Posts tagged ‘Nelson Cruz’

Monday: 07.4.2011

Hail Mary Team, Part 3

Yikes, let’s get the rest of this Hail Mary Team out so you can go trade for the guys.  The first parts have unleashed a Midas touch on some of these guys and may have taken them out of contention for a discount.  Mark Reynolds and Hanley Ramirez both had multi-home run games after being mentioned (not implying causation… merely a coincidence) and Reynolds actually hit three over the weekend.

One of the outfielders I had slated for the team has also gone off as Nelson Cruz blasted home runs on Friday and Sunday.  His Friday performance also included six RBIs.  Perhaps his team manager will focus less on that mini-hot streak and more on the .245 batting average and sub-.300 on-base percentage and not charge you the full price for his services.

Catchers, First Basemen & Second Basemen

Shortstops & Third Basemen

Let’s see what else the outfield offers the Hail Mary Team.

OUTFIELD:

Cruz (TEX) – He is on pace for 38 home runs now so he isn’t exactly tanking his manager’s team, nor was he before his recent little outburst, but the 95 RBI pace and aforementioned weak batting average & on-base percentage totals might allow you to squeeze him out in a trade for less than full value.  As I have mentioned in earlier parts of this series, with guys like this it isn’t necessarily that I think you can get them dirt cheap rather you can trade your prime asset for him AND someone else which results in a net gain for your team.  So please don’t see Cruz or Martin Prado included on these lists and think that I value them the same as Adam Dunn and Dan Uggla. 

Carl Crawford (BOS) – He was just getting going when he hit the disabled list.  I cannot imagine how frustrating that must be for him after signing the massive contract and joining the Red Sox this offseason.  He went on the DL on June 17th, the previous month he was hitting .298 with five home runs and 21 RBIs.  The speed was still noticeably absent (just 2 SBs in that hot stretch), but the four category production made it easier to forget the lack of speed.

There is almost always at least some type of discount when trading for guys on the DL so strike as soon as possible with Crawford.  When he was hitting like trash in April and May, no one was selling low on him because he was still playing daily and everyone believed he would come out of it (and he was starting to), but when a guy is no longer putting up daily numbers (even if they are below expectations) prices tend to drop.

Jayson Werth (WAS) – Many people believed that Washington would regret the seven year deal to Werth at some point, no one thought that point would be year 1.  The fact that they have been poking around .500 despite their $100-million-dollar-man carrying a .709 OPS is quite impressive.  In the last three years when he emerged as a big time player that allowed him to get such a contract, he was always good throughout the year essentially putting up balanced halves.  In other words, he doesn’t wear down so hopefully the Nats start to see some dividends returned on that hefty contract with a big second half out of Werth.

He is on pace for his third 20 HR-20 SB season in his last four (27 HR, but only 13 SB last year) so he hasn’t been a complete shlub despite what the batting average might tell you.  A complete reversal in groundball-flyball distribution and a 10% rise of infield flyballs have been the culprits in his .223 average & .265 BABIP.  Add in that he has hit .155 with just 6 RBIs in the last month and there is no way a fantasy manager can realistically ask for anything near full price halfway through the season.  At least not with a straight face.

Jason Heyward (ATL) – Skip this one in keeper leagues, he could be hitting .051 and I don’t think a keeper league manager would bail on him.  He gets a small pass for some time missed, but a .228 batting average and just 20 RBIs & 30 runs scored in the 62 games he has played has to be leaving his managers wanting more.  His scant track record isn’t enough to blindly believe he will have a big second half, perhaps it is simply a sophomore slump for the 21 year old, but if you can get a talent like him at a significant discount, it is worth taking a shot on especially in what is an otherwise lost season for your ballclub.

Corey Hart (MIL) – Hart can catch fire and stay hot for a while as he has posted halves of 21 and 15 home runs within the last three years.  The big reason he has been kind of “blah” so far this year is that his groundball-flyball profiles have flipped much like Werth’s.  He is a career 41% flyball hitter down at 35% this year meanwhile he’s a career 40% groundball hitter who was at 38% last year, but has rocketed up to 47% this year.  If he can get that figured out, he can have a huge second half with a mid-teens home run total if not something pushing 20.

