Tag: Ian Kennedy

Scott Miller’s Starting 9: Why Won’t Anyone Take a Chance on Yoenis Cespedes?

One month before pitchers and catchers report, we’ve still got several things to settle…


1. What’s Up with Cespedes?

While Justin Upton has surfaced, it seems Yoenis Cespedes is stuck somewhere on Mars with Matt Damon. Golfing, maybe.

What gives?

Five months ago, Cespedes was emerging as a last-minute National League MVP candidate. He joined the New York Mets at the trade deadline and immediately rocket-launched them toward the World Series.

Today, Cespedes is more invisible than Punxsutawney Phil.

Will he emerge this week? Next week? By, ahem, Groundhog Day (Feb. 2 for all you non-believers)?

The icing of Cespedes is freeze-drying into perhaps the winter’s biggest story. While Upton found a soft landing in Detroit on a six-year, $132 million deal, the man who hit a combined 35 homers with 105 RBI and a .328 on-base percentage in Detroit and New York last summer continues to scan Craigslist.

For one thing, Cespedes last summer landed at the wrong place at the wrong time. He probably could have parlayed his second-half World Series charge into untold riches in nearly any other market. Popular demand would have pressured the club to keep him. But in New York, where Mets ownership has been off balance since the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, the Mets continue to toss nickels around like one of George Halas’ (Mike Ditka’s?) manhole covers.

“The Mets are a debacle right now,” one agent told Bleacher Report. “It’s a shame that family still owns the team.”

The Mets telegraphed at season’s end the fact that they probably wouldn’t be players for Cespedes on a long-term deal, so their lack of engagement this winter is not surprising. Most projections going into this winter pegged Cespedes for roughly a six-year deal around $140 million, which would be just a bit more than Upton got from Detroit this week.

But other than a sudden interest by Baltimore last week, there hasn’t been much noise around Cespedes. And the Orioles’ interest in hindsight appeared to be simply a maneuver to roust slugger Chris Davis, who agreed with the Orioles on a seven-year, $161 million deal over the weekend.

One major league executive believes clubs like Cespedes more on a short-term deal than on a multiyear contract because of concern with how he will produce long-term.

The fact that Cespedes has played for four teams in the past four years also adds intrigue.

“The pattern has been real good initially, then some form of backing up as it goes along,” an American League executive told Bleacher Report.

“When this guy is engaged, he’s a terrific player. When he is not, he lacks the effort on defense and the at-bats aren’t as good. He has been streaky, which is not abnormal for power hitters, but the at-bats weren’t as good the longer he was somewhere.”

After Cespedes hit .287/.337/.604 with 17 homers and 44 RBI in just 57 games with the Mets last summer to lead them to the NL East title, his autumn turned weird. He became embroiled in a mini-controversy on the day of Game 4 of the NL Championship Series when, after he left the game with a sore left shoulder, it was revealed that he was seen playing golf in Chicago the morning of the game.

Then he left Game 5 of the World Series in severe pain after fouling a ball off his left knee.

As for the golf, it turned out that it was business as usual for Cespedes. He’s become hooked on the game, playing often during the season, to the point where Mets hitting coach Kevin Long last summer would ask Cespedes when he arrived at the park whether he played golf that day. And if he had, Long smiled.

“If he played golf, most of the time he hits a home run,” Long told the Wall Street Journal.

But the autumn issues may have left a lasting memory that carried into winter negotiations as well.

“Obviously, how things went in the playoffs didn’t help,” the AL executive said. “Taking himself out of the clincher with the Cubs early in the game, then [being] seen in the dugout with goggles around his neck wasn’t a good look.”

Recent industry speculation included the Tigers, but they opted for Upton. The Orioles are out after signing Davis.

The Los Angeles Angels clearly need a left fielder. Though owner Arte Moreno has steadfastly maintained he prefers to remain under the luxury-tax threshold of $189 million, if Cespedes is to get a monster contract, the Halos are one of the few organizations left that could afford it. On the other hand, Albert Pujols already is weighing down the franchise with a long-term deal, and they just got out from under another bad contract in Josh Hamilton, so there could be some aversion to romancing Cespedes long-term.

The St. Louis Cardinals, after losing Jason Heyward, have a need. So do the Houston Astros. And Cespedes would bolster a Chicago White Sox lineup big-time.

The Washington Nationals, who struck late for ace Max Scherzer last January, also are thought to be considering a similar late-winter strike this year for Cespedes.

“There are a lot of yellow flags around him,” the executive said. “Not the dark red ones, but caution flags.

“I don’t think he is a star. He’s a very good major-league talent. But he disappears too often.”

He has absolutely disappeared this winter.

When he will re-emerge has become the most interesting question of all.


2. Mike Ilitch Does It Again

Justin Upton can be an impact bat in the middle of the order, and if Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez and Miguel Cabrera can stay healthy, the Tigers have a chance to recapture the division title from Kansas City in an AL Central that gets more intriguing each week.

Whether Upton does or doesn’t work out, though, say this: Detroit’s owner Mike Ilitch is the kind of owner every fan has to wish his or her team had. Year after year, Ilitch has laid out millions in pursuit of the one goal that continues to drive him, bringing a World Series title to Detroit for the first time since 1984.

