Category Archives: catchers

Spring Training 2013: Non-Roster Invitees With Great Names

Spring Training is upon us, thank goodness, and there is baseball to be seen.  MLB.tv is in full swing and might be the greatest technological advancement of all time until Google starts augmenting reality and we begin living in a real-life science fiction movie (happening).  Anyone can see any team from anywhere.  It’s wonderful to see live baseball, poorly timed swings, and poorly chosen facial hair (here, for example).  The real fun comes in the sheer NUMBER of players involved in this magical time of year.  Sure, the games are therefore often mismatched in terms of competition and sure, some games end in ties (which is gross, but understandable).  But as someone who prides myself on having a widespread knowledge of the most intimately useless knowledge of baseball, Spring Training always serves as a magical time to discover some truly obscure players and some stupendous names.  You might not have had the time to look over the spring training rosters, so I did (thanks, wikipedia!) and culled the best and oddest names I came across, limiting the search for Non-Roster invitees only for the sake of rarity.  Sorry L.J. Hoes – you have my favorite name of the spring, but you’re a 40-man roster man.  Without further ado, some of the most interesting non-roster invitees of the spring:

Gary Sánchez   C   NYY

Though NOT affiliated with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay in ANY way, the name warranted inclusion.  He’s actually a solid prospect.

Slade Heathcott   OF   NYY

Do you know any non-fictional person named Slade?  Exactly.

Matt Buschmann   SP   TB

I’m more of a Coors man, myself.

Brock Bond   IF   SF

Simply an awesome baseball name.  Sounds like one a video game would generate.

Kevin Quackenbush   P   SD

You are welcome.

J. B. Shuck   OF   LAA

Oddly, speaks fluent jive

Kyle Knudson & Dan Rohlfing   C   MIN

twins

Great names.  More to the point, great MLB catcher names.

Adam Weisenburger   C    MIL

wesienmil

Made me think of this (one of my favorite scenes ever).

Nick Struck   P   CHC

I await the day where we can see N. Struck and J. Outman in a boxscore.

Wirfin Obispo   P   ATL

Considering naming my first-born Wirfin.

Yangervis Solarte   IF   TEX

From the club that gives you Elvis…

Sugar Ray Marimon   P   KC

Can’t decide between jokes here.  I just wanna fly?  Something about frosted tips?

BAKER’S DOZEN DOUBLE BONUS!!!

Josh Booty (yes, him)   Knuckleballer   ARZ

Josh Booty

Heh, booty.  Booty-Booty-Booty-Booty Kunckin’ everywhere?  Anyone?

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Filed under Baseball, catchers, Closers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, JUAN URIBE, MLB, Posted, Rookies, second base, shortstop, Sleepers, Spring Training, third base

Fantasy Mustache: Catchers

Sleeper Mustache Candidates

#1 Travis D’Arnaud

image

That is a stare that says, “I’m ready to bludgeon some baseballs, and maybe some kittens.”

image

But wait through the magic of technology, add a Buford Tannen mustache and POW! It works.

It is difficult to project rookies, especially talented ones on bad teams.  Issues from playing time to (more practically) service time add a complex variable to when a rook will play, how much they’ll play and therefore if and when they’ll get comfortable.  That said, D’Arnaud has been projected to be a solid MLB starting catcher for several years now, so it is no stretch to give him a solid, if ordinary projection line pre-mustache.  With the mad dog mustache power added to his already steely glare, D’Arnaud figures to be a force to be reckoned with once the Metropolitans call him up to be their non-John Buck catcher (think sooner rather than later.  MUCH sooner with that ‘stache).

Pre-Mustache: .260 AVG// 16 2B // 45 R // 13 HR // 50 RBI

Post-Mustache: ..301 AVG // 25 2B // 66 R // 20 HR // 80 RBI

Again, the numbers don’t lie – the mustache variable cannot be discounted.

#2 Devin Mesoraco

Oh, hey there. Just thinkin’ bout baseball n’ stuff

Oh, hey there.  Just thinkin' bout what kind of eggs you'll want in the mornin'

Oh, hey there. Just thinkin’ bout what kind of eggs you’ll want in the mornin’

With experience comes confidence.  Even if that ‘experience’ is fabricated.  Trust me, I was a middle school boy once.  It will be no surprise, then, when Mr. Mesoraco takes a big leap in not only playing time, but also production, with the addition of those ladykiller whiskers.

