honestly, I don’t think these past two months are really much of a surprise.

When you look at what life as a pitcher was like for Matsuzaka before coming to America, his struggles as of late aren’t too much of a shock. In Japan, Matsuzaka was part of a six-man rotation which gave the starter an extra day or two in between starts. Tack these days on top of themselves and that really starts taking a toll on someone not used to it. Another factor that has come into play is the fact that the season in Japan ended almost four weeks ago. This means Dice-K’s body is conditioned to have been done pitching for almost a month now. So when all the days between these two reasons come together, you are looking at around the time when Dice-K started to break down. It all comes together with a big shinny bow.

Now I’m not being an apologist for Dice-K because I’m a Red Sox fan, but I do want to help show some of the factors that are contributing to the starter’s troubles. This is why I’m a little perplexed as to why the Sox didn’t ease up on Matsuzaka a little down the stretch and give him more rest between starts. I know you can only do so much of this as you have a rotation to adhere to, but thinking ahead to having a fully rested star pitcher should also be a top priority. These ideas of why Daisuke has struggled can’t be news to the Red Sox can they? I mean if I broke it down and was able to come up with this logical reasoning you’d think a world class team like the Sox would have a clue too, right?

I guess they are just planning to roll the Dice-K for the rest of the season and hope they don’t crap out.

(And yes the last statement was in regards to the game craps. After all, this is a family site.)

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Retro Draft: 2005 High School Outfielders

October 12, 2007

The first round of the 2005 first-year player draft saw an incredible crop of talent come from it. Players like Justin Upton, Troy Tulowitzki, and Ryan Braun have already reached the Majors and have made major contributions to their teams playoff runs while others like Alex Gordon, Matt Garza, and Ryan Zimmerman have cemented themselves as franchise players in their organizations. Not to mention 12 of the top 30 picks at one time or another were listed on my top 25 prospect list over the past couple of years. So with all this talent that exploded on to the scene in 2005, why is this article directed exclusively at the high school outfielders?

As good as the 2005 draft was, it isn’t remembered for all the talented players that came from it, but rather it is remembered for having the richest crop of high school outfielders we possibly have ever seen in one draft. We’ve had drafts that were deep at certain positions before, but none with high schoolers the caliber of the four studs in center field that came from this one. All four of them appear to be can’t miss players which is so rare to have in kids so young, at the same position, in the same draft. To give you a better understanding of the talent, here’s a look at the four center fielders that still have the baseball world talking:

10th Pick / Cameron Maybin / Detroit Tigers / TC Roberson High School
Cameron Maybin has a lighting quick bat and long arms that can generate a lot of power. Because of this I project him to be a 30-plus home run hitter down the road for the Tigers. Also due to his speed and stellar base running instincts, look for this kid to steal 30-plus bases as well. Drafting a future 30/30 guy right out of high school isn’t something you come across everyday and Maybin looks to have the best chance to join the club. Maybin also has great range and powerful arm in center field. Between A and AA he posted .316/.409/.523 with 14 homers, 53 RBI, and 25 stolen bases. This guy is an all around superstar and will be making noise in Detroit as soon as next year.

11th Pick / Andrew McCutchen / Pittsburgh Pirates / Fort Meade High School
Andrew McCutchen is an exciting player with a stellar glove in centerfield. Despite his great defensive prowess, his impact bat may be his best skill. McCutchen has quick hands and a compact swing which produces a surprising amount of power for someone of his stature. He is a line drive hitter due to his quick bat speed and is able to hit consistently to all fields. While he did struggle a bit in the Minors this year hitting .265/.329/.388 with 11 homers, 53 RBI, and 21 stolen bases, the Pirates organization is hoping he will still be their shining star in center at the start of next season.

12th Pick / Jay Bruce / Cincinnati Reds / Westbrook High School
Jay Bruce is a five tool player who can impact the game with his power bat, speed, and defense. He needs to work on his plate discipline and he also tends to struggle against lefties and off speed pitches, but those are adjustable. If he can learn these items the next few years and combine that with his current skills, he will be a monster. Bruce has already shown his masher capabilities by hitting .319/.375/.587 with 87 R, 26 homers, and 89 RBI in three levels for the Reds. With his talent and power, look for him to crush 35-40 HR in the hitter friendly Great American Ballpark.

