Over the next few weeks WSBGM's will be breaking down each of the NL East teams' rosters. First on the docket is the infield (outfield, rotation, and bullpen to follow).
(2008 Stats listed for each player)
1B/Casey Kotchman- .272/.328/.410, 14 hr. Kotchman is a good fielder, but lacks the power of a typical first baseman. He makes good contact and is still young, but he doesn't really scare anyone...not even Adam Eaton.
2B/Kelly Johnson- .287/.349/.446, 12 hr, 11 sb. Kelly is a good all-around player, because he dabbles in a bit of everything. Decent fielder, a bit of pop in his bat, a little speed, good guy to have in the lineup.
SS/Yunel Escobar- .288/.366/.401, 10 hr. This Cuban has the talent to blossom into a great shortstop, but the question with him is his motivation and focus. He can field, but makes silly blunders. He can hit to all fields with average, but falls into slumps. If he ever "figures it out", he'll be an all-star.
3B/Chipper Jones- .364/.470/.574, 22 hr, 90 rbi. Larry is a tremendous baseball player and I hate the prick. He's always an injury risk, but when he is in the lineup goods things happen.
C/Brian McCann- .301/.373/.523, 23 hr, 87 rbi. McCann is a beast offensively as a catcher. He'll be 25 years old this season, so the potential to get better is there, and that's scary. Nabs only 22.5% of base stealers.
Reserves- David Ross is the new backup catcher. Greg Norton is a solid pinch hitter and can play corner infield. Martin Prado and Omar Infante are good guys to have as utility infielders.
1B/Jorge Cantu- .277/.327/.481, 29 hr, 92 r, 95 rbi. The Fish signed him to a minor league deal last offseason and were pleasantly rewarded. He's too error prone at 3rd base, so they're switching him to 1st in the absence of Matt Jacobs. Whether he can repeat his offensive success or not is a looming concern.
2B/Dan Uggla- .260/.360/.514, 32 hr, 97 r, 92 rbi. The Marlins have a knack for taking a risk on players then being rewarded, as Uggla was a Rule 5 selection before the '06 season and has hit 90 homeruns, scored 315 runs, and driven in 270 in just 3 seasons. He won his arbitration case and is now way more expensive than the Marlins like their players, so this is likely his last season in Florida before being traded.
SS/Hanley Ramirez- .301/.400/.540, 125 r, 33 hr, 35 sb. This kid is ready for super stardom, and could easily go 40-40 this season. He gets a bit lackadasical fielding sometimes (22 errors), but he's such an amazing all-around athlete that really is barely a chink in his armor.
3B/Wes Helms- .243/.299/.347. Helms continues to be a disappoint with the bat, yet the Marlins re-signed him this offseason. He can play 3rd and 1st base, but likely won't be a starter by the end of the season (or perhaps by the end of spring training).
C/John Baker- .299/.392/.447. Baker was a rookie last year and made a good first impression. He has a great on base %, but his defense is lacking (only 16.7% runners thrown out).
Reserves- Mike Raebelo is the backup catcher, hence the reason the Fish are looking for another catcher (Pudge? Chris Coste?). Backing up 1st and 3rd base is Dallas McPherson, who is a minor league pitching killer, but that has yet to translate into MLB success. Emilio Bonafacio and Alfredo Amezaga are the utility infielders. Rookie Gabby Hernandez may make a splash at 1st base depending on his spring.
New York Mets:
1B/Carlos Delgado- .271/.353/.518, 38 hr, 96 r, 115 rbi. Delgado was nearly booed out of town early in '08 due to his struggles, but he came back strong during the 2nd half of the season. I expect more along the lines of his 1st half OPS (.743) than his 2nd half OPF (.992) in '09.
2B/Luis Castillo- .245/.355/.305, 17 sb. The Mets don't want him, but he's too costly to waive or trade, therefore they're stuck with him. His range at 2nd base has diminished along with his speed in recent years. He has no power, and his only value is his ability to get on base.
SS/Jose Reyes- .297/.358/.475, 113 r, 19 trpl, 16 hr, 56 sb. Much like Larry Jones, I hate this bastard, but there's no denying he's a fantastic player. He's cocky, and I detest that, but he's backs it up with terrific all-around play. His prime years are still ahead of him...watch out!!!
