Tag: Ivan Rodriguez

MLB: Former Players Destined to Be Managers

In the past decade, a trend has taken over major league baseball front offices as they try to perfect their World Series formulas and put together the perfect baseball team. 

One of the most important decisions a general manager makes is not only who will play which position, but also who will reign over the team on a daily basis, make lineup changes, decide who pitches and control the clubhouse. 

Managers of baseball teams are given much of the credit when their team wins, and take most of the blame when their team loses. Some would argue that the manager is the most important man on the payroll. 

Among most of the recently hired managers, many are former players and are recent retirees. Robin Ventura, Joe Girardi (when he was hired in 2006), Mike Matheny and Dale Sveum lead a list of former players who are landing gigs as a skipper of a team rather than playing. 

What other former players will manage in the MLB one day?  

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MLB History: Best One-Year Pickups of All Time

As the Hot Stove season continues through Christmas, I thought it would be interesting to look back at the best one-year rentals in history.

Namely, players who, whether by free agency or, more likely, trade, ended up on a different team for one season before ultimately peacing out from that team at season’s end (usually via free agency).

Looking at every position, here are the best one-year rentals in MLB history.

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The Last Hurrah: 12 MLB Players Who Will Likely Play Their Final Year in 2011

Each year, players call an end to a career in Major League Baseball for various reasons. Some become tired of the daily grind and want to focus more on family, some have simply gotten older and are unable to compete at a desired level, and some are unable to fully recover from prior injuries.

This spring, several players have already announced their retirement, including Garrett Anderson, Jim Edmonds, Ian Snell and Mike Hampton. While Anderson, Edmonds and Hampton all enjoyed varying degrees of success, and each with over 15 years of MLB experience, Snell retired at the age of 29, unable to fully realize his potential after being drafted in the 26th round of the 2000 Major League Baseball Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

We will take a look at 12 players who will likely call it a career after the end of the 2011 season, and conclude whether or not some of the players should have retired earlier, or if they could possibly continue to play at a high level going forward.

For continuing coverage of Major League Baseball, follow Doug on Twitter @Sports_A_Holic.

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Washington Nationals: 2011 MLB Season Preview


Last Year: 69-93, 5th in NL East  

Manager: Jim Riggelman 


C – Ivan Rodriguez (R) 

1B – Adam LaRoche (L)

2B – Danny Espinosa (S) 

3B – Ryan Zimmerman (R) 

SS – Ian Desmond (R)

LF/CF – Roger Bernadina (L)/Nyjer Morgan (L)/Rick Ankiel (L)/Mike Morse (R)

RF – Jayson Werth (R) 

The Nationals lineup should be able to put up decent offensive numbers, but the lineup will miss the power numbers that Adam Dunn provided.

Jayson Werth will match Dunn’s OBP, but he should fall short of Dunn’s 38 home runs in 2010. Expect Werth to hit 25 home runs with a .275/.370/.485 line.

The Nationals have not decided who will join Werth in the outfield, but whoever starts will not have a firm hold over the position. The only thing Nyjer Morgan proved in 2010 was that he is emotionally unstable. Roger Bernadina has speed (approximately 20 stolen bases), and the ability to hit 10 home runs if provided regular playing time. Rick Ankiel and Mike Morse have the best power numbers of the bunch, but both strike out too often to have a consistent batting average. Bernadina and Morse are the favorites to get the most playing time with Bernadina batting leadoff.

Ivan Rodriguez is getting old, but he should run into 5 home runs with a .260 average.    

Ryan Zimmerman will bat cleanup for the Nationals and provide additional right-handed power alongside Werth. Zimmerman put up consistent offensive numbers the last two seasons, and he should hit 27-32 home runs with a .300/.380/.515 line in 2011.

Adam LaRoche will try to provide some of the left-handed power at 1B that Dunn provided. LaRoche has hit 25 home runs for the last three years, and I project him putting up a similar number this year, but his average should dip to around .250 heading into Nationals park. Prospect Danny Espinosa, who is discussed below, will be a pleasant surprise this year. Ian Desmond looks poised for a good year batting in the two hole. He has good speed and his power numbers and OBP should increase steadily in 2011. Desmond will finish the season with 13-15 home runs, 20 stolen bases and a .280/.330/.425 line. 

