Friday, June 30, 2006
Man! Is Chuck James a little guy! About same height as Marcus Giles and slighter of build!
Maybe that diminutive size explains the harmlessness of his flyball ratio. As he is not tall all the hitters get too far under his pitches versus that perfect homerun stroke we all envision.
Instead of balls just above the kneecap, James' mistakes are mid-shin.
I really have no idea. I'm just surprised how small James looks.
I read the same thing and thought it odd given the Yankees have stated 1. they are not trading Phillip Hughes and 2. the Yankees need starting pitching - the same as the Dodgers.
ray g also smartly notes the Dodgers could be offering one of their excess outfielders to the Yankees, and the Yankees could defintely use an outfielder of J.D. Drew's caliber with Gary Sheffield and Bernie Williams being free agents at season's end. (I see no way the Yanks pick-up the $13 MM option on Sheffield's contract. Drew's 3 years/ $33 MM seems more likely.)
I doubt Drew is a NY kind of guy and would hope the Yanks did not deal Phillip Hughes for Drew. However, I could see Drew being dealt with the wealth of young outfielders the Dodgers posess - Kemp, Ethier, and Guzman along with breaking-out-until-injured Jason Repko.
The Dodgers could conceivably make a prospect for prospect deal with the Yankees for Hughes, but there are so few of these made, I do not know how it would be configured.
Certainly, a top starting pitching prospect is worth more than a hitting one, but how much? Hughes for Guzman wouldn't fly, but I bet Hughes for Guzman/Navarro would have gotten the Yankees brass thinking.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Ouch! These things tend to linger.
Do not be surpised to see Rios shelved until after the All-Star break.
That sounds crazy but hospitalization for a leg cut sounds just as crazy and that is what happened.
I'd explore dealing Rios in a bail trade. A very large haul for 2006 while the acquiree need not worry until 2007 sounds about right.
Team A trades $41 Johann Santana and $6 Kevin Youkilis to Team B for $5 JJ Putz, $12 Joe Crede and $7 Matt Clement.
This trade looks favorable to Team B. It acquires the best player (Santana) and two of the three best players amongst the five involved.
That said, the trade was made with specific categories involved.
And this analysis needs only be done from the side (Team A) that looks to have gotten the worst of the deal.
Team A has 1 point in Wins and 12 points in ERA and WHIP. His lead in ERA is 0.60! The one in WHIP is too close to be considered safe (0.048).
Team A also has 7 point in saves with 9 points being 5 saves away and 5 points being three away. 10 points in 11 saves away and not likely to be reached quickly.
Given, Santana cannot hurt Team A in Wins and the ERA lead lead seeming out of reach, Team A placed extra emphasis on the gain in Saves.
I would have focused on the loss in WHIP which can cancel any of those gains. While 1 point in wins can get no lower, Team A only trailed two point by a victory and three points by 4 wins - any of which Santana can be expected to provide.
On the hitting side, Joe Crede is having a tremendous year 14/54/.304, but Youkilis is having a very good one, too, - 9/38/.318.
But Youkilis .408 OBP augers well for maintaining that production while Crede's .338 does not. Neither does Crede's history of back troubles.
Matt Clement? Fairly worthless right now and a non-factor unless Team A considers him a valuable piece versus just a throw-in one negotiates for on principle. (Like getting two free oil changes when you buy a car.)
Even as I wanted to justify the deal for Team A, this horse was lead to Lake Team B Wins.
His explosion onto the major league scene last month caused me to reassess that decision. Maybe I should have focused soley on the 20+ HRs and SBs?
I couldn't think of anything else that would have made me select him over the Cubs Eric Patterson.
Now, I sense the league has caught up to him as he has struck out 19 times in his last 40 ABs and 30 times is 88 ABs overall.
Unfortunately, I still rue not having him as he should get quite a bit in a bail trade.
The hype surrounding his torrid start will blind at least one bailing team into overlooking his last 40 ABs and only focusing on the 7 HRs.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
well... question is, will be improve from his performace so far? I was expecting more power from him when I drafted him relatively early."
A: Rotomusing responds:
"Thanks for the email.
Prior to my AL-only draft, Johjima hits 2 HRs, and teams wondered what that would do to his draft day price.
He ended-up being drafted for $18 while the top catchers went for $20 (Varitek - ), $18 (Posada) and $14 (Hernandez). Toby hall went for $6 and Jason Kendall went for $7.
Given those prices, I'd think Johjima would have gone for $6-$12.
Only a week or so ago, I discussed this with another league member and we both agreed Johjima's draft price was inflated by those two first week HRs.
Then he went and hit 4 more this past week.
I doubt Johjima will have another week similar to the past one, so do not start him in hopes of a repeat 4HR/9RBI week.
Mike Napoli is clearly the top catcher with the Angels and the only one with an excellent OBP.
Stick with Napoli."
Both teams used pieces neither needed to acquire pieces both could use.
The Dodgers had no need for C Dioner Navarro. He has been lapped many times by rookie catcher Russ Martin. Sure, Navarro still has a lot of perceived value, and I have little doubt he will be an asset for the Devil Rays for a few years.
The one caution is he had a horrible time throwing out base stealers, and if he cannot improve, history will treat the trade as more favorable for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers also sent Jae Seo, a cheap starting pitcher who has apparently worn out his welcome in LA. 'Cheap" being the key word here and the Devil Rays beneift because they can slot Seo right into their rotation and lose little. After all, Hendrickson was a 30+ starts per year pitcher for them the past three seasons with ERAs over 5.00. How much worse can Seo be?
The Dodgers get the aforementioned Mark Hendrickson and control him through 2008. His price tag will go up, but the cost of mediocre, reliable starters is so high ($7MM+) that the Dodgers can't lose on that basis.
Hendrickson has also been much improved, and even a regression towards his career numbers, which by the way is only in its 4th full season, should keep the ERA below 5.00 in the NL.
Toby Hall? Too expensive for the role he will play with the Dodgers - caddy to Martin and pinch-hitter until the Dodgers make a roster move.