Alex Rios (CWS) – He was quite overrated coming into this year when consider that his 2010 season was essentially a blistering hot May and five mediocre months during which he topped .760 OPS just once (April) and slid from month-over-month from that .760 “perch” in June down to .645 by September after the hot May.  Essentially to buy in on Rios is to bet that one of his summer months will match or at least approach his eight home run, 1.106 OPS May from last year.  Of course the way he is going this year, he would kill for a .700-something OPS month as his high for 2011 is .685 in June.

Magglio Ordonez (DET) – He finally looks healthy again after the nasty ankle injury last July and what that means is a .300+ batting average with plenty of runs driven in.  He won’t be a huge power source, but at 37 you aren’t expecting him to at this point.  I have been really impressed watching him the last few days and I feel confident that he is ready to contribute to the middle of that strong Detroit lineup.  He should be on the waiver wire of more than a few leagues and I would consider rostering him and getting in now before he is mid-hot streak.

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Monday: 06.27.2011

Sunday Twidbits: June 26th

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.

Ari – David Hernandez was crushed for 5 ER w/out recording an out on 6/7. Since: 8.7 scoreless IP w/9 K, 1 H, 3 BB. Nice MR option w/10 K/9. (Ed. note: The Tigers bombed him shortly after I wrote this up.  He is prone to the occasional implosion, but the numbers from implosion-to-implosion are really good at least.)

Det – Justin Verlander is 6-0 in 49.7 IP (8+/start) w/0.72 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, 8.5 K/BB over his last 6 starts. He is the AL’s best.

Det2 – Al Alburquerque has stifled 21 of 22 inherited runners. A great pickup if you’re high on IP: 2.05 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 15 (!) K/9.

Col – Ubaldo Jimenez has a 3.31 ERA/1.29 WHIP since 5-17; even better 2.43/1.20 in June w/7.8 K/9 & 4.1 K/BB

Col2 – Ty Wigginton hitting .298 w/7 HR, 16 RBI & 14 R in June. Scarcely owned depsite 1B-2B-3B elig: C 63%, Y! 41%, E 62%. Must-own.

Col3 – Wiggy (cont.) He’s a fantasy Swiss Army Knife & has had 20+ HR in 4 of last 5 yrs and now in Col. How wasn’t he drafted more?

NYY – CC Sabathia was winless in his 1st 4 starts despite a healthy 2.52 ERA; on Sat. he became 1st SP to 10 W going 10-3 w/3.43 in last 13.

Oak – Hiccup or problem? Trevor Cahill was rocked in 4 straight, but has a 1.15 ERA in 16 IP w/13 K in his last 2. Just beating up the NL?

Phi – Saturday was 35th time Cole Hamels has gone 8+ IP in his career. The Phillies offense has averaged 3.3 runs per game in those starts.

LAA – Jered Weaver fell off the radar a bit after his insane April; he’s on fire again: 3-0, 1.35 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 7.1 K/9 & 3.1 K/BB in last 47 IP

LAA2 – Dan Haren gets 4.3 R/G of support, 4th-lowest in AL. One of those 3 “ahead” of him? Teammate Jered Weaver: 3.9. #neverchasewins

LAD – Dodgers haven’t scored 2+ R in an innings for 2 wks. So why did Dan Haren give their only 2 guys (Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier) anything?

LAD2 – LAD (cont.) He still won, but those two went 5-for-6 against Haren scoring all 3 of the runs he gave up. C’mon, Dan. Just face Loney.

Cin – Maybe Dusty Baker is using Chris Heisey best by rarely starting him. Starter: .225/.299/.382 in 279 PA; Sub: .356/.402/.644 in 102 PA. Odd.

Bal – Don’t confuse Jake Arrieta‘s 9-4 rec. w/success. His 1.2 HR/9 & 1.7 K/BB scream caution, his rec. is built by MLB-best 9.4 R/G of support.

Was – Roger Bernadina is worth owning (E 41%, Y! 14%, C 26%) as a pwr/spd mix. Hitting .400/.426/.644 w/3 HR & 2 SB in last 11; .333 for June.

