Tag: Josh Willingham

3 Trades MLB Teams Can’t Afford to Wait Until July to Make

Teams will normally assess where they are in the standings much closer to the trade deadline on July 31st before deciding if they will be “buyers” or “sellers”. Yet, here we are in June and there are a handful of teams that have to feel like they are heading in the wrong direction and it’s getting close to “do or die” time. 

Back in April, I made some arguments for why teams should consider making trades earlier in the season, if possible, with the few extra wins in the standings potentially being the difference between going to the playoffs or going home for the winter. 

In these June trade ideas, the goal is for a team to avoid dropping out of contention and into “seller” mode by the end of July or, in some cases, to just make a trade a month earlier to try and win a few extra games. The challenge is finding a non-contending team—Astros, Brewers, Cubs, Marlins, Mets are included in this group—that has an impact player that they’re willing to trade now. 

Here are three potential trades that should be made now.

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MLB All-Star Game 2012: Breaking Down the Minnesota Twins’ Representative

When your favorite team stinks, it leads to a heated discussion over who should be the “best of the worst” and be the representative for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

The rule requiring that one player from every team must be in the event has lead to healthy debate and getting somebody like Ron Coomer to rub elbows with people who deserve to be there.

With the Minnesota Twins stuck at the bottom of the American League Central with a 24-35 record, the debate has opened as to whom should represent the team in Kansas City on July 10.

In my mind, there are three players that have the credentials to be put on the All-Star roster.

The first player, and most likely the front-runner, is Josh Willingham. “The Willinghammer” is currently second among American League outfielders in OPS (.969) behind Josh Hamilton. His .289 average is third on the team behind Ben Revere and Joe Mauer

Willingham has also provided several clutch hits for the Twins and has become the first Twin to solve the mystery of Target Field as he’s hit eight of his 12 bombs at the Twins’ home ballpark. For a team that has had it’s fair share of weird excuses, Willingham has been a pure power hitter.

The second candidate for the Twins could be their closer, Matt Capps. Capps is not a fan favorite in Minnesota, but he’s been having a solid season outside of a couple bad outings.

Capps is 14-for-15 in save opportunities this season and has boasted an opponent average of .233. Although Capps has made several games interesting late, he’s done his job well and could be rewarded with a trip to Kansas City.

Finally, there’s the pitcher that’s lead the Twins to a better stretch of play recently in Scott Diamond. The Twins acquired Diamond prior to the 2010 season and stashed him in Triple-A for a couple of seasons.

After making seven starts for the Twins last year (1-5, 5.08 ERA), Diamond made adjustments and is arguably their best pitcher with a record of 5-1 in seven starts.

No rookie pitcher has had a better start to their career than Diamond has, as his 1.61 ERA is a franchise-low for a rookie pitcher. Diamond has also cut down on the runners he’s let on base total including walking just four batters in 44.1 innings entering Tuesday.

While the Twins haven’t set the world on fire in the first half of the season, it’s safe to say that they’ll be sending somebody more qualified than Coomer was when he made his 1999 All-Star appearance. If it’s up to you, who would you choose to represent the Twins in the All-Star game?

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Oakland A’s Losing Streak at 7 Thanks to Ex-A, Desperate for Cespedes to Return

Josh Willingham hit 29 home runs for the Oakland A’s in 2011. Tuesday night he hit a walk-off home run for the Minnesota Twins that defeated the A’s.

It was a pitchers duel for most of the night but in the seventh inning, the Oakland A’s looked like they might pull off the victory after they broke through for a run and followed it up in the eighth inning with another run.

The Twins were shut out for eight innings and broke out in the ninth to defeat the A’s 3-2.

Brian Fuentes came in to close the game for Oakland and allowed a single to the first batter he faced. He walked the next batter, Denard Span, but was then able to get two outs before he had to face Willingham.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth and trailing 2-0, Willingham smashed a three-run walk-off home run to hand the A’s their seventh straight loss.

