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.

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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.