Tag: 2011 MLB Spring Training

Texas Rangers: Endy Chavez and the Red Hot Texas Offense

The Texas Rangers have outscored their opponents 57-23 in the past eight days, and Endy Chavez has been the unsung hero of this recent hot streak. While players like Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz have been hitting balls out of the park, Chavez has been hitting .435 in 13 games while crossing the plate 11 times.

The emergence of this new hitting machine has surprised many in the Rangers fan base. Chavez began the year in AAA Round Rock hitting .305 in 30 games. He recently made his first major league appearance since 2009 where his season ended with a torn ACL. He was called up after Julio Borbon was placed on the disabled list but has remained on the roster despite Borbon being activated.

Chavez is putting up career high numbers in a lot of offensive categories and in many cases is outpacing the player he was sent to temporarily replace. Here’s a look at some figures comparing this year’s stats with his previous career-high stats.

  AVG OBP SLG WAR Cutters Seen Fastballs Seen Strike Contact Ball Contact
Career High .306 (2006) .348 (2006) .464 (2002) 1.1 (2008) 4.2% (2009) 70.4% (2002) 93.1 (2008) 78.5% (2008)
2011 Season .435 .469 .696 1.1 13% 58.2% 95% 87.5%

It’s very telling that he’s seeing fewer fastballs and more secondary pitches yet his average is up over .100 on his career high. Even dropping pitches outside of the strike zone isn’t enough to keep him off the bases.

If Borbon wants to come back to the majors, he’s going to have to improve his plate discipline. He’s certainly more of an elite defender in the outfield than Chavez but the Rangers can’t afford to keep Endy’s hot bat on the bench. Don’t be surprised to see a trade involve David Murphy because the Rangers don’t really have a need for two outfielders to warm up the dugout during games, especially if the Rangers really want Borbon to come back.

Can he keep this hot streak alive through the rest of the season? Only time will tell.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Colorado Rockies’ MLB Opening Day at Coors Field: A View From the Rockpile

View From the Rockpile – Musings From a Mile High Along the Journey to Rocktober

A Weekly Colorado Rockies Report – By Michael Paul

April 4, 2011

The Colorado Rockies opened their 2011 season in the friendly and paper-thin air of Coors Field against divisional rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks, their co-tenants at the sparkling new spring raining facility, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The hometown faithful openly dared to dream of a Rocktober renaissance after a solid spring training that saw the Rockies win 20 games with a well-balanced attack of power, fundamentals and youth. 

MLB fans nationwide, on the other hand, took pause, viewing these Kid Rox with equal doses of skepticism and intrigue.  While club leader Troy Tulowitzki is a popular pick for regular season NL MVP and staff ace Ubaldo Jimenez finds himself a sleeper NL Cy Young candidate, the consensus view on the Rockies as a whole is really that there is no consensus at all.

MLB insiders have poignantly questioned whether the 2011 iteration of the Dan O’Dowd-constructed squad has what it takes to unseat the World Champion San Francisco Giants, bringing Denver baseball its first NL West crown since the Rockies first took the field in Denver at Mile High Stadium in 1993.

Indeed, questions fly like a curveball at Coors Field, B.H. (Yes, Before the Humidor.)

Can Chris Iannetta, Ian Stewart and Dexter Fowler make the leap from promising but inconsistent prospects to everyday contributors on a division-winning team?

Will the superstar duo of Carlos Gonzalez and Tulowitzki—CarGo and Tulo if you happen to be in LoDo—falter under the weight of public expectations following the rich contract extensions granted to them by the previously frugal owners—the Brothers Monfort?

Can Jhoulys Chacin mimic Jimenez’s breakout 2010, and can Jorge De La Rosa stay healthy enough and calm enough to take the weight off of Jimenez’s shoulders?

Will Huston Street and Mr. Rockie himself—one Todd Helton—conjure their dominant 2009 campaigns, or will they merely continue on their respective declines from sunnier (and in Helton’s case, Hall-of-Fame-worthy) days on the Rocky Mountain sandlot? 

After two games and a PPD for snow, there is reason to believe that the high hopes pervading downtown Denver are more than just grasping at thin air.

Despite a disappointing 7-6 Opening Day setback against the Diamondbacks in extra innings, the Rockies showed promise, nearly offsetting their Opening Day jitters and a shaky debut from Jimenez with Coors Field come-from-behind magic that has become the Rockies trademark. 

