Archive for ‘Team Specific’

Tuesday: 07.10.2012

For Sale: Quality Arms

The Colorado Rockies pitching staff is a mess right now.  They have a league-worst 5.26 ERA which eclipses second-worst Minnesota by 0.40 thanks in large part to their home ballpark ignoring the current state of baseball as a pitcher’s dreamland and playing like the early 2000s Coors Field.  To wit, their home ERA is 5.87, nearly a full run worse than Minnesota 4.91 (yikes, I thought they had a pitcher’s park?).  They are more than two runs worse than the 3.78 NL average at home.

While they are better on the road at 4.57, they are still nowhere near the 4.19 NL (and league, in this case) average.  So we can’t just pin the blame on Coors Field and be done with it.  That environment certainly isn’t helping matters, but an overwhelming lack of talent is the real problem here.  Yet I can’t help but think that perhaps they would be better off if they stopped giving away talent for absolutely nothing.

FELIPE PAULINO

The Rockies acquired Paulino from the Houston Astros for Clint Barmes in November of 2010.  It was a small move, but definitely one where they got the upside even before the 20/15 hindsight.  Paulino labored a bit through 92 innings (5.11 ERA, 1.54 WHIP), but the upside was there in a 27-year old who averaged 95.5 MPH on his fastball with a groundball lean.  He needed to learn how to work with runners on (59% LOB in ’10), but the 4.36 xFIP pointed to promise.

Barmes, meanwhile, was a glove-only shortstop as he followed up his 23 home run season of 2009 with just eight.  In fact, his OPS+ of 82 showed that even the 23 HR season wasn’t terribly special and his 67 OPS+ in 2010 only punctuated that fact.  Even before either suited up for their new teams, this looked like a strong move for Colorado with the potential to be a truly great one if Paulino could figure it out.

Something stood out from Paulino’s time in Houston: he seemed to really struggle as a reliever.  Granted the samples were tiny (21 total innings across three years), but he was just insanely bad compared to when he was starting.

Something about relieving just didn’t seem to sit right with Paulino.  You might think that slotting him in relief would work, maybe add a tick or two to his 95 MPH heat and allow him to become a dominant force out of the bullpen, but at the same time it was probably best to explore the starting option with him given the aforementioned velocity he carried as a starter.

The Rockies were set on the relief role for Paulino and in 18 outings he posted an ugly 7.36 ERA and 2.05 WHIP across 14.7 innings.  Outings of five and two runs in 0.3 of work for each definitely inflated the numbers of his small sample, but alas the Rockies had seen enough.  In fact the 2 ER/0.3 IP outing was his last as with the team, they were done with him

OK, so find another team willing to take a shot on the 95 MPH flamethrower and get an upside prospect or team-controlled major leaguer in return, right?  Or just sell him to the Kansas City Royals.  After 4.3 innings of scoreless mop up work in his first outing for the Royals, they made him a starter full-time and immediately saw glimpses of his potential.

Including the relief outing, Paulino opened his KC tenure with 12.3 scoreless innings and had a 1.29 ERA in 21 innings through the relief outing and his first three starts.  He was up and down the rest of the way, but more good than bad with only a couple of true flameout starts (including one in Oakland, oddly enough).  He closed the season with four really strong starts yielding a 3.75 ERA and 1.17 ERA in 24 innings, but more importantly an 11.6 K/9 and 4.4 K/BB.

Unfortunately injuries delayed the start of his 2012 season and then ended it way too prematurely, but he was headed for a breakout season posting a 1.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 9.3 K/9 and 2.6 K/BB in 37.7 innings of work before succumbing to an elbow injury that many believe will end up being a Tommy John Surgery.

That doesn’t change the fact that the Rockies gave up on him after less than 15 innings of crappy relief and got nothing in return.  He may have eventually gotten injured in Colorado, too, but that outcome of an injury doesn’t change the fact that their process was horrible especially since they started off on the right foot by trading a piece that they had no use for in Barmes to get Paulino..

FRANKLIN MORALES

Morales was a product of the Rockies system and was heavily lauded as a future star.  Kevin Goldstein had him first in the system in 2008 as a five-star prospect and slotted him 13th overall on his top 100 list that year.  Baseball America also had him first in the organization and liked him even more on the bigger scale tabbing him as the 8th-best prospect in baseball that year.

Control was a major issue for Morales coming up with walk rates ranging from 4.2 to 6.9 BB/9 in his five stops en route to his 2007 big league debut (a year before the glowing ratings from prospect mavens).  In eight starts down the stretch, Morales was great for the Rockies including a stretch of 20-scoreless than spanned three outings (of 5, 6, and 6 IP) and three innings of a fourth.  His peripherals weren’t flashy (5.9 K/9, 1.9 K/BB), but a 55% groundball rate aided him to a 3.43 ERA.

He opened 2008 with an outing of six scoreless innings before imploding and walking four or more in three of his next four starts.  The Rockies pulled the plug in April after a 6.39 ERA in 25.3 innings and sent him to the minors where he finished the implosion (5.47 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 1.0 K/BB).  He opened 2009 with another gem, but left his second start with a shoulder strain.

He wouldn’t start another game for the Rockies.  He spent some time in the minors in 2009 before coming back as a reliever.  He wasn’t too bad to close out 2009 and even closed for a spell.  He would pitch another 42.7 innings in 49 appearances over 2010 and 2011 with rather awful results: 5.48 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 8.0 K/9 and 1.2 K/BB.  Nevertheless, he was a 25-year old lefty throwing 94+ MPH so there was still some hope.  Alas, the Rockies jettisoned him to the Red Sox.

That’s OK, surely they picked up a nice upside lottery ticket of their own in return given Morales’ youth, handedness and velocity.  What’s that?  They got actual lottery tickets?  Like Paulino, Morales was sold and unsubstantiated reports suggest that the Rockies spent the money on Powerball tickets during the last big drawing.

He was instantly better with the Red Sox slicing two walks off of his rate down to 3.1 in 32.3 innings out of their bullpen late last year.  He pumped his strikeout rate up to 8.6 K/9 as well.  After getting 23.7 more innings of solid relief out of him this year (3.04 ERA, 20 Ks), the Red Sox have given him another shot at starting.

The early returns are encouraging.  He brilliant through the first three before stumbling against the Yankees against whom he allowed four home runs in just 3.3 innings.  Even still, he has a 4.22 ERA as a starter (not bad especially when considering the 6 ER dud vs. NYY) with a ridiculously impressive 1.17 WHIP, 11.0 K/9 and 5.2 K/BB in 21.3 innings.  And the Rockies got nothing for this guy.  OK, not nothing, they got cash, but that’s really nothing on the baseball landscape.

Rotoworld posted an update (I don’t see a way to link to individual updates from RW) under both Morales and Paulino’s profiles around the time they were being shopped that included this nugget: “The Rox are fed up with both pitchers, but they’re both out of options and they don’t want to lose them without getting anything in return.”  Whoops.  Didn’t quite achieve that.

The real question is why were they so fed up with the two?  It seems both were given awfully short leashes before being cast out for some money.  For an organization that has long been starved for pitching, how can you really justify giving up on one of the hardest throwers in baseball (Paulino) and a young lefty with his own incredible velocity (Morales)?

While that issue likely falls at the feet of Dan O’Dowd and his front office team, the coaching staff doesn’t get off scot-free as both pitchers began exhibiting some of their potential immediately after they left Colorado.  First off, I think they improperly deployed both.  But even when the Red Sox used Morales as a reliever, he was much better with them.  How did they instantly cut his walk rate like that?  That can’t be blamed on Coors Field.

I don’t have all the answers here, but these look like a couple of inexcusably bad moves on the part of the Rockies.  And I didn’t even dive into the case of Esmil Rogers who was recently sold to the Indians and instantly turned into a far better pitcher than he was with Colorado.

His scant 13.3 inning sample isn’t enough to make any sweeping judgments from, but again, how does he go from a 4.5 BB/9 (and 6.3 in 25.7 IP this year) with the Rockies to 0.7 with the Indians?  How is a 96 MPH hurler just sold away for no talent in return?  I realize there are more hard throwers available these days (seems every pen has a 95+ guy or three), but that doesn’t mean they should be given away.

Maybe it is time for a full scale regime change within the Rockies from top to bottom as they simply don’t seem to be making the most of their talent whether when deploying it on the field (coaching) or when turning into assets once they deem it to no longer worthy of the organization’s time (front office).

