Tag: Los Angeles Dodgers

2013 Predictions and Useless Guesses

I did this last year and it was interesting, as they were mostly useless guesses as opposed to valuable predictions. However, with days until real games begin, I figured that I would join in the fun of putting this out there so that we can all look back and see just how wrong I was when October rolls around. Let the incorrectness begin!

AL East Champion

Jays

Toronto Blue Jays

I’m buying the upgrades to the Jays roster. A great improvement to the pitching staff, and just in time to pounce on an AL East division where the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox don’t look like major factors. While the Rays and Orioles look to maintain success without a huge payroll increase, the Jays will utilize their awesome blend of speed, power, and rotation depth to take the crown in the East.

AL Central Champion

Tigers

Detroit Tigers

Like the Jays, the Tigers will impress with their strong rotation, and while the club plays scetchy, at best, defense, the presence of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera is enough to make them strong contenders in a weak, yet improving, AL Central. The signing of Torii Hunter and the return of Victor Martinez will only improve the offense, while the club will hope that Austin Jackson continues his tremendous improvement and that Andy Dirks can hold down left until Nick Castellanos or Avisail Garcia prove themselves ready. The bullpen issues are something to be concerned about, but someone out of Bruce Rondon, Phil Coke, and Joaquin Benoit will step up.

AL West Champion

Angels

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

How do you improve a lineup that had Albert Pujols and Mike Trout in it a season ago? Well, by signing Josh Hamilton, of course! The Angels could be the best offensive team in baseball, but they’ll need to be, after seemingly taking the “we-will-outscore-your-team-because-we-don’t-have-pitching” way of building a roster. After losing out of Zack Greinke, the club traded for Tommy “my shoulder is gonna rip off of my body at any moment” Hanson, signing Joe Blanton, and trading for Jason Vargas, who could benefit from continuing his career in another pitcher-friendly ballpark. The Halos have enough offense to overcome their pitching shortcomings, though, and could easily manage to score about 6-8 runs per game.

AL Wild Cards

Rangers Rays

Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays

The Rangers may have lost Josh Hamilton, but they still have a dynamic offense, led by Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre. While it is highly unlikely that Lance Berkman can truly fill the shoes of Hamilton, he is just a season removed from revitalizing his career in St. Louis. Can he do it again? Well, if he can’t, the club will need more from their rotation, which is solid, but not nearly a lock to be great as others in the AL. Yu Darvish is the anchor, but with Matt Harrison‘s low strikeout rates, one has to wonder if he can maintain the 32 wins and 3.34 ERA that he has put up the last two seasons. Derek Holland needs to bounce back, as well, if Texas is to be taken seriously. If they don’t get the right breaks, this could easily be the Oakland Athletics, once again.

The Rays gambled on cashing in two seasons of James Shields for more young talent, acquiring a great haul from the Royals. While the rotation will miss the strength and innings that Shields brought, David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, and Alex Cobb will be solid, while Roberto Hernandez and Jeff Niemann fight over the No.5 spot. The Rays have to get some production from Desmond Jennings and Yunel Escobar up the middle, while hoping that Evan Longoria stays healthy until Wil Myers can get called up. They need power in the lineup and on Opening Day, Longoria and Ben Zobrist seem like their only hope. Pitching and defense has worked for the last several years, and it will again in 2013.

AL MVP

jose-bautista-toronto-blue-jays-mlb

Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

While everyone will focus on the huge trades that brought the club Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, and others, Bautista will be the spark plug to the offense due to his tremendous power and ability to get on base. With his wrist fully recovered and a dynamic lineup around him, opposing clubs will be forced to pitch to the slugger, which will result is a season that should resemble his 2010 and 2011 seasons, with overwhelming power and run producing statistics.

AL Cy Young

Courtesy: dcobb1621.blogspot.com
Courtesy: dcobb1621.blogspot.com

Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers

To say that Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball would be an understatement. He turned 30 years old in February and since 2008, he has gone 89-48 with a 3.28 ERA over 1,154.2 innings, and while those numbers have been outmatched by only CC Sabathia in the American League (91-39 with a 3.11 ERA), Verlander seems to have a pretty tight grip on the best pitcher in MLB title for the moment. While Yu Darvish and David Price begin to catch up to him, Verlander will hold control it for another season, with another 20-win season and an ERA under 3.00 for the Tigers.