28th Pick / Colby Rasmus / St. Louis Cardinals / Russell County High School
Colby Rasmus is the superior, impact-type prospect the St. Louis Cardinals organization has been waiting for ever since Albert Pujols was plucked from it. Rasmus is a perfect example of a five-tool player as he can run, throw, field, hit, and hit for power. Excellent bat speed, good pitch recognition, and plus runner. Rasmus had an offensive explosion in AA this season hitting .275/.381/.551 with 29 homers, 72 RBI, and 18 stolen bases. The only thing is that I am not sure how much St. Louis will allow him to run once he reaches Majors.

As you can see, despite the great amount of talent that was available in this draft, the four center fielders who at the time were just barely old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes are the ones that people still mention when the 2005 draft is brought up.

I for one can not wait to see how these young players develop and who will rise to the top as the best of the high school center fielders in the class of ’05.

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2007 Free Agent Review

October 11, 2007

Back on January 16, 2007 I wrote a column here entitled “2007 Free Agent Signings: The Good, The Iffy, & The Ugly.” In it I took a look at the most noteworthy free agent signings of last winter, how it would impact each team, and whether I thought it was a good signing, an iffy signing, or an ugly signing. It was a fabulous article.

So now with the 2007 regular season over, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of my comments on each of these players as well as what category I put them into and what category they ended up in after it was all said and done. Since some are now in new categories, I have reordered the players in alphabetical order. Without further ado, lets take a look:

Moises Alou, New York Mets (1 year – $8.5 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “They should be very happy with their investment, especially if he can play at least 120 games.”
· Outcome: While Alou did have a nice year at the plate this season hitting .341/.392/.524, it was unfortunately only for 87 games. Those are very impressive numbers, especially for a guy who turned 41 this season. But the problem is the Mets paid that money for a full time player and instead they got a guy who played only half the season. This is a difficult ranking because he didn’t play much, but when he played he was very good.
· New Ranking: The Iffy

Rich Aurilia, San Francisco Giants (2 years – $8 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “…they got a player relatively cheap who put up very productive numbers in 2006…”
· Outcome: Well I guess the old saying “you get what you pay for” is true in this case. Aurilia was dreadful in his first year back with the Giants hitting .252/.304/.368 with 5 homers and 33 RBI in 99 games. This was a dramatic drop-off from his .300/.349/.518 with 23 homers and 70 RBI stat line the previous year with Cincinnati. Sure the Great American Ballpark is a hitters park, but that’s still too big of a drop.
· New Ranking: The Bad

Mark DeRosa, Chicago Cubs (3 years – $13.3 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “This is a rare situation in which a team seems to have actually gotten a good deal for a player rather than the other way around.”
· Outcome: The Cubs got just what they wanted from Mark DeRosa in 2007. He had a very nice line of .293/.371/.420 with 147 hits, 28 doubles, and 72 RBI in 149 games. That was virtually a mirror image of what he did the previous year in Texas. I’m glad I finally got one right on with Mr. DeRosa.
· New Ranking: The Good

JD Drew, Boston Red Sox (5 years – $70 million)
· Original Ranking: The Ugly
· Memorable Quote: “I just have a feeling Sox fans will be hating him before too long.”
· Outcome: Well I was kinda right on this one. Drew started off miserably for the Sox and the fans let him know it real quick. But to Drew’s credit, the typically made of glass outfielder did turn it around at the plate a little hitting .270/.373/.423 with 11 homers and 64 RBI in 140 games. Drew did end up having some very low numbers considering how much he is paid and the fact that he’s surrounded by great hitters. So considering those to factors along with his paycheck, I’m going to stick with my original ranking.
· New Ranking: The Ugly

Eric Gagne, Texas Rangers (1 year – $6 million)
· Original Ranking: The Iffy
· Memorable Quote: “…they did the smart thing and only signed him for one season in case the injury problems continue.”
· Outcome: This will be a tough one to grade considering he didn’t even spend the entire season with Texas. While he did again struggle with injuries (becoming the JD Drew of the pitching world – its great that they are on the same team now) he didn’t pitch too badly when he was healthy with Texas posting a 2-0 record, 2.16 ERA, 16/17 in saves in 34 appearances. After all it wasn’t his fault Texas never gave him save chances. So since Texas traded him to Boston (where he had a rough go posting a 2-2 record, 6.75 ERA, and 0/3 in saves) that pretty much makes this a bad deal overall for them since they didn’t really get their money’s worth.
· New Ranking: The Ugly

