Thursday, June 18, 2009

MLB Trade Market: Buyers and Sellers

I'm going to start looking at teams that are expected to be active on the trade market. Today we are going to take a look at a 'Seller', the Baltimore Orioles. We will take a quick look at what they have to offer and what they will be looking at in return.

On the Block:

Aubrey Huff 1B/DH: I wrote about some of Huff's value the other day. To recap he's one of better 1B on the open market right now. He's off to a slow start, but is still one of the better power hitters available. His contract isn't too much of an impediment, and his potential free agency compensation is an added bonus to any acquiring team. Huff will likely be dealt this year, given his impending free agency. The Orioles have a young nucleus, so Huff doesn't really fit into their future plans. He's been solid at first base and can play some at third or a corner outfield spot if needed. Huff should be attractive to any team looking for a left handed power bat. I wouldn't be surprised to see the O's kick in some money to cover part of Huff's contract, allowing them to receive a better prospect package. Overall I think the O's can get two solid prospects for Huff, plus an additional average one.

Teams that may be interested: Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels.

Luke Scott LF/DH: Scott is another player I've featured before. He is in many ways the top corner outfielder on the trade market. Matt Holiday may be a better player, but he costs quite a bit more and is an impending free agent. Scott is under team control through 2012, and is a fraction of the cost. Scott is playing the best baseball of his career, so he is the ultimate 'sell high' candidate for the Orioles. Scott is another redundant player on the O's. The Orioles outfield is set for years to come with the Reimold/Jones/Markakis trio. The O's have Ty Wiggington and Matt Weiters (when he's not catching), to handle DH duties. The O's are probably looking for a prospect package similar to what the Pirates received for Nate McLouth.

Teams that may be interested: Red Sox, Braves, Giants, Tigers, Mets, Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals.

Danny Baez RP: Baez is in the last year of his contract and has been extremely effective so far this year. He has a 4-1 record with a 3.15 ERA in 34 innings. He's a great late inning arm for a contender looking to strengthen their bullpen. While he'd be a stretch as a closer he is a valuable reliever in the pen. He can pitch multiple innings, and is equally effective against RH and LH hitters. Baez does carry a hefty price tag ($7 million) so the O's may need to kick in a little money. Regardless they should expect a solid return for him.

Teams that may be interested: New York Yankees, Tigers, Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, Angels

George Sherrill RP: Sherrill the O's closer, has been pretty good so far this year. He has a 2.45 ERA, and has converted 13 out of 15 save attempts. He's not a great overall closer, but he gets the job done. He's probably better suited as a LH setup man. He has been lights out against left handed batters this season. Holding them to a .100/.182/.133 split. He is under team control through 2011, so he has plenty of value to offer. The O's should expect back a decent return with a couple good prospects coming their way.

Teams that may be interested: Yankees, Tigers, Rangers, Rays, Brewers, Angels, White Sox, Phillies.

What the Orioles are looking for: The O's have a good farm system overall so there isn't any one 'need area'. I think they would be looking for some quality young arms. Baltimore will probably focus more on younger pitchers, who aren't already on the 40-man roster. They will have a number of pitchers ready in the next year or two, that they can't afford to waste roster spots on average prospects. The one area where the O's will look for Major League ready talent is the infield. SS, 3B and 1B all need long term solutions. Outside of that I would expect the Orioles to focus on upside over, guys they could put in their line-up right now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NBA Draft: Top 5 Available At Each Position

Point Guard:
1. Ricky Rubio-Spain
2. Jonny Flynn-Syracuse
3. Stephen Curry-Davidson
4. Ty Lawson-UNC
5. Jrue Holiday-UCLA

2nd rounder to watch: A.J. Price-Connecticut

The PG position is extremely deep in this year's class. While there may not be an immediate star such as a Chris Paul or Deron Williams, there is a ton of potential in this crop. Though not much is known about Rubio as maybe some of the other prospects, you have to put him at No.1. His age, skill set, and Olympic experience all work in his favor. While Flynn's height and outside shot do hold him back, he is still a great player. His quickness, athleticism and heart are unmatched in this class. Curry is really the opposite of Flynn, he's an excellent shooter and player, but he doesn't have the quickness and athleticism of most point guards. If he was a little bigger he'd be the top shooting guard in the class. I like Lawson more than most draft analysts do. I think he is very similar to Flynn in his skill set, though he doesn't have as much upside as his Syracuse counterpart. The other thing I really like about Lawson is, that he's a winner. He carried that UNC team down the stretch and was key for them cutting down the nets in Detroit. Holiday may have the most potential of this entire class, but he also has some of the biggest question marks. He has incredible measurables and is a good defender. On the other hand, he was extremely inconsistent and could have used maybe another year to separate himself from the pack. I think no less than 10 point guards will be taken in the first round. All of them should be able to contribute early on.