Bill James Projections (Pre-Mustache): .255 AVG // 29 2B // 2 3B // 16 HR // 56 R // 59 RBI //

Mathematical Mustache Magic Practical Prognostication Algorithm (TM): .315 AVG // 39 2B // 4 3B // 22 HR // 70 R // 70 RBI //

Devin’s new stat projections reflect what his ‘stache is telling you – I’ll take more, but only if you ask me to, toots.

#3 Jeff Mathis

mathis

I have no projections to give.  Mathis is merely a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad bad hitter.  At this point, why not try a mustache, man?

Stay groomed, First Basemen coming soon.

-v

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Filed under catchers, Fantasy Baseball, GOOSE, MLB, offseason, Random Thoughts, Sleepers

Fantasy Mustache: Catchers

Comeback Mustache of the Year

Martin is not impressed.

Before he went to the Yankees, I was a big Russell Martin fan.  An athletic catcher, he both threw and ran well, leading to some of my favorite in-game scenarios where he would both throw someone out bunting then bunt himself and beat it out (doesn’t that just always seems extra, extra awesome for a catcher?).  He was bad for the Yankees.  His homer total was inflated, as would a four-year old’s, by Yankee Stadium Redux so, statistically, and as catchers go, I suppose he was serviceable.  I happen to think he’s a better player.

Here are Bill James’ projections for My favorite Martin in 2013:

//112 hits// 22 2B // 16 HR // 64 R // 60 RBI // 8 SB // .242 AVG //

Leading to a deep “MEH,” from all concerned.  Where is the fleet of foot Martin, the .280 -. 300 hitter Martin?  Who is this manicured man?!

Martin is in obvious need of a mustache makeover (tv rights pending on that one, folks).  I understand that players deteriorate over time blah blah blah but this guy was pretty nifty not even 5 years ago!  So I fired up the math machines and the facial composite sketchers andWHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!?!?!!?

BOOM.

Russ beat me to it!  He is obviously not only a ballplayer, but has a keen understanding of the mysticism of the mustache.  Let us reconsider his projections, now knowing he has reconsidered his look.  I’ll bet Mr. Bill James doesn’t have a way of computing mustache value-added, but I sure do:

//177 hits// 30 2B // 19 HR // 88 R // 77 RBI // 22 SB // .333 AVG // PLUS 4 TRIPLES!

As you can see, Russell got his groove back.  Freed from the shackles of the hair-hating Yankees, Martin can be himself once more.  With his smoothly Gatsby-esque new fur, Martin will undoubtedly make the leap to an upper-class season.  Just look at that careful constructed cookie-duster.  He will regain not only his stroke but his deceptive quickness.  Again, I point you to the devious flavor saver.  Is that not the look of a man capable of swiping double-digit bases?  Is that not the look of a man who will find clever means to get on base?  Is that not the look of a man who would make an excellent addition to your barbershop quartet (alto, duh)?  Of COURSE it is, that is a mustache of confidence, a mustache of class – a mustache of redemption. 

Martin is poised, nay groomed,  for a better 2013.  And he knows it is due to his upper lip.  That is the smile of a man who knows the future is out there, a single green light, if you will, and Martin is ready to take it… even if it’s in Pittsburgh and not West Egg.

If you don’t get the reference, that’s okay.  There’s a movie coming out soon.

Tomorrow I’ll tackle the mustache sleepers.  If Russell Martin is any indication, the future is bright for potentially moustachioed ballplayers.

Stay groomed,

-v

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Filed under Baseball, catchers, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Opinion, Posted, Random Thoughts

Fantasy Mustache: Catchers

First up, the golden boy…

Here is the before picture of one Buster Posey, the top ranked fantasy catcher, and his projections via Bill James:

image

Yeah, he’s a handsome fella

//173 hits// 36 2B // 2 3B // 24 HR // 79 R // 98 RBI // 65 BB // 7 IBB//

“Well golly,” you must be saying, “those look like some pretty darn good stats with a mere bare baby face! Does Buster Posey really need a mustache to improve his season?”

