Tag: Hideki Matsui

Billy Beane Makes Quiet, Effective Moves: Trying To Catch Up in the AL West?

Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane is still playing “Moneyball” to this day.

The team that used to perennially contend for the playoffs finished just exactly .500 last season, and was nine games out of first place behind the American League champion Texas Rangers.

Beane looks to compete more aggressively in 2011, as he has made quiet moves this offseason.

For example, they signed Hideki Matsui to a one-year deal to be the permanent DH. Not only is Matsui a consistent .270, 20 home run hitter, he knows what it is to be a World Champion as he won it all with the Yankees back in 2009.

The designated hitter spot was also one of the weakest spots in the lineup, so adding Matsui is already a good move. 

Another consistent hitter, Josh Willingham, will also join the lineup with his 15 home run, .260 seasons.

Grant Balfour was added to the bullpen for pitching depth. To further bolster that ‘pen, Brian Fuentes has reportedly agreed with the A’s on a two-year contract. Both of these guys had ERAs under 3 last season.

These free agents make Oakland a competitor, as they were just an average team before.

Did it take a lot to sign these guys? Yes, they aren’t minor league cheap guys, but they also aren’t big time free agents worth $15 million per year.

With the addition of a defensive outfielder in David DeJesus, who is a .300 hitter, this club is looking good.

Don’t forget about the dominant starting pitching, either, which is led by youngsters Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill.

And if some injured players regain their form from about two to five years ago, Oakland might just overpower the Rangers.

Conor Jackson had hit .300 in 2009 before taking a hit with injuries. Coco Crisp is always a threat on the base paths.

The Athletics are also set on defense, with Kevin Kouzmanoff at the hot corner and Daric Barton scooping ground balls easily at first.

Beane is up to something, and they can catch up in the AL West with the Los Angeles Angels not a great team like it used to be, and the Rangers losing Vladimir Guerrero.

“Moneyball” might just work in 2011. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Johnny Damon and 12 Other AL Players Who Would Struggle in the NL

The Designated Hitter—home of the offensively talented and the defensively challenged players. By not having to play the field many players have been able to prolong, or even make, a career through offensive contributions alone. 

American League teams use the DH position for a variety of different reasons: from protecting a player’s health to finding a role for an aging player and everything in between. Despite the variety of reasons a particular player is used as a DH most of these players have a common trait—they can all hit but, usually, they are also a major liability in the field. 

Unfortunately, NL teams are not afforded this luxury; since there is no DH in the National League every player in the lineup must be on the field (so instead of a DH, who takes the place of the pitcher, in the NL, the pitcher must hit for himself). Because of this, NL teams must be more judicious in deciding which players to carry on their 25-man roster. 

Even if a player can undoubtedly contribute offensively he may not make a NL team because he will either not get many at bats (if he is used solely a pinch-hitter so to avoid him playing the field) or he becomes a major weakness in a team’s defense (if he is put in the field—either as a starter or to play more than a few innings…Pat Burrell started for the Giants in 2010 but when the Giants had a lead past the sixth inning Burrell would usually be pulled from the game for a defensive upgrade).

While some NL teams opt to have these type of players on their roster (Prince Fielder of the Brewers and Pat Burrell of the Giants, for example) most of these type of players are found in the American League. 

To help us look at fielding abilities, I use the sabermetric stat of Range Factor Per Nine Innings (I use this stat, rather than Range Factor Per Games so playing nine innings versus playing one inning is waited more equal). 

Let’s take a look at some American League players who could not, and should not, play for a National League team because their poor defensive would hurt the team more than their offense would help. 

Begin Slideshow

AL West: With a Weaker West, DeJesus & Matsui, Can We Just Give The A’s The Division Now?

I don’t know if you noticed two things, but the Oakland A’s with their ragtag, no-name pitching staff and always-youthful roster somehow stumbled their way to an 81-81 (.500) record last season in the suddenly wide-open American League West.

Keep in mind it’s probably only going to take 85 wins to take this division anyway and the A’s are the most improved. Also, keep in mind that every year there is a small market club that seemingly comes out of nowhere. Last year the Reds, my pre-season Wild Card pick, exceeded even my expectations by winning the NL Central. Consider the A’s this year’s Reds.


Series of small, under-the-radar calculated moves

While I can’t name five members of their 2010 roster, 2011 is shaping up very nicely with a series of under-the-radar, well calculated moves. First, the team stole David DeJesus from the perpetually inept Kansas City Royals in a move that got zero publicity. This despite the fact that before his injury, DeJesus was not just a hot trading-deadline name that ultimately didn’t get moved, but one with a solid on base percentage, adequate defense and a .309 batting average.

If you’re thinking its simply a “meh” move, one where the small-market A’s always hope to be finding treasure in someone else’s trash, this move allowed them to swing speedster Rajai Davis to the Toronto Blue Jays so early in the off season (about three days after the World Series it seemed). I wonder how many of you caught that?