The A’s are reeling and are now 7-14 since losing Yoenis Cespedes on May 7 to a strained hand muscle.

The A’s are hoping that their slugger can return soon and if all goes well he will be penciled in the lineup on Friday.

Oakland will finish their series up in Minnesota on Wednesday before having an off day on Thursday. Their road trip continues to Kansas City on Friday, hopefully with Cespedes’ present, it will provide a boost this team desperately needs.


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Minnesota Twins: Has Terry Ryan Done Enough to Restore Hope?

Since being renamed the Minnesota Twins general manager, Terry Ryan, according to Baseball-Reference.com, has signed more free agents than any other team in baseball.

On paper, at best it looks like the Twins are no better than they were in 2011, and perhaps a little worse. His approach appears to be to replace what has been lost, and hope what remains returns to the form that delivered 94 wins in 2010, instead of the result in 2011.

With 20 signings, Ryan and the Twins have signed as many free agents as the Tigers, White Sox and Indians combined.

The problem is Ryan appears to be rebuilding the Twins farm system that is not as strong as it was when he stepped down in 2007, with 75 percent of the free agents signed to minor league contracts.

Perhaps one can take some solace in that all 15 of the players signed to minor-league contracts have been invited to spring training. 

The five free agents added to the 40-man roster include catcher/first baseman Ryan Doumit, left fielder Josh Willingham, second baseman Jamey Carroll and starting pitcher Jason Marquis. The re-signing of closer Matt Capps rounds out the Ryan’s work so far.

Gone are free agents Jose Mijares, who signed with Kansas City, Jason Kubel, who is now in Arizona, Michael Cuddyer, who will play with Colorado and Joe Nathan, with the current two-time AL Pennant winner Texas Rangers.

While signing starting pitcher Marquis is a solid move, with a career 104-98 record and a 4.55 ERA, he’s not the staff ace many Twins fans were hoping for.

The addition of Willingham almost offsets the loss of Cuddyer—almost. Gone is the flexibility to play just about anywhere on the field. On the plus side, Willingham brings a bit more power, averaging 16.5 home runs over eight seasons, compared to Cuddyer’s 12.8 per season in 11 years with Minnesota.Even with the worst record in the American League, Minnesota was second only to the Yankees in attendance with 3.16 millions fans attending games at Target Field. With no blockbuster deal, Ryan and the Twins must think that the lure of Target Field will overpower the on-field performance for at least one more season.

The honeymoon of a new ballpark will only carry them so far.

The Twins need to be more than just improved over last season—after all, it shouldn’t take much to improve on their 63-99 record of last season. They need to contend for the AL Central in 2012, or the fans will start looking forward to the Vikings season come August.

The timing to reduce the payroll comes at the wrong time. The Twins need to make a bold move to improve the team. Returning to the success of winning the division only to make a first-round exit in the playoffs is no longer acceptable.

The expectation with the revenue from Target Field was to improve the team and bring another World Series Championship to Minnesota.

Anything less than that is a failure—and Ryan has not even come close with the moves made so far.

All is not lost, yet. Perhaps Ryan is looking to bundle many of those minor-league signees to make a blockbuster trade before the season starts.

Of course, that would be totally out of character and unprecedented for the Twins GM.

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Oakland Athletics 2012 Team Calendar: A Symbol of Frustration

Do not buy the Oakland Athletics 2012 team calendar for anything other than humorous reasons. 

As an avid fan, let me explain why. 

Recently, I was at a Barnes and Noble doing some last-minute holiday shopping, along with what seemed like everyone else in the Bay Area. The store was packed and the shelves barren. I found myself wandering into the calendar section, the only place that didn’t look destroyed by Hurricane Procrastination. 

Scanning the available stock, I was sorely disappointed with myself—socks and calendars rival each other as the most thoughtless gift to give someone. 

But on Christmas Eve, anything becomes a possibility. 