AL Manager of the Year

Francona

Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians

While he actually has very little to do with the drastic changes that the Indians have undergone this offseason (that honor belongs to GM Chris Antonetti), Terry Francona will get a lot of credit for the Indians posting their first winning season since their 2007 ALCS  appearance. Manny Acta never seemed capable of keeping successful starts going over the 162-game season, but Francona’s resume proves that he is capable of that, regardless of the 2011 Boston Red Sox collapse. While the Tribe won’t make the playoffs, they will be very competitive and, possibly, be a nuisance to the Tigers in the AL Central for most of the season. For that, Francona will deserve the honor for making a Cleveland sports franchise matter again.

AL Rookie of the Year

myers

Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

He won’t start the season with the major league club, but Myers will be up in June, once the Rays can guarantee that he won’t gain Super Two arbitration eligibility, taking over the left field job from Matt Joyce, while manning right field when Ben Zobrist goes to second or short. Myers exploded in the minors last season, hitting an absurd .314/.387/.600 with 37 home runs between the Royals’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates. While he could work on his contact rate (he struck out 140 times in 522 at-bats), Myers is a much needed offensive force for the Rays, who need someone besides Evan Longoria and Zobrist to produce consistently. Expect a .260/.320/.460 line with nearly 20 home runs if Myers gets the call in June, which should be good enough to win the AL ROY with Jurickson Profar waiting for a shot in Triple-A for the Rangers and so few players getting an opportunity early in the 2013 season.

NL East Champion

Nationals

Washington Nationals

Bryce Harper will be better than he was in 2012 and Stephen Strasburg won’t have an innings limit. Really, this is all that you need to know, but with the addition of a leadoff hitter in Denard Span and another fantastic arm in Rafael Soriano to add to Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, the Nationals are about as good as it gets in MLB for a lock to go to the playoffs. Add in Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Ryan Zimmerman, and Adam LaRoche, and you have a team capable of winning 95-100 games. Yes…they’re that good.

NL Central Champion

Reds

Cincinnati Reds

What do you get when you take an outstanding team without a leadoff hitter and you add a guy with a lifetime .386 on-base percentage in that spot? You get a team with a very bad defensive outfield that plays in a hitters paradise and the 2013 version of the Cincinnati Reds. Shin-Soo Choo could be a liability in center, but his offensive skills fit perfectly into the Reds lineup. Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto will need some help from Choo and Ryan Ludwick, but with a very good starting rotation and great depth in the bullpen with the move of Aroldis Chapman back to closer, the Reds will battle the Nationals for the best record in MLB in 2013.

NL West Champion

Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers

Like the Dodgers, I’m buying. The addition of Zack Greinke was huge, but the trade with the Boston Red Sox that brought Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez, along with their massive contracts, to the Dodgers will begin paying dividends this season. While the Hanley Ramirez thumb injury is a slight issue to start the season, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw are the right kind of awesome to overcome any issues like that. The Dodgers have great pitching depth, unless they make a trade in the next few days, to overcome any further arm issues for Chad Billingsley, and their bullpen is lights out, with flame-thrower Kenley Jansen sharing end-game duties with Brandon League…until Don Mattingley sees what everyone else does and puts Jansen there full-time. This team is dangerous if they stay healthy. The pitching is deep, but an injury to Crawford, Kemp, or Andre Ethier will cost them the division to the San Francisco Giants.

NL Wild Cards

Braves

cardinals

Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals

The Atlanta Braves have an incredible roster. If Chipper Jones had hung around one more season, they may have had a chance at another World Series title for the old man. Unfortunately, Jones finally retired and third could be the clubs only weak spot, as Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson will share the job in 2013. The addition of B.J. Upton and Justin Upton will make the offense even more dangerous, as Jason Heyward continues to become one of the best players in baseball. Freddie Freeman got his eye issues worked out, so he will also improve in 2013, while the club will rely on a deep rotation, that will only get better when Brandon Beachy returns in June or July. By then, the Braves could have a very difficult choice, especially after seeing Julio Teheran thrive this spring, as someone will have to be removed from the rotation if the club is healthy. As far as the bullpen goes, one name is all you need: Craig Kimbrel.

