Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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2008 NL Projected Rosters (2)

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Milwaukee

CF Dave Roberts
2B Rickie Weeks
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
RF Corey Hart
3B Bill Hall
SS J.J. Hardy
C Johnny Estrada

Ben Sheets
Jeff Suppan
Yovani Gallardo
Dave Bush
Claudio Vargas/Carlos Villanueva

Eric Gagne
Derrick Turnbow
Fernando Rodney

That the Brewers came up a little short in their breakthrough season had much to do with the bullpen and the defense. The club is in the great position of not needing any starting pitching help. In fact, with Carlos Villanueva and Manny Parra waiting in the wings, GM Bob Melvin can afford to deal both Chris Capuano and Claudio Vargas if he so chooses. He'll probably have to offer either Capuano or Dave Bush up for bullpen help, as Francisco Cordero and Scott Linebrink are both free agents and are long shots to return.

Replacing Cordero will be a priority. Derrick Turnbow just isn't looking like a reliable option, so the Brewers will have to consider Eric Gagne or a trade for Chad Cordero or Brad Lidge. Gagne, who was targeted by the club at the trade deadline, seems like the most realistic option. Capuano could then go for a quality setup man. To Detroit for Fernando Rodney makes sense.

Fixing the defense could be more complicated. Ryan Braun has the range to play third base, but he was flat-out awful and he actually seemed to get worse as the year went on. Moving him to left field and Bill Hall to third would make a lot of sense. They could then sign Mike Cameron or trade for Dave Roberts, a player they targeted as a free agent last winter. Unfortunately, it looks like they will leave Braun at third, mostly because they think 2007 first-rounder Matt LaPorta is their long-term left fielder. If Braun remains third and Hall stays in center, the Brewers are going to need a left fielder to replace Geoff Jenkins. They may settle for a Gabe Gross-Kevin Mench platoon, but they could also consider Shannon Stewart, Brad Wilkerson or Kenny Lofton.

Whatever they decide, the Brewers will enter 2008 with a strong offensive core and a deep rotation with two potential elite starters in Ben Sheets and Yovani Gallardo. They should challenge for the division title once again.


New York

SS Jose Reyes
2B Luis Castillo
3B David Wright
CF Carlos Beltran
1B Carlos Delgado
LF Moises Alou
RF Kosuke Fukudome
C Ramon Hernandez

Pedro Martinez
Bartolo Colon
Oliver Perez
John Maine
Orlando Hernandez

Billy Wagner
Kevin Gregg
Pedro Feliciano

It might have been a rather quiet winter for the Mets with an extended playoff run. After one of the worst September collapses of all-time, changes have to be made. It looks like Tom Glavine will initiate the first one by declining his $13 million player option. Decisions also have to be made regarding the outfield corners, second base and the catcher spot.

Fortunately, the rotation shouldn't need much of a fix. They will want to add a veteran. Mike Pelfrey would likely be a capable fifth starter, but he's going to be needed as insurance for Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez. The Mets are in better position than most to gamble on Bartolo Colon. The Japanese starters, Koji Uehara and Kenshin Kawakami, could also be possibilities. In the bullpen, the Mets might want to bring in another established setup man or two. Aaron Heilman still wants to start and could be used to fill one of the holes on offense. Trading Philip Humber for Kevin Gregg would give the Mets a durable eighth-inning guy and free up Heilman to be dealt.

Moises Alou is likely set to return as the left fielder. Shawn Green won't be back to share time in right field. Lastings Milledge is ready to start, but the Mets may decide to sign another veteran, as they know they'll be lucky to get 110-120 games from Alou, Kosuke Fukudome is the best right-field option out there, and if the Mets have a chance to land him on a three-year deal, they shouldn't hesitate. Otherwise, they can play Milledge in right and bring in someone to aid Endy Chavez in a reserve role. Jeff DaVanon would work.

Paul Lo Duca is unlikely to be re-signed, and Ramon Castro's balky back will prevent the Mets from looking at him as a regular. An Ivan Rodriguez signing or a trade for Ramon Hernandez could provide a boost. The Orioles would probably give Hernandez for Heilman straight up. Luis Castillo is the best free-agent second baseman out there, yet the Mets may be able to keep him for something like $12 million over two years. If they opt to spend elsewhere, then there is a chance they'll let him go and try Ruben Gotay, with someone like Jose Castillo getting brought in to compete for the job.

