Friday, November 30, 2012

Rally Caps Offseason Outlook - Chicago White Sox

Pos Player Salary

C Tyler Flowers $500,000
2008 $121,189,332
1B Paul Konerko $13,500,000
2009 $96,068,500
2B Gordon Beckham $3,100,000
2010 $103,080,000
3B Brent Morel $500,000
2011 $127,789,000
SS Alexei Ramirez $7,000,000
2012 $97,669,500
LF Dayan Viciedo $2,500,000
Average $109,159,266
CF Alejandro De Aza $1,700,000
2013 $113,200,000
RF Alex Rios $13,000,000
Budget -$4,040,734
DH Adam Dunn $15,000,000

C Hector Gimenez $500,000

IF Dan Johnson $1,200,000

OF DeWayne Wise $700,000

Util Steve Tolleson $500,000

SP Chris Sale $750,000

SP Jake Peavy $14,500,000

SP John Danks $15,750,000

SP Gavin Floyd $9,500,000

SP Jose Quintana $500,000

CP Addison Reed $500,000

SU Matt Thornton $5,500,000

SU Jesse Crain $4,500,000

MRP Hector Santiago $500,000

MRP Nate Jones $500,000

MRP Donnie Veal $500,000

LRP Dylan Axelrod $500,000

The White Sox surprised many by being competitive last season in a fairly weak AL Central. During the season, they made moves to bring in Kevin Youkilis, Francisco Liriano, and Brett Myers to make a playoff push but fell short. With  a strong and young core in place, the White Sox have the tool to challenge the Tigers for the divisional title, but a few moves may need to be made.

Longtime catcher A.J. Pierzynski is gone and there aren't any talks of the Sox bringing him back. Tyler Flowers may not be ready to be given full ownership of the starting slot, so it makes sense for the Sox to target a backup catcher who has the ability to start games if Flowers is slumping. Names like Rod Barajas, Miguel Olivo, Kelly Shoppach, Chris Snyder, or Yorvit Torrealba could be had for around $1 million annually and have the ability to step in in a pinch.

The team is set at three of the four infield positions, with Paul Konerko, Gordon Beckham, and Alexei Ramirez filling roles at first, second, and short. The team may need to get creative to fill third base, though, as Brent Morel profiles more as a utility option off the bench. The team's resources are a mystery as they enter the year with approximately $113 million on the books. This is $4 million more than their five year average, but the team's payroll topped $120 million as recently as 2011. If the team wants to pursue a free agent, they may have the resources to do so. If the team wants to fill the hole at third through free agency, they could look into Placido Polanco or bringing back Kevin Youkilis. Neither are very good options at this point in their careers, though. The Sox could also move Dayan Viciedo back to third base and pursue a left field free agent. Possible options include Jason Bay, Johnny Damon, Reed Johnson, Ryan Ludwick, Nate McLouth, or high profile options like Josh Hamilton or Shane Victorino. They could also look to deal from their starting pitching depth to fill an offensive hole.

With a catcher signing, the retaining of Dan Johnson, a move out of the lineup for Brent Morel, and the signing of DeWayne Wise, the White Sox have a pretty set bench.

The rotation could be in serious flux for the White Sox. Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, and John Danks are locks, but the fourth and fifth slots could see some competition. There has been serious talk of moving Gavin Floyd and/or Philip Humber thanks to the Sox having Jose Quintana, Nestor Molina, and Simon Castro. It might be unrealistic, but the Sox could consider trying to hook up with the Padres and putting a package of Gavin Floyd and prospects together for Chase Headley. The White Sox's system saw success at just about every level so they have a lot of depth to deal with.

The team is returning most of their bullpen from last season. Closer Addison Reed should produce better numbers with a little more experience. The team also brings back Matt Thornton, Nate Jones, Jesse Crain, and Donnie Veal. The team had a league average bullpen last season, but with more defined roles they could see some improvement in their results. The team has talked about being interested in bringing back Brett Myers, but Myers has stated that he is more interested in a starting role.

With an unknown amount of resources and a fairly deep system, the White Sox have the tools to put a team in place that can make a playoff run.

