Author Archive

Closing Time: Continuity in the Bullpen Is Vital To Sox Success in ’11

With the new addition of former Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks and a great 2010 from Daniel Bard, there has been a lot of speculation as to what will happen with Jonathan Papelbon.  There has been much talk of a trade, as Paps will likely test the market and walk after the season.  While these three arms could each close for the Sox in ’11 and see tremendous results, the team is best served with Papelbon remaining on the roster closing games. 

Bobby Jenks didn’t have the most encouraging final season in Chicago.  Fellow White Sox relievers Matt Thornton and Chris Sale both saw time at closer after Jenks had been relieved of that duty multiple times.  This resulted in heated confrontations between Jenks and manager Ozzie Guillen.  However, Jenks removal from the closer position may have been well deserved for the way Jenks was pitching at the time.  He saw the highest ERA of his career at 4.44 and the second highest WHIP at 1.367.  His 1-3 record was also the worst of his career, although closers aren’t necessarily judged off of stellar records.  While Jenks should be motivated coming into a new team and to prove the White Sox wrong, he may also question his ability to close games based on how he was jerked back in forth in Chicago.  Jenks serves the Sox best as a set up man in 2011.

In his first full season in a Red Sox uniform in 2010, Bard put up glistening numbers.  His 1.93 ERA in 74.2 innings was among the lowest on the team and he struck out 76 batters while recording a 1.004 WHIP.  These numbers had many fans feeling that if Bard was to close in 2011, the Sox wouldn’t lose anything if Papelbon was to be moved.  While Bard’s off speed pitches developed tremendously last season, one more year as a prime set up man would do Bard a lot of good.  Bard’s breaking pitches are still a work in progress.  Although his slider and curve were rather devastating in 2010, flying in at 83 MPH after a 99 MPH heater, these pitches will need to be perfected if he is to continue his current dominance as the team’s closer.    

While there is no question that he is being groomed as the closer of the future, the addition of Jenks adds some security to Bard’s situation.  If he should struggle in his second full season, Bard can be pushed up a little in the bullpen and Jenks can take over as the primary setup man, taking some pressure off of Bard.  The same can be said with newly signed Dan Wheeler.  These two signings provide depth to the Sox bullpen that wasn’t present in 2010, and it should only help Daniel Bard’s development.

With such viable closing options other than Jonathan Papelbon on the roster, continuity will be the most important thing in 2011.  One of the only things that could truly derail this team is a stirrup and inconsistency in the bullpen.  Despite a plethora of injuries last season, a shaky bullpen was arguably just as important of a factor in the Sox missing out on October baseball in 2010.  That is why it is important that Jonathan Papelbon remains the closer in 2011.

Dealing Papelbon at this point likely wouldn’t bring in a fair enough return to justify dealing him.  Paps is coming up on the last year of his contract, and he will likely make upwards of $13 million in his final season.  There aren’t many teams that can afford to take a $13 million chance on a one year closer.  The teams that can already sport names such as Rivera, Rodriguez, Marmol , and Feliz in their closer slot.  Papelbon is among a group of other Sox players who will hopefully perform at their highest level as they are in contract years.  If he can revert to his 2009 form and forget about 2010, Papelbon should remain a solid closing option for the Sox in 2011.  If it he somehow is worse this season than last, the Sox have padded themselves with the security to have Bard or Jenks close and move Paps to a setup role.  But this shift should only take place if it is 100 percent necessary.  Hopefully the new, added depth won’t cause manager Terry Francona to make a quicker shift if Paps should struggle.

Papelbon needs to remain the team’s closer for the 2011 season.  Shuffling the bullpen and assigning the closer role to a pitcher in Jenks who shaky last season, or a youngster in Bard who has never closed regularly before, is something that the Sox don’t need right now.  This team has a chance to make waves and compete for a World Series in 2011, and the bullpen is an integral factor in accomplishing this goal.  The Sox have done well to rebuild the pen, and keeping Papelbon as the closer will solidify the pen as one of the best in the A.L.  