 

Tuesday: 07.3.2012

Lids.com Now Predicting MLB Trades

And I certainly hope they are on to something here:

I can’t imagine Carlos Quentin costing the Tigers a lot to acquire him from the Padres which only makes the prospects of a deal more appealing.  He loves Comerica Park, too, with a .292/.370/.611 line including 10 HR, and 26 RBI in 127 plate appearances.  I’ve been the Delmon Young fan for a few years now, but I want my favorite team to get better and Quentin is significantly better than Young or Brennan Boesch and he understands the value of a walk.  Here’s hoping the Lids.com webmaster has an inside track on MLB trades.  Dodgers fans, keep refreshing in hopes of seeing a Cole Hamels jersey.

Thursday: 06.28.2012

The 2002 Draft: The East in Review

A while back I took a look at the first round of the 2002 draft and reviewed the picks of each team.  With 10 years in the bank, it is fair to look back and judge how everything went for the teams.  I would also like to review each team and will do so by division starting with the west.  Here are the 10 east teams and their 2002 performance.

Other divisions: WEST

THE EAST

A look at the 2002 drafts of the East division teams by the numbers.

*player in minors, but played in MLB recently

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 6 (12%)

Combined WAR: -0.7

Best Pick: John Maine (3.7 WAR) in the 6th round

Still Playing in MLB: Adam Loewen*, Val Majewski* and Antoan Richardson*

Notable Picks: Hayden Penn and Brandon Fahey

Grade: F

Comments: Richardson was drafted in four of five years from 2001 to 2005 including in back-to-back years in the 27th round by the O’s before eventually winding up with the Giants in 2005.  He has toured the minors since getting a sniff with the Braves last year (4 PA) and has come full circle landing back in the Orioles organization.  This was a busted draft with a failed 1st rounder and the only notable pick getting traded for 30 below league average starts from Kris Benson (4.82 ERA, 94 ERA+).

 

BOSTON RED SOX

Picks: 49

Played in the majors: 5 (10%)

Combined WAR: 35.9

Best Pick: Jon Lester (22.1 WAR) in the 2nd round

Still Playing in MLB: Lester, Brandon Moss, Ricky Romero (didn’t sign) and Brian Bannister (didn’t sign)

Notable Picks: someone named Chris Smith who pitch in the MLB as recently as 2010 & in the minors last year

Grade: B+

Comments: Didn’t get anything but Lester, but he’s a star and came in the 2nd round as they were without a 1st rounder. That’s at least a semi-successful draft, if not an overwhelmingly successful one.

 

NEW YORK YANKEES

Picks: 48

Played in the majors: 5 (10%)

Combined WAR: 0.4

Best Pick: Phil Coke (1.3 WAR) in the 26th round

Still Playing in MLB: Coke, Matt Carson, Eric Hacker, Dane de la Rosa

Notable Picks: Brad Halsey and Brandon Weeden, yes that Brandon Weeden

Grade: D-

Comments: I gave them a D- instead of an F+ because they were without a 1st or 3rd round pick.  Coke at least did something and aided in the Curtis Granderson trade, though I doubt it hinged on him in any way, shape or form.  Do they get additional WAR if Weeden leads the Browns to several good seasons in the NFL?

 

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 9 (18%)

Combined WAR: 35.5

Best Pick: B.J. Upton (12.1 WAR) in the 1st round

Still Playing in MLB: Upton, Jacoby Ellsbury (didn’t sign), Mike Pelfrey (didn’t sign), Jason Hammel, Cesar Ramos, Chris Leroux* (didn’t sign)

Notable Picks: Jason Pridie, Elijah Dukes, Wes Bankston

Grade: B

Comments: It would’ve been an A+++ had they been able to get their picks to sign, but Pelf and Ells went to college.  A solid B for a potential star in Upton who is still just starting his prime, the thinking behind the Pelf and Ells picks (essentially partial credit since they didn’t sign) and Hammel who only showed flashes with the Devil Rays before breaking out in Baltimore this year.

 

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 8 (16%)

Combined WAR: -0.5

Best Pick: Dave Bush (2.5 WAR) in the 2nd round

Still Playing in MLB: Bush, Erik Kratz, Drew Butera

Notable Picks: Russ Adams, J. Brent Cox (later a 2nd round pick of NYY in 2005)

Grade: D+

Comments: It might look like an F, but I guess 506 games from their first two picks is at least something even though they didn’t really pan out.  Bush teased and tantalized with impressive skills, mostly with Milwaukee, but could never really put it together despite his consistently strong K/BB rates.

He was actually at an NL-best 4.4 in 2006, his first year with the Brewers, but still posted a basically league average 4.41 ERA in 210 innings. Another thing that kept it from F-dom is that Bush yielded Lyle Overbay, who gave the Jays 10.9 WAR in five years.  That’s not particularly special, but enough to keep from failing.

 

ATLANTA BRAVES

Picks: 52

Played in the majors: 6 (11%)

Combined WAR: 27

Best Pick: Brian McCann (20 WAR) in the 2nd round

Still Playing in MLB: McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Tyler Greene (didn’t sign), Charlie Morton, Chuck James*

Notable Picks: Dan Meyer (big piece in Tim Hudson deal)

Grade: A-

Comments: They pulled a superstar talent in the second round with McCann and he is essentially the entire basis for their A- grade.  Francoeur gave them a solid four and a half years.  After a down 2008-2010, his career has been somewhat reborn in Kansas City.  Morton and James essentially cancel each other out.

 

FLORIDA MARLINS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 9 (18%)

Combined WAR: 29

Best Pick: Josh Johnson (21.8 WAR) in the 4th round

Still Playing in MLB: Johnson, Jeremy Hermida, Robert Andino, Nick Hundley (didn’t sign), Tim Wood*, Ross Wolf*

Notable Picks: Scott Olsen

Grade: A-

Comments: Like Atlanta, their grade is built on a non-1st rounder becoming a superstar and he was an even later pick than McCann.  Hermida didn’t really pan out as a 1st rounder, but he has logged 2012 at-bats, 1708 of them for Florida, as essentially an average player (101 OPS+).  No, it’s not star-level by any stretch, but it’s not a complete bust, either.

Andino has been a late-20s bloomer with the Orioles netting 2.7 of 2.0 career WAR with them.  The Marlins got Hayden Penn for him in 2009, who never emerged.  If Hundley had signed or Olsen had panned out on his rookie year promise (181 IP, 8.3 K/9 as a 22-year old), this would’ve been an incredible draft for the Marlins.

 

MONTREAL EXPOS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 5 (10%)

Combined WAR: -0.3

Best Pick: LOL

Still Playing in MLB: Mike O’Connor*, Sean White*, Jon Link*

Notable Picks: Clint Everts*

Grade: F—, even Texas thought this was a bad draft

Comments: I think I ended up giving the Rangers a Q- and the Expos were worse as they had just two guys deliver positive WAR and nobody cracked the 1.0 WAR mark.  Everts, their top pick, hasn’t made the majors yet he still plugging away in the minors at age 27.  He is now a bullpen arm in AAA for the Blue Jays.  Control has always eluded him, but he is enjoying his best stretch of finding the zone with Las Vegas albeit in just 16 innings (2.2 BB/9).  Beyond that, three relievers are still knocking around the minors from this draft, though none remain with the Expos/Nationals.

 

NEW YORK METS

Picks: 48

Played in the majors: 2 (4%)

Combined WAR: 18

Best Pick: Scott Kazmir (15.2 WAR) in the 1st round

Still Playing in MLB: Matt Lindstrom

Notable Picks:

Grade: C-

Comments: Kazmir was a nice 1st round pick, but the Mets netted exactly none of the profit as they dealt him for Victor Zambrano, inexplicably.  If I am going to factor the positive returns of traded prospects, then I have to factor in the negative returns like this horrific trade.  In three years, they got 202 innings of 4.42 ERA from Zambrano.  Lindstrom never made it to the majors with the Mets.  He was traded for Jason Vargas and then Vargas was part of a big deal that netted J.J. Putz and Jeremy Reed, all three of whom did nothing as Mets and two of whom (Vargs and Putz) have emerged elsewhere.

 

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Picks: 48

Played in the majors: 7 (14%)

Combined WAR: 24.6

Best Pick: Cole Hamels (25.5 WAR) in the 1st round

Still Playing in MLB: Zack Segovia*, Bobby Korecky*, Sam LeCure (didn’t sign)

Notable Picks: Scott Mathieson, Dusty Ryan

Grade: A-

Comments: A superstar 1st rounder is the only return here, but it’s an ace-level elite pitcher who has given them 1244 innings with incredible skills and continues to get better.  Plus he was a mid-round pick, it wouldn’t be as impressive if he was a top five star who panned out.  Of course, this is likely their last year with him as they are unlikely to re-sign him.  If things don’t turn around for the team there are rumors they could trade Hamels in July.

