Wrigley Rantings

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

N.L. Central Preview Day Two

Cincinatti Reds

2004 Overview

In 2004 the Cincinatti Reds turned out the record of 76-86, which in my opinion is much better then the record they should have had. They finished 10th in the league in offense, and 15th in the league in pitching. Griffey and Kearns had their yearly injury spells to rob them each of 300 ab's, and Barry Larkin complained about how the team was treating him. The pitching saw narry a starting pitcher on the good side of 4.00 ERA. Paul Wilson was their best starter, and he faded down the stretch bringing his era up to 4.38. On the flip side, Adam Dunn finally started hitting the ball enough to use his mammoth power. Dunn broke the 40 home run barrier for the first in what will likely be many seasons. Danny Graves returned to the closers role, and pitched like he had never left it, recording 41 saves.

Free Agent Additions

Kent Mercker
Eric Milton
Joe Randa
David Weathers
Ben Weber
Paul Wilson

Unlike the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cincinatti Reds actually attempted to fix their pitching staff for 2005. The key word being "attempted".

Kent Mercker

The Reds signed Mercker to a 2 year deal worth 1.3 mil a year. His previous team was the Cubs. He was a fine pitcher last year ending with a 2.55 era and a 2-1 K:bb ratio. He has great stats but if you believer in clubhouse karma and all that crap, then Mercker isn't your man. I don't have to remind Cubs Fans of what he did last year. For you Cincinatti Fans, Mercker supposedly called out our broadcaster on the plane because he said something unkind about him on the broadcast. He(among a couple others)supposedly attempted to get broadcasters kicked off the team plane. Not really a team player in my opinion.

Free Agent Rating: B

Eric Milton

I understand the Reds were trying to address pitching, but why would you go get the most overrated starter on the market and pay him 8 million a year to pitch for you? Eric Milton has never put up good numbers, likely will never put up good numbers, and he got Matt Clement money. Glad the Cubs didn't go after him.

Free Agent Rating: D (Doesn't fail because the Reds pitching is so bad)

Jokin' Joe Randa

Randa was a cheap upgrade over the mass of hacks they had at the position last year. Considering the market vale of most players, Randa at around 2 million was a bargain.
He is a good fielder and a league average hitter at a difficult position to fill.

Free Agent Rating: B

David Weathers

Weathers was a solid signing. He had a couple of good years preceeding the last year, which was not good at all. This is an example of buying low, and if the Reds are smart, selling high.

Free Agent Rating: C

Ben Weber

Ben Weber managed to succeed three seasons in a row with terribly low K rates while giving up a hit per inning. Last year he finally blew a gasket and couldn't do it anymore. I expect more of the 8.06 era to come. I hope the manager for the Cincinatti Reds tosses him out to pitch every time the Cubs come to town.

Free Agent Rating: F

Paul Wilson

Wilson is the perfect case of a pitcher that made this paycheck on half a season. The first half of last year the Reds actually thought he became an ace. He threw several complete games, and kept his era in the 3's. Wilson then reverted to form and started pitching terribly. He ended the year in the low 4's. Paying him over a couple a mil a year was foolish. The Reds will realize that when he has a 6.00 era next year.

Free Agent Rating: F

Free Agent Depatures

Darren Bragg
Juan Castro
Barry Larkin
Phil Norton
John Riedling
Todd Vanpoppel
Gabe White

The Reds lost one good player. Their veteran shortstop Barry Larkin. He wasn't the best anymore, but he's probably better then what they will play there next year. The fact that they were not nice in letting Larkin go might not help them attract many free agents. Besides Larkin they lost a whole lot of nothing.

2005 Preview

The Reds attempted to fix their pitching, but failed. They signed crappy pitchers for absurd amounts of cash. The only way the Reds get better is if Griffey is actually healthy, and their pitching staff miraculously performs beyond expectations. If the pitching performs beyond expectations while they call the Great American Ballpark home, I will crap a brick.

Prediction: 70-92

Monday, January 17, 2005

Milwaukee Team Preview

2004 Overview

The 2004 Milwaukee Brewers finished the season 67-94. Their problem was very basic, they couldn't score runs. The only team that was more futile in the N.L. were the Diamondbacks. Thankfully the pitching wasn't nearly as bad as the offense. They finished 9th in pitching in the N.L., and Ben Sheets developed into an ace posting a 2.7 era with 264 k's and a measly 32 walks. Doug Davis also pitched well posting a 3.3 era with a 166 k's giving the Brewers a good 1-2 punch. Dan Kolb turned into a good closer, pitching his way to a 2.98 era with 39 saves. Unfortunately they traded him for prospects.

Free Agent Additions

Rigo Beltran
Damian Miller
Tommy Phelps
Chris Saenz

Normally there would be analysis here of why it was great they picked these guys up, however none of these guys fix the offensive black hole that Milwaukee is. They gained nothing special in free agency and are doomed to mediocrity once again.

