Tag:Chicago
Posted on: January 7, 2011 2:09 pm
 

Complete NFL Playoff Predictions

Im my site Sports Talk with Chris and Kevin we have made our complete NFL Playoff Predictions going up to the Super Bowl. If you are interested you should check it out!

Here's the link  http://sportstalkwithchrisandkevin.
blogspot.com/

Posted on: January 5, 2011 6:36 pm
 

MLB Preseason Power Rankings

I have been working on my mlb pre-season power rankings for a while now and will be releasing them team by team from bottom to top. I have already begun to to do this on my other blog http://sportstalkwithchrisandkevin.
blogspot.com/

so if you are interested check it out!
Posted on: December 7, 2010 5:45 pm
 

Winter Meetings Updates

Hey everybody i am trying to keep everybody updated on the rumors and moves being made at the winter meetings. If you want to see all of my updates and analysis check out my other blog at http://sportstalkwithchrisandkevin.
blogspot.com/
. Also check out the ticker on the side of the blog as i give updates the moment they happen to keep you ahead of the news outlets.
Posted on: December 2, 2010 5:56 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2010 5:59 pm
 

Top 20 Center Fielders

I am devouring these stats at a rapid pace but its hard not to, these posts are the most fun i have had in a while. Im at the end of the semester in college so this is way more fun than studying. I wanted to continue to look at the positions that are not as deep in terms of offensive talent so i thought i would move to Center Field.The top level of this list is really good but as a disclaimer a lot of the better center fielders are really corner outfielders who can play center field.Oh and before i get into the post i wanted to brush you up on some of the stats i use in case you've been wondering.

UZR- Ultimate Zone Rating- It rates players defense based on how many runs they save or allow compared to the average replacment level player.
WAR- Wins Above Replacment- Rates a players value based on how many wins they create or lose compared to the average replacement level player.
Slash line- Batting average/.On base percentage/.slugging percentage
ISO- Isolated Power- Subtracting a players average from their slugging which gives you an idea of a players power

TOP TIER

1. Josh Hamilton (TEX)
There is no way anyone can argue with this, he was clearly the best player in major league baseball this year and has amazing natural ability. He is in the Prime of his career and has the abilitiy to win multiple batting titles and home run titles along with playing excellent defense. He is one of those players i love because he does everything well, plus he is just a great human interest story with the adversity he faced to get to this point. He is definitely in a league of his own in terms of his position and right up their with Albert Pujols as one of the greatest players in the league right now.

2. Carlos Gonzalez (COL)
Similar to Hamilton he plays all outfield positions but his home is in center field (not his best position though). He has evolved from the best prospect in the Matt Holliday trade to one of the best players in the game. Again he does everything right at the plate, on the base paths and is pretty good defensively. Now what negates some of his value is that he does play at Coors field which really inflates his numbers, take a look at his home/road splits (.380/.425/.737 home, .289/.322/.452 road). But even with the benifit of Coors field he is still and elite center fielder. In terms of defense he is solid but he did not deserve the gold glove (we all know the gold glove awards are a joke now anyways). Gonzalez is no where near as good as Hamilton but is young enough that he could be close in his prime.

SECOND TIER

3. Shane Victorino (PHI)
After the top 2 guys there is a big dropoff in terms of talent and production but i like Victorino as the top of the next tier of guys. He may not put up as sexy numbers as some of the other centerfielders but he is a spark plug in that Philadelphia offense. Like many of the Phillies players he is a gamer and can get those clutch hits. But even without that aspect he is one of those great all around players that i like. He is good in every category (.279/.342/.428 career line, 30+ SB threat with above average defense (career 11.4 UZR). A lot of the guys in this second tier are interchangeable and this is just the order that i like but they are very equal in terms of talent.

4. Curtis Granderson (NYY)
Although he may not have put up the numbers the Yankees were expecting out of him, he is still one of the all around best center fielders in the game. The only major flaw in his game is his tendency to strikeout and his inability to hit for a high average. But he does provide a punch at the plate with substantial power for a center fielder (.213 career ISO) and also has good speed as he has topped 20 stolen bases twice. He plays good defense too as he has a career 21.8 UZR, he has excellent range and is able to cover the whole field. Again he fits the mold of player that i tend to like and he has a great personality and is great to the community. All in all he is a great ball player.