Friday: 06.22.2012

The 2002 Draft: The West in Review

A while back I took a look at the first round of the 2002 draft and reviewed the picks of each team.  With 10 years in the bank, it is fair to look back and judge how everything went for the teams.  I would also like to review each team and will do so by division starting with the west.  Here are the nine west teams and their 2002 performance.

THE WEST

A look at the 2002 drafts of the West division teams by the numbers.

*player in minors, but played in MLB recently

 

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 5 (10%)

Combined WAR: 21.1

Best Pick: Howie Kendrick (14.9 WAR) in the 10th round

Still Playing in MLB: Kendrick, Joe Saunders, Kevin Jepsen, Bobby Wilson and Steve Delabar

Grade: B

Comments: They got a first round pick contributed nearly 700 league average innings before (with prospects) turning into Dan Haren.  Additionally, they got a late-round gem in Kendrick who has developed into one of the better second basemen in the league save his currently monstrosity of a season (84 OPS+ in 215 PA).  Plus there is the faintest outside hope that Jepsen and Wilson could still offer some plus value as they remain on the Angels roster.  Delabar is currently with the Mariners.

 

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Picks: 51

Played in the majors: 14 (27%)

Combined WAR: 49.8 (artificially inflated by Jonathan Papelbon’s 16.2; they took him in the 40th rd.)

Best Pick: Nick Swisher (14.2 WAR) in the 1st round

Still Playing in MLB: Swisher, Papelbon, Joe Blanton, Mark Teahen*, John Baker, Jared Burton, Trevor Crowe*, Brad Ziegler

Grade: C-

Comments: They had seven picks in the top 39 and two other top 100 picks yet returned just 23.6 WAR on those picks.  I realize baseball prospecting is difficult, but for a team that was supposed to be on the cutting edge of scouting and analysis, that is not good.  There were five others guys in rounds two through four who netted 20+ WAR and they had so many cracks at those guys.

I would’ve given them a D, but Swisher netted Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Sweeney and Fautino de los Santos (who is still with them).  Gonzalez turned into a host of talent this past offseason while Sweeney was part of the deal that brought Josh Reddick and minor leaguers Miles Head and Raul Alcantara.  The former has a 1.074 OPS in High-A.  So ostensibly they are still adding to the WAR total delivered from this draft even with Swish and Blanton (and even Gio) long gone.

 

SEATTLE MARINERS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 6 (12%)

Combined WAR: 7.0 (6.0 of which came from guys they didn’t sign)

Best Pick: Bryan LaHair (0.7 WAR, but -0.5 for Seattle) in the 39th round

Still Playing in MLB: John Mayberry Jr. (didn’t sign), Gaby Sanchez (didn’t sign), Travis Buck (didn’t sign)

Grade: F

Comments: They got 166 plate appearances out of the 2002 draft.  That’s it.  LaHair gave them 150 (w/a .661 OPS) while some guy name T.J. Bohn (30th round) gave them another 16 of .607 OPS.  Their first five picks were all high schoolers before they took a JuCo guys, followed by a Cuban and then two more high schoolers and another JuCo guy.  They didn’t take a four year collegian until the 11th round.  Not sure what that means, just pointing it.  This was a bad, bad draft.

 

TEXAS RANGERS

Picks: 46

Played in the majors: 4 (8%)

Combined WAR: 0.1 (not a misprint)

Best Pick: Get real

Still Playing in MLB: Kameron Loe and Jesse Chavez

Grade: What is worse than F?  Q-

Comments: Holy hell.  I originally gave the Mariners an F- until I saw the Rangers draft.  This is what happens when you don’t pick in rounds two through five.  That’s because they signed Chan Ho Park, Juan Gonzalez, Todd Van Poppel and Jay Powell.  Those guys delivered a whopping 0.6 WAR to the Rangers.  That was the re-signing of JuanGone as he of course delivered 27.5 WAR from 1989 to 1999.  Why did they wait three more years to hire Jon Daniels as their GM?  The 2003 draft delivered John Danks, Ian Kinsler and Scott Feldman, but 2004 was another shitshow.

 

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 5 (10%)

Combined WAR: 4.2

Best Pick: Chris Snyder (4.0 WAR) in the 2nd round

Still Playing in MLB: Snyder and Sergio Santos

Notable Picks: Dustin Nippert (2-time top 100 prospect), Lance Cormier and Brian Barden

Grade: C-

Comments: One pick after the sixth round (Nippert) made the majors for this draft.  Santos, originally drafted as a shortstop, was traded with Troy Glaus to Toronto for Orlando Hudson and Miguel Batista which netted the D’Backs 11.6 WAR going forward.  That saved them from a D grade.  The Blue Jays have clearly coveted Santos for some time as they traded for him twice.

 

COLORADO ROCKIES

Picks: 51

Played in the majors: 11 (21%)

Combined WAR: 25.1

Best Pick: Jeff Francis (8.6 WAR) in the 1st round

Still Playing in MLB: Francis, Micah Owings (didn’t sign as 2nd rounder, went in the 3rd round three years later), Matt Garza (didn’t sign), Jeff Baker, Ryan Spilborghs, Ryan Mattheus and Drew Sutton (didn’t sign)

Notable Picks: Ryan Shealy

Grade: C+

Comments: Strong 1st round pick and some decent fringe players that were basically league average (Spilborghs and Baker) for about 1100 games.  Baker turned into Al Alburquerque which would have been a coup as he was great in his pro debut, but it was with the Tigers.  Garza was a 40th round gamble out of high school, but stuck with his commitment to Fresno State and became a 1st round pick for Minnesota three years later.

 

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Picks: 52

Played in the majors: 9 (17%)

Combined WAR: 37.6

Best Pick: Russell Martin (18.1 WAR) in the 17th round

Still Playing in MLB: Martin, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton, James McDonald, Eric Stults, Robert Ray, Doug Mathis* (didn’t sign), Luke Hochevar (didn’t sign)

Notable Picks: Delwyn Young, Greg Miller (#8 prospect in 2004)

Grade: A+

Comments: Solid 1st rounder in Loney, plus another hit in the 2nd round with Broxton and then their best pick 15 rounds later.  Not to mention the fact that McDonald and Stults were picked in the 11th and 15th rounds and they are still contributing in the majors, although not with the Dodgers.  They should’ve been more patient with McDonald, but they still get credit for the pick.  While not a draft or prospect maven, I feel like four impact players and another contributor in Stults is an excellent return.

 

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 7 (14%)

Combined WAR: 7.9

Best Pick: Khalil Greene (7.4 WAR) in the 1st round

Still Playing in MLB: George Kottaras, Paul McAnulty, Lance Pendleton, Andy LaRoche (didn’t sign), Jared Wells*,

Grade: D-

Comments: After Greene, the 2nd through 11th rounders didn’t even make the majors and when you consider that McAnulty (12th) and Pendelton (13th) have been negative contributors as major leaguers, there was no positive value from the 2nd round until Kottaras in the 20th round.  LaRoche was taken in the 21st round, but stuck around at his JuCo for another year and ended up going in the 39th round of the 2003 draft to the Dodgers.

 

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 9 (18%)

Combined WAR: 38.3

Best Pick: Matt Cain (27.6 WAR) in the 1st round

Still Playing in MLB: Cain, Fred Lewis*, Kevin Correia, Clay Hensley, Travis Ishikawa, Alex Hinshaw* and Matt Palmer*

Notable Picks: Daniel Ortmeier

Grade: A+

Comments: When you get a star, the draft is a success.  And it’s a resounding success when you supplement that star with a handful of contributors as the Giants did here.  All of their top four picks (Cain, Lewis, Ortmeier, Correia) made the majors.  Most of Hensley’s positive value came elsewhere, but now, at age 32, he’s dealing out of the Giants’ bullpen with a sub-2.00 ERA.  Sharp draft here for the Giants.

Monday: 07.18.2011

Sunday Twidbits: July 17th

Here are this week’s MLB Sunday Twidbits which is something I’ll be doing every Sunday throughout the baseball season.  It’s an exercise whereby I tour the league giving a statistical tidbit per team on Twitter feed (@sporer).  Sometimes a team or two will get more than one if I have more than one nugget I really want to share, but every team will be represented at least once.  Check the sidebar on the right for previous editions of Twidbits.