From Pudge Rodriguez to Miguel Cabrera to Justin Verlander to Prince Fielder to Jordan Zimmermann (and beyond), Ilitch has thrown money at one star after another. In that regard, he’s reminiscent of the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who poured every ounce of energy he had, year after year, into attempting to bring New York a Yankees World Series title.

While teams in larger markets continue to do calisthenics to avoid going over the $189 million luxury-tax threshold (the Yankees, ironically, and the Angels, to name two), Ilitch thinks nothing of it.


3. Of Tanks and No Arms Race

As we edge closer to the glorious sunshine and pitchers and catchers reporting to camps in Arizona and Florida, some serious questions are on the horizon in the National League.

Mainly, spring training, that time of hope and optimism, isn’t going to bring what it once brought to several National League clubs. And how damaging might that be to the integrity of the game?

Friend Jayson Stark over at ESPN.com wrote a riveting piece on the subject last week, noting that at least four teams (Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves) and possibly as many as six (Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres) are shifting into, basically, non-compete mode while rebuilding.

It was bad enough when the Houston Astros stripped things down to the studs and foundation a few years ago, losing at least 106 games in each of three consecutive seasons (2011-13).

The Cubs caused some grumbling as well in the early years of the Theo Epstein regime, finishing fifth in the NL Central for five consecutive seasons.

Now, with both the Cubs and Astros roaring back in 2015 and boasting some of the game’s best young talent, enough other clubs appear to be following suit that baseball might wind up with an embarrassing situation sooner rather than later.

“I think it’s a problem for the sport,” an executive for an American League contender told Stark, speaking of the NL. “I think the whole system is screwed up, because I think it actually incentivizes not winning. And that’s a big issue going forward.”

At the very least, it is an issue baseball must closely watch. As things stand now, it’s good to be a member of the NL Central and NL East—because only three of the five clubs in each of those divisions really are trying to compete in 2016.

In the NL East, you’ve got the Mets, Marlins and Nationals on one side, while the Braves and Phillies are stripping things down.

In the NL Central, you’ve got the Cardinals, Cubs and Pirates with chances to win, while the Brewers and Reds will resemble Triple-A outfits.

Given that clubs face each other 19 times because of the unbalanced schedule, that’s a lot of extra wins the front three clubs in each of those divisions will pick up. Enough, probably, to guarantee that the two NL wild-card teams likely will come from the East and the Central, not the NL West.

Commissioner Rob Manfred told Stark that rebuilding is just part of the cyclical nature of the game.

“Obviously, you don’t want to have too many teams in a rebuilding cycle at one time in one league, and I accept that,” Manfred said. “But the fact of the matter is, when you have 30 teams, it’s not unusual that you have five or six in a rebuilding cycle. I think if you look back historically, that would not be a number that’s out of line.”

That the Astros and Cubs had so much success with their dramatic rebuilds is to each of their credits, of course.

It just becomes a problem if the rebuilding highways become gridlocked with copycats.


4. Where Have You Gone, Mariano Rivera?

Yankees GM Brian Cashman says newly acquired flamethrower Aroldis Chapman will head into spring training as the team’s closer, because that’s where he adds “max value.”

However they divvy up the work, there’s no question the Yankees should be awesome in the late innings with Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller aboard.

There’s also no question that Mariano Rivera is becoming smaller and smaller in that rear-view mirror. As statistics whiz Bill Chuck points out, Chapman could give the Yankees their fifth different saves leader in the past five seasons in 2016: Rafael Soriano (42) in 2012 (the year Rivera missed most of the season with a knee injury), Rivera (44) in 2013, David Robertson (39) in 2014 and Andrew Miller (36) in 2015.


5. The World Champs Get Better

Make no mistake: Ian Kennedy is not David Price or Zack Greinke. It’s not like the Kansas City Royals signed a guy who will become a favorite to win a Cy Young Award.

But in agreeing to terms with Kennedy on a five-year, $70 million deal, the Royals unquestionably took a step in the right direction after losing Johnny Cueto to free agency.

Kennedy is coming off a down season in San Diego but should be able to give Kansas City exactly what James Shields did a couple of years ago: a summer of 200 innings and a solid veteran rotation presence.

He surrendered a career-high 31 homers last season, which is saying something given that he pitched some of his early years in hitter-friendly Arizona. But from that perspective, Kansas City is a good landing spot: Kauffman Stadium was the most difficult park in the American League to homer in last summer, surrendering an average of 1.60 homers per game.

It’s also hard not to look at Kennedy’s splits last year and give him the benefit of the doubt that an Opening Day hamstring pull threw him off balance during the first half of 2015. Before the All-Star break, he went 4-9 with a 4.91 ERA and 20 homers allowed in 84.1 innings pitched in 16 starts. After the break, he went 5-6 with a 3.64 ERA and 11 homers allowed in 84 innings pitched.


