Tag: Brandon Webb

Texas Rangers: How to Fix the Bullpen Without Trades

It’s that time of year again. With the draft firmly in the rear view mirror, the Texas Rangers now turn their attention to players that can help them win now via trades. Last year it was Cliff Lee and Bengie Molina who were acquired before the deadline and helped the Rangers reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history. Who will it be this year?

The general consensus is that they will look to acquire some bullpen help and have been linked to names like Heath Bell, Mike Adams and Joakim Soria. If they could acquire one of these three there is no doubt that it would greatly improve the pen—but what if they can’t?

Do they acquire another old, journeyman reliever to add to their growing stable of old, journeyman relievers?

Or what about a reliever with a good history who is just having an off year?

Or what about staying put?

Not the most popular choice, but staying put could be the best alternative to not landing the big names. Look at these credentials of players currently in the minor league system:

  • Cy Young winner
  • Former 17-game winner and opening day starter
  • .647 winning percentage
  • No. 2 prospect in Rangers system with 97 mph fastball

The Cy Young winner of course is Brandon Webb who signed with the Rangers in the offseason to help make up for the loss of Cliff Lee. He has not pitched since 2009 because of injuries and is more suited for the bullpen to help relieve stress on his arm. His velocity is down but Yoshinori Tateyama has proved you don’t need to hit 95 on the radar gun to be effective.

The 17-game winner is Scott Feldman who had microfracture surgery on his right knee after the end of the last season. He has the stuff to be a reliable bullpen guy and actually has the experience of being a closer early in his career. He is fresh off of a 5-inning, no-hit game at Triple-A Round Rock.

The .647 winning percentage is property of Tommy Hunter. The team’s No. 4 starter in the playoffs last year has been recovering from a groin strain that propelled Alexi Ogando in the starting rotation. Hunter has probably lost his starting job and is a proven arm that could be a long reliever for the stretch run.

The prospect is Tanner Scheppers. The oft-injured Scheppers has just been activated off of the DL and has the power arm that you want shutting down batters in the eighth inning. The Rangers’ organization can’t make up its mind if Scheppers will start or pitch in relief in the future, but he could be this year’s Alexi Ogando in the pen.

There’s also Darren O’Day who has been injured the majority of the season and Neil Ramirez who is pitching well at Triple-A.

If the Rangers have an opportunity to land a Bell, Soria or Adams they should jump on it. But if not, they have proven arms in their systems that can help them regain their playoff form once they become healthy.

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MLB Trades: Deals To Replace Chase Utley, Brandon Webb and Other Big Concerns

Simply amazing. The MLB season is only about two weeks old, and some teams already have big holes to fill. The Philadelphia Phillies are doing quite well and are atop the National League Eastern Division with a 7-2 record, but still are without a top offensive presence in second baseman Chase Utley (pictured at left).

Similarly, the St. Louis Cardinals stumbled out of the starting gate and now own a 3-6 record. Most shocking, however, is the situation of the Tampa Bay Rays. After winning the American League Eastern Division crown in 2010, the team has gone just 2-8 and holds the major leagues’ worst team batting average at .163.

Sure enough, people are already talking about trades that these struggling squads could make to instantly improve the team and fill any holes. Naturally, it is only April 12 and to even think about making trades this early in the season is ridiculous. Yet, one month from now, it might not be a bad idea.

Here are trades that the Phillies and some other teams should consider if their key players don’t return soon or if their records do not improve.

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Texas Rangers’ Player Power Ranking: Gentry To Hamilton, Part 2 of 3

This is part two of a three part series where I am ranking the top 30 major league players on the Texas Rangers roster. In part one I covered players 30-21, which was mainly players on the fringe of the 25 man roster and younger players who will contribute at some point during the season. The players ranked 11-20 are not quite core players, but they are more so components of the Rangers. Every team has a few stars at the top of the roster and average players that fill out the bottom of the roster, but its the middle section of a team that puts a team over the top. The Rangers have a more talent than most in this area, let’s take a look. 

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MLB Hot Stove: 15 Most Underrated Moves of the MLB Offseason

Plenty of MLB teams have made moves this offseason to either enter or return to pennant races in 2011. Some of those moves made a lot of noise, such as the Red Sox trading for Adrian Gonzalez or Cliff Lee spurning the Yankees and Rangers to return to the Phillies.

