Hot Stove: Moving Brett Wallace

December 15, 2009

Wallace is on the move again, this time to Toronto (mwlguide/Flickr).

So by now I’m sure you have received all the talk about the mega blockbuster trade between Philadelphia, Toronto and Seattle, but just in case your cable, internet and cell phone have all been broken over the past few days, here is a peek at what happened:

PHILLIES GET:
– Roy Halladay, RHP (from Toronto)
– Phillippe Aumont, RHP (from Seattle)
– Tyson Gillies, OF (from Seattle)
– Juan Ramirez, RHP (from Seattle)
– $6 million cash (from Toronto)

MARINERS GET:
– Cliff Lee, LHP (from Philadelphia)

BLUE JAYS GET:
– Travis d’Arnaud, C (from Philadelphia)
– Kyle Drabek, RHP (from Philadelphia)
– Brett Wallace, 1B/3B/DH (from Oakland)

A’S GET:
– Michael Taylor, OF (from Philadelphia via Toronto)

There it is in a nutshell. Like I said, you’ve probably heard all of it before. But the new pieces of the puzzle saw the Blue Jays have Kyle Drabek added as one of their players as well as turn around and send newly acquired Michael Taylor to Oakland for prospect Brett Wallace. To start, here’s a look at Kyle Drabek:

Diamond Cutter Scouting Report on Kyle Drabek:

Son of former Major League pitcher, Doug Drabek, Kyle may even be better than his old man. Despite a strong mid-90’s fastball, his money pitch is a devastating spike curveball that has a sharp, late drop that kills opposing hitters. Despite some off the field issues, the Phillies hope he enhances his work ethic and continues to blossom into what he is capable of.

As you can see, he was a very nice piece to have pried away from the Phillies who did not want to give him up. The second player I mentioned is a highly touted offensive prospect in Wallace. Here is my brief scouting report and a link to my long and detailed analysis of Wallace:

Diamond Cutter Scouting Report on Brett Wallace:

Wallace’s greatest asset is his approach at the plate. He has very good plate discipline considering his age as it generally takes some time to get everything in synch. But Wallace is the type of hitter who refuses to expand his strike zone and waits pitchers out, forcing them to throw him something he can make solid contact with. Wallace also does a great job in plate coverage thanks to his batting stance which crowds the plate. With his advanced approach, Wallace has the potential to translate his success to the pros and could end up being a perennial on-base machine. I project him a .280-.300 hitter, around .380-.400 OBP and a slugging percentage in the upper .500’s. Then add in his 25-30 homers and 100+ RBI and you have a pretty strong offensive weapon that Albert Pujols will love having hit behind him. With all that said, he is an average defender at third (I view him higher than most) who would be better suited to play first, but with that position locked up, he will do just fine at the hot corner (read my extended scouting report on Wallace with his “Prospect Spotlight“).

As you can see I think very high of the youngster and even ranked him at number 12 in last year’s top 25 prospect list. As I have seen more of him I’ve convinced myself that he may not be able to handle staying at third (apparently based on Oakland’s willingness to trade him they feel the same way) as he just has no range. This being said, a move to first in Toronto or preferably DH is what Wallace needs.

This trade has continued to build and become bigger and better every day.

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Hot Stove: Halladay and Lee in a Mega 3-Way

December 14, 2009

Lee will now make the best 1-2 punch in baseball with Kind Felix (artolog/Flickr).

ESPN Report: “A three-way deal that would send Roy Halladay to Philadelphia and Cliff Lee to Seattle is “close” but “not done,” according to two sources familiar with the negotiations…Toronto would get highly regarded Mariners pitching prospect Phillippe Aumont, Phillies catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud and another Phillies prospect in exchange for Halladay. Indications are that the Phillies have balked at Toronto’s repeated requests for outfielder Domonic Brown, and the Phillies are offering highly touted outfielder Michael Taylor instead…Seattle would also send two prospects to Philadelphia in exchange for Lee, who is a year away from free agency.”

Diamond Cutter Spin: Wow, what a deal this is looking to be. If this ends up going through (which it looks like it will) the Phillies get an ace locked up for a few years, the Mariners get another stud pitcher to go with King Felix and the Blue Jays reload their farm system. Looks pretty good all the way around.