6. Free-Agent Rankings

Here’s my weekly take as agents bluster, suitors cluster and bean counters muster the courage to write those checks as the winter (gulp) deepens…

1. Yoenis Cespedes: A guy needs to know where to schedule his tee times this summer.

2. Dexter Fowler: C’mon, Joe Maddon will even write a letter of recommendation.

3. Howie Kendrick: The last second baseman the Dodgers jettisoned went on to win the NL batting title. But Kendrick is no Dee Gordon.

4. Yovani Gallardo: The leftover bin of starting pitchers remains pretty well stocked.

5. Doug Fister: One year ago, he was slated to be part of one of the greatest rotations in recent memory. Cough, cough.


7. Pete Rose in the Hall

Yes, the news bulletin you saw Tuesday is true: Pete Rose is going to the Hall of Fame.

The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

Not only that, the club will retire his No. 14 during the Reds’ Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, June 24-26.

Good for them, and good for MLB for allowing this to happen.

While it is true that Rose is banned from the Baseball Hall of Fame for being on the game’s suspended list, individual club Halls of Fame are a different, more localized version. They don’t necessarily have to play by the same rules as they do in Cooperstown.

Reds owner Bob Castellini said in a statement Tuesday that this will be “a defining moment in the 147-year history of this storied franchise. He is one of the greatest players to ever wear a Reds uniform and it will be an unforgettable experience watching him be honored as such.”

Incidentally, word of the honor did reach Cooperstown. And not everyone there is opposed to this, or even greater honors, for Rose:


8. The Mo-Man Reappears, Long Live the Mo-Man!

There is only one Mo-Man, the long-retired Mike Morgan, who pitched for 12 teams (then a record) between 1978 and 2002.

The fourth overall pick by Oakland in the 1978 draft, he went straight to the majors, never looked back and pretty much had a rubber arm the entire way through. I came across him in Minnesota when he was playing for the Twins and I was covering them. He had a very unique way of viewing the world and of speaking.

What I most remember is when he had a poor start. He’d meet the media afterward, shrug and simply say, “Bob Seger, man.” That was his code for one of Seger’s most well-known songs: “Turn the Page.” Yep, forget about a bad start, turn the page and get ’em next time.

There were dozens more just like that.

Now 56, Morgan has been gone for a while: When there was no interest in him following the 2002 season, he went home to Utah, hurt (not physically—his feelings were hurt) and went into a sort of self-exile.

He reappeared at the Diamondbacks’ fantasy camp last week.

“I can still throw seven days a week,” he told MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. “I can still throw the hammer [curveball]. It’s not 12-to-6 anymore, it’s 12-to-3. Four-seamers, two-seamers, sliders.

“I still get guys asking me to throw the hammer so they can see it out of my hand. And I always tell them, ‘Just tell me where to meet you and I’ll come throw to you.'”


9. Farewell, Monte Irvin

One of the first African-Americans to play in the majors and a mentor to the great Willie Mays, Monte Irvin passed away last week in Houston at the age of 96. A Hall of Famer as both a player and a person, Irvin spent three years in the Army during World War II and, as Commissioner Rob Manfred said last week, “was a true leader during a transformational era for our game.”

And, he said this, and amen, amen, amen:


9a. Rock ‘n’ Roll Lyric of the Week

We’re barely halfway through January and already 2016 has been painful. Last week we lost David Bowie, this week Glenn Frey. Though he’s a little more known, you might say, for his great hits like “Tequila Sunrise” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” there was a time, believe it or not, when Frey wanted to become a baseball broadcaster. Not only does he do so for a day here with Vin Scully in 1985, he gives a tremendous home run call:

 You left us way too soon, Glenn, but thanks for the words and music.

“City girls seem to find out early

“How to open doors with just a smile”

— Eagles, “Lyin’ Eyes”


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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Ian Kennedy to Royals: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Ian Kennedy may not be the ace he once projected to become, but the Kansas City Royals felt he’s good enough to upgrade their rotation, signing him to a five-year, $70 million deal Saturday.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network passed along word the sides had reached an agreement, and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal confirmed the report.

Kennedy had been solid if unspectacular for the Padres, finishing the 2014 season 13-13 with a 3.63 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 207 strikeouts in 201 innings pitched. Last year, he regressed, going 9-15 with a 4.28 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 174 strikeouts in 168.1 innings.

Though he didn’t pitch much in his first three seasons with the Yankees, he’s been a steady performer over the past six years, finishing every season with at least 165 innings pitched and 160 strikeouts.

In 2011, he was one of the finest pitchers in baseball for the Arizona Diamondbacks, going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 198 strikeouts in 222 innings pitched while finishing fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting.

While that season proved to be an outlier, at the age of 31, he is still capable of being a solid third or fourth option.

Kennedy should slot into the rotation behind Yordano Ventura and Edinson Volquez, at least at the outset. It gives the staff more depth as Kansas City turns its attention toward a repeat World Series bid.

The Royals will need Kennedy more than ever after losing Johnny Cueto in free agency.


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Ian Kennedy: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation Surrounding Free-Agent SP

Ian Kennedy is among the top arms still available in free agency, but his time on the open market may not last much longer.

Continue for updates.

Royals Among Teams Pursuing Kennedy

Wednesday, Jan. 6

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the reigning World Series champion Kansas City Royals have showed some interest in signing the veteran righty.