The Cardinals continue to stick around and be contenders, even after losing Albert Pujols a season ago and, potentially, losing Chris Carpenter for the entire 2013 season. Adam Wainwright should re-establish himself as an ace this season, while Allen Craig will show that he is an MVP-caliber player if he would just stay healthy. Speaking of health, could fantasy baseball nerds be any more excited for the first of Carlos Beltran‘s injuries in 2013? If you don’t know why, you need to look up super-prospect Oscar Taveras. The Cards seem to have an endless supply of young arms, as well, as Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Michael Wacha, and Carlos Martinez arrive and establish themselves in the majors.

NL MVP

votto

Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

Votto will do one of two things: 1) Post an on-base percentage approaching .500 (.474 in 2012) while never seeing a pitch worth hitting, or 2) Post numbers close to his 2010 MVP season (.324/.424/.600, 37 home runs) while earning his 2nd MVP. The Reds are going to have Votto hitting No.3 again, and with Shin-Soo Choo and Brandon Phillips hitting in front of him, Votto will easily exceed his career-high 113 RBI this season. With his knee healthy and a tremendous lineup and hitter’s paradise as a home ballpark, Joey Votto will win the NL MVP in 2013.

NL Cy Young

bumgarner

Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants

You can take Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw, while I go off the board (or rocker) to choose Madison Bumgarner for NL Cy Young. After tiring at the end of the 2012 season, Bumgarner knows that he has a lot to prove. Add on the fact that his WHIP fell from 1.21 in 2011 to 1.11 in 2012, and you can see that the 23-year-old left-hander can not only miss bats (191 K’s in each of the last two seasons), but he isn’t allowing many hits or walks. With a pitcher-friendly ballpark and loads of expectations on him due to his fall-off late last season, Bumgarner will show that he shouldn’t be overlooked due to Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum being on the same roster.

NL Manager of the Year

black

Bud Black, San Diego Padres

There isn’t a whole lot to like about the Padres roster. They don’t have a superstar on the front of a video game, they don’t have a player that shows up to the MLB Fan Cave with an infamous twitter account, but they have an interesting team and a better manager. Bud Black can get a lot out of the club that he has. While the team will continue to struggle to score runs, at times, Chase Headley could provide enough power to get runs in bunches, and Yonder Alonso could thrive with the fences being moved in at Petco. Solid speed and gap power throughout the lineup will make the Padres a surprise team in 2013, and while the rotation is more patchwork than well thought out, the bullpen is tremendous, as it always seems to be. If the Friars can get anything out of Andrew Cashner, Clayton Richard, and Eric Stults, they’ll be a team capable of 82-85 wins, which isn’t playoff worthy, but worth giving Bud Black an award for.

NL Rookie of the Year

Courtesy: stlouiscardinalsbaseball.com
Courtesy: stlouiscardinalsbaseball.com

Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

You don’t get called a left-handed version of Vladimir Guerrero and get overlooked, and Taveras is that special of a talent. Like I mentioned above, once Carlos Beltran gets hurt (as in it IS going to happen), Taveras would, more than likely, get the call. Not only a Beltran injury, but an under performing Jon Jay could even be replaced by the super-prospect, as Taveras played 93 games in center for the Cards Double-A affiliate in 2012. Taveras will get enough at-bats to be valuable and he could do that as a fourth outfielder once June rolls around, but once he is in St. Louis, he won’t be leaving town for several years. A pure hitter in every sense of the label.

World Series Prediction

Washington Nationals defeat Los Angeles Angels, 4-2

Random, Bold Predictions

There is no rhyme or reason here, just as the title says:

  1. Bryce Harper will hit over 30 home runs in 2013, while posting an OPS near .940.
  2. Mike Trout won’t hit 30 home runs again, but he will steal 50 bases.
  3. Jose Reyes will stay healthy, even while playing on turf, and terrorize the AL East while stealing over 50 bases.
  4. Ike Davis will hit over 40 home runs after hitting 32 in 2012 while hitting just .227.
  5. Mat Latos will become the ace of the Cincinnati Reds, posting better overall numbers than Johnny Cueto and winning 20 games in 2013.
  6. Mike Minor proves that his second half from 2012 (6-4, 2.16 ERA, 0.87 WHIP over 87.1 IP) wasn’ a fluke, as he becomes the Braves best starting pitcher in 2013.
  7. Jordan Zimmerman has a more impressive 2013 season than Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez and he will no longer be overlooked in a fantastic Washington rotation.
  8. Brandon Belt continues hitting like he has all spring, ripping 25 home runs after having a power outage in the earlier stages of his career (16 in 598 at-bats).
  9. Troy Tulowitzki stays healthy and benefits from Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler having All Star seasons to hit 40 home runs, making all of those fantasy baseball players that took him in the first round feel like the smartest men alive.
  10. Allen Craig becomes an All Star and hits over .300 with 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI.
  11. Carlos Santana hits 30+ home runs and will have the kind of hype that Buster Posey has right now during the 2013-2014 offseason.
  12. Jason Heyward finishes 2nd in NL MVP voting to Joey Votto, posting his first 30 HR/30 SB season for Atlanta.
  13. Domonic Brown keeps the Phillies left field job all season and posts a .270/.380/.450 line with solid production across the board. Philly fans hit Ruben Amaro, Jr. with batteries for not trusting in him sooner.
  14. Zack Greinke can’t handle the Los Angeles pressure and spotlight and misses time due to his anxiety disorder.
  15. Chris Sale pitches 200 innings and proves doubters about his bony frame and drastic innings increase in 2012 wrong.
  16. Drew Stubbs (remember him?) hits 20 home runs and steals 50 bases, revitalizing his career.
  17. Rick Porcello wins 17 games with a 3.20 ERA while striking out 180 batters…all because he began using his four-seam fastball for the first time in his career.

Breakout Stars

These guys are about to go bonkers in 2013. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…(obvious names not listed, i.e. Harper, Brown, Braun, Ike Davis)

Alex Cobb, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

Brett Anderson, LHP, Oakland Athletics

Andrelton Simmons, SS, Atlanta Braves

Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Oakland Athletics

Greg Holland, RHP, Kansas City Royals

Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals

Chris Parmelee, OF, Minnesota Twins

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs

Dayan Viciedo, OF, Chicago White Sox

Dan Straily, RHP, Oakland Athletics (Bartolo Colon won’t last forever)

Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals

Michael Saunders, OF, Seattle Mariners

Prospects to Watch

This has nothing to do with the Top 100 Prospects that I put out in December, but you will find some familiar names and others that will be players to keep an eye on, especially if they’re on your favorite team or if you’re in a keeper fantasy baseball league.

Jonathan Schoop, INF, Baltimore Orioles

Dorssys Paulino, INF, Cleveland Indians

J.R. Graham, RHP, Atlanta Braves

Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals

Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals

Yasel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros

Xander Bogaerts, INF, Boston Red Sox

Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres

Joey Gallo, INF, Texas Rangers

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Dodgers Can’t Dodge Confusion

crawfordbeckettgonzoMoney, and lots of it, has been thrown around in the Los Angeles area since Frank McCourt sold the Dodgers to the Guggenheim group last season. The trade that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford out west was just the beginning, as the team spent $159 million on Zack Greinke, bid against themselves by giving Brandon League $27.5 million to (possibly) steal the closer’s job from Kenley Jansen, and $61.7 million (including the $25.7 million posting fee) on Hyun-Jin Ryu, a 25-year-old, seven-year veteran of the Korean Baseball Organization.

With the addition of Greinke and Ryu, the Dodgers have a loaded starting rotation; however, is it too loaded?

greinketruebluelaClayton Kershaw will lead the group as the ace and even before signing and acquiring Greinke, Ryu, and Beckett, the team still had Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano, and Ted Lilly signed for the 2013 season.

But, you have to wonder whether the Dodgers spent money in the right places this winter. Surely, there wasn’t a large market of free agent third baseman, but is Luis Cruz the real answer there in 2013? The club had Hanley Ramirez playing there last season, but they’ve moved him back to shortstop, even with Dee Gordon, who struggled in 2012 as a rookie but can change a game with 56 stolen bases in just 143 games, still with the organization and probably going to Triple-A.

HanRamThe club had pursued Scott Rolen before he decided to take some time to think about his options after the Cincinnati Reds moved on from the veteran. He could still become an option if the club doesn’t move Ramirez back to third or actually go with Cruz all season. Based on MLBTradeRumors.com Free Agent Tracker, the only remaining free agents at the hot corner are Rolen, Orlando Hudson, Adam Kennedy, and Miguel Cairo…not really the cream of the crop.

The issue becomes, is any team willing to part with a third baseman that could actually improve the Dodgers lineup?

Jordan Pacheco, Ryan Wheeler, or Chris Nelson could be a decent fit, and the Colorado Rockies seem to be a team constantly in need of starting pitching help, but as the team is finding its identity, why would they take on a veteran when they could give a rotation spot to Juan Nicasio, Christian Friedrich, or Tyler Chatwood?

