Results tagged ‘ Toronto Blue Jays ’

Ranking the World Baseball Classic Rosters

World-Baseball-Classic-2013In about six weeks, the World Baseball Classic will be upon us again and Team USA will look to win its first title in the competition’s history. They’ve got a good shot — manager Joe Torre released his roster on Thursday, and they are absolutely loaded.

Unfortunately for fans of Team USA, one glance at a few competing rosters will stop the celebration in its tracks. Can someone unseat two-time defending champions, Team Japan? Will Team USA improve upon their 4th-place finish in 2009?

We can’t predict the results down to the wire, but we’re here to do what we do best at Three Up, Three Down. We rank the rosters! So strap in, baseball fans, and see if your favorite team stands a chance:

**The “Stick to Soccer” Group**

Brazil hat wbc

#16: BRAZIL

Notable player(s): Barry Larkin, Manager (and Hall of Fame Reds SS)

International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Ranking: 20

Breakdown: Good thing for their dominance on the international soccer scene, because Brazil isn’t going anywhere in the Classic. Yan Gomes was the first Brazilian player to ever reach the big leagues, and the country itself only has 14 players signed to Major League contracts. How they will win: They won’t. Why they won’t: See “How they will win.”  

china wbc cap

#15: CHINA

Notable player(s): Bruce Chen, SP, Royals 

IBAF Ranking: 18

Breakdown: The Chinese baseball team is a decade away from being a serious contender, but they are headed in the right direction. They’ve made steady improvements over international tournaments since a decent showing at the 2009 WBC, in which they eliminated Chinese Taipei. How they will win: Hustle, starting pitching. Why they won’t: Not enough of either.

Spain wbc cap

#14: SPAIN

Notable player(s): Paco Rodriguez, RP, Dodgers/Engel Beltre, OF, Rangers

IBAF Ranking: 16

Breakdown: I’m not sure what to think about Spain. They lack star power, but did knock off Israel and South Africa in qualifiers. The roster is dotted with promising Major League prospects, but I don’t foresee Spain winning more than a game, maybe two in the WBC. How they will win: Breakout tourney from Beltre. Why they won’t: Their Pool C competition is stacked (Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic).

italy wbc cap

#13: ITALY

Notable player(s): Jason Grilli, RP, Pirates/Francisco Cervelli, C, Yankees/Nick Punto, IF, Dodgers/Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs/Chris Denorfia, OF, Padres

IBAF Ranking: 9

Breakdown: Not only did we miss out on a Hall of Fame induction for Mike Piazza, but he won’t be participating on Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic either. Props to the Italians for back-to-back Euro Championships, but the competition is pretty weak over there right now. I think they will be humbled in the WBC. How they will win: Play with a chip on their shoulder. Why they won’t: Even the MLB-level hitters are thin.

kingdom of netherlands wbc cap

#12: KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS

Notable Player(s): Jair Jurrjens, SP, MLB Free Agent/Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox/Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers/Jonathan Schoop, 3B, Orioles/Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves/Roger Bernadina, OF, Nationals/Andruw Jones, OF, MLB Free Agent

IBAF Ranking: 7

Breakdown: The Dutch soccer team is one of my favorites to watch. And for the first time in recent memory, so will their baseball team. They just missed my “dark horse” cut, due to sheer overall talent of the rest of the field. But the Major League potential of some youngsters on this roster is extremely intriguing. They’ve won 20 of 32 Euro Championships ever played. How they will win: Infield of dreams breaks out. Why they won’t: Not all the youngsters will perform.

**The Dark Horses**

south korea wbc cap

#11: SOUTH KOREA

Notable player(s): Jae Seo, SP, former Met, Dodger, Ray in MLB

IBAF Ranking: 4

Breakdown: I feel ridiculous ranking Korea this low, considering their past successes in the WBC. But, it’s the third time this tournament has been played and each team has scouting on the opposition now. I don’t think South Korea will sneak up on anyone this time around. How they will win: High on-base percentage, good defense. Why they won’t: Too much good competition.