I have to say, while this is a good deal for the Phillies considering Halladay (click here for my coverage and scouting report on Halladay) is locked up for a few seasons in Philly, I am really impressed with how aggressive the Mariners have been this winter. They have now added Chone Figgins to the top of their lineup and Cliff Lee to the front of their rotation to go with Felix Hernandez. They are setting themselves up to give the Angels the fight of their lives especially since the Angels have now lost Figgins and their ace John Lackey (to Boston).

Now is the time for the M’s to strike while the Angels are weakened.


Diamond Cutter Scouting Report: Brett Anderson

December 11, 2009

Anderson has shown signs of brilliance (Kimberly*/Flickr).

Name: Brett Anderson
Number: 49
Position: Starting Pitcher
Born: 2/1/88
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Height: 6′4″
Weight: 215
Debut: 4/10/09

Scouting Report: We have seen incredible improvement from Anderson over the past two years after showing a lot of growth on the mound. Anderson has always had superb command of his pitches and can work them on either side of the plate. His fastball saw a slight increase hitting as high as 95 mph but sitting more consistently in the low-90’s. What makes him even more effective is the fact that his secondary pitches – a curve, slider and change – can be used as both out pitches or, thanks to his confidence in them, at any point in the count. He has really developed his stuff to the point that he can be dominant on the mound.

At this point last season it was difficult to project where he would fall in the rotation. Originally he looked to be a middle of the rotation guy, but thanks to his improvement in his fastball (and his command being his greatest asset) he now projects as a top of the rotation starter that the Oakland A’s have been looking for.


Hot Stove: Texas Winter Heating Up

December 10, 2009

While everyone expected the cash-strapped Texas Rangers to be quiet this winter, it appears as if they are being anything but.

After a deal yesterday to send starting pitcher Kevin Millwood to Baltimore for setup man Chris Ray and a player to be named, the Rangers ended up completing a deal to sign free agent starter Rich Harden to a one-year deal that is worth between $7-$8 million (which I discussed yesterday) and a trade with Boston to acquire third baseman Mike Lowell in exchange for catcher/first baseman Max Ramirez.

The moving of Millwood was a strategic one that not only gave them end-game bullpen help with Ray, but also freed up the money they needed to sign the free agent Harden who will now take Millwood’s spot in the rotation.

The Rangers have been very smart this winter in the methodical moves they have made. Now the only question is what their plans are regarding their vacant center field spot with the possible exit of free agent Marlon Byrd. While the possibility of Byrd returning is still an option, the Rangers are definitely going to visit cheaper options that are out there. Their wiggle room isn’t enormous as they have Byrd’s expiring contract (a little over $3 million from 2009) as well as the difference between Millwood’s $12.8 million and Harden’s $7 million plus to work with.

It should be interesting to see how their master plan unfolds the rest of the off season.


Hot Stove: Lindstrom to Houston

December 9, 2009

Lindstrom looks to close in Houston.

ESPN.com News: “The Houston Astros got hard-throwing reliever Matt Lindstrom from Florida on Wednesday, hoping he can help fill a late-inning hole in their bullpen. Houston sent two low-level minor leaguers and a player to be named to the Marlins.”

Diamond Cutter Spin: With the departure of Jose Valverde from the back end of the Astros bullpen, they were definitely in need of a new closer. Now the only question remains is which Matt Lindstrom will they get? The dominant fire baller who blows hitters away or the guy who allowed 18 earned runs in only 2 1/3 innings during a stretch last season? Here’s my scouting report on Lindstrom…

Diamond Cutter Scouting Report on Matt Lindstrom:

Matt Lindstrom has a cannon-loaded arm and has just the make-up you would want in your closer. He has a nice clean delivery which helps him keep control of the strike zone. His best pitch is without question his nuclear fastball that sits between 95-99 mph and will at times hit 100 mph on the radar. It gets on hitters in a hurry with a late explosion that seems have a life of its own as it approaches the plate. He utilizes it best when the blows it by hitters up in the zone where they have little chance to catch up to it. But when hitters are looking fastball, he frustrates them by throwing a hard, slanted slider that sits around 86 mph and darts away from righties. Also mixes in an occasional changeup for good measure. Now that he is the man to shut the door on opponents, he needs to make sure to keep his pitch selection in check and not get too revved up and let his fastball get away from him.