The Devil Rays need a young catcher and Dioner fits the bill.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
"Manager Felipe Alou said Jeremy Accardo will close if Armando Benitez is not available. Accardo pitched the ninth and allowed the A's final two runs in their 10-4 victory at San Francisco on Sunday. "
If Accardo is still available in your league, he is worth a flyer.
What potential closer isn't?
The Devil Rays and Dodgers appear to be at it again.
After the major league relievers (Danys Baez & Lance Carter) for minor league starters (Edwin jackson & Chuck Tiffany)trade this spring, the two teams are ready to make a deal involving SP Mark Hendrickson and C Toby Hall.
The Tampa Tribune guesses LA C Dioner Navarro may be involved. This is a good guess as Navarro is out of a job with the explosion of Russ MArtin on the LA scene. However, that is not nearly enough in this trade market for so-far-successful SP Mark Hendrickson.
I'd expect to see Wily Aybar or James Loney going to the Florida Gulf Coast city.
Monday, June 26, 2006
See, I've never been able to believe my lying eyes(sub-4.00 ERA & 1.23 WHIP), and only relied upon the impression his disastrous appearance in 2005 left (8.46 ERA & 1.93 WHIP.)
After checking his vitals - 23 years-old, first major league appearance in 2004, I have begun to intuit that Ramirezx may, in fact, be a sleeper in the making.
If he maintians his current performance, he will have value going forward this year and should be grabbed in NL-only leagues.
I still have concerns about a rookie pitching in Great American, but, regardless how the remainder of 2006 plays out, he will be on every sleeper list beginning October 2, 2006.
I give Sizemore, I get Lugo and J.D. Drew.
My starting and only SS is Greene. For OF's I got Giles/Holliday/Figgins/Sanders and Sizemore.
I'm just wondering, is it worth it to get Drew? He aint looking to hot, is always an injury concern and plays in Dodger stadium half the year. Lugo is nice for steals and average.
Initially I say good trade, nice and even, then I think about it, and think about Drew and I kinda go errrrrrrrrrr.
What are your thoughts?"
A: Rotomusing responds:
"Thanks for the email.
I agree with your initial reaction. It is a fair offer.
Sizemore is the best player involved in the deal, but Lugo is a substantial upgrade over Greene especially in the AVG department and Drew should match Sizemore AVG-wise. This makes it a winner for you in that category.
I also expect Lugo to out-steal Sizemore/Greene so you'd win there also.
As long as Drew remains "healthy", and by Drew's defintion, that means playing 75 games over the rest of the season, you should do well.
I do have one question, though. Are there no better OF options in the free agent pool than Reggie Sanders?"
Sunday, June 25, 2006
My loss. He has thrown 8 innings of one ER-ball with 3 hits allowed and 4 BBs. And 8 Ks.
I have characterized James Shields as a pitcher teams desparate for wins would target. Chuck James is a starter who should be grabbed by those teams, but the move should not be characterized as "desparate."
Chuck James is a legitmate starting pitcher whose strikeout ability and control will make him a fixture in the BRaves rotation through the middle of the next decade.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
An excellent post on Mark DeRosa.
Not that anyone disagrees that DeRosa is playing over his head.
I especially like the statement that DeRosa is following the same path as Dave Dellucci. Great minds think alike.
Never mind this stellar advice.
A: Rotomusing responds,
"Thanks for the email.
If I had to choose right now, I'd drop Pettitte. I know that is a hard decision as Pettitte was phenomenal last year and Roto seasons are made on buying-low players, but he has been horrible for almost half a season.
I dealt him for Jason Lane a month or so ago, and despite Lane's struggles, I have never regretted the move.
The one caution is Pettitte is getting his buddy Roger Clemens back, and this may help Pettitte focus better.
Holding off activating Reyes for another Pettitte start or two would not be a bad decision."
I can only keep one position player and one pitcher, and each has to have been drafted after round 7. Players are listed with the draft round it would cost me to keep, not necessarily where they were drafted this year. Position Players:Hanley Ramirez (15th round)Ryan Zimmerman (13th round)Curtis Granderson (12th round)Nick Swisher (11th round) Pitchers:B. Myers (12th round)C. Capuano (10th round)Jer. Weaver (8th round)Jer. Sowers (8th round)
A: Rotomusing responds:
"Thanks for the email.
Chad Tracy and Ryan Zimmerman are remarkably similar season-to-date. Tracy has walked 24 times in 284 ABs, and Zimmerman 24 in 277.
Without being able to break a tie using plate discipline, I'd select the player with a more established track record and that would be Tracy.
The Ryan Freel/Michael Cuddyer decision is not as simple because neither player is an "in-ink" starter. In this case, I'd keep Freel for the SB and better track record in OBA.
Cuddyer looks like he may finally reach the power levels his 2001 AA season. In a mixed league format, though, I see little reason to take the risk that he continues on that pace.
Amongst the possible hitting keepers, I'd select the one with the best OBA. A good OBA will correlate with increased runs scored. In this case, Nick Swisher is clearly the best choice.
The pitcher decision is somewhat easier as I prefer more established players. I'd go with the new Mike Mussina (good pitcher/great college), Chris Capuano.
He has improved upon last season's breakout year with much better control and a similar strikeout rate."
Friday, June 23, 2006
A: RM responds:
"Thanks for the email.
I’m not a doctor nor do I play one on TV, or radio, or the internet…..But I would be surprised if his injuries did not recur every so often for the remainder of his career.
My gut feeling on Reyes is he is going to be one of those Rotisserie starting pitchers who is always drafted/protected but can only remain healthy enough for 30+ starts every other/few seasons a la Kerry Wood.
(I’d have used Mark Prior but Wood has been following the pattern much longer.)"
worth an add in a 10-team league? I need a 5th outfielder and don't
think Gathright will cut it.”
A: RM responds:
"Thanks for the email.
Hermida is going to perform, on a pro-rated basis, as he was expected to do coming into the season (.280/15-20/80/12-20). His first two months were a wash due to ineffectivenesss (6-24 with 0 HR and 0 RBI) and injury.
Since his return, he has done much better (2/8/2/.294). For the remainder of the season, I would expect 6-10 more HRs and SBs with another 30-40 RBIs.