This article can also be seen on

Read more MLB news on

New Additions Provide Boston Red Sox with Deep, Talented Lineup for 2011

Since the recent acquisitions of studs Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, there has been much chatter regarding which batting order would best suit the 2011 Boston Red Sox.  If the season started today, the Sox boast arguably the deepest lineup in the A.L., maybe even the majors.  At the very least it should have very little trouble competing with a Yankee lineup that has earned the same accolade numerous times. 

This collection of talent is arguably the greatest that most Sox fans have seen in their lifetimes, but if not used the right way it very well may not bring the best possible results.  Sox fans shouldn’t have too much to worry about though; manager Terry Francona is extremely adept at putting the best nine on the score card every night. 

While the hitters we currently have in Boston can be strung together in a variety of ways (each as imposing as the next), it is important to maximize talent.  It should also be noted that Francona will likely throw out multiple lineups with some movement depending on who is on the bump against the Sox, as he does every season.  But there will be a base lineup, likely the one we will see in Texas to start the season on April 1st. 

The following lineup provides the most bang for the proverbial (and literal) buck, and it benefits everybody in the starting nine:

  1. LF Carl Crawford
  2. 2B Dustin Pedroia
  3. 1B Adrian Gonzalez
  4. DH David Ortiz
  5. 3B Kevin Youkilis
  6. RF J.D. Drew
  7. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
  8. SS Marco Scutaro
  9. CF Jacoby Ellsbury 

Many fans have suggested clustering Crawford with fellow speedster Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the Sox lineup to provide a potent top three that also includes 2B Dustin Pedroia.  However, the popular phrase “quality over quantity” applies here.  It would behoove the Sox to spread this speed out and put Jacoby at the bottom of the lineup where he will see better pitches to hit.  This will allow him to get on base in front of Crawford, Pedroia and Gonzalez.

It has also been stated that placing Ellsbury in the No. 9-hole would be a waste of his speed.  Quite the contrary, in fact.  All Ellsbury should be expected to do is either hit a single or take a walk.  Anything extra like a double or triple is gravy.  If he can simply manage to get on base, we all know how he can turn a single into a double with a stolen base.  He’ll be encouraged to steal, in fact.  Doing so will set the table for the boppers that follow. 

Crawford has no qualms about batting leadoff.  He said so in his press conference.  Whether or not that was truthful, of course, can’t be known.  But he doesn’t lose anything by hitting there.  Yes, he did bat third in Tampa, but that also resulted in a rise in his strikeout numbers. 

Boston doesn’t need his power in the No. 3-hole, the rest of the lineup can provide that.  It is important for Crawford, like Ellsbury, to get on base so that his speed can be utilized.  Striking out doesn’t allow for that.  He will see better pitches to hit at the top of the lineup than he would batting third; he can leave the RBI to A-Gon, Ortiz and Youk.  Tampa may have needed Carl to hit third, but the lineup that Boston currently boasts does not.

Common knowledge among those who have grown up playing baseball is that the team’s best all-around hitter bats third.  This lineup has just that, with Adrian Gonzalez in this slot.  The trade to Boston immediately makes him the Sox’ best hitter, although the same argument could be made for Youkilis.  But for the purpose of serving the all-around team needs, the lineup is better with Gonzalez here.  

The numbers A-Gon could produce playing at Fenway 81 times a year are jaw-dropping.  Much like Ortiz has learned to do, Gonzalez will be able to use the Monster as a safety blanket, as he is the league’s most feared opposite field hitter.  He could seemingly put one off the wall for a double at will.  His ability to get on base on top of hitting 30 jacks and driving in 100 is what makes him the perfect No. 3 hitter.  He has the ability to create runs almost at will, and the skills to set up runs just as easily.

Many have also stated that they wish to see the same duo I have listed at No. 4 and No. 5, only flip flopped.  However I still think it makes sense to leave Ortiz as the cleanup hitter because of the power he demonstrated that he still has last year. 

Again, most who have played the game know that the No. 4-hole is reserved for the player with the rawest power and who serves as the team’s bopper.  He doesn’t necessarily need to hit for average or have a high OBP.  Ortiz can still be that, if only for one more year. 