With Johnny Cueto leaving KC in favor of the San Francisco Giants, Kennedy could fill what is currently a considerable hole in the Royals rotation.

The 31-year-old Kennedy is set to enter his 10th MLB season after stints with the New York Yankees, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres.

After winning 13 games and posting a 3.63 ERA in 2014, Kennedy’s numbers dipped a bit in 2015 with the Padres, as he went just 9-15 with a 4.28 ERA, although he did manage to strike out 174 batters in 168.1 innings pitched.

Kennedy’s best season came in 2011 with the D-backs when he went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA and finished fourth in the National League’s Cy Young Award voting. While he hasn’t come close to matching those numbers since, he is a workhorse who has made at least 30 starts in six consecutive seasons.

The Royals boast a deep and talented lineup as well as a dominant bullpen, headlined by Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochevar and Joakim Soria.

Starting pitching may be Kansas City’s one question mark with the likes of Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura and Chris Young leading the way, but adding Kennedy would give it a much-needed power arm and the depth that it currently lacks.


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Will the Arizona Diamondbacks Keep Manager Kirk Gibson?

The Arizona Diamondbacks have been saying all of the right things lately in regards to the end of this disappointing season, but as the last month plays out, I am beginning to wonder if manager Kirk Gibson will be back in 2014.

When recently speaking with Dan Bickley of AZCentral about the state of the D-Backs, majority owner Ken Kendrick mentioned that Gibson was “relatively new as a big-league manager.” It seemed like an odd comment to make about a manager who is currently in his fourth season with the team.

When speaking with Nick Piecoro of AZCentral, general manager Kevin Towers talked about assigning blame to the entire organization, but he said that he wouldn’t discuss changes with Gibson until the end of the season. Towers also mentions that he would like to see the team play with more emotion.

This is where I wonder if the organization might look to make a change. As a player, Gibson was one of the most fiery and emotional players in the league as he very much wore his emotions on his sleeve. As a manager, Gibson has been decidedly more laid back in the dugout, maybe to the point where the players aren’t responding with any urgency.

It’s not that Gibson has done a bad job managing the D-Backs, he hasn’t. It is just that the D-Backs roster that you see right now will likely comprise most of the roster that you will see in 2014 unless Arizona plans on significantly increasing their payroll. Arizona’s payroll this season in $86 million and they already have $80 million committed to 12 players next season.

So if you bring Gibson back with the same roster, how will the D-Backs improve? It is a question that fans and management should be asking themselves right now.

This season has been a struggle for Gibson and the D-Backs this season, especially with the poor performance of the team’s pitching staff, something that team president Derrick Hall acknowledges in this interview on radio station KTAR 620. Former ace Ian Kennedy now pitches for the San Diego Padres, traded at the low point of his value. Starters Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy have been terrible for most of the season. The bullpen has been simply awful. If not for the performance of Patrick Corbin, the D-Backs would have been out of contention very early in this season.

The 56-year-old Gibson is in his fourth season managing Arizona. His resume already includes winning 94 games and the NL West in 2011 and being named manager of the year. In light of the recent PED suspension of Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, Arizona’s loss to the Brewers in the 2011 NLDS is a disappointing “what if.” Braun almost single-handedly defeated Arizona in that series.

It is a talent issue with the D-Backs; they simply do not have enough talent to compete for the front of the division without making major changes. It is something that falls directly at the feet of Towers. He constructed this team. He missed on his evaluations. He has tied the team down to bad contracts. Gibson needs more to work with.

Gibson certainly has areas that he will need to improve on next season; constructing a better lineup, holding the players accountable and sitting veteran players when they are not playing well. Next season, Arizona will need to reflect Gibson the player as well as Gibson the manager.

Towers and Gibson will likely be given another season to turn things around in the desert, but they will face an uphill challenge in trying to displace the Los Angeles Dodgers. It will be David versus Goliath for the foreseeable future.

The most likely outcome will be changing the team’s coaching staff, whether it is firing pitching coach Charles Nagy or hitting coach Don Baylor or both. Matt Williams needs to be moved off of coaching third base. Gibson may not agree to go along with those moves, but this situation needs to be watched closely. 

Information used from Baseball Reference.

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Can Trade Target Ian Kennedy Ever Return to ‘Ace’ Status?

Is one great year enough to call someone an ace?

That’s what the Arizona Diamondbacks are banking on as they look to move Ian Kennedy prior to the trading deadline.

The Diamondbacks are looking to move Kennedy, while also seeking to acquire Jake Peavy. But would it be a smart move for the Los Angeles Angels?

After all, is Kennedy ever going to return to ace status? 

One Great Season

After one great season in 2011, Kennedy immediately got the title of ace.

He may have gone 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA and 198 strikeouts, but since then, he’s 18-19 with a 4.45 ERA and 288 strikeouts. Before that he was 10-14 with a 4.33 ERA.

One great season was all he had.

A discussion could be started about Tim Lincecum as well, but there’s a major difference between the two. Lincecum proved himself more than one year, while Kennedy hasn’t.

Lincecum was a true ace and just ended up losing it, while Kennedy was a No. 3 pitcher (at best) who had the best season of his career. Mark Fidrych anyone?

