Andy Marte Assigned To Minors; States “My Work Here Is Done”

The Pittsburgh Pirates assigned four players to their minor league affiliates on Saturday. Among those players was former elite, can’t-miss prospect Andy Marte.

Marte was signed late last year by the Pittsburgh Pirates after he was let go by the Cleveland Indians. It seemed like a pretty mundane signing, the Pirates most likely hoping to find lightning in a bottle in the form of a post-hype prospect. But according to GM Neal Huntington, that just wasn’t the case:

We knew exactly what we were doing when signing Andy Marte. We, as an organization, wanted to keep in line with Pittsburgh’s rich history of failed top prospects. Pedro Alvarez had a good, not great rookie year. It was exactly what we were looking for from our top farmhand. Just enough production to tantalize fans but with all the proper warning signs; low batting average, high strikeout numbers, poor K/BB ratio. That’s where Andy comes in.

Marte, who was once the No. 1 prospect in a Boston organization that included Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz and Dustin Pedroia, feels that the work he put in with Alvarez during spring training will pay off:

I was excited when Neal called me last year concerning Pedro Alvarez. I saw a lot of myself in Pedro and felt I had a lot to offer in the form of tutelage. He has the high strikeouts and all, but does he reeeeealllly know how to fail at the big league level? That’s where I come in.

The Pirates recent history of failed top prospects include Steven Pearce, Bryan Bullington and John Van Benschoten. They’ve also taken in several strays from other organizations such as Lastings Milledge, Andy Laroche and Jeff Clement. And that is just to name a few…seriously.

With Marte guiding the way it is safe to believe that Alvarez will disappoint Pirates fans like many other hyped draft picks. The 2011 season could prove to be quite important when determining the career path for Alvarez. Marte had these closing comments before reporting to his minor league assignment:

If Pedro can hover right above the Mendoza Line while providing mediocre power from a premium offensive position and parlay it into a six year major league career….then I would say that my work here is done.

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2011 Predictions

For those of you without the patience to wait six months to see what happens this season, let me tell you:

National League

  • West – Giants: Hard to imagine the defending champs not winning the west again this year, considering they’ll have the same team, except with a full year of Buster Posey, another rookie of the year candidate in Brandon Belt, and probable bounce back years from Pablo Sandoval and Tim Lincecum (although he doesn’t have that far to bounce back). 
  • Central – Cardinals: Things didn’t start off well for the Red Birds this spring with Adam Wainwright going down for the year with Tommy John surgery.  But what they are missing in elbow ligaments they make up in grit and Albert Pujols.  The Cards were picked to finish 4th in 2009 and won the central.  They were picked to win last year and got second.  Most are picking them to miss the playoffs this year, so I’m going to follow the trend. 
  • EastPhillies: With Jayson Werth gone and Chase Utley’s status up in the air, the Phillies’ offense could, dare I say, struggle this year.  But, lucky for them, they won’t be required to score too many runs this year.  With their number four starter capable of being the ace for many teams in the majors, look for the Phils to repeat as east champs.
  • Wild Card – Braves: With a good rotation, deep bullpen, and solid lineup, the Braves will make the playoffs in 2011, proving once and for all that it was Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz, not Bobby Cox, that led them to all those playoff appearances in the 90’s.  In an interesting twist, the Braves will not fire Fredi Gonzalez , despite his success.
  • MVP – Albert Pujols: As always, it will be a two horse race for MVP, Albert Pujols vs. the field.  Only, this race will be like the 1973 Belmont and Pujols will be Secretariat (R.I.P.), in other words, it won’t be a race.  In what is his first contract year, it seems impossible that Pujols’ numbers could get even better, but it sure will be fun to find out.
  • Cy Young – Tommy Hanson: With all the hype surrounding the Phillies’ big four (sorry Joe Blanton), many people are forgetting about Hanson, who at the ripe age of 24 has already pitched 33o innings of 3.16 era, 1.18 whip baseball.  If his K rate rises closer to his minor league level of 10.7/9 look out.
  • Rookie of the Year – Craig Kimbrel: Using Neftali Feliz’s blueprint of playing an entire season with a lot of saves and K’s for a playoff bound team, Kimbrel will take home the rookie of the year hardware.
  • Manager of the Year – Tony LaRussa: With Wainwright’s injury, the stage is already set.  All LaRussa needs to do is guide his gritty bunch to the postseason and the award is his.