5. Alex Rios (CWS)
I really like the center field position now, there are a lot of players who fit the mold of player that i like. Rios is another guy who gives you postive production in every aspect of his game. At the plate he provides a solid average with the ability to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases (career .281/.331/.446 with 151 SB). Not only does he provide great offense but he also posses good defensive ability as he has a career 10.3 UZR in center. Rios had struggled in 09' but was able to make a strong comeback last season and was probably the best hitter on the White Sox last year. Looking at his career his has a proven track record (exception in 09') and is in the Prime of his career so im sure he will be this good for a while.

6. Andrew McCutchen (PIT)
Yet another player who provides the complete package and is a major cog in his teams offense. Yes he may be on a very bad Pittsburgh team but they are on the rise in terms of their offese with stars such as Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, and Neil Walker emerging last season. McCutchen is also one of the youngest guys on this list and i think he still has room to grow from where he is at right now. His career line is currently at .286/.365/.459 and can steal around 30 bases at the age of 24. Now according to his UZR he had a rough year defensively but i think he will improve upon that he has the speed and the ability to cover the field but his hands and arm are subpar. He will never be at Josh Hamilton's level but could be at the upper level of the second tier in his prime.

7. Colby Rasmus (STL)
The Cardinals have another stud centerfielder in Rasmus, wether he remains in St. Louis is unclear but where ever he plays he is still an outstanding young centerfielder. Colby Rasmus showed off some good power last season as he put up a .222 ISO and improved in basically every offensive category in his second season. He does strike out too much and i doubt he will be able to maintain that .276 average if he continues to strike out in 31.9 percent of his at bats as he did last season. But you can not deny that Rasmus has skills and at the age of 24 has plenty of room to grow. His defense could use some work as he was -6.5 UZR last season but he has the potential to get better. Of  the young centerfielders on this list i think Rasmus has the highest ceiling.

THIRD TIER

8. Franklin Gutierrez (SEA)
He definitely stuggled last season after really breaking out in 09', but his saving grace is that he is arguably the best defensive center fielder in the game (58.3 UZR in the past 3 seasons). His offense is nothing to write home about but he can provide a solid average with average power and plus speed (career .261/.316/.400 and 25 SB last season). He is only 27 so he is entering his prime years and should be able to put up some solid offensive numbers to qualify his outstanding defense. I dont think his offense will ever be able to improve enough to move him into the second tier tough.

9. Matt Kemp (LAD)
A lot of people probably think this guy should be higher on the list and if you look at his overall offensive numbers he is better than Gutierrez and some of the others ahead of him. But i cant put a guy who posted a -24 UZR last season ahead of the best defensive center fielder in the game no matter how good his offensive numbers are. And even when looking at his offensive numbers last season he struggled hitting .249/.310/.450 and was only worth .4 wins. The only reason he even made the top 10 is because of his 09' season and the fact that he is only 26 so i think he can turn it around. He has the ability offensively to hit close to .300 with 20+ home run power and 30+ stolen bases but will have to rebuild his value next year to move up. Kemp could be a second tier guy and maybe even a first tier but he will really need to turn things around next season.

10. Adam Jones (BAL)
Jones is one of those guys that i have always been on his bandwagon and have liked from his days as a top prospect. But he has yet to deliver on my expectations, that being said he is still a very good young center fielder. He is steadily improving each year and at the age of 25 still has plenty of time to put it all together. His career numbers arnt bad either with a career .274/.319/.427 line, he dosnt get on base enough and strikes out too much but provides some pop (.153 career ISO) and a solid average. He plays average defense (career -6 UZR) as he has good speed and a good arm but is below average in the other categories. His ceiling is not as high as many of us thought it would be put in his prime he should be a solid 2nd tier guy.

11. Grady Sizemore (CLE)
12. Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS)
13. Austin Jackson (DET)
14. Michael Bourn (HOU)

FOURTH TIER

15. Chris Young (ARI)
16. Vernon Wells (TOR)
17. Angel Pagan (NYM)
18. B.J. Upton (TB)
19. Marlon Byrd (CHC)
20. Andres Torres (SF)

Almost made the list-

Drew Stubbs, Denard Span
 
And dont forgert to check out my site at

http://sportstalkwithchrisandkevin.
blogspot.com/



Posted on: December 1, 2010 4:49 pm
 

Top 20 Second Baseman

After looking over my top 20 shortstops list i was very dissapointed in myself. I left off some key players who had injury issues but were better than the some of the players lower on my list. So i hope i will redeem myself on this list of the top 20 second baseman where i tried to look much deeper into the stats. Also i am not including guys who i consider utility players on this list as later i will do a ranking of the best utility players.

