Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Notes

- The Phillies are scuffling at the plate, clearly missing Jimmy Rollins at the top of the order. Shane Victorino is hitting only .213 with a .250 OBP, and Raul Ibanez has struggled mightily, his Saturday night homer not withstanding. Add in Ryan Howard's recent struggles, and it's no wonder that the Phils have scored more than four runs only once in the last week, a stark departure from their normal output.

- Most observers have felt all along that the Phillies are the best team in the National League in 2010, and that only injuries could keep them from a third straight World Series trip. Well, today is April 25th and they've already had Jimmy Rollins, Juan Castro, Jayson Werth, Placido Polanco, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge miss a game or been removed from a game because of an injury.

- Lidge and Blanton both made rehab appearances at AA Reading on Friday, while Romero pitched for the Phils but was quickly removed after not looking right. The bullpen cavalry is on the way, however.

- Baseball Tonight had some alarming statistics to share this afternoon. One was that the Braves are hitting 6-74 (.087) in the leadoff hole. I think at this point I would give the kid a shot in that spot. He doesn't do you anygood hitting fifth if he's got no one to drive in.

- Another great Baseball Tonight stat was that AL third basemen are hitting .248 through Saturday, while their NL counterparts are hitting .290. Chief among the culprits here is the Angels' Brandon Wood, who's hitting a lusty .102 through Saturday. Wood has been a great prospect for what seems like five years, but I don't care how great his glove is, you can't have a .102 hitter at a premium offensive position.

- Wood's NL match is Aramis Ramirez of the Cubs, he of the .134 batting average. Alfonso Soriano may be drawing all the grief, but he's hitting .300. Ramirez looks over-matched on even modest fastballs.

- Brian Matusz has two wins this season. The Orioles have two wins this season. Think about that.

- Let's all keep our pants on about Ike Davis. I'll wait until he's seen half of the league once (nevermind the whole league twice) to make a judgement.

- However, if he is good, what do the Mets do with Daniel Murhpy when he gets back?

- How long until the Pirates trade Garrett Jones for five cents on the dollar? I hope I'm wrong, but I'm betting the 2011 trade deadline.

- Every time I've seen the Angels this year, which is several times now, they've looked like crap.

- If you're wondering why the White Sox have such a bad record with their pitching staff, look at the batting averages of their everyday nine. Look at Andruw Jones, who's had a nice early resurgence, then hide any women and children before sorting through the rest of the muck and mire.

- So the Padres have MLB's first eight-game winning streak in 2010. Who didn't see that one coming? Besides everyone.

- If the Giants can score at all, they'll be tough.

- Joe Nathan Shmoe Nathan. The Twins have the best record in baseball, and Jon Rauch has six saves. Also, Justin Morneau's OBP is over .500. What a great set of players they have, and it's fun to watch them all fit together.

Monday, April 19, 2010

News and Notes

- If Cole Hamels pitches like he did on Sunday against the Marlins, the Phillies have nothing to worry about with their young lefty. Hamels allowed two earned in eight innings plus and took the loss as the Phils offense stayed cold for a second straight day. However, he had good life to his fastball, mixed in his trademark change, and even threw some very good curveballs, freezing Hanley Ramirez for strike three with one of them.

- While the top part of the Phils rotation is rounding into form, the bottom half is getting scary in a hurry. Kyle Kendrick hasn't been able to do anything right since the season started, Jamie Moyer gave up five runs in the first inning on Saturday, and now J.A. Happ may miss some time with a forearm issue. Joe Blanton is making a rehab start at Lakewood soon, and he can't get back soon enough.

- The Mets and Cardinals really did play 20 innings on Saturday, and Tony LaRussa really did pull Matt Holliday from the game when the Cardinals had not scored a run yet. Alber Pujols saw exactly no pitches to hit after that, and the Mets finally won when they were able to push across two runs against Joe Mather. Yes, that Joe Mather. Joe Posnanski does a good job outlining LaRussa's work in his latest column.

