Chip Shot

November 30, 2009

It looks as if we are finally rid of Chip Caray calling games at TBS.

Finally.

Caray has been haunting baseball fans with his bad calls, fact errors and exaggerating with extreme frequency for far too long. This was even more obvious during this year’s MLB playoffs on TBS when Caray was at the forefront of their telecasts. Caray’s most unmemorable call was during the Tigers/Twins game 163 when an obvious line drive to left was called this way:

“Line drive. Base hit. Caught out there. The runner tags. Throw to the plate. On target. And in time! A double play!”

Absolutely horrible. It’s not often I call for someone’s head, but this was a long time coming as he just didn’t seem to have a grasp on the game of baseball.

Now if we could only find a way to get baseball off TBS we’d really be in business.


MLB Hot Stove: Willingham & Millwood Rumors

November 29, 2009

Will Willingham be on the move? (Keith Allison/Flickr)

Two new names that have started popping up in trade rumors are that of outfielder Josh Willingham of the Nationals and pitcher Kevin Millwood of the Rangers. Both for different reasons.

First you have Willingham, a talented 30-year old outfielder who never gets any national attention due to the fact that the only two teams he has ever played for are the Marlins and Nationals. But despite playing for the hapless Nationals last season, Willingham put up a .260/.367/.496 line with 24 homers and 61 RBI while constantly playing hard on every play. This is just the type of player that the Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves are in the market for. The only question now is whether or not the Nationals are interested in moving him.

On the other hand, the cash-strapped Rangers look to be freeing up some money this off season by possibly moving their ace Kevin Millwood. Millwood had a strong season posting a 13-10 record, 3.67 ERA and 123 strikeouts last season. Thoughts are the Rangers would like to give themselves a little extra money to try to bring in free agent starting pitcher John Lackey to head up their rotation. One team believed to have inquired about the veteran righty was the Milwaukee Brewers who themselves are looking to bolster their rotation.

At this point these rumors are in early stages so it will be interesting to see if anything develops.

[Update 11/30/09 @ 7:32 PM: The Baltimore Orioles have apparently inquired about Kevin Millwood to help bolster their rotation. This would help give the Rangers salary space to go after Lackey as mentioned above or possibly slugger Jermaine Dye.]


MLB Hot Stove: Seattle Moneybags

November 28, 2009

Could Figgins be holding down third for the M's in 2010? (ATempletonPhoto.com)

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum from my article earlier today regarding the Chicago Cubs bleak financial picture this off season, the Seattle Mariners have been able to unload about half their salary from a year ago.

With Adrian Beltre, Miguel Batista, Jarrod Washburn, Kenji Johjima and Erik Bedard amongst the players that will finally be leaving town and/or coming off the books, the Mariners $98 million payroll will be given an almost $50 million cushion this winter.

This gives the Mariners tons of flexibility to bring on players that can truly help them compete with the Angels in 2010 which is something they have been hoping to do for years.

The Mariners can now work on resigning their slugger Russell Branyon to anchor first base again this year as well as pursue other options like Orlando Hudson at second base and former Angel John Lackey to sure up the rotation and Chone Figgins to take Beltre’s spot at third.

It has been a long time since the M’s had an opportunity to really do things to help their team and I think the fans up in Seattle couldn’t be more excited for the winter ahead.


MLB Hot Stove: Milton Bradley & The Cubs

November 27, 2009

Bradley's temper has always been an issue (SD Dirk/Flickr).

It appears as if the Chicago Cubs are financially handcuffed until they find a team to take outfielder Milton Bradley and his cumbersome multi-year contract off their hands.

The Cubs would love to bring in a free agent centerfielder to run around Wrigley next season but are unable to unless they can get the noose that is the 2-year, $20 million contract off from around their neck.

Chicago has a few players on their radar including free agents Coco Crisp, Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel, Marlon Byrd and Mike Cameron as well as their main target via trade in Detroit Tiger Curtis Granderson.

There unfortunately aren’t too many suitors that would be willing to take on Bradley along with this difficult contract and obnoxious attitude. One such team that may be able to make something work would be the New York Mets who themselves have been trying to unload Luis Castillo for a few years. This may be their only hope as not too many teams are willing to take that leap of faith anymore with Bradley.

If they can get a deal done to get Bradley out of town, they will pursue these players hard in order to fill a gaping hole in center.


Is Ben Sheets Worth The Risk?

November 25, 2009

It feels as if I was writing this exact same article around this time last year.

Oh wait, that’s right, I was.

Although the situation is very similar, last season’s setback that made Ben Sheets miss the entire season will undoubtedly be in the back of many team’s minds when they consider whether or not to sign the former stud pitcher. I have always been a fan of Sheets and was very vocal in my stance that teams should give him a chance to prove himself last season in some sort of incentive laden deal.

While I admit I was wrong in my stance (thanks to the injury), I am back on the same boat this season and think that teams should give him a chance. And to back up my view, here is a look at what Sheets has done as well as my scouting report on him before the injury.


NAME: Ben Sheets
POSITION: RHP
BORN: 7/18/1978
AGE: 30
BATS: Right
THROWS: Right
COLLEGE: Northeast Louisiana
MLB DEBUT: 4/5/2001

2008 MLB STATISTICS
GM IP W-L ERA SO K/PA BsRA9
31 198.1 13-9 3.09 158 19.5% 3.56

When Ben Sheets is on the mound he’s been fantastic. The problem over his career has been keeping him healthy enough to be on the mound. Although he has missed time, the number of games has gone up each of the past three seasons. In 2006 he appeared in only 17 games, 2007 he found the mound in 24 games and a career high 31 times in 2008. So while the trend has gone up, the lingering worry still hangs over his head. Just ask the Brewers and their fans.