Some other moves were made that got significantly less air time this offseason.

Many of those purportedly less buzzworthy moves will have similar impact as the the big moves that got everyone talking.

Here are the 15 most underrated offseason moves in MLB.

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Fantasy Baseball Fallout: Brandon Webb Signs With Texas

Over the past two years, Brandon Webb has thrown a grand total of four innings in the major leagues.  However, in 2011 he will attempt to fill the void in the Texas Rangers’ rotation created by Cliff Lee packing his bags and heading to Philadelphia.

Prior to his injury problems, Webb was one of the elite players in the game. 

He was the elite groundball pitcher, with a career groundball rate of 64.2 percent.  Yes, the Ballpark in Arlington is known as a hitter’s park, but if Webb is able to regain this type of form, it is not going to matter.  Generating groundball after groundball with a good defensive team behind him (especially with the likely addition of Adrian Beltre), success will be there.

Prior to the injury, Webb was also a solid strikeout pitcher. 

He was far from elite, but he was always in the 6.76 to 7.39 range.  With a fastball averaging around 88 miles per hour, you can’t expect anything more than it. 

In fact, you may see a slight regression.  Assuming he can re-create the groundball rate, the falloff shouldn’t matter much.

The real issue is his control. 

From 2005-2008 his walks per nine innings ranged from 1.91 to 2.74.  Having pitched sparingly over the past two seasons, this is one thing that you have to be concerned about not coming back all the way.

If his control comes back fully, he should be the same pitcher that he has always been, regardless of the ballpark or the league he plays in.  We’ll take a much more in-depth look at Webb in the coming weeks, but there really is no way to draw any definite conclusions given his lengthy absence.  It is just impossible to answer the two main questions without seeing him on a mound:

  1. Will his groundball rate remain elite
  2. Will he be able to consistently throw strikes

Just like for the Rangers, Webb will be a high-risk, high-reward option for fantasy owners. 

While he’s not going to be worth a high-round selection, in the mid-to-late rounds there is no reason not to roll the dice on him.  While he may not pan out, you also may be getting a SP1 in the process.

What are your thoughts of Webb?  Is he worth the gamble?  Why or why not?

**** Make sure to pre-order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here. ****

Make sure to check out our 2011 rankings:


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Cashman Passes On Webb As Patience Plan Rolls On For Yankees

The Texas Rangers signed Brandon Webb last week, a move classified by some in the baseball world as a “smart gamble” given the veteran pitcher’s Cy Young Award pedigree and outstanding goatee.

Still, others regarded the signing as a “stretch” or “risk”, or to tie it in with the counterpoint, a “stupid gamble” given Webb (a) hasn’t pitched in two years and (b) has a right shoulder that could trade war stories with Hideki Matsui’s knees and Don Mattingly’s back.

It’s likely Brian Cashman has had his fill of war stories after rolling the dice on Nick Johnson a year ago. Spurned by Cliff Lee, the Rangers decided to test their luck by choosing a Plan B that really deserved to be a Plan M.

It gives you some perspective on how paper-thin the market is this winter. After Lee went to the Phillies, Cashman preached that the Yankees‘ Plan B was patience. As Zack Greinke and now Webb found new homes, they and everyone else were learning that the GM was a man of his word.

Consider yourself warned Yankees fans: barring an unforeseen blockbuster trade, the team you see now may very well be the team that shows up at spring training—give or take a Pettitte. As frustrating as this may seem, it should be understood that this is ultimately a good thing.

This probably wouldn’t be the case if Cashman weren’t so confident in his job security. Had he been entering the final year of his contract, or had the Yankees still been riding a championship drought, he may have been inclined to guarantee Lee a seventh year at higher value, hand $150M over to Carl Crawford or roll the dice on Greinke or Webb.

But this is the Teflon Cash we’re talking about. He cannot be killed by conventional weapons. Even as a host of poor moves led to 10/20 and various other playoff meltdowns, his job has remained secure. The ’09 title reaffirmed the club’s confidence in him, even when detractors argued that handing over massive checks to CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira didn’t require much in the way of tactical brilliance.

Cashman knows he can sit tight, wait out this crap market and hope for better situation to present itself by the trade deadline.

The Rangers are rolling the dice that a former star pitcher with an 82 MPH-fastball can fill the void in their rotation. It was a risk Cashman had no interest taking, just as he passed on finding out if Greinke could stand tall in the New York spotlight.