CWS – At some point, Ozzie Guillen has to be held accountable for playing Adam Dunn v. LHP. He’s now 1-52 (.019) w/24 Ks. Let Lillibridge DH. (Ed. note: Or as reader Paul Bourdett suggested, call up Dayan Viciedo and let him take the hacks at DH against southpaws.  He is killing it in AAA.)

CWS2 – Dunn (cont.) Yes, it’s a small sample overall, but as much as Dunn is struggling, he needs some time off v. southpaws.

Bos – Andrew Miller isn’t an insta-pickup just bc he’s on Boston. He put on 10 baserunners against SD in 5.7 IP. The 6 Ks were nice, but…

Bos2 – Miller (cont.) He has done nothing to earn our trust at the MLB level. Facing Pitt today, then @HOU & v. BAL, proceed w/EXTREME caution

Pit – Jose Tabata was carted off w/an inj. on Sunday & AAA OF Alex Presley was pulled out of his gm shortly thereafter. NL-Onlys take note.

Pit2 – Presley (cont.) He could be in line for some of Tabata’s PT. The 25 y/o is hitting .336/.389/.500 w/8 HR & 18 SB.

Pit3 – Pirates (cont.) But I’d bet on Xavier Paul (speed) & Garrett Jones (power) seeing legitimate increases in their PT first.

Atl – Jason Heyward hitting .297/.381/.405 in 10 G since return from DL. Overall #s miiiight offer buying opp., espec. in non-keeper lgs.

SD – Chase Headley is still widely available & might be worth platooning on the road. Hitting .474 on latest rd trip; .304 AVG/.806 OPS career.

TB – James Shields bumps Verlander to co-best. Last 3: 27 IP (yes, 3 CGs) w/0.33 ERA, 0.59 WHIP, 8 K/9, 6 K/BB & of course 3-0. AL ASG starter?

TB2 – Nice wknd for BJ Upton in Hou: 4-11, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 3 R, 1 SB. Hitting .297 in last 9; prob just means a 1-20 upcoming. He hates batting avg.

Hou – Matt Downs .272/.381/.556 w/5 HR in 97 PA. Rakes RHP & at home; so sit him for Clint Barmes at home v. righty. You wonder why you suck Hou?

Min – Ben Revere is the likely benefactor from Delmon Young inj. Revere hitting .284 w/11 R, 4 SB in June. Serves specific purpose & comes cheap.

Mil – Nyjer Morgan at .309/329/.471 in June, but just 1 SB. Perhaps it’s all of his XBH: 7 2B, 3 3B & 2 HR! A slightly better NL ver. of Revere.

CHC – Reed Johnson picked up where he left returning from the DL w/a .933 OPS w/2 HR & 4 RBI in 10 gm. No shallow mixed appeal, but deep & NL-Only

KC – Joakim Soria is back. His June: 12 IP, 12 K, 6 SV, 6 K/BB, 4 H. I hope you pounced on him as soon as he was cut on Memorial Day. Saw it in 3 lgs.

Tor – Edwin Encarnacion is hitting .283/.353/.522 in June w/2 HR, 3 RBI, 5 BB. Hardly overwhelming, but he quals at DH for lgs that requie true DH.

StL – The Cardinals sans Albert Pujols have not had a good week: 1-5 record, .240/.292/.373, 4.57 ERA, 1.33 WHIP

StL2 – In ’10 Jon Jay hit .383/.433/.583 in 115 AB over 49 G (2.4 AB/G); Aug-Sep as a reg. (42 GS), he hit .244/.309/.314 in 172 AB over 56 G (3.3)

StL3 – Jay (cont.) Same in ’11 w/reg PT: .349/.408/.514 thru May (54 G/22 starts); .239/.276/.324 in June (22/17). Sell now while #s still high.

NYM – Daniel Murphy‘s June .318/.355/.386, overall .296/.343/.408; mostly AVG, but 2B/1B elig w/10 G at 3B, too. He’s a playing time glue guy.

Tex – Nelson Cruz is coming out of his funk: .364/.389/.818 w/6 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI & 1 SB in his last 8. Overall #s might offer small discount. Buy.

