Big Z Takes Grounders at 3B, SS

Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano has long been a multifaceted player.  Now, it appears the two-time Silver Slugger and All-Star pitcher could, in a pinch, take his talents to the hot corner if injuries demand it.  We say just the hot corner because, come on, no way a guy his size is playing shortstop.  And, further, there's no way a team would let such a commodity as Zambrano - who is already a red flag as injuries are concerned - take on the added injury risk of switching to short.  But the possibility is very exciting to us, and we can't imagine a much better candidate than Zambrano.  Though we admittedly love the way he plays the game with his heart on his sleeve, and so we just want to have him on the field as much as possible.  We've seen him break his bat over his knee when he struck out (video here), so we're naturally curious as to what he might do in the field should he miss a ball.  Rip the stitches out of his glove, maybe?

Anyway, there are, of course, several roadblocks on the way to Zambrano realizing our dream.  Koyie Hill, the weak-hitting backup backstop played third base in college, so he'd probably be the first option there should Aramis Ramirez miss more time than expected with his calf strain, but...well, he's boring.  And his career OPS is less than Zambrano's (.572 to Z's .622) - plus, as Zambrano's 124 OPS+ last year showed, his ceiling as a hitter is higher than Hill's.  Sure, Hill may grab a few more grounders, but we can't imagine he'll be the second coming of Brooks Robinson. We say, forgo what defensive difference may exist - let the Big Z play! 


Jason Tyner Update

We actually did get an email back from the Tigers organization.  We feel so important!

Anyway, the club says this: "Clubs communicate with each other frequently re player availability and player needs. The Brewers needed to make room for another player. Jason became available and we had a need so his contract was assigned to our organization."

So the Brewers needed to call someone up, the Tigers had just sent someone up, and the Brewers thought that the Tigers' paying Tyner's salary was return enough for a guy hitting below .100 for their AAA team.  Fair enough...but we'd rather be John Odom.  At least the Laredo Broncos dished out 10 maple bats for his services.  

What this really means: apparently, Jason Tyner is not an insufferable dick.  Probably.

Jason Tyner Traded...Sort Of.


In that article, Detroit Free Press writer Jon Paul Morosi writes that today, the Milwaukee Brewers traded Jason Tyner to the Tigers.  Well, that's not really what he wrote;

"TOLEDO – The Tigers have acquired minor league outfielder Jason Tyner from the Milwaukee Brewers, team officials said today....It didn’t appear that any cash or other players were involved in the transaction." (emphasis ours)

that's what he wrote.  So either the Brewers basically just called up Detroit and said something like hey there, want a Jason Tyner?, or the Tigers brass got together and decided they really needed someone to replace Ryan Raburn's AAA roster spot...and only Jason Tyner will do. Which we can totally understand - who DOESN'T want a 32-year old former speedster with a career .275/.314/.323 line and burnt out wheels?  

There is, surprisingly, something notable about Tyner, though: according to Wikipedia, the dude can't jack a tater tot to save his life.  To wit: "Prior to 2004, Tyner had a severe home run drought that dated back to Little League. Throughout 2,631 high school, college, minor, and major league at-bats, Tyner went without a home run until he hit one in a minor league game in Richmond in 2004."  He did hit one in the majors, though, so he could argue that his life is infinitely more complete than ours will ever be.  To which we would to say: at least we didn't get traded for nothing.  Yeah, we're both kinda dicks in our imagination.  We don't know why.

ANYWAY, let's do some investigative journalism emailing and Googling to get to the bottom of this!  We've sent an email to Toledo GM Joe Napoli; we are less than hopeful to get a response, but it can't hurt to try.  We would email Nashville Sounds GM George King, but they don't list an address for him on their website.  We would then try Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and Brewers GM Doug Melvin, but, well, we have no illusions about our status - specifically, the lack thereof - in the baseball world, and our concurrent inability to get a quote.  As we wait for some official word which may or may not be coming, let's make our own theory:

He's a huge dick that made such a bad impression that they just couldn't wait any longer to get rid of him.  Or maybe he killed a hooker.  Or both.

We guess it could also just be that they just decided they needed to trim some salary, knew the Tigers had an outfield spot to fill, and put the square peg in its square hole.  Depends on how freaky you wanna get with your logic.  Though we do have to ask: wasn't Detroit - the team, not the city, though we guess both work for this - supposed to be in major financial trouble at the beginning of the year?  Weren't sportswriters playing the guessing game as to which of their big contracts they were going to shed?  And now they just open up the wallet and let the dolla dolla bills fly out for The Jason Tyner?  Wild.

Anyway, if you hadn't noticed - and, judging by the Google Analytics, you haven't - we picked the Tigers to win their division.  And let us tell you, this is exactly the kind of acquisition that can push a team over the top.  The official KCSD projection is that Tyner, slighted in the way that only professional athletes can be slighted, takes major offense to this, ropes the ball all over the field all year and ends up clinching the division for them at the end of the year with a dramatic walkoff bomb job.  All we ask for this amazing demonstration of prognostication is that when you start writing the script for this, just make sure you give us credit.


Tater Tots

It's been awhile since we've posted, mostly because, well, we have nothing really to say.  We wanted this blog to be a daily thing where we'd talk about the day in baseball and what happened the night before, but that quickly became difficult to maintain with our schedule.  This blogging stuff is hard work, yo.

Anyway, since we failed so miserably in that regard, we decided to try to only write about abstract baseball issues, like why the idea of "closers" sucks, who should trade whom, things like that.  But then we came to realize that there's not a whole lot of that type of story out there.  Failure #2! 

So every so often, we're going to have posts like today's, called Tater Tots after one of my favorite euphemisms for home runs.  Basically it's like a bullet point list of baseball thoughts. Fun!

  • Don't buy the Marlins' hot start.  11-1 is great, but 6 games against the Nats will help that record immensely.  Yeah, great teams win the games they're supposed to, but beating up on the Nationals is taking that to a new level.  Plus, they needed 9th-inning comebacks 3 times in the series, and extra innings in two. 
  • On a similar note, we hate the early-season power polls and rankings.  No one really believes, for example, that the Marlins are among the top 5 best teams in the league, and no one really thinks the Padres are anywhere near escaping the worst 10.  Why spend an entire offseason analyzing teams only to throw it away in the power rankings that you write in the first week of the season?  
  • And, to keep harping, people really love the small sample size results.  Jason Marquis pitches today for the Rockies; he has a 1.98 ERA.  This does not mean that he is a good pitcher, people.  If he were to post a 3-start stretch with a 1.98 ERA in July, no one would notice.  The beginning of the season just puts a bigger microscope on everything.  
  • Boy, those three things probably could've been made into a coherent post, huh?
  • Schadenfreude: Emilio Bonifacio, he of the .500 flirting, was hitting .485 a week ago.  He's gone 1-20 since, with 9 K's.  Thanks, Jayson Stark!
  • New Yankee Stadium has been quite a launching pad.  We're sure you've heard this elsewhere, too, but...11 HR in 4 games?  Goodness.  We watched their debacle against the Indians on Saturday and balls that looked like bloop hits were carrying to the wall.  Some people say the ball is juiced, some people say it's a random statistical fluctuation - you know, the kind we've been talking about for this entire post.  We hate to accuse MLB of anything untoward, but it sure looks to us like they're doing something with the balls.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is basically proof positive that there's tampering going on: we, one of the least-read blogs ever, kinda sorta accused them of it!
  • Elijah Dukes.  That's really all you need to see to know that some kind of craziness is going on.  But hey, this time, it's not some bizarre death threat or assault or impregnation!  No, Dukes is actually the victim in this one.  He showed up 5 minutes late to the pregame stretching - a critical part of any routine, as anyone who's ever gone to a game knows from watching a couple of dudes randomly wave their legs around - and was summarily benched for the day and fined.  But why was he late, you might ask?  He needs to learn that he has responsibilities to the team, right?  To which we would answer: no.  Elijah Dukes is beholden to no man, and you'd best not forget that.  But seriously - dude was late because he was out playing with little kids.  Er...working with the Little League team that he helps coach and organize.  Sorry to mislead.  Manny Acta said that they need to maintain a culture of timeliness and organization, and that there's zero tolerance for stuff like being tardy to meetings.  Because you were working with a Little League team.  C'mon, Manny.  Oh, and the guy who played in Dukes' place?  Yeah, he broke his ankle.  
  • That's all we've got for now.  Here bringing in Kyle Farnsworth to relieve us.  Which means, of course, that there's going to be another tater tot to follow.  Hey oh!
  • Seriously, though.  Farnsworth gave up another game-losing bomb.  He has 3 L's.  The Royals have 5.


