Comparing Starlin Castro to Hanley Ramirez

Comparing Hanley Ramirez’ rookie season of 2006 to the 2010 rookie season of Starlin Castro, Castro’s power numbers obviously trail those of Ramirez. In his first full year (2010), Starlin Castro had a decent .408 slugging percentage, slightly above the National League average slugging percentage (.399) for that year. Most of that slugging percentage was derived from his batting average, as Starlin managed a healthy .308 batting average, putting him more than 50 points higher than the National League average of .255. Castro’s slugging percentage was hindered by the fact that he just doesn’t hit for much power as he tallied a grand total of 3 home runs in 506 plate appearances.

Specifically comparing Hanley Ramirez’ rookie season of 2006 versus Starlin Castro’s rookie season of 2010, Ramirez had a .480 slugging percentage (versus .408 for Castro) while hitting 17 home runs (versus only 3 for Castro). Ramirez has hit for more power in the years since his rookie season – Ramirez has averaged about 25 home runs for each complete year he’s played (2006-2010) and sits at a total of 124 already in his short career. This places Hanley in the upper echelon of shortstops who hit for power in the Major Leagues, something Starlin Castro has yet to show the ability to do in his short career. But Castro is on pace to hit 7 home runs in 2011, so that makes him similar to Ramirez in that his power numbers are improving, but he is still far off Hanley’s power numbers so far.

Castro comes out much better in a comparison with Ramirez using strikeouts and batting average stats. In 2010, Castro stuck out 71 times in 506 plate appearances and is on pace for nearly the same number for 2011. In Hanley Ramirez’ rookie year of 2006, he struck out 128 times in 700 plate appearances. Hanley reduced his strikeouts in his following years as he became a better hitter, raising his batting average by nearly 20 points over time span of 2007 to 2010. Castro has seen a rise in his sophomore batting average as well, going from hitting .308 to .342 so far in 2011 (small sample of course). History has shown that batters who are good hitters tend to make marked strides in their batting averages after their rookie seasons. Hanley and Starlin are both good hitters, and their sophomore season batting averages have shown that they are on pace for great careers.

Will Starlin Castro have as much success as Hanley Ramirez?

Starlin Castro has shown already in his young career that he has the potential to be a top-notch hitter. He has great bat speed and can spray the ball to all fields. In addition, he doesn’t strike out often as he has shown the ability to track and make contact with tough breaking pitches. Early in his career though, the lack of power puts Castro a step below Ramirez. Baseball America’s Jim Callis has said that “his ceiling is more like Derek Jeter’s than Hanley Ramirez’. Ramirez has more pure speed and power than [Starlin Castro].” I would agree, with the caveat that we should wait a few years to see if Castro’s power numbers start to come around as he adds more muscle to his skinny frame.

Twitter and the MLB Trade Deadline

Every year I love the MLB trade deadline. It’s where teams either decide to go for it this year, or wait til next year. In the past I’ve relied on traditional media (ESPN, Sportsline.com etc.) to get my trade deadline info.

This year I’ve been following it on Twitter. It’s been a whole different experience. There are definitely more rumors floating around but the guys I’ve been following have be right on every trade they’ve mentioned east Inflatables. If you’re interested in following some of the guys I’ve been following here’s a list:

Why the Cubs should make serious changes to their roster

The Cubs are not in a good spot right now. Their offense has been terrible. Ryan Theriot has the best batting average on the team with .282. Supposed leadoff man Alfonso Soriano is hitting .095 in the last 7 days. I think that no matter if the Cubs turn it around a bit or not, I think the Cubs have some pieces that they can sell as we approach the trade deadline.

The biggest of the sell candidates is Alfonso Soriano. He started hot this season, but for the last month or so he’s been non-existent at the plate and in the field. It seems like he’s totally disinterested in playing baseball. The whole team has struggled at the dish, but leading off every game with one out is a pretty big handicap. He can’t hit the low slider from the right handed pitchers. And now everyone is throwing him that. He can’t lay off. I think before he proves he’s totally finished, the Cubs should ship him off to some team who thinks he’s the answer to their left field needs. Someone who needs a bat in their outfield to help them make the push to the post-season. Right now I think that the Los Angeles Angels might be the best fit for him. He could give them some pop and maybe even bring a little bit of speed to their line-up. I think it’ll have to be a bigger market team to absorb some of his salary.