CWS – Juan Pierre is hitting .330 the last calendar month & .300 the last 2 months. He was just 5-for-12 w/SBs in Apr, but 10-for-13 since.

CWS2 – On his July pace (4 SB in 12 G), Pierre would steal 22 more bases this yr; his value has stabilized. Buy if you need speed.

Det – Protection or regression? Alex Avila has a .161/.366/.258 in 11 July gms w/Raburn (.607 OPS), Inge (.492) & Kelly (.631) behind him.

Det2 – Avila (cont.) It’s a pretty tiny sample & protection is largely overrated, but Avila’s 9 BB & gm tapes show he’s being pitched around.

Was – Just six of Henry Rodriguez‘s 27 appearances have seen him go without a K. He has 34 in 31 IP; a nice MR option if you’re heavy on IP.

Atl – Freddie Freeman is rewarding patience hitting .289/.385/.567 w/7 HR & 22 RBI in his last calendar month & .307/.367/.524 in his last 2.

Atl2 – Freeman (cont.) On May 17th, Freeman was hitting .226/.321/.358 with just 4 HRs. I may have misjudged Mr. Freeman.

LAA – Walden has straightened out after a rough end of June & I think he will be fine, but Rich Thompson might be worth speculating on.

LAA2 – Thompson (cont.) He has 10.3 K/9 in 35 IP & he’s not Fernando Rodney. Scott Downs might be primary option, but he is their lefty RP ace.

Oak – He’s a perpetual injury risk, but Joey Devine is pitching well & could get work if another inj. risk Andrew Bailey goes down or gets traded.

Oak2 – Devine (cont.) He is getting over back spasms, but has a 2.14 ERA, 1.05 WHIP & 8.1 K/9 in 21 IP otherwise.

Oak3 – Josh Willingham (own rates: E 17%, C 34%, Y! 7%) could be dealt out of OAK which would instantly raise his value as a pwr source. Buy.

StL – Kyle Lohse has allowed <4 ER just 2x in last 7 (5.62 ERA in 42 IP) w/an UGLY 3.4 K/9. The pumpkin metamorphosis is in full force. Sell. NOW!

Cin – Ramon Hernandez sputtered a bit from mid-May to mid-June (.250, 1 HR, 3 RBI in 52 AB), but has rebounded (.327, 3 HR, 8 RBI) in last mo.

Cin2 – Hernandez (cont.) For some reason, he is very much available w/ownership rates of 17% in ESPN, 25% in Y! & 35% in CBS. Buy.

Bos – Thru 4 GS, Andrew Miller had a 3.57 ERA, but a 1.57 ERA & near 1:1 K:/B (13/11). That was v. SD, HOU, PIT & BAL-4 weaker tms.

Bos2 – Miller (cont.) Latest start v. TB came to a head: 7 ER, 2.7 IP. I never believed & 3 K in his last 3 GS assures I never will. Cut. Avoid.

TB – Sharp in his last 3 (1.96 ERA, 1.2 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 3.0 K/BB in 18 IP), Alex Cobb has been recalled, has AL-only value immed. Monitor in mixed

Phi – Dom Brown has some post-hype sleeper value ROTW. Hit the Mendoza Line on 6/23; since-.315/.403/.407 w/12 R. Legit Pwr/Spd capability, too.

NYM – Hope you jumped on Twidbit “recommendee” Bobby Parnell a few wks back! Enough back-patting. BTW, still seeing Jonathon Niese available all over.

NYM2 – Niese (cont.) I’ll defer to this week’s Trolling the Wire for more on Niese. Buy.

NYY – In early June, Brett Gardner was on pace for 28 SBs, but he has 16 in June & July for total of 26. Great trade target if there’s need for speed. Buy.

Tor – Of course if Gardner is too expensive & you don’t need the AVG & R he brings, then you might be able to get Rajai Davis for free on some wires.

Tor2 – Rajai (cont.) He has rebounded from his horrible June (3 SB in 27 G) notching 7 SB in 14 G so far. PT is tight in TOR OF, but Davis hasn’t felt it yet.

Pit – If I’m going to back-pat when Twids hits one, gotta point out the reverse. Alex Presley was given just a tepid endorsement after Tabata injury.

Pit2 – Presley (cont.) Xavier Paul has been nicked & Garrett Jones hasn’t hit; Presley is hitting .343/.400/.522 w/4 SB, 12 R & 9 RBI. Pwr driven by 3 3B.

Pit3 – Presley (cont.) He is making a bid to take some (if not most) of Jones’ PT when Tabata returns.

Hou – Jeff Keppinger got a late start to his season (5/27), but he is AVG asset if standings are tight in that cat. Empty avg, but viable at 2B.

Cle – Michael Brantley is on pace for .276, 91 R, 21 SB, 10 HR, 65 RBI yet still has availability at all 3 outlets (Y! 42%, E 74%, C 83%). Buy.

Cle2 – Carlos Carrasco was dropped en masse after 2-start hiccup. Solid bounceback @ BAL. A matchup play who is rosterable in many formats.

Bal – Zach Britton has a 2.35 ERA & 1.12 WHIP after 10 starts, but meager 4.9 K/9 & 1.7 K/BB rates said “SELL!”; since: 6.86 ERA & 1.77 WHIP in 39 IP.

Bal2 – Britton (cont.) Oddly enough, his K/9 has risen to 6.7 during the skid, but still-awful 1.6 K/BB has been his undoing regardless of missed bats.

Flo – Doubt Leo Nunez will be dealt, but if so then Steve Cishek could get a look. Has 23 K in 22 IP  w/just 5 BB (4.6 K/BB). Deep speculation.

Flo2 – Did you cut losses on Hanley Ramirez? Hope not. Last month: .364/.451/.602 w/5 HR, 24 RBI, 19 R, 5 SB (0 CS). Might salvage after all.

Chc – Geovany Soto‘s stock has tumbled everywhere except CBS (78% owned), but 3 HR in last month boost value. Could hit 7-10 HR from C ROTW.

KC – Eric Hosmer is on a lot of re-draft wires, but K% & pwr improvement during mini-surge could reintroduce viability as CI/U type. Monitor.

Min – Brian Duensing surging w/2.70 ERA & 1.24 WHIP in last 50 IP, but 4.16 & 3.91 xFIP in Jun & Jul suggest caution. Sell in AL, Replace in mixed

Min2 – Similarly Carl Pavano on fire w/2.82 ERA & 1.12 WHIP in 61 IP, but 3.63 & 3.66 xFIP last 2 mo is worrisome. Elevated LOB% is the major aid.

Mil – HRs (2.4 per9) & BBs (4.5 per9) plaguing Shaun Marcum in last 6; could be tied to nagging injuries. I’d buy if discount is there as hip/neck are fine.

Col – Chris Iannetta has big H/R split, but flailing in Coors now, too. Since June he has 53 PA H & R: .244 & 1 HR @ hm; .143 & 2 HR on rd. Pass.

Col2 – Iannetta (cont.) Names who could be available to replace him: Mike Napoli, Ramon Hernandez, Geovany Soto, Wilson Ramos & Jonathan LuCroy.

Tex – Neftali Feliz thru 2 mo w/9 K, 14 BB in 19 IP. OH NOES! Since: 17 K, 4 BB in 18 IP. Closers are volatile, be patient w/proven ones (Marmol).

Sea – Is Blake Beavan latest useful SEA SP? Not yet: 2.70 ERA & 0.95 WHIP are “supported” by 3.6 K/9 (vomit!). It’s ALL the .190 BABIP & 89% LOB%.

SF – Madison Bumgarner has rebounded from 0.3 IP/8 ER meltdown throwing 26 IP w/2.73 ERA & 1.14 WHIP as well as sparkling 30 to 3 K/BB. Buy.

SD – Dustin Moseley has K’d >3 just four times in 18 starts which is why he has a weak 1.7 K/BB despite solid 2.9 BB/9. Pass. Drop. Cut. Never.

LAD – Longshot to close again, but Kenley Jansen has 11 scoreless IP since MLB return w/16 K. His 6 BB are still an issue 3 H says stuff is back.

Ari – Josh Collmenter‘s really lacked of Ks early (5 in first 16 IP as SP), but 6.7 K/9 & 2.7 K/BB rates since 5/29 are intriguing. Monitor.