The new additions allow Ortiz to focus more on driving in runs and less on getting base hits to set up the offense.  As he has declined in age and somewhat in skills, his ability to get on base at will has diminished.  If he is able to hit doubles and homers, and can take the walks he is given, he should be fine as the cleanup hitter.

Kevin Youkilis is another man who should be drooling just thinking about the opportunities he will get this year.  With Crawford, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Ortiz and possibly Ellsbury on base in front of him, Youk very well may lead the team in RBI.  His annual .300 average only insinuates that Youk will be the beneficiary of such great talent in front of him. 

If he can continue to get on base at such a clip, with the possibility of who will be on base ahead of him, he may have an RBI opportunity a majority of his ABs.  And if not, Youk has shown that he has enough power to create runs on his own.  When a player as talented as Youkilis is on a team that can afford to slot him in the No. 5 spot, it is nothing but scary.  In fact the thought is almost terrorizing and I don’t have the duty of trying to shut this lineup down.

The bottom of the lineup isn’t as talented, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important.  J.D. Drew should hold down the No. 6 spot, and it may just result in an increase in his RBI as well.  If he can stay healthy, he won’t be asked to do too much, and that may just be exactly what he needs. 

Drew is in a contract year and if he can produce in this lineup, his stock in the free-agent market should rise.  If he can get the average up past .250 and provide some pop, he could also be dangerous.  Many pitchers will certainly overlook him after having to deal with the onslaught at the top of the lineup.

Although it doesn’t really matter which order Saltalamacchia (and Varitek for that matter) and Scutaro bat, I prefer Salty to hit after Drew with Scutaro batting ahead of Ellsbury.  Saltalamacchia should be put in the best situation of his career to fulfill his oft mentioned potential.  Who wouldn’t be benefited by hitting in such a lineup?  But if Salty can get his average and slugging up, he should have some RBI opportunities as well. 

In what might be his first full year as the Sox starter, what better way to take the pressure off of him than putting him in a position to succeed hitting after talented hitters like Youkilis and Drew who can get on base and set the table for him?  Salty has a career slugging percentage of .386.  An increase in this number would go a long way helping the bottom of the order produce runs.  While this is not vital, you can never score enough runs.

Scutaro, along with Ellsbury, just needs to worry about getting on base to set up the top of the lineup.  Walks are fine, but Scutaro should get his fair share of fastballs to hit.  His .333 OBP in 2010 was great, and if he can repeat that he should see a steady increase in the amount of runs he scores in 2011.   

Thinking about the possibilities this Red Sox lineup could create in 2011 is a tremendous thought for a Sox fan.  While there are already talks of this team advancing to the World Series and facing the super rotation of the Philadelphia Phillies, this is of course annoyingly premature.  But it is admittedly fun to think about.  Hell, the season can’t come fast enough.  Pitchers and catchers report February 14th.          

This article can also be seen on  

Read more MLB news on

San Diego Padres Continue To Make Solid, Cost Effective Moves for 2011

While it may have seemed that the Padres playoff chances in 2011 dissipated into shambles following the departure of superstar slugger Adrian Gonzalez to Boston, the Padres brass has responded in the best way possible: making extremely cost effective moves to bring in quality players.

Despite many critics, San Diego made a solid deal when they moved Adrian Gonzalez. They received several solid prospects for a player who had already made clear his intentions to leave via free agency following the season. While his deal was team friendly (about $6 million for the 2011 season), moving him frees up space for the Padres to make other acquisitions that can help the team down the road.

In trading away Gonzalez, San Diego received Boston’s highest regarded prospect in SS/P Casey Kelly. Kelly immediately becomes San Diego’s best pitching prospect, and could arrive to Petco Park within the next 2-3 years.

The Padres also received 1B prospect Anthony Rizzo from Boston, who recently jumped slugger Lars Anderson as Boston’s best prospect at the position. Rizzo should also step in to become San Diego’s number one 1B prospect. His continued development would allow the highly regarded Kyle Blanks to remain in the outfield, should San Diego wish to keep him there.