The Mets are an old team, but getting both younger and better this winter would be a tall order. They have the money to keep plugging holes with veterans and that's probably what they'll do. Health will determine whether they post the NL's best record or fall a little short once again. They'll almost certainly be the NL East favorites unless the Phillies take significant steps to improve their pitching.


Philadelphia

SS Jimmy Rollins
CF Shane Victorino
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
3B Mike Lowell
LF Pat Burrell
RF Jayson Werth/Milton Bradley
C Carlos Ruiz/Chris Coste

Cole Hamels
Kyle Lohse
Jamie Moyer
Kyle Kendrick
Adam Eaton

Brett Myers
Jon Rauch
Ryan Madson

Winning the NL East with just one starter who would have cracked the Mets' rotation was quite an accomplishment. Just as notable is that they had to overcome probably the NL's worst managing to do it, though Ned Yost occasionally gave Charlie Manuel a run for his money. It helped that they had four of the NL's top 15 or so regulars in their lineup. Jimmy Rollins and Aaron Rowand both turned in career years to complement Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and Pat Burrell's July and August resurgence was instrumental in keeping them in the race.

Now the Phillies have to decide whether it's worth going to $50 million-$60 million to keep Rowand when they already have Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn on the roster. It probably isn't. The money would be better spent on a top third baseman or a No. 2 starter. There isn't much out there for pitching, so the Phillies should target Mike Lowell to play third base. If they're willing to spend after that, retaining Kyle Lohse is a possibility, though it'd likely cost them at least $32 million for four years. Carlos Silva would be another possibility. It'd be fun to see Curt Schilling back in Philadelphia, but his flyball tendencies wouldn't make him the best option in that ballpark.

Of course, the Phillies already have a No. 2 starter on the roster. Brett Myers, though, actually prefers closing and likely will remain in the bullpen. The Phillies will be on the lookout for relief help. The Nats should be willing to give up Jon Rauch for a young center fielder like Bourn. Tom Gordon's contract needs to be dumped, and the Phillies could use a player like Mark DeRosa to protect them at several positions. It'd be an even swap.

The outfield would be shallow with Rowand gone. Jayson Werth was terrific in the second half of this season and could be a candidate to play regularly in 2008. Still, the Phillies would want to add more. Bringing in a rehabbing Milton Bradley could give the lineup quite a boost come June. He'll likely have to take an incentive-laden deal after blowing out his knee.

Even if they upgrade from Lohse, the Phillies will be depending an awful lot on the ancient Jamie Moyer and 2007 surprise Kyle Kendrick next season. The rotation would look a whole lot better if Adam Eaton could just be a reliable fourth starter. They'll need solid seasons from two members of that group if they hope to repeat.


Pittsburgh

CF Elijah Dukes
3B Jose Bautista
2B Freddy Sanchez
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Jason Bay
RF Xavier Nady
C Ronny Paulino
SS Jack Wilson

Ian Snell
Tom Gorzelanny
Matt Morris
Paul Maholm
Zach Duke

Matt Capps
Armando Benitez
Damaso Marte

I was going to have this column done a few days ago, but I got down to the Pirates here and was just too depressed to do continue working. Imagine what it must be like for their fans.

On the bright side, Dave Littlefield's reign is over. Jim Tracy's might be, though we don't know for sure yet. A complete house-cleaning in management would be for the best. For the on-field product, there's probably not a whole lot that can be done right now. There have been some Jason Bay rumors, but trading him when his value is at its low point would be foolish. They need a couple of more players just like him.

The offense figures to remain fairly intact. If the Tigers or another team is willing to take Wilson's contract, then the Pirates should happily dump him and sign a Juan Uribe to serve as a stopgap while Brian Bixler continues to develop. Ronny Paulino is another possibility to go if the Mets or someone else makes a quality offer. Still, the Pirates will probably retain him for one more year. A center fielder better than Chris Duffy and Nyjer Morgan would be nice. Nate McLouth qualifies, but he really is more of a tweener. The Pirates need to roll the dice and Elijah Dukes should come fairly cheap. Perhaps the Rays would take Salomon Torres for him.