Well “Aha!” says I – you are correct, if only partially. You will note that these numbers represent Posey more or less duplicating his stellar 2012 campaign. “Balderdash!” I will further exclaim, for Buster Posey is a righteous dude and I bet he can do better.

So what can allow him to take this leap up?

A mustache, obviously.

Below is a vision of Posey with a mustache, accompanied by the rigorously investigated and meticulously calculated projections of his improved stats for a hypothetical mustachioed 2013 campaign.

(DISCLAIMER: Due to the graphic nature of this artist rendering, the author advises you finish anything you are drinking or eating before continuing to the photo)

image

damn, that is a fearsome man.

//242 hits// 66 2B // 15 3B // 38 HR // 121 R // 133 RBI // 115 BB // 35 IBB//

As you can see, the numbers don’t lie.  With complex computer logarithms and mathematical machines, one comes to the simple conclusion that if Mr. Posey was to grow a mustache, he would have a season for the ages.  With great mustache comes great confidence.  This would allow Buster to be a more aggressive hitter and baserunner.  With his new found follically-powered batting eye, he not only can be more confident swinging at borderline pitches, leading to increased hits, but he will also benefit from an increased respect from both pitchers and umpires alike, leading to his improved walk totals.  Mr. Posey is by no means fast but by being bewhiskered, he will no doubt have the not only the gall but the aptitude to take the extra base whenever necessary, hence the increased extra base hits.

This exhaustive research has concluded that Buster Posey is on the brink of becoming not only the top fantasy catcher, but a wooly-lipped demigod reigning over the NL West.

Stay tuned for the Comeback Mustache of the Year Candidate and Mustache Sleepers!

Stay groomed,

-v

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We Need to Talk About Jason…

The folks over at the finely tuned machine that is Fangraphs had a great article several days ago on the “forced retirement team,” that is, players who seemed to have gas left in the tank, couldn’t find work, and were forced to ride off to the sunset. I’m not sure where, if at all, Jason Varitek falls on that team. His place on a realteam is a much more relevant for now. Admittedly, his skills have diminished. Yes, he can still run into a fastball. Yes, he is still notorious for working tirelessly on game planning, something even the dumbest of pitchers appreciate (cough, John Lackey). But his defensive skills have deteriorated and he’s almost 40 years old. Those two pieces of information alone usually signify the end for a catcher, especially one with weakening offensive skills and no opening at DH to slide into. The final, industrial-sized nail in Jason Varitek’s Red Sox coffin may be the 2011 team’s collapse.

 

Red Sox fans have loyally stuck by Tek as his production has decreased, citing all sorts of justifications. He’s a top-notch game caller. He’s a gamer. He hit A-Rod. Varitek undeniably gave his heart to the organization. If you question his passion for his team, go back and watch that clip of Varitek shattering his elbow as he desperately goes after a foul ball, or watch him shove Alex Rodriguez’s centaur-face. I watch that video when I’m having a bad day. Red Sox Nation knows what Varitek has meant to this franchise, and no one questioned for a second that he deserved to be the captain.

But there’s the rub — he earned that right to be captain. He therefore must shoulder the considerable responsibility that comes with the now-infamous collapse of the Red Sox in 2011. Pitchers slacking off, giving up, players appearing to lose interest- these are not on Terry Francona entirely. Part of the concept behind naming a captain is to help a manager facilitate the clubhouse.

Francona was notoriously a “players’ manager” yet still faced the type of behavior in 2011 that has come to light. What’s the point of having a captain if they cannot reel in a team losing respect for a manager?  A captain should be the last line of defense against that kind of insubordination. Either Varitek stopped trying to be a leader (in which case it’s time for him to take a break) or he was complacent in the disaster that was the epic turmoil that was the end of 2011 for Boston (in that case, good riddance to him, in my book).

Regardless of whether Varitek had an active or role in the 2011 Red Sox demise, his situation and Tim Wakefield’s retirement bring to light an interesting conundrum in all of sports. What do you do with an aging cornerstone of the team?