Tom Glavine to Visit Dr. Andrews; Hooray?


For those of you who don't like following links, that's an update saying that Braves LHP Tom Glavine will be paying a visit to Dr. Andrews regarding discomfort in his left shoulder.  Shoulder troubles ended Glavine's '08 season early, and made him ineffective in the starts when he was able to take the mound.  And, we have to be honest here, our first reaction to the news was that we were glad Glavine wouldn't be eating up any innings for the Braves anytime soon.

Now, we don't wish any harm upon Glavine - or any player, unless that player be Coco Crisp - and we hate that a guy who just wants to do what he loves for another year is finding himself betrayed by an aging body.  Glavine used to be a durable, 200-inning, 30-start guy, and he did it at a Hall of Fame level for many years.  Now, though, his stuff isn't what it was, his control isn't what it was, and his body is breaking down.  In our opinion, he is no longer a viable major league pitcher, injury notwithstanding. 

So the question we asked ourselves is, was it wrong for us to be glad that Glavine may be hurt and have to miss the season?  Can we, in good faith, disregard human decency in favor of what's best for the team?  You have a guy in Glavine who was a mainstay with the franchise for what seems like an eternity.  The Braves wouldn't have won a championship without him, nor, in all likelihood, would they have taken all those division crowns.  We have no reason to dislike him as a person, and we don't like the fact that he might not be able to ply his trade anymore.  

But Glavine, to us, is a piece of a greater whole - and we just so happen to really love that greater whole he represents.  And we think that whole, the Atlanta Braves, would be better suited by replacing him with another, better piece.  And wouldn't you know it - that better piece is right there.  Tommy Hanson, one of the preeminent pitching prospects in the game, is on the cusp of the big leagues after dominating in the minors.  He is younger, more talented, and possesses more potential both now and for the future than Glavine.  That the Braves saw fit to sign Glavine again this offseason was disappointing to us as a fan because we want the Braves to perform as well as possible.  And now, it appears that the injury bug has come and wiped out that mistake signing.  

Which brings us back to our original point: is it ok to be glad that one member of the team suffers an injury if it makes the whole squad better?  To which we say: sure.  What it all comes down to  in the end is that, much as we'd like to be, we're not part of the Braves.  We can love them, hate them, whatever - they won't care.  Some people (rightfully) question the sanity of sports fans simply because of this fact.  And yet, to us as sports fans, the loyalty we show for our team isn't as one-sided as outsiders imagine it to be.  There is an implicit contract in our fandom that the team will do its best to try to win.  Whether they actually try to fulfill this contract is mostly up to the owners and general managers, but still.  The idea is there that the goal of sports franchises is to win, thereby earning our love.  Accordingly, we wish for events to transpire such that our team will be bettered; Phillies fans, we're sure, took nothing but delight from the Mets' collapses the last two seasons, despite the anguish Mets fans suffered (though don't let anyone tell you they didn't deserve it).  Well, being happy that Glavine may miss the season and that Tommy Hanson may take his place falls in that category.  We don't feel bad that Glavine suffers at the expense of the team because we as fans suffer - albeit not physically, at least in most cases - because of the team.  We put up with the nadirs of losing seasons in exchange for the hope of the zenith that is a championship.  That a marginal contributor to that goal misses the season in exchange for a better chance at attaining it...well, it's unfortunate, but we still tentatively offer a cheer for the future.

UPDATE: Of course, the Braves promoted Jo-Jo Reyes instead of Hanson.  We'd rather have Glavine back.


The Sunday Pickle

Every Sunday, we're going to try to post a general rundown (pickle - get it???) of the week in baseball.  It's basically a clearinghouse of our thoughts from what we've seen and read. Ambitious, we know.  Let's get to it!

Players of the Week

3 Up:

Jordan Schafer, CF, Braves.  Schafer won the starting center field job in Spring Training, and hasn't looked back.  In his first week with the club, as of this writing, he's hitting .421/.500/.842 with 2 dongers and 3 walks.  He's reached base in each of the 5 games he's played in his young career, and while he's flashing more power than he probably possesses, he's giving Braves fans a lot to be excited for.

Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals. Pujols being Pujols: .429/.538/.905 with a trio each of bombs (including a grand salami yesterday) and free passes, plus he's plated 9 men.  81 homers and 291 RBI for the sweet swingin' slugger?  We're not saying we'd bet on it...unless we could get, like, 6:1 odds.  

Emilio Bonifacio, 3B, Marlins. It was between Emilio and Evan Longoria for the final spot; we decided to give it to Emilio because, well, he's Emilio Bonifacio.  We don't expect to see him much in this section as the season goes on.  He's gotten off to a hot start, to the tune of .583/.600/.833, with 4 steals and a tater tot.  We don't think he even posted numbers like that in Little League.

3 Down:

Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants. Another name we don't often expect to see on this list, Lincecum was pulled after 78 pitches in 3 difficult innings.  He's got a chance to atone tonight, but this blog waits for no man, Timmy.  We're just hoping you're healthy.

Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies. .133/.200/.133 for the leadoff man on the defending champs?  For shame, James.  Also, Rollins has yet to reach base in a game where the Phils score less than 8 runs.  Coincidence?  We think so!

Cliff Lee, SP, Indians.  Lee's made two starts thusfar, and he's looked a lot more like someone who should be sent down than someone who is a Cy Young winner.  He did K 10 in his 10 innings, reflecting the increased strikeout total he showed off in Spring Training, but he also walked 5.  That's decent enough for a great strikeout guy, but Lee's never been that, and last year the principal reason for his success was his absurd 5:1 K:BB ratio.  We'd be less worried about Lee if he didn't get destroyed in Spring Training, posting an ERA of almost 13.00.  Mmm...smells like Russ Ortiz, vintage 2006.