Needless to say Lindstrom ran into some trouble last season and the Astros just need to make sure they have his head clear heading into the season. This is even more important considering how depleted their bullpen is after the loss of Valverde after he declined arbitration and LaTroy Hawkins signing with Milwaukee earlier today.


Hot Stove: Kouz, Wolf, Millwood & Harden

December 9, 2009

Kouzmanoff has been a hot commodity this winter (San Diego Shooter/Flickr).

• There are reports that upwards of eight teams have inquired the Padres about the availability of third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff (.255, 18 HR, 88 RBI). It appears as if the two front runners are the Minnesota Twins and San Francisco Giants, both of whom are in dire need of a third baseman. Jayson Stark at ESPN.com Tweeted this just a bit ago: “Hearing that Padres offered Kouzmanoff to Giants for Fred Lewis & Kevin Fransden. Asked Twins for Glen Perkins & 2nd player.”

• It appears as if the Texas Rangers are going to be more active than many originally thought. The Rangers just completed a deal in which they sent veteran righty Kevin Millwood (13-10, 3.67 ERA) to Baltimore for setup man Chris Ray (7.27 ERA, 39 K) and a player to be named. This freed up enough money for them to go out and sign one of their main targets, Rich Harden (9-9, 4.09 ERA, 171 K). Reports say the Rangers are closing in on a deal with Harden and something could be done as soon as tonight or tomorrow.

• The Milwaukee Brewers have officially signed left-hander Randy Wolf (11-7, 3.23 ERA) to a three-year, $29.75 million deal. This was a big signing for them as they are very much in need of pitching help and they got one of the stronger arms on the market. And this wasn’t all they did today as the club also came to terms with reliever LaTroy Hawkins (2.13 ERA, 45 K, 19 HD) on a two-year, $7.5 million deal. The Brewers have money and are definitely making the most of it.

Trades and signings are slowly starting to happen more frequently and now that teams have started moving and shaking, I think (and hope) this gets other teams to start pulling the trigger. It always seems to take the first few teams to get the ball rolling.


Hot Stove: Here Come the Mets

December 9, 2009

Mets' best option is to sign Lackey (Evan Wohrman/Flickr).

With all three of the big name free agents (Holliday, Bay and Lackey) still available, the number of teams linked to having interest in them continues to grow. One of those teams who’s name is now being heard more and more in relation to these three is the New York Mets. I mentioned not to long ago that it was just a matter of time until the Mets started getting more involved this winter as they realize that they have quite a few big holes to fill on their roster. Here’s a few writers who have mentioned them today…

Jon Heyman/SI.com: Jon Heyman of SI.com had this to say on Twitter today, “purse strings opening for Omar? #mets are talking to lackey, holliday and bay with renewed hopes to sign 1 of big 3. molina also.”

Michael Baron/MetsBlog.com: “…as far as getting a guy to build around, i think Holliday is that guy out of the three, and i think they have a realistic shot at signing him, but if they have to make a choice of the three, i have to lean towards pitching and Lackey…”

I have to say I agree with Baron on this one. If the Mets are going to go after one of those three, they need to make sure it’s Lackey. While having Jason Bay or Matt Holliday in their lineup would be great, they have to try to believe that Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran will have bounce back seasons and that they can piece together a few other free agents to fill in the other holes.

Diamond Cutter Scouting Report on John Lackey:

John Lackey has a sound delivery with a loose 3/4 arm action. He possess an 89-92 mph fastball with good late life that cuts in on lefties, a sharp, late-biting slider and a tight sweeping curveball. Has the ability to throw his breaking stuff at any point in the count. Unlike most, he tends to change speeds off his curveball rather than his change. The bottom line on Lackey is that he is a true ace who isn’t flashy, but does his job beautifully.

The funny thing is how little I have heard fans clamoring for their club to sign Lackey. I guess it’s probably due to the fact that Lackey isn’t as exciting as Sabathia was during last year’s free agency, as reliable of a workhorse as Halladay or as sexy as say King Felix would be, but he is a very consistent pitcher who will get the job done. He is an ace pitcher who does exactly what his club needs.

This is exactly why the Mets need him. After all, there’s one thing that will kill all hopes of the Mets this year and that’s if they can’t get solid starting pitching. After Johan Santana on the staff, there is nothing but huge question marks. Signing Lackey would make one of the toughest one-two punches for a pitching staff in baseball.

With a pitcher’s park like Citi Field, they have no other option.