Cle – Cle is 8-16 in June bc despite success of Masterson & Carrasco, other 3 SP have 5.32 (Talbot), 6.60 (Tomlin) & 7.62 (Carmona) ERAs.

SF – Ryan Vogelsong does not care that he is Ryan Vogelsong, still has allowed more than 2 ER just once in 13 starts. Skills remain strong, too.

SF2 – Vogel (cont.) Doesn’t mean he isn’t some to sell. 13 starts convinces ppl he’s legit, but 86% LOB% & 5.1% HR/FB = SOME regression on 1.86 ERA

SF3 – Vogel (cont.) Let’s say he ends yr w/a 3.00 ERA. He’d be 3.83 ROtW. Oddly enough, that’d be a sub-100 ERA+. 3.10+ = 4.00+ ERA

SF4 – Vogel (cont.) You’re not going to rip someone off for a 33 yr old journeyman, but any upgrade to your tm would be worth moving him. Sell.

Sea – I shy away from low-K SPs, but Doug Fister is criminally under-owned (high of 31% @ CBS): 3.13 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 2.9 K/BB + Safeco & great D

Flo – Mike Dunn has K’d at least 1 batter in all of his last 13 outings, but otherwise been terrible: 6.60 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 4 HR, 18 K… ouch.

Flo2 – That’s why you never spend a lot on middle RPs, you have to be able to cut bait at a moment’s notice. Aroldis Chapman stung ppl this yr.

Tuesday: 05.24.2011

Fixing the Contenders – American League

As we near Memorial Day (less than a week away) and turn the calendar to June, we usually see the MLB standings start to stratify a bit with the contenders separating themselves from the rest of the pack.  That may not happen in the 2011 season, at least not for a while.  Right now there are just three teams who are 10+ games out two of which are the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox, a pair of teams many still refuse to bury given the uncertainty of the Cleveland Indians and the expectations on those two teams coming into the season.

The other is the Houston Astros who were out of it before the season started.  Only three other teams are more than five games away from .500 (Padres, Dodgers and Cubs) so there could be a dearth of sellers as trading season in the MLB heats up.  Nobody really thought Seattle was going to be much of anything this year, but alas their rotation is running five deep headlined by two aces (Felix Hernandez & Michael Pineda; Erik Bedard, Jason Vargas & Doug Fister round out an impressive rotation) meanwhile Jamey Wright, David Pauley and Aaron Laffey have been nails out of the pen masking the fact that they still have a completely horrible offense.  The pitching has them just one game below .500 and a game and a half out of the division lead.

Similarly, expected bottom-feeders Arizona (23-23), Pittsburgh (22-24), Kansas City (22-24) and Baltimore (21-24) continue to linger.  While the league lacks a truly great team, there are still a group of contenders to be found within the 30, teams that should be focusing their attention on 2011 and doing what they can, whether internally or through trade, to get those October playoff tickets printed as soon as possible.

Today, I will go through the contenders who are ripe for a trade and identify the potential move(s) they could make.  I have seven teams on the list.  There are eight other contenders who I didn’t feel needed to make a significant trade because they are either getting some significant pieces back from injury and/or have the available talent in their minor leagues to fill their holes.  Or, at least in one case, I simply didn’t see a move to be made.  That doesn’t mean that it is a perfect team, just that their path to improvement is either a minor trade or sticking with what they have already.

Cleveland Indians (30-15)

Team Needs: 3B, SP, RP

Let’s start with the league’s best team record-wise.  Wow, that reads weird when in reference to the 2011 Cleveland Indians, but you can’t deny the fact that they have the best record in the baseball after 45 games.  If this team stays as is, I can’t see them holding on for 162.  I just don’t buy in the pitching outside of Justin Masterson, and he isn’t without his flaws (lefties still destroy him).  I think Masterson can be a solid pitcher, but their “best” pitcher to date, Josh Tomlin, will not hold up at all, in my opinion.  The 1.2 HR/9 will soon bite back in a big way and the 4.5 K/9 is just too low for this kind of success.

