Friday, July 22, 2011

MLB Notes...

Some quick notes as the MLB season is about to hit August...

The Carlos Beltran sweepstakes is on the forefront of most trade deadline conversations, and rightfully so. He has had quite a resurgence this year and is the best outfield bat available for a reasonable price, and the Mets are likely to reap the rewards. By paying some or all of the 6 million still owed to Carlos and not limiting themselves to teams outside their division, they should drive the price to acquire Beltran up pretty high.

Teams like the Braves and Phillies don't have dollars to take on the 6 million, but would likely be willing to give up better prospects in a deal. The Mets seem to think so in regards to the Braves, as they had scouts carefully watching Mike Minor last night.

I don't think in the end that Frank Wren will give up what it will take to get Beltran and settle for a lesser RH bat (Gomes, Ludwick, etc) and also pick up another reliever to help O'Flaherty and Every Day Jonny get to Kimbrel. If Carlos goes to the Phillies, I hope they have to give up Dominic Brown, their top OF prospect.

My guess? Beltran goes to the Giants...Brian Sabean sees a window where he has elite pitching and another excellent chance to make a run in the post-season. After losing Buster Posey, this team needs another bat, and Beltran would be a solid fit in their lineup. They have already show a willingness to make deals by acquiring Jeff Keppinger earlier this week.

Some interesting Adam Dunn quotes yesterday, as he hinted that he has thought about retirement during his dreadful season in Chicago. Guys like Carl Crawford and Dan Uggla have struggled with their new clubs, but no where near like Big Adam, who has gone in the tank.

At age 31, Dunn is currently hitting .158-9-36 while striking out 124 times in 339 at bats. He has always been a high strikeout guy, but this pace is more than ever and he is down in his career average (.245) by 87 points and won't get near his consistently solid home run numbers. Since 2004, Dunn's HR numbers have been 46, 40, 40, 40, 40, 38, 38. Amazing he could have this type of drop off while still playing in his prime.

Today is July 22, about a month and a half since the MLB Draft, and just 1 1st round pick has signed. The deadline idea was a good one, but August 15th is too late. Don't worry about when classes start at universities and consider that these guys need to be training with their teams and playing in games. Move the date to July 15th and there is still plenty of time to get draft picks into Rookie League games and get their careers started. Instead, agents have players working out on their own while the agents sit on their hands until August 14th.

It looks like a very competitive AL Cy Young race will come down to the wire with Justin Verlander and Jared Weaver not letting up at all. Guys like CC Sabathia (14-5, 2.62) and James Shields (9-8, 2.53 7 CG's) have a chance, but there are some serious studs right now in both the AL and NL.

Finally, with the AL/NL Eastern Divisions looking like they will produce the Wild Card and the Giants and Rangers separating themselves in the West, the AL/NL Central Divisions look like they will give us the best pennant races come September. Here are the top teams in each league that are still in contention and the player I would look to acquire to put each team in the best chance to compete for the Division title.

NL Central

Pittsburgh - Carlos Beltran - The Pirates have excellent pitching with Karstens, Morton Maholm, Correia, and Hanrahan, but could really use an OF bat in the middle of their order with McCutchen and Walker.

Milwaukee - Michael Bourn - The Brewers lost Carlos Gomez yesterday to a wrist injury, and could use an upgrade from Nyjer Morgan in CF. The bullpen looks solid with the K-Rod trade and Gallardo and Greinke are front line starters that are complemented well by Marcum and Wolf.

St Louis - Mike Adams - The Cardinals lead the NL in runs scored and have solid starting pitching, so bullpen help is the main need here. Salas has been good finishing games so bringing in one of the top 8th inning guys in the league without messing with too much bullpen chemistry is the move for the Cards.

Cincinnati - Ubaldo Jimenez - The Reds should be buyers, as they have a strong team with the 3rd best run differential in the NL (+28, behind ATL/PHI). I would have put Jose Reyes here, as the Cincy lineup has been pretty bad as of late, but the Phillips/Votto/Bruce murderers row along with guys like Stubbs and Rolen will heat up and give more offense. Jimenez gives the Reds a solid 1-2 punch with Johnny Cueto at the top of their rotation. Leake and Arroyo have been OK, but they really need some better starts from them along with a strong finish from either Homer Bailey or Edinson Volquez.

AL Central

Detroit - Wandy Rodriguez - The Tigers can swing the bats, but only Baltimore and Kansas City have given up more runs in the AL. Verlander is as good as it gets at the top of the rotation, but the guys after him like Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello have been very inconsistent. Detroit doesn't have a left-handed starter, and Rodriguez has been very good this season (6-6, 3.67) pitching in a hitter-friendly ballpark on a bad team.

Cleveland - Aaron Harang - The surprising Indians have been at or near the top of the division all season despite a very young and inexperienced club. Young starting pitchers Justin Masterson, Carlos Carrasco, and Josh Tomlin have had excellent seasons, but Harang will provide an innings-eater veteran that will help solidify their staff.

White Sox - Heath Bell - The White Sox have struggled finding a reliable closer since Bobby Jenks career went south, and getting Bell would immediately give them one of the games best. Only 5 games back with John Danks set to come of the DL soon, the White Sox could also use a hitter, and could use Edwin Jackson as bait to get some offensive help.

The trade deadline should be wild this year, keep checking back for updates as the Braves should be in some deep discussions the next 9 days...

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