American League
East Central West
Baltimore Orioles Chicago White Sox Houston Astros
Boston Red Sox Cleveland Indians Los Angeles Angels
New York Yankees Detroit Tigers Oakland Athletics
Tampa Bay Rays Kansas City Royals Seattle Mariners
Toronto Blue Jays Minnesota Twins Texas Rangers

National League
East Central West
Atlanta Braves Chicago Cubs Arizona Diamondbacks
Miami Marlins Cincinnati Reds Colorado Rockies
New York Mets Milwaukee Brewers Los Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia Phillies Pittsburgh Pirates San Diego Padres
Washington Nationals St Louis Cardinals San Francisco Giants

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rally Caps Offseason Outlook - Chicago Cubs

Pos Player Salary

C Welington Castillo $500,000
2008 $118,345,833
1B Anthony Rizzo $500,000
2009 $134,809,000
2B Darwin Barney $600,000
2010 $144,359,000
3B Ian Stewart $2,300,000
2011 $134,004,000
SS Starlin Castro $5,857,000
2012 $109,316,000
LF Alfonso Soriano $19,000,000
Average $128,166,767
CF Brett Jackson $500,000
2013 $76,607,000
RF David DeJesus $4,250,000
Budget $51,559,767

C Dioner Navarro $1,750,000

IF Steve Clevenger $500,000

OF Tony Campana $500,000

OF Dave Sappelt $500,000

Util Luis Valbuena $900,000

SP Matt Garza $10,000,000

SP Jeff Samardzija $2,900,000

SP Travis Wood $500,000

SP Scott Feldman $6,000,000

SP Scott Baker $5,500,000

CP Carlos Marmol $9,800,000

SU Shawn Camp $1,350,000

SU James Russell $900,000

MRP Michael Bowden $500,000

MRP Jeffrey Beliveau $500,000

MRP Rafael Dolis $500,000

LRP Jaye Chapman $500,000

The Cubs made a big splash at the beginning of 2012 by trading for former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and bringing in former Padres GM Jed Hoyer. Between the two, there is a lot of baseball knowledge and a lot of success at building home-grown players. The Cubs having a 2012 payroll that exceeded $100 million is a testament to how bad the ownership and management was before the trio of Ricketts, Epstein, and Hoyer came to town was. The Cubs are coming off of three straight losing season, including a 101 loss campaign in 2012. They also have the small ordeal of apparently going quite a while since their last World Series. As such, this rebuilding team has holes to fill, but the question is how much does the team have to spend?

With new ownership, it is hard to tell if the Cubs still $110 million to work with or if the Ricketts group is more interested in shedding payroll a bit. If $110 is the magic number, then the Cubs could have approximately $30 million to use this offseason.

The Cubs already brought in Dioner Navarro to serve as a backup to Welington Castillo. Castillo looked usable last season and the fact that the Cubs spent small money on Navarro could be a sign of trust in Castillo. The rest of the infield is set as youngsters Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, and Starlin Castro join veteran Ian Stewart in a very solid defensive infield. Rizzo is a well-rounded hitter, Castro gets on base and has a load of speed, and Stewart has tremendous power potential. The Cubs are well-suited to stick with this quartet, especially since they cost the team less than $10 million combined.

In the outfield, Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus are locks. Soriano is one of the last two really bad contracts doled out by old management, but he was productive in 2012, so the Cubs may be interested in holding on to him for his offense and greatly improving defense. Soriano was arguably the best defensive left fielder in the National League last season. If the team does decide to move him, though, they will probably have to eat a large portion of his contract. With no standout prospects at left field, it makes more sense to pay him to play for the Cubs instead of paying him to play for another team. The big question in the outfield is Brett Jackson. Jackson has struggled with strikeouts at every level, but has a good power bat and can draw a walk. His low average/solid power combination with the ability to amass steals makes him comparable to Chris Young. Because the Cubs don't have much better options at outfield until Jorge Soler is ready, it makes a lot of sense to let Jackson work on his control against major league pitching.

With the exception of Dioner Navarro, the Cubs have a bench that is completely made up of league-minimum players. If they have money to spend, they could afford to bring in some low risk guys on smaller contracts to not only provide more depth, but to challenge their current crop of role players for their bench spots. Currently, the Cubs don't have any positional battles, which can lead to stagnant play.

The Cubs have already brought in Scott Feldman and Scott Baker as reclamation projects for the rotation. I think they spent a little too much money for guys that don't have a tremendous amount of upside aside from moving from the AL to the NL. At any rate, the two moves did answer their largest question - the rotation. I think they should bring in a few more guys on minor league contracts to protect themselves from slumping pitchers. Matt Garza is a strong option with ace potential, but the other four members of the Cubs Opening Day rotation are anything but locks to have productive seasons.

Due to being made up of primarily young hurlers, the Cubs bullpen is incredibly hit or miss. They almost swung a deal to move Carlos Marmol to the Angels for Dan Haren, but backed out when they saw Haren's physical. The move shows the Cubs lack of trust in their so-called closer and I don't think that was the last phone call they made about the wild hurler. If the team does move Marmol, they could be on the market for a closer, since they don't have any good internal options. The bullpen is actually the area that is most in need of retooling for team, as the team had the league's worst pen last year and didn't have any standout performers. Moving Marmol for a bench bat and entering the market for some fresh blood could do this team a lot of good. Ultimately, I think the Cubs fans are in for another disappointing season, but with solid management and a step up in play from their young core, the Cubs could conceivably be a surprise team in 2013.