New addition at second base, Jose Lopez, paid immediate dividends with a towering blast into the left field stands and a nifty behind-the-back flip to start an inning-ending double play with Tulowitzki at a critical juncture in the game, spearheading a rally in the bottom half of the seventh inning frame. 

Fellow newcomer Ty Wiggington earned a start in place of the hobbling Stewart and displayed the versatility that led O’Dowd to target the 2010 All-Star by seamlessly moving to first base after manager Jim Tracy removed Helton for a pinch runner late in the game.

The Rockies ultimately lost when Justin Upton sprinted home from third base on a wild pitch from the location-challenged missile tossed by recently acquired reliever (and former Astros closer) Matt Lindstrom in the top of the 11th.

But the Rockies showed considerable poise on a day when their stars did not fully act the part on offense.

Tulowitzki (a/k/a Jeter 2.0) went 0-5 from the plate, striking out twice; the umpiring crew made two controversial calls in the outfield that helped to turn the tide against the Rockies; and Jimenez, bothered by a torn cuticle on his pitching thumb, had neither ace bandage nor his usual Ace’s stuff and the Diamondbacks jumped at the Dominican’s display of mortality, twice homering and knocking him out after six rocky innings. 

A single loss in the marathon that is the MLB regular season is spilt milk.  Two in a row against a divisional rival (and a cellar dweller to boot) with low aspirations and low expectations would be troubling to say the least for a Rockies club climbing the steps to the big boys’ treehouse. 

To be viewed on par with the Phillies, the Giants and the Braves, the Rockies must consistently beat the Diamondbacks, the Nationals and the Pirates.

This is why lefty gunslinger Jorge De La Rosa’s Saturday evening gem should be praised as newsworthy despite the fact that it occurred on day two of the 2011 MLB season. 

De la Rosa displayed both power and control with his wide arsenal of pitches, keeping the D-Backs off-balance with five strikeouts over five-and-a-third shutout innings.  Much like Jimenez, a blister under the middle finger nail on De La Rosa’s pitching hand led to an early exit for a Colorado starter for the second day in a row.

Jhoulys Chacin ended up with an extra couple of days to acclimate his pitching hand to the dry Denver air, as the Sunday rubber match was called—for snow.  An early test awaits for the quiet right-hander, as he prepares to face a Dodgers club on an uptick after taking 3-of-4 to start the season against the Giants under new manager Don Mattingly.

Any prediction of the Rockies’ ultimate success in 2011 must take into account the steady, demanding hand of 2009 NL Manager of the Year Tracy—yet another attribute that the Rockies have in their corner. 

Tracy has preached accountability and returning to basics for his Colorado club, and his players have taken up the cause early on defensively—CarGo and Tulo showed their Gold Glove-winning form with numerous “Holy Cow” plays in the field, while Fowler and Seth Smith stomped on the warning track and took on the outfield walls to show their dedication to D.

The offense will come with patience, focus and poise to this loaded Rockies lineup as it adjusts to new hitting coach Carney Lansford’s back-to-basics approach. 

And yet, despite the ballyhooed offensive fireworks that have become a staple of baseball in Denver, it may well be getting back to basics on defense, however, that catapults the Rockies towards a return trip to the Fall Classic, like the 2007 version that led all MLB with a fielding percentage of .98925.

Though a 1-1 start assuredly “ain’t nothing to tweet home about,” it is possible that the early April snowfall is a signal of Rocktober magic in springtime. 

Cuticles, blisters and snow. 

Just a typical Opening Day weekend at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado.




Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Opening Day 2011: Fifteen All-Stars Who Are on the DL

Opening Day is upon us! And each year, teams are destined to begin their regular seasons with certain core players on the disabled list, down with some sort of ailment. But it seems like more than ever in 2011, big-name players have been hitting the disabled list early and often.

So with that, I have comprised an All-Star team consisting of players who have been injured in some capacity since the end of last season and will start the 2011 regular season on the disabled list. This list is made up of one player at each infield position, three outfielders, five starting pitchers, a middle reliever and a closer.

Of course, like any All-Star team, there will be snubs and there will be controversy. I invite readers’ gripes, compliments and opinions.

Begin Slideshow

Fantasy Baseball 2011: Don’t Even Think About Drafting Mets’ Carlos Beltran

Aging and Injury Plagued Carlos Beltan Equals 2011 Fantasy Baseball Bust

The Mets are going to be awful this season and Carlos Beltran is going to be a big part of that.

The former Astros playoff hero has never lived up to the enormous contract the Mets threw at him in 2005.

Does a guy that hit .255 while hitting seven home runs and 27 RBI sound like a worthy pick-up to you?

