Tag Archive | "League Career"

Cardinals Position of Interest: Organizational First Base

Of all positions in the Cardinals system, first base is perhaps the one that developed the most unexpectedly. While there was no need for a real succession plan due the long-term presence of Albert Pujols, and then Lance Berkman on the roster as well, it was a spot that could have left the team sorely in need of help. However, Allen Craig stepped up in both the wake of the departure of Pujols and injury issues of Berkman a year ago, and claimed it for his own. Fast forward a year later, and the position has both a long-term answer and yet another blooming talent at the MLB level in Matt Adams. But how will the future play out overall at the position? And will the surplus of talent lead to moves being made at spot, or will other issues make the team gun shy about jumping to any conclusions still?

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St. Louis: Craig came into his own as a full-time player last season. In his second full season, he played in 119 games and hit .307. He entered the season as a sort of utility man to support Berkman, as well as Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran in the outfield, but due to the repeated injuries to Berkman, he made 83 starts at first base and the position was his permanently by late summer. The 29-year old finished third on the team in runs batted in, helped in part by a National League-best .400 batting average with runners in scoring position. The team made a 5-year $31 million dollar commitment to him in response to his 2012, which presented another interesting situation in what to do with prospect Matt Adams.

Adams, who has averaged 20 homers a year in his minor league career and was the organization’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2011, found himself on the big league roster coming out of the spring. He has shown prodigious power, but is a fish out of water due to first base being his only position with Craig blocking him there. For now, the 24-year old will continue to be a potential big impact bat and spot starter in case of rest or a trip to the outfield for Craig, but of any of the organization’s top prospect, he is the one with a future that seems most likely to be spent elsewhere.

High Minors: With Adams with the big club, there is nothing of particular emphasis at Memphis currently regarding first base. Brock Peterson is manning it currently, but career minor leaguer is more his path. Xavier Scruggs will return to Springfield as a 25 year old for a second consecutive year, and while he has shown consistent power during his five year rise through the system (20+ homers the past three years), he still hasn’t put much pressure on breaking into even Triple A yet.

Low Minors: There’s not a particularly emergent player at the lower levels of the minors at first currently either. Danny Steinstra (24) and Jonathan Rodriguez (23) are in a time split at the position at Palm Beach, while David Washington (22) is manning the corner the next step down in Peoria. None of the trio profiles as a solution much further along the minors based on past performance and advanced age for the level. Among the more developmental prospects in the lower level is Jeremy Schaffer, who hit 10 home runs and 20 doubles at Rookie level Johnson City in 2012 after being an 18th round pick last June. He will open at Low-A Peoria, but if the 20-year old continues along with the same production as his pro debut began with, he’ll quickly rise to be the best prospect at the position in the organization.

Synopsis: First base is a top heavy position for the Cardinals, where the best talent is already on display at the Major League-level. Craig and Adams are both the future, simultaneously, so something will have to give eventually. But neither is making it easy, Craig with his fresh long-term deal and penchant for driving in runs, and Adams with his epically long drives. Yet a decision will have to be made, and once it is, the system as it currently stands does not offer much follow up promise behind either. The positive thing is that neither HAS to go anywhere anytime soon, and that is a good for staying strong at the top, while building in the system.

 

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Oh, So Now Pete Kozma Is Good Enough For St. Louis

Pete Kozma might have gotten sudden public support along with the St. Louis Cardinals starting shortstop job after Rafael Furcal announced Thursday he would have Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2013 season, but Kozma has deserved some of that respect long before now.

PeteKozma

Kozma hit .333 in 26 games for the Cardinals at the end of last season after Furcal injured his elbow Aug. 30 against the Washington Nationals, and he was a big key to the team’s late-season success that got it within one game of the World Series.

But the Cardinals have rarely viewed Kozma in a positive light.

The organization considered releasing Kozma four times while he was in the minor leagues. Granted, the former first-round pick did put up dismal numbers much of his minor-league career, but the Cardinals have continued to treat Kozma as if he is that same minor-league player even after his big-league success.

The club openly solicited trade proposals to find a different shortstop during the offseason. And when a trade never developed because the Cardinals were unwilling to part with their young pitching prospects, they signed Ronny Cedeno as an option in case Furcal wouldn’t be healthy.

“We were looking at just making sure we have protection (and), in essence, if Pete continues to do what he did, he’ll likely be in the big leagues,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. “We didn’t want to just go into the season and find out that Furcal couldn’t go and find out Kozma was not (going to build on) the six-week period. We had a lot of optimism. It was just shoring up the position.”

But Cedeno has hit just .167 in spring training and played poor defense, at times. That’s probably not where the Cardinals will shore up the shortstop position whether Kozma got the job or not.

Kozma also hasn’t gotten much more respect from Cardinals fans. A forum on stltoday.com Thursday was titled “Is there a worse middle infield in baseball right now?”

There certainly are worse middle infields. Can anyone name the middle infielders for the Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres or Houston Astros?

Plus, Kozma and whoever wins the second base job (Daniel Descalso or Matt Carpenter) are solid fielders who won’t embarrass themselves in the field. Cedeno, on the other hand, might be a liability in the field and at the plate.

Overall, that short period of success is likely a large factor in why people have yet to believe Kozma can handle the Cardinals shortstop position full time in 2013 and beyond. They hadn’t seen that sort of success previously in his career, and they were unwilling to get their hopes up in case Kozma was a one-hit wonder.

Instead, Kozma has excelled during spring training, hitting .429 with five RBIs and two homeruns, and the Cardinals have suddenly started talking him up as someone they really want to have as their starting shortstop this year.

“There’s no doubt given what Kozma did for us in the last six weeks of the season last year we do have a high level of confidence that he can continue to add that energy and be that type of player we saw last year,” Mozeliak said Thursday after the Furcal news broke.

It’s funny how circumstances tend to change those types of feelings.

Kozma would be a huge help to the Cardinals if he can hit for a good batting average and get on base fairly consistently. The Cardinals have enough power in their lineup with Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, David Freese and Allen Craig likely to fill the middle of the order, but they’ll need someone on base when they come up.

Kozma would most likely hit in the seventh or eighth spot in the Cardinals lineup, so he won’t face a ton of pressure to be a star at the plate. The Cardinals just need someone who can get on base and hold their own defensively at shortstop this year, and Kozma is a good candidate to fill all of those needs.

He might get his chance this year, but he’ll have done so by overcoming a strong perception by his team that he wasn’t good enough.

For Kozma, that motivation could make 2013 all the more fun.

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St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak might be best in MLB

In just four years, St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has done just about everything an organization could ask out of that position, and he has done it in steady, yet stunning fashion.

JohnMozeliakBillDewitt

Mozeliak was promoted to the general manager position in 2008 after the Cardinals fired long-time GM Walt Jocketty, who had helped lead the organization through one of its most successful stretches in team history.

Since, Mozeliak took a team that was in the midst of a two-year hiatus from the playoffs and helped turn it into a team that has won a World Series and made the playoffs in three of the last four seasons despite losing arguably the best player in the game, Albert Pujols, at the end of 2011.

Mozeliak made some shrewd moves to reach that success, and he took avenues that weren’t necessarily glamorous, but they were vitally important to the success of the Cardinals.

For example, the only big signing he’s made since taking over as general manager was the seven-year, $120-million contract he gave Matt Holliday after trading for him midway through the 2009 season. Other than that, Mozeliak has deftly made trades that didn’t make major headlines, but paid off huge for the team in the long run.

In one of his first moves, Mozeliak traded Jim Edmonds to the San Diego Padres leading up to the 2008 season, and the Cardinals received a minor leaguer by the name of David Freese in return. At the time it looked as though the Cardinals had given up a fan favorite at the end of his career for a player who had potential but hadn’t had a stellar minor-league career.

But Freese has gone on to hit .296 in his four seasons with the Cardinals to go along with a .345 postseason batting average that includes the most famous hits of the 2011 World Series, a ninth-inning triple in Game 6 to tie the Texas Rangers, who were one strike from winning their first championship, and an 11th-inning homerun to win the game that sent the Cardinals to their championship moment the next evening.

Mozeliak has also added a great mix of veterans and young players. He signed Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran in back-to-back seasons, and both had their best seasons in recent memory. But he also has developed a farm system that is cranking out big-league caliber players who are on the cusp of stardom.

In just the past two seasons, Freese, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Jason Motte and Trevor Rosenthal have filled critical roles for the Cardinals throughout the regular season, and in the team’s deep postseason runs.

Baseball America also recently ranked the Cardinals minor-league system as No. 1 in baseball. That is quite an honor for a system that the same organization ranked last in 2005. The organization is currently stocked with exciting prospects such as outfielder Oscar Taveras, infielder Kolten Wong and pitcher Carlos Martinez.

The combination of all of those factors is what makes Mozeliak the best general manager in baseball. He hasn’t had incredible amounts of money to throw at free agents to try and buy a winning team, as so many organizations have done. The New York Yankees, Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are just a few examples.

Those teams can overcome poor decisions by throwing money at the problem. Others, such as the Toronto Blue Jays this year, trade for a bunch of high-priced talent all at once and hope it all mashes together to create a winning team.

The Cardinals don’t solely use either of those approaches, but they take pieces from each. They are an organization that has developed a near-perfect combination of developing young talent while maintaining the flexibility to add key outside pieces to the puzzle of a big-league roster. The Cardinals are sort of a balance between the Tampa Bay Rays, who rely almost solely on home-grown talent, and the big market teams that spend a ton of money.

Granted, general managers are often viewed as good or horrible based on the flexibility their owners give them. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was viewed as a genius when the Yankees spent loads of money each offseason, but this year his reputation has taken a hit because the Yankees don’t want to spend as much money. That’s not fair, but it is something that comes along with the job.

Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels is probably the closest to Mozeliak in terms of his ability to build a consistent winning team without breaking the bank on free agents. The Rangers had the No. 1-ranked minor-league system in 2009 and followed it with two consecutive World Series appearances.

San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean is another who does an excellent job, and Jocketty is also building a strong foundation with the Cincinnati Reds by applying the same principles he used during his successful 13-year run with the Cardinals that included seven playoff appearances and a World Series championship.

Mozeliak has taken those principles to the next level and built a team that is capable of winning a World Series now, as well as a team that should consistently compete for championships in the foreseeable future.

Given the Cardinals’ recent success and the projections that similar success lays ahead, Mozeliak deserves to be called one of the best, and quite possibly the best, general manager in Major League Baseball.

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Cooperstown Choices: Jose Mesa

With the Hall Of Fame election announcement coming on January 9, 2013, it is time to review the ballot, go over the names, and decide who belongs in the Hall Of Fame.

There are twenty four men on the ballot for the first time this year and we will take a look at each one individually prior to official announcements. You can find all of the profiles in the I-70 Baseball Exclusives: Cooperstown Choices 2013 menu at the top of the page.

In this article, we take a look at Jose Mesa

 

Jose Mesa
Mesa’s 19 year major league career spanned eight teams, most notably the Cleveland Indians.  While in Cleveland he would be selected to two All Star rosters, finish second in the 1995 Cy Young Award voting and fourth in the 1995 Most Valuable Player voting.

Year Tm W L ERA G GS GF SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA+ SO/9
1987 BAL 1 3 6.03 6 5 0 0 31.1 38 23 21 15 17 73 4.9
1990 BAL 3 2 3.86 7 7 0 0 46.2 37 20 20 27 24 99 4.6
1991 BAL 6 11 5.97 23 23 0 0 123.2 151 86 82 62 64 67 4.7
1992 TOT 7 12 4.59 28 27 1 0 160.2 169 86 82 70 62 86 3.5
1992 BAL 3 8 5.19 13 12 1 0 67.2 77 41 39 27 22 77 2.9
1992 CLE 4 4 4.16 15 15 0 0 93.0 92 45 43 43 40 94 3.9
1993 CLE 10 12 4.92 34 33 0 0 208.2 232 122 114 62 118 88 5.1
1994 CLE 7 5 3.82 51 0 22 2 73.0 71 33 31 26 63 123 7.8
1995 CLE 3 0 1.13 62 0 57 46 64.0 49 9 8 17 58 418 8.2
1996 CLE 2 7 3.73 69 0 60 39 72.1 69 32 30 28 64 130 8.0
1997 CLE 4 4 2.40 66 0 38 16 82.1 83 28 22 28 69 195 7.5
1998 TOT 8 7 4.57 76 0 36 1 84.2 91 50 43 38 63 99 6.7
1998 CLE 3 4 5.17 44 0 18 1 54.0 61 36 31 20 35 92 5.8
1998 SFG 5 3 3.52 32 0 18 0 30.2 30 14 12 18 28 116 8.2
1999 SEA 3 6 4.98 68 0 60 33 68.2 84 42 38 40 42 100 5.5
2000 SEA 4 6 5.36 66 0 29 1 80.2 89 48 48 41 84 86 9.4
2001 PHI 3 3 2.34 71 0 59 42 69.1 65 26 18 20 59 182 7.7
2002 PHI 4 6 2.97 74 0 64 45 75.2 65 26 25 39 64 131 7.6
2003 PHI 5 7 6.52 61 0 47 24 58.0 71 44 42 31 45 62 7.0
2004 PIT 5 2 3.25 70 0 65 43 69.1 78 26 25 20 37 132 4.8
2005 PIT 2 8 4.76 55 0 48 27 56.2 61 30 30 26 37 88 5.9
2006 COL 1 5 3.86 79 0 26 1 72.1 73 32 31 36 39 128 4.9
2007 TOT 2 3 7.11 56 0 21 1 50.2 53 48 40 25 29 65 5.2
2007 DET 1 1 12.34 16 0 8 0 11.2 19 16 16 6 9 38 6.9
2007 PHI 1 2 5.54 40 0 13 1 39.0 34 32 24 19 20 83 4.6
19 Yrs 80 109 4.36 1022 95 633 321 1548.2 1629 811 750 651 1038 100 6.0
162 Game Avg. 5 7 4.36 62 6 39 20 94 99 49 46 40 63 100 6.0
W L ERA G GS GF SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA+ SO/9
CLE (7 yrs) 33 36 3.88 341 48 195 104 647.1 657 305 279 224 447 116 6.2
PHI (4 yrs) 13 18 4.05 246 0 183 112 242.0 235 128 109 109 188 102 7.0
BAL (4 yrs) 13 24 5.41 49 47 1 0 269.1 303 170 162 131 127 74 4.2
PIT (2 yrs) 7 10 3.93 125 0 113 70 126.0 139 56 55 46 74 108 5.3
SEA (2 yrs) 7 12 5.18 134 0 89 34 149.1 173 90 86 81 126 92 7.6
COL (1 yr) 1 5 3.86 79 0 26 1 72.1 73 32 31 36 39 128 4.9
SFG (1 yr) 5 3 3.52 32 0 18 0 30.2 30 14 12 18 28 116 8.2
DET (1 yr) 1 1 12.34 16 0 8 0 11.2 19 16 16 6 9 38 6.9
AL (13 yrs) 54 73 4.53 540 95 293 138 1077.2 1152 581 543 442 709 97 5.9
NL (8 yrs) 26 36 3.96 482 0 340 183 471.0 477 230 207 209 329 108 6.3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/12/2012.

Why He Should Get In
His 321 saves ranks him 14th in major league baseball over his career.  For a good portion of his career, he was considered one of the best closers in baseball.

Why He Should Not Get In
Closers are still not getting into the Hall Of Fame easily and Mesa would have a hill to climb to get there.  With players ahead of him with more than 400 saves, he will be hard pressed to force his way in to Cooperstown.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Cooperstown Choices: Royce Clayton

With the Hall Of Fame election announcement coming on January 9, 2013, it is time to review the ballot, go over the names, and decide who belongs in the Hall Of Fame.

There are twenty four men on the ballot for the first time this year and we will take a look at each one individually prior to official announcements. You can find all of the profiles in the I-70 Baseball Exclusives: Cooperstown Choices 2013 menu at the top of the page.

In this article, we take a look at Royce Clayton



Royce Clayton
Clayton’s 17 year major league career would see him play for 11 different teams, most notably the Giants and the Cardinals.  It was in St. Louis in 1997 that he would make his lone All Star roster.

Year Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1991 SFG 9 26 0 3 1 0 0 2 0 1 6 .115 .148 .154 .302 -13
1992 SFG 98 321 31 72 7 4 4 24 8 26 63 .224 .281 .308 .589 71
1993 SFG 153 549 54 155 21 5 6 70 11 38 91 .282 .331 .372 .702 92
1994 SFG 108 385 38 91 14 6 3 30 23 30 74 .236 .295 .327 .623 67
1995 SFG 138 509 56 124 29 3 5 58 24 38 109 .244 .298 .342 .640 73
1996 STL 129 491 64 136 20 4 6 35 33 33 89 .277 .321 .371 .692 83
1997 STL 154 576 75 153 39 5 9 61 30 33 109 .266 .306 .398 .704 84
1998 TOT 142 541 89 136 31 2 9 53 24 53 83 .251 .319 .366 .685 79
1998 STL 90 355 59 83 19 1 4 29 19 40 51 .234 .313 .327 .640 69
1998 TEX 52 186 30 53 12 1 5 24 5 13 32 .285 .330 .441 .771 96
1999 TEX 133 465 69 134 21 5 14 52 8 39 100 .288 .346 .445 .792 98
2000 TEX 148 513 70 124 21 5 14 54 11 42 92 .242 .301 .384 .685 72
2001 CHW 135 433 62 114 21 4 9 60 10 33 72 .263 .315 .393 .708 83
2002 CHW 112 342 51 86 14 2 7 35 5 20 67 .251 .295 .365 .661 74
2003 MIL 146 483 49 110 16 1 11 39 5 49 92 .228 .301 .333 .634 67
2004 COL 146 574 95 160 36 4 8 54 10 48 125 .279 .338 .397 .735 80
2005 ARI 143 522 59 141 28 4 2 44 13 38 105 .270 .320 .351 .670 74
2006 TOT 137 454 49 117 30 1 2 40 14 30 85 .258 .307 .341 .648 69
2006 WSN 87 305 36 82 22 1 0 27 8 19 53 .269 .315 .348 .663 75
2006 CIN 50 149 13 35 8 0 2 13 6 11 32 .235 .290 .329 .619 56
2007 TOT 77 195 24 48 14 0 1 12 2 14 53 .246 .296 .333 .629 66
2007 TOR 69 189 23 48 14 0 1 12 2 14 50 .254 .304 .344 .648 71
2007 BOS 8 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100
17 Yrs 2108 7379 935 1904 363 55 110 723 231 565 1415 .258 .312 .367 .679 78
162 Game Avg. 162 567 72 146 28 4 8 56 18 43 109 .258 .312 .367 .679 78
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
SFG (5 yrs) 506 1790 179 445 72 18 18 184 66 133 343 .249 .302 .339 .641 76
STL (3 yrs) 373 1422 198 372 78 10 19 125 82 106 249 .262 .313 .371 .684 80
TEX (3 yrs) 333 1164 169 311 54 11 33 130 24 94 224 .267 .324 .418 .741 86
CHW (2 yrs) 247 775 113 200 35 6 16 95 15 53 139 .258 .307 .381 .687 79
ARI (1 yr) 143 522 59 141 28 4 2 44 13 38 105 .270 .320 .351 .670 74
COL (1 yr) 146 574 95 160 36 4 8 54 10 48 125 .279 .338 .397 .735 80
BOS (1 yr) 8 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100
CIN (1 yr) 50 149 13 35 8 0 2 13 6 11 32 .235 .290 .329 .619 56
WSN (1 yr) 87 305 36 82 22 1 0 27 8 19 53 .269 .315 .348 .663 75
TOR (1 yr) 69 189 23 48 14 0 1 12 2 14 50 .254 .304 .344 .648 71
MIL (1 yr) 146 483 49 110 16 1 11 39 5 49 92 .228 .301 .333 .634 67
NL (12 yrs) 1451 5245 629 1345 260 38 60 486 190 404 999 .256 .311 .355 .666 76
AL (6 yrs) 657 2134 306 559 103 17 50 237 41 161 416 .262 .315 .396 .711 82
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/12/2012.

Why He Should Get In
His lengthy career spanned both leagues for extended periods of time, seeing him as one of the top second-tier players at his position during his career.

Why He Should Not Get In
While his career was lengthy, it is hard to put a finger on any part of it that would warrant him being a Hall Of Famer.  While he enjoyed a few above average years, he was never quite remarkable enough to stand out as one of the game’s best.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in Cooperstown Choices 2013, I-70 Baseball ExclusivesComments (0)

Cooperstown Choices: Shawn Green

With the Hall Of Fame election announcement coming on January 9, 2013, it is time to review the ballot, go over the names, and decide who belongs in the Hall Of Fame.

There are twenty four men on the ballot for the first time this year and we will take a look at each one individually prior to official announcements. You can find all of the profiles in the I-70 Baseball Exclusives: Cooperstown Choices 2013 menu at the top of the page.

In this article, we take a look at Shawn Green


Shawn Green
Green’s 15 year major league career spanned four franchises, most notably the Blue Jays and Dodgers.  He would be named to two All Star rosters, in 1999 as a Blue Jay and again in 2002 as a Dodger.  He would also win a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove in 1999.

Year Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1993 TOR 3 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100
1994 TOR 14 33 1 3 1 0 0 1 1 1 8 .091 .118 .121 .239 -38
1995 TOR 121 379 52 109 31 4 15 54 1 20 68 .288 .326 .509 .835 115
1996 TOR 132 422 52 118 32 3 11 45 5 33 75 .280 .342 .448 .790 99
1997 TOR 135 429 57 123 22 4 16 53 14 36 99 .287 .340 .469 .809 110
1998 TOR 158 630 106 175 33 4 35 100 35 50 142 .278 .334 .510 .844 117
1999 TOR 153 614 134 190 45 0 42 123 20 66 117 .309 .384 .588 .972 144
2000 LAD 162 610 98 164 44 4 24 99 24 90 121 .269 .367 .472 .839 116
2001 LAD 161 619 121 184 31 4 49 125 20 72 107 .297 .372 .598 .970 154
2002 LAD 158 582 110 166 31 1 42 114 8 93 112 .285 .385 .558 .944 154
2003 LAD 160 611 84 171 49 2 19 85 6 68 112 .280 .355 .460 .814 116
2004 LAD 157 590 92 157 28 1 28 86 5 71 114 .266 .352 .459 .811 113
2005 ARI 158 581 87 166 37 4 22 73 8 62 95 .286 .355 .477 .832 114
2006 TOT 149 530 73 147 31 3 15 66 4 45 82 .277 .344 .432 .776 95
2006 ARI 115 417 59 118 22 3 11 51 4 37 64 .283 .348 .429 .778 95
2006 NYM 34 113 14 29 9 0 4 15 0 8 18 .257 .325 .442 .768 97
2007 NYM 130 446 62 130 30 1 10 46 11 37 62 .291 .352 .430 .782 103
15 Yrs 1951 7082 1129 2003 445 35 328 1070 162 744 1315 .283 .355 .494 .850 120
162 Game Avg. 162 588 94 166 37 3 27 89 13 62 109 .283 .355 .494 .850 120
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
TOR (7 yrs) 716 2513 402 718 164 15 119 376 76 206 510 .286 .344 .505 .849 117
LAD (5 yrs) 798 3012 505 842 183 12 162 509 63 394 566 .280 .366 .510 .876 130
ARI (2 yrs) 273 998 146 284 59 7 33 124 12 99 159 .285 .352 .457 .809 106
NYM (2 yrs) 164 559 76 159 39 1 14 61 11 45 80 .284 .346 .433 .779 102
NL (8 yrs) 1235 4569 727 1285 281 20 209 694 86 538 805 .281 .361 .489 .850 121
AL (7 yrs) 716 2513 402 718 164 15 119 376 76 206 510 .286 .344 .505 .849 117
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/12/2012.

Why He Should Get In
Green had a span of five to seven years of top production.  His career numbers in doubles (445), home runs (328), runs batted in (1,070) and hits (2,003) paint him as an elite ball player.

Why He Should Not Get In
Elite ball player is accurate, but he would have needed a few more years to translate that into being an all time great ball player.  His numbers are good, but not quite good enough for Cooperstown.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Royals Sign Three To Minor League Deals

KANSAS CITY, MO (December 11, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has signed three additional players to minor league contracts for the 2013 season.  The club plans to announce Major League Spring Training invitations at a later date.

Left-handed pitcher George Sherrill, 35, is 19-17 with 56 saves and a 3.77 ERA in 442 career Major League appearances, all in relief, for the Mariners (2004-07, 2012), Orioles (2008-09), Dodgers (2009-10) and Braves (2011).  The 2008 American League All-Star made just two appearances for Seattle in 2012 before undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow on May 4.  Born and raised in Tennessee, the current Utah resident has held left-handed batters to a .186 batting average in his Major League career.

Dan Wheeler, who turned 35 on Monday, is 25-43 with a 3.98 ERA in 589 outings over a 13-year Major League career for the Rays (1999-2001, 2007-10), Mets (2003-04), Astros (2004-07), Red Sox (2011) and Indians (2012).  Born in Rhode Island but now living in Florida, Wheeler split the 2012 campaign between the Cleveland Indians and Triple-A Columbus.

Outfielder Willy Taveras, who will turn 31 on Christmas Day, is a seven-year Major League veteran who has compiled a .274 career average with 195 stolen bases for the Astros (2004-06), Rockies (2007-08), Reds (2009) and Nationals (2010).  The Dominican Republic resident led the National League with 68 stolen bases in 75 attempts for Colorado in 2008.  Taveras is currently batting .280 with eight stolen bases in 39 games for Obregon in the Mexican Winter League.

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Cardinals Get Their LOOGY

The St. Louis Cardinals have been looking for a left handed relief pitcher this off season.  Today, they got their man.

Cards sign Choate to 3 years, $75 million contract

Randy Choate is a 37-year old left handed relief pitcher that has pitched for five teams in his twelve year major league career, spanning back to his rookie season in 2000 with the New York Yankees.

Choate is a true LOOGY (Left-handed One Out GuY) and exactly what the Cardinals were looking for.  He has lead the league in appearances two of the last three seasons with 85 in 2010 and 80 in 2012.  As the term suggests, however, many appearances do not lead to a ton of innings.  Choate threw just 38.2 innings last season.

Tough against lefties, he has held them to a .201 batting average over his career while compiling a 3.52 strikeout to walk ratio as well.

He split time last year between Florida and the Dodgers, having been part of the Hanley Ramirez trade.

Here’s a quick look at his career statistics, as well as his 2012 splits, courtesy of Baseball Reference:

Year Tm W L ERA G GF SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BF ERA+ WHIP H/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2000 NYY 0 1 4.76 22 6 0 17.0 14 10 9 3 8 0 12 1 75 103 1.294 7.4 4.2 6.4 1.50
2001 NYY 3 1 3.35 37 13 0 48.1 34 21 18 0 27 2 35 9 207 135 1.262 6.3 5.0 6.5 1.30
2002 NYY 0 0 6.04 18 11 0 22.1 18 18 15 1 15 0 17 3 101 74 1.478 7.3 6.0 6.9 1.13
2003 NYY 0 0 7.36 5 2 0 3.2 7 3 3 0 1 0 0 0 16 65 2.182 17.2 2.5 0.0 0.00
2004 ARI 2 4 4.62 74 17 0 50.2 52 26 26 1 28 11 49 5 232 100 1.579 9.2 5.0 8.7 1.75
2005 ARI 0 0 9.00 8 0 0 7.0 8 7 7 0 5 1 4 1 35 51 1.857 10.3 6.4 5.1 0.80
2006 ARI 0 1 3.94 30 3 0 16.0 21 9 7 0 3 0 12 3 75 122 1.500 11.8 1.7 6.8 4.00
2007 ARI 0 0 2 0 0 0.0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
2009 TBR 1 0 3.47 61 13 5 36.1 28 15 14 4 11 3 28 0 142 126 1.073 6.9 2.7 6.9 2.55
2010 TBR 4 3 4.23 85 8 0 44.2 41 23 21 3 17 5 40 3 187 93 1.299 8.3 3.4 8.1 2.35
2011 FLA 1 1 1.82 54 6 0 24.2 13 7 5 3 13 5 31 2 103 217 1.054 4.7 4.7 11.3 2.38
2012 TOT 0 0 3.03 80 4 1 38.2 29 18 13 1 18 3 38 5 168 131 1.216 6.8 4.2 8.8 2.11
2012 MIA 0 0 2.49 44 4 1 25.1 16 11 7 0 9 0 27 3 104 161 0.987 5.7 3.2 9.6 3.00
2012 LAD 0 0 4.05 36 0 0 13.1 13 7 6 1 9 3 11 2 64 96 1.650 8.8 6.1 7.4 1.22
12 Yrs 11 11 4.02 476 83 6 309.1 268 157 138 16 146 30 266 32 1344 109 1.338 7.8 4.2 7.7 1.82
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/5/2012.

Career Splits:

I Split G R H 2B 3B HR BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS GDP HBP IBB BAbip tOPS+
vs RHB as LHP 272 74 134 30 1 9 88 62 0.70 .279 .404 .401 .806 22 15 25 .303 141
vs LHB as LHP 446 85 134 33 1 7 58 204 3.52 .201 .278 .284 .563 13 17 5 .273 68
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/5/2012.

2012 Splits:

Split G R H 2B 3B HR BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP IBB BAbip tOPS+
vs RHB as LHP 38 3 13 1 0 0 9 8 0.89 .325 .471 .350 .821 14 1 2 1 .406 188
vs LHB as LHP 72 13 16 3 0 1 9 30 3.33 .158 .243 .218 .461 22 2 3 2 .208 63
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/5/2012.

The Cardinals will turn their focus to the middle infield now, where there appear to be shopping for an upgrade at second base or a long term answer at shortstop.

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Should Soria stay, or should he go?

Last week, the Royals declined closer Joakim Soria‘s $8MM 2013 option and invoked a $750,000 buyout, making him a free agent. This wasn’t a surprise move, seeing Soria spent 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery and he’s not expected to pitch until May or June of 2013.

The Royals would like to sign Soria to a lower cost deal with performance bonuses. But his agent, Oscar Suarez, claims eight MLB clubs have an interest in the closer. Soria would also be open as a setup man for the New York Yankees, if they were interested. So far, the Yankees haven’t haven’t contacted Suarez or Soria.

It’s still early in the offseason and Soria doesn’t have any serious offers yet. Whatever the offer, it’s likely to be a low cost deal with performance bonuses. Soria is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, but he still would generate a lot of interest.

Over his five year Major League career, Soria has 160 saves, a 2.40 ERA and a 3.92 strikeout to walk ratio, making him one of the better closers in the Majors. He did struggle in 2011 with a 4.03 ERA, 28 saves and 3.53 SO/BB ratio, prompting the Royals to briefly move Soria to a set-up role early in the season. His 2012 spring wasn’t much better before the Royals shut him down due to his elbow injury.

There’s some uncertainty how Soria will pitch when he does come back. Will he be the Soria of 2007-2010, or the Soria of 2011? There’s enough uncertainty where a team is unlikely to sign him to an expensive, long-term contract.

Is Soria worth the Royals trying to re-sign him? After he when down, the Royals used Jonathan Broxton as their closer before they traded him to the Cincinnati Reds in late July. Then Greg Holland took over, who had 16 of 20 save opportunities, finishing with a 2.96 ERA and a 2.68 SO/BB ratio.

The Royals say they’re comfortable with Holland being the closer, despite the small sample size of August and September. Holland will be 27 this month, just a year and a half younger than Soria, so age isn’t an issue. However, the team has Holland until 2017, so he could be a long-term solution as the Royals closer if Soria doesn’t come back or only stays a season or two.

It’s safe to say if other teams take a chance signing Soria to a two plus year contract, the Royals will let him walk. A healthy 2012 Soria could have made an already good bullpen that much better, but with Holland’s performance as closer and club-friendly salary, the team figures they could get close to Soria-like results with Holland. Even if Soria signs a one-year, club friendly deal, there’s a good chance they will let Soria walk after 2013, especially if Holland has a great season.

If Soria was a starting pitcher, there’s a good chance the club would pay the $8MM option and hope he would contribute to the starting rotation. But the Royals believe they have a capable, low-cost closer in Holland and while having Soria in 2013 would be nice, he’s not essential. The team will make an effort to sign him, but they’re not going to be too disappointed if Soria goes elsewhere.

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Royals Arizona Fall League roster

So I assumed you’ve already tuned out the playoffs, what with the Tigers, Yankees and Cardinals all advancing. Instead, let’s take a look at October baseball Kansas City Royals style, the Arizona Fall League. The Royals sent eight players to Arizona, here’s a little bit about each of them and what we can hope to see.

J.C. Sulbaran- Absolutely the most interesting prospect in Arizona. He came over in the Jonathan Broxton trade and struggled mightily after joining Northwest Arkansas but that was almost entirely due to control issues. At just 22 years old, there is plenty of time for Sulbaran to blossom into a back of the rotation starter. Sulbaran has yet to take the mound yet in Arizona. A great sign for the Royals would be if Sulbaran dominates the lesser competition in Arizona and keeps his walks down.

Edwin Carl- 24 year-old pitcher with impressive peripherals, but that’s what you’d expect from a 24 year old that’s yet to get to AA. Carl has struck out over 11 batters per nine innings in his minor league career with an outstanding 5.4-1 K/BB ratio. Carl gave up two hits including a home run in his fall league debut.

John Keck- 24 year-old left handed relief pitcher that finally dominated high-A ball this season, earning a promotion to AA. Keck does not stike a lot of people out, and he struggles with his control. It’s a major long shot that we ever see him in Kansas City. Keck has already given up 3 unearned runs on 5 hits in just 1.1 innings this fall.

Justin Marks- 24 year-old left handed starting pitcher that pitched well in AA this season. Marks came to the Royals as part of the David DeJesus trade. A great performance is Anrizona could lead to an assignment in Omaha in 2012, putting him in line to fill a gap once the third or fourth Tommy John injury is sustained. Marks threw three hitless innings in his Fall League debut, walking two and striking out two.

Alex McClure- 23 year-old shortstop that has shown no ability to hit at any level. Played half a season in Northwest Arkansas in 2012 and posted an OPS of .525, which is just slightly below his career OPS. Mcclure is 1/6 wuth an error in two fall games thus far.

Whit Merrifield- 23 year-old outfielder/second baseman that has shown limited promise in his time in the organization. This is likely his last chance to make an impression on the organization. Merrifield has started the fall 2/8 with two runs scored, he’s also committed an error.

Brian Fletcher- 23 (soon to be 24) year-old outfielder that progressed to AA mid-season. Fletcher has 31 home runs in 857 career minor league at bats, but he would have to have an impressive fall and outstanding 2013 to have any chance to figure in the Royals long term plans. Fletcher is 3/10 with an RBI in three games of Arizona Fall League action.

Orlando Calixte- 20 year-old SS from the Dominican Republic that committed 46 errors in 123 games in 2012. Calixte did have his best year at the plate in 2012, smacking 14 home runs and posting a respectable .759 OPS. At 20, and already with 60 games at High-A ball under his belt, Calixte could really benefit if the time in Arizone helps him with the glove. Calixte is 3/9 in three games, and he’s yet to commit an error. An outstaning sign for the Royals would be if Calixte could end the fall with the same number of errors he has now, more realistically he needs to improve drastically on his ratio of an error every three games.

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