Shooting Guard:
1. James Harden-Arizona State
2. Gerald Henderson-Duke
3. Tyreke Evans-Memphis
4. DeMar DeRozen-USC
5. Terrence Williams-Louisville

2nd rounder to watch: Jodie Meeks-Kentucky
The SG class is solid but really only runs about 10 deep in terms of NBA talent. There is plenty of potential there with Evans and DeRozen. In fact, I think both will go ahead of Henderson, and there is a chance Evans could even jump Harden. Evans is a player that worries me. He has a tremendous skill set and great size, but he never showed great instincts or basketball IQ. Too often he would force shots instead of finding his open teammates. DeRozen has some of the same issues, but his bigger problem is his lack of a good jump shot. He really doesn't have a consistent offensive mid-range or outside game. Given those question marks, I think Harden and Henderson are the better options for teams in need of a point guard. Harden is one of my favorite players in this draft. He lacks some explosiveness and athleticism, but is still a fantastic all-around player. He has a killer jump shot and great basketball instincts. Henderson is another good player. Though I don't think he'll be a star at the next level, but I think he has the upside of being a third option on a good team. Henderson doesn't do anything great, but he does everything well, which should help him fit into any team. Williams is a real enigma. He has the talent to be the 1st or 2nd SG taken, but he would just disappear in games last year. He also lacks a great outside shot, and works much better near the basket.

Small Forward:
1. Sam Young-Pittsburgh
2. Earl Clark-Louisville
3. Austin Daye-Gonzaga
4. Omri Cassapi-Israel
5. Danny Green-UNC

2nd rounder to watch: Dar Tucker-DePaul

This is a weak year for small forward's overall, as there are no sure things in this group. While that's the general consensus, I personally feel that's wrong. I think Sam Young is a special player and 5 years from now will be considered one of the Top-10 players from this draft class. Most mock drafts and teams seem to give Young negative marks for being older (24) and a college senior. But he went from being just an athlete, to being one of the best inside-outside scorers in the nation. He may not be as tall as some of the other SF's but he's the best rebounder in the group. His toughness, heart and instinct's will all translate very well at the next level. Clark is a guy, who if he reaches his potential could be just as good as Young. He's got great size but is a very good ball handler for a big man. Daye probably needs to add some bulk to be a force on the glass, but he solid contributor no matter what. Casspi is an intriguing player from Israel. He's got a lot of tools but he didn't get starter's minutes in the Euroleague. Green is solid player, and a good shooter. His defense and basketball IQ should at least make him a valuable guy off the bench. The question is will he ever develop into a solid starter.

Power Forward:
1. Blake Griffin-Oklahoma
2. Jordan Hill-Arizona
3. DeJuan Blair-Pittsburgh
4. James Johnson-Wake Forrest
5. Tyler Hansbrough-UNC

2nd rounder to watch: Jon Brockman-Washington

Blake Griffin is obviously the prize of this entire draft. He has the potential to become an immediate star in the NBA. His size and strength are impressive enough, but his basketball IQ and instincts really set him apart. Beyond Griffin there is a drop off of power forwards, but there is still some talent to be found. Jordan Hill should be able to help on the boards and defensively from day one. His offensive game is still a work in progress. He won't be able to go strong to the basket in the NBA like he did at Arizona. He will need to develop a jump shot to balance his strength to the hoop. Blair is another player I like. I know there are concerns about his height and injuries, but I think he has what it takes for the next level. Yes he is changing positions, but reports have him slimming down and adding quickness. His height shouldn't be a factor, because in the Big East he routinely went up against some of the best big men in the nation. Outside of Griffin, no player dominated the college game as much as Blair. Johnson has a lot of athleticism and upside. He is probably going to need a year or two to develop into a starter, but I still think he has a bright future. Hansbrough is a tough player to peg. He dominated the college ranks for four years. Given the talent around him and the ACC style, he didn't face the constant double teams or quality big men that Blair and Griffin faced. In my opinion, I think Hansbrough is soft and is a boom or bust player. I give him credit for being worthy a lottery pick, because the measureables are there. I just don't see it overall with him. Too often it seemed like Hansbrough's game was based on positioning and basketball IQ. He was great at drawing fouls and reducing his own, due to those sound fundamentals. Hansbrough also used his size to his advantage, but struggled in match-ups with other quality big men. The problem is he won't have a size advantage or the benefit of positioning at the next level. My gut tells me he won't be better than a solid back-up, but Hansbrough deserves some consideration.

1. Hasheem Thabeet-Connecticut
2. B.J. Mullens-Ohio State

2nd rounder to watch: Goran Suton-Michigan State

Its impossible to do a Top-5 Center's list because its a stretch for 5 center's to be drafted. There are only two first rounders and both of them have question marks. Thabeet is a lock to go in the top five picks in the draft, given his height and potential. He is still a developing player overall, but their are some big time holes in his game. He really lacks any offensive game other than dunking the ball. Though a good defender, he lacks the quickness and strength that he'll face consistently at the next level. Thabeet also was dominated by Pittsburgh's Blair in their two regular season match-ups, despite having an 7 inch height advantage. Mullens is another center prospect with a ton of potential. In many ways he is the opposite of Thabeet, his offensive game is more advanced and balanced, but he is still developing as a consistent defender and rebounder. Mullens has a lot of upside, but his work ethic and instincts leave a lot to be desired. He will probably need a good two years until he can be an effective starter. Outside of Thabeet and Mullens, its hard to imagine that any other centers can really make it in the NBA. Suton had a nice NCAA tournament, but he's really not much more than a third center in the NBA.