Jack Hannahan’s hot start (hitting .284 w/.837 OPS on May 3rd) has bought Lonnie Chisenhall some time to try and iron out his issues against southpaws (.208 in 48 AB), but now Hannahan has returned to Hannahandom (.238, .691) and it is time to give Chisenhall a shot.  It actually works out where they wouldn’t have to throw him in the fire right away against lefties as Hannahan is actually crushing them with a .387 average and 1.135 OPS in 31 at-bats.  They could run a straight platoon and improve their lineup.  Currently rated 4th or better in runs, average, on-base and slugging, the Indians lineup is performing beautifully to date, but you can never have too much offense.

To fix their starting pitching, I think they need to focus on someone who can miss some bats. With Alex White and his team-best 7.8 K/9 headed to the disabled list for up to three months with a finger injury, Masterson is the leader with a 6.7 K/9.  That is barely above the AL average of 6.5 among starters, so they should call up the Astros and inquire about a trade for an arm.

TRADE: Prospects Joe Gardner and Zack Putnam to the Houston Astros for Wandy Rodriguez – A pair of upper minors arms who ranked 9th and 17th in the org. list from Baseball America for the 32-year old lefty.  With two years left on his contract plus a 2014 option, Wandy won’t come cheap, but given his age the Astros should be open to trading him as he won’t be a part of their next great team.  Their minor league system is disgustingly low on talent so it’s time to start replenishing in earnest via trade.

They might still need to shore up the bullpen a little bit, too.  But that may be handled internally with the recent call up of Josh Judy, who struck out 20 in 17 innings at AAA prior to his call up.  Elsewhere, Nick Hagadone, their #10 prospect, has recently hit AAA after striking out 24 in 23 innings at AA and he could be there to shore up the relief corps early in the summer.

Moves:

  1. 3B – Promote Chisenhall up to platoon w/Hannahan
  2. SP – Trade Gardner & Putnam for Rodriguez, W
  3. RP – Judy recently called up; Hagadone en route

New York Yankees (25-21)

Team Need: SP

The Yankees are having the exact issue that everyone thought they would back in Spring Training with C.C. Sabathia as their top starter and a giant question mark after that.  Bartolo Colon has been a godsend with a strong ERA (3.77) and WHIP (1.20) and great skills (8.8 K/9, 3.7 K/BB) backing the rates up, but how long will it last for the 37 year old?  A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova have been up and down while Freddy Garcia, filling in for Phil Hughes, has been better (3.12 ERA) than his skills suggest as a 34-year old journeyman.

There is nothing at the AAA level that stands to be any better than what they have and Manny Banuelos in AA has gone more than five innings just once in his eight starts so he isn’t the savior that fans want him to be after seeing him excel in Spring Training.  That leaves the trade markets.  And while delusional fans might think Felix Hernandez is available, he’s not.  But they should venture out for a trade.

TRADE: Prospect Adam Warren to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Hiroki Kuroda – The 36-year old veteran is a free agent after this year so despite how well he has pitched since coming over to the States in 2008, he won’t net the Dodgers an overwhelming return of prospects.  That said, Warren was just outside of the top 10 on org. lists and the Yankees system is a deep one so that’s not chopped liver.  He has struggled with his control at AAA (27 K, 24 BB in 45 IP), but he is still just 23 years old and the Yankees have moved him aggressively (just 54 IP in AA).

The Dodgers system has a crap-ton of pitching and while you can never have too much, they might opt for a bat instead and I could see a toolsy, raw bat like Melky Mesa being dealt for Kuroda.  Mesa has 16 extra-base hits out of just 30 (.204 avg in 147 AB), seven stolen bases but also caught seven times and 16 walks aiding a solid 83-point AVG-OBP split, but also 50 strikeouts (34% K rate).  The 24-year old has been much better lately (.290/.372/.507 in May) after a horrid April (.129/.209/.256) which may elevate his trade stock a bit, though front offices focus more on pure talent & projectability than stats when it comes to prospects.

The Yankees might need more than one starting pitcher so they could also be in for someone like Jon Garland, Livan Hernandez, Aaron Harang or Francisco Liriano, too.  Again, they have a remarkably deep system so trading for a second level arm like one of the above (can you believe Liriano is now regarded as a second level arm?!) as well as a bigger impact arm would be doable.