I actually don’t care too much where he goes. And I think it would be fine if the Cubs paid most, if not all of the rest of his salary this year and some percentage of it for the duration of the contract. I think that Jake Fox or Micah Hoffpauir could fill-in in the field and give a little more consistency at the plate. I’d like to see the Cubs get a handful of prospects for him.

Should the Cubs try and trade Alfonso Soriano?

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Making the trade: Scott Downs, Francisco Rodriguez and Chipper Jones for Troy Percival, Mariano Rivera and Heath Bell

Welcome to a new feature here on Vigilante Sports. It’s called Making the Trade. I’ll be going over potential trades, trades sent in from readers and trades that are proposed to me in my various fantasy leagues. If you have a trade that you’d like advice on, email makingthetrade@vigilante-sports.com and I’ll give you my opinion.

I’m in an ESPN Standard 5×5 Head-to-Head Roto league. I got this proposal from a fellow owner after I had proposed a similar trade that he didn’t go for. I needed to change up my pitching staff (I waited until the 10th round of the draft to start drafting pitchers – and my stats were starting to show it). My pitching stats have been terrible, so I decided that I needed to make a change to my pitching roster philosophy. I decided I needed to start going after Saves, WHIP and ERA and to do so, I needed to stock up on closers. My current staff of closers was a little thin. I recently picked up Scott Downs who is filling in for injured BJ Ryan. I have George Sherrill and Francisco Rodriguez was my star pitcher. I knew I was going to have to give up value to get value.Inflatable Kidwise Endless Fun 11 in 1 hot

When the other owner proposed the trade, I was really hesitant to give up Frankie (as he now prefers, over KRod) and Chipper Jones. Chipper has been a long time favorite and has been a consistent fantasy player pretty much his whole career. But Chipper is 37 years old and has been in and out of the lineup already this season. I worry about his ability to stay healthy. Not to mention I have some depth at 3B. I have Garret Atkins, Mike Lowell and Melvin Mora when he comes off the DL. Carrying 4 3B is too many, even though we do have a corner infielder slot in the starting lineup. For me, Scott Downs is a throw in. It is possible that he keeps the closer role after BJ Ryan comes off the DL, but the Blue Jays are paying Ryan an awful lot. I think he’ll get every opportunity to close games when he gets healthy.

In my mind, this trade came down to giving up Frankie and two guys that are not long term contributors on my team for 3 quality closers. The age and injury question is definitely there for Mariano Rivera (I think he’s been closing games since Billy Martin managed the Yankees). Troy Percival does not have the healthiest track record either, but he’s on a quality team that will have it’s share of save chances. For me, the jewel of this trade is Heath Bell. Granted, the Padres are not going to win very many games. But when they do, they’ll probably be close. That means a lot of save opportunities for Bell. And he’ll be closing half of his games in Petco which is a  very pitcher-friendly ballpark. Bell has already been really solid for the Padres already this year (7 saves, 0 earned runs and a 0.65 WHIP).

Which 3 would you rather have on your fantasy team?