Series to Watch:

NL: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs

Cardinals-Cubs is probably our favorite baseball rivalry, and we're excited for this early-season rendition of it.  Howevah, if the MLB.com probables are to be believed, there won't be any sweet, sweet Harden-Pujols action.  Is that the dirtiest combo of player names in baseball?  It's gotta be up there, right?

AL: New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays

An AL East showdown..whaddya know.  At some point, these clashes of titans are going to get boring and repetitive, but for now, let's act like cheerful lil baseball fans and be excited that two of the game's best are going at it.  

Should the Rays Trade Scott Kazmir?

We recently read an article by the great Joe Sheehan regarding, as you may have guessed, whether or not the Rays should trade their nominal ace, Scott Kazmir.  Sheehan raises a lot of great points in his article -which suggests that they should trade him -  but this is the internet, and so of course we disagree.  Kazmir has been a huge name ever since the trade; it seems like even today  you could stop any random person on the street, and they would shake their head at the idiocy of Jim Duquette - Kazmir for Kris "Anna" Benson and the wrong Zambrano?  (By the way, the ESPN article about the trade is pretty funny to read after the fact. Check it out.)

But while Kazmir has control and injury issues - he once led the league in batters walked, with 100, and has only tossed 200 frames once in his career - he's got great strikeout stuff, K'ing 9.7 per 9 over his career.  If he manages to keep his WHIP in the 1.2's, which isn't too unlikely given that he's still just 25 (!), he's ace material.  There was a lot of hype to live up to, but what more could you want from the kid?  Yeah, he's an injury risk, but there aren't a lot of 25 year olds who double as seasoned vets, nor a lot of guys who have the kind of stuff he does.  Oh, and he's lefthanded.

Anyway, to quote Richard from Tommy Boy (timely reference!), you hang onto a car this cherry.   Yes, the Rays have plenty of great pitching in the rotation and the minors are bursting at the seams with ultra-talented prospects, but in the AL East, you need to be stocked like they are to win.  Furthermore, the biggest areas where they could stand to improve - 2nd base, RF, bullpen - aren't spots where Kazmir could reasonably bring in an impact player.  We don't mean that there's not talent there, or that Kazmir isn't a good return, just that the situation isn't right.  In our minds, this has to be a deal where both teams are contenders looking to get better; you don't take on an ace with a multiyear contract unless you're ready to win, and you don't go from a World Series berth to a fire sale unless you're the Marlins.  That in mind, let's take a look at some possible fits.

To the Astros for Hunter Pence.  Wait, what was that about contenders?  Yeah, this one's sort of silly, but we're just playing around.  There's no real reason for this deal to happen, since Pence is under team control for 3 years after this one, and is a building block for the 'Stros.  But just in terms of a team that needs pitching and a team that could use a right fielder, the fit is there.

To the Cardinals for Ryan Ludwick.  Ludwick jacked 30 HRs last year, but he also turns 30 this year.  He could fit in the middle of the Rays lineup, but for how long?  If the goal is to contend now, which they do with or without Ludwick, that's fine, but Desmond Jennings and Fernando Perez had better hurry up and get big-league ready if the Rays want any stability there.

To the Marlins for Dan Uggla.   Uggla's got a 30-homer bat and would remove Akinori Iwamura's weak stick from the lineup.  But this isn't 1997 - we don't see the Marlins taking on any players with contracts like the one Kazmir's got.

To the Orioles for Brian Roberts.  Another unlikely fit; Roberts just signed a contract extension after spending the entire '07 offseason wondering which uniform he'd be wearing the next season.  O's owner Peter Angelos loves Roberts, making it even more unlikely that he's going anywhere, and you'd have to consider whether or not the Rays would want to trade Kazmir within the division.

To the Reds for Brandon Phillips.  We could see this happening.  The Reds aren't far away from contending in the NL Central, but this would mean they'd have to give up on Homer Bailey except as a spot starter.  That said, a Kazmir-Harang-Volquez-Arroyo-Cueto rotation would be the best in the division and make them a playoff contender immediately.

To the Brewers for Corey Hart.  The 20-20 machine is also a rangy outfielder just entering his prime.  He's under team control for 3 years after this season, too.  The problem we see with this one is the Brewers...they're just good enough to at least have a shot at contention, but just bad enough to not ship out their players.  

We like him going to the Reds because we think the Rays would rather have a second baseman than an outfielder.  With Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Matt Joyce, Desmond Jennings, and Fernando Perez, the Rays' outfield is a crowded unit that doesn't need an extra body.  Replacing Iwamura, who's no great shakes with the glove or the bat, would be much more beneficial.  Also, we think the Reds would have to include an arm with the deal.  We don't really have a feel for how Kazmir is valued in the trade market, so we're doing some real guessing, but we're gonna go with Homer Bailey.  We think that the Reds may have soured on him by now, and that his value isn't real high.  If we're way off on that, though, which is entirely likely, maybe Nick Masset, or a vet bullpen arm like Arthur Rhodes or Bill Bray would do the job.  Because AAA arms like Bray have a lot of value.

ANYWAY, here's what our teams would look like after this deal:

Rays                                                                           Reds 

CF B.J. Upton                                                             CF Willy Taveras

LF Carl Crawford                                                       3B Edwin Encarnacion

3B Evan Longoria                                                      1B Joey Votto

DH Pat Burrell                                                           RF Jay Bruce

1B Carlos Pena                                                           LF Chris Dickerson

2B Brandon Phillips                                                   SS Alex Gonzalez

RF Gabe Gross                                                            C Ramon Hernandez

Dioner Navarro                                                       2B Danny Richar

SS Jason Bartlett 

RHP James Shields                                                   LHP Scott Kazmir

RHP Matt Garza                                                        RHP Aaron Harang

LHP Andy Sonnanstine                                             RHP Edinson Volquez 

LHP David Price                                                         RHP Bronson Arroyo

RHP Wade Davis/Jeff Niemann/Homer Bailey     RHP Johnny Cueto

Thoughts, questions, heated accusations, and personal confessions are welcomed in the comments.


Game of the Day: 4/9/09

Well we're a little late to the starting gate on this one because MLB had the gall to schedule everyone for a very early start.  It's hard going to classes and finding the time to write about baseball!  But we're excited to move on to previewing today's action instead of dwelling on yesterday's Braves-Phillies abomination...c'mon, guys, 7 runs isn't enough?  SO WITHOUT FURTHER ADO:

Ok, just kidding.  There's more ado.  We'd like to point out that Tigers - Blue Jays would've absolutely been our game to watch because of Rick Porcello's debut.  But that's almost halfway over, and if you happen to be reading this right now AND be curious as to how Rick Porcello is doing, well, you'll be happy to know that he is crusing along.  1 run and 5 hits allowed in 4 innings thusfar.  Also, John Danks makes his season debut tonight, which should be fun, and Dodgers phenom Clayton Kershaw, armed with Public Enemy Number 1, takes the hill against the uninspiring Padres.  NOW WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, we pick:

Oakland Athletics (2-1) vs. Los Angeles Angels (1-2)

We chose this game mostly because we want to see how the Angels rebound from losing Nick Adenhart.  It will be an emotional scene in Anaheim, and we feel the game deserves our respect and attention.  However, it's also notable for the fact that the other A's phenom pitcher, Brett Anderson (as opposed to Trevor Cahill), makes his first MLB start tonight.  Tough environment to do it in, especially for a rookie; he's going to be tested early, we suspect.  He definitely has the stuff to succeed, but the biggest question with rookies is often how they can play the mental game, and an emotional night like this will be could spell trouble for the rook.

