Saturday, March 9, 2013

Miami Marlins 2013 Outlook

As the 2013 season is upon us, I will provide a look at all 30 teams starting in order of 2012 reverse standings. Starting with the 55 win Houston Astros, and ending with the 98 win Washington Nationals. I will cover three aspects of every team including major league talent, minor league talent, and the future of the team. Major league talent will consist mostly of the top players on the team and also depth, minor league talent will be the top minor leaguers, and the future basically combines the two while also considering many other factors including payroll and the front office. I will also assign an overall grade on the scout's 20-80 scale for how the organization fares top to bottom. For reference, 50 is average while every plus/minus 10 points is about 1 standard deviation above/below the mean. This is to provide an outlook on every team while also giving some insight on what to expect in the future. The overall grade at the end is highly subjective, so don't take too much stock in the grade. Last time, we looked at the Cleveland Indians.

Next up, we have the Miami Marlins.

Projected Lineup:  LF Juan Pierre 3B Placido Polanco RF Giancarlo Stanton 1B Logan Morrison CF Justin Ruggiano C Rob Brantly 2B Donovan Solano SS Adeiny Hechavarria

Projected Rotation: Ricky Nolasco Henderson Alvarez Wade LeBlanc Nathan Eovaldi Jacob Turner

Notable Relief Pitchers: Steven Cishek, Jon Rauch

Major League Talent: The Miami Marlins shocked the world last offseason when they eschewed their frugal ways and signed Jose Reyes and Mark Buerhle to lucrative deals. After starting the season off rather disappointingly, they have dealt away every tradable asset excpet Giancarlo Stanton. They dealt away all of their best players, including Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, Hanley Ramirez, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell, Anibal Sanchez, and Jose Reyes. The Marlins went from preseason favorites to firesale in less than 12 months. The lineup only has two starters from the opening day 2012 season, Stanton and Logan Morrison. Giancarlo Stanton is the third most valuable player in baseball, and a case can be made that he has more value than Bryce Harper. He just turned 23, and he's already hit 93 HR, while slugging .608 in a pitchers home park. Stanton destroys baseballs. The problem is that he's got no one around him to help him out. Many think that it will hurt his stats, but it should only hurt his runs and rbi. His HR total will be fine, as pitchers don't have to worry about Stanton hitting a HR when they're in the lead by multiple runs. Stanton will probably be the next great former Marlin, as he will hit arbitration following the 2013 season.

The rotation will feature four new faces, with the only returning pitcher being Ricky Nolasco. The rest of the rotation is filled with rookies and young pitchers making the league minimum. Former top prospect Jacob Turner acquired from the Tigers could develop into a middle of the rotation arm soon enough. Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alavrez could be solid pitchers with potential for this rotation also. The rotation could potentially be a bright spot for the Marlins this season. Steven Cishek excelled last season, and you can expect more of the same from him.

Minor League Talent: The Marlins system is very talented, with a solid combination of depth and high end talent. The system is led by outfielder Christian Yelich and pitcher Jose Fernandez. I'm not as high on Christian Yelich as most, but that's mostly because I like to see more power from a top prospect. There's no denying the hit tool, but we'll see how his power plays as he hits the upper minors. Jose Fernandez  dominated A-ball last season with a 1.75 ERA across two levels. Fernandez could be a top of the rotation starter if everything works out. Outside of these two, the Marlins also have solid prospects in Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, and Andrew Heaney.

Future Outlook: The Marlins have had very good teams in the past, and every time, that teams gets blown up. Top players end up being traded away for prospects and the fan base is scarred every time. I don't like to express my fandom for any team in my writing, but if I were a Marlin fan, I'd be deeply upset with the direction of this team. Even as a fan of baseball, it gets tiresome seeing a solid team built, then destroyed shortly after. In the past year alone, we've seen the likes of Anibal Sanchez, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, and Emilio Bonifacio. I'm kind of surprised Giancarlo Stanton wasn't traded while they were at it. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is in the running for worst owner in all of baseball. I'm not sure the Marlins will compete anytime soon with this approach. If anything, they need to emulate the Rays model where a team friendly extension is feasible. The Marlins don't have a problem finding talent, they just need to do a better job at keeping the talent that they already have. Until they do, this organization's future is not very bright.