1. Chase Utley (PHI)
While he may be heading towards the downside of his career and injuries are starting to hit him, he is still the best all around 2nd baseman in the game. He missed some time last year but his bat is still good (.275/.387/.445 line in 425 AB) and he still plays great defense with a 10.3 UZR. Many people may think that Robinson Cano has passed Chase Utley up, and with the bat he has but Utley is still the all around better player specificaly when you compare their defense (Cano career -36.8 UZR, Utley career 80.1 UZR). But the gap is quickly closing as Utley is starting to regress and Cano is in his prime.

2. Robinson Cano (NYY)
As we discussed earlier Cano is the best offensive second baseman in the majors right now. He has some problems defensivly although he does have a good arm. Not a typical middle infielder as he hits for excellent average (career .309/.347/.489) and power but lacks great speed on the basepaths. Like Utley he is more of a middle of the order hitter but unlike Utley he is in the prime of his career with plenty of time to put up more awesome offensive numbers.

3. Dustin Pedroia (BOS)
He missed a lot of time due to injury last year but when healthy he is an elite second baseman. Unlike the 2 guys ahead of him he is more of a top of the order hitter (2 hole), he hits for a good average, has average power with good speed. He also plays good defense, maybe not as good as Utley but significantly better than Cano. He is good in almost every defensive category although he does lack a strong arm. He is a good all around shortstop who can be elite in terms of contact and defense but is average everywhere else.

4. Ian Kinsler (TEX)
Pedroia and him were neck and neck in my analysis but i gave the edge to Pedroia because he has an MVP to his credit. And similar to Pedroia, Kinsler was injured a lot last year but can put up elite offensive numbers for the position. Kinsler dosnt hit for as high of average as Pedroia but he does have more pop (career .281/.356/.466 line and in 09' he hit 31 home runs). Overall i like Kinsler's offensive game a little bit better than Pedroia's but Kinslers defense does not matchup to Pedroia at all. While Pedroia has a career 23.7 UZR, Kinsler has a -9.9 UZR. Kinsler does have more speed which gives him better range but hands are not as good as Pedroia and he is not as accurate. But all in all Kinsler is still and elite second baseman, he may lack great defense but he is an outstanding offensive secondbaseman.

5. Brandon Phillips (CIN)
The second tier was definitely the hardest to rank as all of the players are equally as good in my opinion. But in terms of all around ability and being a true second baseman Phillips is the best of the second tier. He has some issues offensively as he is not a great OBP guy but he does hit for a solid average and has some pop (career .267/.316/.430 line) and speed. What really sets him apart from the guys below him in this tier is his defense as he is the only one with a positive career UZR (8.1). As you are probably starting to see i tend to favor players who are skilled in multiple areas rather than big power guys or speed guys. The fans really like defense as his fan scouting ranks him as the top second baseman defensively, and he is not rated below a 70 (100 point scale) in any category.

6. Dan Uggla (ATL)
There were some players who put together all around better offensive numbers but none of them have put up those types of numbers consistently. Dan Uggla may not be a good fielder by any means and he may strike out too much but he is a consistent 30 HR power threat at a position that lacks that. He is in the heart of his prime years and so we will likely see this type of production for several more years. But as i said he is somewhat of a one dimensional player, his game revolves around power although he did put up a good average last year (.287/.369/.508 line in 10'). The biggest knock on Uggla's game is still his defense, i will always remember his 3 errors in his first all star game. The fans rate all of his defensive skills below 45 and he has a career UZR of -22. Uggla is a good power hitter but he probably should be playing third base.

7. Rickie Weeks (MIL)
He came back from injury in 09' to put up a career year as he hit .269/.366/.464 with 29 home runs. He is another slugging second baseman who struggles hitting for contact. But i would rate his defensive ability above Uggla's, while he has a career -24.8 UZR he did post a 1.8 UZR last season and has been around average the past few years. The only reason i rank Weeks behind Uggla is because Weeks has not consistently put up these numbers, but he is in his prime years so he may put up these numbers again.