Moves:

  1. SP – Trade Warren or Mesa for Kuroda
  2. SP2 – Trade David Adams for Harang

Detroit Tigers (24-23)

Team Need: RP

Relief pitching was supposed to be a strength of the 2011 Tigers after signing super-setup man Joaquin Benoit and pairing him with Jose Valverde at the back end of the bullpen.  The constant stream of power arms drafted and traded for recently was supposed to fill any gaps from starter to Benoit with guys like Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth, specifically.   Al Alburquerque has been a pleasant surprise with a 15.3 K/9 in his 15 innings, but walks have been a problem (11) for the rookie.

Chance Ruffin is doing well in his debut season as a pro, but he is just 22 and in AA, so the chances of him as a savior are slim.  Plus, the bullpen is young enough already.  Charlie Furbush was just called up from AAA and thrown right into the fire on Monday night after a Phil Coke injury in the fourth inning left the Tigers scrambling.  He responded admirably with 3.7 shutout innings striking out three and walking one.

He has been huge strikeout guy as a starter in the minors (9.5 K/9 career, over 10 the last two years) and he has a legitimate shot to keep those kind of rates in short stints out of the pen.  But with no reliever toting a sub-3.00 ERA, the Tigers will need more than one arm to cure those bullpen woes.

Thankfully for the Tigers, relief pitching is usually one of the most plentiful items in the trade market year in and year out.  And oftentimes, it is the cheapest commodity to acquire, too.  The Padres seem like a great trade partner as I count five arms that could (and should) be up for trade ranging from ace closer Heath Bell to the reborn Pat Neshek.

TRADE: Bruce Rondon and a throw in C-rated (or lower) prospect to the San Diego Padres for Mike Adams – Rondon is a 20-year old flamethrowing reliever (14.6 K/9), but control is a big time issue right now (8.6 BB/9).  He is allowing next to nothing when it comes to hits (1.6 H/9), though, so he has a 1.62 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.  Adams is 32 years old and a free agent after this year.  Plus he comes with loads of injury risk having never put together back-to-back full seasons.

As such, I’m not sure the Padres could really ask for too much from a prospective trade partner even given how great he is when he does pitch, especially this year with his otherworldly 10.5 K/BB in 22 innings.  His 8.7 K/9 is pretty good, but it’s the disgusting 0.8 BB/9 that is powering his insane season.

Luke Gregerson is five years younger, but also a free agent after the season.  He might draw a little more in return than Adams, but he hasn’t been the Gregerson from 2009 and 2010 so far this year.  His strikeout rate has seen a precipitous drop from 10.2 to 6.0 and he has become a lot more hittable allowing 10.3 H/9 (after 5.4 last year).

I can’t see the Tigers trading for Bell as the cost would be too much and Valverde isn’t going anywhere while Neshek would be too much of an injury risk having pitched just 34 innings since 2008 including his 12 this year.

Moves:

  1. RP1 – Promoted Furbush
  2. RP2 – Trade Rondon + PTBNL for Adams, M

 

Oakland A’s (22-25)

Team Need: Bats… about nine of them.

I covered the A’s a good bit last week specifically tied to them addressing their need of a bat (or several!) so I won’t do an entire re-hash.  Internally, I think Jemile Weeks should be called up soon because he is healthy for once and hitting really well in AAA while Mark Ellis is not.  Ellis had a stretch where he had multi-hit games in three out of six (10-for-24) and it moved his average up to a blistering .208.  That wouldn’t cut in 1968 much less now (OK, it might cut it in ’68… but it really doesn’t in ’11 even with the down hitting).

If they don’t want to try Weeks out just yet, then they should look to Adrian Cardenas, who continues to hit well having raised his batting average yearly since 2007 up to .357 this year while finally adding some pop, too, with a career high slugging percentage of .478.  He has shown a strong eye at the plate throughout his career as well, especially at the high minors with 136 walks to 150 strikeouts in 306 games at AA and AAA.  One of the two prospects deserves a look to jumpstart their anemic offense if they want to realistically contend this year.  I also think a trade is in order as they match up really well with another team in contention.