Opposing him is Jered Weaver, the one healthy member of the Angels' projected top-5 starters, though even he's had some soreness in Spring Training.  We mentioned this before, but it seems to be worth revisiting: Angels' pitchers are having a rough and tragic go of it this year.  Adenhart, of course, really pulls at the hearts of fans everywhere.  His time was tragic and short.  The rest of the pitchers aren't tragic so much as a comedy of injuries; Kelvin Escobar's going to miss significant time with a setback in his recovery from a torn labrum, John Lackey's going to miss most of April, and Ervin Santana's going to miss most of April and then some, and could be out for much longer.  We said before that the job of Angels' Starting Pitcher deserves a reality show on the Discovery Channel; we rather regret that joke today, but the point stands. 

Overall, we think the Angels are going to win it for Adenhart.  We're sentimental like that we suppose, but...how do you lose a game like this?

KCSD GOTD Record: 3-1

Yesterday's Players of Note

Nick Adenhart: For obvious reasons.  But also, he was pretty excellent in his start, going 6 strong with  7 hits, 3 walks, and 5 K's.  Sad that that's the last line we'll be writing for an excellent young pitcher.

Yovani Gallardo: Gallardo made us look good on our prediction yesterday by allowing 2 ER off of 6 H and 2 BB in 6.2 IP.  He also K'd 6 and ohbytheway also hit a 3-run moonshot off lean mean lefty-throwing machine Randy Johnson.  Which, ohbytheway, is the first home run Johnson has ever surrendered to an opposing pitcher.

Kosuke Fukudome: Fukudome must love the month of April.  He was superb last April, and he's off to a great start this year, going 4-5 yesterday with a homer, a double, and a pair of singles, scoring 4 times to go along with a walk and a steal.  Monster night for him.

Blaine Boyer: Someone's gotta take the fall for that embarrasing Braves' bullpen collapse.  Might as well be Boyer, who got tagged with the loss, and is one of two (2) Braves relievers to limp out of the fiasco with an ERA of...infinity.  Hurrah!  Shades of 2005, boys.

Koji Uehara: The Orioles' Toyota (Japanese import...get it??) was decent in 5 innings against the vaunted Yankees.  He went 5, allowing 5 hits and a walk with only 1 ER.  Didn't K anybody, but the Orioles must be just thrilled by the fact that he didn't, oh, we don't know, act like an Orioles pitcher.  By which we could mean punching a judge (Sir Sidney!), walking more batters than anyone in the majors not once but twice (Daniel Cabrera!), having the gall to appear in a real live MLB rotation after being booed during your former team's ring ceremony (Adam Eaton!), or coming to baseball only after being facialed on the basketball court by Michael Jordan (Mark Hendrickson!).

Nick Adenhart Killed in Car Crash

Just hours after making his first start of the season, Angels RHP Nick Adenhart died early this morning in a car accident when a minivan ran a red light and struck his car, causing it to hit a light pole.  Adenhart and two other passengers died; TMZ.com reports that another passenger was also a player in the Angels' organization.  The driver of the minivan was apprehended and is being charged with felony hit-and-run.

This, of course, is terrible news.  We were shocked and saddened to hear it, and we have only the most tenuous of connections to Adenhart and the Angels: we kinda like them.  We can hardly imagine what the pain must be like for Adenhart's family, his friends on the team, and the family of the other passengers...and we don't really want to.  Because for us - and, we suspect, most people -sports are a diversion.  Sports are where you're supposed to be able to go to get away from real world concerns.  Everything that happens in sports is black and white; your team won or they lost.  Your favorite player played well, or he didn't.  You get to celebrate that championship, or you don't.  Everything in sports is so simple.  They play the games, we watch.  

Then...this.  Baseball, for us, is a rock to which we can cling when times are turbulent.  Stark reminders that it is not, in fact, an entity unto itself, that it is composed of human beings the same way our lives are, make us really see what it is that we've been watching.  So, yes, as we've all been told time and time again, it's just a game.  Does that mean you should appreciate it any less, though?  Absolutely not - if anything, appreciate it more.  Appreciate that you can look at something as ultimately trivial as baseball and find meaning in it.  Appreciate that you can wear your team's hat and immediately feel like a member of a brotherhood.  More than anything, just appreciate the game.  

Today, there'll be a well-deserved moment of silence before each first pitch.  People will briefly contemplate the sadness of what happened, sportswriters will take the opportunity to soliloquize about how this reminds us of what's really important in life, the Angels will probably hang his jersey in their locker room and wear a black NA 34 patch this season...but ultimately, the game will continue on.  They're still going to play out the season, and we're still going to watch and cheer.

And as crass as that may seem, we think it's one of the best reasons to love baseball.  Baseball is there for us.  That first breathtaking view of fresh-cut, emerald-green grass, pearl-white bases shining on a backdrop of newly-dragged dirt...it is a constant.  The sound of cleats on concrete, the crack of the bat, the pop of the mitt, the wild cheers or saturnine groans echoing from all corners of the stadium after a monstrous home run...these are always with us.  

The players, though, are human, save for the transcendent few who live on through the game. Adenhart's death is a saddening reminder of that.  But what they provide is something greater than themselves, something people have been able to enjoy, something in which they can immerse themselves, for over a hundred years.  Yes, the death of players can force us to put into perspective this game of ours that we love so much, but it can make us appreciate it all the more for the fact that despite tragedy, it continues on.  Baseball fandom, as in all sports, is about finding a community and an outlet from real life, so tragedy there hurts almost as much as tragedy in our homes.  But at least in baseball, the pain can be assuaged by the rhythm of 3 outs, 9 innings, and 162 games.  And that's just one more reason to love the game, not to mourn it.  


Game of the Day: 4/8/09

Full slate today, as all 30 teams are in action.  Unfortunately, there's not much in the way of compelling matchups today; we would recommend seeing Kazmir and Lester go at it in Boston, but we picked those teams yesterday.  This isn't series of the day, folks.  There are a couple of interesting individual storylines, such as whether or not Franklin Morales can follow in Ubaldo Jimenez's seemingly rejuvenated footsteps, whether Fausto Carmona can revert to Cy Young form, how Chien-Ming Wang will do in his return from injury, or how Koji Uehara and Javy Vazquez will fare with their new teams.  But today we're recommending...

Milwaukee Brewers (0-1) vs. San Francisco Giants (1-0)

It's Yovani Gallardo (0-0, 0.00) going against Randy Johnson (0-0, 0.00).  It's young against old; it's new staff ace against former staff ace; it's...a guy named Yovani against a guy named Randy.  Gallardo's got the stuff to be an ace, and if it weren't for a freak ACL tear that cost him most of last season, we like to think he'd have proven it then.  Randy Johnson's got nothing left to prove; the 45-year old has pitched effectively later in his career than most have even dreamed of doing.  Having led the league in strikeouts 9 times, and with a career average of almost 11 per 9, he's got a total of 4,789; with two more seasons, he should easily hit 5,000.  We love strikeouts from our pitchers, and few have ever been better at it than Johnson.  