The city of Boston has two teams dealing with this type of situation as the aging Celtics are facing a critical juncture with its ‘Big Three.’ Like Varitek, Paul Pierce has been a hardworking and loyal teammate. The difference between the Big Three and Varitek is value. Teams would still like to have any one of the Big Three on their team for a playoff push. Varitek will either be brought back to the Sox or likely retire. So the question really is- what, if anything, does a team owe a player beyond a contract? What is loyalty in sports?

a job at Seaworld, perhaps?

When people look back on ‘the good old days,’ they lament today’s sports contracts, attitudes, and a (perceived) lack of loyalty. Players leave the team they came up with every year for the highest dollar (Ahem, Mr. Pujols.), abandoning fans and cities, taking their ‘talents’ elsewhere. Those quotation marks may seem unnecessary, but Lebron James effectively ruined that term for athletes forever. So what has changed? Why are there not more players like Stan Musinal? Ted Williams? Bill Russell? John Stockton? These guys who were not only pillars of the team, but pillars of the community.

Money, as usual, lies at the root. Players make a lot of money nowadays, if you didn’t know. The staggering dollars even marginal players make compared to eras past cannot be discounted. Sure, maybe guys felt stronger ties to cities and programs back then, but our concept of loyalty then is just as tied to money as it is now.

Players in all sports stayed in one place because it made sense financially. It’s a heck of a lot easier to transition into some sort of business after your playing days are over if you have a base in the area.  In the ‘modern era’ we see players hanging on to their playing days, leaving their teams for another city, another paycheck, because they have nowhere else to go. Players across the sports world often have no clue what to do after the game.

There are only so many seats at a pregame show and only so many color commentating spots. Many players do not plan for being retired, and see no need to. There is so much money nowadays (comparatively) that a smart player does not have the need to have a ‘real job’s’ skill set, as he may have had to in the past. Superstars or even guys with ‘personality,’ such as Kevin Millar can easily find endorsement deals or talking head spots. But some are in the in-between, like Varitek.

Varitek was never a superstar, nor was he a yapper like Kevin Millar or Tony Siragusa. He possesses a determination and work ethic that his peers respect which, in turn, makes us the fan respect him. He seems destined, as the newly retired Tim Wakefield does, for a place in the Red Sox organization. Call it a loyalty program. However there’s no one, fan or ownership alike, can pretend 2011 did not happen. So what was Varitek’s role or lack thereof in the team’s follies?

Wakefield was a less instrumental part of the 2011 team. He will remain a huge influence in Boston as he has been heavily involved in the Jimmy Fund and other charities for his entire career. A job at NESN is not out of the question. But what of Varitek? Does he still have the gravitas to be a bullpen coach? A pitching coach? A bench coach? A minor league instructor? We may never know the inner workings of the 2011 collapse in terms of who stood out and who stood idly by. But as Varitek’s lack of place on the team and likely retirement looms, we’re going to need to talk about Jason.

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Catcher ADP: Hiding Beauty Like a Pair of Glasses in a Rom-Com

She’s All That (1999), but you already got that reference.

yeah, like we didn't know she was cute. C'MON. the glasses work for me. sigh. I miss the 90's sometimes. but only sometimes.

ADP is a beautiful, terrible thing.  We as humans love to rank things and it can cloud our judgement to see an arbitrary list.  ADP is an incredibly useful tool, as it pools and averages where others are taking players you might be thinking of taking.  You know and I know that just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t make it right.  ADP is a barometer, not law.  You know this, I know this… but that doesn’t mean every jabroney in your league knows that.  There’s at least one in every draft.  Someone who takes Chone Figgins in the 4th round.  Who asks if Martin Russell is still available.  Who tries to draft a retired player.  Even the smartest fantasy owners fall victim to ADP (Hand raised.  That sentence makes it sound like a virus).  Between the bimbos and the braniacs drafting with you, you’re all going to at one point rely on ADP as some kind of deciding/tie-breaking factor.  So here are some players not to forget about in 2012, as I’m betting they outperform their average draft positions.  Here’s to hoping ya’ll find your Rachel Leigh Cooks, you Freddie Prinze Jr.’s, you.