Those figures are OK for the last OF slot on a 10-team mixed league. Whether those are more helpful than Joey Gathright depends upon how much you need SB.
Kansas City is going to play Gathright until he fails. That means he will have ample time to steal 20+ bases, assuming non-failure."
D'backs manager Bob Melvin is moving Valverde closer to the 9th inning role he relinquished to Jorge Julio.
Based upon his quote, I'd say it is time to buy low on Valverde.
...to have another guy potentially set up, too, maybe we'll move toward that before we potentially move him back into a closing role...
I'm not ready to ignore Valverde's past month or so based on a good two-inning appearance, but I am always willing to scrape the bottom of the relief corps barrel looking for closers on the cheap.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Q: rayg asks, "Any chance Izturis plays a significant amount of time this year-in LA or elsewhere??"
A: RM responds:
"Thanks for the email.
I have a difficult time believing Izturis spends the remainder of the season as a Dodger. The only Gold Glove caliber SS moving to 3B I want to see is ARod.
I don't buy the Willy Aybar isn't good enough line. This feels very similar to what the Angels are doing with Adam Kennedy. Both remaining "starters" to keep their trade value up.
Those guesses aside, I do believe Izturis will get full-time ABs in 2006 as long as his elbow remains sound."
Meadows is closing out a 4-1 game and has walked the lead-off batter.
If he nails this save, he has to be the new closer in Tampa Bay. Two saves in a row a closer makes!
A lot of ink has been spilled writing about Clemens, and I want to add just a bit more.
From a fantasy perspective, adding Clemens to your roster is worth the same amount it would take to acquire a top notch starter via trade. That is, a $35 hitter.
For that reason, you should bid as much as possible to land him for your team.
You end up with the top notch starter without weakening your team by dealing the $35 hitter.
A no-brainer move, but sometimes being reminded about the obvious is good.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
I spent several minute searching through last year's posts following the Dan Kolb closing failures to find this quote:
...The deep sleeper is Jorge Sosa. He was a failed starter in TB, but he had a very good strikeout rate of 9.0 per 9 innings. "Failed starter" and "good strikeout rate" are the key markers to potential closers.
I do not see him getting it first but do see him getting the opportunity in 2006.
Man, is this disappointing this season.
It used to reflect the top players in the minor leagues for the season.
Now it seems to reflect only those who had a good week.
That has made it basically useless.
Any player can be hot for a week or two. Ask any fantasy baseball player.
Very, very, very disappointing.
Congrats on Houston Chronicle beat writer Jose De Jesus Ortiz for at least offering a reasonable speculation - Jason Hirsch, Troy Patten, Wily Tavaras and Chris Burke for Carl Crawford.
Other than the Tavaras portion, the "offer" is in the ballpark - two top pitching prospects, a major league middle infielder and another major leaguer.
There you go. The 6'6 250 lb McClung will be looked at as a closer.
Follow him closely as a quick, successful transition at AAA will bring him bak to Tampa in a few weeks.
One red flag is a greatly diminshed k-rate from around 8 per 9 to fewer than 4.5 per 9.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
If you choose to take advantage of this feature, I will answer them as quickly as my other full-time job allows.
If you are looking for trade advice, please include your league parameters - # teams, salary cap - and salary and contract status of the players involved.
I look forward to expanding the usefulness of this site.
The Rangers will recall Freddy Guzman when they place Kameron Loe on the DL.
He has stolen 23 bases in AAA with a good OBP (.362). That stat may not translate to the majors but the speed will. In 2003, he stole 87 bases followed by 70 in 2004 and was out all of 2005 with an elbow injury.
The question is whether he can crack the Buck Showalter's Favorites line-up. If he does, expect double digit steals the rest of the way.
Big FAAB bids for the SB at this point in the season would not be surprising.
Monday, June 19, 2006
This will lead to at least one starting corner outfield job in 2007. (And my guess is Brady Clark will be out as the starting CF, too!)
With that in mind, consider targeting Corey Hart if you are playing for next season or stealing him if you are still focused on this one.
Hart offers HR and SB - having stole 20+ in four of the past five seasons and, in the one he did not, he stole 17. He has hit double digit HRs in each of those seasons, too.
This year, he had hit 4 HR and stolen 11 bases in AAA and has added two more in limited MLB ABs this year.
A very nice player to have cheaply on Draft Day 2007.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
A soon-to-be 22-year0old in AAA with a .400 OBP and .500 SLG is a top 10 propsect in any book.
Unfortunately, Elijah Dukes has demons that cannot be conquered.
I drafted him in my minor league draft two years ago and root for him to suceed as I do all my draft picks, but my confidence in him making a difference as a major league player is shaken.
If he is the centerpiece of a bail trade this summer, then he will be someone else's headache - a feeling I am sure is felt by the Tampa bay management.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Since Keith Law left the Blue Jays, I've wondered why. But if he is going to provide articles like the one below, I will stop wondering why.
"Every July, there's a lot of discussion of which prospects might be available in trades. But in the end, few of those guys actually are traded because top prospects -- the most common topics of discussion -- usually don't change hands.
Instead, the prospects who are traded tend to be midlevel prospects who project as major league regulars; under-the-radar guys the acquiring team likes a good bit more than the players' current team does; and hyped guys the selling teams have soured on and are making an active effort to move.
So here's an attempt to put the names of some the top prospects on each contending team into categories:
• The star -- The team's best prospect. In other words, the player every selling team will ask for, but probably won't get.
• The solid guy -- Probably the player most likely to be traded for each organization because he's a good prospect but not the system's best, and doesn't project as a star.
• The sleeper -- Someone I particularly like in each system who could represent a chance to acquire an undervalued prospect.
• The suspect -- The player each contending team is most likely to try to foist on sellers, where the player's hype or reputation exceeds his true potential.
I've limited the list to teams I think have a legitimate shot to be buyers in the July trading market, so no sub-.500 teams (Cleveland, Minnesota). I also owe a hat tip to Clay Davenport at Baseball Prospectus, as I used his playoff odds report to help me separate the wheat from the chaff.