TRADE: Andrew Bailey to the Cincinnati Reds for Yonder Alonso – I covered this in great detail in this piece about Bailey a week ago.  Assuming he comes up back healthy and as good as we’ve seen him, this is a great fit for both teams involved.  Alonso doesn’t really have a future in Cincinnati being blocked by Joey Votto, Chris Heisey and Jonny Gomes and the Oakland bullpen is stocked.  Alonso can move directly into Daric Barton’s spot at first or into the outfield which would allow Josh Willingham to take Barton’s place.  Either way, Barton’s vomit-inducing .280 SLG has to get out of the everyday lineup.  They just can’t expect to win with that lack of production at a power position.  Hell, you can’t really take it on at any position, but especially first base.

The A’s could make another move closer to the deadline, but it would hinge on Brandon McCarthy and Tyson Ross coming back from their recent injuries to pitch like they were before getting hurt and recently returned Josh Outman to pick up where he left off in 2009 (which he showed he might do on Monday night with 7 strong innings).  That would give them some rotation depth which they could flip for another bat.

TRADE: McCarthy to the Detroit Tigers for Brennan Boesch – Starting pitching isn’t a primary need for the Tigers, but you really can’t have too much and the back end is tenuous with Phil Coke (who left his last start injured) and Brad Penny, meanwhile their outfield has developed some depth with Casper Wells and Andy Dirks joining the club.  Plus Magglio Ordonez will be back at some point which would give them six outfielders plus Don Kelly for three spots (DH is locked up by Victor Martinez most days).  This one would really be contingent on McCarthy’s health, of course.

Boesch isn’t tearing the cover off of the ball or anything, but David DeJesus has been awful and Boesch has at least shown the capability for some power in his time as a major leaguer.  McCarthy was a million dollar flier for the A’s and netting a 26-year old outfielder with some potential would probably be much more than they truly expected when they took the gamble on the former top prospect pitcher.

Moves:

  1. Bat1 – Trade Bailey for Alonso
  2. Bat2 – Trade McCarthy for Boesch

That covers the American League contenders.   I left out the Rays, Red Sox, Rangers and Angels, all of whom are contenders in my eyes, but don’t have an obvious trade scenario for a high-impact move.  The Rays, Red Sox and Rangers have pretty deep systems to attack needs or can be expected to play better once their current set of 25 begins to meet expectations (Evan Longoria, Dustin Pedroia, Carl Crawford; Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz returning from injury).

Meanwhile the Angels don’t have a glaring flaw they can attack via the market.  There aren’t any major first basemen available that would be a huge upgrade over Mark Trumbo.  If Vernon Wells performs anything like expected upon his return from the DL, he will help their power woes and they could shore up their pen via trade, but Scott Downs, Rich Thompson and Jordan Walden give them a solid trio and they can probably manufacture one more reliable arm without having to make a move.

Next up, the National League contenders.

Sunday: 05.24.2009

Around the Diamond – 5.23.09

Welcome to the Baseball by Paul podcast notes for Saturday May 23rd, 2009. I won’t be doing audio for Saturday, but I will share the notes. So let’s go Around the Diamond:

FIRST BASE
On May 16th, Cincinnati 1B Joey Votto left the Reds’ game early with dizziness after just two at-bats. He was ruled out that Sunday, but he was nothing more than day-to-day, which made things tricky for fantasy owners setting their weekly lineup the following Monday. He went in for a battery tests before it was finally determined on May 21st that he had an inner ear infection. It was a bust of a week for those unable to do daily transactions and especially crushing for those in head-to-head leagues… that is until Saturday. Votto tried to make up for the lost time by smashing two HRs in consecutive innings off of Cleveland Indians starter David Huff. That said, I would still monitor his status on Sunday and if you have a legitimate replacement, it might be worth putting him in for Votto—especially in H2H leagues.

Jason Giambi hit his 400th HR on Saturday night and it came against former teammate, Danny Haren. He hasn’t quite jumpstarted the Oakland offense as expected, but he can get hot and string five or six homers together in a the span of a week to 10 days. Many, including yours truly, believed that Giambi, Orlando Cabrera and Matt Holliday would join forces with Jack Cust and Kurt Suzuki to boost the Oakland offense. But they have sputtered, to say the least.