Speaking of outfield help, San Diego also received Boston’s first-round draft choice of a year ago, Raymond Fuentes, in the deal.  Fuentes helps to add to what is a very strong collection of outfield prospects already owned by San Diego.

Top prospect Jaff Decker has continued to make strides in his development. After Blanks moved to the Padres lineup full time, Decker took over as San Diego’s top prospect and has not disappointed thus far. CF prospect Donovan Tate is also one of San Diego’s better prospects, and could pair with Decker in San Diego’s outfield for years to come.

At the major league level, the Padres and GM Jed Hoyer have made numerous small deals that could very well keep the Padres in contention in 2011.

Hoyer has completely revamped the middle infield by signing 2B Orlando Hudson, and trading for SS Jason Bartlett.  Bartlett and Hudson are both veterans who played on division winning squads in 2010, and should stabilize the middle infield and serve as regular starters.

Brad Hawpe was signed just hours ago to a one year deal as Adrian Gonzalez’s replacement, likely until Rizzo is ready to perform at the major league level or another suitable replacement comes along.

This move almost guarantees that Blanks stays in the outfield. Along with Ryan Ludwick, Blanks should provide enough power from the outfield to score runs in spacious Petco Park. While Hawpe likely will see a drop in power moving from Coors to Petco, he should be able to utilize the parks’ confines to hit more balls in the gap and raise his OBP.

The third outfield spot (likely CF) should be a contest, possibly resulting in multiple players splitting time. Once regarded as a top 5 prospect, the talented Cameron Maybin was acquired from Florida for two relievers—Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica. If he proves ready, Maybin could compete for the Padres’ starting CF gig out of camp. If not, San Diego still has Oscar Salazar and Will Venable to split time. Both proved reliable a season ago.

Supremely talented youngsters Chase Headley and Nick Hundley should anchor the 3B and C positions, respectively. They, along with Blanks, provide San Diego with a young core to build around for the next few years, and are coming off seasons in which their potential really began to show. Headley hit 11 HR and knocked in 58, while hitting 29 doubles. Hundley hit 8 HR with 43 RBI and slugged .418.   

The rotation has also received a boost from the signing of starters Aaron Harang and Dustin Moseley.

Harang, once Cincinnati‘s ace, is looked upon to rebound from his recent struggles that dropped him behind Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto in the Reds’ rotation. What better place to have a resurgence than in Petco Park? And for only $4 million, Harang is a very safe bet that even a small market team like San Diego can afford to take a chance on.  

Although not known for a dazzling career, Moseley is a solid signing for San Diego as well. The Padres were able to reel him in for a minimal $900 k, and they hope that he can build off of decent numbers in Anaheim and New York, the last two to play a role in revitalizing their staff. He won’t be looked on to be a top starter, but to provide depth. Again, Petco Park should prove very friendly for Moseley.

Young guns Mat Latos and Clayton Richard look to see continued improvement on impressive seasons from a year ago (Latos’ 2009-’10 could be referred to as largely dominant). Even at such a young age (Latos just turned 23), he will be looked upon to be the club’s ace, with Harang likely the No. 2 starter followed by Richard, Wade LeBlanc and one of Moseley or Aaron Poreda.

Hoyer’s belief that he could acquire solid talent for cheap, as he has thus far, is one likely reason that he stood pat on not moving premier closer Heath Bell as part of any Gonzalez deal. Bell, along with Luke Gregerson and Mike Adams, return to a bullpen that was among the league’s best over the past 2 seasons, and serve as the team’s strength. Continued success from this group is key for San Diego to contend again in ’11.

San Diego has not given up hope in 2011 despite the loss of their star slugger and face of their franchise. They will look to their young players and cheap, quality additions to build on last years season that caught the league by surprise.  