Monday: 06.20.2011

Sunday Twidbits: June 19th

Here are this week’s MLB Sunday Twidbits which is something I’ll be doing every Sunday throughout the baseball season.  It’s an exercise whereby I tour the league giving a statistical tidbit per team on Twitter feed (@sporer).  Sometimes a team or two will get more than one if I have more than one nugget I really want to share, but every team will be represented at least once.  Check the sidebar on the right for previous editions of Twidbits.

Det – Det bullpen had 6.03 ERA on 5/22; now at 4.65 after a rebuild. In June: 2.92 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.2 K/9 , 2 K/BB in 46 IP.

Col – Charlie Blackmon has shown speed right away w/5 SB in 12 G, but he has some pop as evidenced by .572 AAA SLG. Think Shane Victorino 07-09.

Pit – Garrett Jones is hitting .394 in June (13-33) & has started 6 of last 8 GP. Might finally have his job back; cheap pwr source

Pit2 – Why is Jones doing a French Stewart impersonation in his ESPN pic? http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/_/id/28763/garrett-jones

Cle – Carlos Carrasco is on fire the last month: 2.8 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 5.8 K/9, 2.4 K/BB. High GB% mitigates low K. Also 7 K/9, 3.4 K/BB in last 3.

Tor – Since breaking his L-streak, Jo-Jo Reyes is 3-1 w/3.21 ERA. Don’t be fooled though, 1.32 WHIP & 1.5 K/BB thanks to ugly 4.8 K/9.

Tor2 – Reyes was better when he was losing: 6.8 K/9 and 2.9 K/BB in first 49 IP of season. Avoid for now.

Cin – Preached caution w/Johnny Cueto few wks back for a few reas. incl. low K/9. Still lucky, but 6.5 K/9 & 3 K/BB in last 4. Still sell, but less worried.

LAA – Angels have a league-worst 4 (!) HR in June so far. 28 players have 4+ HRs. It’s a small miracle that they’re even 5-10 this month.

NYM – Jonathon Niese has allowed >2 ER just once since April 14th (2.65 ERA in 71 IP, 6.9 K/9) after allowed 5+ in 2 of his first 3 starts.

NYM2 – Need a cheap RP fill-in? Bobby Parnell has been excellent since returning from the DL: 1.17 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 12.9 K/9, 5.5 K/BB in 8 IP.

Tex – Thru May Neftali Feliz had 9/14 K/BB in 19 IP w/10 SV. In June so far, he has 8 K, 1 BB in 7 IP w/4 SV. Appears to have course-corrected himself.

Atl – If you took both Jonny Venters & Craig Kimbrel to lock up ATL SVs, you’d have a 1.73 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 101 K, 6 W & 21 SV in 78 IP.

Atl2 – Vent/Kimb cont. That’s as many Ks as Tim Lincecum, better ERA than any SP, a WHIP equal to Dan Haren & 4th-most Ws… oh and most SVs in MLB.

Bal – Adam Jones is having a strong yr, but perennially wears down w/12 & 14 of his 19 HR the last 2 yrs in the 1st half. Has 10 so far. Sell?

Was – Michael Morse‘s Apr: .211/.253/.268 & cut in many lgs. Whoops!! Since: .364/.418/.729 w/12 HR, 33 RBI & 24 R. DON’T give up after 1 month.

Mil – Randy Wolf is the ultimate matchup guy w/8 starts of 65+ game scores & 6 sub-50s. Some of his best: Pit, Hou2x, Chc, Phi; worst: Cin, StL

Bos – Marco Scutaro is worth a pickup, espec. w/Jed Lowrie on the DL. He’s hitting .371/.421/.486 in June since returning. Nice Runs Scored option.

Flo – All but 3 regulars are at .254 or below in June for the Marlins; only 1 SP w/an ERA below 4.82 and that’s how you get a 1-17 record.

TB – Alex Cobb struggled in 1st 2 MLB starts w/7 ER & 8 BB in 11 IP, but he’s looked sharp since: 1.96 ERA, 1.2 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 3.0 K/BB in 18 IP.

TB2 – Johnny Damon‘s pace of .277 AVG, 18 HR, 74 RBI, 16 SB, 74 R is somehow not good enough for Y! (54%) & CBS (80%) leaguers. Check your wire.

SD – I don’t care if he has 2 W all yr, how is Tim Stauffer so avail. (C 57%, Y! 40%, E 17%)? On pace for 207 IP w/7.1 K/9 & 3.2 K/BB. Buy NOW!

Min – No Twins pitcher w/5+ IP has an ERA over 3.27 in June. Francisco Liriano‘s last 33 IP (thru Sun.) 1.91 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, 2.5 K/BB.

KC – Alcides Escobar is hitting .431/.453/.569 in last 14 G w/7 SB. Cheap speed at thin position if you need someone: E 47%, C 33%, Y! 19%.

StL – Since his Coors Collapse on 5/28, Jaime Garcia has 2.96 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 7.8 K/9 & 4.5 K/BB in 24 IP. In other words, it was a blip.

Hou – Wandy Rodriguez allowed 4-5-7 in 3 of 1st 5 GS (5.40 ERA). Since: 1.31 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 3.1 K/BB in 48 IP; 8 K/9 in last 26 IP.

Hou2 – Wandy (cont.) He’s not 100% rostered at any of major outlets, so don’t assume he’s owned in your league: E 95%, C 90%, Y! 77%

Hou3 – Not sure why Mark Melancon is so avail. He’s been great & Brandon Lyon is now out for yr: E 77%, Y! 50%, C 41%. Free saves!

LAD – Only 1 Dodgers SP has an ERA below 4.41 (Kuroda) & only 2 are below 5.52 (Lilly) thus a 5-11 June record for the tm.

LAD2 – One elite, one brand new, but I’d buy either Clayton Kershaw (5.95) & Rubby de la Rosa (5.52) if any was selling based on June swoon.

SF – Madison Bumgarner had a 7.79 ERA & 2.06 WHIP on 4/23. Since then he’s been among MLB’s best: 2.03 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 4 K/BB in 67 IP

SF2 – MadBum (cont.) Not 100% owned at 3 major outlets: E 92%, C 88%, Y! 67%. Check your lg to be sure. 3-8 W-L may offer discount via trade

Oak – A perennial 2H player, Coco Crisp is on pace for 47 SB along w/modest but useful 77 R, 50 RBI & 5 HR.

Oak2 – Crisp (cont.) Career .276 hitter, hit 8 HR in 75 G last yr. could surge in midsummer. Still available in many lgs. Buy even if just for the SBs.

Phi – Good SP is infectious as Vance Worley‘s 3.41 ERA is highest in the non-Blanton division of Philly SPs. Hamels-Halladay-Lee have 9+ K/9. Sick

Sea – Ichiro coming out biggest slump of his career? 7-game hitting streak w/6 multi-hit gms: .467/.484/.667 and 4 SBs. Could be in for absurd 2H.

CWS – Alexei Ramirez needed 6-for-13 rally at end of Apr. to finish .265/.318/.382. Rarely does well early. Since: .318/.380/.468.

CWS2 – Alexei (cont.) Know who you’re drafting. Career OPS in Apr: .580; only other month below .780 OPS is Sept at .705, he hates cold weather.

Ari – Daniel Hudson had 5.64 ERA in Apr; skills said much better. Skills win! Since: 7-1, 2.67 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 4.5 K/BB. 6+ IP every GS.

NYY – Curtis Granderson‘s career yr is fueled by improvements v. LHP: .277/.337/.651–career .221/.281/.376. 20 HR v. LHP in 1st 5 yrs; 9 in ’11.

Chc – Carlos Marmol since 6 ER in 0.3 IP disaster: 1.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 13 K/9, 4.3 K/BB in 9 IP. Was a blip, but nothing to worry about at all.

Chc2 – Is Doug Davis a home spot starter? 2.70 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6.9 K/9 in 23 IP incl. start v. Yankees. The 3.9 BB/9 suggests some caution.

 

Monday: 06.13.2011

Sunday Twidbits: June 12th

Here are this week’s MLB Sunday Twidbits which is something I’ll be doing every Sunday throughout the baseball season.  It’s a simple exercise whereby I tour the league giving a statistical tidbit per team on Twitter feed (@sporer).  Sometimes a team or two will get more than one if I have more than one nugget I really want to share, but every team will be represented at least once.

Sea – Michael Pineda has faced 3 tms a 2nd time w/a 4.66 ERA & 1.19 WHIP, yet still a 10 K/BB. ERA elevated by DET start. Don’t worry.

Det – Austin Jackson starting to drive the ball more w/2 2B & 4 3B since being given a June 1st off-day: .372/.426/.605 during the stretch.