The Nationals defense ranked 14th in UZR during the 2010 seasoun despite committing a NL-high 127 errors. Defenders like Ryan Zimmerman may commit some errors, but Zimmerman has the best range of any third basemen in the league. Ian Desmond also has some range at SS, but he commits too many errors on routine plays. Adam LaRoche had a good year at 1B in 2010, and is a significant upgrade over Adam Dunn. Pudge is still considered one of the best defensive catchers in the game, and he will be a great mentor to the young Wilson Ramos. Roger Bernadina and Nyjer Morgan would be the best defensive outfield to team with Jayson Werth, whose range is decreasing. Mike Morse and Rick Ankiel are both considered below average.  


IF/OF – Jerry Hairston Jr (R)

IF – Alberto Gonzalez (R)

OF – Roger Bernadina (L)/Nyjer Morgan (L)/Rick Ankiel (L)/Mike Morse (R)

C – Wilson Ramos (R)

OF – Matt Stairs (L)   


RHP – Livan Hernandez

RHP – Jason Marquis 

LHP – John Lannan 

RHP – Jordan Zimmerman 

LHP – Tom Gorzelanny 

Livan Hernandez leads this ragtag group of starters into the 2011 season. Hernandez somehow had an ERA of 3.66 but his 4.76 xFIP tells a different story. His strikeout and groundball numbers didn’t improve, but he was able to keep his HR total down. Hernandez uses his experience and knowledge of hitters’ tendencies to get outs. He uses an 84 MPH fastball with a slow curveball, mediocre change and slider that do not strike much fear into opposing hitters. Hernandez will eat some precious innings for the Nationals, but don’t expect a repeat of those 2010 numbers.

Jason Marquis, who dealt with elbow problems for most of 2010, will slot into the number two spot in the rotation. Marquis is a contact pitcher with a high walk total who had been durable in years past. Like Hernandez, he will be able to eat innings for the club, but he will pitch to an unspectacular mid-four ERA. Marquis uses a little bit of everything including a 90 MPH sinking fastball, slider, curve, cutter and change-up. While none of them are considered above average, his slider would be considered his best pitch. 

John Lannan is another contact pitcher with few strikeouts (4.46/9 innings) and an unimpressive walk total (3.08/9). He uses the standard four pitches, with his change-up being his best pitch. Like Marquis, Lannan should pitch to a mid-fours ERA.

Zimmerman should pitch behind Lannan. I detail his season in the “Breakout Player” section below.

Tom Gorzelanny could have a decent season as the fifth man out of the rotation, but he has been extremely inconsistent throughout his years in the majors. Unlike most of the other starters, Gorzelanny has the ability to record strikeouts and pitch to both right- and left-handed hitters. Gorzelanny does struggle with his command, but his walk totals have not correlated with how well he has pitched during a given year. Gorzelanny won’t be making any All-Star teams, but he might be one of the better pitchers on the staff by the time the season ends. 


RHP – Drew Storen (Closer) 

RHP – Tyler Clippard

LHP – Sean Burnett 

RHP – Henry Rodriguez 

LHP – Doug Slaten 

RHP – Todd Coffee   

RHP – Collin Balester or Craig Stammen 

Many of the Nationals pitchers in the bullpen put up career numbers in 2010 and other scouts don’t see them having the same years. I, on the other hand, feel like some of the group may surprise again.

Drew Storen will get an opportunity to close to begin the season. Storen throws a 93-96 MPH fastball, a very good slider and above average curveball. His stuff translates into closing, having 8.47 K/9, and is currently the best Nationals’ best option.

Tyler Clippard might get some save opportunities if Storen struggles early on. He has posted some impressive strikeout rates over the last two years, while overcoming a high walk total. Some aren’t as high on Clippard as I am, and I think he will establish himself as one of the better relievers in baseball.

Sean Burnett has established himself as an effective left-handed set-up man over the last two years. Burnett is tough on lefties with his 91 MPH fastball and tough slider, but can handle righties with his decent change. 

Henry Rodriguez, acquired from Oakland, averages 99 MPH on his fastball. Rodriguez might have some command problems, but he is a solid option in the sixth inning because of his strikeout ability.

Todd Coffee is another right-handed option in the middle innings who can get right-handed hitters out and provide some groundballs. Doug Slaten, who had a career year in 2010, is the other left-handed specialist. Slaten could be ticketed for a rough year after benefiting from a low BABIP last year. Colin Balester or Craig Stammen will battle it out in the spring for the long-reliever spot. 