Read more MLB news on

Tampa Bay Rays in ’11: It’s Not Time To Panic Just Yet

So far this offseason, there has been much talk of the Rays moving Matt Garza and even possibly James Shields. With the big losses of Carl Crawford to Boston and Carlos Pena to Chicago, Rafael Soriano’s pending signing with a new squad, along with Jason Bartlett having been dealt to San Diego, it’s easy to expect a drop off from a Rays team that won the division just a year ago. However, it is not time to consider moving two of their top pitchers when they have so much dynamic talent coming up from the system soon.

The fact is that the Rays have players coming up through the system that will be able to replace the big names lost so far this winter, and together form one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball.

At the top of the list, and cream of the crop, is OF Desmond Jennings. Reading a scouting report on Jennings makes one think immediately of Carl Crawford: blazing speed, low strike out rates, and enough power to get by as a prototypical lead off hitter. He should be able to step in and come close to replacing Crawford’s numbers after a few years’ experience in the majors.

After moving Bartlett, the SS position is currently open. However, there is no shortage of talent at this position in the system either. Reid Brignac, who has already seen solid major league time could very well be handed the reins to the SS position this season, and he could be productive enough to get by for a season or two. Ben Zobrist has also seen time at SS, although he seems to be locked into RF for the time being.

But the real prize is still in the minor leagues. Tim Beckham, first round pick from two years ago, was once thought to be a sure fire major leaguer who would shoot up through the system to become the Rays’ next great SS, but he has had some troubles.

Most recently, he has seen declines at the plate and struggles in the field, but the kid is only two years removed from high school ball. He has a tremendous skill set that has seen him be described as a “Five Tool Player” in the majors, and that talent has not dissipated. A couple more years in the minors should give him time to adjust to the pro game and get back on the major league track. It is much too soon to even begin to think about giving up on such a talent.

The Rays also own the most talented collection of arms coming up to the majors.  

Jeremy Hellickson excelled in his first major league stint, to say the least. His short time in the majors saw him go 4-0 while striking out 33 and walking only eight over 36.1 innings. He had both the Rays organization and Rays fans salivating over what he could do given a full year in the majors. His time in Tampa was only a microcosm of his season in Triple A Durham, however. For the Bulls, he went 12-3 with 123 K’s in 117.2 innings, to go along with a WHIP of 1.173. He also saw tremendous ratios of 9.4 K/9 while allowing only 2.7 BB/9. He has often been compared to Roy Oswalt.   

Wade Davis is yet another long time stalwart of the Rays’ talented minor league system. He has seen some extensive time at the major league level, going 12-10 and finishing 4th in the A.L. Rookie of the Year voting last season. Given some more time to develop at the pro level, Davis, along with Hellickson and Price, could very well anchor the rotation for years to come.

Left hander Matt Moore is yet another of Tampa’s elite level arms who could see major league time in the near future. Last season for A level Charlotte, Moore struck out an impressive 208 batters in just 144.2 innings, a ratio of 12.9 per 9 innings.  While control has been a bit of an issue for Moore (he walked 4.4 per 9 to go along with those 208 K’s), he has plenty of time and the talent to be able to correct his issues with wildness. Despite those walks, Moore did also have a very impressive 1.175 WHIP a year ago. Moore’s potential is out of this world and as a premier lefty, he will be given every shot available to excel at the major league level. 

A possible rotation of Garza, Shields, David Price, Hellickson and Davis in the near future is one that is loaded with talent and has the potential to be one of the league’s best. If either Davis or Hellickson should falter, or if Garza does indeed end up being traded or leaving via free agency, Matt Moore could easily step in to fill that spot and be a dominant pitcher in the majors.

The bottom line is that it is not time for Tampa Bay to panic. Now that the team has become accustomed to winning baseball and has been able to compete in the rugged A.L. East, 90 win seasons have come to be the expected norm for the squad.

However, 2011 may be a bridge year for Tampa. While 85-90 wins could still be on the horizon (the team is still loaded with talent in Evan Longoria, BJ Upton, Zobrist and the aforementioned starting rotation), a much improved Boston team and a New York team that won 95 games a year ago and hasn’t changed a bit, should make it difficult for the Rays to challenge for the division crown after losing the players that they have.  