As always, much love to Mock Draft Central, where you can get all kinds of ADP reports by signing up.

CATCHER

Catcher is a tough position to read into ADP-wise.  Mock drafts reflect real leagues and they can have multiple catcher positions.  There’s a reason back-up catchers are back-ups- there’s a dropoff in quality in both  fantasy and reality when you get past your starting catcher.  That being said, ADP still reflects how people value a player, so it’s worthwhile to compare.  Buster Posey (59.7ADP) and Joe Mauer (79.9 ADP) might be the ‘names,’ but they’re injury risks, to say the least.  Wait a few rounds and grab Matt Wieters (97.8).  Better yet, wait an additional round and take Alex Avila (108.5).

Avila is a really good hitter.  He has an excellent Line Drive rate (21.7%).  He has a solid K:BB ratio (131:73), especially for a catcher.  And he has good “gap power”/ is a good “doubles hitter” – I’ll let you choose the saying you’re more comfortable with, they both mean the same thing to me.  He’s everything you should look for in a fantasy catcher – be reasonable, folks, don’t ask for more.  He’s also the last catcher I’d draft in the first 15 rounds.  Honestly.  The position is such a mix of uncertainty, over-rated-ness, and mediocrity that my feeling is if I don’t get a select few catchers in the first half of the draft at a value pick (meaning a round I feel comfortable in – I’m not taking Napoli in the 4th round, despite my affection for him).  Knowing that, there are plenty of players to target as you get down to you final picks who could yield  a big return as your starter.  Here’s a few I’d target as the draft(s) dwindle on…

Chris Iannetta (ANA)- ADP 238

having a large head also helps as a catcher

I don’t have any reason to always think on the upside of Ianetta.  Maybe it was those years of the Red Sox pursuing him.  Who knows.  Year after year though, I consider him (quietly) a sleeper.  His power is legitimate.  He’s a pretty good receiver and Mike Scioscia always gets good production from his catcher rotation (what Jeff Mathis? oh, shut up Jeff Mathis you’re bringing us all down.).  Kidding aside, Scioscia does understand the ins and outs of catching.  The question is whether Scioscia or the potential of a great lineup the Angels could trot out helps him more.  He has a good eye, has demonstrated power at every level and has never really had the opportunity to shine.  In the last few rounds, I’m giving him a shot.

Devin Mesoraco (CIN) – ADP 243.4

WHOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. WHOOOOAAAAAAAAAA. WHOOAAAAAAAAAA. FAAAAACE.

There is a reason he was not part of that Latos deal (and another prospect, Grandal, was)- the Reds think they have the real deal with Mesoraco (so does Keith Law).  He has what scouts like to toss around as an ‘advanced approach’ at the plate.  He has a strong arm.  In 5 minor league seasons he has demonstrated the ability to hit for a good combination of average and power.  Everything in the minors points to him being a starting catcher capable of hitting around .300 with 20 homers.  Toss into that mix that good eye and the ability to run a little bit (leading to doubles, not singles) and Mesoraco should be able to have a .850+ OPS.  In a good lineup, scoring a bunch of runs, that sounds like a very draftable catcher.  If you’d rather take Ryan Doumit (235), by all means do, I’ll be happy to snag Mesoraco as the draft closes and laugh when you are in that wonderful situation where Doumit is playing drop-ably bad and you have no viable alternative.  Just sayin’.

Ryan Lavarnway (BOS) – ADP 344.3  (listed as a DH on MDC)

20 bombs.

You may say I’m being a homer with this one.  You’re only partially right.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia actually showed a lot of promise for the Red Sox last year.  He posted a .215 ISO (measure of power, read about it) and seemed to grow a bit more comfortable as the season progressed.  That being said, he didn’t put up particularly exciting numbers, save for the power.  Lavarnway can match that power by every account.  He showed excellent power throughout the minors and looked powerful in his 43 AB for the Red Sox in 2011.  OK, that was a reach.  Hyperbole aside, Lavarnway seems to project as a similar type of player to Saltalamacchia in the worst case scenario.  Throw in Kelly Shoppach (hah.) and Jason Varitek (double hah.) and the question with the Red Sox becomes a matter of playing time.  If Lavarnway gets 350-400 AB, it is now unreasonable to see him hitting 15-18 homers, conservatively, with a better average than Salty (.235).  He’s worth a flier as a last pick of the draft in my book.