8. Kelly Johnson (ARI)
Johnson is another guy who came out of nowhere to put up some pretty good power numbers. Johnson had put up solid numbers in 07' and 08' but fell out of favor in 09' with the Braves and was nontendered and the Diamondbacks signed him. He then went on to post a .284/.370/.496 line with 26 home runs. His numbers were way off from his career averages in terms of power so there has to be some regression but his strikeout numbers where higher than his career so he may have changed his approach (I havent watched him so i dont know). He also put up good fielding numbers last season (7.1 UZR) and is in the prime of his career so we could see some more years like this. But as with Rickie Weeks he has not put up these numbers consistently so i cant rank him higher than this.

9. Orlando Hudson (FA)
There is a significant dropoff after the second tier, not that Hudson is a bad ballplayer but he is nowhere near as good as the people ahead of him. Hudson has been a good hitter before but showed some regression last season as he has passed his prime years. He is still a guy who can hit around .270/.340/.370 and give you quality defense which can be hard to come by and somebody will give him some money for his skill. He still plays good defense as he had a 9.8 UZR last season and the fan scouting shows he is still a solid defender. The only major weakness in his game is his arm but everything else is near or above average. Hudson is a solid all around second baseman but is firmly in the third tier.

10. Brian Roberts (BAL)
He like Hudson is on the downside of his career but after coming back from injury he showed he can still play and seemed to get the Orioles offense going. He still provides a solid batting average, above average speed and a solid glove. He seems to have lost the power that he did have which is why is 10th on this list and really could go below him but his track record of success is what keeps him this high. As i have said before i think the most valuable guys are the ones that have the complete package and have a proven track record. Roberts defines all of those characteristics and at 33 I still think he has some gas in the tank to put up some solid seasons for the Orioles.

11. Aaron Hill (TOR)
12. Chone Figgins (SEA)
13. Mark Ellis (OAK)
14. Freddy Sanchez (SF)
15. Howie Kendrick (LAA)
16. Neil Walker (PIT)
17. Jeff Keppinger (HOU)
18. Gordon Beckham (CWS)
19. Ryan Theriot (STL)
20. Mike Aviles (KC)

Thats my top 20 second baseman and look out for my top 20 center fielders tomorrow. And if you havnt already please check out my other blog which will have our first podcast up over the weekend.
http://sportstalkwithchrisandkevin.
blogspot.com/
Posted on: November 30, 2010 10:08 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2010 10:10 pm
 

Top 20 Shortstops

In light of Troy Tulowitzki's recent extension to the 2020 season i wanted to see how he stacked up against the rest of the shortstops in the league. I spent several hours pouring over stats and scouting reports to make my list of the top 20 shortstops. I will give in depth analyisis of the top 10 and then just list the bottom ten.

FIRST TEIR


1. Troy Tulowitzki (COL)
I think he has to be the obvious number one choice, Hanley Ramirez was definitely considered but he is more of a hitter than a true shortstop. Tulowitzki has the full package, he can hit for average, power, he has some speed and plays excellent defense. I realize his offensive numbers are slightly skewed due to playing at Coors field (altough not as much as you would think as he still hit .291/.358/.504 on the road) but he is still an outstanding bat at shortstop.

2. Hanley Ramirez (FLA)
In terms of offense he is the best in the league with a career .313/.385/.520 line. But the reason he is number 2 is because is glove is no where near Tulowitzki's, he has a career -39.3 UZR and a career .969 fielding percentage. On the Fans Scouting Report on Fangraphs.com they think Hanley has good speed and a decent first step and arm but he gets low marks for his hands, release, instincts and accuracy. At some point in his career i think he will get moved to third similar to A-Rod becaues his bat will still hold up as a corner infielder. But even with his defensive deficiencies he is still an elite shortstop.

Second Tier

3. Stephen Drew (ARI)
There is a significant drop off after Tulo and Hanley, but Stephen Drew is a solid second tier shortstop. He does not have an elite bat but it is above average for a middle infielder ( career .272/.332/.448 line). He has managed to improve his defense which is really what has pushed him to this level, as he evolved from a 2 win player to a 5 win player last year. His career UZR is not good but he has posted positive UZR's the past 2 season with an 8.7 this year. The fan scouting dosnt suggest that any of his tools are great but he is mediocre across the board.