However, patience should be key for the Rays, who have a plethora of young help coming soon. It is not time to blow up what they already have and what is their strong point, the rotation, just for one bridge year. 

Read more MLB news on

The 2011 Oakland Athletics: The Best Offseason Nobody’s Talking About

The Oakland A’s have made some great moves so far this offseason, but they don’t seem to be getting much recognition for it.  

While teams like the Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals and others have been making large splashes by acquiring big name players, the A’s have quietly had one of the best offseasons yet.  

This upcoming season, they will look to capitalize on an AL West division that saw Cliff Lee leave Texas and go to Philadelphia, the Angels not make any moves to improve a roster that finished third last season and features a Seattle team that is perennially in the divisions’ basement.  

2011 looks to be the perfect year for Oakland to put together a solid season and make a late playoff run again.

To date, they’ve added Josh Willingham, David DeJesus, Hideki Matsui and Rich Harden, while only parting with pitchers Vin Mazzaro, Henry Rodriguez, Justin Marks and Corey Brown.  

Conor Jackson, who was acquired from Arizona during the season, should be healthy for 2011 as well, serving as what is really a new addition to the squad.  

Manager Bob Geren has a lot to look forward to this season and these new additions will do their part to help the A’s build on their .500 finish in ’09-’10.

DeJesus and Willingham should slot into starting positions in the outfield, especially with Rajai Davis having been dealt to Toronto to make room for the new talent.  

Power hitting phenom prospect Michael Taylor could see his first full season in the major leagues this upcoming year and may be slotted into LF as the starter, with Jackson available to spell him.  If not Taylor, then another power hitting prospect, Chris Carter, may look to make a run at that starting slot instead. 

Matsui steps into the DH role to fill in for Jack Cust, who left Oakland via free agency to sign with the Seattle Mariners. While the loss of power that Cust brought to the table will be missed, Matsui is a better all around hitter than Cust.  

Last year with the Angels, Matsui put up an impressive stat line that included 21 HR, 84 RBI and 24 doubles while batting .274. More importantly, he only struck out 98 times, an instant upgrade over Cust’s 200 seemingly every year.

While not the strongest part of the club, the infield will look to improve this season as well. First baseman Daric Barton is coming off a rather surprising year, in which he hit 10 HR and drove in 57 runs, but more importantly put up 33 doubles. He featured a line of .273/.393/.405/.798.  

He will be looked upon to anchor the infield, along with 2B Mark Ellis, SS Cliff Pennington and 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff.  

Long awaited prospect Adrian Cardenas looks to make the roster out of Spring Training, and compete with Ellis for the 2B job. Catcher Kurt Suzuki will be expected to build on his largely successful ’09-’10 campaign, in which he hit 13 HR while knocking in 71 and slugging .366. He will also be relied upon to manage a young, but very talented pitching staff.

The A’s saw their two best pitching prospects have very impressive seasons a year ago. Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill should be able to improve on their ’09-’10 seasons to anchor the top of the A’s rotation along with Gio Gonzalez.

Anderson, who lost a large chunk of the season to injury, put up ratios of 6 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a WHIP of 1.193. He struck out 75 batters in 112.1 innings while going 7-7. A full, healthy season from Anderson is crucial to the A’s success.  

Cahill was extremely impressive last season.  He put up a stellar 18-8 record while striking out 5.4 batters per nine innings and walking 2.4 over nine.  He also had an outstanding WHIP of 1.108.  These two simply don’t put runners on base.  

Along with Gonzalez, Dallas Braden and a hopefully healthy Rich Harden (wishful thinking, yes), Oakland is able to string together a rotation that has the ability to be very competitive in a weak AL West.

The back end of the bullpen looks to be strong yet again, with Andrew Bailey at the helm as closer and Brad Ziegler, Craig Breslow, Michael Weurtz, Jerry Blevins and a returning Joey Devine filling out the rest of pen.

The Athletics look to have the talent all around to put together a team who could very well make the playoffs coming out of the AL West in 2011.  