There you are, some ideas for Costco-priced catchers.  I did the thinking for you, all you have to do is remember.  Catchers are like relievers when it comes to drafting in my book – if you don’t get a sure thing early, move on and look for talent elsewhere.  It’s not worth extending yourself out of desperation to fill the catcher position on your roster just because you already have someone at another spot.  So hunt the bargain bin, look like a genius, and remember to tell your friends who told you to draft and start Lavarnway this year.

-w


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Filed under Baseball, catchers, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Opinion, Posted, Sleepers

Well, That Was Fast…

 

BUY BUY BUY SELL SELL SELL

Just a day after completing a deal for the arbitration eligible Mike Napoli, the Blue Jays have turned around and dealt the squat C/1B to the Rangers for the expendable Frank Francisco.

This deal has several implications. Firstly, it means the Rangers have no intention of moving Neftali Feliz to the rotation, a move that would have had startling fantasy meaning (would’ve been like the Sox moving Paps to the rotation back in the day). Sticking with the closer talk, the move is very interesting for those of us looking to scrape up some saves off the trash heap, as there are two intriguing candidates now in Toronto in Francisco and the newly acquired Octavio Dotel. Not being an ‘expert’ on handicapping saves, my best guess is that Francisco emerges as the Jays’ closer, as he has had success there in the past and isn’t as volatile as Dotel. But what do I know, Dotel has outstanding K potential and both are likely usable in all formats, regardless of who wins out in the closer competition, if there is one.

As for the deal’s implications in Texas, Napoli creates a sort of ripple effect. The deal all but takes the Rangers out of contention for Vlad the Impaler. The deal also makes for an interesting C/1B situation. Mitch Mooreland, playoff hero, figures to lose at bats, which is sad because I was curious to see what he could do with ample AB’s. Alas, he will likely have his plate appearances restricted as he learns the league. Of much less fantasy importance, save for position eligibility, Yorvit Torrealba figures to lose time behind the dish.  Either position, the move is excellent for Napoli’s already good hitting numbers.  Check out his career numbers at Rangers Ballpark… I’ll wait.  Do those numbers look good?  How bout for a catcher?  Napoli’s value is sky high in terms of fantasy right now and he may be well worth an overdraft if you miss out on the big name catchers.  He could be in for a monster season in a monster lineup.

As an interesting aside, the deal shows an interesting strategy on the Rangers part that I have been utilizing in fantasy for years: flexibility. With Mike Young and Napoli, the Rangers have players capable of playing multiple positions as well as DH. This is obviously a movement away from the big slugger-type DH’s in favor of having moveable parts. It works in football, we’ll see what the Rangers do with the flexibility in 2011.  Hopefully Napoli stays put now because, while I like the guy in fantasy, three articles in 2 days would be pushing it.

 

-w

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Filed under catchers, Closers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, MLB, offseason, Opinion, pitchers, Posted

MLB.com Posts Top 50 Prospects

In one of my favorite moves of the offseason, MLB has released its top 50 prospects list, to be discussed tonight on MLB Network by its excellent, goofball hosts.

Here are the positional breakdowns for all you prospect junkies, hoping for that next big thing.

Enjoy!

Catcher

First Base

Second Base

Third Base

Shortstop

Outfield

Left-Hand Pitchers

Right-Hand Pitchers

I love lists like this.  Be sure to check out the discussion at 9 tonight on MLB Network and the Chat on MLB.com on Wednesday.  And for all 4 of our loyal readers, let us know what YOUR thoughts on the prospects for 2011 in the comments (Trevor has lots of opinions)!

 

-w

 

UPDATE: Here’s the list, an article breaking it down a bit, and VIDEO!