RHP – Chad Gaudin 

RHP – Luis Atliano 

LHP – Matt Chico 

RHP – JD Martin 

RHP – Shairon Martis 

IF – Alex Cora (L)

OF – Laynce Nix (L)

OF – Matt Stairs (L)

OF – Johnathan Van Every (L)

BREAKOUT PLAYER- Jordan Zimmerman

Jordan Zimmerman was having a nice rookie season in 2009 until he was ticketed for Tommy John surgery in August. Zimmerman returned last year and strung together some impressive starts at the end of the season. He will turn out to be the Nationals’ best pitcher this season, but the Nationals will be cautious with his innings. Zimmerman features a mid-90s fastball, a plus slider, curve and average change up. He gets a lot of swings and misses on his breaking balls which should lead him to strikeout around 8 per 9 innings. Zimmerman has good command for a 24-year-old and should walk a little less than three per 9 innings. His xFIP should be somewhere in the low 4s translating into an ERA around 3.70-3.90. 


Espinosa should be a pleasant surprise to Nationals fans. Espinosa has some pop in his bat, and some are projecting him to hit 20 HRs this season. He has some speed, but he strikes out too much to hit for a high average. I say he hits 15 HRs, steals 20 and puts up a line close to .250/.320/.420. Espinosa came up as a shortstop, and should handle 2B very well. 


The Nationals will be in a competitive race with the Mets to see who will finish last in the NL East. While the Nationals’ starting pitching is some of the worst in baseball, the offense will score runs and the bullpen has a chance to be effective. Certain players like Danny Espinosa will impress and should allow the Nationals to finish ahead of the Mets in the division and could entertain the possibility of a .500 season. If Nationals fans are lucky, they could hope to see Strasburg take the mound sometime late in the season. Hope is a dangerous word. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB: Power Ranking the Top 10 Likely Dubious Milestones of 2011

Baseball is a game of numbers and milestones, be they admirable achievements or regrettable results.

Earlier today, I posted a piece that ranked the Top 12 milestones likely to be reached in 2011.All of the featured players and their fans should be proud of these accomplishments that speak to their excellence over the course of their careers.


On the other side of the diamond, if you will, is this companion piece which features 10 more dubious milestones that are also likely to be reached in 2011.

Granted, there are several very good players on this slideshow, at least a couple of whom are strong candidates for Cooperstown. That makes sense as one has to be a pretty good batter to keep fanning at historic proportions, or a better-than-average pitcher to have the opportunity to uncork a ton of wild pitches or lose a bunch of ballgames.

The beauty of baseball is that the best players (and in fairness, not all of these guys are great, except compared to me and you), learn to come to grips with their failures because baseball puts a premium on a positive attitude and great resiliency.

Please join me on this slightly treacherous jog around the diamond in the following players’ honor.

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Washington Nationals: A Walk and Talk With Nats Potential Closer Drew Storen

If the good Lord picked one weather day to represent spring training for every baseball team spread out over Florida and Arizona, he would have chosen today.

With clear blue skies and temperatures hovering around 80 degrees, the Washington Nationals picked up the pace on the fourth day of workouts for pitchers and catchers.

Yesterday’s big story was no doubt Stephen Strasburg’s pain free throwing session.

Strasburg had Tommy John surgery at the end of last season and the Nationals are in no hurry to rush the pitching phenom back any time soon.

The talk around camp today was the impending arrival of another ready made MLB phenom, outfielder Bryce Harper.

Harper is due to report on Sunday when the rest of the positional players report.

Strasburg and his battery mates worked on the fundamentals of the game like covering first base and they even did some situational bunting.

Of course, there was also lots of running and stretching. Strasburg did no throwing today.

The Nationals spring training facility is located in Viera, Fla. The team reports to Space Coast Stadium each morning and then walks the quarter mile to the four beautifully groomed and perfectly greened practice fields, which surround the stadium.

Upon seeing the walk by the players today, I came up with the name for my diary segment that will include player’s interviews, “the walk and talk with…”

Today I was fortunate enough to meet and interview a fantastic young personality in the Nats bullpen.

His refreshing attitude on playing the game of baseball really made me feel as though the future of Americas Past Time is in safe hands. 

Today’s walk and talk is with pitcher Drew Storen.

Nats Manager Jim Riggleman has called Storen the closer of the future in DC.

Storen had quite a whirlwind of a year in 2010. Aside from turning just 23 last August, Drew was promoted from the AAA Syracuse Chiefs to the Nationals on April-30.

In the span of six days, Storen accomplished a lot for a young major league relief pitcher. He debuted in the show May 17 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

In three batters faced, Storen collected two outs, with Matt Holliday becoming his first MLB strikeout, as well as hitting his first batter, Ryan Ludwick.

Working two-thirds of an inning two days later, Storen would collect his first major league win against the NY Mets.