Overall Grade: 30/80

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cleveland Indians 2013 Outlook

As the 2013 season is upon us, I will provide a look at all 30 teams starting in order of 2012 reverse standings. Starting with the 55 win Houston Astros, and ending with the 98 win Washington Nationals. I will cover three aspects of every team including major league talent, minor league talent, and the future of the team. Major league talent will consist mostly of the top players on the team and also depth, minor league talent will be the top minor leaguers, and the future basically combines the two while also considering many other factors including payroll and the front office. I will also assign an overall grade on the scout's 20-80 scale for how the organization fares top to bottom. For reference, 50 is average while every plus/minus 10 points is about 1 standard deviation above/below the mean. This is to provide an outlook on every team while also giving some insight on what to expect in the future. The overall grade at the end is highly subjective, so don't take too much stock in the grade. Last time, we looked at the Minnesota Twins.

Next up, we have the Cleveland Indians.

Projected Lineup:
CF Michael Bourn
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
2B Jason Kipnis
1B Nick Swisher
C Carlos Santana
DH Mark Reynolds
LF Michael Brantley
3B Lonnie Chisenhall
RF Drew Stubbs

Projected Rotation
Justin Masterson
Ubaldo Jimenez
Brett Myers
Zach McAllister
Daisuke Matsuzaka

Notable Relief Pitchers: Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano, Matt Capps

Major League Talent: The Cleveland Indians don't look like the Cleveland Indians at all. This is the best team they have fielded since 2007 when former MVP candidate Grady Sizemore graced the outfield and CC Sabathia beat the Yankees in the playoffs. Yes, that long ago. The lineup is very strong, and the defense should be very good. The outfield consists of three center fielders, all  of which have graded out favorably in terms of defense in their career. Michael Bourn to the Indians made about as much sense as, well, Michael Bourn to the Indians. Not only did the Indians bring in Michael Bourn, but they also signed away Nick Swisher from the New York Yankees. When was the last time the Indians signed one big free agent, let alone two? The Indians have the most well rounded lineup in the AL Central, and have a couple players who are break out candidates in Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana. Though it can be argued that they have already broken out, I see more potential for both the young studs as they hit their prime. Chisenhall and Stubbs on the other hand could easily be black holes offensively, but even if they are there is enough offense around them to hide their weak bats.

While I spent quite a bit of time gushing about the lineup, the rotation will have no such gushing. When the Indians sent former top prospect Drew Pomeranz(Yes, really) and Alex White to the Rockies, they expected an ace, not a 6th or a 7th starter. Jimenez has had over a 5 ERA in his time in Cleveland with a drop in velocity to go with that. He's just not the  same pitcher he was in 2011 when he was dominating the NL West. Justin Masterson is very good against RHB, but gets tattooed against LHB. He'll need to be more effective against LHB for the Indians to have a solid staff. McAllister should be around league average, as should Brett Myers. Barring some rebirth for Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Indians will likely need an upgrade here. If only they had a top pitching prospect they could call up from AAA... Like Trevor Bauer, who should come up soon if he straightens out his command issues. The bullpen is led by Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez, so it should be pretty solid if the middle relief can hold up.

Minor League Talent: Trevor Bauer came over from the Diamondbacks when they dealt away Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds in a three team deal. This trade was great for the Indians, as they got back a top prospect for one year of Shin-Soo Choo, as Choo will be a FA after this year. Trevor Bauer has the stuff to be a potential ace, but it's not clear whether he will get his command together to reach his ceiling. The third overall pick has all the tools to become the best pitcher for the Indians since CC Sabathia. Francisco Lindor is a great all around SS prospect, and will replace Asdrubal Cabrera when he inevitably leaves in FA. After Lindor and Bauer, the Indians have solid depth in the lower minors filling out what amounts to a solid farm system.

