Grant Paulsen, who has been an accredited member of the national media since he was a teenager, has already made his mark in the broadcasting industry although he has yet to graduate from college and is not old enough to legally drink in this country. Paulsen, 20, is perhaps the Jay Bruce of sports journalism, having covered the Little League World Series and Super Bowl for ABC Sports on several occasions. He has also appeared on the David Letterman show six times. A student at George Mason University in Virginia, he is currently the host of Minors and Majors, a two-hour weekly show focusing on Major League Baseball and its minor league prospects on XM Radio.
Grant recently offered his opinions about the latest news and notes around the league in an interview with Tyler Hissey for Scout.com.
TH: Grant, thanks for finding the time to answer some questions about all that is going on in the Major League Baseball season. Let’s get to it.
The Los Angeles Angels are one of the best run-prevention clubs in the game, with an excellent defense and pitching staff. The Angels also have a strong bullpen led by K-Rod, who is on pace to set the single-season saves record. The offensive situation, on the other hand, has been a cause for concern, and the addition of switch-hitting slugger Mark Teixeira will undoubtedly help add another impact bat to protect Vladimir Guerrero. Does the trade make Los Angeles the favorite to win the AL?
Grant: Adding Mark Teixeira was monumental for the Angels. They desperately needed a bat - and preferably a big one - and they got it when they traded for him. Their deep pitching staff, ranked eighth in all of baseball, gives them a chance to win each night, and they are a top-10 team defensively as well. The only area in which they needed to upgrade was at the plate, and in getting Teixeira they were able to add power to a lineup that has hit 49 fewer home-runs than teams like the Marlins and Phillies have this season.
Even if Teixeira proves to be only a late-season rental, which I think could very well be the case, I won't disagree for a moment with what the Angels decided to do. He is a career .285 hitter who can hit his club 35-homers a season and play a terrific first base. With a team like Los Angeles for the long-haul I could see Tex becoming an annual MVP candidate in the American League.
They gave up Casey Kotchman, who is a nice enough major leaguer, and a decent relief pitching prospect in hard-throwing righty Stephen Marek. But they got a guy back who makes them the number-one contender for the title (if I can use a wrestling term). That's what the Angels are now. They are the top contender in the AL, and I would be surprised if they aren't in the ALCS.
TH: The Braves certainly went for it all last year, giving up a promising package of prospects—including Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia—to make a run. However, they finished further out of the division than they were at the time of the acquisition, even though Teixeira put up some monster numbers down the stretch. In Kotchman and Marek, GM Frank Wren got about as much as he could have at this point, certainly more than the club would have received had it waited for the compensation picks. Still, it seems, they were burned in the long run. Do you agree? Will teams use this as a lesson before making similar deals at the deadline?
Grant: I think that teams might. I've always felt like GMs should ask themselves only one question before giving up multiple prospects who could eventually help their club for just one veteran major leaguer. If he (the guy they are trading for) comes over and plays like an MVP, can we win the World Series? If the answer is yes, then I am okay with those trades. If the answer is no, then I don't like the idea. Especially if a team is just renting a guy like the Braves were with Teixeira last year, and like the Brewers are this year with CC Sabathia. I didn't like the Teixeira deal last year, and I wasn't a huge fan of the Sabathia deal. If he pitches them into the playoffs, though, I will be okay with the fact that they parted with future All-Star Matt LaPorta.
TH: On an off note, what are the odds that some Angles fans make another Teixeira tribute video on YouTube?
Grant: I feel like another video is coming soon. From the same guys who brought us Mark Teixeira I, comes a second and even more epic offering! Haha. Perhaps the release date will be set for some time in late October.
TH: As of this writing, David Price is 9-0 combined between the Single-A Vero Beach and Double-A Montgomery. Do you see Price making an impact this season? If so, do you think he will turn into this year's version of Joba Chamberlain, coming out of the bullpen, or will he crack the Tampa Bay rotation should Edwin Jackson or Andy Sonnanstine falter?
David Price (AP)
Grant: Price is a stud. The guy is going to be 23 later on this month and he could have been getting big league hitters out as of halfway through his final college season at Vanderbilt a year ago. He popped at 99 in his first outing as a pro during spring training this season, and his breaking pitches are already big-league ready. He's going to be a star front-line arm for many years to come, and I could see him and Scott Kazmir being the game's top one-two punch in baseball in a couple years.
With that all said, I think that he will be used in the bullpen down the stretch this season. That will be the best way for Tampa Bay to get his feet wet against major league hitters. He also had a minor arm injury earlier this spring, which could make the Rays want to pitch him out of the pen as a way of keeping his innings count down a little more efficiently, all while still trying to get production out of his electric arm.
If he is used out of the pen, I could see him performing a lot like Joba Chamberlain did last season. His 2007 efforts were something of a once-in-a-decade time promotion, but if anybody could duplicate that type of start to a career, I think Price is that guy. I could see Price repeating that type of dominance down the stretch. He could fortify an already much-improved bullpen and be a big lift for Tampa Bay down the stretch. Unfortunately for the Rays, though, he isn't going to help them hit any better, which is the only phase of the game that they aren't very consistent with.