- Tom Verducci asks if this is the end for Pat Burrell, Alfonso Soriano and David Ortiz. Yes, yes, and yes. The easiest call for the team is Burrell, as he doesn't have a contract after this year and doesn't have any emotional currency with Tampa, other than beating them in the World Series with Philadelphia. Ortiz looks finished, and Soriano is turning into an unproductive hitting, defensive liability who is owed a lot of money.

- Soriano and Carlos Zambrano are two long term deals the Cubs have completed of recent vintage that don't look great right now.

- Must see TV this week? Jason Heyward taking his hacks against Roy Halladay in Atlanta on Thursday night.

- Only 74 more "Raise up the Jolly Roger" announcements to a .500 season for the Pirates

- The Rays are back. It's early. But they're at least back-ish.

- The Red Sox... well, some of these all-defense, no-hit contracts better start hitting something soon

- Good for Ubaldo Jimenez, no-hitting Atlanta for the Rockies first no-no. The Mets still haven't had one, and next year is their 50th season.

- Nelson Cruz is a legit power threat. Is is possible that Texas is really more Colorado than Colorado? Which is to say, they'll always hit, but never pitch, as was feared about the Rockies for the first 10-12 years of their existence.

- Thanks for coming, Houston and Baltimore. Better luck in 2011.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Settling Into the Season... What Have We Learned?

Everyone has played at home at least once except the Yankees, so now's the time when you start to see how the season is shaking out. Gone are the days of .750 batting averages and an 800 RBI pace. Here's what we've learned (or confirmed) so far...

- Roy Halladay in the National League has been as advertised. Two games, 16 innings, 13 hits, 17 strikeouts, one earned run.

- I'm really trying not to sound like a homer here, but when you play the Phillies your starter better throw seven good innings, or you're going to have a lot of problems. The lineup is too tough on good starters anyway, and they are going to down right abuse middle relievers.

- Ahh, but all is not perfect in Phillie land. Cole Hamels is still scuffling a bit to find his form, and Jayson Werth and Jimmy Rollins left Monday's home opener with injuries. Brad Lidge, J.C. Romero and Joe Blanton already started the year on the DL with an assortment of maladies.

- So far so good with Ryan Madson in the closer's spot.

- Jose Contreras still has great stuff. All 17 of his pitches.

- Placido Polanco appears to be a perfect fit in the two spot for the Phils. Shane Victorino has had a rougher go moving to number seven, hitting only .161 in the early-going.

-The Phils offense will be especially tough to stop if Jimmy Rollins keeps the plate discipline he's shown early in the year. And if his MRI scheduled for today has good news.

- Troy Glaus doesn't look great with a bat or a glove in his hand.

- Mike Gonzalez blew two saves by the end of the day Friday. Sheesh.

- Curtis Granderson has hit some long home runs so far, but he still can't hit lefthanded pitching. The Yankees will miss Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui more than most people realize this year.

- Joba Chamberlain's biggest problem is that he's just not that good. We don't need to analyze his psyche as a starter or as a reliever or anything else. He's just not that good. That's it.

- Scott Rolen looks rejuvenated so far. Maybe he's finally healthy.

- Tim Lincecum is just fun to watch pitch.

- Who's that hitting .407 with five home runs in seven games? Albert Pujols. He's a decent player.

- Yawn. In other news, sun to rise in east tomorrow.

- The Dodgers losing two of three to start the season in Pittsburgh can't be a great first step.

- I read predictions, apparently from real humans, that have the Mets winning the NL East. This year. After six games, Gary Matthews is hitting .143, Alex Cora .200 (which is better than Luis Castillo), Rod Barajas .238 and Mike Jacobs .133. Oliver Perez has an ERA north of a touchdown, and Mike Pelfrey has an ERA north of a touchdown WITH the extra point. I know it's only six games, but let me know how those Mets in the playoff predictions are working out for you in September.

- The Astros stink. Their lineup has about three legitimate everyday players in it right now. I know Lance Berkman is out, but it's a brutal run outside of Michael Bourn, Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence. If you're a pitcher and you let Lee or Pence beat you, you're a dope.

