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Cole Hamels in spring training
The 2009 NL East will be the most exciting division in Major League Baseball, bar none. Last season the world watched as the Philadelphia Phillies, a team thought to be competing for a wild card spot at best, went on to win the division and eventually defeat the Tampa Bay Rays to bring a World Championship to the city of brotherly love. Despite their recent success, this off-season’s transactions have guaranteed one thing: a division title is anything but a guarantee for this 2009 Phillies team. New York Mets GM Omar Minaya went out and imported two flame throwing relievers, J.J Putz and Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez. Atlanta Braves GM Frank Wren signed veteran sinkerballer Derek Lowe to anchor their rotation, and the Washington Nationals signed slugging first baseman/outfielder/Sabermetrics golden standard Adam Dunn to a two year deal. What does this mean? This means that the NL East will have 5 teams with a legitimate shot of finishing the year with a record over .500. If everything falls into place, 2009 should provide some intriguing late season baseball.

Click to continue reading 2009 Season Preview - National League East


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Sanchez is back, but will he have a third baseman?

There’s a lot of talk going around that the New York Yankees are killing baseball. They are outspending everyone, other general managers whine. They just bought the best hitter and the two best pitchers on the market! What are we supposed to do?

Get over it. The free market is the best way to go. Football has parity, but it’s almost ridiculous how quickly teams change. There’s no team identity from year to year, and very few trades (which are exciting for the fans). Basketball has an interesting mix of continuity and parity, but figuring out a deal in basketball is more a question of math than a negotiation of teams with needs. The maximum salary slots also create a sub-class of overvalued stars that just get shipped from team to team as the league waits for their bloated contract to expire (think Al Harrington).

No, the system baseball has is, for the most part, the best way to go. Teams have a chance of winning every year - just look at the small market teams that have found postseason success over the past five years (the Tampa Bay Rays, Florida Marlins and even the Detroit Tigers have used revenue-sharing dollars to good use). Blockbuster trades happen almost every year, and the baseball trade deadline is the most exciting deadline in sports. The state of the game is strong, despite the Yankee’s spending a good $70 million a year more than the second-most extravagant team.

A salary cap would just give these billionaire baseball owners more money - and they are the richest owners in major league sports. Using a revenue-sharing system to penalize the Yankees for their huge payroll is not a terrible system - provided, of course, that the smaller market teams actually use the money for good use. And that’s where the problem lies. The Florida Marlins are the team that should be shouldering your complaints. Some of the numbers are staggering.

Click to continue reading The Marlins, not the Yankees, are Killing Baseball

Read More | The Hardball Times

Olsen, tall and left-handed

The Washington Nationals traded for left-hander Scott Olsen and outfielder Josh Willingham from the Florida Marlins for second baseman Emilio Bonifacio, first baseman Jake Smolinski, and righty P.J. Dean. While Bonifacio is a solid defensive second baseman with some on-base ability and tons of speed, and Smolinski may yet be a good hitter one day, this trade seems lopsided in the Nationals’ favor. Smolinski is only 19 years old and in his first 390 at-bats, has just five professional home runs. Bonifacio has no power. P.J. Dean has fifteen starts under his belt.

In the other corner, we have a solid major league left-handed pitcher with some upside still at 24 years old, and an everyday left fielder with middle-of-the-order power and a career .800+ OPS (not to mention his 62 homers in the past three years). Three young prospects with limited upside for two major league regulars controlled at under-market prices for at least the next couple of years - that seems like a slam dunk, even for an embattled GM like Jim Bowden.

Unfortunately, this deal really doesn’t make much sense for both sides in the end.

Click to continue reading Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham to the Washington Nationals

Read More | Washington Post

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