Luckily for the Diamondbacks, Kennedy wasn’t in a contract year. If he had been, he’d be making eight-figures every year.


The Problem Being in Los Angeles

If Kennedy is ever going to be called an ace again, he can’t go to a place that already has two aces on staff.

Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson may not be the best pitchers in baseball, but both know how to get the job done.

Los Angeles also might not be the place Kennedy wants to be, especially considering the events of the Diamondbacks-Dodgers brawl on June 11.

While it’s true he would be playing for the cross-town rival, fans from the city won’t ever forget him throwing at Yasiel Puig and Zack Greinke.

Los Angeles would be the last place I’d want to be if I were Kennedy.



Kennedy does have a lot of talent and can be a good No. 2 or No. 3 pitcher in the big leagues.

However, to call him an ace would be a disservice to guys like Clayton Kershaw, CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander.

There are only a few players outside of those three that I would consider true aces. 

Would you call Bud Norris an ace? He started Opening Day.

Just because you start the first game of the season doesn’t mean you’re an ace.

It just means you’re the closest thing to an ace.

Trading for Kennedy would be a decent move for the Angels as it would add depth to their starting rotation. However, to think Kennedy will ever be an ace is simply laughable…at least until he proves otherwise.

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Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2012: 5 Pitchers You Must Target Early

If you have a top pick, you absolutely must snag a pitcher like Justin Verlander—your fantasy rotation depends on it.

Like a quarterback in fantasy football, many hesitate to select pitchers with their first pick or two. Your hesitation will lead to an opponent’s victory.

Wins, innings pitched, ERA, WHIP and strikeouts count most in fantasy baseball.

Here is the 5-5-5 list. Five pitchers who will end up in the top five in all five categories.

Get them before it’s too late.

Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

Verlander is similar to Aaron Rodgers.

Most scoffed at the friend who used their first pick on Rodgers, only to watch the quarterback put up 50 points every Sunday. That friend likely went to playoffs.

Verlander is no different. Draft him and he may single-handedly take you to the top of the leaderboard. Last season, he led the league in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts and WHIP. His efforts landed him the AL CY Young and MVP awards.

Barring injury, nothing will change.

Since his Rookie of the Year season in 2006, Verlander has been in the top five for Cy Young contention three times.

Projected 2012 stats: 26 wins, 2.36 ERA, 260 innings pitched, 0.97 WHIP and 244 strikeouts.

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

If Verlander is off the board, there’s no disappointment in “settling” for Kershaw.

Kershaw is looking a lot like Justin Verlander 2.0 these days and is only 24 years old.

Kershaw finished second in wins, strikeouts and WHIP, and had a league best 2.28 ERA.

It’s worth mentioning that the two biggest sluggers in the National League—Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols—signed with American League teams.

Kershaw should continue to dominate the NL with ease.

Projected 2012 stats: 24 wins, 2.44 ERA, 244 innings pitched, 1.01 WHIP and 257 strikeouts.

Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies

Halladay might be taken as the first pitcher in any draft based on of his name alone.

The name Halladay has become synonymous with dominant. Rightfully so.

He’s been in the top five for Cy Young considerations seven times, winning twice. Since 2008, he’s averaged nine complete games and four shutouts.

In 233 innings last season, Halladay maintained a 2.35 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. He also struck out 220 batters on his way to 19 wins.

This season, with an aging offense and an injured Ryan Howard, the pitching staff will be tasked with shouldering more of the load.

Halladay won’t have any problems with that.

Projected 2012 stats: 22 wins, 2.67 ERA, 242 innings, 0.98 WHIP and 235 strikeouts.

Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies

If you miss out on Halladay, the next Phillies pitcher in line is equally amazing.

One might think switching to his fourth team in three years could mess with his psyche. Clearly it did not.

Lee pitched to 17 wins and six shutouts in 2011. In 232 innings, he kept a 2.40 ERA and 1.027 WHIP while striking out 238 batters.

Lucky for him and fantasy owners, it looks like Philadelphia will be his home the entire season.

Projected 2012 stats: 19 wins, 2.45 ERA, 255 innings, 1.00 WHIP, 247 strikeouts.

Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks

I’m sure you expected names like CC Sabathia or Jered Weaver in this spot. You’re right. Draft them high.

But what’s the point of list full of guys you expected to see?

Here’s one under the radar candidate.

A 21-game winner last season, Kennedy struck out 198 batters in 222 innings. He finished the season with a 2.88 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. He also placed fourth in NL Cy Young voting.

Kennedy will be even better this year and will be able to carry a team like Halladay or Lee.

He’s baseball’s version of Cam Newton. A question mark that everyone laughed at when he was taken so high. Only Newton owners were laughing in the end. Kennedy is that guy.

Projected 2012 stats: 23 wins, 2.52 ERA, 246 innings, 1.02 WHIP, 228 strikeouts.

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Arizona Diamondbacks: Ian Kennedy Set to Duel with Tim Lincecum in San Francisco

The Arizona Diamondbacks send Ian Kennedy to the mound against San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum Saturday night. This is a must see matchup for any baseball fan. 

The two men are both NL Cy Young candidates and this is easily the best battle in MLB this weekend. 

