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Latest Updates... 4-19-08


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1. *Pedro Alvarez {College 3B, Vanderbilt} (21). The third-baseman, from the same college (Vanderbilt) as last year's overall #1 pick David Price, is the consensus #1 rated player after stellar Freshman and Sophomore campaigns. Alvarez is well put together at 6' 2 225 lbs., bats left, throws right and plays a decent third base. However, it's his bat that most feel have him at the head of the class.

Alvarez has comparables to Alex Gordon, with a .300+ BA and middle of the lineup production (25+ HR, 100+ RBI) very possible. He is the kind of player that if he develops as projected, could be a franchise player, whether at 3B or with a potential switch to 1B. He runs fairly well, although it's unlikely he'll be much of a stolen base threat.

Alvarez is an on-field leader, playing outstanding in stints for Team USA, and should become an easy top-5 choice this Draft.

Update... April 17, 2008;

He's back after a lengthy lay off with a broken bone in his hand (hamate).

In 52 AB's > .288 BA, 3 HR, 9 RBI, .439OBP/ .538 SLG/ .977 OPS.

2. Aaron Crow {College RHSP, Missouri } (21). Missouri right-hander Aaron Crow really burst onto the scene during his dominating Cape Cod season (Collegiate Wood Bat League) this past fall. At 6' 2 215, he is not overly big, but is a solid athlete and easily repeats his mechanics, which may contribute to why his command of a low to mid-nineties fastball (which has hit 98 occasionally) has been outstanding. Crow led the league with a miniscule ERA of 0.67 and has a solid reportoire of secondary pitches, with a slider and change both grading out as average to above-average.

While his Cape campaign was very impressive, his college season was merely good. The sophmore was the Tigers' Friday night starter (#1) and threw 117.2 innings in 18 starts, striking out 90.

Crow reminds me a bit of a young Mike Mussina (although Crow throws a bit harder), and if he picks up where his Cape stint left off during the coming college season, he has the chance to go #1 overall.

Updated... April 19, 2008;

Nine games started> 9 wins. 64.2 IP... 2.37 ERA, 52 Hits/17 BB's, 79 K's.

3. Tim Beckham {High School SS, (GA)} (18). With continued progress he profiles as an All-Star SS, both with the glove and at the plate. He is an athletic defender with graceful actions and a very strong arm. Unlike many High School SS's, Beckham will stay at short. He has a big-league body already, at 6' 2 193 lbs, and should add even more strength to an already formidable offensive skill-set. He's fast AND quick, a combination more uncommon then most realize, and he's a great and instinctive base-runner to boot. Beckham has played well in wood bat tournaments and along with Eric Hosmer is considered the best hitters in the HS ranks.

He has been compared to BJ and Justin Upton, as well as a higher-ceiling Edgar Renteria, and that is high praise indeed. Considered by most as the premiere High School prospect, and by some as the overall #1 player available, Beckham should come off the board very, very early.

Update... April 19, 2008;

With no word on his season, Beckham remains high on the #1 pick watch list.

4. *Brian Matusz {College LHSP, San Diego} (21). Matusz (pronounced MAT-is) is one of those pitchers that just has ML'er written all over him. The University of San Diego junior stands 6' 4 and weighs in at 195 lbs. He employs a sweet combination of crafty lefty with a low nineties fastball and consistantly throws three quality pitches for strikes. He will pitch from 87-92 and can hit 94 when necessary, but it's his assortment of high-grade secondary stuff that has scouts excited about his future. His curve and change are both outstanding, and his athleticism and easy arm action plants him squarely in line to be a high first-round selection.

Because he doesn't necessarily profile as a true #1 ace, Matusz doesn't get the drools from the scouts as last year's #1 David Price had, but in time Matusz may prove to be about as good.

Updated... April 19, 2008;

In his latest effort, against St. Mary's, he went 8 IP, with 2 unearned runs, 6 hits, no walks and struck out 10 batters.

In 9 starts and 1 relief appearance > 56.2 IP... 1.76 ERA, 52 Hits/18BB's, 90 K's, and a .209 BAA.

5. Buster Posey {College C, Florida State} (21). Posey's defensive strengths, athleticism, and solid offensive skillset have scouts abuzz, as the former SS has bounded into top 10 consideration and should chalenge HS'er Kyle Skipworth for the 'top catcher' spot.