With the Arizona Diamondbacks acquiring Martin Prado, could Matt Davidson, a slugging third base prospect, become expendable? While it would be a nice addition, the Diamondbacks are loaded at pitching right now, with Ian Kennedy, Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy, and Randall Delgado, not to mention Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin, and a soon-to-return Dan Hudson, so why would they need another arm?

deegordonWhile the Dodgers may want Ramirez at short, he’s probably better off at third so that the club can play Dee Gordon and see what they have in the 25-year-old, but the abundance of pitching will still be an issue. Can they keep Harang, Capuano, and Lilly in a relief role? Should they deal the veteran starters for any kind of minor league depth, considering the current state of the farm system for the Dodgers?

It’s great to have a lot of money, but that doesn’t change the fact that each team keeps 25 players active and has a 40-man roster…nothing more. While the additions of Greinke and Ryu could lead the Dodgers to the World Series, they were a part of a series of questionable moves considering the pieces that were already in place and the money that was spent.

Is Zack Greinke Worth More Than $100 Million?

Courtesy: LA Times
Courtesy: LA Times

Zack Greinke is an excellent pitcher, having won the 2009 American League Cy Young with Kansas City and accumulating 91 wins in nine seasons. After being traded from Kansas City to Milwaukee prior to the 2011 season, then from Milwaukee to the Los Angeles Angels prior to the 2012 non-waiver trade deadline, Greinke is a free agent, and a highly coveted one, at that.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports seems to think that Greinke is going to join either the Texas Rangers or the Los Angeles Dodgers by the end of the week, as the two clubs could make the 29-year-old right-hander the highest-paid pitcher in baseball, exceeding the $161 million that the Yankees gave CC Sabathia.

The problem is, Zack Greinke isn’t worth that kind of investment.

Greinke is good but he has some disturbing career trends.

Greinke Can’t Pitch on the Road:

Split W L W-L% ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP
Home 55 30 .647 3.42 138 118 4 1 776.1 756 319 295 178 744 1.203
Away 36 48 .429 4.15 134 113 8 2 715.2 726 356 330 201 588 1.295
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/5/2012.

It isn’t that he “CAN’T PITCH,” it’s just that he isn’t nearly as dominant. If Greinke had a .647 winning percentage on the road in his career, just like his home winning percentage, we’d be talking about a guy with a 54-30 away record and 109 career wins…but we’re not.

Greinke has a K/BB at home of 4.18 but that number drops to 2.93 on the road. How can you commit that much money to someone who can only pitch extremely well when you’re at home?

Courtesy: mlbdailydish.com
Courtesy: mlbdailydish.com

Greinke’s Statistics Aren’t Elite:

When you compare Greinke to the active ERA leaders in MLB, he is solid, ranking 23rd with a 3.77 ERA. Solid, but if quality is based on statistical measurement, does anyone see Chad Billingsley (3.65), Jon Lester (3.76), or Matt Garza (3.83) cashing in anytime in the near future?

Sure, ERA isn’t the only measurement of success, but wins are overrated, right? No one would say that Ian Kennedy and his 21-4 record and 2.88 ERA in 2011 was more impressive than Roy Halladay‘s 19-6 record and 2.35 ERA or Cliff Lee‘s 17-8 record and 2.40 ERA in 2011, right? Luckily, when Clayton Kershaw won the NL Cy Young with his 21-5 record and 2.28 ERA, no one had to find out how important the wins were, as Kennedy finished 4th in Cy Young voting while tying Kennedy in wins that season.

The thing is, Greinke doesn’t really have the wins, either. His 91 wins have him tied with Cole Hamels at 46th. Hamels completed his seventh season in 2012 compared to Greinke’s ninth, and at the same age (heading into their age-29 seasons), is Greinke worth more than Cole Hamels, whose career ERA is 3.34?

The Issues:

You can’t forget that Greinke missed 69 games in 2006 due to Clinical Depression, a combination deemed depression and social anxiety disorder. He pitched in just three games in the majors that season after starting 17 games for the Royals Double-A affilliate, before getting another shot at starting at the beginning of 2007.

Greinke went just 1-4 with a 5.71 ERA over seven starts before moving to the bullpen for his next 37 appearances. He went 4-1 with a 3.54 ERA out of the bullpen, but the Royals moved him back to the rotation at the end of the season for another seven starts, when Greinke went 2-2 with a 1.85 ERA.

