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The Set Up Man





Updated: 2018-04-23T08:26:05Z

 



WordPress.comFor the Toronto Blue Jays, the Buck Stops Here: John Buck or Rod Barajas?

2010-03-04T20:04:41Z

Upon reading the title, one may immediately say that Rod Barajas is the hands down favorite, but a further look at the numbers and the intangibles may show that new addition John Buck is in fact the better catcher for...

Upon reading the title, one may immediately say that Rod Barajas is the hands down favorite, but a further look at the numbers and the intangibles may show that new addition John Buck is in fact the better catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays.

I don’t want to base such an analysis on intangibles, but they need to mentioned. Although Rod Barajas did have to deal with a largely inexperienced pitching staff, especially in terms of starters, and an even more inexperienced set of back-up catchers, it is no comparison to what Buck must face. Buck’s most experienced starter was three-year starter Shaun Marcum: Buck is the perfect man for the job.

Buck comes from a Kansas City team in which he caught the newest AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke; Buck was also integral in Greinke’s development as a pitcher. Plus, playing in the Royals organization gave Buck nothing but experience in dealing with young pitchers, catchers, and losing teams–something Barajas may not have been able to deal with for another year.

Aside from experience, the numbers tell the rest of the story. If Buck’s numbers are averaged out to a 120-game season, as he only played 59 games last year, the advantage goes to Buck.

Buck would have posted 24 doubles, 16 home runs, 73 RBI, 26 walks, and a .247 average. What do the numbers mean? Well, each category is superior to Barajas, with the exception of home runs (Barajas belted 19 last season). Barajas also played 125 games rather than the 120 games I projected for Buck’s numbers.

On top of the numbers and the intangibles, Buck has speed, at least compared to Barajas. In fact, Buck hit four triples in 59 games last year (meaning eight in a full season) compared to Barajas’ zero.

However, the work Buck can do with the pitchers this season cannot be overstated, as Buck is not a long-term solution. That is the main reason why Buck is a better fit: he is a plug for the temporary hole to be fixed by prospect J.P Arencibia. The commitment to the staff has already been shown by Buck, who immediately requested tape on all Blue Jays’ pitchers as soon as his deal was finalized and studied it throughout the Winter, according to Bluejays.com.

In short, Buck’s commitment is there. The rental player mentality does not apply here, and that, combined with his work with young pitchers, saves the Jays not only a half a million dollars, but also saves the debilitation of an up-and-coming pitching staff.

However, whether or not Buck can live up to his projected numbers is yet to be seen.

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Baseball’s 2010 Surprise: The Washington Nationals

2010-02-25T21:28:44Z

Entering the 2010 season one can rest assured that there will be a dark horse team that pushes for a wildcard spot till seemingly the last day. In the past few years its been the Florida Marlins and of course...

Entering the 2010 season one can rest assured that there will be a dark horse team that pushes for a wildcard spot till seemingly the last day. In the past few years its been the Florida Marlins and of course the miracle run of the Tampa Bay Rays, so who is it this year? Now don’t get me wrong I’m not suggesting the following team will be in the world series or even contend for a playoff spot but I think most of baseball will be pleasantly suprised with the Washington Nationals. Yep, I said it, the Washington Nationals.

The Nationals have gone through their fair share of players, and managers for that matter, in the past few years but it seems like General Manager Mike Rizzo is going about the offseason in the proper way. First off the Nationals and Rizzo looked from within to fix a few holes. The main innovative fix comes from the loss of first baseman Nick Johnson, who Rizzo was forced to trade as he was not going to be able to resign Johnson after the 2009 season. To fix the gap the coaching staff decided an innovative switch of Adam Dunn from left field, where his big body and lack of speed hampers his defensive skills, to first base where the power hitter can play more games, be less of a defensive worry, and of course stay in the league longer.

The rest of the infield, with franchise player Ryan Zimmerman at third and last year’s Nationals’ all star Christian Guzman at shortstop, seemed set with only the positions of second and catcher left to address. Second base was quickly filled with the addition of the World Series winning Adam Kennedy and catcher was filled by future all star Ivan Rodriguez. Kennedy has a career .983% fielding percentage at second, his primary position, and will relish in the opportunity to bolster what was one of his better offensive years with the Athletics last season.

Rodriguez will help with the worst portion of the still young Nationals team which is their pitching staff. With ‘Pudge’ backstopping a young and unexperienced relief core he can teach the pitchers and backup catcher Will Nieves the intracacies of the battery positions. The Nationals of course have rookie Stephen Strasburg in the fold for the starting rotation plus the overall pitching additions of Jason Marquis, Chien-Ming Wang, and Matt Capps. Marquis posted a winning record last season, Wang is a former Cy Young winner – despite an atrocious 2009 campaign – and Capps may have been the best closer realistically available for Rizzo.