The 6'2 200 lbs backstop has been behind the dish ony a short time. After starring as a High School SS, the Seminoles decided that he could make an outstanding defender behind the plate, as his power arm, athletic movements and physical build suggested so. Boy was that the right move! After playing short his freshman season, he was moved to catcher and posted a .382 BA, hit 21 doubles, drove in 65 RBI and scored 66 runs his sophmore season.

Update... April 19, 2008;

Posey has been spectacular in '08 in 140 AB's...

.479 BA, with 10 HR's, 42 RBI, 32 BB's, 10 K's, 3/6 SB's and a line of .582 OBP/ .850 SLG/ 1.432 OPS!

6. #Justin Smoak {College 1B, South Carolina } (21). I love Smoak... in a manly way naturally =P. Justin was a borderline 1st rounder as a High School senior, and the switch-hitting first sacker has done nothing to disappoint the South Carolina fan base since his freshman campaign in '06. Smoak is well built at 6' 3 200 lbs., with sound swing mechanics from both sides of the plate and generates both good average and good power. He has played very well in the Cape Cod League (Collegiate Wood Bat League) and projects quite well as a big leaguer. Justin has a decent eye, but can be a bit undisciplined. However, he does play a very good 1B.

The comparisons to Mark Teixeira have been and will be there, but Smoak should make his own 'mark' on the game he loves. I project Smoak as an outstanding defensive first baseman, with the following line a rough estimate of his hitting abilities> .285/.365/.510/.875 with 30'ish HR's and good run production. A very solid choice for any team looking for an advanced college bat.

Update... April 17, 2008;

In 140 AB's > After a slow spell, he whacked 3 HR's in a single game and is getting back to what's expected of him...

.364 BA/ 13 HR, 38 RBI, 0/3 SB's, 34 BB's, 21 K's and a line of .492 OBP/ .721 SLG/ 1.213 OPS.

7. *Eric Hosmer {High School 1B, (FL)} (18). For me, Hosmer may be the single best 1B prospect in the last 20 years and while some discount his value for being a 1B'man, I have him as the overall best prospect in the draft. He is big at 6' 4 220, and strong enough to launch massive shot after massive shot throughout both batting practice and in the games he plays. Already a very good defender at 1B, Eric profiles as a middle of the order beast. With perhaps the sweetest swing in the draft he won the WWBA (World Wood Bat Association) Tourney MVP back in October, adding to an impressive collection of accolades.

While High School phenom Tim Beckham gets rave reviews for being the next great 5-tool talent, it is Hosmer that has been the most consistent player. Coupling tremendous defensive and offensive skill-sets makes Hosmer a legit threat to go in the top 5.

Update... April 17, 2008;

Having to deal with being pitched around a bit, and in 81PA's, Eric is hitting .490 with 9 HR's and 21 RBI, 9/9 SB's (that's 23/23 in two years) with 21 walks and 11 K's. Impressive> .593 OBP/.970 SLG/ 1.563 OPS.

8. *Kyle Skipworth {High School C, (CA) } (18). Skipworth has been a steady riser among scouts who have watched his growth in the California H.S. ranks. Skipworth was tremendous during the summer and at the wood bat AFLAC classic, until fading at the Area Code Games later in the year.

At a physically impressive 6' 3 190, Kyle features a 4-tool skill-set, with speed being his only detriment. He reminds some of Joe Mauer, with excellent athleticism, a sweet left-handed swing, good eye, and plus power. He has struggled at times with plate coverage, as the better pitchers would go away, away, away... and the pull conscious Skipworth will need to adjust.

Defensively he is above average, in calling a good game and receiving well, all while having a solid arm to boot.

Should Skipworth continue his progression and have a banner senior season, I doubt that he'll last past pick #10.

Update... April 19, 2008;

Skipworth is off to a stellar start to the season, solidifying his status as a top ten player in the draft.

In 81 PA's, Kyle is batting .591, and has 9 HR's, 34 RBI, 14 Walks and 10 K's, while crushing the ball at a sweet clip>

.667 OBP/ 1.182 SLG/ 1.849 OPS!!!