The Diamondbacks had their nine-game win streak snapped by the Giants Friday night, 6-2.

The Diamondbacks are now 78-60 on the season, with a five-game lead over the Giants in the NL West standings.

This is a make-or-break series for the Giants as they’re now playing out of desperation. The Diamondbacks have control of the NL West and don’t want to relinquish any ground to the Giants.

After all, the Giants are the defending World Series champions and they won’t go down without a fight. The Diamondbacks don’t want to give any momentum to the Giants and would really do themselves a lot of good by winning the remaining two games in the series.

Ian Kennedy looks to straighten things out for the Diamondbacks. The pitcher is an NL-best 17-4 with a 3.03 ERA on the season. His last start in San Francisco earned him a victory after eight solid innings. Kennedy is 9-1 in his last 10 starts and hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of those outings.

Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum has been the tough-luck pitcher of the year in MLB. He’s 12-11 on the season despite his 2.58 ERA, which is fourth-best in the National League.

A microcosm of Lincecum’s season has come against the Diamondbacks. In two starts against the divisional foe, Lincecum is 0-1 with a 1.20 ERA, a .80 WHIP and a .140 batting average against.

The Diamondbacks have their work cut out for them against the Tim Lincecum and the Giants Saturday night. A win tonight against San Francisco’s best could be the knockout blow that Arizona is looking for. 

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Arizona Diamondbacks: 2011 MLB Season Preview


Last Year: 65-97, 5th in NL West 

Manager: Kirk Gibson



C- Miguel Montero (L)

1B- Juan Miranda (L)

2B- Kelly Johnson (L) 

3B- Melvin Mora (R)

SS- Stephen Drew (L)

LF- Xavier Nady (R)

CF- Chris Young (R)

RF- Justin Upton (R)



The D’backs lineup has a good amount of power, but the lineup struck out more than any other in 2010. Both numbers should decrease with the trade of Mark Reynolds, but there are other questions in this group.

Justin Upton has the most talent of anyone in the lineup, but he took a step back last season. He struck out 30 percent of the time in 2010, but his isolated power dropped.

I’m not alarmed by 2010, and he should bounce back to hit 25 home runs, steal 15-20 bases, and produce a line of .280/.365/.500.

Chris Young should put up similar power numbers as Upton. He doesn’t strikeout as much, but he doesn’t hit for as high an average. Look out for 25 home runs, 25 stolen bases, and a line of .250/.330/.450.

Xavier Nady should bat sixth in the lineup, but he might get some playing time taken away by Brandon Allen. Nady struggled last season with the Cubs, and if he puts up similar numbers, Allen will start to take away at bats. 

Miguel Montero is a good bat at the catcher position. He has some power (expect 12-15 home runs), and should hit for a .270 average and produce a .340 OBP.

Juan Miranda will surprise some Arizona fans, and I detail his season later in the preview.

Kelly Johnson had one of the most surprising seasons in the majors after hitting 26 home runs and batting .284. He won’t match that season, but I believe he nets 20 home runs, 9-13 stolen bases, and a line of .275/.350/.455.

Stephen Drew is still one of the league’s better offensive shortstops. He produces 15-20 home runs and a line around .275/.340/.450.

Melvin Mora is the weak link in the lineup with his diminished bat speed. He is just a stop gap for the young third basemen they have coming up through the system. 

The Diamondbacks were the top ranked defense in UZR last season.

The defense made some errors, but they had the best range of any team in baseball. The infield defense is stellar.

Drew has become one of the better fielding shortstops in basbeball, and his double play partner, Johnson, had a phenomenal season at 2B with a 7.7 UZR rating.

Miranda is solid at first base, but the team will miss Reynolds at third base.

Mora had a negative 10.4 UZR rating last season.

Montero is below average behind the plate because of his poor blocking ability. Montero has a decent arm, but he allows too many passed balls.

Both Justin Upton and Chris Young are very good defenders at their positions, but  Nady is a below average outfielder in left field.



IF/OF- Ryan Roberts (R) or IF- Tony Abreu (S) 

1B- Russell Branyan (L)

OF- Gerardo Parra (L) 

C- Henry Blanco (R)

IF/OF- Willie Bloomquist (R)

IF- Geoff Blum (S) (Will start season on DL)



RHP- Ian Kennedy 

RHP- Daniel Hudson

LHP- Joe Saunders

RHP- Barry Enright

RHP- Aaron Heilman or RHP-Armando Galarraga

LHP- Zach Duke (Out until May)

Ian Kennedy will take the ball on Opening Day after being the D’Backs’ most consistent starter last season.

Kennedy uses an array of curveballs and changeups to compliment his 88-91 MPH he uses on the corners. He will show a below average slider, but his changeup and curveball are very good. He will strikeout close to eight per nine innings, while walking three per nine that should produce an ERA similar to his 2010 3.80.

Daniel Hudson’s performance after coming over from the White Sox was one of the more surprising stories during the second half of the season. Hudson averages 92.5 MPH on his fastball and he generates a lot of swing and misses on his slider and filthy changeup.