Top shelf, at eye level, a green and gold one caught my attention. It was the A’s team calendar for 2012, with four players gracing the cover: starting pitchers Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill, closer Andrew Bailey and catcher Kurt Suzuki. 

At the time, half of those players had already been traded away. Before the year even started!

Needless to say, I got a good chuckle. It was an LLOL moment, I literally laughed out loud at the item that stood before me. That was followed by the dejected realization that the club had once again parted ways with more proven players in exchange for unproven prospects. A pattern us fans have sadly grown accustomed to. 

The calendar not only represents 2012, but the past decade of frustration as we’ve watched several quality players develop in an A’s uniform only to be traded or allowed to walk away as they enter their prime. 

The growing list includes Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Tim Hudson, Dan Haren, Carlos Gonzales and plenty more. The trend has continued this offseason with the dealing of the organization’s three most recent All-Stars (Gio Gonzales, Bailey and Cahill) and outfielder Josh Willingham, the only power-hitter in an otherwise impotent lineup.

It’s a merry-go-round that seems to have no end. 

So, once again, purchase the calendar at your own risk. The remaining two on the cover may be traded while you stand in line at the local bookstore. 

Then again, you didn’t need me to tell you that, as fans have adopted the frugal philosophy of Billy Beane’s front office. 

Good thing the calendar is probably at a heavily discounted price by now—at least half off. 

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Oakland Athletics: Josh Willingham and 5 Players That Need to Re-Sign for 2012

For the Oakland Athletics, the 2011 baseball campaign is creeping to a halt.

Having had a tumultuous and exciting six months of baseball that included benchings and a firing, injuries and trades and, oh yeah, a movie release based on the team’s general manager (which opens nationwide today), the A’s are ready to put the season behind them as quickly as possible.

Yes, like most teams, the A’s have encountered some peaks through the course of the year; but the valleys have been absolutely abysmal—the nadir being a 10-game losing streak that they never fully recovered from.

Much of the blame can be and was attributed to the slothfully slow start offensively by the team as a whole. Although several players did warm up a bit midseason, by then the A’s had lost two of their starting pitchers for the season, and were in a tailspin that was difficult to overcome in a competitive AL West division.

With that in mind, the A’s head into the offseason with numerous players eligible for free agency and salary arbitration. This September has allowed Oakland to examine their 40-man roster and not only take a deeper look at those youngsters who have bright futures with the team, but also determine which veterans should be traded and which ones should be kept on next season.

Here are five players who the A’s need to re-sign this offseason.

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2011 MLB Fantasy Baseball: American League Waiver Wire Gems

Brett Lawrie, 2B Toronto Blue Jays (23 percent owned in Yahoo, 22.7 percent in ESPN)

Current Stat Line: 2/4, 1 RBI

Brett Lawrie has finally arrived! He tore up AAA pitching this season going .353/64/18/61/13. In my opinion, the call-up should have happened much earlier—but it didn’t. Then Lawrie suffered a hand injury on May 31st which kept him out of the game for a while. Now that it is completely healed, expect him to rake for the Blue jays.

Projection (rest of season): .280 AVG / 23 R / 6 HR / 26 RBI / 4 SB


Hideki Matsui, OF Oakland Athletics (32 percent owned in Yahoo, 70.6 percent in ESPN)

Current Stat Line: .268 AVG / 39 R / 10 HR / 54 RBI / 1 SB

I try not to mention players two weeks in a row, but I need to make an exception here. It seems like ESPN has caught on to Matsui but Yahoo leaguers haven’t. In the past six games he has gone .524/4/1/3. In Yahoo, some of the players owned ahead of him are Alex Rios, Jason Kubel, Juan Pierre and Delmon Young.