Marcus Giles, San Diego Padres (1 year – $3.2 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “…Giles will be a great fit to the top of their order and for not a lot of money.”
· Outcome: Ugh. I guess a reunion with his brother Brian wasn’t a good thing for the Padres. Giles had a horrible year. He hit only .229/.304/.317 with 10 stolen bases and 39 RBI in a whopping 116 games. The guy didn’t even get 100 hits on the season. Even though he only ripped the Padres off for $3.2 million (they were smart enough to only sign him to a one year contract), I still have to take this one as a big loss.
· New Ranking: The Ugly

Carlos Lee, Houston Astros (6 years – $100 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “…over the past three seasons…Lee has averaged a .290 batting average, 33 homers, and 109 RBI. Now you are going to put him in Houston with the most right handed hitter friendly park in baseball?”
· Outcome: Another big win for me (and the Astros) on this one. Lee had a huge year for Houston hitting .303/.354/.528 with 43 doubles, 32 homers, and 119 RBI. The addition of Lee finally gave Lance Berkman some protection in the lineup that he had been missing for so long. Even though the Astros were poor, Lee was a star.
· New Ranking: The Good

Kenny Lofton, Texas Rangers (1 year – $6 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “The Rangers were able sign a bona fide and more importantly, proven, leadoff hitter for cheaper than most teams.”
· Outcome: Apparently the Rangers didn’t want to hang on to any of their free agent signings in 2007. During their fire sale they gave up this ageless speedster to Cleveland where he helped ignite their offense. In 136 games (between the two teams) Lofton hit .296/.367/.414 with 86 runs, 38 RBI, and 23 stolen bases. Normally I’d say that was well worth $6 million but not if you don’t hang on to him!
· New Ranking: The Good

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Sox (6 years – $52 million)
· Original Ranking: The Iffy
· Memorable Quote: “I’m just leery about this signing. I know he had a great career in Japan but I think over $8 million per year for six years for someone who has never pitched in the Major Leagues is a lot.”
· Outcome: Well when you’re wrong, you’re wrong. For a hair over $8 million the Sox got a pitcher to pick up 15 wins and strikeout 201 hitters. Sure his ERA was a little up there at 4.40, but most of that was tacked on in the second half where he wasn’t quite as sharp as the first half. Regardless I am saying that this one worked out for the best.
· New Ranking: The Good

Gary Matthews Jr., Los Angeles Angels (5 years – $50 million)
· Original Ranking: The Iffy
· Memorable Quote: “But to think a 32 year old can match that (career highs) over the next 5 years might be a stretch.”
· Outcome: While Matthews did essentially put up the same homer (18) and RBI (72) totals as the previous year, his hitting line took a major hit. In 140 games Matthews hit .252/.323/.419 which is not what the Angels were looking from their $10 million a year investment. And the bad thing for the Angels? The 33 year old isn’t getting any younger and his contract isn’t getting any smaller.
· New Ranking: The Ugly

Gil Meche, Kansas City Royals (5 years – $55 million)
· Original Ranking: The Ugly
· Memorable Quote: “…I sincerely hope they didn’t sit down with $55 million burning in their pockets and say with a straight face that Gil Meche is their man.”
· Outcome: I read back over some of the articles I wrote about this Gil Meche signing and, wow, was I harsh. But in my defense at the time it looked to be an asinine signing. I will now admit that I was very wrong and that considering how Meche performed (3.67 ERA and 9 wins for a poor Royals team) compared to the market prices, the Royals made a nice signing. I will now light myself on fire.
· New Ranking: The Good

Mike Piazza, Oakland A’s (1 year – $8.5 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “A move to the American League is exactly what Piazza needed to extend his great career.”
· Outcome: While I do agree with my quote above, Piazza’s move to the AL wasn’t as joyous as I was expecting. Without his normal daily wears and tears of catching, Piazza still only managed to play in 83 games and post a mediocre .275/.313/.414 line with only 8 homers and 44 RBI. I’m not sure where Piazza will end up in 2008, but I’m going to guess its not Oakland.
· New Ranking: The Iffy

