A Bit Of A Shock

The Yankees traded George Kontos to San Francisco for Chris Stewart today. They subsequently sent Francisco Cervelli down to the minors to make room for Stewart. Ok, let’s break this into pieces, the trade piece first and then the Cervelli piece.

This is not a move that I am a huge fan of. We’ve seen Chris Stewart before, twice before actually. He first came up in 2008 when Jorge Posada got hurt. He got into one game, an interesting choice at that, and then got sent to AAA when the Yankees signed Chad Moeller. The Yankees let him go after that season and then traded for him before the start of the 2009 season. He spent most of the season in AAA and then played for the Padres and Giants. When Buster Posey got hurt last year, Stewart got 67 games behind the plate in San Fran. He hit a robust .204/.283/.309. While his defense is good, his bat has never developed.

And that seems like too little of a return for Kontos. Kontos didn’t develop into a starter as the Yankees had hoped, but he was becoming a pretty good reliever. Last year he pitched 89 innings in Scranton and struck out 91. In seven appearances in the Bronx he allowed two runs over six innings while striking out six. He’s 26, but appears to have a future in the bigs.

The other reason I don’t like this trade is that the Yankees have to send Cervelli down. They have to because Stewart is out of options and therefore cannot go to the minors. So, the Yankees now have a guy who isn’t very familiar with their pitching staff as backup catcher. I don’t understand why they simply couldn’t have waited for something to shake loose on the waiver wire. The Yankees did this a few weeks ago with Craig Tatum. For what it is worth, Tatum has a .554 OPS in 299 PA’s, Stewart has a .563 in 237

What this probably means is that Austin Romine’s back injury is serious. There has been some talk of a disc problem and that is very bad news for this year and for the future. Russell Martin is a free agent after 2012. In an ideal world, Romine would have caught at AAA for most of the year and then in the Bronx with the goal of putting him in the 2013 lineup. Now, that timetable is threatened and with this trade today, you have to wonder just how long Romine will be out.

The Crystal Ball

The baseball season is upon us and it is time for me to make my predictions for the 2012 season. Please keep in mind, I am usually very, very wrong, so don’t bet on any of these. Anyway, here are my thoughts and this year I will also predict award winners to make sure I have more things to be wrong about.

AL East

1- Yankees I went back and forth on this one because I have concerns about the age of the leftside of the infield and the pitching staff couldn’t make it out of camp without some injury problems. But, they have tremendous talent all over the place and plenty of pitching depth to cover the inevitable holes that will form. I would expect a monster year from Swisher, who will be gunning for his next contract.

2- Tampa Love, love, love that pitching and I think Desmond Jennings will have a breakout year. They will be on the Yankees heels all season and very dangerous come October.

3- Red Sox I’m absolutely baffled by what happened in Boston the past six months. They imploded in the pennant race and then did almost nothing to improve the team on the field. Losing Bailey won’t help, but I still like Melancon from his Yankee days.

4- Blue Jays They are an up and coming team, I just don’t see it coming all together this year.

5- Baltimore It’s amazing to think that the Orioles were once the class of the AL East. That was a long, long time ago.

AL Central

1- Detroit They had a great year and added Prince Fielder. But, I think Cabrera at third will be an absolute disaster and they will miss Martinez. Still they have too much talent and the rest of the division too little not to pick them for first.

2- Chicago I could go a lot of different directions on this one, but I think the White Sox have a smidge more talent than the rest of the division.

3- Kansas City Good times are coming to KC again.

4- Cleveland They surprised me last year by almost finishing at .500, but I don’t think they do it again.

5- Minnesota Rebounds for the M+M boys, but I don’t see a lot of other good things happening in Minny.

AL West

1- Texas I know, I know huge additions in Anaheim, but these guys repeated last year and I think they make it a trifecta this year.

2- Anaheim It’s scary to think that they had to find a place in the lineup for Trumbo and his 29 homers.

3- Seattle Montero will help and Smoak will improve, but they still need a lot of help on offense.

4- Oakland Beane is rebuilding again.

NL East

1- Marlins The Phillies have the most talent, but they also have a lot of questions. Miami has a new park, a new manager and some nice new talent. The lineup looks great and Josh Johnson is back.

2- Philadelphia Howard and Utley are hurt to start the year and the pitching looked a bit more hittable this spring. Still very, very dangerous.

3- Washington These guys are going to be very good very soon.

4- Atlanta In any other division they would contend for the title, but this is the toughest division in the NL.

5- Mets I don’t think this will be as bad a year as some expect. Santana is starting tomorrow. Duda looks like a young stud and Ike Davis is healthy and homering. Still, not enough talent to contend.

NL Central

1- Brewers They lost Prince, but they have plenty of talent left. Still the best team in the division.

2- Cardinals Last year I predicted trouble for them when they lost Wainwright. I won’t make that mistake twice.

3- Reds If Chapman is such a talent, why is he setting up in the bullpen?

4- Pittsburgh This will be the year they finish .500 or better, the problem is a bunch of other teams in the division will too.

5- Cubs Theo will need some time to turn this around.

6- Houston This is going to be ugly. 100 losses seems to be a lock, but I don’t think 110 is a stretch.

NL West

1- San Francisco Arizona seems to be the trendy pick, but I like the Giants. A full season of Brandon Belt will be huge.

2- Arizona Just behind the Giants, but very close.

3- Colorado I think the division takes a big drop after the top two teams. I could have picked any of the remaining clubs to finish third, but I am going with the Rockies.

4- San Diego See above

5- LA Donnie Baseball needs to be patient. Better times and some huge free agent signings are coming to LA very, very soon.

Playoffs
AL Wild Card- Tampa vs. Anaheim with Tampa winning.
Divisional Series Yankees vs. Detroit and Texas vs. Tampa with New York and Tampa winning.
ALCS- Tampa over New York

NL Wild Card- Philly vs. St. Louis with Philly winning
Divisional Series Milwaukee vs. San Francisco and Miami vs Philly with the Giants and Marlins winning
NLCS Miami over San Fran

World Series Yup, I am picking the battle of Florida with the Rays taking home the crown.

Awards
AL Cy Young- Felix Hernandez
MVP- Evan Longoria
ROY- Matt Moore

NL Cy Young- Josh Johnson
MVP- Hanley Ramirez
ROY- Bryce Harper

PLAY BALL!