The rotation should be set after the ridiculous decision to take on Matt Morris' contract. Paul Maholm and Zach Duke could be available in the right trades, but no one is going to give up a lot for Maholm and the Pirates would be selling low if they parted with Duke now. Capps is the clear closer. A setup man better than Torres will be a priority. The Pirates should be OK at the end of games unless they trade Marte for a young center fielder or catcher.

The Pirates do have young talent to work with, and if they can take something of a step forward next year, perhaps they'll be able to start luring quality free agents rather than overpaying for mediocrities. That's all they'd get this winter if they try to prove their commitment to the fanbase by spending money. They're going to be a fifth- or sixth-place team anyway, so they should save their cash for next winter.


St. Louis

SS Edgar Renteria
LF Chris Duncan/Kevin Mench
1B Albert Pujols
CF Jim Edmonds
3B Scott Rolen
RF Rick Ankiel/Juan Encarnacion
C Yadier Molina
2B Adam Kennedy/Aaron Miles

Adam Wainwright
Mark Mulder
Braden Looper
Jason Jennings
Joel Pineiro

Jason Isringhausen
Ryan Franklin
Russ Springer

The Cardinals won the World Series in 2006, but they did it in a year in which they won 83 games. They may not have the NL's biggest budget, but they're still spending a lot of money on what has been a .500 team the last two years. GM Walt Jocketty hardly deserves all of the blame, but it wasn't terribly surprising that the Cardinals wanted to change things up a bit. Unfortunately, their flexibility is really limited due to such huge commitments to Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter and Scott Rolen, as well as lesser ones to Jim Edmonds, Mark Mulder and Juan Encarnacion. Of those six, only Pujols seems very likely to live up to his salary next year.

The Cardinals are sure to want to add pitching this winter, but the offense will also need assistance if David Eckstein leaves. Bringing Edgar Renteria back would provide quite a boost at the top of the lineup and do his own part to aid the pitching by providing a defensive upgrade. If the Cards could get him for Tyler Johnson and an out-of-favor Anthony Reyes, they should go for it.

The rest of the lineup would be set, assuming that the team is willing to use Chris Duncan and Rick Ankiel in the corners. Encarnacion's eye injury makes him a long shot to contribute. The Cards would need another right-handed bat to battle Ryan Ludwick for a job. Kevin Mench and Craig Monroe would make a lot of sense. Skip Schumaker can be retained as Edmonds insurance. Colby Rasmus may take over in center field before the end of the year.

The starting pitching situation looks less dire with Joel Pineiro's resurgence and Todd Wellemeyer's development. Still, the Cards will want to add at least one established arm. Curt Schilling or Tom Glavine would be perfect. Taking a chance on Bartolo Colon or Jason Jennings might also work out.

The bullpen should be OK with Jason Isringhausen's $8.8 million option expected to be picked up. Russ Springer wants to stay and should be easy to re-sign as a free agent.

Odds are that the Cardinals will struggle again next year. There's a lot of dead money on the roster, and it remains to be seen whether ownership will allow the club's next GM to bring in the necessary pieces. As is, they'll need strong a strong comeback from Rolen and a surprise starter or two to have a shot at 85 wins. Fortunately, they're in the right division if they're going to contend.

San Diego

RF Brian Giles
2B Tadahito Iguchi
1B Adrian Gonzalez
CF Aaron Rowand
SS Khalil Greene
LF Kevin Kouzmanoff/Scott Hairston
C Josh Bard
3B Jeff Keppinger/Chase Headley

Jake Peavy
Chris Young
Greg Maddux
Kei Igawa
Steve Trachsel/Casey Fossum

Trevor Hoffman
Heath Bell
Kevin Cameron

The Padres just finished with their best record since 1998, but they failed to make the postseason after winning the division the previous two years. All signs point to the club being one big bat short of becoming a realistic World Series contender. Still, it's going to be hard to acquire a difference maker this winter unless they're willing to take a chance on Barry Bonds or spend huge on Andruw Jones. Kosuke Fukudome and Aaron Rowand look like more realistic options. Given the need for a top-notch center fielder at Petco Park, Rowand is probably the perfect choice for them.

So, let's assume that the Padres are willing to spend to upgrade in center. They'll probably have to go cheaper elsewhere. Kevin Kouzmanoff proved he could hit in the majors as a rookie, but defense at third base is a real problem for him and the Padres have a better glove on the way in Chase Headley. Kouz should move to left. Scott Hairston is the fallback option there if the Padres don't sign a veteran, but he might be needed to man right field initially after Brian Giles underwent microfracture surgery.

Brian's younger brother, Marcus, won't be brought back to play second. Tadahito Iguchi would make a lot of sense here. He doesn't have great range at second, but if there's a team in baseball that can do without a lot of range in the middle infield, it's San Diego (singles lead to runs scored at Petco with less frequency than they do in any other park). Headley should be ready to start at third base by midseason, but a stopgap could be needed in the meantime. Kouzmanoff will probably just end up staying there, but picking up Jeff Keppinger from Cincinnati would provide the club with insurance. The Reds might trade him for Justin Germano.

The Padres do have rotation question marks. They can exercise Greg Maddux's club option or hope that he exercises his player option. They definitely need him back, so just paying him the $11 million would be smart. Since Clay Hensley is coming back from a torn labrum, the Padres will probably need two more starters. Germano could fill one spot. Expect the team to again discuss a Kei Igawa trade with the Yankees. Cla Meredith for Igawa would be fair, as long as San Diego didn't have to pick up any portion of the $26 million posting fee. They can bring in a couple of auditions to contend for the fifth spot. Brett Tomko, Kip Wells, Kris Benson, Odalis Perez, Steve Trachsel and Casey Fossum are some options.

Assuming good health from the top three starters and a rock-solid pen, San Diego can win another 85-90 games with another strong season from Adrian Gonzalez and average production from the other seven hitters. Still, this isn't the time for the team to be content. The Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Rockies all have far stronger farm systems, and the Padres might have to think about rebuilding by the time Jake Peavy is a free agent after 2009. The future isn't exactly bleak, but the Padres may have already missed out on what were probably their best chances to play deep into October.

San Francisco

LF Scott Podsednik
SS David Eckstein
RF Randy Winn
CF Andruw Jones
3B Casey Blake
C Bengie Molina
1B Jeff Clement/Rich Aurilia
2B Jose Lopez

Barry Zito
Matt Cain
Tim Lincecum
Odalis Perez
Kevin Correia/Jonathan Sanchez

Brian Wilson
Brad Hennessey
Randy Messenger

Where to start? The Giants will shed about $50 million in salary this winter with Barry Bonds, Matt Morris, Armando Benitez, Pedro Feliz, Omar Vizquel, Mike Matheny and Ryan Klesko off the books. That should make them major players this winter, but GM Brian Sabean has to decide where to fill in with veterans and where to try to go young. Unfortunately, the Giants just don't have many prospects to plug in and entering the season with a 100-loss team could cause the fans to stay away. My guess is that the Giants will end up spending a good portion of their savings and work to bring in one superstar.

The star would have to be a hitter, and there just aren't that many available unless the Giants want to use Matt Cain to trade for Miguel Cabrera or Carl Crawford. Andruw Jones won't cost as much as it looked like he would a year ago -- he'll probably get less annually than Torii Hunter -- and might prove to be the best option. Should the Giants add him, they'd look to trade Dave Roberts. They wouldn't get a lot in return, but the Brewers might be willing to offer up left-hander Zach Jackson and one of their shortstop prospects. They could always play Roberts in left, but his bat wouldn't make him an asset there. Assuming that Kosuke Fukudome is too expensive, they could try Geoff Jenkins or Luis Gonzalez. With Sabean doing the shopping, I imagine that Scott Podsednik would also be high on the list.

A new shortstop to replace Vizquel is likely, and David Eckstein is the top option out there. He could cost $21 million for three years. The Giants may try to do a little better offensively at third. Casey Blake could be available. There's Sean Casey and trade possibilities Dan Johnson and Mike Jacobs as first base options. Also, this is one team with the room to absorb Richie Sexson's contract. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see that happen.