Free Agent Departures

Craig Counsell

The good news (if you want to call it that) is they didn't lose any of their terrible players. They'll probably have the same payroll next year and make tons of money off of the poor baseball fans of Milwaukee.

Actual Good News!

Bud Selig and his entourage of idiots actually sold this team. Until the new owner proves his incompetence and or tight purse strings with no ideas of how to manage a low payroll team. Milwaukee' Fans actually have a reason to smile and raise their chin a little.

Another positive for the Brewers are the prospects rising through their farm system. Richie Weeks is a talented offensive player that had his cup o' joe with the Brewers last year. He plays second base and has been compared to a young Joe Morgan. Hopefully the offense is there, but the mouth isn't.

Prince Fielder is the second of their highly talented players coming soon. He plays first base just like his father (Cecil Fielder) did, however he keeps his body weight under control and makes more contact with the baseball. Look for a yearly total of 35-40 dingers out of this big fella.

2005 Prediction

The Brewers aren't going to be as awful as last year. They will score more runs with Weeks getting a season in with the big club. Prince Fielder should come up in August or September and start making his bat known. Their pitching is coming along nicely and should stay level with last years numbers. This is a club, that with 2006 free agent signings could be dangerous. For this year they are looking at a 7 or 8 win improvement. My guess? 75-87

Tommorow - Cincinatti Reds

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Tony Saunders to make comeback bid.

Tony Saunders

Unretirement Article

The first thing that came to mind when I read this.

There can be miracles
When you believe
Though hope is frail
Its hard to kill
Who knows what miracles
You can achieve
When you believe somehow you will
You will when you believe

(Excerpt from When You Believe - Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston)

In 2000 Tony Saunders broke his arm pitching for the second and what appeared to be the final time. He announced his retirement in a press conference stating that "It's just hard knowing you're done". Well he was wrong, he wasn't done.

Last year he started coaching baseball in Tampa and threw batting practice every day with no pain. He started thinking about making a comeback and consulted an orthepedic physician, who informed him the bone was solid and he could give it a try. The only thing that could happen is breaking the bone again. Saunders has spent a good part of last summer and this winter strengthening his arm for his comeback bid.

Saunders is one of the most heartfelt and inspirational stories in my time with baseball. He has broken his arm twice, both while pitching. Yet he is back because it's what he loves doing. If one day I could be this enthusiastic about my job i'd be a happy man.

When he comes back this year, lets give him a big big ovation. The man deserves our applause for what he has gone through, and how he has looked adversity in the face.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Hendry Get Off Your Butt!

Earth to Jim Hendry.......Earth to Jim Hendry

Jim Hendry was on the ESPN Radio the other day. I believe his modus operandi was to give each and every Cubs Fan a heart attack. Here are several things he had to say.


"Kyle Farnsworth might be ready for the ninth inning"


"Dubois is not the household name that everyone wants, but he deserves the chance to play everyday."


"I talked to Borowski recently, he said he was 90%. Borowski is a strong-willed guy and could be real helpful."

*beatbeatbeatbeatbeat* ARGH! My heart!

Hendry should be trying to work with the options left available to him. I scanned the remaining free agent list found on ESPN. I found four players that may be of use to us.

Magglio Ordonez

Do I really need to say more? If he can control his bone edema problem, and is healthy, he would be the savior to our offense. Maggs consistently hits for a .320 average with 30 dingers and less then 75 strikeouts. He's a younger, better fielding and better baserunning version of Alou. Lets hop on this bandwagon and see where it takes us.

Offseason Move Rating: A

Jeremy Burnitz

To be honest, I only put him on here because he can hit dingers. We don't really need him and his free swinging ways on the Cubs. If acquired he'd hit 35 homers, to go with a .245 average and a probable break of the new strikeout record. He's probably better then a rookie, but there are a lot of guys better then a rookie.

Offseason Move Rating: C

Rusty Greer

I know what you are thinking. "That Rusty Greer? Is he still in baseball? You have GOT to be kidding me." Well at one point Greer was a hell of a ballplayer, he hit for average, decent power and just played all out baseball. That's how he got hurt. He's trying to make a comeback, so why not sign him to a minor league deal and let him do it here? Low salary contract with incentives like Dempster. If he makes it back he could be a great edition to our lineup. He can also play first base, so he could give Lee days off when needed. What do we have to lose? Give him a chance.

Offseason Move Rating: C

Jim Mecir

Mecir is a screwballing righty who can get lefties and righties out equally as well. He made 3.3 mil last year, which isnt terrible for a decent reliever. My problem with him is that this is the first year in three years he has been a good reliever ERA and WHIP wise. We already have enough inconsistent relievers. As much as I like his versatility I think i'd have to pass.

Offseason Move Rating: D

There really are no good closing options left via FA (alas). So lets pick up the best available outfielder, which in my opinion is Maggs, stick our tail between our legs and hope we can trade for a closer or one of our guys (not Farns, oh gosh not Farns) can get 'er done.