Jason Schmidt, Los Angeles Dodgers (3 years – $47 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “…bringing in an ace…really solidified them in a division that as a whole beefed up on pitching this winter.”
· Outcome: I thought this was a good, but expensive, signing by the Dodgers before the season started. I guess we will never know how it could have turned out as Schmidt only started six games going 1-4 with a 6.31 ERA due to a horrible shoulder injury. I really don’t have anything else to say as there is no defending my original ranking.
· New Ranking: The Ugly

Jeff Suppan, Milwaukee Brewers (4 years – $42 million)
· Original Ranking: The Ugly
· Memorable Quote: “To me it just seems like a lot of money and a lot of years to spend on a veteran with so many young pitchers they could give a shot to.”
· Outcome: I still stand by that statement. Granted the market has sky rocketed for mediocre pitchers, but I just think four years and $10 million per is a lot to spend for a club trying to stay young. Suppan had a year going 12-12 with a 4.62 ERA in 34 starts predominantly against a weak NL Central. These numbers are below his average over the past few years so coupling that with his salary I am going to stick to my initial answer.
· New Ranking: The Ugly

Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants (7 years – $126 million)
· Original Ranking: The Ugly
· Memorable Quote: “…the fact that he will now be the highest paid pitcher ever is a little ridiculous…I think this one will come back to bite the Giants in the end.”
· Outcome: Boy was I right on with this one and I couldn’t be happier about it. I really have nothing against Zito as a person, but as I’ve said many times, I do have something against his contract. Giving that much money to an above-average pitcher just doesn’t sit well with me. Does an 11-13 record and 4.53 ERA in a pitcher’s park sound like it’s worth $18 million per year? I didn’t think so. So I stand by my original ranking and raise my glass to Zito in hopes of an even worse 2008. Because at this rate, his extreme failure may be the only thing keeping teams from handing out ridiculous contracts like this.
· New Ranking: The Ugliest

If you count all of that up I had six right and nine wrong. So my final ranking of my performance:

The Iffy.

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The 2007 Diamond Cutter Awards

October 9, 2007

With the 2007 season over and everyone buzzing about who should be given what awards, I figued now with a break in the playoff action would be a perfect time to unveil “The Diamond Cutter Awards” for the 2007 regular season. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the award show!

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez, SS (NYY)
This was probably the easiest award out of all of them to pick. I mean, when you put up numbers like Alex Rodriguez did and no one else comes even close, its hard to argue someone else’s name. Believe me I tried. Here’s how Rodriguez faired in the “main” statistical categories and how he ranked vs. other American League hitters:

AVG: .314 – 13th
OBP: .422 – 4th
SLG: .645 – 1st
H: 183 – 15th
R: 143 – 1st
HR: 54 – 1st
RBI: 156 – 1st
SB: 24 – 14th
BB: 95 – 7th (t)

That’s pretty impressive and it really locks him into this award. While stats isn’t the only reason someone should be handed this prestigious award, it sure secured it for A-Rod. I’m really not going to spend too much more time on this since it is such a slam dunk.
Runner Up: (distant second) Magglio Ordonez, RF (DET) .363/.434/.595, 117 R, 216 H, 54 2B, 28 HR, 139 RBI

NL MVP: Matt Holiday, LF (COL)
When you first think about it, this one may be the toughest of all the awards to hand out. Matt Holliday and Jimmy Rollins both deserve this award, but I hate co-winners of awards so I won’t be suggesting that. However when you really dig down deep and get your hands dirty with the raw numbers the winner becomes much clearer in my eyes. While I won’t do a break down of numbers like this for everyone, I do want to show you just how Holliday stacked up against the rest of the National League:

AVG: .340 – 1st
OBP: .405 – 6th
SLG: .607 – 2nd
H: 216 – 1st
R: 120 – 3rd
2B: 50 – 1st
HR: 36 – 4th
RBI: 137 – 1st

Personally those numbers are almost impressive as A-Rod’s. But Holliday also provided leadership as he threw his team on his back and helped carry them to a playoff spot in September. While Rollins did a similar thing in Philadelphia, I think if you removed Rollins from the Phillies they would be better off than if you removed Holliday from the Rockies. With that and the stats in mind, I think Holliday shines a brighter light on himself as the 2007 NL MVP.
Runner Up: Jimmy Rollins, SS (PHI) .296/.344/.531, 139 R, 212 H, 38 2B, 20 3B, 30 HR, 94 RBI, 41 SB