Australia-WBC-hat

#10: AUSTRALIA

Notable player(s): Peter Moylan, RP, Dodgers

IBAF Ranking: 10

Breakdown: There’s a handful of good Major League players (like A’s closer Grant Balfour) who hail from the land down under, but there isn’t a whole lot of MLB experience on this roster. Team Australia still has a shot at advancing, but they may have more trouble than in years past. How they will win: Pure grit. Why they won’t: Not enough runs, upstart opposition in Pool B.

canada wbc cap

#9: CANADA

Notable player(s): Jesse Crain, RP, White Sox/John Axford, RP, Brewers/Jameson Taillon, SP, Pirates/Russell Martin, C, Pirates/Brett Lawrie, 3B, Blue Jays/Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins

IBAF Ranking: 6

Breakdown: We all know that Canada produces some bona fide stars in MLB (Joey Votto, anyone?), but not all are present and accounted for on this roster, similar to Team Australia. They still have the talent to make a run with Lawrie, Morneau and Martin in the middle of the lineup though. How they will win: Dominant bullpen, good middle of the lineup. Why they won’t: Too much youth in the rotation.

taipei wbc cap

#8: CHINESE TAIPEI

Notable player(s): Chien-Ming Wang, SP, MLB Free Agent

IBAF Ranking: 5

Breakdown: There’s a reason that Team Chinese Taipei is a top-five ranked country right now. But their proudest current professional representative (Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen) is not on the team yet. This team is still legit, and has a very winnable pool group. How they will win: Small ball. Why they won’t: Overall talent is lacking.

**The “Justtttt A Bit Outside” Group**

puerto rico wbc cap

#7: PUERTO RICO

Notable player(s): Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals/Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals/Angel Pagan, OF, Giants/Mike Aviles, IF, Indians/Javier Vasquez, SP, MLB Free Agent

IBAF Ranking: 12

Breakdown: There may be no more high-ceiling-yet-average team in the WBC this year. Team Puerto Rico has finished fifth at both tournaments preceding this, and killed Team USA in 2009 before being ousted by them two games later on a walk-off hit. Even with players such as Molina, Beltran and Pagan, they won’t even be favorites in their own pool. How they will win: The Major League talent they have is relentlessly good. Why they won’t: Lack of depth in the rotation.

mexico 2013 wbc cap

#6: MEXICO

Notable player(s): Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers/Luis Cruz, 3B, Dodgers/Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers/Danny Espinosa, 2B, Nationals/Sergio Romo, RP, Giants

IBAF Ranking: 11

Breakdown: In their pool, Team Mexico will have to deal with Team USA, but other than that they should be favored to top Team Canada and Team Italy to move on. They have a decent infield, top-of-the-line ace, and one of the best closers in baseball. How they will win: Adrian Gonzalez goes off, Gallardo is dominant. Why they won’t: Romo is neutralized unless they have a lead late.

cuba wbc cap

#5: CUBA

Notable player(s): None 

IBAF Ranking: 1

Breakdown: Don’t let the lack of notable players deceive you — this team is good. Really good. They have played in the IBAF World Cup 29 times and won 25 gold medals, finishing second the other four times. In the WBC, Team Cuba has finished second and fourth (which, at the time, was their lowest finish ever in international competition). They just can’t legally have players like Aroldis Chapman or Yoenis Cespedes on their squad, otherwise they might be even better. How they will win: Hard-throwing starters, handful of five-tool prospects. Why they won’t: The top four teams are just too stacked.

**The Favorites**

japan wbc hat

#4: JAPAN

Notable player(s): None

IBAF Ranking: 3

Breakdown: Again, don’t let the lack of Major League firepower fool you. Much like Cuba, Team Japan has been a hotbed for MLB stars over the years (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish). Even though none of them joined the fray in 2013, this team is stacked. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of future MLB players come off this roster after good WBC performances. After all, they are two-for-two in WBC titles up to this point. How they will win: Ichiro-style on-base scavengers, deceptive pitching. Why they won’t: Not having Ichiro and Darvish, among others, will end up costing Team Japan.

dominican republic wbc hat

#3: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Notable player(s): Santiago Casilla, RP, Giants/Octavio Dotel, RP, Tigers/Alexi Ogando, RP, Rangers/Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays/Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Pirates/Edinson Volquez, SP, Reds/Carlos Santana, C, Indians/Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers/Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees/Edwin Encarnacion, DH/OF, Blue Jays/Hanley Ramirez, IF, Dodgers/Jose Reyes, SS, Blue Jays/Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers/Melky Cabrera, OF, Blue Jays

IBAF Ranking: 13

Breakdown: The only reason Team Dominica is ranked so low by the IBAF is because all those notable players are stars in the big leagues, and don’t regularly compete internationally for their country. But now that the WBC has rolled around again, this is one unbelievably good team. My only concern is their starting pitching depth. How they will win: Scoring 15 runs per game (no…really). Why they won’t: Like I said, starting pitching depth. Will Volquez and Rodriguez be enough?