Future Outlook: The Indians have a very bright future, and have a legitimate shot at the playoffs this year. If the Tigers win 88 games again, or if they have a significant injury, look for the AL Central to be that much closer. This is the perfect storm for the Indians to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. The only thing holding back the Indians is the rotation. The Indians sorely need upgrades in the rotation. Kyle Lohse fits right into their plans, but they might be out of money. If they do sign Lohse, I think it can improve their chances quite a bit, as Lohse will be much better than Matsuzaka. In all, I am impressed with this Indians team and they are primed to make noise in 2013 and beyond.

Overall Grade: 65/80

Minnesota Twins 2013 Outlook

As the 2013 season is upon us, I will provide a look at all 30 teams starting in order of 2012 reverse standings. Starting with the 55 win Houston Astros, and ending with the 98 win Washington Nationals. I will cover three aspects of every team including major league talent, minor league talent, and the future of the team. Major league talent will consist mostly of the top players on the team and also depth, minor league talent will be the top minor leaguers, and the future basically combines the two while also considering many other factors including payroll and the front office. I will also assign an overall grade on the scout's 20-80 scale for how the organization fares top to bottom. For reference, 50 is average while every plus/minus 10 points is about 1 standard deviation above/below the mean. This is to provide an outlook on every team while also giving some insight on what to expect in the future. The overall grade at the end is highly subjective, so don't take too much stock in the grade. Last time, we looked at the Colorado Rockies.

Next up, we have the Minnesota Twins.

Projected Lineup: 

CF Aaron Hicks
2B Jamey Caroll
C Joe Mauer
LF Josh Willingham
1B Justin Morneau
DH Ryan Doumit
RF Chris Parmelee
3B Trevor Plouffe
SS Pedro Florimon, Jr.

Projected Rotation:
Vance Worley
Kevin Correia
Kyle Gibson
Liam Hendriks
Brian Duensing

Notable Relief Pitchers:  Glen Perkins, Jared Burton

Major League Talent: The 2013 Minnesota Twinkies will be the worst one we've seen in a while. They have won just 129 games in the past two years combined. The lineup lost Ben Revere and Denard Span and replaced them with Chris Parmelee and Aaron Hicks. Hicks could be serviceable, but the toolsy rookie hasn't had any AAA time, let alone ML time. Parmelee might be a decent bat, but his defense in the outfield  could be horrific, as his 6'1 230 lb frame fits better at first base. Former MVP Justin Morneau is a shell of his former self after suffering a concussion that he never fully recored from. Last season, Morneau accrued over 500 ABs, but unfortunately is now just a slightly above average hitter. Five time All-Star and former MVP Joe Mauer is by far the best hitter on the team and Minnesota's franchise player. It seems like he's been around forever, but he's still just 29. Mauer has posted a studly career .323/.405/.468 line in his 9 year career at the catcher position. He will continue to post great numbers for at least a few more years and is signed through 2018 for 23 MM per season.

The rotation is severely lacking after losing Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker this past season. Vance Worley could be league average with some upside. With Kevin Correia, Liam Hendriks and Brian Duensing, the Minnesota Twins are living up to their billing of having soft tossing control pitchers. This philosophy hasn't worked for them, as most of their success has come when the Twins had hard throwers Francisco Liriano and Johan Santana. At any rate, the Twins rotation simply is not good enough even in the weak AL Central. The bullpen is anchored by former elite set up man Glen Perkins. Jared Burton will be a solid set up man for Perkins and should impress. Rookie Kyle Gibson should be decent with some upside as well for the Twinkies.

Minor League Talent: 2012 draft second overall pick Byron Buxton has hefty expectations for a high school draftee. Buxton only played 48 games with a decent batting line, but the five tool outfielder has a lot of potential and could possibly be a future All-Star. Miguel Sano blasted 28 HR as an 18 year old in A ball, which is very impressive. Though the HR is impressive, Sano is a flawed offense prospect, as he struck out 144 times in 457 ABs, with just a .258 average. Also, Sano might not stick at third base, as an 18 year old who is 6'3" 195 lbs will likely fill out more with age. we'll find out more about Sano as he climbs the ladder, but he's got immense power which the Twinkies sorely need. Alex Meyer, acquired from the Nationals for Denard Span, has a very live arm and can hit 97 mph. The problem with most tall, hard throwers is command, as he struggles to find the strike zone with 45 walks in just 129 innings. He's going to have to cut that walk rate down to stay in the rotation, however. Lesser prospects Eddie Rosario and Oswaldo Arcia should also be solid major leaguers themselves.