4. Alexei Ramirez (CWS)
From the minute he burst onto the scene in 2008 he has been an upper level offensive shortstop, hitting for a solid average and providing some pop at a position that tends to lack it. He is not elite in any one category but is above average across the board with a career .283/.321/.430 slash line and averaging over 10 steals a season. His defensive ratings have improved every season as well posting a 10.8 UZR this season. The Fans scouting suggests that he has a good arm and above average speed and first step. His main area of concern in his defense are his hands and his release. Alexei Ramirez is right up there with Stephen Drew in the second tier of shortstops.
 
5. Jose Reyes (NYM)
He came back from missing most of 2009 to posting solid numbers in 2010. When healthy Reyes provides a leathal combination of contact/speed and power at the top of the Mets lineup. He is at the early part of his prime as well so he has the potential to get back to the upper tier of shortstops. His defense is pretty good as well with a career UZR of 16.6 but he did have a rough season last year dropping to a -5 UZR. The fans scouting report shows he has a good first step with great speed and a great arm. His main weakness is his hands but other than that all of his other areas are rated at least average. Reyes is a young shortstop who has proved he can be elite before and could be again but for now is in the second tier.

Third Tier

6. Yunel Escobar (TOR)
He had a rough year at the plate with the Braves but was much better with the Blue Jays. Even when he is on he is still a third tier shortstop in my mind but he will hit for average (career .289 hitter) and some pop. But he doesnt have the speed of some of the other shortstops ahead of him. He can be a 3-4 win guy and is hitting his prime ages so we could see him possibly move up to the second tier. He also plays solid defense as he has a career 9.6 UZR, the fan scouting shows him to be proficient in almost every category and they rate his arm very highly. Again the only area he really isnt great at is his speed which may hurt his range a little bit. Overall he is an above average player in almost every category but is not great in any category either.

7. Elvis Andrus (TEX)
I know that he may not hit for a great average yet or hit for any power but he does have blazing speed and plays outstanding defense. I would consider his last season a sophmore slump and he still put up a .1 UZR and hit for a .265/.342/.301. He has the potential to be one of the best defensive players in the game with a potential line of .280/.350/.380 with 30-40 SB. The reason he ranks higher than people who may have put up better numbers last season is his age as he is only 22 years old and is already a star. The fan scouting shows he is above average in every category except his accuracy, and has very good instincts, speed and first step. He is one of two really good young shortstops who will likely move to higher tiers as they get older.

8. Derek Jeter (NYY)
 I know i may get some flak for ranking him this high but even in his worst season of his career he was a 2.5 WAR player. His skills are eroding as he is now 36 years old but he still has the ability to hit for a solid average and get on base. He is one of the best shortstops of all time and should get his 3,000th hit next season as he is 74 hits away and is a first ballot hall of famer. The one thing that has always been overrated about Jeter's game is his defense. Looking at his defensive metrics he has been a below average defender his whole career. He has a -42.4 UZR since 2002, posting only 2 postive UZR seasons. He dosnt have the range to really play short anymore but the Yankees dont have to have great defense to succeed so he will likely finish his career there. The only attribute that the fan scouting thinks is above average is his hands which is true as he only made 6 errors last season. If he can get to the ball he will make the play, but its his ability to get to the ball that is in question. That being said he is still in the third tier which is pretty good for his age.

9. Alex Gonzalez (ATL)
If it was not for his resurgent offense last year he would be ranked this high but he managed to put up some stellar offensive numbers for a shortstop last season (hitting 23 home runs and knocking in 88 runs). He doesnt provide much in terms of average or OBP but has good pop and can knock in runs. His best asset is still his defense as he has a career 44.6 UZR since 2002 and had a 5.1 UZR last season. The fan scouting shows that he has above average hands and release but is weak in terms of his first step, speed and arm. I think this ranking is a little bit high but i didnt want to show to much favoritism to the next guy on this list.