After sitting out for half the season in 2010 with a knee injury, Beltran had an abysmal 66 games.

The soon to be 34 year-old Beltran has seen his home runs, RBI and stolen bases decrease in every season since 2006.

To add insult to injury, now his “good” knee is bothering him according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News:

“Despite the apparent positive news, the Mets learned this month that Beltran’s knees will probably require careful attention all season. After arriving at camp and requesting a move to right field, Beltran has played in just one Grapefruit League game. He batted three times on March 6, dashed from second to home on a base hit, and succumbed to tendinitis in his left knee the following day. That issue stemmed from Beltran favoring the knee over his surgically repaired right one.”

If that isn’t the definition of a red flag then I don’t know what is.

Clearly Beltran isn’t going to start the season healthy and that is terrible news for an aging player that has seen his skills diminsh steadily over the last five years.

For all the latest news and predictions on everything fantasy baseball click here.

Pitch Values: Top 10 Changeups of 2010 MLB Season

Before the start of the season, I wanted to see which pitchers statistically had the best fastballs, curveballs, sliders, cutters, changeups and splitters of the 2010 season.

Here are a look at the top curveballs of the 2010 season. A few notes:

The Pitch Value data was created by Fangraphs.com. I will be using the statistic, wCH, which denotes the runs above average for a particular pitch—in this case a curveball.  

The “wCH” stat benefits starting pitchers and pitchers who throw a certain pitch more often. Because the more often you throw a pitch, the better the chances are of it being successful.

Sometimes, PITCH/FX does not sort pitches into the right category. For example, Brandon Morrow’s splitter was categorized as a fastball. 

Best Fastballs

Best Cutters

Best Sliders

Best Curveballs

Begin Slideshow

Baltimore Orioles: 2011 MLB Season Preview


Last year: 66-96, 5th place in AL East 

Manager: Buck Showalter 


C- Matt Wieters (S)

1B- Derrek Lee (R)

2B- Brian Roberts (S) 

3B- Mark Reynolds (R)

SS- JJ Hardy (R)

LF- Luke Scott (L) 

CF- Adam Jones (R) 

RF- Nick Markakis (L)

DH- Vladimir Guerrero (R)

The lineup struggled in the first half of 2010 without leadoff man Brian Roberts. When Showalter took over and Roberts returned, the lineup took off. If Roberts is healthy, he should hit .285/.355/.420 with 10 home runs and 25 stolen bases.

Derek Lee struggled in 2010 posting his lowest isolated power numbers in years. I think he will have a rebound year hitting in Camden Yards and should post a .280/.365/.490 line with 25 or so home runs.

Mark Reynolds will strikeout almost 40 percent of the time, but he has the ability to hit 45 home runs every season. He does get on base, but his average will always be a problem because of his record setting ability to strikeout. I see a .230/.330/.490 line with 35-40 home runs and 10 stolen bases.

JJ Hardy is a significant offensive upgrade over Izturis. He should hit 15 home runs with a .255/.320/.420 line.

Matt Wieters struggled with the bat in his first full season. He has too much talent not to improve this season, and I think he should hit 15-20 home runs with a .280/.350/.430 line.

Vladimir Guerrero had a great start to the 2010 season, but he seemed to fade over the last few months of the season. Guerrero will hit in another hitters’ ballpark this season, and he should be able to reach the 25 home run mark with a .290/.340/.485 line.

Nick Markakis was another Orioles hitter who under performed in 2010. He should bat in the number two spot in the lineup, where he will hit 15-20 home runs and posting what should be an impressive .300/.375/.465 line.

Adam Jones should improve with another full season under his belt. He will hit 20 home runs but he needs to cut down on strikeouts and improve his three percent walk rate. 

Luke Scott was the club’s most productive hitter last season. He’s a safe bet to hit 25-30 home runs with a .260/.345/.480 line. 

The Orioles ranked 21st in UZR rating last season. This season may be worse with Scott playing the outfield on a regular basis. The outfield defense is one if the worst in the league.

Luke Scott is a liability in LF, and should not play there on a regular basis.

Based on 2010 UZR, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are below average in the OF.

Wieters is one of the best defensive catchers in the game. He has a great arm, and is one of the best at blocking pitches in the dirt. T

he infield defense will be improved with the addition of Reynolds, Hardy, and Lee. Reynolds is above average, and Hardy was one of the top five shortstops in terms of UZR. Lee is still above average at 1B.  