SECOND BASE
Orlando Hudson
was one of my favorite pickups in the offseason and I sought to acquire him in every league possible. He hasn’t disappointed in the least! If he can stay healthy, he is en route to a career year of 12 HR, 14 SB and a .339 average. I thought he’d be an underrated source of runs scored based on the team that the Dodgers were putting together and that has played out so far as he’s on pace for 120, but the loss of Manny Ramirez until July definitely puts that pace in doubt. In Manny’s absence, Hudson has taken over the 3-hole in the lineup. He has .346 there, but scored just five runs. He has certainly done his part to fill the void as he carries a 13-game hitting streak into play on Sunday and he has hit safely in 22 of 23.

SHORTSTOP
If I told you I had a shortstop available for you that is hitting .329/.356/.503 with 5 HR, 25 RBI and 26 runs scored, would you be interested? Of course you would be, those are some pretty strong numbers. What if I told you that shortstop was Miguel Tejada, would you be as interested? Unfortunately, there are too many fantasy owners whose interest would dip once they learned the name. There is an inherent bias that creeps into our game and often does more harm than good.

Jason Collette of Owner’s Edge at fanball.com & rototimes.com does an excellent weekly piece entitled “Who Am I?” where he presents a player’s stat line and gets you to buy into something for better or worse without the preconceived notions of that player clouding your judgment. At the end of the day, this is a numbers game pure and simple. Trades that would be perfectly viable in a fantasy league would be laughably bad in the “real-life” and vice versa. However, as a community we get too tied to name value instead of focusing on the numbers value of a guy.

THIRD BASE
Speaking of eliminating biases, Andy LaRoche has done nothing but leave a sour taste in mouths of fantasy owners since arrival to the big leagues, but discounting him after 223 major league at-bats is nothing short of stupid. He added 63 more ABs to his total in April but still wasn’t doing much to impress. Fast forward through May 23rd and he’s up to .288 with a .360 on-base. He still has too few ABs to make any wholesale judgments but it is very nice to see him hitting like he had in the minors (.295 in 1800 ABs). Fun factoid – he attended the same school as John Lackey: Grayson County College in Denison, TX. No idea why I remembered Lackey went there.

CATCHER
Chris Iannetta
was really getting into a nice groove, so why wouldn’t he go on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. After hitting just .174 in a tough April, Iannetta was at .276 in May while continuing to display his usual sharp discipline. He was still at .333 OBP in April despite the average and he remained rather disciplined in May with 8 BB in 58 AB resulting in a .364 OBP. Now, Yorvit Torrealba becomes the full time catcher in Colorado. Your waiver wire almost assuredly holds a better option.

OUTFIELD
I mentioned my good friend Jason Collette earlier and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention him again as I bring up the player that almost single-handedly took from super-sleeper status to mid-round talent by championing him so fervently this offseason. The player in question is Nelson Cruz and he hit his 10th and 11th home runs of the season and he’s not hitting a healthy .285 to go with the massive power. Perhaps more impressive are the six stolen bases. After 44 HRs between the minors and majors last year and 20+ the two years previous, his power was not in question. But you didn’t hear much about his speed despite the fact that he had 27 SBs last year. At 28, he is a late bloomer, but he definitely looks legit and he will only get better as the weather warms up in Arlington.

On May 23rd in baseball history – Shawn Green rips four home runs in 16-3 rout of Milwaukee. He went an absurd 6-for-6 with the four home runs, a double and a single. He scored six times and drove in seven. He had 19 total bases! He ended up with 42 HR that season and 114 RBIs to go with them. I thought it was odd that he only had 114 RBIs with that many HRs, but according to Baseball-Reference.com, it’s not uncommon at all. There have been exactly 50 instances of 42+ HR and 114< RBIs.

PITCHER
Since I’m not going to do the audio for Saturday, I’m going to cut the pitching section short since I didn’t find there to be too much remarkable news. I’ll just leave you with this:

Why is Brian Moehler allowed to pitch…. ever? Just go look at his numbers; I won’t waste any more time on this clown.

Also congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals staff allowing just two runs in the past five games. I don’t care if it came against a struggling Chicago Cubs offense and a pitiful Kansas City Royals one, that is a damn impressive feat regardless.