While that is a tremendous move, adding much needed speed to the power-hitting Jays lineup, this article is about the A’s and the smart moves they are making, so we’ll stick to that.

Next, they extended starting pitcher Trevor Cahill and cherry-picked Hideki Matsui from the division rival (and fading) Los Angeles Angels in a shrewd move that directly makes them weaker and gives Matsui a 1 year, $4.25M deal.

The move reminded me of the Florida Marlins’ “special money.” They seem to come up with that one big player every few offseasons, one big score they think will make all the difference. In the past, it’s been Ivan Rodriguez, Carlos Delgado, and this year, Javier Vazquez, using money saved from the Dan Uggla trade.

Not only is Matsui still productive (21 HRS, 84 RBI last year), but he fits perfectly in a lineup that’s lost only Jack Cust to the irrelevant Seattle Mariners and to which Matsui is an obvious upgrade.

The move was also reminiscent of a typical Tampa Bay Rays “budget” move, like when they brought in Jose Canseco for that one stellar year or Pat Burrell, who blew up in their faces. These were veterans looking for maybe one more paycheck, only I think Matsui will be around for a couple more years, albeit on one-year deals, hopefully with Oakland.

In similar action that would make the witness-protection program envious, the team quietly rolled the dice on struggling starter Rich Harden, reuniting the once promising player with his original organization, where he made his name and had success. While it’s eerily similar to the 2009 Ben Sheets signing fiasco, it’s got to cost less than the $10M bust Sheets turned out to be.

Then the A’s filled another hole with a recognizable name, obtaining the highly coveted and versatile Josh Willingham from the Nationals in a curious move, considering Washington’s insistence to move a solid player.

2011 moves in sum, to date

In sum, the thrifty and calculating A’s have added the following in patch-work (budget) fashion:

One starting pitcher (Harden) that one might say replaces the Sheets experiment

One DH to Matsui to replace Cust (net gain)

Two outfielders in DeJesus and Willingham to replace one in Davis (thereby adding depth)

All that’s missing, one might suggest, is bullpen arms, but they seemed to do fine (ERA) last year

Here is their starting lineup (I had to look up their 1B, SS, and CF, which demonstrates how anonymous they were last year)

1B Daric Barton

2B Mark Ellis

SS Cliff Pennington

3B Kevin Kouzmanoff

DH Matsui

LF Josh Willingham

RF David DeJesus

CF Coco Crisp

Their rotation is: (didn’t know starters 2-4) 

SP Trevor Cahill (ace 18-8 last year)

SP Gio Gonzalez (15-9 last year)

SP Dallas Braden (11-14)

SP Brett Anderson (7-6 last year)

SP Harden

Divisional rivals Angels, Rangers fading, leaving it open for A’s to take

While the Red Sox and the Phillies have stolen all the headlines for their flashy moves, others like the Yankee$ and Angels have for their lack of moves.

Keep in mind, this division includes the Mariners, whom everyone is going to beat up on to the tune of 90+ losses for them again. Then there’s the fading Angels, who lost Matsui and for whom free agents apparently no longer want to sign with, leaving them a team of Kendry Morales and Torii Hunter and a bunch of nobodies. Lastly, there’s the Texas Rangers, who not only lost Cliff Lee, but even if they were to replace him with Carl Pavano, it’s a net loss overall, leaving the division wide-open for the A’s to take because they earned it with these good moves.

The Angels lost out on Carl Crawford, the #1 player they coveted. With the weather Southern California provides, the solid management of Mike Scoscia, deep-pocketed ownership of well-respected Arte Moreno and the friendship of Torii Hunter, the Angels likely would have had enough to land him in seasons past.

Not this time.

Not in a crazy offseason where we see the Nationals, Orioles, and Brewers actively pursuing big name free agents or players via trade, adding payroll to the point where they are doing more than the Yankee$, Angel$, Cardinals, Mets, or Cubs to date.

This has a hint of the 1980’s all over again, when the Brewers, A’s, and Orioles were good and the Yankees? Not so much.


Just sayin’…..

One final thought: if the Yankees somehow manage to steal the Wild card after praying that Andy Pettite comes back so they can have 3/5 of a dependable rotation (CC, Hughes, and him) minus the enigma Burnett, we are going to need the tiny A’s to have a solid season and represent the underdog small markets in the playoffs. That is, if the Chicago White Sox actually win the Central, which I have doubts about.

Information from ESPN and ESPN.com directly contributed to the content of this article.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Oakland Athletics Sign Hideki Matsui

The Oakland A’s finished 11th in the American League in runs scored (663), 13th in HRs (109) and 10th in OPS (.702) in 2010. Despite those pedestrian offensive numbers, the A’s still managed to finish .500 on the season.