10. Starlin Castro (CHC)
Of all of the young shortstops in the majors i would say he has the highest ceiling but even if he doesnt reach that he is already an allstar caliber shortstop. He showed that he can hit for great average putting up a .300/.347/.408 line in his rookie season. He has the potential to be an excellent leadoff hitter who could contend for batting titles and already has such a good approach at the plate. His main issue is inexpierence and immaturity as he is only 20 years old, he will have mental lapses from time to time but thats part of the growth. Also he is no where near his prime years so we may see some inconsistincey at this time in his career. His defense is a work in progress, looking at the fan scouting he has above average speed and first step and has a great arm. But he stuggles with his hands, release and accuracy as he made 27 errors. Unlike Elvis Andrus i think Castro could become a first tier shortstop, his strengths will likely lie in his average but he has power potential in his body. He is the most exciting player on this list in my opinion.

Fourth Tier

11. Cliff Pennington
12. Marco Scutaro
13. Jhonny Peralta
14. Erick Aybar
15. Jason Bartlett
16. Ian Desmond

Fifth Tier

17. Orlando Cabrera
18. Alcides Escobar

BAD

19. Cesar Izturis
20. Yuniesky Betancourt

If you want more of my analysis check out my new site
http://sportstalkwithchrisandkevin.
blogspot.com/
You can submit questions to me and this friday we will be recording our first podcast so look out for that.

Posted on: November 22, 2010 7:19 pm
 

New Blog

Hey everybody i just wanted to let you know that along with this blog on cbssports a friend and i have started a blog on blogger that will feature a bi-weekly sports podcast show. The podcasts wont start until after thanksgiving break but i hope you will check out the new blog. The address is below, and dont worry i will still blog on here as frequently as i can.

http://sportstalkwithchrisandkevin.
blogspot.com/
Posted on: November 19, 2010 12:41 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2010 8:04 pm
 

MLB Offseason Preview (NL Central)

After last posts NL East preview we move to the NL Central. It is pretty well known that this is the division i know the best and i know the teams involved very well. But no matter how well you know a division you can never correctly perdict every move the teams in a division will make. As i said in my previous posts these are the moves that i think are the most likely to happen and also moves that i think teams should make.

Chicago Cubs-

The Cubs added on to their dissapointing 2009 season by putting up an even worse 2010 season. The Cubs had managed to build the worst team with the biggest budget which makes me even more proud to be a Cubs fan. Luckily all of the Cubs bad contracts are begining to come off the books, losing Derrek Lee and Ted Lilly's big salaries should loosen up the Cubs wallets. But i would not recommend they spend big this offseason, although Adam Dunn is available and they are in need of a first baseman i think they should hold off. The problem with acquiring Adam Dunn is that it is a typical Cubs move, it may help us be competitve next year but in the end the contract will hold us down. The only way i would fill first base with a big name player this offseason is if they can find a way to acquire Adrain Gonzalez via trade. It would cost a lot of players but the Cubs have been improving their farm system and may have the prospects to get him now. I dont need to explain the impact Adrian Gonzalez would have on this team. If they cant bring in Gonzalez I would recommend siging Adam LaRoche, he would significantly cheaper than Dunn and would provide the left handed power bat the Cubs crave. He consistently puts up a .280-25-90 with quality defense and would allow the Cubs to have money to spend in other areas or allow them to hold on to their money so they can spend big next season. They also need to begin to plan how they will fill the hole at third when Aramis leaves next season. I woldnt be suprised to see A-Ram dealt either this offseason or at the deadline. The only other major area of need is releif pitching that im sure they will waste their money on.

Cincinnati Reds -

The Reds are not a team that needs a lot of work, they have a nice affordable core of players that have room to improve. They are set at all the major position players but their biggest need is starting pitching. If you know anything about post-season baseball you know that you need a dominant ace at the top of your staff to succeed. Look at the Giants (Lincecum), Rangers (Cliff Lee). Phillies (H20), Yankees (CC Sabathia). This is really the piece the Reds are missing, the only way they can address this is if they trade for Zack Grienke. Now of course thier is the problem that the Royals want the farm for him but i think the Reds have the prospects to matchup. They would likely have to give up Travis Wood, Yonder Alonso, Mike Leake and another big prospect to get him but it would be worth it.Now i know there will be people who disagree with  First of all Grienke played for one of the worst defenses from a UZR standpoint they didnt make a ton of errors but their players lacked the range to make the plays for him. If you brought Grienke into the national league with one of the best defenses in the league he could put up numbers similar to his CY Young winning season of 2009(with more wins). The other benifit of Grienke is that he is in/near his prime and should be able to put up similarly productive numbers for the next few seasons. I have also heard the Reds have interest in Marco Scutaro as the Red Sox have put him on the market. They could fill a hole at short stop or they could attempt to have Paul Janish play a full season, although im not sure his bat will play well in a full season. But besides adding an ace the Reds only need to make a few tweaks here and there.