The starting pitching is fine. In fact, the Giants have the flexibility to move Noah Lowry and should do so while his value is high. I have the Mariners giving up Jose Lopez and Jeff Clement for him and Ray Durham's contract, though that would be a steep price. Maybe Sexson could be involved there. I could also see Lowry to Atlanta for Edgar Renteria or to Texas for Hank Blalock.

The Giants might as well be in the mix for Francisco Cordero, but unless they can bring in someone with at least a few years left, they'll probably go with Brian Wilson in the closer's role, with Brad Hennessey and Randy Messenger setting him up.

I just don't see the Giants being content to do a complete rebuild, and they really don't have the offensive prospects to make it worth it anyway. Making a run at 75-80 wins never seems like a good idea, but it's what the Giants may have to do to maintain a decent crowd and keep the money coming in.


Washington

CF Michael Bourn
2B Kaz Matsui/Ronnie Belliard
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Dmitri Young/Nick Johnson
RF Austin Kearns
LF Wily Mo Pena/Dmitri Young
C Brian Schneider/Jesus Flores
SS Cristian Guzman

Shawn Hill
John Patterson
Jeff Weaver
Jason Bergmann
Matt Chico/Tim Redding

Chad Cordero
Mike MacDougal
Luis Ayala

Put me into the crowd that believed the Nationals would lose at least 100 games this year. That they actually finished with 73 wins without getting anything from Nick Johnson or John Patterson is amazing. Setup man Jon Rauch led the team in victories with eight, and the club's best hitter was a guy who didn't even get an invitation to major league spring training after inking a minor league deal in mid-February.

As encouraging of a 2007 as they had, the Nationals are still quite a ways from contending. Both of their above average starting pitchers are very injury-prone, and two of their best players are first basemen. If Nick Johnson can play next season, the Nats are going to have to try Dmitri Young in left, which would put either Wily Mo Pena or Austin Kearns in center. For that reason, the Nats probably won't want to invest a lot in a center fielder this winter. A trade for Elijah Dukes or Michael Bourn would work. Interrnal option Justin Maxwell is intriguing, but he's had a lot of injury troubles and he could use a year in the high minors. The Nats still have relief depth to part with, and Rauch is a strong enough setup man to bring in a quality youngster like Bourn.

The remaining question marks also reside up the middle. It's only a matter of time before Jesus Flores takes over as the starting catcher. Another year to learn under Brian Schneider would be good for him, but if the Nats get offered young pitching for Schneider they'd likely have to take it. At shortstop, the Nats are probably going to try Cristian Guzman one more time. They can move Felipe Lopez back to second, but it's clear they're frustrated with him. They could trade or non-tender him and sign a veteran to pair with Ronnie Belliard. I no longer think Kaz Matsui is a very realistic option, but Marcus Giles or Jose Valentin might be.

The Nationals' biggest need is for a starter or two. More than anything, they could use a true workhorse to take some pressure off the pen. The return of Livan Hernandez would be interesting, but Jeff Weaver could be a better option. There's also been some talk about Tom Glavine because of CEO Stan Kasten's relationship with the future Hall of Famer. However, I don't see why Glavine would leave home to finish his career with a long shot to contend.

Closer Chad Cordero's name likely will come up in rumors again, but Rauch would likely come cheaper and might actually be the preferred choice of some AL clubs. Odds are that Cordero will hang around until July anyway. In Luis Ayala, Jesus Colome and Jonathan Albaladejo, the Nats will have some sleeper save candidates next year. Also, Lopez could go for more bullpen help. I have the White Sox sending over Mike MacDougal for him.

It's entirely possible that the Nationals will take a step backwards next year after so greatly exceeding expectations this season. Still, the rebuilding effort is going very well. I don't think they'll get to .500 next year, but with the club's budget likely to get a whole lot bigger come 2009 and 2010, it might not be long before Manny Acta's team can do more than play the role of spoiler.


Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of RotoWorld.com and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter at matthewpouliot.
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