USA wbc hat

#2: UNITED STATES

Notable player(s):  Jeremy Affeldt, RP, Giants/R.A. Dickey, SP, Blue Jays/Craig Kimbrel, RP, Braves/Kris Medlen, SP, Braves/Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants/Chris Perez, RP, Indians/Joe Mauer, C, Twins/Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds/Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies/David Wright, 3B, Mets/Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees/Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers/Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins/Adam Jones, OF, Orioles/Joe Torre, Manager

IBAF Ranking: 2

Breakdown: I didn’t even pick all the “notable players” I could have for this team. It’s Team USA’s equivalent of the MLB Dream Team, and Justin Verlander still is undecided as to whether he’ll join the rotation. This team is already a favorite with a balanced lineup and very strong pitching staff, but adding JV would be a coup. Check out fellow Three Up, Three Down host Bryan Mapes’ grades-by-position for Team USAHow they will win: Veteran experience, explosive pitching. Why they won’t: The bane of their existence, Team Japan, will come along eventually.

venezuela wbc cap

#1: VENEZUELA

Notable player(s): Anibal Sanchez, SP, Tigers/Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners/Francisco Rodriguez, RP, MLB Free Agent/Ronald Belisario, RP, Dodgers/Miguel Montero, C, Diamondbacks/Salvador Perez, C, Royals/Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers/Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Indians/Miguel Cabrera, 3B/1B, Tigers/Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants/Marco Scutaro, 2B, Giants/Carols Gonzalez, OF, Rockies/Gerardo Parra, OF, Diamondbacks

IBAF Ranking: 8

Breakdown: The quantity of star power on Team Venezuela might not match up to Team USA or Team Dominica, but the quality is far and beyond. When you start your rotation with Hernandez and stack the middle of your lineup with the reigning Triple Crown winner between Gonzalez and Sandoval, you are a very, very scary team. Even though their WBC pool is very tough, it would be a momentous upset to not see Team Venezuela make moves in the 2013 tournament. How they will win: A large margin of victory. Against anyone. Why they won’t: Slumping hitters or being outplayed by one of the other favorites.

And that’s a wrap. This writer believes Team Venezuela is the team to beat, with Team USA, Team Dominica and Team Japan not far behind. But in all honesty, there are about 10-11 teams who could potentially take home the title in 2013. Root for your team and country to take home top honors, and stay tuned to Three Up, Three Down because we’ll have all your World Baseball Classic coverage.

Like what you see? Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for more WBC and MLB news and analysis.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Episode 35 – Marlins Move to Toronto

We’re back for our first off-season podcast talking about the big moves that have been made around the majors.  Marlins hold a mini fire sale and David Wright secures his title as ‘Mr. Met’.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast!

or use this link to download on iTunes

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=508049520

Twitter: @3U3D
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Enjoy!

Grade That Trade! Everyone Loves Mike Aviles Edition

Less than two weeks after trading their manager John Farrell to the Boston Red Sox for Mike Aviles, the Toronto Blue Jays have turned and shipped Aviles off again, in return for some bullpen help.

As far as the hot stove is concerned, this move is luke warm; but when all is said and done in 2013, we could see the players involved paying big dividends for their new teams.

In what will undoubtedly be the trade with the coolest names involved this off-season, the Cleveland Indians are trying to add a little young punch to their lineup. Let’s break it down:

Indians Get:

C/IF/OF Yan Gomes

IF Mike Aviles

Blue Jays Get:

RP Esmil Rogers

Both Gomes and Aviles are right-handed hitters, something the Indians sorely lacked in 2012. Both are relatively young and promising, with the ability to play multiple positions. With the exception of pitching, you can pretty much cover the entire diamond defensively with Gomes and Aviles.

In Rogers, the Blue Jays get a promising, young, right-handed reliever to add to the ‘pen. With multiple starters going down with injuries in 2012, this blogger wonders if Rogers will get a shot to start a little bit in Toronto? In his second full season in Colorado, Rogers started 13 times – since then he’s been used strictly out of the ‘pen.

Last season with Cleveland, Rogers had the most impressive portion of his pro career. In 44 appearances, he held a 3.06 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and a nifty 4.5 K to BB ratio. Rogers struck out over a batter per inning, but his past performance is questionable.

For someone with as much talent as the 27-year-old Rogers, his career numbers don’t reflect what he’s capable of. In 185 innings as a reliever in Colorado, his ERA was nearly 7.00 and his WHIP hovered around 1.82. Then again, that’s in Colorado, where pitching stats go to die.

A quick glance at his home/road splits tell me that his numbers away from Coors Field were better, indicating that he may have been a victim of that crazy mountain air in Denver. I doubt Rogers will actually be considered for a set-up or closing role, but if he continues to improve in a normal atmosphere like he did in Cleveland, you never know.

The Indians land a couple young bats that I personally like a lot. Yan Gomes (pronounced: “Yawn”) is more than just an awesome name. He only got a taste in the bigs last year, compiling a .204 average with four home runs and 13 RBI in 98 at-bats for the Jays.

But, he started 24 games, appeared in 41, and split time at all the following positions: first base, catcher, third base, DH, and two outfield spots. He seems to be a good defender regardless of where he’s placed, and only made one error in 119 innings at first base.

Before being promoted, Gomes hit .328 with 13 homers and 59 RBI in 79 games at Triple-A, and tossed in a nice .380 on-base percentage to complement a .938 OPS. Clearly, the kid can hit. If the coaches in Cleveland can get him used to playing every day at the Major League level, they may have a very good player on their hands by the time he hits his prime.

We all know Aviles, too. He’s been around for five seasons now, and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting as a Kansas City Royal back in 2008. Though he’s always been considered a role-playing utility man, his career average is .277 and he has started multiple games at shortstop, second base, and third base.

Even though Aviles is likely in Cleveland to play that utility role again, he can provide some pop and is a guy that plays the game the right way. Personally, I’m a big fan of Aviles and think he’s a very good spark guy, much in the mold of Nick Punto or David Eckstein.

It’s a tough call, but I think I’m going to give the slight edge to the Indians in this trade, because they acquired two bats that can make immediate impacts. While Rogers has all the tools to become a good bullpen arm in Toronto, it remains to be seen if he can continue to improve.

If you like hot stoves, and we don’t mean the ones you cook on, follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Yunel Escobar Supsended for Homophobic Slur: Just Punishment?

It doesn’t really matter what the reason, excuse or explanation – Yunel Escobar is screwed. He’s having a bad year for a bad team with an up and coming prospect hot on his tail at shortstop.

Oh, yeah. And then there’s THIS.

There is no good way to spin the issue. It can’t have been lost in translation, because Cuban professors in Canada have told various media members that is a homophobic slur and very offensive in Escobar’s home country.

In other parts of Latin America, the word is used much more loosely and in a teasing manner, but Escobar isn’t from other parts of Latin America. He is from Cuba, where it means the same thing as the English translation for “You are a f—-t.”

Forget whether or not there is a large portion of the LGBT community who watches baseball. The point is that there is a very large LGBT community in this country, and they know how to use computers. That means most of that community has seen what Escobar’s eye black said last Saturday and can’t be very happy about it.

So how should Escobar be punished? There isn’t a ton of precedence for this, and it also goes way above and beyond just being about baseball. But the Toronto Blue Jays, as approved by the MLB and MLBPA decided to suspend Escobar three games starting tonight, without pay.

The $92,000+ Escobar will lose in salary over the three games will be donated to GLAAD and You Can Play, two very respected LGBT charity organizations. And Escobar will have to do sensitivity training and work with outreach programs.

Well, that’s a nice gesture. But three games? Really? Didn’t Cole Hamels get five for purposely beaning Bryce Harper? Didn’t Brett Lawrie get four for throwing his helmet down when arguing a call?

And is sensitivity training going to help the fact that he was so insensitive in the first place? Regardless of how much Escobar stresses that he was joking and it has “no meaning,” he is completely, utterly mistaken.

So what I’m seeing here, is that MLB believes a heated argument or an intimidating pitch are more punishable than literally offending an entire community and legion of fans and then giving half-assed excuses in front of that same audience.

Escobar, who doesn’t speak English, was talking to the media through a translator just now at Yankee Stadium and I caught a few snippets of what he said via social media.

“It was a bad joke.”

“I apologize.”

“It wasn’t meant to offend.”

“It’s a very common term in Latin America. It has no meaning.”

“I don’t hate gay people.”

Well, Yunel. It does have meaning. To millions of people across the globe. Next time, try something a little more intelligent when you want to write something on your face to get pumped for a game. 

It’s the humble opinion of this writer that Escobar should have been suspended the rest of the season. Send him home for the offseason. The Jays are out of the race and Escobar isn’t doing anything for them on the field anyway.

But the second he steps back on the field this Friday in a meaningless game, he’s going to hear it from the fans, whether home or away. Wouldn’t it be best to have a full off-season to let this blow over?

I think it’s fair to say that the three-game suspension is too short. I think it’s also fair to say that Escobar’s reputation is really shot to hell, if Twitter is any indication:

The biggest loser in this whole fiasco is Escobar himself. He just lost money, games and most devastating, respect of his peers and fans. It seems like Blue Jays fans can’t wait to see him shipped away. And if the poor play and stupid decisions continue, that might happen a lot sooner than we think.

Do you believe this was a just punishment for Escobar? VOTE below!

Don’t forget to follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

The All-“You Don’t Know Me But You WILL” Team: American League

Yesterday, we posted our All-“You Don’t Know Me But You WILL” team for the National League. Pay attention, because those guys are the ones who will make you look like a genius in future fantasy drafts.

They are the ones who will be the next Giancarlo Stanton. The next Mike Fiers. Young guys that aren’t known to the casual baseball fan but are absolutely ripping it up in 2012 and show big flashes of potential for the years to come.

You’ll thank us later, when you can tell your friends that you knew who Josh Rutledge was before anyone else and knew he would be an All-Star. Here is our American League version of the All-Unknown team – one stud you probably haven’t heard of yet, at each position:

Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (.312/11/45 in 89 games)

I can do this because – well, let’s be honest – nobody really cares about the Royals outside of Western Missouri. That being said, you should know who Perez is. The 22-year-old will be a huge part of that offense in K.C. for years to come.

1st Base: Chris Carter, Oakland A’s (.274/12/31 in 48 games)

Here’s another case of “unknown-by-location.” If Carter was on the Red Sox or Yankees, he would be a household name. Luckily for A’s fans, he plays in Oakland and all he does is hit the ball very, very far. He will hit 30 homers some day.

2nd Base: Ivan De Jesus, Boston Red Sox (.273/0/4 in 23 games with Boston and LA Dodgers)

Clearly, this was a very weak position for our team. That being said, I watched De Jesus a lot in Los Angeles and he’s got all the makings of an above-average Major League infielder. If the BoSox develop him right, he could be a .300/25 steals kind of guy.

3rd Base: Alex Liddi, Seattle Mariners (.231/3/10 in 31 games)

The Italian-born prospect has absolutely lit minor league pitching up, and though he struggled a bit in his call-up, I fully expect stardom in the next few years. He’s blocked in Seattle by Rookie of the Year candidate Kyle Seager though.

Shortstop: Pedro Ciriaco, Boston Red Sox (.336/2/16/10 for 10 SB in 46 games)

I just feel ridiculous including a Red Sox player here, but considering they aren’t in contention and are getting less national attention, some people might night know about the fantastic job Ciriaco has been doing in Boston this season.

Outfield: Moises Sierra, Toronto Blue Jays (.284/2/5 in 24 games)

This is going to be the Toronto Blue Jays show in the outfield. Get used to it. And Sierra is finally getting a shot at playing full-time with super star Jose Bautista injured. This 24-year-0ld outfielder needs a little seasoning but could turn into a 20/20 player.

Outfield: Jarrod Dyson (.270/0/9/25 out of 28 SB in 87 games)

Dyson is not on the big league club for his power bat. He is a terrific defender who steals bases at will. Look at those base-swiping numbers; with a full-time gig, Dyson could legitimately steal 50 bases in his prime.