Going into the offseason, offense was and still is a top priority. The A’s have been in on a couple of free agents this season, but so far have been spurned by some of the bigger names on the market. It seems like Oakland at times can’t even give away their money.

However, one guy willing to take their dollars is Hideki Matsui. Matsui or “Godzilla” signed a one-year, $4.25 million contract on Tuesday.

Matsui will serve as the A’s primary DH, replacing Jack Cust who signed with the Seattle Mariners last week.

Here is my take on this signing. While $4.25 million is a bargain for Matsui, I have to question if he is really an upgrade over Cust? I am not so sure he is.

Take a look at Cust vs. Matsui last season.

Not only can you see that I used Oakland’s color to illustrate my point, Cust is almost better across the board in 2010. The A’s are banking that Cust will not repeat his 2010 season in 2011 and that Matsui is the more reliable option.

As I mentioned above, Matsui is a good signing for $4.25 million, but he’s not a big enough upgrade for the A’s to make a difference in 2011. If they plan on catching up with the Texas Rangers, they are going to need to add some more offense.


You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostfomlg

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Free Agency: Power Ranking the 15 Biggest Risks Still on the Market

Free agency is quite often crucial to a team’s short- and long-term success. While many players are drafted and brought through an organization’s farm system, more times than not it comes down to the ability of a team to bring in top-end free agents. 

However, the risks involved with signing free agents are apparent in every Major League Baseball season. Year in and year out, players fail to live up to their multi-million dollar contracts.

Who are the riskiest players available this year? Whether it is a player’s age, inconsistency, or propensity to be injured, each player on this list has his own set of risk factors.

Here are the 15 biggest risks still available on the free agent market.

Begin Slideshow

2011 MLB Free Agency: Five DHs More Valuable Than Adam Dunn In 2011

Adam Dunn finally got his wish.  When Dunn’s signing with the Chicago White Sox becomes official, he will have the longest contract of his career.  Last time he went through free agency, he could only find a two year deal.  But, thanks to GM Kenny Williams, Dunn has long-term security through 2014.

And Williams will have another albatross contract.

Before the ink is even dry on Dunn’s deal, Williams will be stuck with a contract he can’t move.  Dunn is a great power hitter.  This is not in question.  But Dunn wasn’t even the best left handed power hitter available.  And some of Dunn’s numbers are cause for long-term concern.

In 2010, Dunn hit .280 against right handed pitching.  But he only hit .199 versus lefties.  His numbers from 2007-2009 vs. LHP: .268/.195/.238.  Dunn isn’t a complete player, and yet he’s going to be banking the highest number of any designated hitter.

Another cause for concern is after six straight seasons of 100 or more walks, Dunn’s free bags fell to 77 in 2010, and his on-base percentage dropped nearly 50 points from 2009 to 2010.  His strike outs also increased to 199, up from 177 in 2009 and 164 in 2008.

That being said, here are five players who will provide better bang for the buck of their future 2011 teams.

Begin Slideshow

MLB Trade Rumors: Power Ranking the 10 Best Second-Tier Players

This offseason, Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford will be headlining this year’s free-agent class.  Both players will be demanding major contracts, and both players might end up in New York.

Well, Lee will be in the Bronx, but the verdict is still out on Crawford.

For teams that can ill-afford to get the “Big Fish,” they must look at other options—the second-tier players.  Guys that can still contribute, but will be affordable to acquire. 

With the start of the offseason just five days away for the teams that failed to qualify for the playoffs, here are the 10 best “Buy Low” Candidates for this offseason.

You will not agree with all of my selections.  You will mention guys that I left off.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but this one is mine.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Let’s play ball. 

Begin Slideshow

Angels-Mariners Preview, Tuesday, August 31

Now that the Los Angeles Angels have snapped a three-game losing streak at the hands of the Seattle Mariners last night, they’ll look to capture their first series win since mid-August tonight at Safeco Field.

Tonight’s pitching matchup: Angels, Dan Haren (2-4, 4.02 ERA) vs. Mariners Felix Hernandez (10-10, 2.47 ERA)

What to expect: Haren will be looking for his second straight victory as a member of the Angels. During last Wednesday’s victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, Haren gave up one run on three hits, striking out eight in six innings. This will be Haren’s first start against Seattle since 2007 while a member of the Oakland Athletics.

Hernandez, second in the American League with 192 strikeouts, has been a victim of poor run support throughout the season. King Felix has won three of his last four starts, but is 0-2 with 5.12 ERA in three starts vs. Los Angeles thus far this season.

Hitting matchups: Angels LF Bobby Abreu has had great success versus Hernandez in his career, hitting .367 with one homer. RF Torii Hunter has also had moderate success, hitting .314 off Hernandez in his career.