Future Outlook: The future of the Twinkies is very murky. With much of the payroll tied up in Joe Mauer, it would be best for the Twins to be competitive before his inevitable decline as most players do when they get further away from 30 years old. As good as their prospects are, they are just prospects, and even the can't miss prospects miss. With Sano, Buxton, Meyer, etc. at the low levels of the minors, it makes projecting them as solid major league players that much harder. Aaron Hicks and Kyle Gibson should be two bright spots for the Twinkies this year. The Twins are in a hard spot right now, with their star player being in his prime with nothing around him. Because the major league talent is so barren, it's hard to project the Twins being relavant any time soon.

Overall Grade: 30/80

Chicago Cubs 2013 Outlook

As the 2013 season is upon us, I will provide a look at all 30 teams starting in order of 2012 reverse standings. Starting with the 55 win Houston Astros, and ending with the 98 win Washington Nationals. I will cover three aspects of every team including major league talent, minor league talent, and the future of the team. Major league talent will consist mostly of the top players on the team and also depth, minor league talent will be the top minor leaguers, and the future basically combines the two while also considering many other factors including payroll and the front office. I will also assign an overall grade on the scout's 20-80 scale for how the organization fares top to bottom. For reference, 50 is average while every plus/minus 10 points is about 1 standard deviation above/below the mean. This is to provide an outlook on every team while also giving some insight on what to expect in the future. The overall grade at the end is highly subjective, so don't take too much stock in the grade. Last time, we looked at the Houston Astros. Next up, we have the Chicago Cubs.

Projected Lineup:

CF David DeJesus
RF Nate Schierholtz
1B Anthony Rizzo
LF Alfonso Soriano
SS Starlin Castro
3B Ian Stewart
C Welington Castillo
2B Darwin Barney

Projected Rotation:

Matt Garza
Jeff Samardzija
Edwin Jackson
Scott Feldman
Travis Wood

Notable Relief Pitchers: Carlos Marmol, Kyuji Fujikawa, Carlos Villanueva

Major League Talent:

The Chicago Cubs actually have a nice core to their major league team, with budding stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro. Rizzo, the young first baseman whom they stole acquired from San Diego Padres for Andrew Cashner, is a star in the making after hitting a studly .285/.342/.463 while clubbing 15 HR in just 87 games as a 22 year old. The Cubs greatly benefited from the Padres believing in Yonder Alonso as the first baseman of the future for them, when they'd clearly take this trade back in a heartbeat if they could. The face of the franchise, SS Starlin Castro is only 22 years old, but it seems like he's been around forever. He's signed at below market rates until 2020(!), when he'll reach FA as a 30 year old. The Cubs will pay Castro 60 MM through 2019, with an option for 2020. Castro doesn't have any plus tool, but he's solid in many areas as he hit .283/.323/.430 with 14 HR and 25 SB. I'll take that from my shortstop every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Castro also has room for improvement, but it's possible that he's maxed his tools out. Outside of Castro and Rizzo, the lineup is littered with guys who are average to below average. 37 year old Alfonso Soriano is the next best hitter in the lineup, though he's not worth the 36 MM he's owed over the next two seasons.

The rotation can certainly bolster this team, with Matt Garza leading the rotation once again, followed by Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, and Scott Feldman who round out what makes a very solid top 4. Travis Wood should be a serviceable fifth starter as well. This rotation is sneaky good in my opinion, and could possibly lead the Cubs to a winning season as early as 2013. The bullpen is solid, though it isn't a strong point. Import Kyuji Fujikawa should be good, and is a solid bet to take over the closer job from the always erratic Carlos Marmol. Off season addition Carlos Villanueva is very good, and he could probably start himself. In all, the pitching staff should keep them afloat in most ballgames, and give them a good chance to win. The Cubs have some prospects who should come up in 2013 or 2014 and contribute in some capacity, in Josh Vitters, Brett Jackson, and Arodys Vizcaino, though they will likely never be impact players. However, the Cubs have some very intriguing prospects who are 2-3 years away at the very least. SS Javier Baez, the club's top prospect raked in Low-A, but didn't fare as well in High-A. He'll report back to High-A in 2013. Jorge Soler, the Cuban outfielder, hit .338/.398/.513 in just 20 games in A-ball. Finally, center fielder Albert Almora has the least upside of the three, as he doesn't have any plus tool, but should be a solid above average regular if he develops nicely. Outside of the three players already named, the Cubs don't really have too much to offer on the farm, but this trio is really talented so that should make you feel good if you're a Cubs fan.