Outfield: Anthony Gose, Toronto Blue Jays (.183/0/2/10 SB in 28 games)

I know the stats aren’t very good. But he stole 70 bases twice in the minor leagues. Gose just turned 22 and the Blue Jays know they have a future star in him. Give him another couple of months against Major League pitching.

Starting Pitcher: Samuel Deduno, Minnesota Twins (5-2/3.72/1.50 in 10 starts)

Deduno went 7 strong against Seattle in his most recent start, allowing no runs, no walks and striking out 9. But one start isn’t why he’s on this list. He has filthy stuff. The elder statesman on this list at age 29, Deduno might be a late-bloomer in Minnesota.

Relief Pitcher: Sean Doolittle, Oakland A’s (30.2 IP, 45 K, 3.23 ERA, 1.21 WHIP in 28 appearances)

Doolittle is doing a lot in Oakland for that magical Wild Card run they are attempting to make. The kid is only 25 and all he does is strike people out. A lot. Doolittle could be a future closer if he gets a little more sink on his breaking ball.

You’ll thank us when these guys become rich and famous and awesome in the next few years. Did we forget anyone? Snub your team’s young star? Let us know in the comments below, but remember it’s unknown players. So don’t yell at us for omitting someone like Will Middlebrooks or Manny Machado. Thanks!

Don’t forget to follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

 

 

 

Grade That Trade! Early Astros Edition

If there is one team that has made it clear that they are sellers at this year’s trade deadline it’s the Houston Astros.  Why wait until July 31st to make some some moves though?  Houston already dealt Carlos Lee to Miami that we covered here  and Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow is continuing to build towards the future by pulling off two more deals this weekend.  Let’s take a look at how the Astros did.

Astros receive: RP Francisco Cordero and OF Ben Francisco, plus prospects RHP Joe Musgrove and Asher Wojciechowski, LHP David Rollins, C Carlos Perez and a player to be named later

Blue Jays receive: SP J.A. Happ, RP’s Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter

The Blue Jays were looking for any pitching help after losing Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek,  Drew Hutchison, Sergio Santos, Luis Perez, and Jason Frasor to injuries.  Drabek, Perez, and Santos are done for the season.  Happ can be serviceable in both the rotation and out of the bullpen.  He came out of the bullpen in his first appearance with the Jays.  Lyon will replace Cordero as the righty set-up man in the bullpen.

Cordero joins his 6th MLB team in his career and comes back to the N.L. Central after being with Cincinnati from 2008-11.  He has fallen off this season with a 5.77 ERA, but is only signed to a one-year contract, meaning the Astros will clear his salary at the end of the season or it makes him a target to be flipped by the end of July for more prospects.  Francisco was a former big-name prospect, but hasn’t lived up to it.  He’s turned into a reserve outfielder and is hitting .236 this season.

The Astros made this deal though for the prospects.  The three pitchers all have been good in the minors so far and two were high draft picks in the 1st compensation round.  Wojciechowski and Perez were top 15 prospects in the Blue Jays system according to “Prospect Corner.”

Astros receive: Prospects RHP Matt Heidenreich, LHP Blair Walters, and a player to be named later

White Sox receive: RP Brett Myers

Was there a more obvious trade candidate in the 2012 season than Brett Myers?  The Astros converted him to closer in order to maximize his value on the trade market.  The two prospects aren’t anything overly special, but stockpiling pitching lottery tickets and hoping one makes it, isn’t a bad strategy.  Walters, 22, was ranked by Baseball America as the 26th best prospect in the White Sox system, but has struggled since moving up to high A with a 7.01 ERA and 1.63 WHIP for Winston-Salem. 21 year-old Heidenreich was solid in Winston-Salem going 8-2 with a 3.57 ERA this season, but also has struggled since moving up another level.

Myers moves to the Windy City to help stabilize a bullpen that has the 3rd worst bullpen ERA in the American League.  Myers has 19 saves and a 3.52 ERA for Houston before being traded.  Myers, Matt Thornton, and Addison Reed isn’t exactly the strongest combination at the end of games, but it can be good enough to keep the White Sox in contention for the A.L. Central.

The Astros have shown that they’re trying to bottom out completely and pick up high draft picks in the draft to build a nucleus for the latter part of this decade.  We’ve already seen Houston grab Carlos Correa with the #1 pick in this years draft.  They’re setting themselves up to pick near the top once again.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

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