Our prediction is that Gallardo makes a big impression in his first start of the year, and evens this series at 1-1.  Not through any fault of Johnson's, though; we think he'll pitch well, but that the San Fran 'pen will blow it. 

KCSD GOTD Record: 2-1.  We shook off those Opening Day jitters and rebounded well! 

Yesterday's Players of Note

Every day we're going to mention 5 or so players (we're not much for hard and fast rules around here) whose performance in the day before warrants mention. They aren't listed in any particular order, and it could be for reasons good or bad; the only caveat is that it has to be on the field work. Players of Note will not, for example, cover dudes who get trashed and get arrested for peeing in the street (here's looking at you, Jake!). You know, unless it's a really fun story. Like we said: hard and fast...not so much.

Trevor Cahill: The highly touted Cahill made his major league debut yesterday against the Angels, and...well, he sorta disappointed.  He went 5, allowing 5 hits and surrendering 5 walks.  Someone get the man a footlong!  He did record his first ever K, though it was his only one of the game.  Only 2 ER, but 57 strikes in 103 pitches isn't gonna get the job done, kid. 

Ubaldo Jimenez: How about Ubaldo!  7 strong, allowing 4 H, 3 BB, and 0 ER, while fanning 8.  This is what we should be getting used to seeing from the kid with the electric arm; if he can harness the kind of talent that he displayed in the second half of '07 for an entire season...well, the Rockies still won't be very good, but he'll get plenty of attention.  Props to his counterpart as well; Dan Haren K'd 9 while allowing only 3 hits and 1 run over 7.

Tim Lincecum: Just when you think you know a guy, he goes and does something like this: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 5 K.  78 pitches for Timmy in this go-round.  The reason why we're mentioning hin here is the fact that he only went 3.  Yeah, he was struggling, but why pull the best pitcher in the NL after 78 pitches?  Give him a chance to sort it out.  We're just hoping that it's not an injury concern; the Giants say that it wasn't, but giants are notoriously untrustworthy. Not that that has anything to do with Brian Sabean; we just felt it warranted mentioning.

Chipper Jones: Perhaps this is a bit of self-indulgence here, but we are the ones who write this blog.  The KCSD Hero was 2-4 with a flapjack and a double, putting him at a nifty .500/.500/1.125 line for the season.  MVP-caliber numbers?  We think so.  And we dare you to disagree.

Kyle Farnsworth: The Farns is at it again, serving up an 8th inning four-bagger to Big Jim Thome to secure the loss for the Royals.  Good thing they gave him $9.25 mil over 2 years; in no way will they regret feeling the need to justify that contract by giving him crucial 8th-inning appearances that could go to Juan Cruz and Joakim Soria.  


Game of the Day: 4/7/09

Alright, time to reprise a GOTD post.  We feel foolish, but it just HAS TO BE DONE.  Anyway, there's some decent pitching action going on today.  Exciting youngsters Tim Lincecum (vs. Brewers), Jair Jurrjens (vs. Phillies), Josh Johnson (vs. Nationals), and Ubaldo Jimenez (vs. Diamondbacks) all take the hill today, and any of them are worth watching on any given day.  Plus, precocious rook Trevor Cahill takes the mound for the A's; his debut comes against the main divisional competition, the Angels.  Also, look for Dan Haren to start his Cy Young campaign against the Rox, while Ryan Dempster looks to justify his big contract for the Cubbies  and Erik Bedard starts a new season of getting hurt then watching impassively as M's fans  wring their hands and gnash their teeth over the bounty they traded for him.  As for the Game of the Day, though, we once again turn to:

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox 4:05 EST

James Shields (0-0, 0.00) vs. Josh Beckett (0-0, 0.00)

Rays                                            Red Sox

2B Akinori Iwamura                 CF Jacoby Ellsbury

LF Carl Crawford                      2B Dustin Pedroia

3B Evan Longoria                     DH David Ortiz

1B Carlos Pena                          1B Kevin Youkilis

DH Pat Burrell                           RF J.D. Drew

CF Matt Joyce                           LF Jason Bay

C Dioner Navarro                      3B Mike Lowell

RF Gabe Gross                          SS Jed Lowrie

SS Jason Bartlett                       C Jason Varitek

Lineup-wise, this matchup seems to favor the Sox. The middle of the orders (2-5) look about even, but overall, Boston's got more balance.  Josh Beckett is dominant when he's on, and we think he's going to be this afternoon - it's the opener, emotions are high, yadda yadda yadda. We would like for B.J. Upton to get off to a good start on making us look like geniuses with his inevitable MVP bid, so if he could come on off the DL, that'd be great; hopefully Matt Joyce doesn't screw up too much in his stead.

Player to watch: Depends on your personality. If you're into schadenfreude, watch Jason Varitek. It's sort of fascinating in a sad way to see what happens when an athlete hangs on far too long. We'll be interested to see if he has anything approaching capable bat speed at this point. We'd be more surprised if he hit .250 than if he hit .190. If it's good performances that are your thing, than turn your eye to the pitching mound. If Josh Beckett is in postseason form, this should be a hotly contested pitchers' duel that is great fun to watch.

KCSD GOTD Record: 1-1

Yesterday's Players of Note

Every day we're going to mention 5 or so players (we're not much for hard and fast rules around here) whose performance in the day before warrants mention.  They aren't listed in any particular order, and it could be for reasons good or bad; the only caveat is that it has to be on the field work.  Players of Note will not, for example, cover dudes who get trashed and get arrested for peeing in the street (here's looking at you, Jake!).  You know, unless it's a really fun story.  Like we said: hard and fast...not so much.

Justin Verlander:  Yeah, Verlander got knocked around yesterday, to the tune of 8 hits, 8 runs (all earned), and 2 free passes in 3.2 innings, but he also recorded 4 K's.  So, kiddies who aren't much for math, that's a little over a K an inning.  Also, according to the MLB At Bat app (which is pretty awesome), he was consistently working at 96-100 MPH, which is what he was hitting when he was receiving Cy consideration.  And he was even doing it from the stretch, which impressed us all the more.  We consider this a good sign that he is on the way to rebounding from the mechanical disaster that was last year.  Now someone tell him to stop leaving pitches in the zone.

Carlos Zambrano: PNH (post-no hitter), Zambrano was awful in '08.  In the last few starts of the year, like in the first few, he lost his arm angle, velo, and control.  He got knocked around in the playoffs as well, contributing to the Cubs' early exit last year.  On Opening Day, though, he looked solid: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 6 K.  His control isn't all the way back yet, but it's early; we're encouraged by the 90-93 mph sinking fastballs he was hurling.  Big Z needs to get back to the form he showed in his younger days if the Cubs have any real hope of turning this potent team into a champion.

Adam Lind: Besides Travis Snider, Lind is the closest thing the Jays have to a slugger.  He got the job done yesterday, knocking Verlander and the Tigers' 'pen around to the tune of a donger and 3 singles.  Why, if he keeps up that pace, you can forget about the Jays having a weak offense; Lind alone would drive in 972 runs.  Don't you love statistics?

