Monday February 2, 2004
SUPER BOWL THOUGHTS
National League Central Pitchers
After finishing a six part series, analyzing the hitters in baseball, I will now begin to discuss the pitching staffs of each big league team, again, by division. In other words, my four part series, which became a nine part series, has now become a 13 part series. I was thinking I would be able to do the pitching analysis in two days. However, there is really nothing going on in baseball these days worth discussing. Also, this allows me to be a little more detailed in my analysis of the players. As always, I hope you enjoy what you read.
I want to do this analysis for a couple of reasons. First, I love fantasy baseball and love discussing what I think of certain players. Second, I know that many people who take the time to read baseball sites like this one participate in fantasy baseball leagues as well. And finally… hey, I need to start figuring out a game plan for my fantasy leagues. I am in three of them, each with different formats, so I hope this helps me as much as it helps you!
However, I do understand that not everyone gets into fantasy sports, and that’s OK too. I do not think that my “analysis” will be too “statty” and should be enjoyable for any baseball fan to read.
I know it is early to be talking about fantasy baseball, but I know that many keeper leagues have to turn in their ‘keepers’ this month. Also, aside from Ivan Rodriguez and Greg Maddux, most of the free agents still available will be bit players and may or may not affect some of the comments below. However, there could still be some trades and signings which could alter some of these opinions. For instance, if Greg Maddux signs with the Cubs, it could affect the fantasy value of Juan Cruz or Angel Guzman. It could also affect how Jacque Jones would be valued.
If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
Disclaimer: What you read below are simply my opinions. Obviously I have no knowledge of what will happen in the 2004 season, so please take the information for what it is worth (fun and opinion). Also, these opinions are subject to change as spring training approaches. All players listed are either projected starters, or starters based on my opinion. I will try to project where each player could be drafted, assuming a 30 round draft.
Here is the schedule for this project:
Tuesday, Jan. 20 - Part 1 - American League Central Hitters
Wednesday, Jan. 21 - Part 2 - American League East Hitters
Thursday, Jan. 22 - Part 3 - American League West Hitters
Friday, Jan. 23 - Part 4 - National League Central Hitters
Monday, Jan. 26 - Part 5 - National League East Hitters
Tuesday, Jan. 27 - Part 6 - National League West Hitters
Wednesday, Jan. 28 - Part 7 - American League Central Pitchers
Thursday, Jan. 29 - Part 8 - American League East Pitchers
Friday, Jan. 30 - Part 9 - American League West Pitchers
Monday, Feb. 2 - Part 10 - National League Central Pitchers
Tuesday, Feb. 3 - Part 11 - National League East Pitchers
Wednesday, Feb. 4 - Part 12 - National League West Pitchers
Thursday, Feb. 5 - Part 13 – Rookies and Prospects
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL PITCHERS
In 2003, the NL Central had three teams in playoff contention going into the final weekend. I think that could happen again. Looking at the pitching staffs, the Cubs and Astros are clearly the tops in the division, if not the National League. The Cardinals have a couple of sure things, then some young guys looking for a chance. I think the Pirates have some good pitchers. The Brewers, well, they really don’t after Ben Sheets. And Cincinnati is full of question marks.
So, let’s get going on some analysis. If you have any comments, arguments, agreements, questions or anything, please feel free to e-mail me. When this project is complete, I would like to put together a Mailbag issue with many of those comments.
SP – Mark Prior
Think Joe Mauer and anyone with the Twins are sick of hearing questions about Mark Prior? Prior ended up being pretty good, and pretty quick. It’s not really a surprise. I mean, Prior was called the best pitcher in college baseball history. He started his pro career in 2002 and quickly moved up the organizational ladder before making 19 impressive starts for the Cubs that year. He was 6-6 with a 3.32 ERA. He struck out 147 batters in 116.2 innings. Last year, he made 30 starts, and struck out 245 hitters in 211.1 innings. Opponents hit just .231 off him. His WHIP was 1.10. Prior should be one of the best pitchers in baseball for another decade or more (unless Dusty Baker doesn’t take care of him… which, unfortunately, is a possibility). Draft him early in the first round.