American League
East Central West
Baltimore Orioles Chicago White Sox Houston Astros
Boston Red Sox Cleveland Indians Los Angeles Angels
New York Yankees Detroit Tigers Oakland Athletics
Tampa Bay Rays Kansas City Royals Seattle Mariners
Toronto Blue Jays Minnesota Twins Texas Rangers

National League
East Central West
Atlanta Braves Chicago Cubs Arizona Diamondbacks
Miami Marlins Cincinnati Reds Colorado Rockies
New York Mets Milwaukee Brewers Los Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia Phillies Pittsburgh Pirates San Diego Padres
Washington Nationals St Louis Cardinals San Francisco Giants

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hall of Fame Candidates - Catchers

It's almost time for the Hall of Fame voting, which means it's time to look back on baseball's past and weed out who the very best in history are. Out of the possible candidates, eligible voters are allowed to put ten names on their ballot. Players who appear on 75% of the ballot make it in. I will follow this formula and assemble a ballot of my own. I am going to look at the players by position and determine if there are even ten names worthy of consideration.

Today we will start with the two eligible catchers. Before I post tables, I should explain to non-stat minded readers some of the stats. All of these stats were taken from Baseball Reference. Bill James Hall of Fame Monitor assesses how likely a player is to be voted into the Hall of Fame based on statistical benchmarks. Bill James Hall of Fame Standards test is a point system that gives players extra points for how much they exceed certain statistical values. Jay Jaffe's WAR Score system averages a player's career WAR with the average WAR of his best seven seasons and then compares this number to other players in his position. This allows us to see how much better or worse he is than the average player at his position. Lastly, WAR, or Wins Above Replacement assesses how many wins a particular player added to his team over what a replacement-level player would have netted for the team. Now then, on with the candidates.

Mike Piazza 1st 207 62 16 56.1 40.7 48.4 41 1912 6911 1048 2127 427 1335 17 759 0.308 0.377 0.545 0.922 143
Sandy Alomar 1st 48 24 20 11.6 11.8 11.7 41 1377 4530 520 1236 112 588 25 212 0.273 0.309 0.406 0.716 86

Mike Piazza

Mike Piazza jumped right into a Hall of Fame calibre career with a 1993 season that earned him the Rookie of the Year award. Piazza hit for a .932 OPS and blasted 35 home runs in his first season and it was uphill from there. He had arguably his best season in 1997 when he hit 40 home runs, had a 1.070 OPS, and finished second in MVP voting. Piazza was never voted in as the Most Valuable Player, but he had four top five finishes in voting and three more season in the top ten. He was named to twelve All Star teams in sixteen seasons. In ten of his appearances, he was voted in as the starter. This popularity with the fans ties him with Johnny Bench for third place all-time in starts at the catcher position behind Ivan Rodriguez and Yogi Berra. Piazza won ten Silver Sluggers, which is most all-time at the catcher position. His ten awards were all in a row, as he took the award every season from 1993-2002. The major knock against Piazza is his defense. He routinely led the league in stolen bases allowed and passed balls.

As far as career numbers, Piazza is first all-time in OPS, tenth in batting average, and fourth in weighted OBA. In terms of rate stats, he is tops in home runs, eleventh in runs, and fourth in RBIs. Quite frankly, Mike Piazza is in the discussion as one of the best offensive catchers of all-time. It may take a few years due to steroid talk, but if Piazza doesn't eventually make it in, then there is no reason for a Hall of Fame to exist.

Sandy Alomar

Alomar's resume isn't as dazzling as Piazza's. He also won the Rookie of the Year award, taking the 1990 prize, but the comparisons end there. He was named to six All Star games, including three as the starting catcher. He never won the Silver Slugger, but did take home the 1990 Gold Glove. From 1994-1997, he had a four year stretch of showing improved power hitting, but it trailed off as his career started to fade in 1998. Alomar hung around until 2007 thanks to his average defensive ability. He played four more seasons than Piazza, but appered in almost 600 less games thanks to injuries or being relegated to backup status.

Both of these cases are easy decisions, as Piazza is a slam dunk, while Alomar is an astounding no. The only thing holding Piazza back is his admission of using androstenedione before it was banned. Personally, you can chalk me up as not caring about PEDs. In my opinion, the rampant use of steroids in the late 80s to now represents an era of baseball much like the deadball era. If a player takes a substance that is banned now, I think he should be suspended, but if players took steroids before they were banned by baseball, then it can't really be held against them for trying to gain a competitive edge. At the end of the day, steroids don't magically make you a better hitter, so a player's ability and numbers can't be ignored just because they used PEDs.

My ballot:
1) Mike Piazza