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:

– 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)

– Cliff Lee, LHP (from Philadelphia)

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

– 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.

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: Felix Hernandez

December 1, 2009

The "King" had finally taken his throne (Mark Sobba/Flickr).

Name: Felix Hernandez
Number: 34
Position: Starting Pitcher
Born: 4/8/1986
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 6′3″
Weight: 225
Debut: 4/5/2004

Scouting Report: Felix Hernandez up until 2009 had been wildly inconsistent and hadn’t lived up to the “King” billing he received as a rookie. For some reason he didn’t seem to get up for the lesser teams as he would for the best in the league. This was a huge stumbling block keeping Hernandez from becoming one of the elite pitchers in the game.

This all changed in 2009. King Felix has seemingly finally put it all together and has his mental and physical game working hand-in-hand. Hernandez has an incredible arm and dominating, electric stuff. He attacks hitters with an over the top arm action with a devastating arsenal including a two and four seam fastball (92-97 mph), a powerful slider, two different curves and a well placed change. He uses his four seamer as his predominant strikeout pitch which gives hitters fits trying to get a piece of.

The best part of Hernandez’s awakening is the Mariners finally have a legitimate ace that they can plug in every five days and expect to win with. There are so few pitchers nowadays that you can say that about and its good to see Felix has evolved into that player.

MLB Hot Stove: Seattle Moneybags

November 28, 2009

Could Figgins be holding down third for the M's in 2010? (

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.

Junior Returns Home

February 18, 2009
Welcome back Mr. Griffey (terren/Flickr).

Welcome back Mr. Griffey (terren/Flickr).

Thankfully something finally makes sense in what has been a very confusing and disturbing winter for Major League Baseball. Ken Griffey Jr. has agreed to come back to Seattle where he started his miraculous career 20 years ago.

The deal is a reported one-year, $2 million deal with $2.5 million in incentives based on at-bats and the amount of attendance he draws (he is expected to bring in an additional 200,000 fans this season).

Not only is this great for baseball in general, but it’s great for Mariner fans who have had very little to cheer for the past couple of seasons. There’s been Ichiro and that’s about it. Bedard didn’t do anything, “King Felix” still hasn’t been as royal as expected and most of the roster is overpaid and under performs. Basically Seattle has gone in the wrong direction over the past few seasons and at least this will give fans something to cheer for.

I know I for one am happy to see him back where I have the fondest memories of him.

By Matthew Whipps
The Diamond Cutter
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist

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2008 Division Predictions: AL West

March 21, 2008

Guerrero at the plate (PV Bruin/flickr)

Guerrero finally has more offense to protect him in the lineup. (PV Bruin / flickr)

With the 2008 season opener upon us I figured it would be as good a time as ever to give my exciting 2008 division, playoff and award winner picks! We’ll start off by covering each division (one division per day) with the order they will finish along with some brief statements about each team and the standout players from that division. Once all of the divisions are done we will talk playoffs and then finally the 2008 award winners. As always, let me know your opinion on each one!

(click here to continue this article on Baseball Digest Daily)

Catch my “Diamond Cutter” major league coverage now featured on Baseball Digest Daily and my prospect coverage on Big League Futures!

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The New Pitching Tag Teams

February 27, 2008

Haren's addition makes the D-Backs the favorites in the West (DJ Anto D/flickr)

(DJ Anto D / flickr)

If history has taught us anything, it is that good pitching has become more and more important in the world of Major League Baseball. With short playoff series, less and less quality innings being pitched, and bigger and better hitters, finding a gem to crown as the “ace” of your pitching staff is becoming a daunting task. That’s why whenever you witness a team that is able to lump two star pitchers together at the top of their rotation, you have to step back and admire their tenacity.

While we have seen many outstanding 1-2 punches throughout the years, 2008 will bring us three new tandems that will automatically make their respective teams a contender. So today we will take a look at these three new tag teams with brief scouting reports on what exactly makes them so special – both individually and as a pair – in what will help assure that their team will be in the hunt this October.

(click here to continue this article on Baseball Digest Daily)

Catch my “Diamond Cutter” column now featured on Baseball Digest Daily or my column “Twins Killings” every day only on the Most Valuable Network.

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