New York YankeesMost of the Yanks' minor league talent lives in Class A, putting them in a similar boat to the one Boston is in, with little to trade this year despite some good long-term potential.
• The star: Philip Hughes is the only Yankee farmhand above A-ball with any serious trade value. He has a plus fastball with excellent command and control, and his curve has a chance to be a plus pitch. He'd probably be the second- or third-best prospect in most systems.
• The solid guy: Brett Gardner is the Yanks' version of Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury -- plus speed, plus defense, plus plate discipline, but minus power. There is no way this guy plays a day in the Bronx.
• The sleeper: Jose Tabata is a long way away, but a 17-year-old hitting .300 with power in a full-season league is special by definition. He's built like a smaller Gary Sheffield, has plus power and a plus arm, and makes hard contact. He's one of the few Yankees bats with real star potential.
• The suspect: Eric Duncan was a first-rounder in '02, but the Yankees have pushed him too aggressively and he has never had that breakout year that would mark him as a prospect and give him real trade value. After stumbling in his first Triple-A exposure this year, he's blemished.
Boston Red SoxA slew of extra picks in the last two drafts have helped restock the farm system, but few of those players have advanced enough to be major trade bait this year.
• The star: Jon Lester is a big, physical left-hander with a plus fastball in the low 90s and a plus slider (which he calls a cutter) that is a probable out pitch in the big leagues, as well as a fringe-average curveball. His first big league start came in less than optimal conditions, and he has struggled with his control in Triple-A, but he still has a good chance to be a front-line starter for many years.
• The solid guy: Jacoby Ellsbury is a plus defensive center fielder with good plate discipline, but his slashing swing isn't likely to generate enough power to push him to star status.
• The sleeper: Edgar Martinez spent six years in Boston's farm system as a catcher, hitting a combined .223/.282/.298. In 2004, the Sox gave him 10 innings in the Sally League; they must have liked what they saw because they converted him to the mound full-time in 2005. He throws a 93- to 95-mph fastball with a hard mid-80s slider and has been dominant in Double-A this year.
• The suspect: David Murphy was the Sox's first-round selection in 2002, but his power hasn't developed as expected. He projects more as a fourth outfielder than as an everyday player. Knee problems have slowed his progress, as well.
Toronto Blue JaysTwo factors -- extremely conservative drafting, especially in the first round, and a major trade with Milwaukee for Lyle Overbay -- have left the Jays' system in its weakest state since the late 1990s.
• The star: The Jays don't have a star prospect of the same caliber as other players with that label here, but their top prospect is left fielder Adam Lind, a third-round pick in 2004 with a quick bat and 25-30 homer potential. With few other legitimate hitting prospects in their system, the Jays aren't likely to let Lind go.
• The solid guys: Curtis Thigpen was only a part-time catcher behind defensive specialist Taylor Teagarden at the University of Texas, but he has developed into an average glove behind the plate, and he has been on a tear the past six weeks, showing good power and plus plate discipline. Last year's first-round pick, Ricky Romero, is a lefty with three average pitches and plus command, but he had a late start this year because of minor elbow pain.
• The sleeper: Jesse Litsch is a little-known right-handed starter with a plus slider and an average fastball, but he's best known for superb control and competitiveness. He's pitching extremely well for the Jays' high-A affiliate but easily could finish the year in Double-A.
• The suspect: David Purcey was a first-rounder in 2004, but he was raw for a college arm, with two plus pitches (fastball and a big-breaking curve) but below-average command. The Jays have been too aggressive in promoting him, and his control was awful in Triple-A before his demotion this week; he hasn't gone more than six innings in any start this year because of his high pitch counts.
Detroit TigersIt's a simple fact: If your big league club stinks for long enough, you'll get enough high draft picks to beef up your farm system. The Tigers deserve credit for hitting on their last two top picks, although their 2003 No. 1 (Kyle Sleeth) has been slow to return from Tommy John surgery.
• The star: Cameron Maybin was seen as the poor man's Justin Upton in last year's draft, a less-polished five-tool high school talent looking for a sizable signing bonus. He already has established himself as the jewel of the Tigers' resurgent farm system, playing good center field and showing his plus speed and flashes of power as well as a surprisingly adequate walk rate.
• The solid guy: Humberto Sanchez had a pretty undistinguished career before this season, but he has probably the best fastball left in Detroit's farm system and has improved his control dramatically.
• The sleeper: Jeff Larish is a bit of an old players' skills guy, drawing walks and hitting for power while contributing no defensive value. Those guys are often valuable in their 20s and end up as busts for their second employers, but Larish's 2008-2010 seasons would be appealing to many small-market clubs.
• The suspect: Jeff Frazier slipped in the 2004 draft in part because of an unflattering (to say the least) MLB Scouting Bureau video and in part because of an unorthodox swing that appears common to all the Frazier boys. He's now 23, still in A-ball, showing neither patience nor power, and his swing is resulting in far too little contact.
Chicago White SoxThe Sox's thin system can be attributed to trades involving two of the game's best prospects (Gio Gonzalez and Chris Young) this winter.
• The star: Josh Fields was a two-sport star at Oklahoma State who was still projectable because he hadn't really devoted himself to baseball. He has responded to Chicago's aggressive promotions with a breakout year in Triple-A, converting his plus bat speed and raw power into real results for the first time.
• The solid guy: Lance Broadway came out of nowhere in spring 2005 to become a legitimate first-rounder, and his late-breaking curve projects as a big league out pitch. A fringe-average fastball and mediocre strikeout rate might push him to a set-up role.
• The sleeper: Tyler Lumsden missed all of 2005 after surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow, but has regained his velocity and is showing better control than he did at Clemson, although his low strikeout rate is odd in light of his plus breaking ball.
• The suspect: This could be former first-rounder Ryan Sweeney, who has yet to hit for any of the power projected for him (just 13 HR in more than 1,200 at-bats as a pro); or Jerry Owens, a poor man's Joey Gathright who is creating outs by the bushel in Triple-A Charlotte.
Oakland A'sThe A's were the originators of the "[forget] high school players" strategy, but a few disappointing drafts have left them with a system heavy on bench players and relievers and light on potential impact players.