The Yankees and their general manager are banking that the horses already in place can keep the club in contention before acceptable reinforcements arrive. Is it a sexy gamble? Most definitely not. But it’s not a stupid one, either.

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at dhanzus@gmail.com. Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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Brandon Webb Great Consolation Prize to Cliff Lee for Texas Rangers

It has been reported that Brandon Webb has reached a one-year agreement with the Texas Rangers.

The contract has a $3 million base salary, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

The Rangers were in the running for the great Cliff Lee, but he ultimately shunned them for the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Rangers had a lot to offer Lee, who just missed out once again on a World Series ring.

The Rangers played fantastic throughout 2010 and should field the top team in the AL West in 2011.

They may not have Cliff Lee to lead the rotation, but they just picked up a potential Comeback Player of the Year candidate.

Brandon Webb was once viewed as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball just a few short years ago.

Webb, 31 years old, has not played since the first game of the 2009 season when he suffered a shoulder injury.

Webb won the NL Cy Young award in 2006 but failed to show much improvement towards the end of the 2010 season and never saw the field.

Webb is determined to get back to being one of the top pitchers in all of baseball.

Webb has immense talent and we have seen pitchers come back from worse injuries before.

The Rangers will hope Webb can regain his velocity in time for Opening Day. Even if Webb isn’t ready for the first month or two of the season, the Rangers have the talent to still compete in the AL West while they wait for Webb. If Webb can stay healthy and come close to matching his 2008 form, the Rangers will be smiling from ear to ear.

In 2008, Webb was 22-7 with a 3.30 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 226.2 innings pitched.

Webb has a 70-37 record with an average ERA of 3.24 and 1.20 WHIP in 231.58 innings pitched from 2005-2008.

Texas may have picked up the biggest steal in this free-agency period.

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Brandon Webb: If Healthy, He Could Serve as Cliff Lee’s Replacement in Texas

Considering what ace left-hander Cliff Lee accomplished for the Texas Rangers last season, losing him to the Philadelphia Phillies had to be difficult to stomach for a franchise that reached the World Series.

But despite lacking one of the best pitchers in baseball, the Rangers signed a potential replacement on a one-year deal.

In August of 2009, Brandon Webb had shoulder debridement surgery, which essentially cleans out loose debris and inflamed tissue. He failed to make a start this past season, still rehabilitating his damaged shoulder.

Even if he wasn’t at full strength entering the heart of the free-agency period, he would be a risk worth taking. But then agent Jonathan Maurer announced during the Winter Meetings that his 31-year-old client was healthy and preparing as he normally would for Spring Training.

The number of suitors increased with this news. The Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and Rangers all expressed serious interest in the former Cy Young award winner.

Before the surgery that shelved him for over a year, Webb, as this aforementioned accolade suggests, was one of the better pitchers in the game. He went 22-7 to win in 2008 and had an 82-27 record with a 3.27 ERA, 1,065 strikeouts and 15 complete games in his seven years with the Diamondbacks.

He continuously confused the opposition with a dazzling repertoire built around a sharp sinker and a fastball thrown in the high 90s.

The movement on his pitches is said to be unchanged, but the velocity on his fastball has dipped post-surgery as demonstrated in various tryouts. Historically tremendous at inducing ground balls, a great speed disparity is needed between his fastball and sinker.

He’s never been a power pitcher, but he can’t be the pitcher he was if he’s barely touching 90 on the gun. If he can maintain a fastball in the mid-90s to complement his biting sinker, a lot of ground balls will be gobbled up by Texas’s excellent infielders and the Rangers will get an ace.

Last year, Texas signed oft-injured Rich Harden to a one-year deal. He was a low-risk, high-reward signing. Once an ace for the Oakland Athletics, Harden failed to pan out with the Rangers, throwing only 92 innings with a 5-5 record and a ghastly 5.38 ERA.

Webb is this year’s version for Texas, as the team takes a wise chance on a former star.

He joins C.J. Wilson, who won 15 games in 2010 as Lee’s sidekick, Colby Lewis and presumably Tommy Hunter and Derrick Holland in the rotation.

Hunter went 13-4 last season with a 3.73 ERA and was particularly effective at home.