Tony Clark/Felipe Lopez: We're cheating a little bit by including them both, but the duo jacked two unlikely tater tots apiece, so they ate plenty last night.  We say the homers were unlikely because...well, because it's Tony the Tiger and Felipe the...Frolicker?, because Aaron Cook's usually got a better sinker going than to allow the pair of ding dongs that he did, and OHBYTHEWAY they both hit one jack from each side of the plate.  Five (5) round trippers on the day for the D'backs.

Felix Hernandez: The King was outstanding last night, holding an admittedly impotent Twins lineup to 1 run on 5 hits and 3 walks in 8 shutdown innings.  He also K'd 6, including Michael Cuddyer 3 times.  Good start for Felix; hopefully he builds on this and makes a real bid for Cy Young contention.  'Cause lord knows there's not much else for M's fans these days.


New Game of the Day: 4/6/09

Shame that the best game of the day gets spoiled for weather.  We suppose we might as well pick a new game to spotlight for our devoted KCSD reader(s?).  KCSD: a blog that cares about you!

Anyway, which to choose?  Normally, we'd be all about pitching matchups like King Felix and Francisco Liriano dueling in Minnesota (which we somehow forgot to mention in our last GOTD post; we wholeheartedly apologize for the egregious oversight), but those teams don't figure to be any fun to watch.  Same problem with Cubs-'Stros, Tigers-Jays, and Rockies-D'backs.  Since the cream of the crop is off the board, we're going to say that you should tune into the Mets-Reds tilt on ESPN at 1:10 EST.  Johan vs. Harang, y'all.  Should be a good one.

Johan Santana (0-0, 0.00) vs. Aaron Harang (0-0, 0.00)

New York Mets                                               Cincinnati Reds

SS Jose Reyes                                                    CF Willy Taveras

LF Daniel Murphy                                            2B Brandon Phillips

3David Wright                                               RF Jay Bruce

CF Carlos Beltran                                                        1B Joey Votto

1B Carlos Delgado                                             LF Chris Dickerson

RF Ryan Church                                               3B Edwin Encarnacion

2B Luis Castillo                                                 SS Alex Gonzalez

Brian Schneider                                             C Ramon Hernandez

Johan Santana                                                          P Aaron Harang

We're picking the Mets in this one, because...well, because it's Johan.  The guy's still one of the upper echelon pitchers in the NL, even if he's lost a step in his 30's.  We do expect this to be closer than some might expect, though; the Reds' lineup can mash with the best of them, even if they do have Willy Taveras up top.  And our goodness, the bottom of the Mets' lineup is awful.  Their 1-5 can win games by themselves (except for Delgado; we're not sold on his resurrection last year), but when you're trotting out blurry vision-havin', head-poundin', sensitive-to-light Ryan Church, the offensive suck that are Luis Castillo (to be fair, it's hard to hit with that contract hanging around him), Brian Schneider, and a pitcher...you could be in trouble if some of the top bats go cold.  The Reds look much more balanced, and we do like them to surprise during the season.  Just...not today.

KCSD GOTD Record: 0-1. 0-2 if you count us picking a game that isn't even going to be played today as the GOTD. 

Game of the Day: 4/06/09

Update: Well, don't we look like fools.  We'll re-run this tonight or something.

It's time for the real Opening Day festivities to begin.  There's a bunch of games that we'd like to see, mostly because it's Opening Day and the pitching matchups are pretty solid.  Johan vs. Harang in Cincy, Kuroda vs. soon-to-be-former Padre picher Peavy, Big Z against the Big O in Houston, Verlander and Doc Halladay in Toronto...these have the makings of good games, in our eyes.  Plus, there's CC's Yankee debut, if you're into that sort of thing.  But we, in a SHOCKING UPSET, are choosing Rays-Red Sox as the game of the day.  It's an intense divisional battle, a rematch of the AL Championship, a compelling juxtaposition between the old guard and the new order...however you wanna put it is fine by us.  We're just happy to get such a fine game.  

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox 2:05 EST

James Shields (0-0, 0.00) vs. Josh Beckett (0-0, 0.00)

Rays                                                Red Sox

LF Carl Crawford                           CF Jacoby Ellsbury

CF B.J. Upton                                 2B Dustin Pedroia

3B Evan Longoria                          DH David Ortiz

1B Carlos Pena                                 LF Jason Bay

DH Pat Burrell                               1B Kevin Youkilis

RF Gabe Gross                               RF J.D. Drew

2B Akinori Iwamura                       3B Mike Lowell

Dioner Navarro                              C Jason Varitek

SS Jason Bartlett                           SS Julio Lugo

We use Baseball Prospectus' Depth Chart features to present the projected lineups, so they could be wrong, but we're rather surprised that Julio Lugo won the starting SS job.  Jed Lowrie seems like a much better choice to us.  But, again, there's probably a (few) good reason(s) why we're not paid to run front offices.  Anyway, we like the Rays 1-3 and 8-9 hitters better than what the Red Sox offer, while the edge from 4-7 goes to the Boston crew.  Josh Beckett is dominant when he's on, and we think he's going to be this afternoon.  We would like for B.J. Upton to get off to a good start on making us look like geniuses with his inevitable MVP bid, so if he could knock a couple of tater tots in what we think will be a losing effort, we'd be just thrilled.

Player to watch: Depends on your personality.  If you're into schadenfreude, watch Jason Varitek.  It's sort of fascinating in a sad way to see what happens when an athlete hangs on far too long.  We'll be interested to see if he has anything approaching capable bat speed at this point.  We'd be more surprised if he hit .250 than if he hit .190.  If it's good performances that are your thing, than turn your eye to the pitching mound.  If Josh Beckett is in postseason form, this should be a hotly contested pitchers' duel that is great fun to watch.

KCSD Record in GOTDs: 0-1.  Good start, gentlemen!


Opening Night Wrapup

Braves 4, Phillies 1

Derek Lowe: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 K, 0 BB

Brett Myers: 6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 K, 3 BB

Well, that went better than we expected. Derek Lowe was excellent, the offense looked capable, the defense made all the right plays, and how about Jordan Schafer!  Kid knocked a donger in his very first MLB AB.  You love to see that.  Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur also bopped a four-bagger apiece; McCann's was a 2-run shot.  Nice to see him get started off right, and it's especially nice to see Francoeur yanking a ball out.  He's showing off a new open stance (that the broadcasters made very sure we knew all about) and it looks like it's working so far.  The only complaint we have with this game was Bobby Cox going to Mike Gonzalez in the 9th.  Lowe had been excellent all game, allowing only 2 runners, and had thrown 6 and 8 pitches in the 7th and 8th, respectively (and 97 for the game).  So why abandon the hot hand, especially when you're going to a lefty who's going to be facing righties to start the inning?  The matchup ended up working out, but only because Gonzo was bad enough to get to the lefty-heavy top of the lineup.  Regardless, we guess it's good to have him back on the mound, but if Cox is going to be making these kind of bullpen decisions all year, we have a feeling there's going to be some ugly losses.

