PDA

View Full Version : Columnist: Who Will Be Great in '08?



Unassisted
09-26-2007, 04:58 PM
http://www.sports-central.org/sports/2007/09/26/who_will_be_great_in_08.php


Who Will Be Great in '08?
By Mike Round

Halfway through a recent telecast of the Dodgers/Diamondbacks game, legendary announcer Vin Scully was obliged to do his bit to hawk season tickets for the Dodgers in '08. He did his best, in keeping with the professional that he is.

But it got me thinking — would Vin have sounded so sincere had he been trying to persuade punters to part with their hard-earned dollars to watch the Reds or Orioles next year? I doubt he could have kept up the façade, but in the spirit of optimism, here's an early look at the prospects of some of this years also-rans for 2008.

Cincinnati Reds

The Good
The Reds can hit. Fifth in runs/total bases/OBP and OPS in the NL, fourth in SLG, and third in HRs. Adam Dunn leads the way with his 40 HRs and 100+ RBIs, but ludicrously many of the Reds brass and fans want him out because he strikes out too much. Let's forget that .386 OBP then and send him packing to save salary. If GM Wayne Krivsky has any sense, which at this point looks a moot point, he takes up the $13 million option for 2008.

Dunn aside, Brandon Phillips has solidified 2B nicely after his breakout 2006, Ken Griffey, Jr. stayed healthy and had a solid year until straining his groin late in the season, Josh Hamilton looks to be back on track to play everyday CF, and Edwin Encarnacion has finished the season strongly at 3B. Throw in the useful utility man Jeff Keppinger, prospect Joey Votto, and comeback-kid Jorge Cantu and the Reds' offense is more than serviceable.

The Bad
Thankfully, the front office fired Jerry Narron, but this is still a club that lacks direction and leadership. The ownership is operating on a $68 million salary budget, which won't be enough to attract the starting pitching they need to compete with the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals. The team needs to settle on a manager who can give the young players the opportunity to learn on the job and also get more out of the journeymen on the roster.

The Ugly
Pitching. They are 15th in the NL in team ERA, 15th in BAA, 14th in H/9, and 34-of-61 leads held. Those stats say it all.
The Reds' starters, Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo aside, are poor. The bullpen needs a makeover.
There are some signs of encouragement. Homer Bailey may yet grow up and be the big leaguer everyone expected him to be and Jared Burton has looked the part late in the season in the eighth inning. David Weathers isn't spectacular, but largely gets the job done as a closer and the team still has high hopes for Bill Bray.

Pitching in the GAB isn't a big incentive for prime free agents to come to Cincinnati and the ownership is traditionally frugal, but an offseason splash on a high-end pitcher would instill optimism in the beleaguered fan base.

Baltimore Orioles

The Good
Erik Bedard was tearing up the AL until his oblique muscle injury led to his shut-down. He'll anchor the staff in '08, though he's arbitration eligible and will command more than the $3.4 million the team paid for 2007. He's worth it as he's a Cy Young candidate. Throw in Adam Loewen and Jeremy Guthrie and the O's have the beginnings of a decent rotation.

The Bad
Besides Nick Markakis, the offense has been disappointing. Miguel Tejada and Melvin Mora are on the downside, Aubrey Huff and Corey Patterson have had long dry spells, and Jay Payton has been dreadful for $9.5 million over two years. The revamped bullpen has been a total disaster area with money thrown at flops like Danys Baez, Scott Williamson, Chad Bradford, and Jamie Walker.

The Ugly
Four managers in four years tells you everything you need to know about this franchise. Only a change of owner and philosophy can prompt a reversal in the sad decline of this once-proud club. Competing in the AL East isn't easy, but Toronto seems determined to give it a go and there's no reason why Baltimore can't match that with a committed ownership and the right front office. Sadly, this team has neither at present.

San Francisco Giants

The Good
As befits a cellar-dweller, there's little to cheer, but at least the team can move forward in '08 without the Barry Bonds sideshow and his salary. Noah Lowry, Matt Cain, and Tim Lincecum make up a nice 2-3-4 punch in the rotation and Brian Wilson has the look of a closer of the future. The Pirates took Matt Morris off GM Brian Sabean's hands in the season's most astonishing deal.

The Bad
Headlining the rotation is Barry Zito and his $126 million contract through 2013 with an option for 2014. Brian Sabean would walk on cut glass barefoot to rid himself of that burden. Barry Zito has been the epitome of mediocre with a losing record and a 4.50+ ERA. His BB/9 and K/9 stats are the worst of his career since his first full season in 2001. He's still not 30, so there's time to turn things around, but the team is mightily nervous that the decline could be terminal.