Holland, 24, made 10 solid starts and worked well out of the bullpen in the postseason. If manager Ron Washington isn’t confident in either Hunter or Holland, he could turn to Neftali Feliz. Feliz won the American League Rookie of the Year award compiling 40 saves.

The Rangers have said they will extend his outings during spring training and then evaluate if he should remain in the bullpen or make up the back end of the rotation.

If Feliz does join the rotation and pitches well, the Rangers will still need Webb to perform. Losing Lee leaves a gaping hole. Wilson is capable of filling his shoes as the team’s No. 1 starter, but a fully recovered Webb could duplicate his production.

This team wants to return to the World Series, with a different ending in mind. It has been proven that pitching wins championships. The Rangers have the offense to support a solid staff, but their staff needs to be solid. An effective Webb would transform a rotation with some question marks into a formidable one to be reckoned with.

Webb is taking a risk though. He is joining a team with a hitter-friendly park, which isn’t an ideal situation for a pitcher trying to restore his value. Still, Texas knows what kind of pitcher he can be in spite of their stadium’s offensive-minded layout. He knows he can be that pitcher.

If their confidence in him and his confidence in himself pays off, the Rangers will be a dangerous team once more come playoff time.

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2010 MLB Hot Stove Rumors: Four Players The Minnesota Twins Should Pursue

It’s been a relatively uneventful offseason for the Twins, albeit only on the major league side. The Twins have landed a slew of relievers for their minor league system, as well as a few promising young prospects. Most notable is 17-year-old shortstop Javier Pimentel of the Dominican Republic. 

Besides the signing of Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the Twins’ major league squad remains fairly depleted. Key losses of Carl Pavano, Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Brian Fuentes, Jon Rauch and J.J. Hardy seem to overweigh the small but earnest gains.

Former Braves reliever Chuck James and young infielder Matt Brown are the most notable of the few major league additions this offseason. The Twins also added catchers in Steve Holm and Rene Rivera, who have spent limited major league time with the Giants and Mariners, respectively. 

Make no mistake, the club is headed in the right direction. Young arms like Brett Jacobsen and Jim Hoey (from the J.J. Hardy trade) will be ready to compete for a bullpen spot come spring training.

In-house bullpen candidates include Alex Burnett, Pat Neshek, Glen Perkins, Anthony Slama, Carlos Gutierrez and Jeff Manship, to name a few. With another veteran arm or two from the open market, the Twins should be able to put together a fairly decent bullpen in 2011. 

With the biggest concern being the bullpen, the starting rotation also has some question marks. The aforementioned Carl Pavano remains on the market, although a deal with Minnesota seems imminent.

The Nationals are also in the race for Pavano’s services, but the consensus seems to be that Carl will don a Twins uniform for at least the next couple seasons. 

As it stands, the Twins’ rotation rests with Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey. All have shown shades of brilliance, but seem to be repeatedly bitten by the inconsistency bug.

Liriano earned AL Comeback Player of the Year honors for 2010 after posting a 14-10 record with a nice 3.62 ERA and 201 K’s. Minnesota is no doubt expecting big things from Franky Franchise next season.

Kevin Slowey also had a good 2010, earning a record of 13-6. Injuries once again derailed what could have been a great season. His name has been mentioned as a possible trade chip, however. 

Young starters like Kyle Gibson and Kyle Waldrop may make a late-season appearance if any rotation patchwork needs to be done. 

Even with a host of young talent, the Twins will need help from the Hot Stove. Banking on Pavano signing, here’s a neatly ordered list of who could fill the open slots in Minnesota:

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Trying To Fill Remaining Chicago Cubs Needs on a Shoestring Budget

The Cubs managed to get Carlos Pena for only $5 mil this year ($5 mil deferred until 2012) and stole Kerry Wood for $1.5 mil.  Factoring in arbitration raises though, they only have a few mil left to work with, so what are the rest of the possibilities for the Cubs offseason?  In this article I’ll look at free agent possibilities and later will look at trade possibilities:


The position players all look set and will probably break down to 13 people:

Starting lineup:   Castro, Colvin, Byrd, Ramirez, Pena, Soriano, Soto, Dewitt

Bench: Fukudome, Baker, Barney, Hill

As always, no great leadoff options and Hill’s offense is nonexistent.  Having said that, Fukudome makes  a more than capable backup in case Soriano continues his 3 year decline or Colvin suffers from the sophomore slump.  I like Baker in a platoon at 2B with Dewitt but not crazy about Pena playing everyday as he’s always struggled against lefthanders….an average lineup at best, unless Ramirez rounds back into a 110-RBI threat in his contract year.