The Phillies on the other hand did little right.  Brett Myers was pretty bad, flashing low velo and inconsistent, ineffective changeups and sliders.  The curve was nasty, but he didn't go to it until the damage had been done.  And only getting 5 runners on base for the entire game (4 hits - 2 off Gonzo - and a walk - also Gonzo's fault) doesn't often yield a win.  Chase Utley looked alright coming off his hip surgery, and Ryan Howard's in midseason form, meaning that he K'd twice.  Rollins, Werth, Bruntlett, and Ruiz accounted for the Phillies' hits.  Also it's worth mentioning that I enjoy watching Ruiz catch.  On each of the home runs the Braves hit, he never left the crouch, and he has this bizarre way of catching where every so often he'll lay one leg flat on the ground.  Bizarre...but fun.  

Anyway, the player of the game for us is Derek Lowe, who was dominant in his 8 innings of work.  He's earning that ace paycheck.  But we'd also like to extend congratulations to Jordan Schafer, whose homer, single, walk, and strikeout were all MLB firsts.  And, as of right now, he leads the MLB in batting.  So he's got that going for him, which is nice.


Game of the Day: 4/5/09

It's a bit early, but we're going to be unavailable to write this weekend, so we're doing it now. Basically, every day we're going to try to write a little preview about the game we think is going to be most interesting to watch. And, since Opening Day is Sunday, that sort of wins by default. Plus, it's got the Braves!

4/5/09: Atlanta Braves vs. WFC

Well here comes Opening Day!  Or Opening Night, but we're not arguing semantics.  We're happy that it's gonna be on Sunday Night Baseball because, despite the presence of Joe Morgan, we enjoy ESPN production values.  Anyway, this should be a great game.  We think it's gonna be sinkerballin' Derek Lowe against wife-punchin' Brett Myers.  And yes we do plan to mention the wife punching bit every time we mention Myers.  

Projected lineups:

Atlanta Braves (0-0)                                              Philadelphia Phillies (0-0)

2B Kelly Johnson                                                          SS Jimmy Rollins

SS Yunel Escobar                                                         CF Shane Victorino

3B Chipper Jones                                                         2B Chase Utley

C Brian McCann                                                           1B Ryan Howard

LF Garret Anderson                                                    LF Raul Ibanez

1B Casey Kotchman                                                     RF Jayson Werth 

RF Jeff Francoeur                                                        3B Pedro Feliz

CF Jordan Schafer                                                        C Carlos Ruiz

P Derek Lowe                                                                P Brett Myers

It looks like a very even matchup to us.  We're gonna pick the WFC because it's their ring night, and as much as we love the Braves, we don't see them spoiling that for the Fightins.  We do trust Derek Lowe more than wife-punchin' Brett Myers, but the Phils' lineup is potent and they'll have a brand new banner to aim at.  

Player to Watch: wife-punchin' Brett Myers, whose performance this season will be crucial if Cole Hamels has to miss any significant time with his elbow issues.  He's been very good in the past, and there's no reason to think he won't repeat it this season, but the pressure's on.  Let's see how he brings it in Game 1.

The Recession Team

What with the economy being at the forefront of our collective consciousness right now, people are trying to save money however possible.  Which, of course, is boring and sucks.  But it got us to thinking - if you were to try and build a baseball team on the cheap, who would be the best players to take?  Rules of this draft are: anyone who's taken cannot qualify as a rookie, so they must have had 100 ABs or 80 IP, they must have made under $1,000,000 last year (salaries taken from USA Today's Salary Database and Cot's Baseball Contracts), and they can't have signed a multiyear extension between Opening Day of '08 and now.  Also, we're going to try to avoid playing around with position switches.  Past and future seasons are taken into account. Here we go kiddos: a 25-man roster all making under a mil.  

C Geovany Soto ($401,000)  Geo, the NL's best rookie last year, managed to slug .500 while being a solid backstop.  He dropped 23 bombs last year, and if he improves, he could be the best receiver in the game.  Until Matt Wieters comes along, that is.

1B Joey Votto ($390,000)  Votto had a case to be the ROY over Soto last year, but his Reds were nothing compared to Soto's Cubs.  And that never goes over well with the voters.  Votto, like Soto, has already established himself as one of the premier players at his position, and they've got plenty of growing to do.

2B Kelly Johnson ($430,000)  There's not a lot of good talent at the keystone, and what good players there are cost quite a bit.  But Johnson is one of the best players at the position after making a successful transition there from the outfield, and he's still cheap.

3B Edwin Encarnacion ($450,000)  Third base is another position where there's not a lot of cheaply available talent, but Encarnacion is a good one.  His average dropped significantly last year to .251, but he's still posting an above-average 106 OPS+, which tells you a lot about his secondary skills.  

SS Troy Tulowitzki ($750,000)  Shortstop is stocked with high end talent, but none of them come so cheaply as Tulo.  He posted an excellent rookie year, coming in 2nd in the ROY voting, and his name Troy Trevor Tulowitzki.  As alliteration aficionadoes, we really like that.  His down year can be attributed to injuries, and we're betting that he's recovered enough this year to get back to old form.

LF Nate McLouth ($425,000)   McLouth is a center fielder by trade, but he can't really play the position very well.  He won a Gold Glove despite being arguably the worst glove in the league at his position, so we're shifting him over to left on our squad.  He'll be good for  20-20 seasons for years to come.

CF Adam Jones ($390,000)  Jones , on the other hand, is a premier defender, plus his bat projects to be one of the best in center field.  Like everyone else on the team, he is young and improving, and we think he's going to grow into a star.

RF Ryan Ludwick ($411,000)  Ludwick was fantastic last season, which was just his third with over 100 ABs.  That, despite the fact that he's the senior citizen on this team, at the ripe old age of 29.  We're concerned that he may have been a fluke performer last year, but we just can't ignore a .299/.375/.591 line.  Read that again, and then remember that he finished 16th in MVP voting despite out-OPSing 8 of the hitters ahead of him on the list.  

BN Jay Bruce ($390,000)  Bruce was superhuman in the week following his callup, but then regressed to being just another rookie.  However, he still has all the talent that made him such a huge prospect, and in his second season, it should really shine.

BN Howie Kendrick ($432,500)  We're still intrigued by Kendrick's preternatural ability to put his bat on the ball despite the fact that he can't seem to stay healthy.  But we're all for having a high-contact, good speed guy on the bench.  By limiting his ABs, we should be able to keep him healthy, and his skills play well for spot duty.

BN Matt Kemp ($406,000)  Kemp would be starting if not for the fact that we didn't want to play around too much with the positions.  We think that Adam Jones' defense gives him the edge here, and if we could, we'd have stuck him in right.  Ultimately, though, we felt that that violated the spirit of the team.  We felt bad having such a talent on the bench, but then we figured that he wouldn't really mind, given that this is, yknow, a blog's fake team.

BN Andre Ethier ($424,500)  Ethier's in the same boat as Kemp.  We envy the Dodgers and their fans for being able to enjoy such talent in their outfield, and we're glad to snatch them up on our team, even if it means they're stuck on the bench.  Such is life in the KCSD world.

