This week I had the opportunity to pose 5 questions about the defending World Series Champions to James Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer (for more from Salisbury, check out his work by clicking here). He gave us some tremendous insight into the Phillies plans for the upcoming season, most notably the return date for Chase Utley. Other topics included the teams outfield,the back-end of the rotation and who the regular catcher will be.
Let’s take a look at what he had to say:
1) What is the latest word on Chase Utley and when he could return to the Phillies? What is the current plan in replacing him while he’s out of action?
James Salisbury: Utley has made excellent progress recovering from off-season hip surgery. Initial estimates — which are usually very conservative — had him out of the lineup possibly until June 1, but it looks as if he will be back well before that. Utley believes he can be ready to go opening day, and I wouldn’t put that past him because he’s as diligent worker. It’s all going to come down to spring training, how he feels when he starts game activity and how many at-bats he needs to get ready. While I believe he will be ready for opening day, it would not suprise me if the Phils back him off a little just to be safe. They want him for the long haul. Either way, I’d say he won’t miss more than a couple of weeks — if he has no setbacks. I can see Charlie Manuel using Eric Bruntlett while Utley is out. Jason Donald could get some time if he has a good spring. Read more
This week, I had the opportunity to pose five questions to The Denver Post’s Troy Renck in the latest Ask the Expert. He shed some light on many of the intriguing questions surrounding the team, like the closer’s role, if Troy Tulowitzki will rebound and who will emerge as the team’s ace. It is some great insight into a team that we all have questions about heading into our fantasy drafts.
To read more from Renck, you can check out his blog by clicking here. Now, without further adieu, let’s take a look at what he had to say:
1) The Rockies have a pair of top quality OF prospects in Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler. How much playing time do you see them receiving in 2009 and how do you see them producing?
Troy Renck: Dexter Fowler has enjoyed a terrific winter, adding muscle that could help make him a factor sooner rather than later. He is the Rockies’ top prospect, but skipped Triple-A so he’s probably going to need more offensive seasoning. I see him in the big leagues by July. Carlos Gonzalez will be there sooner. If he shows better strike zone discipline, he will compete for the starting left field job in spring traning with Seth Smith. He oozes confidence. The issue is whether he can correct his offensive approach in spring or need time in Colorado Springs. Read more
When you think of the Baltimore Orioles, a lot of questions likely fill your head. What does the future hold for Matt Wieters? Who is going to be the closer? What is the state of the rotation? Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun (click here for some of his coverage) helps us answer these questions and more in our latest Ask the Expert. I want to thank him for taking the time to participate in this as well as the tremendous insight he shared with us. So, without further adieu, let’s get to it:
1) What have you heard regarding the Orioles plans for Matt Wieters? Is it more likely that he reaches the majors in April or June? How do you think he’ll perform once he is recalled?
Jeff Zrebiec: The Orioles say that Wieters will start the season at Triple-A with Gregg Zaun holding down the fort. I really wonder what they’ll do if Wieters has a great spring, sort of like Nick Markakis did several years ago to force his way onto the roster. But I have to take team president Andy MacPhail at his word and he has maintained all along that Wieters will start the season in the minors. It’s hard to say when he’ll be recalled and that probably depends on how he’s performing against Triple-A pitching. If he’s dominating it like he did in Single and Double-A, I think you’ll probably see him make his big league debut in mid to late May. As for how he’ll perform, I think it will be an adjustment and it may take him a while. But this kid has performed at every level, so there is no reason to think he won’t be productive. Read more
In the latest edition of Ask the Expert, I had an opportunity to pose 5 questions to Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune (click here to view his blog). He does a tremendous job in covering the Padres who, let’s face it, have a ton of questions surrounding them as we head into 2009. In the interview he helped to shed some light onto some of the younger players on the roster, as well as Jake Peavy and the rest of the roster. I want to thank him for his time, as he certainly gave us some great insight.
Let’s take a look at what he had to say:
1) The on-again, off-again Jake Peavy rumors continue to surface. Can you handicap the chances of him being traded at this point, from what you’ve heard? How do you see him performing in 2009?
Tom Krasovic: Better than average between now and Aug. 1. If he is with the SDP, I see an ERA of about 2.90 over 190 innings.
2) With Trevor Hoffman now in Milwaukee, how do you see Heath Bell handling the closer’s duties? Is there anyone else who may get a chance in that role, possibly from outside the organization?
Tom Krasovic: Doubt we’ll see Bell match his great season of 2007, should see something more in line with his 2008 numbers. He certainly has the pitches and the accuracy to handle closing. But you really have no idea whether a guy is fit for closing long term until he blows a few saves. SDP have pretty much given the job to Bell. No other strong candidates on the horizon. Read more
Today’s Ask the Expert is something different then usual. I had the opportunity to pose five questions to Wayne Graczyk, who writes for The Japan Times (you can click here for his weekly articles). He answered questions about Koji Uehara (just remember that this interview was actually done prior to him signing with the Orioles), Kenshin Kawakami, Junichi Tazawa and more. If you are considering drafting any of the players who may make the transition from Japan this season, this is definitely insight you want to have.
Without further adieu, let’s get to his answers:
1) Can you give us a quick scouting report on the type of pitcher Koji Uehara is? Do you think he’d be better suited as being slotted into a team’s rotation or bullpen?
Wayne Graczyk: Uehara has a great fork ball & excellent control; hardly ever walks anybody. Better as a starter because he does not like the closer’s role so is very uncomfortable in relief.
2) What about Kenshin Kawakami? What can you tell us about his pitching style and how does he compare to Hiroki Kuroda?
Wayne Graczyk: Kawakami is very similar to Kuroda. Same style, throws the same pitches & had a similar record in Japan. He is one of Japan’s better pitchers but I think he would be a .500 pitcher at best in the majors, as he may be past his prime. Read more
I’m happy to unveil our first Ask the Expert of the new season, as I was given the opportunity to pose 5 questions to Kat O’Brien of New York Newsday. For those who are new to the site, in the Ask the Expert series I interview beat writers from around the coverage in order to give you an insiders look and insight into a team’s thought process. O’Brien, who does a tremendous job covering the New York Yankees (you can read her blog by clicking here), gave us her thoughts on Joba Chamberlain, what to expect from Jorge Posada & Robinson Cano, who has the inside track on the #5 starters spot and so much more.
I want to thank Ms. O’Brien for her participation and without further adieu, let’s see what she had to say:
1) If the Yankees opt not to import another starting pitcher, who do you think has the best chance to fill the #5 rotation spot and why, Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy?
Kat O’Brien: I think Phil Hughes would have a big leg up on Ian Kennedy if those were the choices for the No. 5 spot. Hughes didn’t slip a huge amount in the Yankees’ eyes, though they’re obviously concerned about how susceptible he may be to injuries. Kennedy didn’t perform, and also gave reason to think he might have a little attitude of entitlement. He seemed to straighten up, but I still think Hughes leads there.
2) What should we look for early on from Robinson Cano to determine if it will be another slow start? Have you heard anything surrounding him that leads you to believe that he’s ready to put together a strong full season?
Kat O’Brien: I think Robinson Cano will bounce back in a big way. He seemed humbled by his rough season and I really think he will play well in 2009. Read more