Possibilities: Not much affordable that’s still out there since the Cubs already missed the boat on a couple of possibilities.  SF only paid $1 mil for Pat Burrell to come back and I would’ve offered $2.5 to make him the right-handed part of a RF-platoon.  They could still go out and get Reed Johnson back for $1.2 mil to spell Tyler Colvin against left-handed pitchers and provide late-inning defense for Soriano.  In the infield, what about Cristian Guzman as a superutility player and right-handed platoon option?  He does have a .329 avg and .816 OPS against left-handed pitching the last 3 years, so you could play him at 2B and Jeff Baker at 1B for 6 innings until the other team’s bullpen comes in.….if Bill Hall can get $3 mil, I might offer this to Guzman only if the club can’t afford to get anybody else on the roster.  Otherwise, might offer Mike Lowell $1 mil to be the platoon 1B option and bat off the bench.

Current Grade:  C


Starting rotation: Zambrano, Dempster, Silva, Wells, Gorzelanny

Say what you will, but Zambrano managed to turn around his season once he was back in the rotation for good, and Dempster has continued to surprise me by throwing  great innings for a 3rd consecutive year. Wells and Gorzelanny are average starters for the back end and Silva’s always an injury risk.

Possibilities: I see Casey Coleman getting lots of average fill-in innings once again. Although I’d prefer having a low-base guy like Brandon Webb or Chris Young waiting in the wings, I see them signing for more with other clubs….if you can’t get either of them, Kevin Millwood’s stock has never been lower so you could probably get him for just $2 mil plus incentives….this might all change if Andrew Cashner looks good as a starter during spring training and unfortunately I don’t see them trading Silva now while the free agent market looks as bad as it does for teams looking for pitchers….

Current Grade: C+


Bullpen: Marmol, Marshall, Wood, Grabow, Cashner, Samardzija, Maine

The late innings look good and I expect Grabow to bounce back as a decent middle reliever (although a really expensive one at $4.8 mil…..)  This is Samardzija’s last year and the club is paying him $3.5 mil so I expect him to get his final shot at a bullpen spot in spring training.  Scott Maine impressed down the stretch last year so lets hope he doesn’t turn into another pumpkin like Esmailin Caridad and Justin Berg did this year after their 2009 stretch runs……

Possibilities:  This is the one area where I think the Cubs will probably make their remaining moves. Middle-relief is thin again and they could probably use a left-handed specialist.  I might offer Joe Beimel $2.25 mil annually to fill that role, and if he turns the club down offer $1.5 to Lance Cormier. Strangely, Cormier is a right-hander who has been better against left-handers, with a 3-year OPS-against-lefthanders of .686.  Brian Fuentes, Octavio Dotel, and Jon Rauch will probably all cost $4 mil or more, so I would take a flier on Takashi Saito.  Strangely, this guy continues to fly under the radar but there have been few relievers in the last five years that have been as good as this guy if you really crunch the numbers. He’s terrific against left-handers and even better against right-handers.  Many teams will try to lowball him with incentive-laden deals due to his advanced age and injury concerns, but I would offer a deal guaranteed to blow away the competition: 1-year, $3.5 mil guaranteed, with vesting option for 2012 based on innings pitched.

Current Grade:  C+


Final free agent possibilities: 

Player                                   Role                                                                                       Contract

Reed Johnson                   4th OF against LH pitchers                                              1 year, $1.2 mil

Mike Lowell                        1B against LH pitchers and RH bat bench                1 year, $1 mil

Kevin Millwood                 5th starting pitcher                                                           1 year, $2 mil guaranteed

Joe Beimel                          LOOGY relief specialist                                                   2 years, $2 mil in 2011

Takashi Saito                      right-handed relief, 7th inning                                     1 year, $2.5 mil with $1 buyout


Total cost in 2011:  $8.7 mil


Ultimately, the everyday lineup and starting rotation still aren’t great but the bullpen and bench are a little better.  That might be all we can hope for this offseason before some of the big contracts (Ramirez, Fukudome, Silva, Grabow, Samardzija) come off the books after 2011…

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