9. Gordon Beckham {College SS, Georgia} (21). There's another Beckham in Georgia... Gordon is his name, and he's pushing his way into the limelight. The University of Georgia standout burst onto the scene last fall in the Cape Cod collegiate wood bat league, leading the league in HR's and playing a sound SS, and really stepped it up this junior year, belting 15 HR's by early April. His sophmore season went well, as he started all 56 games and led the team with 13 home runs, 51 RBI, and 23 multiple-hit games... leading to his inclusion on the Cape.

Gordon is not related to Tim, and while he is not the elite athlete Tim is, he is a force in his own right, and probably a couple years closer to the bigs. There is a healthy debate among scouts as to whether he can stick at short, but most believe that he can not only stick, but be at least league average. Gordon is about 6' 190 lbs, and has a good athletic build, and while not fast, shows good quickness and range, employing a good arm from the hole. He is compared occasionally to Khalil Greene, but Gordon should hit for a higher average while being less of a defender than Khalil.

Update... April 13, 2008;

In 135 AB's he has belted 15 HR's, drove in 37 runs, walked 22 times and struck out 11, and went 10/11 in SB attempts, all while fielding at a .970 clip.

He's also posted the following offensive line >.430 BA/ .528 OBP/ .859 SLG/ 1.387 OPS. Impressive!

10. Shooter Hunt {College RHSP, Tulane} (21). With a name like Smuc... errr, Shooter, you better be good. This guy is a marketing campaign waiting to happen, but he matches the cool name with even cooler ability.

His sophmore season he went 99.2 IP and posted a 2.62 ERA, holding opponents to a .232 BAA and striking out 104.

The former New Jersey Player of the Year (in high school) has a nearly ideal pitcher's build at 6' 3 200 lbs, and employs a vicious two-pitch arsenal of mid nighties fastball and nasty slider. If Hunt can find a consistent breaking ball and a bit better command, he could eventually be the best pitcher from this draft class. While there are a few 'if's' and 'could's', he is one to watch.

Update... April 19, 2008;

Another strong performance against Southern Miss... 7 IP, 2 hits, 12 K's and only 1 walk.

In 9 starts and 56.2 IP > 1.59 ERA and a .126 BAA, 24 hits/32 BB's, 78 K's.

11. Tanner Scheppers (College RHSP, Fresno State} (21). Scheppers' switch from position player to pitcher has paid huge dividends for Fresno State. The Bulldog always had a strong arm, but his bat lagged behind his defense, so the decision was made to try him on the mound. He has struggled to learn his craft being a newcomer to the position, but he has persevered and has been about as good as anyone his junior campaign.

Scheppers' fastball sits at 93-95 and spots it very well, employs a wicked slider, shows real promise with his curve. His February showing at the USD tournament showcased his raw abilities and he was the best there, even though the two pitchers he is behind in the prospect rankings (Aaron Crow and Brian Matusz) pitched there as well. By draft day we could hear his name in the top ten.

Update... April 19, 2008;

in 9 starts and 56.2 IP he has posted > 2.86 ERA, 47 hits, 23 BB's, 84 K's, .218 BAA.

12. *Yonder Alonso {College 1B/DH, Miami} (21). Alonso, ranked as Baseball America's #5 College prospect, does one thing very well... hit. He is not overly athletic, nor plays a particularly good defensive 1B, but if a team wants a young hitter who can sting the ball, take a walk, and has a keen batting eye, then the 6' 2-215 Alonso is your man. As a sophmore at Miami, he posted in 61 games> a .376 BA, 18 HR's, 74 RBI, 64 walks, a .519 OBP and slugged .705!

I am of the opinion that he'll settle in at DH, and would be somewhat surprised to see a National League team take him. I can see him eventually succeeding as a middle of the order DH, ala David Ortiz, although I don't think he'll be the hitter Ortiz is (not many are). Yonder has a reputation as being less than well-conditioned, and hasn't spent a great deal of time working on his defense... so, one can draw the conclusion that he has ridden his considerable talents up to this point, but may stumble at the pro level with those issues. However, were Alonso to show marked improvement in those areas, he could certainly stick at 1B.

Update... April 13, 2008;

Alonso has cooled considerably, and in 102 AB's>

.343 BA with 7 HR and 31 RBI, while posting an OBP/SLG/OPS line of .524/.647/1.171.