• The star: The A's don't have a true star prospect in their system. The top name right now is Travis Buck, a first-rounder from 2005 who destroyed the Cal League in the early going this year but whose power is borderline for a guy stuck in an outfield corner.
• The solid guy: Jason Windsor missed chunks of time last year with minor arm injuries, but his stuff is still solid average and he has a great feel for pitching with plus control.
• The sleeper: Catcher Kurt Suzuki was one of the top offensive players in the country for Cal State Fullerton in 2004, but serious questions about his defense knocked him out of the first round. His defense has improved to the point where his bat -- a slashing stroke with plus plate discipline -- can more than carry it.
• The suspect: OF Richie Robnett was a bit of a surprise selection in 2004's first round, a toolsy, projection college guy taken by the club best known for taking polished players. Two years later, he still hasn't put the game together, with his inability to make consistent contact at the top of his list of flaws.
Texas RangersA system loaded with power arms in an industry that craves velocity, the Rangers should be in good position to add a player if they're still atop the division in July.
• The star: John Danks is a 20-year-old power lefty who already is throwing well in Double-A after struggling a half-season there in 2004. He still has some projection, but already has an average fastball with good command and an out-pitch curve.
• The solid guy ... sort of: Edison Volquez's numbers were only fair in Double-A last year when the Rangers recalled him; apparently, they had a need for a pitcher who could come in and get the crap kicked out of him every couple of days. He does have a tremendous fastball-changeup combination, and he's pitching moderately well in Triple-A at 22.
• The sleeper: Eric Hurley hasn't received the hype of the Rangers' top three pitching prospects, but he already has plus velocity with room to fill out his 6-foot-4 frame. He's pitching well in the Cal League but needs to improve his secondary pitches to remain a starter.
• The suspect: With Danks and Volquez, Thomas Diamond makes up the third leg of the vaunted "DVD" trio of prospects, but despite plus velocity, he has below-average command of his fastball and no breaking pitch to speak of. At best, he's a pen guy in the majors.
New York MetsJust like the White Sox, the Mets used up a lot of their minor league currency to improve their big club this winter, so there's not much left in the till for Omar Minaya.
• The star: Mike Pelfrey was the top college arm in the 2005 draft and probably its third-best player, behind Justin Upton and Alex Gordon. Sporting a mid-90s sinker and an average changeup, Pelfrey probably will pitch for the Mets at some point this summer, although I think the Mets would do well to switch his breaking ball to a slider as his curve isn't a factor for him.
• The solid guy: The Mets dealt all their solid guys this past winter in deals for Carlos Delgado and Paul Lo Duca, but one guy who could factor for the Mets in a trade is Philip Humber, their first-rounder from 2004 who had Tommy John surgery last July. Arguably the best pro prospect on the 2003 Rice squad that won the College World Series, Humber is pitching in extended spring now and should have a few weeks in the minors between now and the trade deadline.
• The sleeper: Fernando Martinez signed a pro contract in July 2005 with a $1.4 million signing bonus, and his pro debut this year in the Sally League -- at age 18 -- has been very impressive, as he has shown modest plate discipline and flashes of his raw power.
• The suspect: Carlos Gómez is a center fielder with big tools (plus power, plus runner), but he hasn't hit a lick this year in high-A, not even to repeat the empty batting average he posted at Hagerstown last year.
Philadelphia PhilliesPat Gillick wants to win now, creating a sort of "everything must go!" vibe around his club's limited set of prospects.
• The star: Gio Gonzalez came over in the Jim Thome trade and became the Phils' top prospect. A lefty with a plus curve and very good command, his major blemish is the shoulder soreness that ended his 2005 season early.
• The solid guy: Scott Mathieson dramatically improved his command and control between 2004 and 2005, turning himself into a solid midrotation prospect. He still doesn't have great secondary stuff, but the command of his fastball, which runs 90-94 mph, is a huge bonus.
• The sleeper: The Phils' system is short on midlevel prospects. Brad Harman is a mild sleeper, an Australian second baseman with good on-base skills who had a great 2005 but has struggled with Clearwater this year.
• The suspect: J.A. Happ is putting up good stats in Clearwater, but he's strictly a finesse lefty with a below-average fastball and no out pitch.
St. Louis CardinalsThe Cardinals have the worst farm system of any contender, bar none. For a club that has talked publicly about how clever its player evaluation process is, St. Louis' draft results the past few years have been lousy, with only Colby Rasmus and 2003 15th-rounder Anthony Reyes showing even a chance of an impact.
• The star: There's only one candidate here, and that's Colby Rasmus, who probably wouldn't be the top prospect in any other system here. He has a good swing from the left side with the potential for above-average power and a good chance to stay in center field.
• The sleeper: Bryan Anderson is a 19-year-old catcher hitting .333 with patience and some doubles in the Midwest League, but although it looks as if he can hit, it's not clear he'll be able to stay behind the plate.
• The suspects: The rest of the Cardinals' system is populated with toolsy players who haven't panned out, such as Tyler Greene, a one-tool player (he can run) who doesn't hit, walk or hit for power; Mark McCormick and Chris Lambert, hard throwers without control and, in McCormick's case, with makeup questions; and Cody Haerther, a corner outfielder with some power who has a sub-.300 OBP this year in Double-A.
Cincinnati RedsThe Reds aren't typically known for a fertile farm system, but they've made some strides in that area, clicking with their last two first-rounders.
• The stars: The Reds boast two bona fide star prospects: Homer Bailey, a big 20-year-old righty with two plus-plus pitches (fastball and curve), and Jay Bruce, a power bat with a plus arm who is raking in the Midwest League at 19 but is still pull-heavy and doesn't have great instincts in the field.
• The solid guy: Joey Votto appears to be bouncing back from a terrible 2005, showing good power and plate discipline from the left side, but he's limited defensively to first base.
• The sleeper: Travis Wood might be too far away to have much trade value this summer, but he boasts the organization's best changeup and a plus fastball with fringy command.
• The suspect: Travis Chick was a touted prospect in the Padres' system, but in more than a year in Double-A, he has been wild and homer-prone, and he hasn't recovered the velocity he showed in his breakout 2004.