Future Outlook:

GM Theo Epstein is obviously a very solid GM, evidenced by his WS titles with the Red Sox. He's already made a few savvy, under the radar moves to help the ball club get back to respectability in 2013. He's had trouble with signing big time long-term FA contracts with the Sox, but the pockets aren't as deep in Chicago as they were in Boston. Still, I have confidence in Epstein to bring the Cubs good fortune in the very near future. With the farm system showing off a trio of potential impact players, and the club having a pair of up and coming stars, the Cubs are looking like a successful rebuild is taking place. If the top prospects develop properly, and if Rizzo and Castro improve, I can definitely see the Cubs contending as soon as 2014. The new regime in Chicago will lead this team in the right direction and the Cubs will surprise many people as long as Theo Epstein continues to make smart baseball moves.

Overall Grade: 50/80

Monday, February 25, 2013

Colorado Rockies 2013 Outlook

As the 2013 season is upon us, I will provide a look at all 30 teams starting in order of 2012 reverse standings. Starting with the 55 win Houston Astros, and ending with the 98 win Washington Nationals. I will cover three aspects of every team including major league talent, minor league talent, and the future of the team. Major league talent will consist mostly of the top players on the team and also depth, minor league talent will be the top minor leaguers, and the future basically combines the two while also considering many other factors including payroll and the front office. I will also assign an overall grade on the scout's 20-80 scale for how the organization fares top to bottom. For reference, 50 is average while every plus/minus 10 points is about 1 standard deviation above/below the mean. This is to provide an outlook on every team while also giving some insight on what to expect in the future. The overall grade at the end is highly subjective, so don't take too much stock in the grade. Last time, we looked at the Chicago Cubs.

Next up, we have the Colorado Rockies.

Projected Lineup: 
CF Dexter Fowler
2B Josh Rutledge
LF Carlos Gonzalez
SS Troy Tulowitzki
RF Michael Cuddyer
1B Todd Helton
C Wilin Rosario
3B Chris Nelson

Projected Rotation: 
Jorge De La Rosa
Jhoulys Chacin
Drew Pomeranz
Juan Nicasio
Jeff Francis

Notable Relief Pitchers: Rafael Betancourt, Wilton Lopez, Matt Belisle, Rex Brothers

Major League Talent: The Colorado Rockies have a very talented positional player core, led by Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and to a lesser extent, Dexter Fowler and Josh Rutledge. Before I go any further, I want to take one moment to tell you Todd Helton's greatness. Well, he's not great anymore, but when you hit .320/.419/.545 in a 16 year career, it's something worth acknowledging. For reference, Albert Pujols has hit .325/.414/.608 in his 12 year career, in which he showed signs of decline this past season. Todd Helton was a truly special player. Anyhow, Helton has since passed on his franchise player status to Troy Tulowitzki and possibly even Carlos Gonzalez. Tulowitzki is still just 28 years old, and signed a 6 year-118 MM extension on top of a 7-year-45 MM extension he signed before 2008 to stay in Colorado until 2020, with an option for 2021. The problem with Tulowitzki is that he can't stay healthy. But when he is healthy, he's by far the best SS in the game. After those two, the Rockies lineup remains very solid with Dexter Fowler having a nice speed/power combo at the top of the lineup, Josh Rutledge providing an excellent bat for a second baseman, and also Michael Cuddyer, Todd Helton, and Wilin Rosario to round out the bottom half of the lineup. This lineup is very solid, though if *any* lineup loses it's best bat for any period of time, it's going to suffer, so hopefully Tulowitzki can stay healthy.