Don’t expect Hudson to replicate his 2.40 ERA, but his flyball rate is worry some in Arizona. He should maintain a 7.5 K/9 rate but his ERA should finish in the 3.90 range.

Joe Saunders is a solid number four starter on a contending team, and he seems out of place on a rebuilding club. Saunders does have below average strikeout numbers (4.89 K/9 in 2010), and his home rate is sure to increase in a full season in Arizona. He is a safe bet to walk 2.80 per nine innings, and pitch close to a 4.60 ERA.

Barry Enright, who will slot behind Saunders, pitched to a solid 3.91 ERA last season. He averages 89.3 MPH on his two and four seam fastballs and the rest of his repertoire includes a good slider, average curveball, and changeup. 

Enright had a very fortunate season by having an extremely high left on base percentage at 84, and a low BABIP at .248. The 20 home runs he allowed in 99 innings is a troubling number, so a 4.60 ERA, 6.00 K/9, and 2.50 BB/9 rates are what to expect from the number four starter.

Aaron Heilman will probably get the nod over Galarraga for the last spot in the rotation. 

Zach Duke broke his pitching hand, which should keep him on the DL until May. 

Heilman hasn’t started since 2005 and it will be interesting to see whether or not he can maintain his fastball for 100 pitches early in the season. His fastball will be probably average 90 MPH in the rotation, and he needs to throw his slider more to keep hitters off his changeup. 



RHP- JJ Putz (Closer) 

RHP- Juan Gutierrez

RHP- David Hernandez

LHP- Joe Patterson 

RHP- Esmerling Vazquez

RHP- Aaron Heilman or RHP- Armando Galarraga 

RHP- Sam Demel or LHP- Mike Hampton 

The Diamondbacks had one of the worst bullpens in history last season and new GM, Kevin Towers, added two pieces this offseason to upgrade the staff. 

JJ Putz hasn’t closed since 2008, but Putz had a great 2010 season for the White Sox as a setup man. 

Putz throws averages 94 MPH on his fastball and mixes in a good slider and dominant splitter. He should strike out more than a hitter per inning, walking more than three per nine, and a 2.90 ERA.

David Hernandez, acquired from the Orioles in the Mark Reynolds deal, pitched showed better stuff after moving from the rotation to the bullpen.

He should strikeout close to 8.5 per nine, but his four walks per nine and poor home run rate should leave him with an era in the mid 4.00’s. 

The rest of the bullpen looks like it will face some of the same troubles this season.

Juan Gutierrez struggled giving up the long ball last season (13 Home Runs in 55 innings). He still has a lively fastball and good enough slider to cut that number in half, and pitch to a low 4.00 ERA.

Joe Patterson was taken in the Rule V draft, and will be the primary left-handed specialist. He posted great numbers against lefties in the Giants‘ farm system, including striking out more than eight per nine in AAA last season.

Esmeriling Vazquez has good strikeout numbers, but his terrible command will keep him out of high leverage situations. 

Armando Gallagraga looks to be the long man after struggling in the competition for the last spot in the rotation. I think Gibson and Towers would like a second southpaw in the pen, and Mike Hampton seems like the best bet. 



LHP- Mike Hampton 

RHP- Micah Owings 

RHP- Brian Sweeney 

LHP- Clay Zavada 

1B- Russell Branyan (L)

IF- Cody Ransom (R)

OF- Willy Mo Pena (R)



I’ve always liked Miranda’s power, but he never was given an opportunity to showcase it with the Yankees.

GM Kevin Towers, who was a special assistant in the Yankees organization last season, liked what he saw in Miranda. He will strikeout more than 20 percent of the time, but he does get on base and he provides solid defense at first base.

I see Miranda hitting 20-25 home runs with a .275/.350/.490 line. 



Parker, a former D’Backs number first round pick in 2007, missed the entire 2010 season with Tommy John surgery.

Parker is considered a prospect who can become a number one type starter. He throws a mid 90’s fastball with a sharp slider, changeup, and curveball.

I think Parker might get a shot at down the line for the D’Backs in September. 



The D’Backs lineup isn’t as strong as last year’s, and the bullpen looks like it will continue to struggle.

The rotation has talent, but it is hard to imagine Hudson and Enright as well as they did in 2010.

I think the offense will produce just as much power, but they should cut down on the strikeouts without Reynolds. I expect the club to improve a bit on its record, but a last place finish seems the most likely result for the club.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Fantasy Baseball’s Late-Round, Draft-Day Targets: WHIP

Finding pitchers who help in the WHIP department is not always an easy task; finding one late in your draft (after Round 18) is even tougher. 

Here are five pitchers who I have projected for a 1.30 WHIP or better who are available late in your draft (based on Mock Draft Central’s ADP):


Brian Matusz – Baltimore Orioles

He may be a tough sell, considering that he is entering his second full season and is pitching in the AL East. 

Still, in the minor leagues he posted a 2.55 BB/9 and 9.64 K/9 (the higher the strikeout rate, the lower the dependence on BABIP in regards to the WHIP).

Those two numbers have the makings of an elite mark.

While he wasn’t quite that good in his rookie year, he was good enough, with a 3.23 BB/9 and 7.33 K/9. Coupled with a .292 BABIP, he posted a 1.34 WHIP. 

