WTNYSeptember 02, 2003
Here and There
By Bryan Smith

Yesterday I wrote about the Baltimore Orioles, and the great loot they got for Jeff Conine. But I didn't do enough criticizing of Larry Beinfest and the Marlins. While its noble the team is going for the Wild Card, its hurting their future in doing so. Here's what they've given up for Conine and Ugueth Urbina:

Adrian Gonzalez- Third overall prospect
Will Smith- Tenth overall prospect
Ryan Snare- Top 15 prospect
Denny Bautista- 2002 #3 prospect
Don Levinski- #6 overall prospect

Not to mention the fact that this season the team has lost Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Majors. What was once a thriving farm system with loads of depth is quickly becoming quite bare. Though, the team's goal is to bring people to the stadium and they've done that this season. How?

1. Pay $10M for Pudge Rodriguez, well-known in the community
2. Call-up super prospects Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis
3. Trade for popular players Ugueth Urbina and Jeff Conine
4. Not trade Mike Lowell and say they'll go after an extension

Jeffrey Loria is trying very hard to make Florida baseball work, and I think it may. The team will use Conine at first base next season, allowing them to trade (or non-tender) Derrek Lee. Cabrera will likely stay in left, leaving second base as the only significant hole. If Pudge doesn't return, and I don't expect it, Ramon Castro is more than ready. Signing Luis Castillo is important for this team, as he's been here since the World Series. More on the Marlins in a future article...

Another trade I didn't depict detailed enough was the Brian Giles trade. I devoted a whole article to the Padres, as I expect them to win the 2004 NL West crown. But I chose not to write about the Pirates, who dealt their best player. August 11, in my first article, I stated Dave Littlefield had gotten too much heat. Not anymore. There wasn't reason to trade Giles, and the value wasn't sufficient. Waiting until the offseason, like the Royals with Beltran, would have been the best idea. But here's what they got:

Oliver Perez- One of my 2003 break through candidates who has let me down. Last season Barry Bonds called Perez the best young leftie he had seen all year. After that praise, Perez followed up the season pitching often in the Mexican Winter League. He was very tired this Spring Training, and struggled early on. His Major League numbers:

Perez ML- 4-8 5.77 107H/106IP 118K/70BB

He's figured out how to strike people out, but not to control his pitches. His first start for Pittsburgh went dreadfully, as he lasted only seven outs against the Atlanta Braves. He's going to be a good one, but may end up in relief.

Jason Bay- Traded to San Diego in the Steve Reed deal last season. Here's a look at some numbers:

Bay minor league career pre-2003: .300-33-168 in 1025AB .852OPS
Bay in 2003 AAA: .303/.410/.541 20HR 59RBI 23SB

Not the toolsiest of players, but has gotten the job done. He's ready for the Major League, and could hit 20 home runs next season. His upside isn't very high, definitely lower than that of J.J. Davis. Expect him to get his chances in Pittsburgh, and become a solid player. But mark my word: Jason Bay will never be an All-Star.

Cory Stewart- Independent League signing by the Padres, paying huge dividends. Stewart is a solid leftie, who throws two good pitches and strikes people out. He's on the same level of a Mike Gonzalez, a player who's playing in the Majors right now. Stewart's 2003 performance in AA:

AA- 12-7 3.72 104/125.2 133/50

Very good numbers. Stewart has the potential to sit alongside Sean Burnett, John Vanbenschoten, and Brian Bullington in a rotation. I also think Perez will be in there, so Kip Wells and Kris Benson are very available. This team has big problems offensively, and must get some power bats for the corners. Who knows what will happen with Jason Kendall, and what Pittsburgh ownership will let Dave Littlefield do. But next season the Pirates will be battling the Reds for last place, as the Brewers climb to fourth....

An interesting look:

Player A- 6-5 218lb. LH pitcher
Player B- 6-6 208lb. LH pitcher

Player A- 193G 161GS 70-60 3.66ERA 8.59H/9 6.03K/9 2.03K/BB
Player B- 117G 117GS 64-34 3.77ERA 8.88H/9 6.11K/9 2.46K/BB

Pretty similar careers, huh? Player A had his career over at twenty-six years of age because of a hip injury. Player B? Currently 26 years of age and on the DL with a hip injury.

Player A= Britt Burns- Chicago White Sox
Player B= Mark Mulder- Oakland Athletics

Now I should mention that Burns had a chronic hip condition that ended his career, while Mulder's is just a stress fracture. I don't know much about hips though, and have an e-mail out to Will Carroll. When he lets me know, I'll pass on the information....

Drew Henson is quitting baseball. I thought on a site of the future I should mention that, and give my best of luck to Henson. Next on the slate: Joe Borchard.

A quick football look: Henson is currently property of the Houston Texans, whom used a sixth-round pick on him this season. They have exclusive negotiating rights on Henson until the 2004 draft. Henson's three options:

1. Sign with the Texans and backup David Carr
2. Have Texans trade him (Cowboys?), and get first-round money
3. Enter himself in the 2004 draft

I expect the final option to be exercised, and think that Henson is worthy of a first-round pick. I remember watching him back-up Tom Brady at Michigan, begging Lloyd Carr to give him a full-time job....

Following up my article on the Padres, I remembered another fact. I read an article where Kevin Towers stated he was interested in getting a good defensive 1B. Klesko is horrid, and is better suited for the outfield. The team could keep Nady in AAA for another season (or trade him), and move Klesko to the outfield.

Then, the Padres would go after either Doug Mientkiewicz or J.T. Snow. Mientkiewicz is the better option, and would make sense on that team. It's just an idea, but I think its a subplot to watch for in the Padres offseason....

The 2002 World Champs, the Anaheim Angels, could be looking different next season. There's a good chance that the middle infield (Eckstein and Kennedy) won't be back next season. In their place would be penciled Chone Figgins and Alfredo Amezaga. The team would then be interested in signing either Miguel Tejada or Japanese product Kaz Matsui.

It's also league news that the team is interested in dumping Darin Erstad, and adding a big outfield bat. Carlos Beltran and Vladimir Guerrero have been mentioned, and Beltran makes sense. The Angels have probably the best farm system in baseball, and could swing Erstad, Dallas McPherson, and Bobby Jenks in the Royals' direction. This team is going to look very different, an article on them could be expected very soon...

A few mini-scandals in baseball recently:

- Manny Ramirez spotted in a bar with Yankees coach. Oh my God! I saw an interview Ramirez did with Joe Morgan, when he said he'd enjoy playing for New York. He grew up blocks from the House that Ruth Built, and could see finishing his career there. So while predicting what's going to happen in 2010 is a little insane, my bet is Ramirez finishes a Yankee.
- Kerry Wood is being coerced to come to Arizona by Mark Grace? Both emphatically deny the rumor, but its becoming obvious that his future in Chicago is in doubt. Peter Gammons mentioned him as a closer candidate, but I don't expect that to happen anytime soon. In the end, the Tribune company won't let him get away.
- And while mentioning one Chicago ace, I thought I'd throw in another. In case you didn't know, Mark Buerhle is going to be a Cardinal in 2005. He's a St. Louis product, and has twice stated he's interested to play in St. Louis. Chicago has been bad signing him before arbitration, and Buerhle is rightfully bitter.
- BIG NEWS: Denny Hocking wants to be an Angel and Tim Laker would like to remain an Indian. STOP THE PRESS!

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