AL Cy Young: Josh Beckett, RHP (BOS)
I can hear many of you yelling “WHAT?!?!” right now so please let me explain before the hate comments and emails begin. I know the cool pick is C.C. Sabathia and what he meant to the Cleveland Indians this year. There’s no denying that. But if you compare apples to apples, Josh Beckett pitched better. Take a look at the lines:

Beckett: 30 GS, 20-7, 3.27 ERA, 200.2 IP, 194 K, 40 BB, 23.6% K/PA, 3.59 BsRA9
Sabathia: 34 GS, 19-7, 3.21 ERA, 241 IP, 209 K, 37 BB, 21.4% K/PA, 3.64 BsRA9

While those are very similar lines, I took a look at who these two guys faced. Sabathia had 13 starts against Minnesota, Chicago, and Kansas City who combined to average 4.36 runs and hit .258 against everyone while Beckett faced New York, Toronto, and Tampa Bay who averaged 5.15 runs and hit .272 against all opponents. Now I know you can’t penalize Sabathia because he pitched in a weaker division this season, but you have to weigh that in a little. Plus I will leave you with one more point: while we may be arguing who the best pitcher in the league was, you can argue that Sabathia may not have even been the best pitcher on his own team.
Runner Up: C.C. Sabathia, LHP (CLE) 34 GS, 19-7, 3.21 ERA, 241 IP, 209 K, 21.4% K/PA, 3.64 BsRA9

NL Cy Young: Jake Peavy, RHP (SD)
This is the other battle that wasn’t really that close. Jake Peavy was a beast on the mound all season long and put up some incredible numbers on his way to winning the pitcher’s triple crown by leading the league in wins (19), strikeouts (240), and ERA (2.54). He also lead his team to within one game of winning the NL wild card spot until the red hot Rockies trounced them in the 163 game of the season. Much like A-Rod, I’m not going to go too in-depth with my argument as his numbers pretty much speak for themselves.
Runner Up: Brandon Webb, RHP (ARI) 34 GS, 18-10, 3.01 ERA, 236.1 IP, 194 K

AL Rookie of the Year: Dustin Pedroia, 2B (BOS)
Dustin Pedroia not only had the best stats of any American League rookie, but he also was the most important to his team’s success. Pedroia was an emotional piece to the Red Sox success this season. His presence in the line-up was easily felt as the Sox bumped him in numerous spots up and down, night in and night out, while always staying consistent. Coming into the season many felt Delmon Young would be the shoe in for the award but he didn’t have that impressive of a campaign. Pedroia dwarfed Young’s numbers in important categories by hitting .317/.380/.442 vs. Young’s .288/.316/.408. His ability to get on base was so important in helping Boston reach the post season. Because of this I hand him the Diamond Cutter AL ROY award.
Runner Up: Reggie Willits, LF (ANA) .293/.391/.344, 74 R, 20 2B, 34 RBI, 27 SB

NL Rookie of the Year: Ryan Braun, 3B (MIL)
All I can say is poor Troy Tulowitzki. He was well on his way to walking away with this award until the juggernaut known as Ryan Braun was called up to join the Brewers. The young Rockies shortstop put up some great numbers (.291/.359/.479, 24 HR, 99 RBI) and stellar defense but still was unable to defeat the giant Braun. In only 113 games, Braun posted .324/.370/.634 with 91 runs, 34 homers, 97 RBI, and 15 stolen bases. Its scary to think what this guy could have done with a full season under his belt.
Runner Up: Troy Tulowitzki, SS (COL) .291/.359/.479, 104 R, 33 2B, 24 HR, 99 RBI

AL Manager of the Year: Eric Wedge (CLE)
For a while there it looked like John McLaren of Seattle might take this award home after his team put together one heck of a run only to be tarnished by one heck of an implosion down the stretch. So Eric Wedge will take home this award after leading his team back to win the always-up-for-grabs AL Central with a record of 96-66 and upending the 2006 AL champs in the process. The biggest noteworthy accomplishment of his administration was the move of Fausto Carmona from a failed closer in ’06 to a Cy Young contender in ’07.
Runner Up: Terry Francona (BOS) 96-66, 1st place in AL East

NL Manager of the Year: Clint Hurdle (COL)
Considering many people picked the Rockies to finish last in the NL West, I’d say the fact that he helped lead this crew back to winning the wild card is something to pat him on the back about. Colorado finished with a 90-73 record and entered the playoffs for the first time since 1995 after winning a one-game playoff against their division rival Padres. While Bob Melvin had a heck of a season with Arizona and their group of youngsters, Colorado stole all our hearts with a great run at the end.
Runner Up: Bob Melvin (ARI) 90-72, 1st place NL West

So there you have it. The Diamond Cutter awards have now been handed out to all the deserving winners. Congratulations to all the winners and runners up for some incredible seasons. Make sure to let me know what you think about these awards and if you are interested, take a peak at the awards I handed out for the Minnesota Twins in my column “Twins Killings” over at MVN.com.