Det2 – Protection or coincidence? Brennan Boesch hitting .307/.350/.551 w/all 8 of his HR & 25 of 34 RBI in 3 spot ahead of Miggy.

Ari – Willie Bloomquist = old Sam Fuld. This is why you don’t buy into these guys & sell em ASAP: .190/.227/.214, 0 SB since return from inj.

Flo – Chris Volstad has a 4.29/7.56 Hm/Rd ERA split, but has only allowed >3 once at home. 6.9 K & 2.4 K/BB = worthy home spot-starter.

Cle – 5/22 I said: J.Tomlin has largest ERA-FIP diff in MLB. He will implode bc .175 BABIPs & 85% LOB%s don’t last. Trade now… for anything.

Cle2 – Since 5/22: Josh Tomlin has 8.61 ERA, 1.78 WHIP in 23 IP allowing 6 ER in last 3 starts & 8-9-10-12 H in the 4 start stretch. Hope you sold.

NYY – A-Rod was hitting .259/.359/.463 a month ago w/5 HR. Since 5/12: .310/.355/.569 w/8 HR, 18 RBI & 3 SB… stop writing him off, folks.

Chc – The Chicago Empty Batting Avgs: Fukudome-Castro-Barney-Aramis all hitting .286 or better. All are pacing 10 or < HR & <75 RBI. Sell.

Phi – Top 3 SP (Halladay-Hamels-Lee) continue to lead Philly (5-0 in Jun) as finally whole lineup has struggled (.639 OPS-24th rk’d) so far.

Bos – The Red Sox have scored more runs in 10 June gms, 87, than Seattle scored in 26 May gms. Bos 9-1 in June despite 1 SP w/sub-4.50 ERA.

Bos2 – Dustin Pedroia sure isn’t playing like he’s injured: .389/.522/.583 w/10 RBI & 7 R in June. Only 1 hitless gm, 4 multi-hit ones.

Tor – Not even sure how Kyle Drabek is in the majors at this point. Has 3+ BB in 13 of 14 starts & more BB than K in 73 awful IP.

Tor2 – By the way, Brad Mills has a 2.87 ERA, 1.15 WHIP in hitting-crazy Las Vegas w/8.3 K/9 in case you’re looking for obvious replacement.

Tor3 – Eager to see how many K lovers hold strong w/Brandon Morrow. ERA now 5.63 w/boom or bust season: 4 4+ ER starts; 4 2< ER starts.

TB – On April 28th DH, Ben Zobrist had 2 HR, 10 RBI. Since: 2 HR, 11 RBI in 38 G. Hitting .386/.460/.591 in June. Another HR surge upcoming?

Bal – Mark Reynolds is a must-own. 3B is paper thin & power is light league-wide. On pace for 30-90-10(sb), you eat the .203 avg for that.

NYM – Hope you got Angel Pagan when he was reco’d in 5/29 Twids. His own rates were ESPN 35%, CBS 65%, Y! 36% then.

NYM2 – Pagan (cont.) Rates are way up as he’s remained on fire since return: .349 avg, 5 sb, 9 r, 7 rbi in 15 g. Big help to middle of Mets lineup.

Pit – Horrid start buried James McDonald‘s ERA (10.12 after 4 GS), but 2.84 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 7.6 K/9 & 2.0 K/BB in 51 IP (9 GS) since. Buy.

Atl – A modest hot streak for most could be a start of something for Dan Uggla after big wknd: 4-6, 3 BB, 4 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR in the #2 hole.

Hou – How good has SP been in ’11? Bud Norris‘ 3.67 ERA is 100 ERA+. With a 9 K/9, he’s a must-start even on cusp on below avg ERA, though.

Oak – Not yet an all-format must-start, but Scott Sizemore adds depth to ugly 3B wasteland & he’s hitting early on w/OAK: 6-19 in 5 G w/HR & 4 RBI.

CWS – Phil Humber‘s value gets a major boost if recent K stretch is at all legit. 5.5 season K/9, but 7.0 in 22 IP across last 3 GS. Monitor.

Tex – Derek Holland has skills worth betting on despite modest season-long #s. 3 ugly, 3 great in last 6 incl. 7.9 K/9 & 2.9 K/BB in 40 IP.

Tex2 – Holland (cont.) HRs killing him in latest 6 starts having allowed 2 in ea. of 3 blowups & 0 in 3 gems. 24 y/o so more ups & downs coming.

Min – Francisco Liriano‘s last 4: 26 IP, 29 K, 1.38 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 2 W. Still leery, but confidence growing as 3 were rd starts, 4th was v. TEX.

StL – Jon Jay hitting .309 w/some pwr & speed (pacing 10 hr/12 sb). Held .350 BABIP for 105 G in ’10 so maybe .353 this yr can hold. 50%+ avail.

Mil – Prince Fielder has been insane the last month: .330/.458/.742 w/11 HR, 29 RBI, 23 BB to 11 K… SO locked in. Mil 22-7 during stretch.

LAD – Why is Rod Barajas owned so scarcely across all 3 major outlets? On pace for 19 HR. Doesn’t have enough AB for his .233 AVG to hurt much.

Col – CarGo hitting .452/.485/.710 in 7 gms as leadoff hitter incl. 4 straight multi-hit gms in LAD series. Perhaps the jump-start he needs.

LAD-Col – 63 runs scored in 4 gm LAD-Col series, yet just 11 scored in first 4 inn. of all 4 gm. Sweet lives, relievers… 2.6 R/IP in 20 IP from 5th on.

KC – Alex Gordon still on pace for career yr, but it’s built mostly on hot April. Might be getting going for June: .273 AVG & .377 OBP.

LAA – Mark Trumbo has flaws (.299 OBP), but pacing for 27 HR & 15 SB w/potential OF elig. based on lg (6 GP). His value lies in OF, not 1B.

Was  – In 13 GS, Jordan Zimmermann has re-faced opp. 4x. Just an oddity.  Has allowed >2 ER once since May 1st (3 ER @ ATL, but also 11 K).

SD – It’s a whopping 4 gms, but what stands out about Anthony Rizzo early on is the patience. 5 BB & 4.6 pit/PA in first series ever.

SD2 – Rizzo (cont.) He also went 3-for-10 w/a 2B, 3B and HR. Great debut, hope it lasts for the highly touted prospect.

Cin – Scott Rolen carrying an ugly .240/.291/.380 line in 150 AB. Still nice leather, Juan Francisco toting .309 AVG, .819 OPS in AAA.

SF – Twidbits Curse? Touted Tim Lincecum in 5/22 ST’s. Since: 7.66 ERA, 1.59 WHIP in 22 IP. Still 19 K, 2.7 K/BB & 93 MPH FB velo. intact.

Monday: 06.6.2011

Sunday Twidbits: June 5th

Here are this week’s MLB Sunday Twidbits which is something I’ll be doing every Sunday throughout the baseball season.  It’s a simple exercise whereby I tour the league giving a statistical tidbit per team on Twitter feed (@sporer).  Sometimes a team or two will get more than one if I have more than one nugget I really want to share, but every team will be represented at least once.

Det – Austin Jackson was sub-.200 on 5/6, hitting .284/.346/.432 w/2 HR, 9 RBI, 14 R, 9BB, 6 SB since. DET 15-9 during stretch; 15-18 before.

CWS – Gordon Beckham, Adam Dunn & Alex Rios are a combined .205/.291/.324 w/14 HR & 55 RBI in 581 AB

CWS2 – 5 players have more HR than the trio & 4 are within 10 of their RBI total; it’s a near-miracle CWS is just 4 under .500

Tex – Mitch Moreland is hitting .308/.381/.506 w/8 HR, but just 19 RBI. Prob bc of 1.056 OPS w/no one on against .691 w/men on & .687 w/RISP

Cle – Cleveland is 12-15 in last month & just 4-9 since big sweep of Cincy. Sets at NYY-DET-SF-ARI-CIN & home v. NYY in next month will show a lot

LAD – Matt Kemp is on fire since 5/23: .341/.413/.829 w/6 HR, 16 RBI, 10 R, 2 SB; has played in 263 straight games… MLB’s longest. Rest easy, Cal.

Cin – Johnny Cueto is a lone bright spot in CIN rotation, but K sliding yearly down to 5.2 this yr. BABIP & LOB% fueled 2.27 ERA will rise. Sell.

Tor – Yunel Escobar is sitting comfortably atop TOR lineup & is on pace for career year: .293/.373/.451, 7 HR-24 RBI paces for 19 HR-66 RBI.