For the Mariners, very few hitters have seen much of Haren. RF Ichiro Suzuki is only hitting .268 versus Haren in his career, a full .063 below his career batting average. 2B/3B Chone Figgins has had little success against the Angels overall since leaving the team after eight seasons, hitting just .163 versus his former team.

Angels Notes: Angels’ catcher Mike Napoli was pulled back from waivers by the Angels yesterday afternoon. The Angels were unable to finalize a deal with the Boston Red Sox, who had claimed Napoli off the waiver wire, by the time Monday’s deadline for an agreement had passed. Napoli will now remain a Halo until the end of the season.

New Angels closer Fernando Rodney, elevated to the role after the trade of Brian Fuentes to the Minnesota Twins, picked up his first save since the promotion last night. It was far from a clean outing, as he walked the leadoff hitter, Casey Kotchman, and later allowed him to score on a wild pitch.

Angels DH/LF Hideki Matsui continued his torrid pace in the month of August, ripping a two-run homer off Mariners starter David Pauley in the sixth inning of last night’s victory. Matsui is now hitting .313 for the month of August, after a dismal July in which he hit just. .228.

Although minor league callups for September 1 have not been announced yet by the Angels, one would expect that Triple-A 1B Mark Trubmo would certainly get the call. The twenty-four year old Trumbo has been on a tear for the Salt Lake Bees since the All-Star break, hitting .362 with 13 HR’s and 43 RBI’s. Trumbo has shown much more plate discipline as well, with a respectable 27/45 walk-to-strikeout ratio, a dramatic improvement over his 28/73 pre All-Star numbers.

You can follow Doug on Twitter, @desertdesperado.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

BLOCKBUSTER: Texas Rangers Acquire Cliff Lee; Angels Done

It was nice while it lasted, Angels fans.

With the stunning acquisition of Cliff Lee by the Texas Rangers from AL West rival Seattle, it is time for the Angels to cut their losses and let the fire sale begin.

Not only should this be the nail in the coffin for the Angels, but maybe for the rest of baseball as well. Texas just assured themselves not only a trip to the playoffs, but a real chance to take it all.

Angels fans, don’t feel bad.

Three years in a row was a good run, but now the Angels have a chance to heal, re-tool and try to come up with a plan for next season.

The following players need to be sold to the highest bidder in the next three weeks: Brian Fuentes, Fernando Rodney, Scott Kazmir, Mike Napoli, Brandon Wood (if someone would be willing to give us a fungo bat for him), Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, and Torii Hunter.

Get on it Tony Reagins, and make sure to get a third base prospect that can actually play this time.

Those eight players account for roughly $60.1 million in payroll. None of them have a future in helping the Angels win a championship due to age, performance or injury.

The Angels should trade them all. Get at least one draft pick in each deal and completely reload the organization with talent for another decade.

The Angels should then turn around and sign $60 million in young free agents with which they can build new chemistry around their nucleus.

Congratulations to Texas on that amazing acquisition.

Angels fans can take comfort in the idea that Nolan Ryan may finally get his ring.

An entire nation, with the exception of one certain city, can take even further comfort in knowing that he didn’t go to the New York Yankees—as was reported eminent by Buster Olney of ESPN earlier in the day.


Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Fantasy Baseball: Double G Sports Loses Again, Fall Into Basement

My Double G Sports fantasy baseball team which is competing in the Battle of the Blogs continues to struggle and has hit a new low. I am now officially in last place in the Willie Mays Division and am ranked 13 out of 20 teams.

This past week I lost to Babes Love Baseball by a score of 13-6-1. It was a team wide struggle as my team had a combined .268 average for the week and my pitching staff worked to a horrific 5.31 ERA. On the other hand, Babes Love Baseball had a weekly batting average of .291 and its pitching staff was 7-0 with a 3.16 ERA.

Babes got good weeks from players like Adrian Beltre and Johnny Damon, but the biggest star of the week for her team was rookie Jason Heyward. Thinking back to the draft, Babes Love Baseball took Heyward right before I was going to. It came back to haunt me this week as Heyward batted .350, scored five runs, hit a double, and three home runs while driving in seven runs. Barry Zito , Dan Haren, and Tommy Hanson all pitched very well for Babes Love Baseball last week.

My team was once again led by the red hot Robinson Cano. The second baseman batted .440 this week with two doubles and four home runs. He also drove in seven runs while scoring six times himself.

Marlon Byrd also had a nice week, batting .393 with three doubles and two home runs. He drove in five. J.D. Drew made the most of his 12 at bats for my team as he has started to heat up a little bit. Drew scored four runs while batting .417 including a double and three home runs.  The success of these three was not enough, however, as key players like Jose Reyes, Hideki Matsui, and Franklin Guttierrez all had bad weeks. None of the three batted over .200 this past week.

Read more about this past week as well as a preview of this week at Double G Sports .

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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