IF- Robert Andino (R)

IF- Cesar Izturis (S)

OF- Felix Pie (L)

C/1B/3B- Jake Fox(R) 


RHP- Jeremy Guthrie 

LHP- Brian Matusz

RHP- Brad Bergersen  

RHP- Jake Arrieta

RHP- Chris Tillman  

The biggest weakness of Orioles team is their starting rotation. It will be hit hard in the very competitive AL East.

Guthrie and Matusz pitched well in the second half of the year, but Guthrie is not a number one type of starter. Guthrie throws a good two seamer and four seamer along with a good slider, decent changeup and occasional curveball. He should throw 200 innings with a 4.10 ERA and a peripherals of 5.50 K/9 and 2.50 BB/9. Matusz is featured later in the piece.  

Brad Bergensen features a 90 MPH sinking fastball with a decent curveball and change. He had trouble locating his sinker early in 2010, but improved in the second half. He should only have a strikeout rate of 4-5 K/9 but his walk rate will be 2 BB/9. I think he will bounce back and pitch at a 4.30 ERA.

Jake Arrieta has good stuff as the number four starter.  He does average 92.7 MPH, but only averaged 4.6 K/9 and walked 4 per 9. If he can get that strikeout rate to his minor league levels (7 K/9), he could pitch at a 4.40 ERA.

Chris Tillman will fill out the last spot of the rotation. He has struggled in his stints in the major because of his below average strikeout and walk rates. His average velocity dropped two mph, and I am not sure he will be able to keep his spot. If Justin Duchsherer is healthy, he might take the spot.   


RHP- Kevin Gregg (closer not named)

RHP- Koji Uehara 

LHP- Mike Gonzalez 

RHP- Jim Johnson 

RHP- Jason Berken 

RHP- Jeremy Accardo

RHP- Josh Rupe 

The Orioles bullpen will be improved this year. It has some good depth, but Showalter has yet to name an official closer. Gregg has a good repertoire (92 MPH fastball, cutter, splitter and slider) but he gives up too many home run and his control is iffy. If Gregg struggles, Uehara and Gonazlez might some save opportunities.

Uehara pitched well in the closer role during the second half of the season, posting a 2.86 ERA. ( xFIP was 2.91) He averages 88 mph on his fastball, but he has a good splitter and great command of both pitches. He should only strike out six or seven per nine innings. 

Gonzalez was signed to be the closer last year, but I think he is better suited as a left-handed set-up guy who can get right and left handed batters out. He features a 92-94 MPH fastball and very good slider.

Jim Johnson has a reliable arm, who uses a power sinker to neutralize opponents. He has been the most impressive reliever in spring training, and he could get some save opportunities.

Berken provides a solid arm as a the Orioles swing man. His stuff is better suited in the bullpen and he should have a strikeout rate close to 7 K/9.

I am interested in seeing Jeremy Accardo, the Blue Jays former closer in 2007. He has always had a good stuff, featuring a low 90s fastball, good splitter, and cutter.  



I was impressed with him in his starts I watched last year. His control was a little higher than his career mark at around 3.2 BB/9 innings. Expect him to get that down to the 2.5 mark. With his good strikeout numbers, I think he might finish the year with a 3.70 era (around 3.8 FIP). While he doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, but he hides the ball well and compliments it with a good curve and change-up. 


Britton is the Orioles top pitching prospect. He was a third round draft pick in 2006, and has worked his way up to AAA last year. He is an extreme ground ball pitcher (64 percent) and recorded 7.6 K/9 innings last year. I expect him to make the rotation sometime in July, especially if there are injuries and if Arrieta or Chris Tillman (sixth starter on depth chart) struggle. 


I expect the Orioles to improve over last year, and I think the offense will keep the team in games. The starting pitching is still has problems, but I like what the club has done with the bullpen. I have a feeling they will finish a game or two better than Toronto and finish fourth. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Fantasy Baseball 2011: Biggest Busts to Avoid In Your Fantasy Drafts

The 2011 fantasy baseball season begins in less than 24 hours and now is the last chance to solidify your lineup.

While finding that unheralded utility man who ends up being Jose Bautista is always a thrill—a smart fantasy player is more concerned with avoiding guys that will severely disappoint them.

It’s going to be hard to win your ERA and WHIP battle with a former stud that has been reduced to nothing more than a has-been that gets lit up on a regular basis.

Look at a guy like Jonathan Papelbon, a former All-Star closer that was considered almost unhittable for years. But last year he saw his ERA jump two full points and his increased amount of fly balls is extremely troubling.