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AL West Preview 2009

  1. LA Angels – These guys are going to run away with division. They should clinch by Sept. 1. The addition of Bobby Abreu only solidifies their hold on the AL West. The loss of Mark Teixiera will hurt the Angels offense, but they should have no trouble winning the division. One big question mark for the Angels is how the youngsters (Dustin Moseley, Shane Loux and Nick Adenhart) brought in to fill out the rotation will perform  until the regular starters (John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar) return from injury. When their rotation gets healthy, that’s the beginning of the end for the rest of this division.
  2. Oakland Athletics – Looking at this lineup, and this pitching staff, the Athletics don’t really scare me. Matt Holliday is definitely a huge addtion to this club, but remeber, he’s moving away from hitter friendly Coors Field to the American League. Miguel Cabrera had a tough transition to the AL last year and he’s a much better hitter than Holliday. Dana Eveland is the only starter who has extensive experience (and most of that experience has been bad). But of course, Billy Beane has put this team together and it will probably compete for first until around the All Star game, then fall off, like usual.
  3. Seattle Mariners – Last year I picked them to wiin the West. Ooops. They were horrible. Jack Zduriencik has already made moves to make this team better. The trades to get Endy Chavez and Franklin Guiterrez will provide 2 solid defensive outfielders to patrol the spacious Safeco outfield. Of course, the move that most people concentrate on is bringing Ken Griffey Jr. back to Seattle. I think this was a money making, feel good move. He’s definitely still able to contribute, but expecting anything substantial from him at the plate is just silly in my book. After this year the Mariners will have some money to spend on bringing in new talent. Right now a ton of money is tied up in the dead weight of Carlos Silva, Kenji Johjima and Jarrod Washburn. When those contracts expire look for the Mariners to be a team on the rise.
  4. Texas Rangers – Woeful. Same old story with the Rangers, good offensive team and a terrible pitching staff. And the beat goes on. Kevin Millwood is the “ace” of this staff. He had an ERA over 5 last year. FIVE. The feel good story of the first half last year, Josh Hamilton faded badly down the stretch.

NL East Preview 2009

  1. Philadelphia Phillies – Cole Hamels is hurt to start the season. That’s a bad thing. But he’ll be fine, and the World Champs will ride their powerful offense all the way to the NL East division title. I think the addition of Raul Ibanez will improve an already potent Phillies lineup. They play in a very hitter-friendly ballpark. Ibanez is a butcher in left field, but his offense in that park will definitely make up for it.
  2. New York Mets – Another New York team that’s always supposed to win. And they would have the past two years except they fell apart both years. GM Omar Minaya’s goal of the offseason was to shore up the porous bullpen.He definitely did that. He signed not one, but two top notch closers, Francisco Rodriguez and JJ Putz. KRod will handle the closing duties and JJ will set him up. Seems like quite a luxury to have 2 guys like that at the tail end of your bullpen. Minaya had to do it.He was going to be run out of town if he didn’t take care of the ‘pen. Unfortunately I don’t think they have enough to compete with the World Champs.
  3. Florida Marlins – Good and young. They just seem to always be around. Ricky Nolasco is poised for a break out season. Hanley Ramirez is bigger and stronger and ready to take this team on his very capable shoulders. The Marlins biggest problem is that they play in the very tough NL East. They are probably a year away from competing for the division title. But it will happen.
  4. Atlanta Braves – On paper this team looks pretty good. A strong core of talented players and mix of emerging and veteran pitchers. One problem I see is a lack of power and speed. If you’re gonna play small ball, you need a lot more speed than the Braves have. Chipper Jones and Brian McCann are the only guys in the lineup capable of approaching 20 HRs. I doubt both will do it this season. Derek Lowe is a gamer, and Tom Glavine the consumate professional but I have to wonder how long either of them are going to be able to pitch this year. I don’t think either one of them makes more than 20 starts.
  5. Washington Nationals – They have pretty good offensive talent, but their pitching staff is brutal. They just can’t get it done in this division with those pitchers.

AL Central Preview 2009

  1. Minnesota Twins – The big question mark for the Twins (as with every other team) is health. Over the last few years, injuries large and small have hampered Minnesota from emerging as a contender. Their young outfield (Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gomez and Delmon Young) could all emerge as All Star quality guys. On the mound Fransisco Liriano sets the pace for the club. Joe Nathan gives them a closer they can depend on. This is a tough division, but the Twins have what it will take to win.
  2. Kansas City Royals – Baseball’s sleeper team this year. The Royals have bludgeoned the the ball this spring and have a pitching staff of aces in waiting. The waiting should be over this year. Gil Meche and Zack Greinke provide a 1-2 punch that is the best in their division. Their infield (Jacobs, Teahan, Aviles and Gordon) knocked 73 HR last season. That number will climb this year. Joakim Soria in the bullpen will give them 40+ saves again this year.
  3. Cleveland Indians – Travis Hafner has to be better than last year, right? Maybe. Probably couldn’t be much worse. The Indians raided the Cubs pantry this offseason signing Kerry Wood and trading for Mark DeRosa. I like the addition of Wood. He’s a top notch closer when healthy. I think the Cubs fleeced the Indians in the DeRosa deal. He’s coming off an offensive career year and will probably never hit that well again. He’s still a solid ball player, but probably not a key offseason acquisition.
  4. Chicago White Sox – Who knows when Ozzie Guillen will flip out again? That makes the White Sox fun to follow. But that’s about it. It should be fun to watch theire young players Alexei Ramirez, Carlos Quentin and Chris Getz. Beyond that, this team is old. I forsee a lot of DL time for Konerko, Thome and Dye. Danks and Floyd give their pitching staff some youth but not enough talent to stay with the other teams in their division.
  5. Detroit Tigers – Last year was a train wreck. This year might be more of the same. The top of their lineup is scary. Granderson, Cabrera and Ordonez all will probably have bounce back years. Cabrera killed it the second half of last year after starting slow. Granderson never seemed to get on track either. Coming out of Spring Training, all the talk is about the health of their pitching staff. Bonderman and Willis are hurt and Verlander struggled (to put it nicely) last year. One bright spot for Detroit fans is they’ll get to see their top prospect Rick Porcello on the mound in Detroit. That being said, if all goes well in Detroit, they could take the division.