TH: I recently wrote a contenders piece for the American League. Which four teams from the league do you see making it to the postseason and why?
Mark Teixeira (AP)
Grant: At this moment I have the Angels, Red Sox, and White Sox winning the West, East, and Central, respectively. I rank them in that order because that is the order of my confidence in each of those teams to capture a division crown.
The Angels, with the acquisition of Teixeira and the re-emergence of Ervin Santana as a front-line arm, are my pick to represent the AL in the World Series.
I think Boston is better today than it was a week or two ago as well, though. Jason Bay will give them everything Manny Ramirez did offensively, more defensively, and he'll do it all without creating any problems or causing any headaches for his new coaching staff. I think that Jed Lowrie is an upgrade for them at shortstop as well, and I could see him becoming Boston's Dustin Pedroia of this year in the next couple of months.
The other kind of Sox get terrific pitching and have more power bats than they know what to do with. I just don't know how much I trust some of the unproven arms in that rotation (John Danks and Gavin Floyd among them) down the stretch. Getting Ken Griffey Jr. should provide them with a nice boost, though.
My wild card pick right now is the Rays. They have a deep enough rotation to win any series they play in, they play great defense and they can manufacture enough runs - as the AL leaders in thefts - to mask their anemic team batting average.
TH: Personally, going by their poor run prevention (inexperienced pitching staff and bad infield defense), I do not see the Florida Marlins making the playoffs out of the NL East. They have a negative run differential after all, and, though the Arizona Diamondbacks made it to the playoffs after scoring fewer runs than their opponents last fall, I just do not think it is in the cards for the Fish. Do you agree? If so, who do you think will come out the East?
Grant: I agree with you on the Marlins. The peripherals just don't add up to them being a playoff participant (but don't tell the 2007 Diamondbacks that). The best thing about the Marlins is that they aren't supposed to win right now. They are loaded for the future, thanks largely to the Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis trade this offseason, and they were able to hang on to most of their top prospects at the trade deadline. I'm a Gaby Sanchez guy, but he projects more as a backend-arm than an ace, and he was the only major subtraction from their future core. I think they could keep playing on the plus side of .500, but I don’t' see them doing much more than that the rest of the way. Then again, I didn't see them competing at all this year, so what do I know?
TH: There has certainly been a lot of attention centering around the Milwaukee Brewers’ acquisition of CC Sabathia, though the Brett Favre drama has taken away some of its thunder. Sabathia has energized that clubhouse, adds a legitimate ace alongside Ben Sheets at the top of the staff and is now the best-hitting pitcher in the league with Micah Owings’ demotion to the minors. With that being said, do you think the Brewers will make the postseason for the first time since the Robin Yount era?
Grant: The Brewers are my current pick to win the National League's wild card. Sabathia is one of those guys who can go seven-innings and give his team a chance to win on a bad night. That's the mark of a true ace, and he's proven to be just that over the years. He might be baseball's best pitcher if he ever played an entire season in the NL. The big fella would just be dominant. And Ned Yost will not have to pull him out of games for a pinch hitter, because he's proven that he can wield the wood.
Milwaukee is a better team than St. Louis and Florida, and they are better than any of the clubs in the NL West. With that said, they'll be contending with either Philadelphia or New York (whoever doesn't win the East) for the wild-card spot, at least in my insignificant and probably inaccurate projection. I think they stack up well with either of those two teams. The bottom line is that they had better get to the playoffs. If they don't, then I really don't like the trade at all. If they do I wouldn't be shocked at all if they got to the World Series, considering that they would have Sheets and Sabathia to throw at teams back-to-back. But they have to get there first, and in order to do that they need to start playing better defense (they are 11th in the NL in fielding percentage).
TH: Before we end the interview, give us the names of a few prospects to look for when rosters expand in September.
Grant: Dave Price is the main guy to look out for. He could very well change the American League East landscape, not just this season but over the next several years.
In addition to him, the guy I am most excited about seeing is Andrew McCutchen in Pittsburgh. He's going to get a chance at some point in August, or maybe September, to roam the outfield at PNC Park. He's got more tools than Tim Allen and he's been making his way up through the ranks in a "Jay Bruce" kind of way since the two were drafted real close to each other out of high school back in 2005. I can't wait to see what he does in his first dose of action with the Pirates. He's an electrifying talent who can contribute in a plethora of different ways and baseball fans in the Steel City are in for a treat.
Cameron Maybin is another guy I want to get another look at. I liked what I saw from him in Detroit last season, but I didn't get enough of him. Maybin getting sent to Double-A this year was like dangling candy in front of me and telling me I couldn't have it.
Matt LaPorta and Travis Snider could both also get late-season calls in Cleveland and in Toronto, respectively. I'd be giddy to get a first-glimpse of either of those two slugging outfielders in 2008. Both project as lineup-altering boppers and each should one day find their way onto an All-Star team. TH: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule, Grant. Keep up the excellent work on XM Radio.
For more info on Grant and his work on XM radio, click here.
On Monday at , Tyler Hissey will host a live chat, similar to the trade deadline live blog on Thursday. Feel free to stop by and ask a question. Click here to access the chat.
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