I’m here to give you stats, trends and expert analysis as to why you should avoid Player X. 

Don’t blindly pick your team based on recognizable names. Here are the biggest potential busts for the 2011 season.

For all the latest news and predictions on everything fantasy baseball click here.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Texas Rangers: 2011 MLB Season Preview


Last Year: 90-72, 1st in AL West  

Manager: Ron Washington 




C- Yorvit Torrealba (R) 

1B- Mitch Moreland (L)

2B- Ian Kinsler (R)

3B- Adrian Beltre (R) 

SS- Elvis Andrus (R)

LF- Josh Hamilton (L)

CF- Julio Borbon (L)

RF- Nelson Cruz (R)

DH- Michael Young (R)

The Rangers’ offense is still just as strong as last year’s group that went to the World Series. Led by AL MVP Josh Hamilton, they have a great balance of power and speed that makes them tough for other teams to deal with.

Hamilton has all the offensive tools. His combination of power and ability to hit for average make him one of the game’s most dangerous hitters. He should hit .315/.370/.580 with 30 home runs.

Nelson Cruz is a dangerous right-handed bat who should hit behind Hamilton. Like Hamilton, Cruz has an ability to hit for power and average. One facet of Cruz’s game that is overlooked is his speed.

The key with Cruz is staying healthy.  If he does, I see a line of .290/.365/.545 with 30 home runs and 17-20 stolen bases.

Julio Borbon is a contact/speed hitter with little plate discipline. He will split time with David Murphy, who is the better overall hitter.

Michael Young will DH and spot start all around the infield. Young can be counted on for a .290 average and 17-20 home runs. 

Mitch Moreland should be a breakout player for the Rangers this season. (His projections are below in BREAKOUT PLAYER).

Ian Kinsler has dealt with injuries last year that seemed to zap some of his power. Kinsler is capable of putting up 20-plus home runs with a solid average between .275 and .290 and 20 plus steals.

He is a really solid player who can get on base and can quietly change the course of a game.

Elvis Andrus seemed to lose what little power he had in 2010, but he showed in the playoffs he can change the course of a game with his speed.

I like him improving on his 2010 season with 4 home runs, 35 stolen bases, and a line of .290/.360/.360.

I’m not sold on Adrian Beltre’s offense even in Arlington. I think he greatly benefited from playing in Fenway Park for half the season in terms of his average, and his OBP is lower than it should be.

He can still be counted on for 25 home runs but his line will drop to .275/.315/.475.

Torrealba is not bad offensive option at catcher with his 5-8 home runs, a solid average and good OBP.  

The Rangers were 10th in UZR during the 2010 season, and that number should improve with the addition of Adrian Beltre.

Beltre is a significant upgrade at third base over Michael Young. Beltre paired with Andrus, one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, should make the best right-side infield combo in baseball.

Mitch Moreland showed he was an average first baseman in 2010, and Ian Kinsler is above-average at second base.

The Rangers also upgraded at the catcher position with Torrealba, who is a great catch and throw guy.

Throw in the great outfield defense, where every fielder is way above average, the Rangers might be one of the best defenses in baseball. 




OF- David Murphy (L)

IF- Andres Blanco (S) 

1B/C- Mike Napoli (R)  




LHP- CJ Wilson 

RHP- Colby Lewis 

RHP- Tommy Hunter (on DL until May)

LHP- Derek Holland 

LHP- Matt Harrison

RHP- Alexi Ogando

The depth in the rotation took a hit with the departure of Cliff Lee during the offseason. CJ Wilson becomes the ace of the staff after his first full season as a starter in the majors.

Wilson doesn’t have the best command (4.10 BB/9) but he gets most of his outs via the strikeout and groundout. Wilson has a five pitch repertoire, and every pitch is above average. (90.5 MPH fastball, curve, slider, cutter, and change-up.)

Colby Lewis, who was excellent in the postseason, slots behind CJ Wilson as the No. two starter.

Lewis has decent control and fastball (averaged 90.1 MPH), but he relies heavily on his slider and curveball. His breaking balls and his ability to locate his fastball allowed Lewis to strikeout almost 200 batters last year.

Wilson and Lewis were thoroughly impressive last year and I believe they will put up similar strong numbers this season. 

Missing Cliff Lee hurts the bottom half of the Rangers’ rotation. I’ve never been a fan of Tommy Hunter, who will be on the DL until May, and his 2010 line was not indicative of his ability.