Mental illness and depression is something that is treated, but it is likely to relapse in the future. With all of the stress and expectations that Greinke is going to have on him due to his contract and pitching for a contending team, is it going to be too much for him?

So much is made of Josh Hamilton and his past drug addiction as teams worry about the financial commitment to someone whose body “could” break down due to the years of abuse. Why is Zack Greinke any different? Do you want your team committing a huge contract to someone who could, just as easily as Hamilton, have a mental slip up?

Courtesy: LA Times
Courtesy: LA Times

Conclusion: Zack Greinke is an excellent starting pitcher. However, Dan Haren, Anibal Sanchez, Brandon McCarthy, and Erik Bedard were or are great pitchers, as well, and all were or are free agents this offseason.

Dan Haren has more wins (119) and a better career ERA (3.65) than Greinke. He also has an achy back and a lot more innings on his arm at the age of 32.

With more teams cashing in on TV deals and the revenues that stream from them, there will be more contracts like what Greinke is going to get this offseason. There will also be just as many contracts that teams live to regret, like Alex Rodriguez and his deteriorating, steroid damaged hips in New York, or what is to come of Albert Pujols and his massive contract when he is in his early-40’s and earning $30 million in his final year of his deal.

Greinke is reliable, having missed a few starts in 2011 due to a broken rib from a pick-up basketball game in the offseason, and the time that he missed due to his depression in 2006, but that is all. He had some shoulder inflammation in 2010 (he was day-to-day), but he hasn’t missed time outside of those issues in his entire career.

Based on his results, Greinke is very good. He isn’t Matt Cain, Roy Halladay, or Tim Lincecum (pre-2012), so I would be very uncomfortable with my team giving him a huge, $100 million-plus deal. Is he an ace? Is he a game changer?

To me, his three postseason starts with a 1-1 record and 6.48 ERA shows the kind of pitcher Greinke is in crunch time. If he isn’t comfortable, he is just another guy on the mound, not your ace, and certainly not worth upwards of $20 million annually.

The Red Sox and Dodgers Blockbuster Deal

Courtesy: USA Today

According the various outlets, the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers will announce the completion of a gigantic nine-player deal on Saturday with cash and millions upon millions of dollars of future salaries heading west, as the Dodgers look to solidify their roster for the playoffs with new ownership letting the world know that they will do whatever it takes, and spend whatever they have to, to bring a championship to Los Angeles.

According to the reports, this is the deal:

Dodgers receive: (with remaining contracts after the 2012 season)

Adrian Gonzalez: six-years, $127 million

Carl Crawford: five-years, $102.5 million

Josh Beckett: two-years, $31.5 million

Nick Punto: one-year, $1.5 million

$12 million in cash for salary assistance

Red Sox receive:

Rubby De La Rosa

Allen Webster

Jerry Sands

Ivan DeJesus

James Loney

So, who is the winner here? I have to say that both teams are winners, and this is why:

Boston just rid themselves of financially crippling contracts. Adrian Gonzalez was a bargain when compared to the Joey Votto and Albert Pujols contracts in the last 12 months; however, the ability to get rid of Carl Crawford’s terrible contract makes dealing Gonzalez a success. Crawford has made over $34 million since arriving in Boston in 2011, playing in 161-games and hitting .260/.292/.419, hardly the player that he was in Tampa. Josh Beckett had an excellent season in 2011, posting a 2.89 ERA over 30 starts, while compiling a 13-7 record. Since September 21, 2011, however, Beckett is 5-13 with a 5.50 ERA over 23 starts, and he was a part of the chicken and beer collapse of the Red Sox clubhouse. His conditioning, attitude and performance are all questionable parts of his existence, so to rid this contract is huge for Boston. The ability to change the clubhouse by eliminating attitude problems and opening up the future financial abilities of the franchise for new free agent talents, like Josh Hamilton. The thing to remember here, though, is that the Red Sox are getting some excellent talent here. Webster and De La Rosa are excellent pitching prospects, and Jerry Sands has proven himself in the minors while struggling in his auditions in the bigs. Loney will be a free agent after the 2012 season, so he is just a body for the time being.