I spent so much time talking about the lineup because there really isn't much to say about the rotation. It's "hide the women and the children" bad. Seriously, when your opening day starter is Jorge De La Rosa, your rotation is not very good. I guess Drew Pomeranz has some potential. I do like Juan Nicasio of the bunch, he just needs to stay healthy. The Rockies really could have benefitted from free agency, but only Kyle Lohse remains, and they will not sign him probably because they don't want to lose the second round draft pick or even pay him the money. Fifth starter Jeff Francis has had one year in the past four seasons under a 5 ERA, and it was at 4.82. The bullpen is actually very solid, with returning closer Rafael Betancourt, and other depth pieces such as former as Astro Wilton Lopez.

Minor League Talent: The rockies used their 2012 first round pick on David Dahl who hit .379/.423/.625 in his debut. Dahl is a toolsy 18 year old outfielder with a sky high ceiling. 21 year old Nolan Arenado burst out onto the scene in 2011, as he hit .298/.349/.487, but took a step back in AA last season as he hit .285/.337/.428. Third baseman Arenado also has had some makeup concerns and also concerns about his work ethic. 20 year old SS Trevor Story hit .270/.361/.499 as a 19 year old in A ball last season. Story could be a potential 15-15 SS, which is very valuable. He may end up sliding over to second or as a trade chip with Troy Tulowitzki manning SS for the rest of this decade.

Future Outlook: The Rockies don't have the greatest front office, but they do have a commitment to winning. Their mid-market budget doesn't allow them to sign high priced free agents, so they really need David Dahl and Nolan Arenado to contribute in some way to the major league team. The rotation will impede their ability to win over the next couple of years. Also, they don't have much in the way of pitching prospects. They really need their younger pitchers Nicasio and Pomeranz to take another step in becoming a better pitcher before they can seriously compete. If that happens, and if they are able to patch together an average or so rotation, then it's possible for the Rockies to compete very soon.

Overall Grade: 45/80

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Houston Astros 2013 Outlook


 
A microcosm of the 2012 Astros.

As the 2013 season is upon us, I will provide a look at all 30 teams starting in order of 2012 reverse standings. Starting with the 55 win Houston Astros, and ending with the 98 win Washington Nationals. I will cover three aspects of every team including major league talent, minor league talent, and the future of the team. Major league talent will consist mostly of the top players on the team and also depth, minor league talent will be the top minor leaguers, and the future basically combines the two while also considering many other factors including payroll and the front office. I will also assign an overall grade on the scout's 20-80 scale for how the organization fares top to bottom. For reference, 50 is average while every plus/minus 10 points is about is 1 standard deviation above/below the mean. This is to provide an outlook on every team while also giving some insight on what to expect in the future. The overall grade at the end is highly subjective, so don't take too much stock in the grade.

First up, we have the Houston Astros.

Major League Talent: The Astros major league talent is lacking, to put it nicely. The Astros won 55 games last season, and when you win 55 games, you won't have many bright spots on your roster. The Astros don't have any star players at all, and it can't be argued that they do. What the Astros do have is a couple nice role players. Second baseman Jose Altuve is a very nice player, but he's no star. Altuve also is not a great defender either, by the eye test or statistics as Baseball Reference had him as 15 runs worse than the average second bagger. If he declines defensively any more, his value essentially drops off a cliff if he's forced to move off the position. The reason I'm talking about Altuve so much is that there really isn't much behind him. Afterthoughts J.D. Martinez and Jordan Schafer should hit somewhere at the top of the lineup, I guess. Newly acquired Chris Carter, could possibly hit 25 HR in a small park, so he could potentially be another nice piece for them. The rotation is just as weak as the lineup, if not worse.

The good news is that one-time perfect game winner Phil Humber will be in the rotation. The bad news is that Wandy Rodriguez and J.A. Happ are gone, leaving Bud Norris, Jordan Lyles, and Lucas Harrell to lead the 2013 rotation. Lucas Harrell had a sub 4 ERA last season, but don't look for him to repeat with the move to the harder league. Not facing the pitcher anymore is certainly going to reflect in their numbers. Erik Bedard is actually pretty good, but the problem is that he can't stay healthy. The bullpen is led by journeyman Jose Veras who will close, and is supplanted by a bunch of guys you've probably never heard of unless you're an Astro fan. At any rate, this major league team has a lot of holes and will not compete this season, and probably not for the next couple seasons. Look for this team to do more of the same meaning a 90+ loss season and a top 5 pick in the 2014 draft.