3B/David Wright- .302/.390/.534, 33 hr, 15 sb, 115 r, 124 rbi. Guess what? I also hate David Wright, but that's because he's so damn good. His defense may be overrated, but all other facets of his game come as advertised. His prime years are also ahead of him...yikes!!!
C/Brian Schneider- .257/.339/.367. He's an average MLB catcher, nothing flashy about him, but he gets the job done (33.3% runners gunned down). He's a noted Phillie-Killer, career line against Philly: .276/.359/.419 with 53 rbi in 103 games.
Reserves- Ramon Castro and Robinson Cancel provide depth behind the plate. Marlon Anderson, Fernando Tatis, and Alex Cora will see time around the infield and are decent bench bats for the Metropolitans.
1B/Ryan Howard- .251/.339/.543, 48 hr, 105 r, 146 rbi, 199 k, 19 errors. Howard is a slugger, no denying that, but he's also a liability in the field. His OPS has decreased over the last 2 seasons, and he strikes out a ton. With that said, damn it's fun watching him knock the snot out of a baseball.
2B/Chase Utley- .292/.380/.535, 33 hr, 113 r, 103 rbi, 14 sb. Utley is one of the top all-around talents in the game today and is a lovable guy. He hustles, gets dirty, and his defense is vastly underrated. He's bouncing back from hip surgery, and it's hard to believe that won't effect his play, but I'm still counting on a great season from him.
SS/Jimmy Rollins- .277/.349/.437, 11 hr, 47 sb, and a Gold Glove. Rollins was hurt for most of April last year, and I'm sure it had lingering effects upon his season, so I expect him to get some of his power back and get close to his '06 numbers ('07 will be his career year).
3B/Pedro Feliz- .249/.302/.402, 14 hr, and a solid .974% for fielding. Pedro doesn't walk, hits into doubleplays, and aside from the occasional homerun really isn't worth much offensively, but his defense is strong. He's coming off of back surgery, so that coupled with the fact that he struggles against righties, means he'll be sitting in favor of Greg Dobbs at times.
C/Carlso Ruiz- .219/.320/.300. Cooch had a difficult time at the plate last season, but behind the plate he was just fine. He calls a good game and is solid defensively (23.5% caught stealing). His doubles really dipped last year (29 in '07, 14 in '08), along with his average. He's a much better hitter than he showed, so expect a bump back up to the .250ish range with gap power.
Reserves- Eric Bruntlett plays 2nd, SS, 3rd,and OF, but isn't worth mentioning offensively. Chris Coste, Ronny Paulino, and Lou Marson are behind Ruiz on the depth chart at catcher. Greg Dobbs is a stud pinch-hitter and gets some starts at 3rd base, can also play a little OF. Marcus Giles, Miguel Cairo, and Jason Donald might also see time in the infield this season.
1B/Adam Dunn- .236/.386/.513 40 hr, 100 rbi. Newly acquired slugger adds much needed dose of power to the Gnats lineup, as he's cleared 40 homeruns 5 straight seasons. He's moves from the outfield to 1st base where he'll be much less of a liability.
2B/Anderson Hernandez- .333/.407/.383 in limited time. Washington is hoping he'll be able to put up strong enough offensive numbers to warrant the label of starter, but shall he falter Ronnie Belliard and Willie Harris await to pounce on the opportunity.
SS/Christian Guzman- .316/.345/.440. After a few dismal season, Guzman had a bounce-back effort in '08 gaining him a nice new contract. He's a good fielder, but offensively his only weapon is batting average with marginal gap power. Whether he can stay healthy 2 consecutive seasons is to be determined.
3B/Ryan Zimmerman- .283/.333/.442 14 hr. Solid defender coming off an injury riddled '08 campaign. He's young enough to shake the injury bug and step into his promising destiny of elite MLB 3rd baseman. Look for a breakout season in '09.
C/Jesus Flores- .256/.296/.402. He's still learning on the job, as his minor league apprenticeship was cut short when he was Rule 5 drafted before the '07 season. He has the ability to become a good catcher offensively and defensively (26.6% caught stealing).
Reserves- Wil Nieves and Luke Montz are the backup catchers. Willie Harris is a super-sub. Ronnie Belliard can still hit on occasion and plays some infield. Kory Casto has the "prospect" label, but is still inexperienced. Nick Johnson looks to be the odd man out.