American League

  • West – A’s: I know it’s the sexy pick, but hey, who doesn’t like sexy picks?.  They led the AL in ERA last season and have made some improvements to one of the leagues worst offenses.  But where they will win it is with their bullpen, which even without Andrew Bailey, will be the best in the division.
  • Central – White Sox: Led by Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko, there will be no shortage of power at US Cellular Field.  Their pitching, while uninspiring, is dependable and the back end of their bullpen is in good hands with closer Matt Thornton and rookie Chris Sale. 
  • East – Red Sox: It won’t be as easy as everyone thinks, considering 60% of their rotation was terrible last year, but their everyday lineup is basically an all star team, so the combined 5.00 era from Beckett, Lackey, and Dice-K won’t be that big of a deal. 
  • Wild Card – Rays: No Crawford, no problem.  The Rays should have a good offense and a rotation that has a chance to be better than the Red Sox.  The bullpen could pose problems, but if James Shields, Manny Ramirez, and Ben Zobrist can return to form, then the Rays will still be a top team in the AL.
  • MVP – Evan Longoria: He may have disappointed fantasy owners last year with his 22 home runs in 2010, but he also set highs in average, obp, ops+, and won his 2nd gold glove.  Without Carl Crawford, he will undoubtedly be the face of the franchise and if the Rays are to make the playoffs, it will be because Longoria had a huge year.
  • Cy Young – Jon Lester: Averaging over 17 wins and 200 k’s for the past three seasons, this will finally be the year that Lester gets the hardware.  With the Red Sox offense, 20 wins is not out of the question and all the other stats will be there too.
  • Rookie of the Year – Tsuyoshi Nishioka: Baseball writers love first year Asian players that are older than the rest of the rookies.  Nishioka will play every day, probably hit around .300, score a bunch of runs, steal some bases, and play good defense.  In other words, he’ll look pretty good among the other ‘rookies’.
  • Manager of the Year – Bob Geren: If the A’s make the playoffs, then there’s no other choice.
  • NLCS – Braves over Phillies
  • ALCS – Red Sox over White Sox
  • World Series – Braves over Red Sox
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Where were they then – Richie Sexson

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If you were compiling a list of players better at fantasy baseball than real baseball, Richmond Lockwood Sexson (I feel like there should be a ‘III’ behind that) would probably be at or near the top of said list.  Despite being the tallest player in major league history with over 300 career home runs*, Sexson averaged a measly 1.2 WAR per season over his 12 year, 5 team career.

While WAR is nice for sabermatricians, to Sexson it’s nothing more than a card game you play with kids.  His game was home runs and RBI, and from 2001-2003, he rewarded his owners with a three year average of .274, 92 r, 40 hr, 117 rbi.  Not numbers you would trade, say, Ryan Howard for, but huge value for a guy that was usually picked after the top 1b options.

After hitting 45 homers in 2003, Sexson was shipped to Arizona before the 2004 season.  The D-Backs sent 6 players* to the Brew Crew in exchange for Sexson, who rewarded them with 9 home runs in 23 games.  He then moved on to Seattle in 2005, who spent a combined $114 million on Sexson and Adrian Beltre in the same offseason.  Those two went on to form the AL’s most formidable corner infield combo hamstring the franchise for years to come.

But like I said, Sexson was always better in the fantasy game, so he did manage to put up a couple useful years in Seattle, averaging 36 hr/114 rbi in 2005-2006, before falling off the map in 2007 and off his rocker in 2008, eventually ending his career with the New York Yankees.

* I didn’t look it up, but am willing to go out on a limb with this one
*Chris Capuano, Craig Counsell, Chad Moeller, Lyle Overbay, Jorge de la Rosa, and Junior Spivey
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Players With Trade Buzz In 2011

This interesting read comes from the good folks at The Bleacher Report. There are some big names included who have spent a lot of time playing for one team. We will see how it all plays out but one can guarantee that someone will be getting moved during the season. Follow the link below:

MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Players Who Will Generate Buzz Before the Trading Deadline

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A Word Of Advice When Drafting Francisco Rodriguez In 2011

Chances are you weren’t looking to overdraft in order to ensure you get K-Rod this year, but here is an interesting tidbit of information that will probably help you sour on him even more.