Los Angeles gets the contracts, but they also get the talent. Adrian Gonzalez in the middle of the order with Matt Kemp is absolutely scary. Carl Crawford, while he won’t play in 2012 and he has been injured for most of the last two seasons, has still posted 39 doubles, nine triples, 14 home runs, 75 RBI and 23 steals in 161 games for the Red Sox, which is one season worth of at bats. Josh Beckett had a 3.46 ERA in his 106 games with the Marlins, and now he returns to the National League, in a weaker division, where pitching parks like Dodger Stadium, PETCO and AT&T Park will be his everyday environments. While the Dodgers take on a couple of bad contracts, they also have talent and abilities which may have just needed a change of scenery.

This trade could be the biggest blockbuster in the history of baseball. The names and money that is being dealt by Boston to Los Angeles is absolutely unfathomable. If this deal was done in your fantasy baseball league right now, it would be vetoed. This is a win for both teams because of the salary dump and the talent involved for both teams.

Home is Where the Production is

Courtesy: marketplace.secondlife.com

Back before the humidor, the Colorado Rockies were capable of padding their stats by launching balls out of Coor’s Field through the thin air in their 81 home games. We saw Dante Bichette become a force and Mike Hampton became a pitcher who didn’t matter anymore, along with Denny Neagle. Today, there are still some hitter-friendly ballparks, but you’ll see some of the guys below taking advantage of some home field love below.

Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

.405/.507/.793, 18 2B, 9 HR, 28 RBI, 4 SB, 28:24 K:BB in 116 AB at home

.331/.468/.529, 12 2B, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 26:31 K:BB in 121 AB on the road

Votto has been an absolute freak in 2012, posting an MVP-like .367/.468/.658 line. It doesn’t really matter where he is this season, the Reds new franchise player is unstoppable.

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies

.382/.441/.733, 6 2B, 2 3B, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 5 SB, 29:13 K:BB in 131 AB at home

.288/.344/.508, 9 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 5 SB, 24:10 K:BB in 118 AB on the road

CarGo is still taking advantage of the thin air in Denver despite the humidor. He is an excellent all-around player on his own, but he may not be capable of substantial numbers without the Coor’s Field effect.

Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Cleveland Indians

.371/.389/.743, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 2 SB, 4:1 K:BB in 35 AB at home

.125/.125/.125, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB, 3:0 K:BB in 24 AB on the road

It is only 59 at bats, but the Indians could have the power bat that they need for the middle of their order…when they play at home. Chisenhall doesn’t turn 24 until October and he has a bright future, but he has some flaws, especially with plate discipline and left-handed pitching. But…hey, he can hit at home!

Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

.350/.385/.570, 9 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 6 SB, 19:6 K:BB in 100 AB at home

.326/.409/.484, 4 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 13 SB, 22:13 K:BB in 95 AB on the road

Trout has been more than anyone expected since finally getting his opportunity with the Angels. You can’t call anything about his game weak, he is clearly an excellent hitter, runner, and he is a well above average outfielder, too.

Angel Pagan, OF, San Francisco Giants

.338/.389/.451, 6 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 7 SB, 20:11 K:BB in 133 AB at home

.261/.289/.410, 6 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 5 SB, 21:6 K:BB in 134 AB on the road

San Francisco’s home park is not typically thought of as a hitter’s paradise, but Pagan really thrives there. He has better power numbers and run-production on the road, but he is also not as patient. Either way, Pagan is a beast at home in 2012.

R.A. Dickey, RHP, New York Mets

6-0, 1.20 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 52.1 IP, 54:13 K:BB in 7 home starts

5-1, 2.89 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 46.2 IP, 49:8 K:BB in 7 road starts

You can’t say Dickey without smiling and the Mets wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of the NL East without the 37-year-old Cy Young front-runner.

Chris Capuano, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

5-0, 1.57 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 46.0 IP, 46:13 K:BB in 7 home starts

3-2, 4.02 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 40.1 IP, 34:18 K:BB in 7 road starts

Capuano has dominated at Dodger Stadium, but has been about as good as his career statistics outside of that. Capuano is struggling mightily in June with a 4.24 ERA…since when is that awful?…but when compared to his dominating April and May, his 1-1 record in April seems so pedestrian. Don’t jump ship on him yet!

Tom Milone, LHP, Oakland A’s

5-1, 0.99 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 45.2 IP, 19:8 K:BB in 6 home starts

2-4, 7.42 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 43.2 IP, 33:16 K:BB in 8 road starts

Milone may have the worst home-road split in baseball, but he has been fantastic at home. You have to wonder which pitcher he is and whether he will even things out by being absolutely horrible and really good…maybe even just decent when he is at home or on the road. The soft-tossing lefty is just 25, so we have time to see what he really is.