13. Tim Melville {High School RHSP, (MO)} (18). Melville may be the best pitching prospect in the entire draft. If he continues to progress in his senior year then he will be in line for consideration among the top choices in the upcoming 2008 draft. He stands an impressive 6' 5 and has an athletic 205 lbs frame. Melville's junior campaign had/has scouts buzzing. He tossed 63 innings for his H.S. team, giving up 33 hits, 21 walks and striking out 117 while posting a 0.89 ERA.

Melville would have ranked second, slightly behind only Rick Porcello, in a quick comparison to last year's HS pitching crop.

NL teams may be particularly fond of Melville, as he is a very good hitter as well; adding to an already impressive package. Tim is comfortable on the mound, throwing typically in the low to mid-nighties, with the occasional 97 mph fastball to punctuate an at-bat. His curveball and change are very solid secondary offerings and project along with his fastball as plus pitches. Coupled with his plus repertoire is excellent command... so it's easy to see why the scouts are all abuzz.

Update... April 8, 2008;

Started off slow, but has a lot of pitching to do to show why he is so special.

14. #Aaron Hicks {High School OF/RHSP, (CA)} (18). Hicks is an outstanding athlete and is perhaps the most exciting player to watch in the entire draft. A bit thin at 6' 1 -168, he pumps low to mid nineties fastballs and a plus plus curve from the mound, but as with most youngsters, has trouble with command and location.

Hicks is perhaps even more gifted offensively, starring as a RF'er for Wilson High School, but with the special skills necessary to be a great CF'er; speed, range and a great arm. Aaron has a quick bat and is a good hitter, but at this juncture his power is his least applicable tool. While not the power bats that Smoak, Alonso and Hosmer represent, he brings special elements to every game he plays... speed and fire. He plays hard and is a serious stolen base threat, nabbing 39 in 40 attempts just last season.

Hicks should make keeping tabs on him fun for scouts and fans alike. He should be selected in round one, but it's difficult to say which position he has the bigger upside in. I'll say CF.

Update... April 8, 2008;

In 62 PA's, Hicks is batting .488 with 2 HR's and 10 RBI, walking 17 times and striking out 7, while swiping 21/23 bases and posting the following line>

.639 OBP/ .805 SLG./ 1.444 OPS.

As a pitcher he's thrown 19 innings, posting a 1.84 ERA, giving up 16 hits, 11 walks and striking out 31.

Player's 15-50

15 . *Christian Friedrich, LHSP, Eastern Kentucky

16 . Ethan Martin, RHSP/3B, High School (GA)

17 . Alex Meyer, RHSP, High School (IN)

18 . *Brett Wallace, 1B, Arizona State

19 . *Brett DeVall, LHSP, High School (FL)

20 . Josh Fields, RHSP, Georgia

21 . Gerritt Cole, RHRP, High School (CA)

22 . *Dennis Raben, OF, Miami

23 . *Kyle Lobstein, LHSP, High School (AZ)

24 . Sonny Gray, RHSP, High School (TN)

25 . #Jemile Weeks, 2B, Miami

26 . *Tim Murphy, LHSP, UCLA

27 . Lance Lynn, RHSP, Mississippi

28 . Tyson Ross, RHSP, California

29 . *Conner Gillaspie, 3B, Witchita State

30 . *Allan Dykstra, 1B, Wake Forest

31 . *Reese Havens, SS> 2B/3B, South Carolina

32 . *David Cooper, 1B, California

33 . Casey Kelly, SS> 2B/3B, High School (FL)

34 . Daniel Webb, RHSP, High School (KY)

35 . *Ike Davis, 1B/OF, Arizona State

36 . Isaac Galloway, OF, High School (CA)

37 . *Ryan Flaherty, 2B/SS, Vanderbilt

38 . Scott Green, RHSP, Kentucky

39 . Brett Hunter, RHP, Pepperdine

40 . Cody Satterwhite, RHSP, Mississippi

41 . *Robbie Grossman, OF, High School (TX)

42 . Chris Carpenter, RHSP, Kent State

43 . James Darnell, 3B, South Carolina

44 . Ryan Perry, RHP, Arizona

45 . Tyler Sample, RHSP, High School (CO)

46 . *Anthony Gose, LHP/OF, High School (CA)

47 . Jake Thompson, RHSP, Virginia

48 . Harold Martinez, SS/3B, High School (FL)

49 . Zach Collier, OF, High School (CA)

50 . *Zach Cox, 3B/OF, High School (KY)

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Noteables...