Catch my column “Twins Killings” every day only on the Most Valuable Network.

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Prospect Spotlight: Cameron Maybin

October 8, 2007

(Originally posted February 27, 2007 here on “The Diamond Cutter” and March 7, 2007 on my old Minor Details colum.)

Name: Cameron Maybin
Organization: Detroit Tigers
Position: Center Field
Drafted: 2005 #10 overall
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 6-3
Weight: 200 lbs

When the New York Mets selected right handed pitcher Mike Pelfrey with their ninth pick in the 2005 draft, the Detroit Tigers (picking tenth) could only be some what disappointed as they saw their top pitching target whisked off the board only one spot before them. After all, there was a fresh out of high school center fielder who “Baseball America” dubbed as the “most promising available outfielder” and “third-best hitting prospect overall” that had miraculously dropped to them. 18-year old Cameron Maybin had dropped much lower than he should have due to the fact that speculation was running rampant that the would be difficult to sign and was looking for a massive bonus. This didn’t stop the Tigers.

Despite some rough contract negotiations between the two sides, Maybin and the Tigers finally came to terms. Maybin’s $2.65 million bonus came only after a four month hold out and missing the entire minor league season. But the question was now posed of whether or not this kid, who still as of today isn’t legally old enough to drink alcohol, was worth all the hassle. Was Maybin truly the “Steal of the Draft?”

History: Cameron Maybin played his high school ball at TC Roberson High School in North Carolina and proceeded to etch his name in not only the school’s history books, but the state of North Carolina’s as well. While holding numerous records at his high school, Maybin also holds the state record for hitting after ending his high school career with a batting average over .600. Maybin also collected a couple of awards including “2004 Baseball America Youth Player of the Year” and “2005 1st team High School All-American Outfield.” Needless to say this garnered the youngster a lot of attention from pro scouts and made his decision to enter into the draft and fore go college a whole lot easier.

Once all of the contract drama was put aside, the Tigers now needed to see how the young center fielder handled himself as a pro. In 2006 (after missing 2005 due to the contract hold out), Maybin finally took the field for the first time as a professional baseball player with the Class A West Michigan Whitecaps. He helped lead the Whitecaps to the Midwest League championship and in doing so was given “2006 Class A Playoff Performer Award” by MiLB.com. In 2006 Maybin put up some very solid numbers for his first professional season hitting .304/.387/.457 with 59 runs, 9 homers, 69 RBI, and 27 stolen bases.

Scouting Report: Maybin has a lighting quick bat which can generate a lot of power and because of this I project him to easily be a 30-plus home run hitter down the road for the Tigers. But because of his size, along with his uncanny power is his enlarged strike zone. Maybin’s swing can at times be a little long with those lanky arms and can have some troubles with breaking balls. While this has improved a lot, it can still pose a problem at times and contributes to his high strike out rates. With his speed and stellar base running instincts, it’s not out of the question to think of him as a potential 30-plus stolen base threat as well. When you combine his offensive threats along with his great range and powerful arm in center field, you can easily see why I think he will be one of the brightest stars by the start of the next decade and why this kid is really something special.

2007 should be an exciting season for the Tigers organization and its fans as they get to see another season of the exciting Maybin. After more people have gotten to see the future of the Tigers in action, some comparisons have been made. Some are saying Maybin is similar to Jermaine Dye with more speed or even Torii Hunter with a better bat or even of the Eric Davis mold. In fact his high school coach proclaimed his skills and smarts for the game to be that of Ken Griffey Jr. But when it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter who you compare this kid to because what is obvious is that he is filled with natural talent.

While some players claim to be the “Steal of the Draft,” in Maybin’s case this is very much the case.

Catch my column “Twins Killings” every day only on the Most Valuable Network.

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