His 3.73 ERA was helped by a ridiculously high left-on-base percentage, and low BABIP (.255). Hunter’s ERA should be around 4.50 this season.

Derek Holland has the promise to be a top pitcher for many years to come. He averages 92.1 MPH on his fastball and compliments it with a filthy slider, decent change, and average curveball.

2011 could be the year he puts it all together, and and he should post an ERA in the high 3’s and almost 8 K/9 innings. 

Alexi Ogando emerged as a strong set-up man in 2010, but will be shifted to the rotation with the injury to Hunter. He should head back to the bullpen in May. 

Ogando will throw a hard fastball (avg 96.3 MPH) and a good slider. His best attribute is his ability to keep the ball in the park.

Harrison will probably remain in the rotation because I don’t see Webb coming back any time soon.

Harrison throws a low 90’s fastball with a slider, change, and occasional curveball. His slider has a tendency to flatten out and he should try to mix in more curveballs, a pitch he has had success with.

Harrison doesn’t strike out many hitters (5.29 K/9 in 2010), and he will walk close to four per nine innings. In addition, with his high home run rate, Harrison should have a 4.80 ERA in the rotation and could loose his spot if Ogando performs. 




RHP- Neftali Feliz (Closer) 

RHP- Darren O’Day

LHP- Arthur Rhodes

RHP- Pedro Strop 

LHP- Darren Oliver 

RHP- Mark Lowe 

RHP- David Bush

RHP- Mason Tobin 

Neftali Feliz anchors this strong Rangers bullpen. Feliz has shown good control and the ability to strike out any hitter with a 96 MPH fastball and a strong curveball. He has the ability to start, but it sounds like the Rangers are keeping him as the closer this season.

Right-handed side-armer Darren O’Day and Darren Oliver return to the Rangers bullpen to work as situational pitchers. O’Day is tough on righties, and Oliver will be used during the middle innings.

Arthur Rhodes was signed to be the primary left-handed specialist. Rhodes doesn’t pitch well against righties, unlike Olver, and will use his tough slider and low 90’s fastball to get lefties out.

Pedro Strop throws in the mid 90’s with a slider and splitter. He has strikeout stuff, but his command is in issue.

Mark Lowe, essentially a throw away in the Cliff Lee deal, missed most of last year with an arm injury. Lowe, who also throws a 96 MPH fastball and can average 8 K/9 innings, will establish himself as another good option for Ron Washington.

David Bush will be the team’s long reliever after failing to win a starting job. 



BREAKOUT PLAYER: Mitch Moreland 

I really liked what I saw from Mitch Moreland in the second-half of the season and the playoffs. He always seemed to put up tough at-bats, and he had an impressive OBP.

He gained Ron Washington’s trust during the playoffs, and Washington let him hit against lefties.

I see Moreland getting 500 at-bats this season and putting up a line of .270/.360/.480 with 20 home runs. 



PROSPECT TO WATCH: RHP Tanner Scheppers 

The Rangers believe this young pitcher could impact the big league club later in the season. With an upper 90’s fastball, curveball, slider and change-up, many think he could make an impact in the starting rotation.

Looking at his stats, it seems like he would be a better fit in the bullpen where his fastball can reach triple digits. I could seem him being the closer in 2012 with Neftali Feliz heading to the rotation. 




The Rangers should be in line for another division title. The lineup is as strong as last year (maybe better), the team plays great defense, and the bullpen is slightly improved.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Michael Young is traded for another starting pitcher during the next few weeks since the starting rotation is lacking depth.

The A’s have improved, but I see the Rangers holding them off to win the division. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

New York Yankees: Who Got Cut, Who’s Injured and Where Will Yankees Finish?

Minor Cuts Mean Little To New York Yankees Pennant Hopes

The Yankees are starting to finalize their roster right now.

The catcher spot has been the most interesting. Along with outfielder Justin Maxwell and infielder Doug Bernier, they sent Jesus Montero down to triple A and sent Austin Romine to Double A.

But the more high-profile moves: cutting Ronnie Belliard and sending former Cubs phenom Mark Prior all the way down to single A.

As far as the normal bumps and bruises caused by spring training, three players, Curtis Granderson is still sidelined by an oblique strain and there is a chance he will start out the season on the disabled list, but it don’t seem like long-term problems.

The club’s offseason moves were fodder for the press this winter, as were the non-moves (not signing Cliff Lee) and with more likely to come this summer, Mike Vaccario of the New York Post expects the Yanks to land in  the postseason.