Matusz and Crow have been so outstanding that both Tanner Scheppers and Shooter Hunt have been a bit overlooked. Hunt in particular has shone white hot this season, and although he continues to have walk issues (32 in 56.2 IP) he may be vaulting into the picture to SF at #5.

Both catching studs continue to dominate and could both go in the top ten, with Posey a longshot at #1.

Alvarez should not be downgraded due to his injury, yet his so-so play since his return has been duly noted by scouts.

Still no word on Tim Beckham... if anyone knows how to acquire some stats or updates on him please let me know.

I am still of the opinion that we'll be getting Matusz, unless Alvarez or Beckham fall to #4.

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What level of Competition is Matusz facing? St. Mary's? .288 ba for Alvarez is not inspiring....Question: If they think Posey is the best all around college talent, do you think they would consider him a super util type "Mora" player and take him. I know we have Weiters, but catchers get hurt all the time, and with Poseys versitility and Bat, I'd be tempted. Only if they think very highly of his bat, of course.

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What level of Competition is Matusz facing? St. Mary's? .288 ba for Alvarez is not inspiring....Question: If they think Posey is the best all around college talent, do you think they would consider him a super util type "Mora" player and take him. I know we have Weiters, but catchers get hurt all the time, and with Poseys versitility and Bat, I'd be tempted. Only if they think very highly of his bat, of course.

Matusz' level of competition is fair to question certainly, at least as compared to Crow and others. It's why I've kept him at #4 overall.

Posey will be a catcher in the bigs, but is definitely athletic enough to fill in at other positions. I'm sure he'll remain behind the plate however and I don't see the Orioles taking him with Wieters in the system.

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What level of Competition is Matusz facing? St. Mary's? .288 ba for Alvarez is not inspiring....Question: If they think Posey is the best all around college talent, do you think they would consider him a super util type "Mora" player and take him. I know we have Weiters, but catchers get hurt all the time, and with Poseys versitility and Bat, I'd be tempted. Only if they think very highly of his bat, of course.

My thoughts on Posey:

1. He should stay behind the plate

2. His bat is legit -- not Wieters power, but still could be a .300/20-25 HR bat

3. He is a plus defender with a plus arm -- he is smaller than Wieters

I'd consider drafting him, if available, and eventually shifting Wieters to 1b/DH to save his knees. I wouldn't pass on Alvarez or Beckham.

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My thoughts on Posey:

1. He should stay behind the plate

2. His bat is legit -- not Wieters power, but still could be a .300/20-25 HR bat

3. He is a plus defender with a plus arm -- he is smaller than Wieters

I'd consider drafting him, if available, and eventually shifting Wieters to 1b/DH to save his knees. I wouldn't pass on Alvarez or Beckham.

Wieters would lose value if you moved him from catcher to 1B/DH. They are easy to come by, catchers not so much.

I would draft the #1 talent possible, ala the Ravens. When you pick for need is when you hurt yourself.

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Greg, what is the reasoning for having Harold Martinez ranked near 50? I thought, based on what I've read on baseball America, that Martinez was a top 15 guy with a shot to go in the top 10. As always, thanks for your time and effort.

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Greg, do you think the O's still take Matusz over Smoak or Hosmer? I feel like we have elite pitching prospects, but outside of Wieters we have no elite hitting prospects. Could this factor in to our choosing a guy like Smoak if Alvarez and Beckham aren't around?

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Greg, what is the reasoning for having Harold Martinez ranked near 50? I thought, based on what I've read on baseball America, that Martinez was a top 15 guy with a shot to go in the top 10. As always, thanks for your time and effort.

Martinez has been pushed out of the top 50 altogether on most 'boards' due to his awful play this season. He is a mess at the plate and has struggled a great deal mechanically in adjusting. He just seems like a different player this year. However, I have learned over the years to not judge a player too harshly based on a couple months worth of striuggles, but rather anticipate a recovery to the norms for them, ala Johhny Damon many years ago and most recently Matt LaPorta.