Bal – Kevin Gregg‘s weak skills (1:1 K/BB) could open the door for Koji Uehara. He hates being healthy, but 11.7 K/9 & 6.4 K/BB are great. Speculate.

Oak – Brett Anderson‘s ERA is 4.00 thru Sunday start, but 6.6 K/9, 2.4 K/BB & 60% GB rate make his a must-buy profile. Discount possible.

Bos – Overall numbers don’t show it, but Carl Crawford is red-hot the last month: .306 AVG, 4 HR, 12 XBH, 22 RBI, 20 R, 3 SB. Hard to erase ugly starts.

Bos2 – Tell a friend Adrian Gonzalez has 12 HRs & ask him to guess how many came in April. Answer is 1. See why 1st mo. is no reason to freak out?

Mil – It’s never been talent w/Rickie Weeks, only health & he’s en route to 2nd str8 huge, healthy yr: .288/.358/.500, 30 HR, 71 RBI, 19 SB, 113 R

Mil2 – Weeks played w/fire in terms of his health last yr leading baseball w/25 HBP. On pace to cut that nearly in half w/13.

Flo – Marlins are being propped up by a bullpen that features 1 arm w/an ERA over 3.86. Easing pain of Johnson out & awful back end of rotation.

Phi – Chase Utley is hitting a paltry .227/.333/.318, but 3 SBs suggest he’s healthy meaning the rest will come. I’d buy where available.

Pit – Some prospects are late-bloomers: Neil Walker was 4-time top 81 ‘spect ’05-08, debuted in ’10, now on pace for 22-109. Can’t give up.

CHC – Do not stare directly into Tyler Colvin‘s 20 HRs from ’10, it’ll distract you from .147/.220/.250 line since Sept 1. of last year.

StL – Here comes Albert Pujols: .322/.395/.504 w/5 HR, 18 RBI, 16 R & 3 SB since Cinco de Mayo. Ole!

Min – With inj.ravaging MLB, you could do worse than Alexi Casilla: .329/.406/.353 w/13 R, 5 SB & 7 RBI since May 1st. Elig. at both MI positions

KC – Until Sat. Aaron Crow hadn’t even pitched much less SV’d a gm this wk. KC has either won big (1), late (1) or lost (4) since he got CL role.

NYY – Brett Gardner is really struggling in areas he excelled in last yr: pace of 51 BB in 159 G, 79 in 150 in ’10; 28/20 SB/CS (47/9 in ’10)

LAA – Bobby Abreu has .393/.493/.547 line since May 18th, up 40 pts to .292. On pace for 27 SB, but other #s struggling. Perhaps a selling point.

Col – Troy Tulowitzki hitting .289/.362/.404, 0 HR, but jello is shaking w/noise in the distance. Brace yourself, could be a hot streak coming.

Col2 – Daily leaguers: platoon Chris Iannetta home & away for maximization of value: H-.310/.432/.676, 6 HR, 19 RBI; R-.149/.329/.209, 2 HR, 4 RBI

SF – Ryan Vogelsong stays hot w/big 2 start week: 13 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 10 K, 3 BB. Season ERA down to 1.68, 7 K/9, 3 K/BB. Hard not to buy in.

Col-SF – 10 R scored in Col-SF series; all SP went 6+ IP; all SF SP went 7+. Bullpens combined for 11 IP w/1 ER (Lindstrom today, game-winner).

Was – Jason Marquis is a fantasy baseball amusement ride, though the drops can induce vomit: ERA in 1st five-2.62, next five-6.21, last two-1.54.

Ari – Kelly Johnson was hitting .190 on 5/24. Since: .326/.436/.739 w/6 HR, 10 RBI, 15 R & 2 SB. Up to .224, on pace for 30 HR/22 SB.

TB – On Apr. 23, Sam Fuld was hitting .365/.407/.541 w/13 R, 10 SB (3 CS); since .157/.215/.240 w/8 R, 4 SB (3 CS). #bonifacioed

Sea – Brandon League since 4 gm meltdown-fest: 9 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 7 SV; tied for AL lead w/16 SV. Good luck getting that job Aardsma.

Hou – Welcome to the bigs, Jordan Lyles. Even the lowly Padres are tougher than the best AAA team: 4 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 3 K in 2nd career start

SD – Surely 3B is too thin for Chase Headley to be owned at only ~50% at the major outlets? Sure 1 HR sucks, but passable AVG & 20 SB is OK.

Atl – Freddie Freeman‘s .217/.314/.380 Apr may’ve dissuaded some, but patience has been rewarded w/.327/.378/.453 since May 1.  Power remains light, but that was expected.

NYM – Dillon Gee has been a gem for the Mets rotation this yr: 6-0, 3.33 ERA, 1.11, 6.5 K/9, 2.0 K/BB. Numbers support success, espec. in NL-Only

Tuesday: 05.17.2011

On Andrew Bailey

 catbird seat

–noun (Informal)

an advantageous situation or condition:

His appointment as acting dean put him in the catbird seat.

A team that is just a game over .500, one game out of first place and in third place in their division isn’t often said to be in the catbird seat, but you could make a case that the Oakland A’s are in fact there.  The A’s have the best pitching in all of baseball when measured by ERA (2.75) and the best in the AL when measured by FIP (3.19) and xFIP (3.49).  Their bullpen ranks very well, too, checking in third and fifth in baseball by ERA and FIP and tied for 14th in xFIP.  The best part about their pitching is that they have the 2nd-most innings pitched in baseball, but their bullpen has the second fewest (by a third of an inning to Philly).

Their advantageous situation comes in the fact that they are succeeding this much despite their ace closer, Andrew Bailey, not having logged a single inning this year.  In fact the fill-in closer, Brian Fuentes, has been one of their worst relievers to date (4.19 ERA, modest 7.0 K/9).  Their bullpen is in for significant improvement when Bailey returns which is expected at the end of May.  He slots in at closer and everyone else moves down a peg (or out in Craig Breslow‘s case as he is the worst reliever to date statistically speaking).

But what if he doesn’t return?  Bailey has hardly been the bastion of health during his three year career and while the results when in have been excellent, he has three different DL stints for three different parts of his body (back, right elbow, right forearm) making him a constant risk.  The prospect of using Fuentes as their closer for the whole season is probably unsettling for the Athletics’ brass.  He has a history of home run issues which is about the worst thing for a closer.

He has avoided them this year with a 0.5 HR/9, but that’s thanks to a 3.3% HR/FB rate which is highly unlikely to stick considering he has a 55% flyball rate.  The home ballpark definitely masks some of it, but I doubt the park will cover him ALL year.  He has already notched three losses, a blown save-win and an ugly save where he allowed two hits and a run (a Dirty Fuentes if you will–full credit to Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz of ESPN).  And that is with just the one home run on his record.  As that HR/FB rate regresses to the mean, it could get really dirty.

Enter the catbird seat.  Their AAA closer in Sacramento is a name you might be familiar with, Joey Devine.  He makes Bailey look like Cal Ripken Jr. with an injury track record longer than Paris Hilton’s STD test results.  But he is healthy right now and mowing down the competition with 12 shutout innings during which he has struck out 17, walked one and allowed just four hits notching three saves and three wins.

If you will recall, the last time he pitched in the majors was 2008 for the A’s and he was excellent in 45.7 innings.  He had a miniscule 0.59 ERA, microscopic 0.83 WHIP and elite-level 3.3 K/BB rate powered by his 9.7 K/9.  He is a major talent who could definitely wrest the closer’s role away from Fuentes should Bailey miss more time than expected.  Or his & Bailey’s health and performance could facilitate a trade for the A’s to shore up their woeful lineup.

It is unlikely that they could flip Devine for a game-changing piece, but a healthy Bailey (who is only signed through 2011 according to Cots combined with the fact that the Billy Beane brass has never been tied singling out a closer and making him the unquestioned guy in the role) could probably net a useful bat especially as several wannabe contenders have a hole (or five) in their bullpen (Reds, Angels, Cardinals, Rockies, Brewers, both Sox, Rangers, Dodgers and Tigers all rate 16th or worse in bullpen ERA).  And six of those teams (Cardinals, Reds, Yankees, Rangers, Tigers, Red Sox) are among the top 10 in runs scored adding to the potential for a trade fit.

The Reds look like a strong fit because they have an aging (36) closer in Francisco Cordero whose strikeout rate is dwindling rapidly (12.2 K/9 in 2007 down every year to 6.1 this year) and their heir apparent, Aroldis Chapman, would walk Vladimir Guerrero… repeatedly.  Couple that with their abundance of bats with no place to play, namely Chris Heisey, and trading seems to fit.