BN Dan Uggla ($418,000) Uggla not only has some of the best power among middle infielders, but also possibly the biggest forearms we've ever seen in person.  So he's got that going for him, which is nice.  Unfortunately, he's sorely lacking in the way of glove skills, which is why we ultimately tabbed Kelly Johnson as the starter at second base.


Tim Lincecum ($405,000)   We've already written about how great Lincecum is, how he's one of our favorite players, etc.  To add on more praise at this point would, we think, be redundant.  Suffice it to say, he's as legit an ace as can be.

RHP Yovani Gallardo ($405,000)  Gallardo has ace stuff, too, and he should be fine as the Brewers' staff leader.  He's an Opening Day starter on just about any team in MLB, but not ours!

RHP Edinson Volquez ($392,500)  Volquez had a remarkable season last year, flashing excellent stuff and the poise to use it.  He faded down the stretch, but it was his first full season - and he has the pleasure of having Dusty Baker running his arm.  Good for him that we're stealing him away.

RHP Ricky Nolasco ($390,000)  Nolasco was surprisingly dominant last year.  We'll let Baseball Prospectus' Marc Normandin explain: "from June 15 onward, Nolasco whiffed over a batter per inning while holding his walks to one per nine, a 140 1/3 IP stretch of dominance that no pitcher in 2008 can claim."  Yeah, we'll take that in our rotation.

RHP Adam Wainwright ($687,500)  We still love Wainwright for the Uncle Charlie that buckled Carlos Beltran's knees in the NLCS a few years back, but he's more than a one-pitch wonder.  He's a very capable front-end starter, and having him in the fifth spot is an unexpected luxury.

CL Joakim Soria ($426,000)  The Mexicutioner takes the closer role because, well, he's a closer.  And he's very good at his job, as evidenced by an ungodly .861 WHIP, almost a K per inning, and a 266 ERA+.  He's got an arsenal to which few pitchers can lay claim, and he's better at using it than just about anyone else.

RP Carlos Marmol ($430,000)  As Aaron Gleeman wrote today, "Since moving to the bullpen full time two years ago Marmol has been baseball's most unhittable pitcher, striking out one-third of the hitters he faced while allowing a silly .150 batting average."  Sounds pretty good to us!  The only reason he isn't closing on our team is because we want to give him as many innings as possible.  Limiting him to the 9th seems like a waste of premium resources.

RP Heath Bell ($420,000)  Bell should excel as San Diego's closer this season, as his fastball-slider combo and staccato delivery has led to success to the tune of a K per inning.  And we just so happen to be of the opinion that one can never have enough power arms.

RP Jose Arredondo ($380,000)  We thought Arredondo would've been a great choice for the Angels' closer role, but that's why they don't pay us the big bucks to be a GM.  Brian Fuentes has the reins for now, but Arredondo should grow into the role in a few seasons.  

LHP Matt Thornton ($875,000)  Thornton's another guy with a fantastic arm, chalking up 268 K's in 237 innings.  He's had control issues in the past, but posted a sub-1.00 WHIP last season, and when you factor in that he's a lefty (the only one on our staff), well, that's just icing on the cake.

Long Relief Brandon Morrow ($380,000)  Morrow, a converted starter, had some arm trouble this spring, but we don't think it's anything to be concerned about.  He's still a great 'pen guy, with the potential to make spot starts when needed.

Batting Order

2B Kelly Johnson

LF Nate McLouth

1B Joey Votto

RF Ryan Ludwick

Geovany Soto

SS Troy Tulowitzki

3B Edwin Encarnacion

CF Adam Jones

Total Payroll: $10,980,000.  

So there you have it.  A team that, if it were real, would be a World Series contender, if not favorite.  Plus, we're set up for the future; when everyone is under 30, you're in good shape. And to think, you could have all this for less than the cost of a year of Carlos Silva or Jeff Suppan!  And people think Jeff Loria is thrifty.



The Predictions Post

Since all the previews are up, albeit in abbreviated form, we figure it's time to throw out the official KCSD predictions for the 2009 MLB season - official in this case meaning wildly inaccurate. But anyway, off we go. And hey, we learned how to use pictures for this go-round!
AL East: Tampa Bay Rays                                      
NL East: Atlanta Braves
AL Central: Detroit Tigers                                      
NL Central: Chicago Cubs
AL West: Los Angeles Angels                                  
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers
AL Wildcard: New York Yankees                        
NL Wildcard: Arizona Diamondbacks

AL Divisional Round
Tampa Bay over Detroit                                          
New York over Los Angeles

AL Championship
Tampa Bay over New York

NL Divisonal Round
Chicago over Arizona
Los Angeles over Atlanta

NL Championship
Chicago over Los Angeles

World Series
Tampa Bay over Chicago

We figured the Rays winning the Series would be an excellent reason to run that picture.  Anyway, there you have it. If you want to look past our unabashed homerism for the Braves, feel free to slot the WFC Phillies in their spot.  We'd still call the same results. Onto the awards!
AL MVP: B.J. Upton.  We've mentioned how we love his chances to have a breakout year, and if the field's as weak as it was last year, he could surprise.  Plus, if the Rays are as good as we think, then he'll be fresh in the voters' minds. KCSD runners up: Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton, Dustin Pedroia.
NL MVP: Chippe.. Manny Ramirez.  Of course, we wish it'd be Chipper, and while he still has the skills to bring home the hardware, he's probably gonna get himself hurt for awhile.  And Manny has more name power.  KCSD runners up: Alfonso Soriano, Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones.
AL Cy Young: CC Sabathia.  He's got the name, the contract, and the ace spot in the Yankee rotation.  KCSD runners up: Felix Hernandez, Roy Halladay, and Josh Beckett.
NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum.  Tiny Tim's our favorite pitcher now that John Smoltz is gone, and we like him to repeat.  You've probably already read all the pieces about him so we think it suffices to say that he's awesome.  By the way, the NL is stocked with pitchers.  If we were more confident that Cole Hamels were healthy, he'd be in here.  And of course there's Johan.  Also watch out for Javier Vazquez this year.  He's gonna be big.  KCSD runners up: Dan Haren, Rich Harden, Brandon Webb.
AL Rookie of the Year: Matt Wieters.  It's really between him and David Price.  Price probably has the edge because of last year's postseason, but we're throwing caution to the wind here.  Because at KCSD we're nothing if not bold.  KCSD runners up: David Price, Travis Snider, Rick Porcello.
NL Rookie of the Year: Cameron Maybin.  We'd love to pick Jordan Schafer, but we think Maybin's a bit more advanced.  Kid can do it all, and now he's got the starting job all to hisself to prove that he can shine.  KCSD runners up: Jordan Schafer, Colby Rasmus, Jordan Zimmerman.
AL Manager of the Year: Jim Leyland.  This is based entirely on our pick of Detroit to win the Central.  If they don't, we say it goes to Joe Maddon again.  Unless people are sick of the Rays' story already.  Is that enough hedging of our bets for you? KCSD runners up: Joe Maddon, Mike Scioscia.
NL Manager of the Year: Bobby Cox.  Again, based on our pick of Atlanta to win the division.  Otherwise, look to Joe Torre.  Or Bob Melvin.  Why are we trying to pick this, anyway?  KCSD runners up: Joe Torre, Bob Melvin, Lou Piniella.


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