Here is the meat and potatoes you will need:

The Mets were largely criticized when they signed K-rod to what was then the richest contract ever given to a relief pitcher.

What many people may not have realized is that Rodriguez’s three year, $37 million deal includes a $17.5 million option for 2012.

This option triggers automatically if he finishes 55 total games in 2011 and doctors declare him healthy.

Rodriguez, and his violent delivery, has stayed pretty healthy throughout his career. There is little doubt he won’t remain in good health during the 2011 season. Mental health is a whole other issue altogether.

But the Mets have obviously lost a considerable amount of patience with Rodriguez’s on the field performance and off the field antics. One could say that no reliever is worth $17.5 million a year. No one is going to say that Rodriguez is that reliever. I would say it is a safe bet that the Mets will not be running K-Rod out there 55+ times in 2011.

What does that mean to Joe Fantasy Draft? Well it means that Rodriguez isn’t going to pile up too many innings. He will most likely only pitch in games where there is a save situation entering the ninth. These are 55 appearances, folks. Not innings. K-Rod could conceivably be kept out of 1-out save situations if the Mets give up runs in the 9th.

He may still get 30+ saves but his innings will be low enough to where his ratios won’t affect your bottom line. I would bet he won’t provide you with many vulture wins as well. Rodriguez will probably be kept on the bench most of the time during tie ball games. And kiss non-save situations goodbye.

But we all know closers tank your ERA/WHIP in non-save situations.

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Royals Not Interested In Racking Up Anymore Steals

Here’s a humorous anecdote from the Kansas City Royals camp. At least the Arizona police appear to be in good spirits about their ineptitude:

Rookie LHP Everett Teaford, who had his pickup truck stolen outside of a Peoria, Ariz., restaurant earlier in the week, said police found the vehicle Wednesday in the desert between Phoenix and Tucson, completely stripped. “The cop said the best we could hope for is they got bit by a rattlesnake while they were out there stripping it,” Teaford said. … The Royals have controlled intrasquad games scheduled Thursday and Friday. Yost said pitchers would be limited to 20 pitches.

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Zack Greinke: Interview Extraordinaire

Zack Greinke should be forced to give interviews following every game, whether he pitched or not. Here’s some highlights of the interview:
On his new teammates:

“I like a lot of the guys. I haven’t seen anyone yet that’s annoying to me. They’ve all been good.”

On talking to reporters:

“Probably 99% of the time I do it like this is because every day I come to the park and want to get focused on my start, and then random people come and waste my time talking every day. It takes eight minutes to get a real question out because they’re like buttering me up. Then they get to the question and it’s a stupid question. So it’s a waste of 10 minutes, and in that 10-minute time I don’t get to do what I needed to do.”

On talking to other people:

“To talk to people, I have to spend energy talking to them,” he said. “If I expend my energy on talking to people and making friends, it takes away from the energy I could focus on getting ready to pitch. I try to avoid nonsense talk. It wears me out to do stuff like our meetings every day. If I actually listen to the person talking, it’ll wear me out. So I kind of go into a little daze. Then I’m still refreshed from it.”

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In the words of Larry David, this is pretty good. . . pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay good

Photo Story: La Decisión – ARod Counsels Albert Pujols

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Finally. . . baseball is back in order

That's right, I've made over $20 million doing THIS

As a Cardinals fan, I was naturally consumed by the recent Albert Pujols contract negotiations and subsequent failure to agree to terms before his self imposed deadline.  After weeks of reckless tweets and unnamed sources reporting what seemed like everything from Pujols demanding the first born of every St. Louis family to the Cardinals offering him a key to the city, I almost forgot that this is the best time of the year and, regardless of what happens with Pujols, baseball will go on.

There is no bigger reminder of that than pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, players showing up to camp with an extra 10 lbs of muscle or having lost 25 lbs, and this:  Rich Harden to Miss Two Weeks.

Usually players take a few weeks in spring training to build up to game speed, but it seems as though Harden is already in mid-season form.


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Exactly HOW Scrappy Was Aaron Miles?

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