“Even the biggest self-hating Yankees fan has to have a hard time picking a team other than the Bombers to cop the AL wild card. And that’s before they make their annual moves in July, one of which likely will bring a quality starter to The Bronx.”

I tend to agree: the Yankees lineup is probably too powerful to be shut out of the playoffs, the bullpen is improved, and even if they didn’t land Lee and Andy Petite retired, they will get quality starts from C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and maybe Freddy Garcia.

But if they think they are going to walk all over the AL East teams outside of Boston, they are in for a major shock. Baltimore and Toronto are no longer door mats and the Rays will surprise them, by pushing them  for the Wild Card into September.

For more on the MLB season, see Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2011: The Top 10 Rookies

Kansas City Royals: 2011 MLB Season Preview


Last Year: 67-95, fifth in AL Central 

Manager: Ned Yost



C: Jason Kendall (R) (will start season on DL)

DH/1B: Kila Ka’aihue (L)

1B/DH: Billy Butler (R)

2B: Chris Getz (L)

3B: Mike Aviles (R)

SS: Alcides Escobar (R)

LF: Alex Gordon (L)

CF: Melky Cabrera (S)

RF: Jeff Francoeur (R)

During the 2010 season, the Royals were second in baseball in terms of batting average. However, the offense had trouble scoring by the lack of power (19th in SLG) and the average rate of getting on base overall (14th in OBP).

Billy Butler is the Royals’ best hitter. Butler will hit over .300, but his power declined over last year. He did cut his strikeouts by 20 and increase his BB total slightly. I expect close to 20 home runs, a .390 OBP and a .480 SLG line for Butler.

Kila Ka’aihue will provide the power in the KC lineup. He has never had more than 200 big-league at-bats in a season but always had great power numbers and BB totals in the minors. I expect a little more than 20 home runs and a stat line of .250/.360/.460.

Chris Getz provides little production at 2B. He will hit .260 with two home runs and will probably lose his job to Mike Moustakas (Mike Aviles will move back to 2B).

Alcides Escobar had a bad rookie year for the Brewers in 2010, but I expect him to rebound and provide some speed in the lineup. Projected line: .275/.330/.370 and five home runs. Aviles, with his projected eight to 12 home runs and .290/.250/.415, plays better at 2B.  

Jason Kendall provides little offensive value at the catcher position with no power and a below-average OBP.

Alex Gordon may be the most important player in the lineup if the Royals are to exceed expectations. A former No. 2 draft pick, Gordon has really struggled since his debut in 2007. He has never hit above .260 or hit more than 16 home runs. I don’t think Gordon will be the George Brett-type player many envisioned, but he might be able to be a successful LF for a while. Projected line: .265/.360/.465 with 20 home runs.

Melky Cabrera will never be anything more than a fourth outfielder on a good team, and Jeff Francoeur hasn’t put up since 2007. The Royals need to upgrade in the OF if they are to improve in the future. 

Looking at the advanced fielding stats, the Royals were the third-worst defensive team in baseball and had the least range (Royals UZR was -44.5). The infield defense should dramatically improve with the acquisition of Alcides Escobar. Escobar is one of the more athletic SS in baseball, and he will be a major improvement over the defensively impaired Yuniesky Betancourt.

Billy Butler and Kila Ka’aihue will play 1B. Ka’aihue is the better defensive player, while Butler is considered below average.

Mike Aviles had a rough year defensively at 2B, but that had a lot to do with his injured throwing elbow that required Tommy John surgery. He has never played 3B on a regular basis.

Chris Getz is considered average at 2B. Jason Kendall is a veteran and calls a good game behind the plate, but his overall skills are slightly below average. Melky Cabrera had an awful 2010 in CF for the Braves. He has lost some weight this year, and I believe he will play closer to the average range he showed with the Yankees. Jeff Francoeur and Alex Gordon will provide very good defense in the corners.



OF: Mitch Maier (L)

IF: Wilson Betemit (S)

OF: Jarrod Dyson (L)

C: Bryan Pena (S)

C: Matt Treanor (R)



RHP Luke Hochevar  

LHP Jeff Francis 

RHP Kyle Davies 

LHP Bruce Chen  

RHP Vin Mazzaro (starts season in minors until fifth starter needed in mid-April)

After the Zack Greinke trade became official, the Royals were left without a true ace to lead the starting rotation. All signs point to Luke Hochevar taking the ball Opening Day.

Hochevar, a former No. 1 overall pick in 2006, throws a 93 mph fastball with some sink. He possesses a vast repertoire that includes a cutter, slider, changeup and curveball. The key with Hochevar, as it is with most pitchers, is fastball command. With improved command and secondary pitch variety, Hochevar could be poised to that show he is the ace of the Royals rotation.