Simply, the Nationals will field much better offensive numbers this season, especially with the numbers of the unheralded Josh Willingham, plus an overall better fielding team. Speed in the outfield and on the bases will also help this team, through Nyjer Morgan and Elijah Dukes, and a drastically improved rotation can only mean a better year for the Nationals. It may not be the year for a playoff push but it is certaintly the first year for Washington fans to be excited when spring camps close.




The Florida Marlins – Why the Future is at Hand

2008-06-20T17:13:06Z

   With a payroll of $22 million the Florida Marlins are by far the biggest surprise so far in baseball, perhaps with the exception of the Tampa Bay Rays, but there is a reason that they are only 2 games...

   With a payroll of $22 million the Florida Marlins are by far the biggest surprise so far in baseball, perhaps with the exception of the Tampa Bay Rays, but there is a reason that they are only 2 games out, and one of the best teams in baseball. That reason is the front office and general managing team of the Florida Marlins.

  Since 1980 only 2 teams have ever been repeat World Series champions, the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees, and through the actions of the Florida Marlins they have realized that both teams have neglected to win the World Series after their repeat titles. The Marlins front office have executed the best fire sales in the history of the MLB.

 After the team won their second World Series they began the careful elimination process of its best and most sought after players. Immediately following the win, the next month, the team traded away Derrek Lee to the Cubs and released Chad Allen. In the next while to come the team allowed Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett, Paul Lo Duca, Antonio Alfonseca, Mike Lowell, Carlos Delgado, Juan Pierre, and Luis Castillo. The team was chopped into bits and pieces and after a successful few seasons from Dontrelle Willis, now in the minors, and  Miguel Cabrera the Marlins made the choice to ship them out to Detroit.

Out of all of their deals they have received Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez from Boston, Dan Uggla from Arizona, Sergio Mitre and Ricky Nolasco from the Cubs, and Mike Jacobs from the Mets. The Marlins starting shortstop, second baseman, and first baseman are putting up some of the best numbers in baseball, 15, 21, and 17 home runs respectively. Together they have 130 RBIs and when comparing Jacobs to Delgado and Ramirez to Lowell the numbers show why the intelligence of the front office. Combined the Marlins duo have 32 homers and 78 RBI compared to 21 homers and 70 RBI.

These three infielders, all destined to be all stars and perhaps gold glovers, were all prospects scouted by the Marlins front office. The class of prospects they picked up through the Willis and Cabrera trade can be another set of incredible scouting by the Florida Marlins for the umpteenth time. I would not be surprised if the 6 year World Championship pattern continues for the Marlins, next up 2009.   




A Return to ’05 – The Chicago White Sox

2008-06-15T17:32:17Z

  The Chicago White Sox recently opened up a 5 game lead in the AL Central and many are saying they are playing some of the best baseball in the league, even the Chicago vs Chicago World Series talk is...

 

The Chicago White Sox recently opened up a 5 game lead in the AL Central and many are saying they are playing some of the best baseball in the league, even the Chicago vs Chicago World Series talk is starting up again. But, how did the White Sox get to this point and my biggest question do the White Sox have what they had in 2005? Is another World Series on the way?

  To start the defencive situation of the team has vastly improved with Orlando Cabrera taking over the short stop role, improving on Uribe’s fielding by.020 points. Not only has short stop improved but Joe Crede has developed into a better fielder at third base and Nick Swisher has filled the hole left vacant by Aaron Rowand and Scott Podsednik.

  With the absence of Scott Podsednik the manager, Ozzie Guillen, can no longer count on a 40 stolen base season from any of his player and, as a result, has become a more effective manager, calling more hit and runs and playing strategic baseball.

  Perhaps the biggest reason the White Sox are playing so well this year is the pitching staff. With Floyd, Buerhle, Contreras, Vazquez, and Danks holding their own and earning 26 of 38 wins so far this year. Not to mention Danks and Contreras have remarkably high strikeout numbers. This simply means that the ball stays out of the field and eliminates all possibilities for errors and infield hits. They are key to recording outs in the easiest way possible.

  Aside from some rather minor details, such as the Sox having a set DH in Thome rather than both Carl Everett and Frank Thomas in 2005, the Chicago White Sox look poised for a run at the title. Maybe it is because, per person, they are averaging 6 more walks and 11 strike outs less than at the halfway point in 2005. The average remains relatively the same with the home runs per game increased slightly.

But, there is one major reason why the White Sox are playing so well, and that is, the farm system. Toby Hall is backing up at catcher and is hitting .321, providing a solid 40 game backup for A.J Pierzynski. Not just Hall but Juan Uribe, who was a starter in 2005, plays backup infielder, although he is more than capable of starting, and Pablo Ozuna playing back up outfielder with Alexie Ramirez. All of these players, including Josh Fields in the minors who was battling for a position last season, are keeping the White Sox starters playing well, knowing they can be replaced at any time.

The Chicago White Sox are taking all of the pieces that they currently have and are effectively solving the puzzle. It does, at this point, seem like the puzzle is shaping up to say 2008 World Series Champions, we can only wait and see.