- I'm not a fan of umpires injecting themselves in a story, and I'm not a fan of Joe West at all, but he's right about the Red Sox and the Yankees wasting too much time. Tom Verducci is also right that it's not the length, but the pace of the games that is the real problem. I'm all for calling an automatic ball or strike on a player taking too long. I'm also all for an umpire telling Jorge Posada "You won't go out to the mound again if you know what's good for you" and then calling pitches right down the middle balls if he fails to oblige. Come on, seriously, Posada went to the mound eight times in one inning in last year's playoffs? That's time wasting at best, bush league at worst.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Opening Day 2010- Rearview Mirror Edition

Is there anything better on the sports calendar than Opening Day? To me, it's a lot like the first two days of the NCAA College Basketball tournament, where noon onward there are games going the rest of the day and night all across North America. And now, a look at the 2010 edition, with retrospective lenses of course...

- I hardly recognized Jorge Posada on Sunday night, what with him actually behind the plate between pitches.

- Is that a smile we see from Roy Halladay (picture 14)? Amazing what some run support will do for you. I think this guy is going to work just fine.

-Welcome to the big show, Jason Heyward. But let's not get carried away just yet. This slideshow contains some very good players, but also some guys who immediately stunk thereafter. But it was a neat thing to see Heyward go yard in his first AB. The closest thing to this that I've seen was when I sat in the 700 level at the Vet and watched Chase Utley hit a grand slam off of Aaron Cook for his first career hit, April 24, 2003.

- Billy Wagner looked really good in his inning for the Braves. He threw 97 with some hop and mixed in a few dirty sliders.

- Albert Pujols is on pace for 324 home runs, and Placido Polanco for 972 RBI. I love early season projecting.

- Great Opening Day for Halladay, Heyward, Tim Lincecum, Pujols, Polanco

- Carlos Zambrano? Not so much. Not so much for Josh Johnson either.

- Lost in all the good signs for the Braves- Heyward, Wagner, scoring a ton of runs- is the fact that coming off a bad year, Derek Lowe stunk again.

- David Wright can hit the ball out of the Mets' new park after all. Or, he did on Monday.

- If you hate the Yankees, and who doesn't besides Yankee fans, it was really tough watching Johnny Damon drive in the winning run for Detroit and Hideki Matsui drive in the winning run for the Angels. Tell me you don't miss those guys after Nick Johnson spends 45 days on the DL and Brett Gardner and Randy Wynn are hitting a combined .228.

- Developing Story Line- Middle relief stinks... everybody's.

- If you're keeping score at home, that's only 80 more wins for the Pirates to get off the worst schnied in history.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fearless NL East Predictions

Happy Opening Day to everyone out there in blog land. Having completed the positional tour of the NL East, I'll now offer my take on things you can expect to see as the season takes shape. Or things you can expect not to see, depending on your view of my prognosticating ability...

Highest batting average- Hanley Ramirez
Most home runs- Ryan Howard
Most RBI- Howard
Most runs scored- Jimmy Rollins
Most stolen bases- Rollins
Most strikeouts, lefthander- Howard
Most strikeouts, righthander- Dan Uggla
Comeback year- Chipper Jones
Best overall offensive player- Chase Utley (combining average, OBP, HR, RBI, steals, runs scored)
Worst overall offensive player- Willie Harris
Breakout performance- Josh Willingham

Most wins- Roy Halladay
Most saves- Francisco Rodriguez
Most strikeouts- Johan Santana
Lowest ERA- Halladay
Highest ERA- Oliver Perez
Comeback year- Cole Hamels
Breakout performance- Tommy Hanson

Gold Glove winners- Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Ryan Zimmerman
Iron Gloves- Ryan Howard, Dan Uggla
Hardest to steal on- Ivan Rodriguez
Easiest to steal on- anyone in a Mets uniform

Newcomer with the biggest impact- Roy Halladay
Loss with the biggest impact- Javier Vasquez
Most important return from injury- Brad Lidge
Rookie with the most impact- Stephen Strasburg
Final year with current team- Dan Uggla, Jayson Werth

Most runs scored- Phillies
Fewest runs scored- Mets
Fewest runs allowed- Braves
Most runs allowed- Nationals
Most home runs- Phillies
Fewest home runs- Mets
Most stolen bases- Phillies
Fewest stolen bases- Nationals
Best defense- Phillies
Worst defense- Marlins
Best bullpen- They will all be adventures

Predicted order of finish
1) Phillies
2) Braves
3) Marlins
4) Mets
5) Nationals

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pitchers in the NL East

As we take to the mound to review pitching staff's in the East, let me explain a bit about what I'm previewing and why. I'll consider a staff as a whole, namely the first four starters and the closer. The reason I won't go further than that is that every team in baseball needs more than five starters over the course of the year, and pretty much everyone's fifth starter stinks. I'll also include each team's closer in the mix, because he is just as important as a starter, if not more so. For the rest of the bullpen, performance is so volatile from one year to the next in middle and short relief that it's often not even worth analyzing. And like starting pitchers, many innings will be throw in relief by guys that are not on the roster. Also like fifth starters, a lot of middle relievers stink. With out further ado...

Atlanta Braves- Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, Billy Wagner (closer)

If you ask many pundits who has the best pitching staff in the NL East, the Braves will be a popular answer. I like elements of the Braves' rotation, but I can't say I'm sold on all of it. Derek Lowe will get the Opening Day nod, and as such is the de facto number one. However, his 2009 season was bad, as he allowed the most hits in the National League, posted a 4.67 ERA and a WHIP over 1.5. How he rebounds will go a long way in determining the overall effectiveness of the staff. Jurrjens is coming into his own as a very good Major League pitcher, a solid number two, but probably not an ace. Hanson is the real deal, and whether in title or not, he is the ace of the Braves. His progression, like Lowe's return, will determine a large portion of the Braves' success in '10. Hudson made only seven starts in 2009 in returning from injury, and once again remains a question. He's very good when he's healthy, but he's 34 now and hasn't pitched a full season since 2007. Like Hudson, Billy Wagner made only a few appearances in 2009 after missing a year, and he would have to be considered a question mark too. Having only a modest second pitch, Wagner has made his living on upper upper 90s fastballs, and if the movement and/or velocity isn't there, Wagner could be in trouble. While Wagner is a good gamble, the Braves have effectively added one reliable late inning piece (Wagner), but lost two in Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano. The Braves also lost Javier Vasquez for pretty much nothing that will help them now, and the sum of these transactions leaves them weaker in 2010 than they were in 2009.

Bottom Line:
A lot of questions regarding health and effectiveness. Could be best in the division, or could fall apart. Lost too much from 2009 to definitively put them in the top spot in the NL East.

Florida Marlins- Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez, Chris Volstad, Leo Nunez (closer)

The Marlins boast perhaps the game's preeminent young power pitcher in Josh Johnson, a 26-year old horse the Marlins wisely have locked up for the long-term. Johnson is a younger Roy Halladay type pitcher, a big, strong, hard throwing guy who looks to go deep in each game and dominate opponents. Nolasco, Sanchez and Volstad are all young power arms who are looking to rebound from injury, ineffectiveness, or both. On any given night any of those three can shut it down, or can implode. Nunez had 26 saves in '09, but also had an ERA of 4.06, and gave up 13 home runs in 68.2 innings. All of which makes Nunez a lot like the rest of the staff.

Bottom Line: The Marlins feature Josh Johnson and a bunch of guys that might be great, and might stink, given any different game.

New York Mets- Johan Santana, John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, Francisco Rodriguez (closer)

Let's be real and real succinct about this. Santana is one of the best pitcher's in baseball, and the rest of the starting staff stinks. Thanks for coming. K-Rod is a good closer, probably the most reliable in the division, but wasn't all that great in '09. His stuff has been declining each of the past few years, and I'm not saying he's not good, but I am saying he's not worth what his contract calls for.

Bottom Line: Santana needs some help from the other starters. Starters not named Santana and middle relief are terrifying.

Philadelphia Phillies- Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, Brad Lidge (closer)

The Phillies, in the aftermath of losing the World Series to the Yankees, in essence traded one year of Cliff Lee for four years of Roy Halladay. Roy Halladay who was dominating in the best offensive division in baseball. Roy Halladay who completed nine games each of the last two years in the American League. Halladay's numbers have the chance to be astronomical in the lighter hitting National League. While Halladay is expected to be great, and Joe Blanton will keep you in every game, questions surround the rest of the staff. Will J.A. Happ be able to maintain his level of success in his second full year in the league? Probably not quite as good, but he'll be good enough for the Phils. Will Cole Hamels rebound from a horrid 2009? Yes. After admitting he did pretty much nothing to get ready for the '09 season, Hamels was invisible this off-season, which is a good thing. By all accounts his velocity and command are far ahead of any point he reached in 2009. And let's not forget, he was the MVP of the NLCS and World Series in 2008. If he regains 2008 form, the Phillies could run away and hide in the division and have quite a setup in playoff series. The biggest question, however, is Lidge. If he's 2008 Lidge, the Phils could win 105 games. If he's 2009 Lidge, he won't keep the closer's job too long. He was almost certainly pitching hurt in '09, and if he comes back healthy and effective, the Phillies might well have the best overall staff in the division.

Bottom Line: Health already an issue with Lidge, Blanton and J.C. Romero starting the season on the DL. How Lidge and Hamels bounce back are keys in lineup after the incomparable Halladay.

Washington Nationals- John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Craig Stammen, Garrett Mock, Matt Capps (closer)

Thankfully for the Nationals and their fans, the Nats are unlikely to finish 2010 with the same rotation they begin the season with. Lannan and Marquis are effective big league caliber starters, Stammen and Mock, eh. Capps can be a good closer, but might be more suited to be a setup man on a good team. The real story comes when Chien-Ming Wang comes off the DL. Ok, that will be helpful, but the real real story happens when Stephen Strasburg is recalled to the big club, probably in May or early June. The uber-ace of the future can lend instant credibility to a franchise that sorely needs it.

Bottom Line: How far down the pegs the team is when Strasburg comes up is the only thing to keep an eye on. The team can hit, but their pitching staff is not up to snuff to that of Major League contenders right now.

Pitching Wrap-Up

Best staff- Atlanta or Philadelphia, depending on how the questions shake out
Worst staff- Washington
Best starter- Roy Halladay
Best reliever- Francisco Rodriguez today. Brad Lidge when he's right.
Biggest Rebound- Cole Hamels
Biggest Anticipated Debut- Stephen Strasburg
Best Fastball- Josh Johnson
Best Change Up- Santana
Best Breaking Ball- Lidge
Underrated- Jair Jurrjens
Overrated- Anibal Sanchez
Just Plain Rated- Joe Blanton
Ascending- Hamels, Tommy Hanson, Johnson, Stephen Strasburg
Descending- Derek Lowe, Francisco Rodriguez
Trainwreck- Oliver Perez
Best in Five Years- Johnson

Friday, April 2, 2010

NL East Right Fielders

Rounding out the everyday positions, we move finally to right field...

Atlanta Braves- Jason Heyward

If not for Stephen Strasburg, Jason Heyward would be the most talked about rookie heading into 2010. The 20-year old rightfielder is thought to be the classic five-tool prospect, with the ability to hit for average, hit for power, run, field and throw above the major league norm. 2010 is only the fourth season of professional baseball for Heyward after being selected in the first round by the Braves out of high school in Georgia in June of 2007. Hayward hit .323 with 17 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 99 games at three different minor league levels in '09, and he looks to continue his progression playing full-time for the Braves in '10. As good as he may be today, and might be tomorrow, he will still hit several bumps in the road, particularly as more teams see film on him and see him for a second or third time. That being said, Heyward is expected to be the next great outfielder in the National League, and 2010 could well prove to be his coming out party.

Offense- 3... got to show me something against Roy Halladay and Johan Santana, not just spring training fodder who will be in high A in less than a month
Defense- 4... arm strength and speed don't slump

Florida Marlins- Cody Ross

Like members even of his own team, Ross has found a home with the Marlins after spending the early part of his career as a bit of a baseball vagabond. Ross, the ever so rare right handed hitting left handed thrower, hit .270 with 24 home runs in 2009, his second playing almost every day. He fits in nicely with the scrappy young Marlins, but is a bit too much like other members of the team (Dan Uggla in particular) in his propensity to swing early, swing often, strike out, and not display much speed. Ross is probably better suited to play left field than right, and as such is a below average right fielder.

Offense- 3.5... good average and power numbers, but has no speed and strikes out way too much
Defense- 2... below average

New York Mets- Jeff Francoeur

Perhaps no one in baseball needed a change of scenery more than Jeff Francoeur by the time the 2009 season rolled around. Growing up in Georgia, gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated under a title of "The Natural", followed by serious struggles that led him to a .239 hitting 2008 and a trip back to AA. Francoeur responded by hitting 61 points higher with the Mets than he did with the Braves. Whether or not he can sustain the momentum gained playing a full-year in an often anemic Met offense in a large ballpark remains to be seen. Francoeur has always been a very good outfielder, with good range and one of the best outfield throwing arms in the majors.

Offense- 2.5... not convinced he's over his struggles just year... I'd say trending upward though
Defense- 4.5... the only thing that would keep him from leading the league in outfield assists is runners and coaches wary of testing him

Philadelphia Phillies- Jayson Werth

Werth enters 2010 off of a career-year in which he hit .268 with 36 home runs, 99 RBI and stole 20 bases while making his first All-Star game. Werth will be counted upon again to put up numbers like this as the sold right handed power threat in the Phillies' lineup. Werth can drive the ball to all fields, and runs effortlessly with his abnormally long strides. A free agent to be, Werth figures to be motivated throughout the year to put up big numbers and cash in from the Yankees or Red Sox, particularly with the Phillies having to worry about extensions for Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and Jimmy Rollins within the next few years, and phenom Dominic Brown waiting in the wings.

Offense- 4... average is a little low, but worst OBP with Philadelphia was .363 in 08... gets on base, scores runs, drives runs in, and that's the point of the game
Defense- 4... gets to a lot of balls others don't because of his stride, good arm

Washington Nationals- Willie Harris

While the Nats have done a good job of building an everyday roster of very good offensive players, the weakest known quantity lives in right field in the person of Willie Harris (and potentially Wily Taveras). Harris is a journeyman, with his fifth team since 2001 while posting a .246 career average. He walks a good bit, which mitigates his low average, particularly given his speed. A little guy, his versatility has probably kept him in the majors this long and probably will keep him around another few years. However, don't be surprised if Harris is replaced in right field sooner than later.

Offense- 2... gets on base, should try to slap the ball, not hit home runs
Defense- 3... for versatility, as he's appeared at every defensive position except for 1B and catcher

Right Field Round Up

Best Right fielder- Jayson Werth
Best Offensively- Werth
Best Defensively- Jeff Francoeur
Worst Offensively- Willie Harris
Worst Defensively- Cody Ross
Best in Five Years- Jason Heyward

Thursday, April 1, 2010

NL East Centerfielders

In our preview of the NL East we now move to John Fogerty's favorite position, centerfield...

Atlanta Braves- Nate McLouth

McLouth came to the Braves from Pittsburgh mid-year in 2009, and put up almost identical numbers in both stops (.256/9/34 with Pittsburgh, .257/11/36 with the Braves). While the average is constant, the compiler numbers don't look so hot in Atlanta given that McLouth played 39 more games for the Braves. McLouth in a lot of ways is the centerfield version of Matt Diaz. He gets on base, has a little pop and steals some bases for you, but at the end of the day, he's Nate McLouth and is only an average to good major league regular. His nine outfield assists are a good number, but his range is nothing special. Even so, he did bag a Gold Glove in 2008.