Minor League Talent: The number one pick in the 2012 draft, Carlos Correa is the pride of the Houston Astros farm system. Correa has the tools to become a perennial all-star at the SS position. I have heard some whispers that he may have to move to third base down the road, but that is many years from now. Outside of Correa, the Astros have a nice quartet of prospects in Jonathon Singleton, Delino Deshields Jr, George Springer, and Jarred Cosart, all of whcih are relatively close to breaking in with the major league team in the next two seasons. Don't expect these guys to get rushed, they'll most likely be kept down for all of 2013, except for possibly Jonathon Singleton, who was suspended for 50 games for violating MLB's drug policy. Singleton wasn't taking steroids or HGH, he was indulging in recreational marijuana, so his prospect shine is still very much there.

Future Outlook: While there isn't much on the major league team to smile about, the Astros have impact potential on the farm, and virtually zero future commitments. General Manager Jeff Luhnow, is taking the team in the right direction in a full scale rebuild. I have confidence in Luhnow to place the Astros into relevance by 2015 at the earliest, which is quite good. The Astros have very little future money committed, and have no commitments in the 2015 season, which could allow them to sign some key free agents, though that isn't their style. The Astros will once again have the first pick in the draft, so hopefully they can capitalize on that pick and build on their already solid farm system. Per the new CBA, the Astros moved to the AL West, which probably hurts their outlook for the next couple of seasons. Thankfully, the AL West isn't as competitive as the AL East, so the Astros will definitely get their chance to compete as soon as 2015 with the direction new GM Jeff Luhnow is taking them.

Overall Grade: 35/80

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fantasy Baseball and Opportunity

I have played fantasy football for at least four or five years before I played fantasy baseball because, well, I didn't have many friends who knew enough about baseball to play fantasy. Aside from bragging rights, fantasy football is rather boring. Not football itself, but just the slowness of it. You draft your team, and your players are who you have, essentially. You set your lineup and forget it. Every year, there are a small amount of players who come virtually out of no where to produce big time numbers and help you to the postseason or a championship if you're lucky enough. Sometimes it's one player, sometimes more, and it's impossible to predict. 

Who could have predicted that Alfred Morris could go from afterthought prospect to one of the best players in the NFL? If you don't follow the NFL you probably have no clue what I'm talking about, but I have a point, I promise. I'm debunking the myth that in fantasy baseball there are less breakout players out of no where than in the NFL. This may not be a *real* myth, but from what I've heard from friends and baseball writers, they seemed to share the same sentiment that fantasy football is more about being opportunistic than drafting the right players. 

If you were lucky enough, last season you either had the opportunity to pick up a free MVP or you drafted him really late and stashed him. If you weren't so lucky, you saw someone else do the same and reap the rewards. If that guy wasn't you, I apologize, and hopefully you've recovered by now. If not, then I suggest you to not take fantasy baseball so seriously. Then again, I wouldn't know because I actually owned Mike Trout last year. 

Even if you missed out on Mike Trout, hopefully you could have gotten in on the breakout party. Other players who broke out in 2012 in no particular order, include Chase Headley, Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Sale, Josh Willingham, Bryce Harper, Kris Medlen, and the list goes on. There are plenty of opportunities to help win your leagues whether it's low draft picks, savvy waiver wire pickups, or just a rookie stash. 

I always thought fantasy baseball was more of a calculated fantasy game, rather than complete randomness. While there isn't complete randomness, if you picked up, say, Chase Headley and Kris Medlen last season, your team vastly improved. When you see a player have a hot April, or even a first couple weeks to the season, don't worry about whether you should pick them up or not, you definitely should. The worst that could happen is that you lose a waiver move, or some free agent acquisition bucks on a player who isn't that great. It's also well worth that small risk to get the next MVP or a very solid player. Tomorrow, I'll go more in depth on opportunity and what exactly you(and myself) missed, or hit, on.