In addition to Heisey, the Reds also have Fred Lewis and Jonny Gomes (though he is a platoon player on the short end as righties kill him) at the major league level.  But if they wanted to keep Heisey and the A’s had no interest in Lewis or Gomes (which would be smart), their AAA team has two strong candidates the A’s would be wise to covet: Yonder Alonso and Juan Francisco.

Alonso is a first baseman they are trying at left field simply because he is blocked by the reigning MVP Joey Votto, but their best deployment of him is probably in a trade.  He is carrying a .331 average .916 OPS in 130 at-bats for AAA-Louisville and for his career he has nearly 600 plate appearances of .848 OPS at AAA suggesting he is ready for .

I appreciate Daric Barton’s ability to take a walk as much as the next guy, but a team can’t compete with a  .293 SLG out of their first baseman.  That’s so disgustingly bad that I’m sure 64% of you will go check his stats just to make sure it’s not a misprint.  The A’s could keep Alonso in the outfield, but that would put him in Josh Willingham’s spot or require moving Willingham to rightfield.  You can’t take his bat out of the lineup, though, because his .405 SLG actually qualifies as a power bat in the Oakland lineup.  I guess they could put Alonso in left and then Willingham in for Barton (Willingham has played 3 games at 1B.  Letting him learn on the fly would still be better than having to suffer Barton’s bat even though Barton is a plus defender), but that would only be an option if they decided that Alonso was a major value-add in left.  I can’t speak to his defense in the outfield at all.

Francisco is primarily a third baseman which just so happens to be another power position from which the A’s are getting ZERO power.  Kevin Kouzmanoff has an OPS (.591) that you would like to see as a SLG from one of (if not more) of your power positions of 1B, 3B, LF and RF.  His .351 SLG would make a nice OBP for crying out loud.  Francisco is a 24-year old top 10 prospect in their organization from whom big things are expected, but even the .295/.356/.400 production from his 59-game sample in the majors the last three years would be better than anything Kouz can deliver at this point.

The Reds also have a multi-positional Todd Frazier in the midst of a breakout at age 25 on their AAA team so the options run deep.  With as many holes as they have in their lineup, a singular trade won’t completely turn around Oakland’s offense, but it would be a big step in the right direction.  Plus they are doing pretty well overall despite their scrub lineup so maybe one bat would make a world of difference.  They have also some options on their own AAA team that could boost the lineup.  I’ll cover that at a later date.

Of course before any of this Bailey trade talk can come to fruition, he needs to come back and prove his health as well as show the kind of excellence we have seen from him in the past two years.  If he doesn’t, the A’s won’t have as much leeway to trade bullpen arms for help in their lineup, but with Devine surging and a major league bullpen that has been one of the best in baseball so far, they don’t need Bailey to return to succeed.  They are in a strong position either way, but obviously Bailey returning to greatness is the ideal scenario for them to maximize their time in the catbird seat.

Thursday: 02.3.2011

Three Questions – San Diego Padres

With the 2011 Starting Pitcher Guide set to come out in a few weeks, I have a jam packed volume covering all the ins and outs of starting pitching in the 2011 season for your viewing pleasure.  Of course that doesn’t do much to address the offensive side of things so I decided to start this “Three Questions” where I will cover some key offensive issues for each of the 30 teams.  There will be more content here dealing with offense, but this is the beginning.

What happens to this offense without Adrian Gonzalez?

Oh don’t worry, new first baseman Brad Hawpe will fill in so well that you will barely notice Gonzalez left.  A .298/.393/.511 line with 31 bombs and 101 RBIs shouldn’t be a problem for Hawpe.  OK that’s obviously an egregious lie that I don’t believe in the least.  Do you want to know how important Gonzalez was to an offense that still only finished 22nd with him?  Look at this:

Gonzalez led them in five key offensive categories and no one was really close.  Chase Headley was the 2nd-highest qualifying batting average at .264, Will Venable’s 13 home runs were 2nd to Gonzalez, Headley had a whopping 58 RBIs to finish 2nd on the team, Yorvit Torrealba was 50 points behind Gonzalez with a .343 OBP, but that came in just 325 at-bats.  The 2nd-highest qualifying on-base percentage was again Headley with a paltry .327 mark.  And in the most hotly contest of the five categories, Headley finished 14 hits behind Gonzalez with 161 on the season.

Counting stats for Padres hitters are likely to be even worse than they were last year cutting into the already stunted value of the group.  Headley managed those 58 RBIs despite hitting behind Gonzalez, who was getting on base 40% of the time for him.  The team added some pieces in addition Hawpe including a brand new double play duo with Orlando Hudson at second base and Jason Bartlett at shortstop as well as former super-prospect Cameron Maybin, but the loss of Gonzalez is still a major blow to an offense that was already pretty poor.

The power-sapping ways of PETCO park are nothing new and Padres hitters have long been evaluated with that impact built in, but without their superstar cog in the middle the entire group takes another hit to their value.  The chances of the six year streak of a non-Gonzalez entity topping 100 R or 100 RBI being broken seem slim.  The last two players to do it were in 2004 when Mark Loretta scored 108 runs and Phil Nevin drove in 105.

Following up a career year with one of his worst, what’s in store for Jason Bartlett in 2011?

The 2010 season was a rough one for Bartlett especially in light of his breakout 2009 in which he hit 14 home runs, drove in 66 runs, scored 90 runs, stolen 30 bases and hit .320, all career highs.  Lucky for him, he plays shortstop which is a barren wasteland after the top tier so he will have some value no matter what.  How much exactly is going to be tied to how many stolen bases he rack up.  He had a string of 23, 20 and 30 before last year’s 11, so the ability is there and San Diego was the 6th-runningest (so surprised that didn’t get a red squiggly line under it in Word) team last year with 124 stolen bases.

Additionally, he can offer some batting average value or at least not be a drag for a team.  Last year his .254 was a drag as regression bit back hard from 2009 and instead of falling back to career norms, he was actually a bit unlucky.  He is .281 hitter for his career and there is no reason to think he shouldn’t bounce back to that in 2011 and if luck breaks his way again, it wouldn’t be tough for him to top .300 again.  So as a late round speed/average shortstop, he has some value.  As I mentioned already, counting numbers will be tough to come by on this team.  Especially for Bartlett who isn’t particularly adept at getting on base.  Though he has a career .345 OBP, it is propped up by the standout 2009 and a .367 mark in 372 plate appearances back in 2006.

One last thing to consider with him is that he has only averaged 135 games played in the last four years with a high watermark of 140 and a low of 128.  That means you’re going to need a replacement for around 27 games, or 16% of the season.  Given the dearth of talent at shortstop, this can be a problematic proposition.  His backup is likely to be Kevin Frandsen or Everth Cabrera.  You could fill one of Bartlett’s strengths depending on who fills in, Frandsen for average and Cabrera for speed.  If you’re left hitting the wire, you may find that the remains are somehow even less appealing than Frandsen and Cabrera.

Is Cameron Maybin ready to pay dividends on his blue chip prospect status?

The problem is we might not even notice if he does improve because of his home ballpark.  He has certainly proven everything he can in the minor leagues so it is time for the three-time top 8 Baseball America prospect to start showing the talent at the big league level.  At 24 with just a season’s worth of big league plate appearances (610) under his belt, even a poor 2011 wouldn’t be enough to write him off completely but it would put closer to Brandon Wood territory.

The biggest issue right now is the striking out.  He has struck out in 31% of his major league at-bats despite the significant gains in K% in the minors.  After striking out in 32% of his AA at-bats in 2008, he cut down to 20% in his first run through AAA in 2009 followed by 19% in 130 AAA at-bats last year.  Any contact would be better than striking out for Maybin at this point.  At the very least, he could maybe use his excellent speed to turn some of his groundballs into base hits.

Better pitch recognition can increase his value another way as more walks would again allow him to add value by way of his speed.  As noted in the Bartlett section above, the Padres aren’t afraid to run, but it is hard to do much running with a .302 on-base percentage.

I don’t think Maybin will magically fix the strikeout and walk issues all at once in 2011, but I think we will see incremental gains in his first full season which should yield a 20+ stolen base season and low-teens power.  You can do much worse than that for a low dollar late outfield option in NL-Only leagues.  I don’t think he is quite a dollar days guy just yet, especially if your league has any guys who love grabbing the next big thing, but his price tag shouldn’t be pushing double digits.  As a single digit buy, I would highlight him as a quality end-game play perfect for rounding out a team.