Four days later in an inter-league game against the Orioles, Storen smacked his first big league hit, a line drive to left center field off Kevin Millwood.

Storen is a born closer.

He was one of college baseball’s premier closers during a stellar two-year collegiate career at Stanford University. He was a first team All-Pac-10 selection following each of his two seasons in a Cardinal uniform (2008 and ’09) and he led Stanford in both wins and saves in 2009, becoming the first Cardinal pitcher since Jeff Ballard in 1984 to accomplish the feat.

Originally drafted by the Yankees in 2007, Storen did not sign so that he could attend Stanford.

After selecting pitching phenom Steven Strasburg with the number one overall pick in 2009, the Nationals drafted Storen, a native of Brownsburg, IN, nine spots later, making him the tenth overall pick.

The Nationals added a little more to Storen’s whirlwind year when, on Jul. 30, they traded his good friend and their saves leader, Matt Capps, to the Minnesota Twins at the trade deadline.

Capps was leading the Nats with 26 saves at the time of the trade and was the winning pitcher for the National league in the All-Star game.

Storen has said on numerous occasions that Capps had a big part in his success last season, taking him under his wing after the two met at the Nationals Fan fest last February.

Eight days following the Capps trade, Storen knew his time was coming to collect his first major league save.

He figured it would probably come in L.A on the road and he was right.

“I kept sitting out there (in the bullpen) knowing that the call was coming,” Storen said. “When the call came I was so pumped up and excited that I don’t even remember who I got out, I think I got Belliard to end it.”

It was Bellliard he got out to end it.

Belliard pinch it for Brad Ausmus and grounded out to Adam Dunn to end the game.

Storen would go onto to record four more saves last season with a 3.58 ERA in 54 appearances. He would boast a record of 4-4 with 52 strikeouts in just 55.1 innings pitched.

“I had closed at Stanford and was pretty good but this was like nothing I had ever prepared for, I was so happy when I got that first one (save)”. Storen said. “I was nervous and excited all at once, it was all like a big blur.”

He ended the year 4-4 with a 3.58 ERA.

When I asked him if Nats Manager Jim Riggleman had sat with him to discuss expectations he said: “Not really, I know what I have to do and I don’t really feel like that I have actually won the job yet. There are some guys here that are capable and I just have to go out there and do what I know how to do”.

The scouting report on Storen is that he defiantly has a closers mentality.

He does not get rattled and is intensely competitive; giving him the perfect closer’s makeup.

He has a devastating slider and a mid 90s fastball. 

Storen developed a changeup during the fall two seasons ago where he worked as a starter to further enhance all three pitches, as he throws a lot of strikes and attacks the hitter.

When asked about the veteran leadership the Nats acquired in the off-season by signing free agents like Jason Werth and Adam Laroche, he simply replied: “I’m excited, the leadership these guys bring is important to me, as a young guy I just love the experience a guy like (Jason) Werth comes with.

“I am constantly trying to learn and these guys are great teachers.”

On the great fortune of throwing to a future hall of fame catcher in Ivan Rodriguez,

“It’s like I cheat because I have a guy like that back there, he knows the hitters so well, you know he’s going to know how to throw a guy, and how to approach a guy,” Storen said. “I don’t really have to do a lot of thinking out there.”

The closers job is not guaranteed and Storen knows this, manager Jim Riggleman said numerous times this off-season that the closer role was up for grabs.

Several other good arms have a shot to emerge.

Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard provide Riggleman with a great lefty-right option in the seventh and eighth innings. Both were very good last almost unhittable at times.

Todd Coffey is the workhorse in the pen but he will also get a chance to pitch late this spring.

Storen’s biggest competition may be Henry Rodriguez.

In just his second year as a full-time reliever, Rodriguez went 1-0 with a 4.55 ERA in 29 appearances with the Athletics. He had 33 strikeouts in a little less than 28 innings of work.

If all goes well here in Viera, Riggleman may elect to have the competition continue up north by using a bullpen by committee approach.

Closer or bullpen by committee is not uncommon to start a season.

This approach is smart with young arms, especially when the weather has yet to turn warm. When you are thinking long term for a 162 game schedule, it just makes sense.

Storen is fine with whatever Riggleman decides as he stated on several occasions to me that he knows what he has to do and he is ready to do it.

“I look forward to the battles this spring. I welcome them”, Storen said.

“If Storen is the closer by March 31st, we would certainly welcome that, but we are not going to force that to happen,” Riggleman told Nationals.com. “If he is pitching in the eighth, or if he gets an out in the seventh and then we need Burnett and Clippard to pitch the ninth, that’s fine. Winning the game is more important than who gets the save.”