Projection (rest of season): .279 AVG / 22 R / 6 HR / 23 RBI / 0 SB


Josh Willingham, OF Oakland Athletics (23 percent owned in Yahoo, 39.1 percent in ESPN)

Current Stat Line: .245 AVG / 41 R / 16 HR / 61 RBI / 4 SB

Willingham has been a streaky hitter all season, but he had a monster month of July, going .324/.429/.618. His HR/RBI numbers are actually pretty impressive considering he only has registered 314 AB. If you extrapolate his power numbers over 600 AB you get 30/116. He is batting cleanup for the Athletics so the RBI opportunities should continue.

Projection (rest of season): .240 AVG / 21 R / 7 HR / 29 RBI / 2 SB


Rick Porcello, SP Detroit Tigers (21 percent owned in Yahoo, 29.6 percent in ESPN)

Current Stat Line: 11 W / 6 L / 73 K / 4.49 ERA / 1.36 WHIP

Now that August is upon us, it’s time to start looking at matchups for fantasy baseball playoffs. From September fifth through the 25th the Tigers face: @CLE, MIN, @CHI, @OAK, @KC and BAL. They have a pretty good schedule leading up to September fifth, too: @CLE, @BAL, MIN, CLE, @TB, @MIN, KC and CHI. Porcello’s BB/9 of 2.21 and 49.1 percent of groundballs will keep him out of serious trouble going forward.

Projection (rest of season): 4 W / 3 L / 34 K / 3.65 ERA / 1.24 WHIP


Doug Fister, SP Detroit Tigers (15 percent owned in Yahoo, five percent in ESPN)

Current Stat Line: 4 W / 12 L / 89 K / 3.29 ERA / 1.17 WHIP

I know it’s a bit unorthodox to suggest two starting pitchers from the Tigers on the same waiver wire article, but you can’t argue with the schedule and I actually like Fister more. Fister’s K/9 is only slightly worse at 5.24 and he is a control freak (1.88 BB/9, 64.3 first pitch strike percentage). For what it’s worth, I picked him up in our league.

Projection (rest of season): 4 W / 4 L / 32 K / 3.40 ERA / 1.10 WHIP

For other entries in our waiver-wire gems series, click here!

Brian “Killboy” Kilpatrick is a Senior Writer for 4thandHome.com, where this, and other work, can be found. Additionally, he is co-host of The 4th and Home Show on Blog Talk Radio.

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MLB Rumors: Free Agents Available Who Could Fit The Phillies In 2012

I hate to look ahead and into the future, but it’s looking like the 2012 free agency period may be an important one for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Many of the main cogs of the franchise will be over to the age of 35 or close to it.  The window isn’t exactly opened all the way.

Not only do some of the Phillies prospects have to prosper down the line, Amaro is going to have to make some tough decisions.  Who does he want to re-sign or sign during this time frame.  Philadelphia’s farm system is ranked in the top five by the way.

I think there’s two focal points that Amaro will target, a power hitting right handed outfielder, and arms in the back of the bullpen.

Here’s ten guys I can see Amaro targeting after the 2011 season….



Power Ranking the Starting First Basemen

Power Ranking the Starting Second Basemen

Power Ranking the Starting Shortstops

Power Ranking the Starting Third Basemen

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MLB’s Tale of Two Cities: Can the 2011 A’s Repeat the Giants’ Season of 2010?

A vaunted homegrown pitching staff. A very strong bullpen led by an All-Star closer.

A franchise player behind the plate. A balanced mix of young guys and veterans.

Low expectations. A mild-mannered, baseball-minded manager in the dugout. 

A weak, very winnable division where the other teams made negligible offseason improvements.

Last year was a good year for the Giants. And by good year, I mean they won the World Series. Yes, THAT good. And the above statements pretty accurately describe the team at the start of the 2010 season. 

And if that’s the recipe for success, it looks like the Oakland Athletics are using the same cookbook for 2011. 

Now I’m not going to take that extreme leap of faith and call the A’s the “soon-to-be 2011 World Champions,” but I will say that there are a lot of similarities, both on the team and in the division, that make the comparisons very valid. 

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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. 

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