A.J. Burnett, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

4-0, 1.27 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 42.2 IP, 36:9 K:BB in 6 home starts

3-2, 7.18 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, 26.1 IP, 22:15 K:BB in 5 road starts

Burnett is 6-1 with a 4.02 ERA in his last 9 starts for the Pirates, but he has a split that has rivaled Milone’s terrible home-road split. Burnett’s inconsistency is well documented in his 14 year career, and it is more of the same this season. You could argue that some of his stats would make him an asset at the trade deadline, but as teams look at his production on the road, they will be scared off.

Zack Greinke, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

4-0, 1.08 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 41.2 IP, 52:8 K:BB in 6 home starts

3-2, 4.96 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 45.1 IP, 43:12 K:BB in 8 road starts

Greinke will be a rich man when he signs this winter as a free agent. With that being said, his splits are just not very good in 2012. Clearly, Greinke is dominant at home. Maybe Greinke has some issues pitching on the road that go back to his anxiety disorder that he had earlier in his career. From 2009-2011, Greinke had a 29-8 record and a 2.99 ERA in 49 starts and a 13-20 record and 3.72 ERA on the road in 45 starts. The 2012 stats fall in line with his last 94 starts prior to this season, so he is and will be dominant at home.

Are the Reds the Best Team in MLB?

Joey Votto has been one of the top players in MLB in 2012, posting an absurd .362/.485/.657 slash with 27 doubles, 12 home runs, 44 RBI, and a 49:52 K:BB in 213 at bats. Brandon Phillips is finally hitting, posting a .441/.472/.735 over his last eight games, with one double, three home runs, and nine RBI.  In doing so, Phillips has increased his triple-slash from .259/.314/.392 on May 24 to its current .292/.338/.454 level. With Votto still mashing and getting on base and Phillips finally hitting, are the Reds capable of being the best team in baseball over the rest of the season?

Some will argue that the Detroit Tigers have the lineup to beat due to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.  Others say that the Yankees lineup with Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixiera, Robinson Cano, and Alex Rodriguez is the greatest of them all.  Others will argue that it is Ike Davis and Jason Bay, and we will mock them ferociously; however, the Reds seem to have what it takes to win.  The rotation can be thin at times with the inconsistencies at the back-end, but look at the front-end of that group…

Johnny Cueto has established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball, compiling a 16-8 record, a 2.36 ERA, and a 1.12 WHIP over his last 37 starts.  Mat Latos may not have great stats in 2012 (5-2, 4.64 ERA, 1.37 WHIP), but the Reds are 8-2 in his last ten starts. Latos is also in the middle of the season, especially from May to July, where he is now 21-6 with a 2.90 ERA over his career during the early summer months.

What does all of this mean?  The Reds were as many as five games back and they were up as many as 3.5 games.  Now, they are three games up on both the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals.  The Reds have gone 25-16 since April 15.  It’s too bad they aren’t the Chicago Cubs because they are 17-8 in day games after Thursday’s  12-5 stomping of the Cleveland Indians.

The Reds have a solid rotation and enough offense to matter.  The American League is filled with punishing offenses, but the National League has…good pitching?  With the dramatic decline of the Philadelphia Phillies lineup, the Cincinnati Reds are in an elite class in the National League.

The Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Francisco Giants are the only other teams in the National League with the rotation and lineups that can match the Reds.  Bryce Harper is the real deal and the Nats will, at least, ride Strasburg to the limits of his innings, not his talent.  The Dodgers have had issues with injuries in the rotation and to Matt Kemp, but they’ve managed to hold on thanks to Andre Ethier’s redemption season and Chris Capuano’s best Clayton Kershaw impersonation.  The Giants have had some success from their rotation and offense, definitely not from Tim Lincecum, though, and with the return of Pablo Sandoval from injury, they will be that much better.

However, if Votto and Phillips are clicking like they are right now and the Reds have the 1-2 punch of Cueto and Latos going, then they can sit back and hope that the likes of Zack Cozart, Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier, Homer Bailey, and Mike Leake take the steps necessary to keep the team in contention while infusing youth in the every day lineup.  With smart baseball, like Mesoraco plowing into Lou Marson for defensive interference and a free run (see here), and mediocre production from the spare parts, the Reds are a team to be reckoned with.