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Greg, do you think the O's still take Matusz over Smoak or Hosmer? I feel like we have elite pitching prospects, but outside of Wieters we have no elite hitting prospects. Could this factor in to our choosing a guy like Smoak if Alvarez and Beckham aren't around?

Yeah, I think we'll tab Matusz over Hosmer and Smoak. While it's true that we have a fine slew of pitching prospects, none have cemented themselves yet as 'elite'. Matusz should become our best pitching prospect the day he is drafted, and while you and I agree that we have a scarcity of positional prospects, Matusz is considered by most an 'elite' prospect, over Smoak and Hosmer.

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Martinez has been pushed out of the top 50 altogether on most 'boards' due to his awful play this season. He is a mess at the plate and has struggled a great deal mechanically in adjusting. He just seems like a different player this year. However, I have learned over the years to not judge a player too harshly based on a couple months worth of striuggles, but rather anticipate a recovery to the norms for them, ala Johhny Damon many years ago and most recently Matt LaPorta.

Well now I have another question for ya Greg, do the O's take a chance on a Martinez type guy or do you foresee the O's taking as many college developed bats as possible early on? Martinez seems like he could be a Ryan Adams type pick in the second, meaning that he's a higher risk high reward type guy.

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My thoughts on Posey:

1. He should stay behind the plate

2. His bat is legit -- not Wieters power, but still could be a .300/20-25 HR bat

3. He is a plus defender with a plus arm -- he is smaller than Wieters

I'd consider drafting him, if available, and eventually shifting Wieters to 1b/DH to save his knees. I wouldn't pass on Alvarez or Beckham.

Getting an excellent second catcher, ala the whole Jeff Clement scenario, has been discussed with a great deal of merit. While an odd choice to take Posey, it makes sense in that we'd have two great catchers, allowing each the opportunity to extend their careers by DH'ing on their off days, as they are both considered plus hitters.

One thought that hasn't been mentioned (as far as I know) is trying Posey at 2B or even short again, as his background playing short through his freshman year attest to his athleticism. While an unlikely scenario, if Posey could handle the move defensively he could be another Chase Utley type.

Again.... unlikely. ;)

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Well now I have another question for ya Greg, do the O's take a chance on a Martinez type guy or do you foresee the O's taking as many college developed bats as possible early on? Martinez seems like he could be a Ryan Adams type pick in the second, meaning that he's a higher risk high reward type guy.

I believe with obvious recognition, that the O's set out last year to infuse the system with collegians, attempting to have higher developed talent throughout the farm. That was last year.

This year I fully expect Jordan to go with his 'best-player-available' style.

Matusz in R1 if he's available, or if we are fortunate, Alvarez or Beckham, follwed hopefully by a bat in R2. Currently I'm projecting Ryan 'Flash' Flaherty, a SS out of Vandy.

The system is in need of positional talent, and no one can deny that truth, so we as fans/draftniks are hopeful for a bounty of said bats, with a nice mix of arms to supplement the draft.

One last point is this... bats do not have to come through the draft, as trades are a welcome way to add necessary components to positions of need. Lillibridge, Duran, etc...

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I believe with obvious recognition, that the O's set out last year to infuse the system with collegians, attempting to have higher developed talent throughout the farm. That was last year.

This year I fully expect Jordan to go with his 'best-player-available' style.

Matusz in R1 if he's available, or if we are fortunate, Alvarez or Beckham, follwed hopefully by a bat in R2. Currently I'm projecting Ryan 'Flash' Flaherty, a SS out of Vandy.

The system is in need of positional talent, and no one can deny that truth, so we as fans/draftniks are hopeful for a bounty of said bats, with a nice mix of arms to supplement the draft.

One last point is this... bats do not have to come through the draft, as trades are a welcome way to add necessary components to positions of need. Lillibridge, Duran, etc...

I might have to get out to watch a Toreros game out here in San Diego to see this Matusz kid pitch.

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Wouldn't that be so awesome if we had a tandem catcher/DH situation where they alternate days at C and DH and rake, rake, rake? We'd get 162 games worth of elite catching and offense from the C position.

Or would something like that be too radical and distracting and whatnot?

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