The best thing about baseball and especially baseball in- February -in Florida is tomorrow is another day.

Check back to see whom I can grab for tomorrow’s walk and talk.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Stars Past Their Prime: 10 Players Who Will Retire After 2011

Major League Baseball has had its share of legends who played deep into their careers. Some of the most recent to finally hang up their spikes and walk away from the game include Ken Griffey Jr., Trevor Hoffman, and, barring an unexpected comeback, Andy Pettitte.

Each of the aforementioned players stuck around for a long time and were able to leave a lasting impression on the game we all love.

Over the last couple of seasons, team executives have turned their focus to building winning programs with young, athletic, and less-expensive players while the elder generation nears a mass exedos via retirement.

Many of our favorite players will soon be leaving the field and this wave of retirees could certainly see the 2011 campaign as one last “hoorah.” Let’s take a quick look at ten impact players who will retire following the upcoming season.

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2011 NL East Preview: Catcher Power Rankings

As we head toward the start of the 2011 MLB season, it’s time to start previewing the NL East.

Instead of just giving a projection for each team, I’ll rank all of the projected starters at every position, leading up to the final predictions.

The catchers are up first, and as with the division in general, the Braves and Phillies are battling for the top spot. Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz were 1-2 in the National League in WAR for catchers this past season (and Ruiz actually had a higher wOBA), but who will perform better in 2011?

The WAR data used is from FanGraphs and all 2011 projections are from Bill James (via FanGraphs)

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Hall of Fame: Players Who Should Have Been Locks but Are Now Question Marks

Beginning with Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro we have seen that the Hall of Fame voters are not looking fondly on nominees that have their pasts tied to performance enhancing drugs.

Looking back to the stars that emerged in the late 1980’s and through into the early 2000’s, an alarming number of our favorite players were implicated in the steroids scandal.

Baseball saw some of the most hallowed and revered records in our national past time broken by the games modern athletes. Home run records fell, pitchers seemed ageless, and mediocre players became great.

Of course the scandal spread well beyond the game’s elite. Minor League players were implicated in taking steroids, their motivation to make it to The Show. Fringe players took steroids in hopes of holding onto their roster positions or improving their numbers in hopes of a bigger payday down the road.

Now that we are seeing these players reach Hall of Fame eligibility for the first times, the baseball voters will decide how these once immortals of the game will be remembered for all time.

Active players who have ties to the steroid era will have the chance to prove they are able to produce Hall worthy statistics under the assumption that they are now performing clean of any chemical-aid. Will it be enough though? Or will they too find their list of accomplishments not quite good enough when compared to the true immortals of the game.

After all, in most fans’ minds, 73 is not important as 61, nor is 762 as important as 755. 300 Wins does not have the same magical aura to it, nor do the 3000 hit or 500 home run plateaus. 

At one point these players were all considered locks for induction in Cooperstown, now only history will tell if their accomplishments reside with the best that have ever worn a uniform, the accomplishments we can safely assume were accomplished without any artificial aid.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest on Dan Uggla and What the Florida Marlins Can Get

Unless Dan Uggla accepts the Florida Marlins’ four-year condition on contract talks, he will likely get traded, perhaps before Thanksgiving. 

Reportedly, the teams who have expressed more than a mild interest in the 30-year-old second baseman include the Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals. 

Despite the fact the Marlins will be left with a hole in the middle infield, the team wants a catcher and a couple of pitchers in return for the power-hitting second baseman. 

An Uggla trade would also allow the Marlins to allocate the money intended for him towards alternatives in free agency. Options could include a pair of Gold Glovers in the way of second baseman Orlando Hudson (who has won four Gold Gloves) and a revitalization project in Eric Chavez (six Gold Gloves), who was cut by the Oakland Athletics after injury-riddled seasons in 2008, 2009 and 2010. 

The Marlins are moving towards being a team built on pitching and defense and neither option should be surprising considering the team’s decision to bring back defensive guru Perry Hill. 

Another alternative, according to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, would be free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski if the Marlins fail to acquire a catcher in a trade. Both sides share mutual interest and expect for the Marlins to offer a two or three-year deal if it ever gets that far. 

Dan Uggla will turn 31 in March, and the Marlins aren’t willing to give him a contract that extends to when he is 36. Uggla committed a career-high 18 errors this season while having a career year with the bat, hitting .287 with 33 home runs and 105 RBIs. 

Let’s take a look at what they will demand from each team based on what they have to give that appeals to the Marlins.

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