SP – Kerry Wood
Kerry Wood just hasn’t take the next step to superstardom. Part of that is probably a lack of run support, which has kept his win totals down. But, his ERA is always really good. In 2003, Wood started 32 games and completed four. In 211 innings, he struck out 266. (11.4 K per 9 IP, better than his career average of 10.6 per 9 innings) His WHIP was 1.19 and opponents hit just .203 against him. I expect that Wood will approach 20 wins in 2003 (Again, assuming health). He is worth a 2nd round pick.
SP – Carlos Zambrano
2003 was a breakout year for Zambrano. He made 32 starts and pitched in 214 innings. He was 13-11 with a 3.11 ERA. He averaged just over 7 strikeouts per 9 innings. His WHIP was 1.32, while opponents hit just .239 against him. Like Wood and Prior, Zambrano is a big man, standing 6-5 and weighing 245 pounds. If he stays healthy, I would expect Zambrano to take another step forward. With increased run support, he could be worth a 6th round pick.
SP – Matt Clement
The Cubs fourth pitcher had numbers right in line with the top 3. Clement made 32 starts and was 14-12 with a 4.11 ERA. His WHIP was 1.23 while opponents hit .227 off him. He struck out 171 in 201.2 innings. Clement pitched through an injury throughout the playoffs last year. However, he has been consistently healthy in his five full big league seasons, making at least 31 starts each year. He should put up similar numbers in 2004, which would make him worth about a 12th round pick.
SP – Juan Cruz
It appears that the Cubs could very well sign Greg Maddux, and he would fill this role. That would be good because he would be a different look that the other four in the rotation. Juan Cruz does deserve another shot at a spot in the rotation. He started the 2002 season in the Cubs rotation. Even though he had a decent ERA (3.75), he was just 1-7. It seemed like no matter what he did, he would up losing. In 2003, he actually ended up doing ok in the bullpen. However, he still ended up 2-7 with a 6.05 ERA. It sounds as though Cruz was impressive in the Winter League and is ready for another shot. He will be just 25 years old.
Closer – Joe Borowski
32 year old Joe Borowski had his first chance last year to be a full-time closer. After being a journeyman big league reliever since 1995, Borowski caught one in 2002 with the Cubs, pitching 73 games in relief. He struck out 97 in 95.2 innings and was 4-4 with a 2.73 ERA. Last year, he pitched 68.1 innings in 68 games. He struck out 66 hitters. He was 2-2 with 33 saves and a 2.63 ERA. His WHIP was 1.05 and opponents hit just .207 off him. That’s why the Cubs inked him to a two-year deal.
Closer – LaTroy Hawkins
Hawkins was a bad pitcher for the Twins from 1995 to 2001. In 2002, with the help of Rick Anderson, Hawkins became one of the most dominant relief pitchers in baseball. In 2002, he pitched 80.1 innings (63 strikeouts, 15 walks) in 65 games. He was 6-0 with a 2.13 ERA. 2003 was even better for LaTroy. He pitched 77.1 innings in 74 games (75 strikeouts, 15 walks). He was 9-3 with 2 saves and a 1.86 ERA. His WHIP was 1.09 and opponents hit just .239 against him. Unless he takes over the closer’s role, he is not worth drafting unless relief pitchers have value in your league.
One 2 Watch – Angel Guzman
Angel Guzman became a big prospect pitching at two Class A levels in 2002. He was 5-2 with a 1.89 ERA in 9 games in the Midwest League. He moved up to the Florida St. League and was 6-2 with a 2.39 ERA in 15 starts. In 2003, at the age of 21, he pitched in AA. He started 15 games and was 3-3 with a 2.81 ERA in 89.2 innings (87 strikeouts). Guzman is probably a year away (maybe two) from being in the Cubs full-time rotation, but that is probably why Greg Maddux was offered a two year contract.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good – The Big Four starters.
The Bad – Not much.
The Questions – Can the starters stay healthy? Who will be the fifth starter? Can Borowski have another great season? Can the Big Four continue to improve?
SP – Cory Lidle
Check out the numbers of the guy that the Reds will count on to be their ‘ace’. In 2003, with the Toronto Blue Jays, he was 12-15 with a 5.75 ERA. His WHIP was 1.43 and opponents hit .282 against him. He averaged just 5.2 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. In his two years starting for the A’s (2001, 2002), he was a combined 21-16 with a sub-4.00 ERA. Lidle is a solid big league pitcher, maybe ‘average’ is the better word. But, for fantasy baseball, he’s not worth higher than a 22nd round pick.
SP – Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson was the Mark Prior of baseball when he was drafted first overall in the 1994 major league draft. He made his major league debut in 1996, starting 26 games for the Mets. However, he hurt his arm and had some surgeries. He didn’t resurface in the big leagues until he pitched 11 games for the Devil Rays in 2000. Sine that time, he has become a full-time starter. His ERA has been between 4.64 and 4.88. Hi record the last three years is 22-31. He is striking out just a little over 5 hitters per 9 innings. Try not to draft him, but if you do, make it late!
SP – Aaron Harang
6-7, 240 pound Aaron Harang split the 2003 season between the Oakland A’s and the Reds. He came to Cincinnati in the Jose Guillen deal. Combined, he went 5-6 with a 5.31 ERA. He strikes out almost 5 per 9 innings. In 2002, he made 15 starts for the A’s and was 5-4 with a 4.83 ERA. In 78 innings, he struck out 64 but walked 45. The key with him is that he is just 25 years old and should stay in the Red rotation all year, hopefully meaning he will continue to improve. Late round pick.
SP – Jimmy Haynes
Last year, Jimmy Haynes was 2-12 with a 6.30 ERA in 18 starts. Before last year, he had started more than 25 games a season since 1998. In 2002, Haynes was 15-10 with a 4.12 ERA. Fact is, the numbers weren’t great, but he got good run support, leading to the good record. A career 63-86 pitcher, 31 year old Jimmy Haynes’ ERA was 5.32. Draft him late, if at all.
SP – Brandon Claussen
Claussen was traded to the Reds organization at the trade deadline last year in exchange for Aaron Boone. In 2001, Claussen was 22 and went 14-4 with a 2.31 ERA. But then he missed the entire 2002 season. Last year, he came back and was a combined 4-3 at three minor league locations. He actually made one start for the Yankees last year, pitching 6 1/3 innings and giving up just 1 earned run to get the win. Claussen should be in the rotation. If he is, he is worth drafting after the 24th round.
Closer – Danny Graves
After being the Reds closer from 1998 to 2002, averaging over 30 saves in that time, Graves decided that he wanted to become a starter. It didn’t go so well. He made 26 starts for the Reds last year, and went 4-14 with a 5.33 ERA. In 162 innings, he struck out just 55 batters. Opponents hit .299 off him. He was a different pitcher. I would suspect he will be back in the bullpen. If he’s the closer, he’s worth a 16th round pick.
Closer – Chris Reitsma/Ryan Wagner
There have been a lot of rumors about Reitsma becoming a Twins pitcher in a deal for Jacque Jones. I hope it doesn’t happen. In 2003, Reitsma pitched 57 games for the Reds. He was 9-5 with a 4.29 ERA. He also recorded 12 saves (although he had 6 blown saves too). His only value is if he is somehow the closer. Ryan Wagner was the Reds first round pick in 2003 and made it up to the big leagues. And he did well once he got there. He pitched 17 games and 21 2/3 innings. He was 2-0 with a 1.66 ERA. His WHIP was 1.15 and opponents hit just .173 against him. He struck out 10.4 per nine innings. Can you imagine the University of Houston’s bullpen when Wagner and Jesse Crain were closing the door?
One 2 Watch – Dustin Moseley
22 year old Dustin Moseley will probably also have a shot at a place in the Reds rotation in 2004. Last year, between AA and AAA, Moseley went a combined 7-9 with a 3.48 ERA. He struck out 100 in 162 2/3 . I would suspect he will spend most of the season at AAA Louisville, but could get called up at some point.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good – Wagner.
The Bad – Most of the rest of the rotation and bullpen.
Question Marks – What will the opening day rotation look like? What role will Danny Graves have? What role will Ryan Wagner have?
SP – Roy Oswalt
2003 was almost a lost year for Roy Oswalt as he spent three separate stints on the disabled list with a pulled groin muscle. In that bad year, he still made 21 starts and pitched 127 1/3 innings. He struck out 108. He was 10-5 with a 2.97 ERA. His WHIP was 1.14. Oswalt came to the big leagues in 2001. He was 14-3 with a 2.73 ERA and struck out 144 in 141.2 innings. In 2002, he was 19-9 with a 3.01 ERA. In 233 innings, he struck out 208. He is one of the best pitchers in the game. Consider him in the 3rd round.
SP – Andy Pettitte
In 2003, Pettitte was 21-8 with a 4.02 ERA. He averaged 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings and a WHIP of 1.33. It will be very interesting to see how Pettitte’s numbers translate into Minute Maid Park. For his career (9 seasons with the Yankees), Pettite is 149-78 with a 3.94 ERA. He has averaged about 7 strikeouts per 9 innings. Pettite’s ‘peripheral numbers’ may increase, but he should get plenty of run support from a strong Astros lineup. So, take Pettite around the 13th round.
SP – Wade Miller
One of the big questions last year was what was up with Wade Miller in the first half. Before the All-Star break, he was 6-9 with a 4.66 ERA. But he turned it around in the 2nd half, going 8-4 with a 3.28 ERA. So, for the year, he was 14-13 with a 4.13 ERA. In 2001 and 2002, Miller combined to go 31-12 with an ERA around 3.30. He also averages almost 8 strikeouts per 9 innings. Still just 27 years old, I think Miller will have another strong season in 2004. Draft him in the 13th round.
SP – Roger Clemens
Was he really retiring? Was he coming back? Once Pettitte signed with the Astros, was there really any question? Although he is 41, nothing from his 2003 season indicated that Clemens really needed to retire. He was 17-9 with a 3.91 ERA. He struck out 190 in 211.2 innings. His WHIP was 1.21. The HR ball would be his question in Minute Maid Park. 2004 will be his 21st big leagues season. 310-160 is his career record. 3.19 is his career ERA. 4,099 strikeouts. Who is to tell him that he should have retired? Not me. But, I will encourage you not to draft him before the 15th round, and only because I don’t know how he will be used in the rotation based on some of his contract clauses.
SP – Tim Redding
Manager Jimy Williams made a point to name Tim Redding as his team’s 5th starter so it won’t be an issue in the spring. In 2003, Redding was just 10-14, but he did have a 3.68 ERA. Opponents hit .261 with a WHIP of 1.39. He averaged almost six strikeouts per 9 innings. 2003 was his first full season in the Astros rotation, and he started 32 games. He had 23 starts for the Astros between 2001 and 2002 when he went a combined 6-7. Redding should be worth drafting after the 20th round.
Closer – Octavio Dotel
Dotel might be the best set up man in baseball. In 2003, he pitched in 76 games. In 87 innings, he struck out 97. He was 6-4 with a 2.48 ERA. His WHIP was 0.97 and opponents hit just .172 off him. He even had four saves. He has been doing this for the last three seasons, setting up Billy Wagner. With Wagner now off to Philadelphia, Dotel likely becomes the Astros new closer, a role he should really become prominent in. Assuming he is the closer, consider Dotel in the 10th round!
Closer – Mike Gallo
Last year, Gallo pitched in 32 games (30 innings) for the Astros. He was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA. His WHIP was 1.27. He may be next in line as the new closer if Dotel isn’t. I doubt it, so don’t draft him.
Two 2 Watch – Brandon Duckworth/Jeriome Robertson
In 2002, Duckworth was highly thought of in the Phillies rotation. He struck out 167 in 163 innings. So, even though he finished just 8-9 with a 5.41 ERA, it was believed he would be a star. Last year, he started just 18 games before being moved out of the rotation. He was 4-7 with a 4.94 ERA. He had just 68 strikeouts in 93 innings. He came to the Astros in the Wagner deal. Robertson had a great record in 2003 going 15-9. Impressive considering he had an ERA of 5.10, the opponents hit .287 off him, that his WHIP was 1.52. Both of these pitchers could enter the rotation at any time if there is an injury. But neither has any fantasy value.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good – The whole starting staff, and Dotel.
The Bad – the rest of the bullpen.
The Question Marks – Who will now set up for Dotel? How will former Yankees Pettitte and Clemens respond in Minute Maid Park. Can Oswalt stay healthy? Can Miller perform for a full year?
SP – Ben Sheets
One of the few bright spots for the Brewers, Ben Sheets was a teammate of Twins Doug Mientkiewicz on the 2000 Gold Medal Olympic team. In 2003, Sheets was 11-13 with a 4.45 ERA. However, he pitched 220 2/3 innings and struck out 157, walking just 43. His WHIP was just 1.25. 2004 will be his fourth big league season. He is a career 33-39 with a 4.42 ERA. He is good, just can’t be successful in Milwaukee. Draft him late, like 24th round.
SP – Matt Kinney
Everyone talked about how Matt Kinney had a great 2003 and that the Twins could have used him. Let’s take a step back and look at how good Kinney’s 2003 was. He was 10-13 with a 5.19 ERA. His WHIP was 1.47 and opponents hit .272 off of him. I think that the Twins are fine without him, and your fantasy team will be too!
SP – Doug Davis
Doug Davis came to the Brewers midseason from the … … and started 8 games. He was 3-2 with a 2.58 ERA and his WHIP was 1.34. His numbers for the full season (Brewers, Rangers (1 game) and Blue Jays) were 7-8 with a 4.03 ERA. The lefty has a career record of 28-29 with a 4.79 ERA. In his best season, 2001, he started 30 games and was 11-10 with a 4.45 ERA. Davis can be good, but because he pitches for the Brewers, you probably don’t want to pick him.
SP – Wayne Franklin
Franklin made 34 starts for the Brewers last year. He pitched 194 innings and struck out 116 (he also walked 94). He was 10-13 with a 5.50 ERA. Opponents hit .268 so combined with the walks, his WHIP was 1.52. Franklin has been up and down in the big leagues since 2000. In his four 2002 starts with Milwaukee, he was 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA. Again, don’t draft him.
SP – Chris Capuano
Capuano came to the Brewers from the Diamondbacks in the Richie Sexson deal. In 2003, the 24 year old went 9-5 with a 3.34 ERA for AAA Tucson. He was called up to the Diamondbacks and pitched in 9 games (5 starts). He went 2-4 with a 4.64 ERA in 33 innings. Capuano should make the Brewers’ rotation. Probably not worth drafting this year, but if you are in a keeper league, he may be worth taking later in the draft.
Closer – Danny Kolb
With Mike Dejean being demoted and then traded last year, Danny Kolb became the Brewers closer. Last year, he pitched in 37 games (41.1 innings) and struck out 39 batters. He was 1-2 with a 1.96 ERA. Opponents hit .221 against him and his WHIP was 1.28. He had spent parts of the previous four seasons in Texas struggling in their bullpen. As a closer, consider drafting Kolb around round 24, and only that late because he may not get a lot of save opportunities.
Closer – Luis Vizcaino
Vizcaino pitched 62 innings last year in 75 games. He almost struck out a batter an inning. He was 4-3 with a 6.39 ERA. I guess if Kolb struggled, Vizcaino could get some save chances. Don’t count on it, and don’t draft him!
Two 2 Watch – Nick Neugebauer
In 2003, the then 21 year old Neugebauer started 12 games for the Brewers. He went 1-7 with a 4.72 ERA before messing up his shoulder. He had surgery and has not pitched since. He will probably need some rehab time, but it will be interesting to see his progression through the season.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good – Nothing.
The Bad – Everything.
The Question Marks – Can the offense give the pitching staff enough runs to allow the pitchers to get some wins? Can the pitchers all drastically improve enough to give Kolb some save opportunities?
SP – Kris Benson
Kris Benson had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2001 season. He came back and started 25 games in 2002. He was 9-6 with a 4.60 ERA. Last year, we figured he would be back to his old self, but after 18 starts, Benson complained of elbow problems and sat out the rest of the year. He threw off a mound two weeks ago and says he’s fine. He’s 29. If he is healthy, he can be great. It is a huge risk though! Draft him no earlier than the 23rd round.
SP – Oliver Perez
Perez came to the Pirates as part of the deal that sent Brian Giles to the Padres. Combined last year, the 22 year old Perez started 24 games and through 126 2/3 innings. He did strike out 141 batters (10 per 9 innings). However, he was 4-10 with a 5.47 ERA. Opponents hit just .263 off him, but with 77 walks, his WHIP was 1.63. Great strikeout pitcher. If he can gain some control, he could be a great pitcher. Draft him after the 20th round.
SP – Josh Fogg
Josh Fogg has been a part of the Pirates starting rotation the last two seasons. In 2003, he started 26 games and was 10-9 with a 5.26 ERA. He only struck out 4.5 batters every 9 innings. In 2002, he was 12-12 with a 4.35 ERA. With the Pirates, he may put up similar numbers and his record may not be as good. Draft him after the 28th round.
SP – Kip Wells
Like Fogg, Kip Wells was 10-9. However, his ERA was just 3.28. His WHIP was just 1.25. Opponents hit just .233 off him. He struck out 6.7 per 9 innings. In 2002, he was 12-14, but his ERA was still just 3.59. If he can continue to keep his ERA low, eventually good things will happen. Unfortunately, the Pirates offense won’t be great again, so don’t expect a lot of wins. I would draft him after the 19th round.
SP – Rick Reed
Rick Reed is finally gone from the Twins. In 2003, he was 6-12 with a 5.07 ERA. He doesn’t strike people out, but he doesn’t walk people either. In 2002, Reed was the Twins best pitcher going 15-7 with a 3.78 ERA. He has been to a couple of All-Star games. The Pirates are hoping he can be the good Rick Reed. He’s 38 years old, he might be done! Draft him after the 21st round.
Closer – Saloman Torres
I really don’t know who will be the Pirates’ closer. Just looking at their pitching staff, Torres would be my choice. That may say more about their options than anything else. In 2003, he was 7-5 with a 4.76 ERA, certainly not intimidating numbers for closer. However, upon closer inspection, 25 of his 41 appearances were in relief. Out of the ‘pen, Torres was 4-1 with 2 saves and a 3.20 ERA. Watch to see who becomes the Pirates closer. If it is Torres, consider him in the 27th rounds.
Closer – Jason Boyd
Another option might be Jason Boyd. Boyd comes over to the Pirates from the Indians. Last year, he pitched 52.1 innings in 44 games in Cleveland. He was 3-1 with a 4.30 ERA. Opponents hit just .200 against him and his 1.22 WHIP is pretty impressive. Again, he is only worth drafting if he is named the team’s closer.
Two 2 Watch – John Van Benschoten
Van Benschoten was the Pirates #1 pick in 2001 (8th overall). The 23 year old spent the 2003 season between High Class A and AA. He started at Lynchburg and was 6-1 with a 2.22 ERA. He struck out 49 hitters in 48.2 innings. He moved up to AA and was 7-6 with a 3.69 ERA. He struck out 78 in 90.1 innings. He actually lost his last five outings. But, he was a member of Team USA (LINK ) in the Olympic qualifying tournament. Van Benschoten will be a solid major league pitcher, but probably not in 2004.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good – Perez’s strikeouts.
The Bad – Everything else .
The Question Marks – Can Benson stay healthy and pitch to his ability? Who will be the closer? Who else will comprise the bullpen? Which Reed will show up?
St. Louis Cardinals
SP – Matt Morris
Morris missed a couple of starts last year with injury. He started 27 games and finished 5 of them. He ended up 11-8 with a 3.76 ERA. In 2002, he was 17-9 with a 3.42 ERA. In 2001, he was 22-8 with a 3.16 ERA. For his career he has averaged almost 7 strikeouts per nine innings. His career record (6 seasons) is 72-42 with a 3.28 ERA. He is now 5 years after his Tommy John surgery. He is a real top of the rotation pitcher and should be picked in the 4th or 5th round.
SP – Woody Williams
37 year old Woody Williams started 33 games last year for the Cardinals. He was 18-9 with a 3.88 ERA. In 220.2 innings, he struck out 153 while walking just 55 and giving up only 20 homers. Since coming to the Cardinals near the end of the 2001 season, Williams is 34-14 with a 3.23 ERA. Assuming healthy, Williams is worthy of a 11th round pick.
SP – Jeff Suppan
Ah, the beauty of the trade deadline deals. Jeff Suppan was 10-7 with a 3.57 ERA with the Pirates. He was then traded to the Boston Red Sox and in 10 starts, he was just 3-4 with a 5.57 ERA. Was that worth giving up anyone for? The Red Sox didn’t even use him as the playoffs approached. In his nine major league seasons, Suppan has a career record of 62-75 with a 4.90 ERA. Can he help the Cardinals? Maybe, they need innings. But he is a very average pitcher. That said, in St. Louis, he should get plenty of run support, so he may not be a bad draft pick after the 17th round.
SP – Dan Haren
Haren started the season at AA and was 6-1 with a 0.82 ERA in 8 starts. He struck out 49 in 55 innings. He moved up to AAA and got 8 more starts going 2-1 with a 4.93 ERA. With all the injuries in the Cardinals rotation, Haren got called up to the Cardinals. He got 14 starts and was 3-7 with a 5.08 ERA. He should get a chance to stay in the rotation, and if he does, take him in the 23rd round.
SP – Jason Marquis
The Cardinals insisted that the Braves throw in Marquis in the JD Drew trade because they wanted a pitcher who was major-league ready. In 2003, Marquis actually started just twice in his 21 games pitched. He was 0-0 with a save and a 5.53 ERA. In 2002, he started all 22 games he pitched in. He went 8-9 with a 5.04 ERA. He struck out 6.6 batters per 9 innings. He won’t be a great pitcher, but he has stayed healthy and maybe given a regular spot in the rotation could be successful. Draft him after the 27th round, if at all.
Closer – Jason Isringhausen
Isringhausen started the year injured, but when he came back, he still pitched 42 innings in 40 games. He was 0-1 with 22 saves and a 2.36 ERA. He averaged almost a strikeout an inning. The three previous seasons, he averaged 64 games, and 33 saves. His ERAs in 2001 and 2002 were 2.65 and 2.48. The 31 year old should be back at 100%, making him worthy of a 13th round draft pick.
Closer – Cal Eldred/ Julian Tavarez
Eldred has pitched in 12 big league seasons, but injuries have really hurt him consistently. He had always been a starter, but after missing the entire 2002 season, Eldred came to the Cardinals and pitched 62 games, all in relief. He struck out 67 in 67.1 innings pitched. He was 7-4 with a 3.74 ERA. He even added 8 saves. Tavarez just signed a big contract to pitch for the Cards. He pitched 83.2 innings in 64 games for the Pirates last year. He only averaged 4.2 strikeouts per 9 innings, but his WHIP was 1.22 and opponents hit just .244 off him. He was 3-3 with a 3.66 ERA. Both of these pitchers should solidify the Cardinals bullpen, but neither is with a draft pick.
Two 2 Watch – Adam Wainright/Jimmy Journell
Wainwright was a big pitching prospect for the Braves who was also included in the Drew trade. He is listed at 6-6 and 190 pounds, but many believe he continued to grow during the season and is now closer to 6-9. At AA last year, the 22 year old was 10-8 with a 3.37 ERA in 27 starts. The 25 year old Journell was a big prospect for the Cardinals. However, in 2003, he pitched primarily out of the bullpen. He started 7 of the 40 games he pitched in. At AAA, he was 6-6 with a 3.92 ERA. He also had 16 saves. He finally was called up to the Cardinals and pitched in 7 games in relief. He was 0-0 with a 6.00 ERA. Both of these guys could vie for a spot in the Cardinals rotation. Journell seems more destined for the bullpen and Wainwright is probably a year away.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good – Morris and Williams.
The Bad – The back of the rotation .
The Question Marks – Who will be the last two starters? Can Marquis finally have a bust out season? Can Isringhausen stay healthy?
Well, that is it for Part 10 of my Fantasy Baseball Preview. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. The same format will be used tomorrow when I discuss the NL East pitching staffs. Please let me know what you think. Any comments or suggestions would be welcomed! E-mail me.
After winning on the road against the Lakers on Friday night, the Wolves played an afternoon game yesterday against the Philadelphia 76ers at Target Center. The Wolves came out sluggish and lethargic. They were committing unusual turnovers, missing open shots and not playing much defense. In the second quarter, they were down by as much as 18 points. The Wolves cut into that lead and when Kevin Garnett hit a fade away 20 footer at the halftime buzzer, the Wolves had cut the lead to 11. The second half was an entirely different game.
The Wolves outscored the 76ers 27-17 in the 3rd quarter and completed the comeback with about 10 minutes left in the game. At that point, Flip Saunders took Garnett out of the game, something that he always does at that time. I thought it was a bad move at the time. At that point, it was a back and forth game the rest of the way. Sam Cassell hit six big free throws in the last minute to give the Wolves the win.
Kevin Garnett led the comeback and the team leading the team with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists. Sam Cassell had 29 points, 6 boards and 9 assists. Latrell Sprewell added 21 points. However, I have to single out two more people. Leading by just 1 point, Mark Madsen grabbed a defensive rebound and had the presence of mind to get the ball to Sam Cassell right away. See, Madsen shoots barely 55% from the free throw line. The other player that needs recognition is Trenton Hassell, and not because he scored 8 points or grabbed 4 rebounds or dished out 3 assists, although obviously that was important too. What he did was controlled Allen Iverson. Iverson did not have an open shot the whole second half. Hassell kept AI in front of him and didn’t allow him into the paint. He did so without fouling also. Hassell is amazing! Yesterday, he was guarding Iverson. Last week, it was Carmelo Anthony and Shawn Marion. He has had the job of defending Kobe Bryant and even Rasheed Wallace this year. He won’t get it, because he doesn’t have the offensive game (kind of like baseball’s Gold Glove), but he should be considered for a spot on the NBA’s all-defensive team.
The Wolves host Orlando on Tuesday night, then will fly down to Atlanta to take on the Hawks on Wednesday. Friday night, Lebron James will make his lone appearance at the Target Center this year. How amazing has his rookie season been? He has averaged 40 minutes, 20.4 points, 6.0 assists and 5.9 rebounds a game. And he just turned 19 a month ago.
Any thoughts on the Wolves? E-mail me.
SUPER BOWL THOUGHTS
Well, our predictions were not quite exact, but it was fun, and if you look back, much of what I predicted actually happened. (Actually, some of our predictors were pretty close!)
Surprisingly, especially after there was no score until 3:31 left in the first half, it turned out to be a good game. But all of a sudden, 24 points were scored in the final 3 ½ minutes of the half, with the Patriots leading 14-10.
After the Patriots took a 21-10 lead on the first play of the 4th quarter, I assumed the game was done, but Jake Delhomme was great after that. When he hit Muhsin Muhammed on an 85 yard reception, the Panthers had a 22-21 lead with just over 7 minutes left. I figured I should really start watching the game.
Just under 3 minutes to play, Tom Brady a long drive by throwing a 1 yard pass to linebacker Mike Vrabel. The two-point conversion made it 29-22. Jake Delhomme quickly led the Panthers down the field, and when he hit Ricky Proehl on a long seem pass, the Panthers had the ball on the 14 yard line. On 3rd down, the Patriots blitzed and Delhomme threw a perfect pass to Proehl for a 12 yard touchdown. The extra point tied it up at 29 with just over a minute left.
Somehow, kicker John Kasay kicked the kickoff well out of bounds, giving the Patriots the ball at the 40 yard line. A minute later, with 9 seconds left, Brady had led the Patriots down to the 24 yard line. Adam Viniteiri, who had missed two shorter field goals in the first half, kicked one right down the middle to give the Patriots the lead with just 4 seconds to play.
I think it is fair to say that Jake Delhomme far exceeded anyone’s expectations. After he started out just 1-9, he was 15-24 for over 300 yards the rest of the game. Tom Brady was over 300 yards on the game as well.
So much was made of Tom Brady having “been there” before and how Jake Delhomme hadn’t and didn’t have the experience. That’s all overdone. Jake Delhomme came up big and so did Tom Brady. Delhomme was 16-33 for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. That’s pretty good. Tom Brady was 32-48 for 353 yards, with 3 touchdowns and one interception. Brady won his second Super Bowl MVP in three years.
That was actually a really good game. I’m surprised.
One final note on the Super Bowl. Ricky Manning Jr., who had three interceptions in the NFC Championship game. He didn’t perform quite so well yesterday, but deserves some credit. Why do I mention him? Because this is a Twins website. Ricky Manning was drafted by the Twins in the 22nd round of the 1999 draft. He would have gone higher, but everyone knew that he wanted to play college football. He signed and played in the summers with the Twins, but when college football started, his baseball season ended. At age 18, he played in 19 games for the Gulf Coast Twins. He hit .196 with 10 singles and 14 walks. The next season, 2000, he stayed with the Gulf Coast Twins. He played 26 games and hit .275 with 19 singles and 16 walks. In 2001, he moved up to the Twins other Rookie League team in Elizabethton. In 22 games, he hit .253 with his first extra base hits, 4 doubles and a triple. In 2002, he played at Class A Quad City. In 24 games, he hit just .180 (11-61). He was then drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the 3rd round of the NFL draft and gave up baseball. Who knows how good Manning could have become had he gone to playing baseball 100% of the time? But, he is a starting cornerback for a Super Bowl team. I think he made the right choice!
Any thoughts on the game? Favorite commercials? E-mail me.
Oh, and Survivor: All Stars… is awesome!!
That’s a lot of writing, so I’m going to call it a day! IF you have any questions or comments on anything, please send me an e-mail and I’ll get back to you. Have a great week!
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