Houston Astros-

The Astros finally realized that it was time to go into a rebuilding faze this past season by dealing former stars such as Lance Berkamn and Roy Oswalt. They did get some nice pieces in return but they are far from contention, they will need to draft better and acquire better prospects if they want to compete with the rest of the division. I do like the move they just made by acquiring Clint Barmes for Felipe Paulino straight up. While his offense may regress from leaving Coors field he should still provide more than the rotation of Angel Sanchez and Tommy Manzella. He also plays good defense according to his UZR. There are still some significant holes around the infield, I do like Chris Johnson at third but im not sure how he projects long term (Is he the next Casey McGhee?). They can do better than Jeff Keppinger at second and I doubt that Brett Wallace is the answer at first. Jason Castro didnt show much at the big league level last season but they should give him some time. Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn are fine in the outfield but Carlos Lee is definitly hurting them both offensivly and defensively. The pitching staff could use some help as well with Brett Myers playing the ace followed by middle of the rotation guys in Wandy Rodriguez, J.A. Happ and Bud Norris. While they did make some moves that will help the club in the long run the Astros are maintaining the level they have been at for years where they are not horrible but they wont make it over .500 either. I still think they need to scrap the whole team and start from scratch dealing Pence, Myers, Bourn and Lee (although the later may be though).

Milwaukee Brewers-

They definitly have the offensive pieces to compete but they are extremely lacking in the pitching department. Their main off-season goal will be to beaf up that pitching staff behind Gallardo and Wolf. Earlier in the offseason it seemed they were willing to part with Prince Fielder but it seems less likely now. I have heard rumors that Casey McGhee could be moved for pitching which would also open the door for Matt Gamel to start for a full season. I wouldnt be suprised if some Corey Hart rumors pop up either as they did at the trade deadline last year. Im not sure who they would match up with for pitching but they desperatly need some. They dont want to waste their offensive players prime years when they have no pitching. If Milwaukee had any money i would think they would go after some starters but im not sure they have a ton to spend. But besides thier lack of pitching this is a very strong roster that should be able to get them to the post-season if they can prevent runs from scoring.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are on the rise although their record may not reflect that. They have developed a nucleus of very good offensive players that should score plenty of runs. But like the Brewers they lack the pitching to be competitve. Their best pitching prospect James Tailon wont be ready for a while, but they are attempting to be aggresive through the free agent market. I wouldnt be suprised to see Jorge De La Rosa and Jeff Francis in Pittsburgh as the new Manager Clint Hurdle is familiar with both players. This season i think they want to attempt to be respectable while continuing to improve so they wont hand out any massive contracts. I am very excited to see Pedro Alvarez for a full season as he showed off his tremendous talent at the end of last season. He could be a .260-30-100 player this year with a good top of the order hitters in McCutchen and Tabata. They could use some improvement at short stop, left field, and first base but every other position looks solid for next year. They will probably sign some small contracts and make some small trades to fill holes at those positions and if they add some pitching they could be a 70 win team.

St. Louis Cardinals-

They were unable to keep up with the Reds last season but they did play a fairly good season. The back end of their rotation didnt perform to expectations and their middle infield struggled. They addressed the pitching by re-signing Jake Westbrook but they could still use some additional pitching. They have a solid offensive core in Pujols, Holliday, and Rasmus and with the return of David Freese from injury they could be even better this coming up season. They will most likely bring in someone to back up Frees in case he is hurt again or he struggles, this player may start up the middle but be versatile enough to play the hot corner. I have heard Miguel Tejada is being considered along with some other SS/2B to improve upon Brendan Ryan and Skip Schumakers production. But outside of those few moves the major offseason goal for the Cardinals should be giving Pujols his contract extension which is almost guranteed he will agree to. The Cardinals and the Reds look to be in the best shape of the teams in this division and have the fewest moves to make.


 
 
 
 
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