Houston AstrosThe Astros already have made the biggest midseason acquisition they're going to make (Roger Clemens), and their lack of prospects who are close to the majors will hurt their ability to add another major piece.
• The star: Hunter Pence is a bit below star caliber, as he's a slightly older slugger with questionable plate discipline. But he has 56 homers in 811 pro at-bats, including 16 this year in Double-A. He has an awkward swing you'd be loath to change, but that leads to a lot of swings and misses in addition to home runs.
• The solid guy: Troy Patton was one of the best pitchers in A-ball last year at 19. Now 20 -- who could have seen that coming? -- he's struggling a little with his control in a return to high-A but still features the low-90s fastball and plus changeup.
• The sleepers: Juan Gutierrez has a solid two-pitch combo of a plus curve and a fastball that's a tick above average. He has dialed his whole performance up this year despite making a two-level jump from low-A. Shortstop Ben Zobrist is also worth a mention; his defense is questionable, but he can hit and gets on base.
Los Angeles DodgersDodgers scouting director Logan White has stocked his employer's system with a passel of high-ceiling players who'll be very attractive to trade partners in July.
• The star: Chad Billingsley just made his major league debut Thursday, and although it's probably a touch premature, he's still the Dodgers' best hope for starting pitching help from within. Billingsley has a plus fastball up to 95 with a 12-6 curveball that gets good depth and a hard slider.
• The solid guys: Andy LaRoche is a dead-pull hitter with modest pop who suddenly developed outstanding plate discipline in the middle of 2005. You'd like to see more power out of a corner bat, but the OBP skills and plus defense still project him as an everyday player.
• The sleeper: It's hard to have a sleeper in a system as well-regarded as the Dodgers' is, as players like Scott Elbert and Tony Abreu would be better fits in the "solid" category. One possible value guy in L.A.'s system is Xavier Paul, a left-hitting outfielder repeating high-A who is still young (21 years old) and who has posted a .286/.355/.465 line against right-handed pitchers at that level.
• The suspect: Joel Guzman's big tools come with a big makeup problem -- one pro scout called him a "dog" -- and his performance in Triple-A this year was quite poor considering his environment.
Arizona DiamondbacksOne of the majors' deepest farm systems keeps getting stronger thanks to the shrewd, controlled-risk drafting of scouting director Mike Rizzo.
• The stars: There are several, but it's hard to see a scenario where shortstop Stephen Drew or outfielder Justin Upton is traded. Drew in particular is more likely to help Arizona this year than anyone the team is likely to acquire in July.
• The solid guy: Carlos Quentin projects as an above-average corner bat, with great plate discipline and good doubles power, but he's part of Arizona's surplus of outfield/first-base bats and would vie for the title of best prospect traded this year if he's dealt. Chris Young, a center fielder acquired in the Javier Vazquez trade this past December, is somewhere on the cusp of "star" caliber, and GM Josh Byrnes is going to have a tough time deciding where to draw his "untouchable" line.
• The sleepers: Miguel Montero is an offensive catcher who is adequate behind the plate; although his 2005 stats were boosted by his home park, he has continued to get on base and show moderate power this year. Carlos Gonzalez has shown up near the top of a lot of prospect lists based on his five-tool package, but he's still quite raw at the plate.
• The suspect: Dustin Nippert has a big fastball, but his knuckle-curve is often out of the zone and he doesn't miss enough bats for a guy who'll be expected to pitch in a hitters' park in Arizona.
Colorado RockiesThe Rockies' system is a bit below the median among contenders, but the bigger obstacle is that they've been outscored on the season despite having a winning record.
• The star: Troy Tulowitzki was the Rockies' first-round pick in 2005 and already is hitting well in Double-A. He's a pure shortstop with a hose for an arm, but he needs to tighten his plate discipline a little bit.
• The solid guy: Ian Stewart is a third baseman with good power to all fields. Although his performance this year in Tulsa has been disappointing, he's very young for Double-A (21) and might still be feeling the effects of a wrist injury he suffered in the Arizona Fall League.
• The sleeper: Chris Iannetta gets very little publicity for a solid defensive catcher who hits for average, draws walks and has modest power. He also has bounced back well from a broken left wrist that ended his 2005 season.
• The suspect: Juan Morillo throws enough gas that he has been banned from Fall River. But like most ultrahard throwers, he doesn't have a plus second pitch, and he has struggled with walks at every stop so far.
San Diego PadresCall it bad luck or bad evaluating, but taking Tim Stauffer and Matt Bush with their first picks in 2003 and 2004 and some very quick flameouts of other high selections have left the Padres with a meager cupboard.
• The star: George Kottaras is one of the better-hitting catching prospects in the game, and he's the only potential impact bat in the Padres' system. He has power and outstanding plate discipline, and he should stay behind the plate.
• The solid guy: Cesar Carrillo should have been a top-10 pick in the 2005 draft, but his slight build (6-3, 177 pounds) had many scouts questioning his stamina and future health. He has a low-to-mid-90s fastball and two average secondary pitches, as well as plus command, but he's on the DL right now with a strained forearm.
• The sleeper: Chase Headley was a popular name among stathead draft watchers in 2005, but despite his tremendous plate discipline in college, he projects as just a capable reserve in the big leagues.
• The suspect: Ben Johnson can run, he can throw, he can play defense, but he can't hit. And that's not a minor flaw.
San Francisco GiantsThe Giants have made no secret of their disdain for the draft, and its first round in particular. Their approach has yielded one of the worst systems among contenders this year, including the lack of a single star-caliber prospect.
• The solid guy: Travis Ishikawa is a power-and-walks bat who had a breakout 2005, but he was off to a slow start in Double-A this year when he was called up to the big club. He's a plus glove at first, but at that spot, you must hit to pass "Go" and collect $200.
• The sleeper: Jonathan Sanchez is a lefty with a low-90s fastball and two decent secondary pitches (slider and changeup), and he projects as a short reliever without the major platoon issues that plague most left-handed pen guys.
• The suspect: Marcus Sanders has no power and can't throw because of a football injury to his shoulder, but he can really run. It's no surprise; he gets plenty of practice running back to the dugout after all the outs he makes.