While the Rangers still boast the best lineup in the division, the loss of Cliff Lee hurts them greatly. It takes them from World Series caliber to a team that has strong playoff potential, but maybe not much more. While having had some success over the last two seasons, the Rangers’ staff needed Lee to reach the next level, a fact that was obvious when he was acquired last season.  

Now that he is gone, the rotation is no longer outstanding.  

A year after not winning the division for the first time since forever, the Angels have done nothing to greatly improve their squad. They missed out on Carl Crawford and have yet to make a move on their other oft mentioned target, Adrian Beltre. Beltre may very well sign with Texas, putting the Angels even further behind the 8-Ball.  

While a full season of Dan Haren should anchor the staff along with Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana, their weak lineup may very well prove to be their handicap.  

If Oakland’s talent can prevail and the staff can continue their improvement, the A’s have a winning combination right now and should be able to build on and improve their 81-81, second place finish of last year. 

Read more MLB news on

Brandon Webb Could Be a Pleasant Surprise in ’11

Former Cy Young Award winner and National League All-Star Game regular Brandon Webb is still looking for a new home this offseason.

Despite making only one start over the past two years due to devastating shoulder injuries, the 6’3″ right-hander could prove to be quite a sleeper in the 2011 season and be one of the league’s more pleasant surprises.

Before his unfortunate run of injuries, Webb was one of the league’s most dominant starters.

He won the Cy Young Award in 2006, when he went 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA along with 178 K’s in 235 innings. The next season, in 2007, he went 18-10 with a 3.01 ERA with 194 K’s in 236.1 innings, a better all-around season than his Cy Young Award-winning year.

In his last complete season, 2008, Webb’s record finished at 22-7 to go along with a 3.30 ERA and 183 K’s in a span of 226.2 innings.

While he was only able to make a total of one start over the past two seasons, it is a bit surprising that only the Rangers, Cubs and Nationals have been reported as having interest in Webb. If Webb is able to make any sort of return to form for his new team in 2011, he could end up being one of the better bargains had this offseason.

That being said it is understandable why teams are approaching Webb with much caution. However, Webb does offer a tremendous high risk, even higher reward option for a team that needs to fill a void in its rotation.

But how great of a risk is signing Brandon Webb, really? All of the teams mentioned as having interest in him can certainly afford it.

The Rangers, under ownership of Nolan Ryan, have already shown that they won’t necessarily be stingy when it comes to the open market. The Cubs, up until recently, have been near the top of the majors in total salary, and the Nationals have also shown that they have plenty of money to spend to bring in who they want.

It seems that both Webb and his agent understand the drop in value that Webb has undergone since his rash of injuries, but they also know what Webb is capable of if healthy. Quoted recently, Webb’s agent Jonathan Maurer stated to that Webb “is hungry, excited, and ready to start 30 plus times in 2011.”

The fact is that a healthy Webb has averaged over 233 innings pitched per season between 2006 and 2008, along with peripherals of 7.2 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 over that same span. It’s not all that out of the question that Webb could make those 30-plus starts this year that his agent mentioned. By all accounts his shoulder is healthy, and he’s been rehabbing for a while now.

If one of the three aforementioned teams is able to bring Webb in on a short-term deal that is cost-effective and incentive-laden, what’s to lose? The prospect of a healthy Brandon Webb in the rotation is certainly more enticing than some of the starters left on the market currently. Webb’s upside outweighs the prospect of another injury. 

Bringing Webb in on a one- to two-year deal makes a lot of sense for each of the Rangers, Nationals and Cubs, who do all need rotation help badly. The Rangers most recently lost out on Cliff Lee, and the Nationals lost out on Zack Greinke, while also being reported as having interest in Lee.

While there were talks of acquiring Matt Garza from Tampa, nothing new has developed on that front for Chicago. Carlos Zambrano is also likely to be moved somewhere in the near future.

Why not go out and grab Webb? The possible reward he offers could make him one of the league’s more surprising pitchers in 2011 and put him right into the race to be the Comeback Player of the Year.

Read more MLB news on

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress