Wednesday, March 2, 2005
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
American League Central Pitchers
Over the course of the past couple of weeks I have discussed the hitters of baseball, and over the next couple of weeks, I will be providing a team-by-team look at many of the major league pitchers from a fantasy baseball perspective. I want to do this 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.
However, I do understand not everyone gets into fantasy sports, and that’s OK too. I do not think that my "analysis" will be too "statty" so it should be enjoyable for any baseball fan to read.
Another point to mention before getting started is that there are many forms of fantasy baseball. There are the traditional rotisserie leagues, 5x5 leagues, head-to-head, simulation, keeper leagues, American League Only, National League only and many more. Most leagues probably vary in subtle ways. I am not going to try to analyze for any specific variety. I will just give my opinions on the players. When I project a round-range where the player could be drafted, it will be based on a 30 round major league draft.
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 2005 season, so please take the information for what it is worth (fun). 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.
If you've missed the first four pieces to this project, check them out here:
Part 1 - American League Central Hitters
Part 2 - American League East Hitters
Part 3 - American League West Hitters
Part 4 - National League Central Hitters
Part 5 - National League East Hitters
Part 6 - National League West Hitters
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL PITCHERS
Well, we are back to the perceived weakest of the six divisions. I think that there is a lot of potential in this division. The Sox could have five very good starters. The Twins could have seven good starters and the best bullpen and led the AL in ERA in 2004. The Indians have a good top 4. The Tigers pitchers can only get better. The Royals have Zach Greinke, and yeah, that's probably it! But, I do believe that this is a very good division.
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.
Chicago White Sox
SP – Mark Buehrle
The 24 year old Buehrle has pitched more than 220 innings the last four years, including 245.1 last year. Seriously, is there a pitcher in the big leagues that Twins fans like to cheer against more than Buehrle? He is a very good pitcher, he just talks too much. The last two seasons, he has made dumb quotes about the Sox being better than the Twins, yet the Twins keep winning. It’s unfortunate because Buehrle is a very strong pitcher! Last year, he went 16-10 with a 3.89 ERA. He also got his strikeout rate to over 6. He is probably worth taking in the 9th round.
SP – Freddy Garcia
The Sox gave up Jeremy Reed and Miguel Olivo to get the 29 year old Freddy Garcia. Ha! Yes, that would be a starting CF and Catcher. Last year, he had started out well in Seattle. In 15 games, he got no run support and was 4-7, but with a 3.20 ERA. After the trade, he made 16 starts for the offensive Sox and was 9-4, but with an ERA of 4.46. He has been great when pitching for a contract, which he was last year. The Sox gave him a four year deal. So, I don’t expect much from him. I would wait until the 12th round to take Garcia.
SP – Jose Contreras
Last year, I thought Contreras was going to become a dominant star. He put up strong numbers in his ‘rookie’ season. But the opposite happened as Contreras regressed. Enough so that the Yankees were ready to ship him off at the trade deadline. Combined, he made 31 starts and went 13-9 but had a 5.50 ERA. In 170 innings, he struck out 150, but he also walked 84. I am still high on the ‘33’ year old Cuban. I think a change of scenery will be very good for him, and the White Sox. I think he’s a great pick in the 15th round.
SP – Orlando Hernandez
A year ago at this time, El Duque was without a team, coming off two straight seasons in which he missed time. He signed with the Yankees at mid-season and really helped them, pitching great. In 15 starts, he was 8-2 with a 3.30 ERA. In 84.2 innings, he had 84 strikeouts. His arm did tire though at the end of the season, and he didn’t pitch in the playoffs. So, the Sox gave him a long-term deal (hold back laughter!). That said, when he’s healthy, the ‘35’ year old pitcher is great. His status though is dependent on his injuries. If you think he’ll be healthy, take him in the 16th round. IF you don’t, wait until the 24th round for the gamble.
SP – Jon Garland
Sox fans had hoped Jon Garland would take a step forward in 2003 2004, but actually went backwards. On the positive side, Garland was able to pitch 217 innings. He was 12-11 with a 4.89 ERA. The ERA was his highest, and his strikeout rate dropped to just 4.6 per 9 innings. Now, Garland had been a #3 pitcher last year, but this year, he enters the season as the team’s fifth starter. There should be less pressure, however, he is also now pitching while making some money, so we’ll see how he performs. I actually think he’s a good pitcher, much like the Twins Kyle Lohse, who should put together a good year. Maybe this is the year. I think you can get him in the 25th round.
Closer – Shingo Takatsu
The 36 year old Takatsu came over from Japan last year as one of the best relievers in Japan’s history. The sidewinder doesn’t throw hard, but finds a way to get hitters out. He was successful enough last year (and Marte and Koch were unsuccessful in the role) that he became the closer at mid-season and kept the job! He ended the season with 19 saves in 20 opportunities. On the season, he pitched 62 1/3 innings in 59 games. He was 6-4 with a 2.31 ERA. Opponents hit just .182 against him and he had a WHIP of 0.98. Assuming he remains the team’s closer, he’s worth taking in the 16th round.
Reliever – Dustin Hermanson
Hermanson was the jack of all trades last year in San Francisco. He made 18 starts, moved to the bullpen and when others struggled, he became the team’s closer at the end of the season. For the year, he was 6-9 with a 4.53 ERA. In 132 innings, he had 102 strikeouts. He had 17 saves in 20 chances. As a reliever last year, he was still just 2-5 with a 4.33 ERA in 27 innings. He should help the team’s bullpen, but probably isn’t a threat to Takatsu. Don’t draft him in most leagues.
One 2 Watch – Felix Diaz
At AAA last year, Diaz showed that he is likely ready for the big leagues. In 17 starts, he was 10-2 with a 2.97 ERA. His WHIP there was 1.03. Then he was called up to the Sox a couple of times. He pitched in 19 games, and got seven starts. All told, he was 2-5 with a 6.97 ERA. In 49 innings, his WHIP was 1.58. So, Diaz needs to find a way to find that success at the big league level. If there are injuries in the rotation, expect Diaz to get a chance.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good - Buehrle.
The Bad – middle relief questions after Marte.
The Questions – Can El Duque stay healthy? Can Contreras find his groove? Can Garland step it up this year? Can Takatsu and his delivery be successful for another year?
SP – CC Sabathia
Last year, the large 6-7, ‘290’ pound Carston Charles went 11-10 with a 4.12 ERA. It wasn’t as good as he had been in 2003 when he had his best year. Part of his problem last year was that he only averaged a little over 6 innings a start. He left leads to the Indians bullpen that was terrible. That hurt his possible win total. It amazes me that Sabathia is still just 24 years old, and I think that he will come back with a great 2005 season. Consider him in the 11th round.
SP – Jake Westbrook
When Curt Schilling was injured before the All-Star game, Westbrook was selected to take his place. Yes, Johan Santana should have been instead, but that doesn’t take away from what was a great season for the 27 year old. For the year, he went 14-9 with a 3.38 ERA. Great considering he didn’t even start the season in the rotation. In 33 games (30 starts), he pitched 215.2 innings and WHIP of 1.25. He doesn’t throw a lot of pitches because he doesn’t walk or strikeout many (4.8 per 9 innings). But, can he do it again? I think he can be solid, but don’t expect as much success. Before last year, the most innings he had pitched in a season was 133. Consider Westbrook in the 14th round.
SP – Kevin Millwood
In 1999, Millwood went 18-7 with a 2.68 ERA. In 2002, he went 18-8 with a 3.24 ERA. In between, he has been an average at-best pitcher. Well, if he’s good every third season, expect big things from Millwood in his one year with the Indians. Last year was probably his worst season. He made just 25 starts for the Phillies and was 9-6 with a 4.85 ERA. He did strike out about 8 every nine innings, his highest number since 1999. So, I don’t expect great numbers from Millwood, but because of the Indians offense, he could accumulate some wins. He has gone from a 4th round pick the last couple of years to someone I would probably take in the 16th round.
SP – Cliff Lee
Ah, the beauty of run support. In 2004, the 26 year old lefty had a 5.43 ERA. He had a WHIP of 1.50. Opponents hit .268 off of him and he walked four hitters every nine innings. And, even with that, he had a record of 14-8. (I would encourage everyone to look at Brad Radke’s numbers in comparison and then look at his win total. Then tell me that the pitcher’s "Win" total describes how good of a pitcher he is. PS - Bert Blyleven should be in the Hall of Fame!) Anyway, people continue to talk about how good Lee’s stuff is (8 Ks per 9 innings) and how bright his future is. Maybe 2005 is the year he shows it. The talent is there as he showed in the previous two short stints with the Indians. But, I would wait until the 19th round to draft him.
SP – Scott Elarton
29 year old Scott Elarton had arm problems in 2002 (missed the whole season) and 2003. He came back and was in the Colorado Rockies starting rotation in 2004. He made eight starts for the Rockies before being released. Well, he was 0-6 with a 9.80 ERA at that point. The Indians signed him and when the called him up, he was put in the rotation. He made 21 starts. He was 3-5 with a 4.53 ERA in 117 innings pitched. Personally, I wouldn’t draft him.
Closer – Bob Wickman
The 36 year old Wickman missed much of the 2002 season, all of the 2003 season and about half of the 2004 season after going through Tommy John surgery, and it’s rehab. The Indians bullpen was a mess in the first half. But when Wickman came back, things went back into place. He made 30 appearances, and though clearly still not back to 100%, he had 13 saves in 14 opportunities. He was 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA. In 29.2 innings, he had 26 strikeouts. From 1999-2002 (half season), he averaged 34 saves. The Indians need him to get to that level, and if he does, that means a lot of saves, and good things for the Indians.
Reliever – David Riske
In 2003, Riske was incredible. He threw hard and had some nasty pitches. I thought he would do well in the Closer’s role last year in Wickman’s absence. But, as the Closer, he really struggled. I thought he had an awful year, but when you look at his season as a whole, it wasn’t so bad. He threw 77.1 innings in 72 outings. He was 7-3 with a 3.72 ERA. He struck out a batter an inning. Those are good numbers for a reliever. Like most middle relievers, he’s probably not worth drafting, unless things like ERA and WHIP are categories in your league.
One 2 Watch – Jason Davis
The Indians gave Davis more than a year in the rotation to see if he would pan out. But he is a case of a guy with really just one great pitch, a fastball. That isn’t enough to get big league hitters out consistently, especially not for long in a game. That makes him a strong candidate for short relief though. Last year, as a starter, he was 2-7 with a 5.80 ERA. Opponents hit .316 off him. Then in seven relief appearances (admittedly, a small sample), he was 0-0 with a 1.23 ERA. Opponents hit just .233 off him. If he’s in the bullpen, he could be successful and help the team. IF he’s a starter, you don’t want anything to do with him!
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good – Sabathia, Wesbrook.
The Bad – Elarton and the middle relief not shown here.
Question Marks – Which Millwood will show up? Can Westbrook put together another strong season? Can Sabathia finally take that next step? Can Wickman stay healthy, and will the bullpen be greatly improved from last year?
SP – Mike Maroth
I really admire Maroth and think that he would be a very good 4th starter for most major league teams. What he showed in his 21 loss 2003 season was a heart that just wanted to pitch. I was happy that he got some support in 2004 and greatly improved all of his numbers. He went 11-13 with a 4.31 ERA. That’s respectable. He started 33 games and pitched 217 innings. He is a battler. It would be nice if he could drop his .288 opponent batting average, but he doesn’t walk many, so it isn’t quite so bad. He only strikes out a batter every other inning though, which hurts him from a fantasy perspective. I expect numbers similar to his 2004 numbers, and that makes him about a 26th round pick.
SP – Jeremy Bonderman
Bonderman is the future ace of the Tigers. He may already be their best pitcher. However, compare his numbers in 2004 to Maroth’s. Bonderman was 11-13 with a 4.89 ERA. However, he pitched 184 innings in his 32 starts and struck out 168 (8.2 per 9 IP). His Opp. Batting average was just .242. He made great strides forward from his rookie season, but he still has far to improve to become what so many want him to be. Wait until the 22nd round to take him.
SP – Nate Robertson
Robertson is another Tigers starter that I like. The 27 year old had a very solid rookie year in 2004. He went 12-10 with a 4.90 ERA. In 196 innings, he struck out 165 (7 per 9). I grabbed Robertson for one of my fantasy teams last year. Every start, he seemed to only go five or six innings, throwing a lot of pitches. He would strike out a bunch and get some wins. I would put him just a step behind Bonderman from a fantasy perspective. Take him in the 23rd round.
SP – Jason Johnson
Johnson was brought in as a free agent last year. He was expected to be a solid, consistent starter who could provide innings and leadership at the top of the rotation. He did make 33 starts and threw 196 innings. That’s not to say he did well though. He went 8-15 with a 5.23 ERA. However, there is reason for optimism because the previous three years, in Baltimore, he had ERAs in the low-to-mid 4’s. If he can move back up to that level, which I think is possible because he pitched with pain last year, he becomes worth taking in the 27th round.
SP – Wil Ledezma
Ledezma was one of three Rule V draft picks of the Tigers before the 2003 season. So, he had to spend that entire season with the big club. He pitched in 24 games (8 starts) and was 3-7 with a 5.79 ERA. The team then decided that Ledezma should start the 2004 season at AA Erie. He dominated that league. In 16 starts (17 games), he went 10-3 with a 2.42 ERA. He pitched in the Futures Game (Jason Kubel singled off him!). In mid-July, he got called up to the Tigers where he split time between the rotation and the bullpen. He went 4-3 with a 4.39 ERA. His strikeout rate was low. His WHIP was still fairly high (1.37). But I think that Ledezma could become a special pitcher. Maybe not in 2005, but soon. I think that he is worth a shot in the 28th round.
Closer – Troy Percival
After ten great seasons in Anaheim, Percival was one of the first free agents to sign this offseason. He has had at least 30 saves each of the last seven seasons, and eight of the last nine. He has been a Twins killer much of his career, and now will have many more opportunities to face them. But, in all honesty, Percival has shown signs of slowing down. But, he will still get plenty of save opportunities, and with Urbina still around, they can be cautious with him so that he doesn’t wear down, meaning he should be stronger throughout the season. I think he’s worth taking by about the 11th round.
Reliever – Ugueth Urbina
The 31 year old Urbina had a rough season last year. First, he was just 4-6 with a 4.50 ERA. But obviously the story was the kidnapping of his mother. She was just rescued a couple of weeks ago, so Urbina is in camp. He and Percival are completely different. Percival has basically one pitch and throws hard. Urbina doesn’t throw as hard, but his changeup is great. Depending on the rules and categories of your league, Urbina is probably not worth taking, unless you just take a flyer on him in the last round.
One 2 Watch – Gary Knotts
Knotts still has a chance to be the team’s 5th starter. In 2004, he pitched in 36 games and made 19 starts. He was 7-5 with a 5.25 ERA. His numbers were very similar as a starter and a reliever. Watch where he ends up, but don’t draft him.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good – Bonderman and Ledezma’s future, Percival.
The Bad - 4th and fifth starters.
The Question Marks – Can Maroth and Bonderman continue to improve? Can Ledezma become a star, like I think he can? How will the end of games play out with Percival and Urbina around? Will Urbina stay around?
Kansas City Royals
SP – Zack Greinke
I think the Royals would have preferred to keep Greinke in the minor leagues the whole year last year. The 20 year old pitched his way to the big league club by mid-May and was really their best pitcher the rest of the season. He made 24 starts and went 8-11 with a 3.97 ERA. In 145 innings, he struck out 100 and walked just 26. Known as a Greg Maddux-like pitcher, the future of Greinke is great. However, playing for the Royals will probably hurt his win total significantly. That may make him fall into the 16th round.
SP – Jose Lima
Lima Time is back in Kansas City, where he turned around his career. Lima had a solid half-year with the Royals in 2003. That gave him a shot with the Dodgers last year. He wasn’t promised anything, and made the team as a reliever. But, eventually, he got into the starting rotation and pitched even better. For the season, he went 13-5 with a 4.07 ERA. He threw 170 innings. He doesn’t strike out many, but he walks very few. In other words, he usually gives his team a chance to win. Again, as a Royal, I don’t see a lot of wins, and his peripheral numbers are never great from a fantasy perspective, so don’t take him until the 25th round.
SP – Brian Anderson
Anderson came to the Royals late in the 2003 season. His success the last two years has mirrored that of the Royals. In his 7 starts in 2003, he went 5-1. That got him a nice, fat two-year deal. Last year, Anderson went 6-12 with a 5.62 ERA. He was actually taken out of the rotation. I do think that he’ll get back into the rotation, and likely won’t be quite as bad. That said, I still wouldn’t draft him until the 29th round.
SP – Jimmy Gobble
A year ago, the 23 year old Gobble threw 148 innings in his 24 starts. He was 9-8, but his ERA was at 5.35. Gobble struck out just 49 hitters (3 per 9 innings), which is very low. So, can he take the next step to becoming a consistent starting pitcher? His ‘stuff’ doesn’t suggest it. But he has been successful wherever he’s been, so maybe he’s just got that something that is going to make it work. But, I wouldn’t draft him in a fantasy draft.
SP – Runelvys Hernandez
Hernandez missed half of 2003 and all of 2004 following Tommy John surgery. Before the injury, he showed signs of being a solid pitcher. In his 16 2003 starts, he was 7-5 with a 4.62 ERA. But I am always leery of pitchers coming off of Tommy John. Yes, he’s 18 months out. But it always takes plenty of actual game-time pitching for many of the pitchers to seemingly get their confidence back. So, I wouldn’t draft Hernandez, but certainly keep an eye on him.
Closer – Jeremy Affeldt
Affeldt has been a starter, and he’s been a reliever. He’s experienced success and a lot of failure. He’s had injuries and blister problems. And, he’s still just 25 years old. And his stuff is still nasty when he’s on. Maybe the closer’s role will work out perfectly for him. I do believe he could be dominant. But he needs to prove some consistency. If he’ll be the closer, consider him in Round 21. If not, take him in the 30th round.
Reliever – Mike MacDougal
Although he had a solid, but vastly overrated, 2003 season. In 68 games, he had 27 saves (8 blown) and an ERA of 4.08. His control was his lone question mark. Injury cost him most of his 2004 season though. He pitched in just 13 games. He was 1-1 with a save, a blown save and a 5.56 ERA. He gave up 16 hits and nine walks in his 11 1/3 innings. Not good. Don’t draft him, unless he is named the Royals’ closer, and even then, wait until the 28th round.
One 2 Watch – Dennis Tankersley
Tankersley gets a new chance following his trade from the Padres. He has been a good AAA starter. He has had shots with the Padres the past three years. Combined, he has gone 1-10 with a 7.61 ERA in those games. He should make the team, and may even get a shot at a spot in the rotation. It is a huge year for him. Don’t draft him though!
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good – Greinke.
The Bad – the rest of the rotation... and the bullpen.
The Question Marks – Can some of their injured starters come back and contribute? Can Greinke remain positive and improve? What will Affeldt’s role be?
SP – Brad Radke
Radke has been the model of consistency and calm and poise throughout his career. And last year, he came through with easily his best all-around season of his career. His ERA was 3.48. His WHIP was 1.16. His strikeout rate was up and his already impressive walk rate was down. Everything went right on the mound for Radke. The only negative was that the Twins offense didn’t support him. He went just 11-8. By most any pitching metric, Radke was a Top 4 pitcher in the American League in 2004. So, do I expect similar numbers from Radke in 2005? I don’t expect them to be that good, but I do think that he can be close to as good, and that makes him a 10th round pick in my book.
SP – Johan Santana
On June 3, Santana lost to the Devil Rays. He fell to 2-4 with a 5.51 ERA. From that point on, he went 18-2 (and in those two losses, he gave up 2 runs in 8 innings both times). I honestly don’t know what more to say about his season. It was one of the most amazing seasons in the modern baseball era. He was the unanimous Cy Young Award winner. Season numbers were 20-6 with a 2.61 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP, an opponent batting average of .198, 265 Ks in 228 innings (10.5 per 9 innings). To me, he should be the first pitcher drafted, and I would take him by about the 5th overall pick in any draft. I’m glad the Twins locked him up for the next four years!
SP – Carlos Silva
I don’t think anyone really knew what to expect from the 25 year old Venezuelan last year in his first season as a starting pitcher after two years as a reliever with the Phillies. I think it’s fair to say that Silva met any expectations. On the year, he went 14-8 with a respectable 4.21 ERA. I think he tired a little shortly after the All-Star break but then came back well at the end of the year. The sinkerball pitcher doesn’t strike out many, and like Radke was on the league leader board for fewest walks. So many seem to expect Silva to falter in his second year. I see him as a big, young guy with good movement. I see no reason for him to fall off at all. In fact, I am excited to see what he will do. I would take him in the 14th round.
SP – Kyle Lohse
Lohse was awful last year. I think he would admit that (not in his arbitration case though!). In my opinion, it seemed like he was trying to strike out every hitter instead of just letting his ‘stuff’ work. His strikeout rate actually dropped while his ERA soared. After winning 27 games the previous two seasons, Lohse was 9-13 last year with an ERA of 5.34. But so many think he was really good the previous years because of his win totals, but his ERAs those years were 4.23 and 4.61, average, at best. I fully expect Lohse to have a good 2005 season. I think that he’s learned a lot and hopefully was even humbled a little bit last year. I hope he finally puts it all together. I think the best we could hope for would be about 15 wins and an ERA in the 3’s. Probably not quite realistic, but we’ll see. He still made 34 starts last year and threw 194 innings. He’s worth a flyer in the 22nd round.
SP – Joe Mays
The Twins 5th starter spot is going to be a battle. Mays missed all of 2004 and some of 2003 when he had Tommy John surgery. So many Twins fans, myself included, would love to see Mays return to his 2001 form. That is arguably the only season that he has been completely healthy. That year, he pitched 233 innings. He went 17-13 with a 3.16 ERA. His ERA’s in the other four seasons he’s pitched have been 4.37, 5.56, 5.38 and 6.30. In other words, was 2001 a mirage, or was it really what he could be capable of. I don’t know what to think. But I do think that if Mays wins the 5th starter job, he is worth a gamble in the 26th round on the chance that he’s back and better than ever. If he is, this rotation becomes the best in baseball.
Closer – Joe Nathan
The 30 year old Nathan had just 1 save before last year. He won the closer job and ran with it. He saved 44 games in 47 chances. He was as dominant as any closer in baseball during the regular season. In 73.1 innings, he struck out 89 hitters (11.1 per 9 innings). He was 1-2 with a 1.62 ERA. His peripheral numbers were Santana-esque. I expect the same type of numbers from Nathan in 2004, although those are high expectations. Consider taking him by the 7th round.
Relievers – Juan Rincon/Jesse Crain/Grant Balfour
Speaking of dominant, no other middle reliever in baseball was as tough as Rincon last year (ok, maybe Tom Gordon of the Yankees). Rincon pitched 82 innings in 77 appearances. He was 11-6 with a 2.63 ERA. He struck out 106 batters (11.6 per 9 innings) and walked just 32. His WHIP was 1.02 and opponents hit just .181 against him. Expect more of the same in 2004. Balfour spent the entire season with the Twins and did well when he was healthy. He was 4-1 with a 4.35 ERA. He pitched 39.1 innings in his 36 appearances. He struck out 42 hitters (9.6 per 9 innings). We saw against the Yankees in Game 4 last fall just how dominant he is capable of being. Crain is the top rated relief pitching prospect in baseball (or at worst tied with the A’s Huston Street). He finally got called up in July and pitched very well. He went 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA. He gave up runs in just four of the 22 games he appeared in and only two of them could be considered poor outings. All three of these guys can top 95 mph. All 3 have great sliders. Crain has an incredible curveball too. If your league values strikeouts per inning, WHIP, Opp. BA, etc., you will want to take all of these guys in the late rounds. To me, this is one of the more exciting parts of the Twins 2005 team.
Two 2 Watch – JD Durbin/Scott Baker
OK, so, I’m excited about the Twins starting rotation. I’m really excited about their bullpen. Just to hit the trifecta, I am thrilled about the pitching prospect that this organization has accumulated. JD Durbin and Scott Baker, both 23 are the two who are closest to the big leagues at this point. Durbin "The Real Deal" got called up last September. He hits 97 mph on his fastball. Has a sharp, big curveball. And the organization is hoping to perfect his changeup to make him a dominating starting pitcher. Baker is called the Twins most polished pitcher. He doesn’t throw as hard (92-93), but he has three pitches and excellent control. Both will likely start the season at AAA Rochester, but could be called up at any time. And I haven’t even mentioned Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins, Adam Harben, Errol Simonitsch, Alexander Smit, Kyle Waldrop, Jay Rainville, Anthony Swarzak and Matthew Fox.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good – Santana, Radke, the bullpen Nathan and the futures of Durbin, Crain, Baker and more.
The Bad - Lohse, unless he’s vastly improved.
The Question Marks – What can Santana possibly do to follow up last year? Can Radke duplicate his 2004? Who will be the fifth starter? Can Silva do it again, and can Lohse improve? How dominant can the bullpen be?
Well, that is it for Part 7 of my Fantasy Baseball Preview. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. The same format will be used next when I discuss the AL East pitching staffs (hopefully by Friday). Please let me know what you think. Any comments or suggestions would be welcomed! E-mail me.
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
Last night was another night of American Idol performances. Monday night was the men. Last night, the women performed. Here are my thoughts on their performances, and some more random thoughts before I give my rankings.
Aloha Mischeaux - You Don't Know My Name
After singing Beyonce in Week 1, Aloha tried an Alicia Keys song this week. Gotta say she's daring. She does have an excellent voice, she just didn't sound as strong. Definiely not as strong as last week. Actually, she really got weaker as the song went on.
Lindsey Cardinale - You're All I Think About These Days
Country sound - worked very well for her low, deep voice. Very Shania-esque. Good stage presence too. I thought she was good. And yeah, she's definitely the fourth hottest!
Jessica Sierra -
Another country song, and slow too. Great song for her voice. Actually, she did very well, especially in the stronger, higher parts. Enough 'twanginess' in her voice for a good country song. Vocally, I would put her a notch or three above Lindsey.
Mikalah Gordon - God Bless The Child
OK, first of all, this is a wonderful song. I first heard it on The Simpsons album from the early '90s!Mikalah probably performed it better than Lisa Simpson did. The judges absolutely loved her version and raved about it. Personally, I thought that she was awful at the beginning, frequently off-tune. I didn't think she was good, and it was just a bad rendition of the song.
Celena Rae - When the Lights Go Down
Midriff is a beautiful thing! She missed a few notes, but she was stronger than previously thougout the song. #3 on the hotness rankings.
Nadia Turner - My Love
And yes, again, midriff is good! Great, incredible, strong voice with great range. Looks like she's been performing forever. She's amazing!
Amanda Avila - Turn the Beat Around
I was excited to hear her sing the Gloria Estefan song, thinking it would be something she would do well. As you can imagine, it is difficult for me to say anything negative about the #2 ranked in hotness girl. However, I thought she was really poor during the fast parts. It was a fun song, but I thought there was way too much background vocal in it. She had her moments, but overall, I didn't think she was too good.
Janay Castine - Get 'Em Up
A little Blu Cantrell! Gotta like that! I thought Janay was awful her first week. Well, she was improved this week. But she was still clearly the worst singer of the night. She still looked scared. It sounded like OK karaoke. Good, but far from star quality. Another song where there was just too much background.
Carrie Underwood - Take Another Little Piece of My Heart
yeah, she is still my choice as the most attractive woman in the competition. The judges thought that she wasn't very good. To me, I saw it as a very strong performance. I thought her country-like voice really worked well for the Joplin song. I think she is great on the stage. I just think she's a natural. ... and those eyes... and her hair... and the jeans...
Vonzell Solomon - If I Ain't Got You
Another Alicia Keys song, but I thought Vonzell nailed it. Yeah, she maybe did too much with it, but it worked, and vocally she was strong. I actually wrote the word "Wow!" She was very strong and passionate and looked like she really enjoyed it. I was fully impressed.
I don't get the judges. I have written this before and likely will again, but maybe we don't hear what they hear, or vice versa. They're already admitted a few times that they hear one thing live, and then watch it back on TV and get an entirely different opinion. I have to admit that I am finding myself disagreeing with the judges a lot this year.
Another thing is that, once they get further into the competition, the singers will find their niches. One judge will tell the contestant that they need to show that they're more than one-dimensional. Then the next week they will do something different, in an attempt to show some range, and really, to do what the judges ask them to do. When it doesn't go as well, or the song just doesn't work for their voice, no matter how well they sing it, they tell them that they need to stay true to themselves and "it's all about song selection."
So, I do question the judges and what they say, and what their intentions and motives might be. That is my point for today. Let's get to my rankings.
So, here's how I saw the performances pan out, in my opinion. Remember, that two of these women will be eliminated tonight.
1.) Nadia Turner
2.) Vonzell Solomon
3.) Jessica Sierra
4.) Carrie Underwood
5.) Aloha Mischeaux
6.) Celena Rae
7.) Lindsey Cardinale
8.) Amanda Avila - I hate to see her go, but again, the judges weren't real positive toward her.
9.) Mikalah Gordon - I think she is safe because of what the judges said to her.
10.) Janay Castine - she has to be done!
By those rankings, I would choose to seen Mikalah Gordon and Janay Castine as the two who leave the show tonight. What do you think? Send me an e-mail.
On Monday, I posted a Q&A with Twins Prospect Pat Neshek. But in it, he mentioned a high school teammate, Brandon Broxey, in it. I got an e-mail from Brandon yesterday, and he has his own website called The World of B. I've checked it out. It covers Minnesota sports, jokes, and much, much more! Check it out and bookmark it.
Stick and Ball Guy's Media Watch takes a look at some of the Twins competition in the AL Central, and has a great picture of Dmitri Young!!!
And that's it for Random Thoughts today. You've had enough to read and if you made it this far, I will be impressed. Check back tomorrow for plenty of random thoughts!
And on that note, I wish you a wonderful Wednesday. If you have any questions or comments on anything you have read above, please e-mail me.
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