I'd expect him to be unavialble in most leagues by his next start.
The concern with Shields is the same concern with all starting pitchers on bad teams - lack of team wins leads to lack of starting pitcher wins while risking ratios.
With 3 wins in a orw, I wouldn't be surprised to see Shields fail to notch a win for a 6 weks.
Next on the Desparate for Wins Train - Bob Keppel.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Of his past three starts, the first was awful and the next two were great.
There is a good chance he is available in the free agent pool as a result of that first start and that he is a Devil Ray.
A good start tonight, and those teams desparate for Wins will take the plunge.
The key points to remember are
- Trade players who automatically return to the 2007 draft pool.
- Acquire cheap keeper(s) for those players
- If you do not have out-of-time players, deal fully-priced ones but "charge" for the possibility of them being protected by the acquiring team or
- Being dealt by the acquiring team for something of value i.e. a minor league draft pick/player
Points three and four are often ignored by poorly run teams.
A $33 Juan Pierre may not be a great keeper but 50 SB will attract some value. So Jeremy Hermida for Pierre is actually Hermida for Pierre/minor league pick or whatever else is acquired for Pierre after you deal him.
The goal of bailing is to win the trade on the last day of the season. This is another way of stating (1). No matter what, an out-of-time player for a keeper is a winner for the bailing team on the last day of the season because the bailing team then has a keeper and the other team has nothing.
This rationale will also mitigate whatever bad feelings are engendered by the bail trade - and all bail trades engender bad feelings.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Jorge Julio is safe as the closer, and the longer he goes before blowing up, the stronger his hold on the job becomes.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
A nice round-up of the Marlins 2006 closer situation, and I happen to agree that Taylor Tankersley is the favorite to emerge as the closer by season's end.
He was nastier than Lensing was when he was in AA.
A definite pitcher who should be targeted as bail season opens.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Monday, June 12, 2006
Then I checked and discovered it was a mistake. Benoit only gave up 2 ER in 3 innings.
Not good at all, but better than the alternative.
And for what it is worth, what is wrong with Benoit? Is he a victim of decreased....energy?
(I have noticed some pitchers with good strikeouts and terrible stats. Is there something in that anecdotal evidence?)
Nevermind that Valverde's season numbers stink. However, his strikeouts are good. That may be all the keeps me from completely writing him off.
Like a blind squirrel finding a nut, eventually they will be right. Thsi was the year I thought it could finally occur.
With a fireballer in Francisco Cabrera in the 8th inning and Wickman coming off a careeer season at 36, I intuited the planets were aligning.
Was ever wrong! The entire Cleveland bullpen sucks, including Cabrera.
The only good one is Bob Wickman. Rafeal Betancourt would be the back-up closer by default. He is the only other reliever not named "Bob Wickman" with an ERA under 5.00.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
No. It is too early to obsess about it, but it is not too early if your league allows you to trade draft picks during the Roto season.
In that case, consider acquiring the picks of those teams who will get high second round picks if your draft order is set-up to reward effort i.e. 6-12, 5-1 order for leagues where the top 5 teams win money.
If it is a worst to first ordering, then look to deal picks if you are in competition for the money.
Either way, remember that lower picks can be reacquired in the off-season for full-priced stars.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Who didn't see that headline coming?
I expect Saito and Baez to resume the same pattern ofpitching that was being used just prior to Gagne's activation - one pitches the 8th while the other closes.
Friday, June 09, 2006
If one included the Arizona Fall League, Wood had 119 XBH and 57 HRs!
The questions entering this year were how he would fair against AA competition and what his production would be away from the hitter-friendly environs of the California and Arizona Fall leagues.
League AVG OBP SLG
High A .292 .371 .672
AFL .307 .375 .711
AA .292 .373 .572
As expected, his power did decrease away from the hitter-friendly leagues. However, that is only relative to the ones in hitter friendly leagues. His .572 SLG in AA ranks 3rd in the Texas League.
What I find as interesting (once the SLG is settled) is his OBP. It has not changed.
This signals that his hitting skills carried over to the higher level.
Unfortunately, so did his propensity to strikout.
With a platoon of Bernie Williams and Bubba Crosby in rightfield, the Yankees are a lock to explore the trade market for an outfielder, and, with that acquistion, Cabrera will remain a starter.
Look at his walks and strikeouts if you have any doubt about Melky's ability to remain a major leaguer - 14 walks and seven strikeouts in 94 ABs.
For simplicity, multiply those figures by six for a full seasons' worth of ABs - 84 walks and 42 strikeouts.
There is just no way that type of plate discipline does not result in an All-Star.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Eric Gagne sore after last night's save?
Watch this very closely. Danys Baez may be back in the closer mix very soon.
After an off-season in which Gathright was touted as a mega-SB player and then making the team, his draft value was where estastablished mega-SB players values are - in to $25+ range for auction leagues and top five rounds for draft ones.
For keeper leagues, his salary as a minor league draftee or free agent pick-up was likely under $10 - creating $15+ of extra value.
All that is down the crapper now. Teams have two choices. To either pay $30 of value for a SB player or take the hit in the SB category. Neither choice is attractive.
But consolation is available. Losing Gathright means losing an everyday hitter who has been killing your team AVg to the tune of .201 and the players available as a replacement with guarantee more HRs and, given 10 ABs per week, at least as many RBIs.
What may hurt more are the refused trades that all the Gathright owners fielded/offered.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
I am sure I will disagree with portions of it, but, more important than that, is having the 30 teams laid out in a convenient format.
So I move Francisco Cabrera behind Bob Wickman. Or Mike MacDougal behind Ambioriz Burgos. (Yes, the Royals bullpen is so bad that an rehabbing reliever is #2!)
What matters is being able to see a list.
This will usher in regular ABs at 1B while Jason Giambi acclimates to full-time DH status.
Defensively, Phillips provides more than Giambi, and this gets him some slack if his bat cools which I believe it will. With only 4 walks versus 18 ks over 84 ABs, he is bound to run into a string of 0-fers.
That said, he should be a good player to have as one of the last few spots on your roster in AL-only formats.