Jeff Francis was a low-cost signing for GM Dayton Moore, and Francis might be able to shore up the Royals rotation. Francis came back from shoulder surgery last year and showed some rust. He did post a 5.00 ERA, but he showed good command and showed fastball velocity (87.2 MPH) that he has missed since 2006.

I see Francis returning to the form he showed when he helped take the Rockies to the World Series in 2007. A 4.10 ERA, 6.0 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 should be within his 2011 range. 

After a good 2008, many have been predicting Kyle Davies to be a breakout candidate for the Royals. Instead, Davies has disappointed with average strikeout rates and poor control. At this point I think Davies is what he has shown in the last few years, and I don’t expect much improvement. Expect a high 4.80 ERA, 6.0 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9.

Bruce Chen, Vin Mazzaro and Sean O’Sullivan will be battling for the last two spots in the rotation. Mazzaro has the highest upside of the three. He throws a low 90s fastball, a very good slider, a good changeup and a respectable curveball. Mazzaro’s fastball is a little too straight, which accounts for the high number of home runs allowed.

Bruce Chen pitched well for the Royals in 2010 but was fortunate to post the numbers he did. Chen is a soft-tossing fly-ball pitcher who benefited from a low BABIP and a high Left on Base percentage. Like the rest of the Royals staff, he averages six K/9 and has iffy control. Consensus is that Chen takes a step back this year.

O’Sullivan, who relies on a 90 MPH fastball and good offspeed stuff, does not strike out many and has iffy control. He does have some options, which makes him the likeliest candidate to be sent down.



RHP Joakim Soria (Closer)

RHP Robinson Tejeda

RHP Aaron Crow 

RHP Jeremy Jeffress 

LHP Tim Collins 

RHP Kanekoa Texeira

RHP Nathan Adcock

RHP Sean O’Sullivan

The Royals have one of the top closers in the game anchoring the bullpen. Joakim Soria uses four above-average pitches, and I am surprised the Royals have never attempted to make him a starter. He should have another very good year, but he might be on another team by the end of the season. With the Royals rebuilding, other teams will be calling the Royals for Soria during the middle of the season.

Robinson Tejeda might be the best of the rest. He employs a 93-95 MPH fastball plus a good slider and changeup. His control is iffy, but he will put up very good K numbers.

The rest of the bullpen is full of rookies. There isn’t a set LHP to come out of the pen for the Royals, so I figure Tim Collins has a very good shot at making this team. He was acquired from the Braves in the Kyle Farnsworth and Rick Ankiel deal. Collins has put up great strikeout rates in the minors, which should be enough for the Royals to give Collins serious consideration.

Kanekoa Texeira uses a moving 90 MPH fastball with iffy control and has posted a below-average strikeout rate (4.84). Jeremy Jeffress could surprise this season; he throws 95 mph with a good curveball.

O’Sullivan will be the long reliever in the pen. He features an 89-92 mph fastball with a good curveball and changeup. Again, he does have some options, which makes him the likeliest candidate to be sent down when Mazzaro comes back.

I don’t know much about Adcock other than he was a Rule 5 pick who has never been above Single-A, and Crow was a starter for the Royals in Double-A.



There isn’t much statistical evidence to prove he will have a breakout year, but I am going on the fact that he took some small steps in 2010 plus the evolution of a young pitcher. 2011 just might be the year he puts it all together. 


PROSPECT TO WATCH: 3B Mike Moustakas (L)

Watch out for Mike Moustakas. He was the second overall pick in the 2007 draft after David Price, and I think he will eventually be called up in May to take over the 3B job (very similar to Evan Longoria in 2007). He has great power and put up .322/.369/.630 in the minors last year. The only player standing in his way is Wilson Betemit. I think his power will translate right away to the majors, and he will be a rookie to watch.


PROJECTED FINISH: Fourth in AL Central

The Royals have been maligned for the last two decades. In addition, GM Dayton Moore has gotten some bad press with some acquisitions (Yuniesky Betancourt) and what seems to be a disregard for advanced statistics. With that said, everyone in baseball seems to agree that he has stockpiled the best farm system in baseball.

The Royals may not have a very good year in 2011, but they have the talent to become competitive in the future, much like the recent surge of the Tampa Bay Rays. The 2011 team has enough talent to keep them out of the cellar for this year and hopefully will start an upward trend for the KC franchise.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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