Offense- 3... a Major League regular
Defense- 3.5... makes plays

Florida Marlins- Cameron Maybin

While Cameron Maybin was anticipated by some to contend for the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year award, fellow Fish rookie Chris Coghlan took home the honors. However, Maybin was terrible in '09, so much so that he earned himself a trip back to AAA in May, and didn't return until rosters expanded on September 1st. Maybin is only 22 years old (23 on Sunday), and is a classic case of why most players that young shouldn't be rushed to the majors. He struggled terribly before being sent down, hitting only .202 and striking out 31 times in 95 plate appearances. He posted decent numbers after his recall, but one could assume much of this production was compiled against other AAA level players, teams playing out the string, or both. Until he proves he belongs, Maybin will remain a 'toolsy' player who hasn't quite been able to put those tools to good use on a major league diamond.

Offense- 1.5... has to prove he can hit major league pitching, or he'll be back in AAA quickly
Defense- 3... can run and throw, which should lead him to be a decent outfielder

New York Mets- Carlos Beltran

Beltran will spend a considerable portion of time on the disabled list to start 2010, but he is the best centerfielder in the division when he plays. He gets on base and hits for power from both sides of the plate, as well as patrolling centerfield at a very high level. He's a bit like Bobby Abreu, with a lower batting average and more power. Like Jose Reyes, Beltran is gaining a bit of a reputation of a guy who acts like he has rings, but in actuality hasn't ever won anything. He parlayed a nice playoff performance with the Astros in 2004 into riches in Queens, but like the other stars of recent Met teams (Reyes, David Wright), seems unwilling to be THE guy to make the big play in the big situation, preferring instead to comfortably fit in. He's a very good offensive player, but not a great one. He wins Gold Gloves. And misses lots of games.

Offense- 4... high OBP and good power from both sides is no joke
Defense- 4.5... has rightfully earned multiple Gold Gloves

Philadelphia Phillies- Shane Victorino

Victorino is the rambunctious child of the Phillies, the overly-energetic kid that can't sit still, which sometimes gets him in trouble, but other times stirs action where none previously existed. He fears no one and nothing, and has managed to combine his baseball talents with his best tool, speed. Victorino, like Jimmy Rollins, steals bases with an alarming success rate, thanks in large part to Phils first base coach Davey Lopes. Victorino also uses his speed to leg out triples (NL leading 13 in 2009), track down fly balls in center, and generally put pressure on the defense. Like Rollins, a more patient approach may benefit him, but a move in the order from second to seventh may be more suited to Victorino and provide some punch to the lower third of the already dynamic Phillies' offense. Victorino runs down everything in the outfield, and possesses a rightfielder's arm, earning him a Gold Glove each of the last two seasons.

Offense- 3.5...Very similar to Rollins, and the move to seventh should benefit him
Defense- 5... arm strength gives him slight edge over Beltran

Washington Nationals- Nyjer Morgan

Nyjer Morgan, like McLouth, left Pittsburgh in mid-season in 2009, and the Nationals are the beneficiaries. Morgan hit .351 and stole 24 bases in 51 games after the move to DC, finishing the season with a .307 average overall in what really was his first full-time season in the bigs. (I thought his performance in Washington had to do with the excitement of being near Alexander Ovechkin, as Morgan, who played major juinor hockey in Alberta, is a big fan of the pucks). Now 29, Morgan fits nicely into the mix for the emerging Nationals offense. A classic singles hitter, Morgan can run, but is getting thrown out too much right now and has to improve that number. Either way, his speed won't slump, and this is something that opposing pitchers have to take into account ahead of the likes of Dunn and Willingham. Morgan is a pretty good outfielder, but not at the level of Beltran and Victorino just yet.

Offense- 3.5... run more, get caught less
Defense- 4... willing, solid, good arm

Centerfield Wrap Up

Best CF- Carlos Beltran... when he plays
Best Offensively- Beltran... when he plays
Best Defensively- Shane Victorino
Just A Guy- Nate McLouth
Most Potential to Bust Out- Nyjer Morgan
Best in Five Years- Victorino