With a year of experience under his belt, there certainly is reason to believe that he can improve across the board. That certainly would lead to a better WHIP.

Plus, before you say it’s impossible to post a good WHIP in the AL East, just look at these marks:

  • Shaun Marcum – 1.15
  • Jeremy Guthrie – 1.16
  • Clay Buchholz – 1.20
  • Jeff Niemann – 1.26
  • Ricky Romero – 1.29

Those aren’t the Jon Lester’s or CC Sabathia’s of the world, either.

Matusz certainly has the potential and could be a great source late in your draft.


Ian Kennedy – Arizona Diamondbacks

In his first full season in the Major Leagues, Kennedy showed why he was high on the Yankees prospect list, posting a 1.20 WHIP thanks to a 3.25 BB/9 and .256 BABIP. 

Obviously, the BABIP is not realistic, though the walks are thanks to a minor league career BB/9 of 2.79.

With his ability to generate strikeouts and limit the walks, it is no wonder that he can be a good source of WHIP for fantasy owners. 

Obviously I wouldn’t count on a 1.20, but there is no reason that, with his proven skills, that he can’t provide for fantasy owners.


Jake Peavy – Chicago White Sox

There are probably a couple of reasons Peavy is being selected late in drafts. 

One is his health, as he tries to recover from a detached ligament. It’s an extremely rare injury and no one really knows exactly what to expect. 

At first, it appeared that he was going to miss at least a little time early in the season, but now that may not be the case. There also was the concern about moving to the AL, which is a very fair concern.

That is more geared towards his ERA, however, not his WHIP. 

In 107.0 innings with the White Sox in ’10 he still managed a 1.23 WHIP. He throws strikes (2.91 career BB/9) and gets strikeouts (8.93 career K/9), which helps limit the effect of BABIP. 

As it is, his BABIP the past four seasons has been between .273 and .280, helping to WHIPs of:

  • 2007 – 1.06
  • 2008 – 1.18
  • 2009 – 1.12
  • 2010 – 1.23

There’s a lot of risk, but there is also a huge potential reward.


Bronson Arroyo – Cincinnati Reds

We all know what we are getting when we select Arroyo. 

On occasion, he is going to post a real clunker. He’s not going to post much in the way of strikeouts. He is going to limit the walks.

For his career, he has a 2.73 BB/9 and in ’10 he was at 2.46. While his 1.15 from ’10 is highly unlikely (it came courtesy of a .239 BABIP), he does have a career mark of 1.31 (which is skewed from poor years in ’07 & ’08, due to inflated BABIP).

He’s a late round option for a reason, because he has very little “upside.” 

Still, if you have a staff built with strikeouts and need a steady WHIP option who is going to win games (15 or more each of the past three years), Arroyo certainly has value.


Scott Baker/Kevin Slowey – Minnesota Twins

Interestingly enough, they are competing for the Twins’ fifth starters job, which may help to explain why both are currently available in the later rounds. 

There are rumors that Slowey could be traded, which will help clear up who to target (the answer would be both of them). For now, we are going to have to monitor the news and see how it all plays out.

I believe it was two seasons ago that I wrote an article entitled “Scott Baker the WHIP Maker.” While 2010 is not the best example (1.34), he was at 1.18 and 1.19 the two previous years. He has impeccable control (2.10 career BB/9) and, if the luck returns (he had a .323 BABIP in ’10), there is no reason why he couldn’t get back to the elite numbers. 

If he wins the job (and he currently appears to be the favorite), he’s an absolute bargain.

Slowey, remarkably, is an even better control artist, with a career BB/9 of 1.50 over 473.1 innings—even with a .307 BABIP in ’10 he posted a 1.29 WHIP. 

He is more of a fly ball pitcher (50.6 percent fly ball rate in ’10), so a trade would have a huge impact on his potential value. 

Regardless, with his control, he could be a monster WHIP option.


What are your thoughts of these options? Would you target any of them? Is there someone else you would look at late in your draft to help with WHIP?


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

Make sure to check out our previous late round articles:


Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Arizona Diamondbacks MLB 2011 Predictions: 10 Things That Could Make Them Champs

Justin Upton and the Arizona Diamondbacks had a rough go in 2010. Plagued by a historic case of strikeout fever—the batters whiffed 144 times more than any other club in the National League and the pitchers struck out the third-fewest opponents on the senior circuit—and a poor defense, the team lost 97 games.

Manager A.J. Hinch and GM Josh Byrnes got the axe, and have been replaced by Kirk Gibson (in the dugout) and Kevin Towers (in the front office).

The team did little this winter to suggest they feel like contenders in 2011. Their pitching staff was young but got even younger, and their lineup now features more contact hitters but far less upside risk. Still, this team has some pieces that have enigmatically struggled in recent years, and if they put it all together, who knows? The snakes could bite some unsuspecting National League foes.

Here are 10 things that have to happen first.

This is the first in a series of pieces listing 10 things that would have to go right for each MLB team to win a pennant this season. To find out when your favorite team’s article comes out, follow me on the twitter @MattTrueblood, or sign up for your team’s Bleacher Report newsletter.

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