The Ugly
Besides Bengie Molina and Bonds, nobody can hit. The team has an average age of 83. Some of the horrible contracts bar Zito remain past this season (Dave Roberts, Randy Winn, Ray Durham), but Sabean has some wiggle room now that Bonds is finished. But it will take more than one season and $15 million in freed-up salary to get the Giants back on track.

Oakland A's

The Good
When you're 17.5 games back in the standings, good is hard to find. The team is still walking (second in AL) and hitting HRs, but it's not translating into enough runs and wins. Dan Haren has had a great year and Joe Blanton has been his usual consistent self, but the team was hurt by the absences of Huston Street and Rich Harden. Jack Cust looks like he'll finally stick in the bigs with his combination of power and patience.

The Bad
Nick Swisher has taken a step backwards. He's supposed to be the big RBI man on the team, but he's too content to draw a walk with RISP. That may be Billy Beane's philosophy, but it pressures those of lesser talent behind him. 2008 will be a big year for a guy who could end up as trade bait.

The Ugly
When you're down the bottom of the team payroll chart, injuries can kill. Losing Street and Harden was terminal. Alan Embree did a good job as closer, but he was the valuable eighth inning guy. Eric Chavez had a brutal year and the team is still on the hook for a minimum of $34 million. The injuries have taken their toll on the once-feared slugger and he'll be difficult to move should Beane try.

Keeping up with the free-spending Angels and the ambitious Mariners looks increasingly difficult for the A's with their restricted payroll, poor location, and dwindling attendances. It will take all of Beane's genius to conjure up a decent year in '08.

vaticanplum
09-26-2007, 08:54 PM
The ownership is operating on a $68 million salary budget, which won't be enough to attract the starting pitching they need to compete with the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals.

:explode:

pedro
09-26-2007, 10:00 PM
Don't worry VP, I really don't think that's true.

IslandRed
09-26-2007, 10:15 PM
Nick Swisher has taken a step backwards. He's supposed to be the big RBI man on the team, but he's too content to draw a walk with RISP. That may be Billy Beane's philosophy, but it pressures those of lesser talent behind him.

I could have sworn I've read that before... (ducking)

remdog
09-26-2007, 10:41 PM
Don't worry VP, I really don't think that's true.

It really begs the question: Is there a pitcher in the FA Market that's worth spending a large amount of money on?

Rem

vaticanplum
09-26-2007, 11:12 PM
Don't worry VP, I really don't think that's true.

Actually, I was exploding partially at the not untrue statement that the Reds have to step it up to compete with the mighty Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals (with their solid 73-84 record).

But yeah, and all the rest of it too.

Sea Ray
09-26-2007, 11:29 PM
I don't think there's anything in that article that us Reds fans didn't already know.

KronoRed
09-27-2007, 12:55 AM
It really begs the question: Is there a pitcher in the FA Market that's worth spending a large amount of money on?

Rem

I don't see one, which is why I actually hope Bob keeps the wallet closed, no more Milton's.

SunDeck
09-27-2007, 07:06 AM
I hope the Reds don't get involved in trying to blow a bunch of money on a FA pitcher. To me, the Reds are still in the stages of developing a club that will eventually start producing players from the farm system, which I believe is their only hope of competing. Of course, there is pressure to compete now and luckily they are in a division where being a few games over .500 puts them in the race, but luckily the Central won't improve so dramatically next year that the Reds won't be in the hunt with Harang/Arroyo/Bailey. The key, of course, are the 4/5 spots and the BP, but I am still against blowing large amounts of scratch there, mainly because the Reds can't compete in the FA market.
Frankly, I'm content if the Reds improve to .500 next year as long as we see signs that they are addressing the pitching without mortgaging their run production. Ultimately, what I want is to see a better franchise, one that is headed towards strength throughout the operation and one that will grow into a solid club for the long term. A little stability would make me happy.

Dan
09-27-2007, 09:23 AM
It really begs the question: Is there a pitcher in the FA Market that's worth spending a large amount of money on?

Rem

Not unless Dontrelle Willis gets non-tendered. He may still be available via trade. Johan Santana might be available too, but talks for him probably start with Bailey.

SunDeck
09-27-2007, 09:32 AM
Not unless Dontrelle Willis gets non-tendered. He may still be available via trade. Johan Santana might be available too, but talks for him probably start with Bailey.

That's exactly the problem. The Reds aren't in the market that can afford those guys. They are not yet to the point where they can spare any production to bring in someone like Santana and they certainly can't afford to buy that kind of talent outright.

They need to build this team from the ground up and develop a club (not just the MLB team) that will compete over the long term.

Highlifeman21
09-27-2007, 03:22 PM
It really begs the question: Is there a pitcher in the FA Market that's worth spending a large amount of money on?

Rem

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: Do we want to give big contracts to either Carlos Silva or Kyle Lohse, both of whom seem to be at the tops of best available in FA this coming offseason?