At 29 years-old, though, his longer-term value is limited.
Unfair. The Dodgers repeatedly passed him over after he did everything asked of him in spring training and almost making the team.
Then to be surprised he was disappointed when a AA OF was recalled before him?
As I stated at the time of the Kemp recall:
From almost making the team to being passed-by 5 times already and now another slap?
This is the type of treatment that demoralizes anyone.
A major human blunder by the Dodgers management.
Monday, June 05, 2006
What will be interesting is how the Dodgers handle Jeff Kent's return from the DL. Will Guzman be retunred to AAA with Wily Aybar sliding back to 3B? Will Aybar be sent down? Will the Dodgers cut/demote someone else (hint, hint Ramon Martinez)?
All said, Guzman is probably a safe play until Kent returns.
Taylor Tankersley's role has been defined.
He will be a lefty specialist according to manager Joe Girardi.
I have a very hard time believing that will be the case for long. He will be pitching full innings very soon.
A pitcher doesn't have the age and stuff he has and become a lefty specialist.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Don't have time to read The Mind of Bill James or Fantasyland?
Act like us faux intellectuals and read the review in The New York Times Book Review!
(If I get around to it, maybe I'll give my review of Fantasyland.)
As April ended, he was an after thought - 6-24 with no HRs and no RBIs.
He was activated at the end of May and picked up where he left off - two for eight with no HRs or RBIs. The impression as a failed ROY candidtae was cemented.
But a funny thing happened. He began to perform as expected. In his last 20 ABs, he has seven hits (a double, triple and two home runs) and with 5 RBIs and three BBs.
I expect this to continue. His SLG is still on par with his OBP but that will change, and once that occurs, Hermida will not be available at rock-botton prices.
Grab him. He is the kind of player you should be targetting - a disappointment over the first third of the season, but an asset for the remaining two thirds.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
OK. I now believe that Dodgers' manager grady Little actually believes all the gushing he made to the press about Joel Guzman.
There was a part of me that felt he was only saying nice things as P.R. but batting JG 4th sends a much stronger signal than any words to the press.
If Guzman is sent down, then the Dodgers' would be sending more mixed signals than Clay Aikens to his female fans.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Despite this, I intuit he is not long for the job. The immediate heir apparent is Ryan Spilborghs.
Looking at Spilborghs, the most obvious statistic is his age. he will be 27 in Septmber - very old for a rookie and often a sign there is little room for improvement.
Checking his past seasons, I noticed he came out of college at 23 and moved one level at a time until last season where he split it between AA & AAA.
In 2005, he maintained his breakout performance at AA in AAA , .960 OPS vs .956 OPS- a positive sign.
His 2006 AAA performance is below his 2005 one, but it is still good at .317/.378/.458.
With Colorado as his major league address, I can see Spilborghs being a net-positve as a free agent pick-up at the bottom of your roster.
If only Jeff Salazar hadn't hurt his elbow, he'd probably have gotten the chance Spilborghs is currently getting - and my deep sleeper prognostication ability to be Nostradamus-esque1
The Marlins are adding two relievers today, Carlos Martinez and Taylor Tankersly.
Joe Girardi stated a week or so ago that he is going to give his young players opportunites to demonstrate their abilities at the top levels. In regards to the bullpen, this means closing.
Carlos Martinez get a chance and given his pre-season deep sleeper status will likely make him be a favorite amongst the Roto-cognoscenti to nab a portion of the job.
However, do not overlook Tankersley. He was unhittable at AA Carolina - 28.1 IP 11 hits, 14 BBs and 40 Ks and no HRs.
He could do in Florida what Broxton is doing in LA - successfully dominating as a middle reliever. Or more.
Being a New Yorker, I do not have many opportunities to see Arizona games on television. (With three young children, I even fewer to plan to, much less attend, see games in Arizona!)
However, I do have cable (And, no, I am not happy contributing, however little, to the nightmare that is Charles Dolan and the Knicks.)
With that, I was able to watch the end of the Braves/D'backs game on TBS.
Man! I hate watching my pitchers especially when it is Jorge Julio getting his first chance as the closer.
He gave-up a bomb to the first batter he faced, Andruw Jones and a frickin' lay-zer beam off the bat of Jeff Francoeur. However, he did notch the save Pepto-Bismol style.
I am glad he did because a blown save would have likely destroyed a second opportunity.
The luck involved with Francoeur's bullet being caught is the reason the team's closer is often as result of luck than ability. If Chad Tracy doesn't nab it, then Julio may have blown his shot at redemption.
Because Tracy did, however, Julio will get another chance, and if it goes much better, then Julio may remain the closer as 2-2 in saves merits some leeway to blow one and keep the job.
Guzman pinch-hit last night in his 20o6/major league debut.
There is an interesting tidbit in this mornings LAT. It is reported that Guzman moved to 3B when it became apparent that Bill Mueller's injury would keep him out for an extended period of time.
Once a highly touted shortstop, Guzman had also played left field and first base for the 51s before moving to third when it became apparent that Bill Mueller's balky right knee would sideline him longer than expected.
I do not recall seeing anything about Guzman moving to third, so perhaps this is why he was repeatedly passed over this year - he was learning yet another position on the fly.
If that is the case, then it is very possible that being passed over was not a signal of a fading prospect, but one that demonstrates Guzman to be very much in the immediate plans of the Dodgers.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
I have no idea how frequently he will play, but I do hope he performs well.
If not, I am afraid he will be written off as a failed prospect.
Given his age, I'd expect him to rise from that status to the level on which Jose Lopez currently resides - a top player under 25 years of age.
Whew! It was only a leg cramp attributed to humidity/dehydration.
Jason Schmidt it dominating the ratios as if it were 2004. The worry is that he is doing it with fewer strikouts while his walks look to be remaining the same.
This is a red flag.
However, an examination by month shows that Schmidt has markedly improved his control from April to May (FWIW, I predict Schmidt to be the NL Pitcher of the Month for May.)
He walked 18 in 34 April innings and only 7 in 46 May ones.
The question of whether Schmidt continues to dominate or falls back to the very good starter pack will be answered when we know if the April or May Schmidt is the real one.