The Bears land Jay Cutler for Orton and some draft picks

As I said in my Twitter, I am VERY excited that the Bears got Jay Cutler from the Broncos.

The first question I have to ask is, “What did the Bears give up?” First, Kyle Orton. I really like Kyle Orton and I think he has a long future in the NFL. But, I’m not sure he’ll ever be a Pro Bowl quarterback. Second, their first round pick (18th) and one of their third round picks (either 84th or 99th) this year and their first round pick next year. That’s a lot of picks, plus their starting quarterback. So I’m on the fence.

Then I ask, “What did the Bears get?” A 25 year old Pro Bowl quarterback. Sounds really good to me. That’s really all I need to hear.

So then my thoughts turn to the supporting cast. What do the Bears have in place to help Cutler return to the Pro Bowl with a Bears helmet on? They have shored up their offensive line lately. Hopefully Chris Williams will turn out to be a good tackle and they can keep building around him. Last season saw the emergence of rookie running back Matt Forte. That will help Cutler because he lacks a bona fide top tier receiver. Hopefully the Bears will address this in the draft. They do have tight end Greg Olsen who was a dependable target last year for Orton.

I love this move. This helps convince me that the Bears brass is wanting to win a Super Bowl. They’re definitely a lot closer today than they were yesterday.

Should the Cubs try and trade Alfonso Soriano?

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AL East Preview 2009

  1. New York Yankees – I know everyone is picking the Yankees. They should. The Yankees spent $400 trillion this offseason. If they don’t win, everyone should be fired and the Yankees should start from scratch. I don’t think that’s going to happen. No matter what happens when ARod comes back (and I don’t expect too much from him this year), the Yankees have a solid lineup top to bottom, and a pitching staff that is strong (but not a terribly deep bullpen – hey I have to poke holes where I can).
  2. Tampa Bay Rays – Strong core of young players and craft vets make last years Cinderella team no joke. Evan Longoria and BJ Upton alone are reasons to be excited about the Rays. Add in their staff of solid pitchers (David Price won’t even make the Opening Day roster) and you’ve got a Wild Card potential team.
  3. Boston Red Sox – I know everything points to them challenging the Yankees for the AL East crown, but I have a gut feeling that the BoSox will disappoint this year. I can’t find too many holes in this team, but I just feel like they don’t have it this year. Great balanced lineup, really tough pitching staff with one of the best bullpens in the game, but I’m just not feeling it.
  4. Toronto Blue Jays – An old not very good anymore infield, a fairly young, potentially great outfield, starting rotation that is very top heavy, and a bullpen that has good depth. What’s not to like? They play in a very tough, very deep division. I think the Blue Jays will be good, but not competitive in this division.
  5. Baltimore Orioles – I feel a little bad for the good players on this team, because they’re going to be dreadful. The Orioles pitching staff is rough. Nick Markakis and Aubry Huff are established solid players and Adam Jones and Felix Pie have “potential” but other than that, the Orioles pin their hopes on their young catcher Matt Wieters who will start the year in the minors. A lot of pressure for a kid. Maybe he should ask for better pitching for his 23rd birthday in May (probably around when he will get called up).