Although when Sheets is on the mound he’s a true ace. Sheets has a 3/4 arm slot delivery which produces an impressive fastball. The fastball sits in the low to mid-90’s with great life both up and down in the strike zone. Sheets also has the ability to locate his fastball consistently on both sides of the plate and even can add a little cut motion to it. The former Brewer also possess a huge plus-power curveball with a fantastic downward drop and a changeup with solid fading action which he disguises well with an arm speed similar to his fastball.

As you can see when Sheets is on and healthy he can be one of the best pitchers in the game. Sheets is also a great competitor and wants to win with everything he has. This makes him a great addition to any club. I’ve always enjoyed watching the righthander on the mound and I highly suggest trying to find an archived game somewhere on MLB.com or iTunes and checking him out.

Now let’s hope he proves me right this time.

(photo courtesy of: Scott Abelman/Flickr)


MLB Hot Stove (Halladay, Granderson, Crisp & More)

November 24, 2009

What outfield will Granderson be patroling next year? (Josh May/Flickr)

This is one of the most exciting times of the year if you are a baseball fan. All the trade speculation. All the free agents floating around looking for a new home. It’s an exciting time.

Between now and the start of spring training, it’s my goal here at The Diamond Cutter to try to keep you updated on all the ins and outs of this off season. I’ll be using a variety of sources from ESPN Insider, MLBTradeRumors.com, local news sites and more.

So without further ado on to the recent flood of speculation…

· ESPN Insider has been repeatedly linking the New York Mets to Roy Halladay which I find to be quite a stretch. I just don’t think the Mets have the prospects available to make a move despite what some “experts” say. Names like Edwin Mejia, Ruben Tejada and prized prospect Fernando Martinez have been mentioned to be possibilities. The blurb also mentions the possibility of the Mets taking on Vernon Wells’ astronomical contract as part of the deal which would definitely sweeten the deal for the Jays.

· According to MLBTradeRumors.com the Chicago White Sox are once again linked to being interested in bringing in free agent Coco Crisp to play center for them in 2010. Crisp had a tough stretch for the Royals hitting only .228/.336/.378 in 215 plate appearances last season during a shortened season due to injury. Crisp definitely still has a lot left in the tank and will make some team very happy next season.

· Both FoxSports.com and ESPN.com have talked quite a bit about the Detroit Tigers moving lead off hitter Curtis Granderson to help cut payroll. FoxSports.com has linked the Los Angeles Angels to the lefty and others have tied him to the Mariners and Cubs. Both intriguing options, but I personally would like to see him land in Seattle alongside Griffey and Ichiro. And speaking of the Tigers, DetNews.com has indicated that Miguel Cabrera has even been added to the list of available Tiger players. That would be the waiving of the white flag in my book.

Nick Johnson is on many radars this winter. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

· ESPN Insider has discussed what options the Seattle Mariners have next season to help bolster their weakened infield. While the club is trying to bring back Russell Branyan to play first base next season, they are going to need to do something with the impending loss of third baseman Adrian Beltre to free agency. Names like Nick Johnson, Jim Thome, Casey Kotchman, Carlos Delgado, Orlando Hudson and Dan Uggla have been tossed in as possible candidates. I plan on digging a bit deeper into the 2010 Seattle Mariners later this week as I bring back the popular “GM for a Day” series where I go into detail of what I would do to turn their ship around.

For a look back at a few of the teams I did this for last year, look to the right hand column of this page under “Best Of” and give it a look. I’m pretty impressed with how many of my ideas took off for these clubs.

· Now it’s time for the lightening round for rumors. Hang on tight as they are coming fast and furious: Slugger Adrian Gonzalez looks to be staying put in San Diego for now…the Twins could have a great present for their fans with a signed MVP catcher by Christmas…the Mets may have interest in bringing in Jack Cust…Jermaine Dye is willing to move to first base if it gets him a job…the Rockies don’t want Mike Lowell to fill their third base hole…the Braves are already looking to move Derek Lowe out of town…and the Phillies have Placido Polanco, Mark DeRosa and Adrian Beltre on their radars to sure up their infield.

Stay tuned for more on this and more MLB rumors!<2


Diamond Cutter Scouting Report: Josh Johnson

November 23, 2009

Johnson has proven to be ace material. (afagen/Flickr)

Name: Josh Johnson
Number: 55
Position: Starting Pitcher
Born: 1/31/84
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Height: 6’7″
Weight: 250
Debut: 9/10/05

Scouting Report: Johnson has established himself as a rising ace for the Marlins. He is a tall power pitcher who is very imposing on the mound with his 6-7 frame. He has a very smooth, sound delivery and takes advantage of his stature by producing a fantastic downhill angle to the plate which gives the appearance that the pitch is coming down on the hitter.

His pitch arsenal includes both a two and four-seam fastball (sitting between 92-96 mph) which is lively both up and down in the strike zone. Johnson does a great job pitching inside on hitters which helps open up the strike zone for him where many pitchers are affraid to go. His secondary (strikeout) pitch is a power slider that he is able to change the break on depending on if he is facing a lefty or a righty and keeps hitters honest. Also adds a decent changeup as a third pitch.

Johnson has completely recovered from his Tommy John surgery he had a few years ago and established himself as a legitimate star on the mound. The only question now remains how good can he become and what uniform will he be wearing as he realizes his greatness.