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Filed under catchers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, MLB, offseason, outfield, pitchers, Posted, Rookies, second base, shortstop, Sleepers, third base

Put up or Shut up: Jarrod Saltalamacchia

looks like a catcher

I like to think that the people who run baseball organizations are all smarter than me.  This idea gives me comfort when it comes to prospects and moves and whatnot – the higher ups, scouts, and people in the know are just better informed.  So when I look at Jarrod Saltalamacchia, I am perplexed.  On the one hand, my Red Sox bias begins to take over: “sure he’ll hit, there’s a reason the Bravos were so high on him,” I tell myself.  On another hand, he will share time with Jason Varitek.  On yet another hand, presumably someone else’s (don’t get any ideas), he hasn’t hit above .270 in the majors.  All this weighs heavy on my considerable brain.  But as TO might say, if it looks like a catcher and smells like a catcher, by golly, it’s a catcher.

First things first:  there has to be something there.  Scouts from multiple organizations can’t be totally off on a guy, right?  Let’s talk about the minors – the pedigree is there… back in 2007.  A .309 ISO in AA????  WOW.  Scouts all saw/see Salty as a potential 20-30 homer guy.  Now we may have to concede at this point that he will not be a .300 hitter.  Not many catchers are.  The power is legit.  So is the fact that he swings the stick from both sides of the plate.  A catcher, with power, who also switch hits?  Sounds like a recipe for success to me.  Only it hasn’t quite worked out like that for Jarrod.

The situation for Salty is ripe for a comeback, though.  He’s playing in a great hitters’ park in Fenway.  He doesn’t have the same pressures he once did as a hyped rookie.  Heck, he won’t eve be asked to catch 150 games, Tek will likely get a lot of AB’s too.  So why Salty?  The power.  Bill James and I are on the same path with this one.  he has Jarrod hitting 12 homers in 110 games (371 PA).  That’s a good number of homers for infrequent at-bats.  I’ll argue that given those times in the box (and probably closer to 400 PA than 350 – V-Tek, sorry but you’re old), Salty can provide in the high teens for round-trippers.  Now tell me how many fantasy catchers are good for that?  How many that you can get in the last round?  I’ve been of the belief that there are maybe 3 catchers worth owning if you have to draft them above the 15th round.  5, now, because of Posey and Santana.  After that, you might as well wait until the end of a draft to snag someone.  I offer that it’s time for Salty to put up, and time for you to take one last flier on him.

 

 

Short and sweet, but that’s the point.  No numbers really, just time for Salty to put up or shut up.

 

-w

 

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Filed under catchers, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Opinion, Pickups, Posted, Put Up or Shut Up, Sleepers

The all-contract year team

Every year there are a few guys who are in a contract year that put up crazy numbers that land them a large contract (Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson come to mind). Sometimes, they are just guys who already produce while others are coming off poor seasons (or careers) and need to rebound (badly). But no matter what they did last year, everything they do this year will be watched and scrutinized, giving them extra incentive to have a huge year. Keep an eye out for these guys:

C: Dionar Navarro

Once the one of the top prospects in the Yankees system, Navarro has fallen on hard times and had a terrible season in 2010. However, he is poised to become the Dodgers starting catcher and may finally tap his talent to prove he can stay in LA for the long haul. He is playing for his major league life and might respond well to the pressure.

1B: Prince Fielder

This is an obvious choice in early rounds but he could put up even bigger numbers this year than he did last year. He has a lot of pressure on him after signing a record arbitration contract, but also has a lot to prove. He is out to prove that he is not an after thought in the 2012 first baseman free agent class which could include Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez. Pujols and A-Gon are primed for huge seasons (and contracts) no matter what but Fielder is the real wildcard. He needs to show constant improvement especially after his down year last year in order to get the 7-10 year deal Scott Boras will be looking for.

2B: Rickie Weeks

Looking to build on his solid fantasy season last year, Weeks is in a great position to land a pretty big contract in the offseason. Weeks needs to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke and that he can be an elite second baseman in the league. He played more games that he has in any other season with the Brewers and his durability will be a factor. Rickie will want to put to bed any doubt that he is a soft player who can put up mediocre stats. If last year is any indication, he will rise to the occasion.

SS: Jose Reyes

Remember when this guy was a one of the top players in all of fantasy? I do too and it wasn’t that long ago. Like Weeks, Reyes put up solid fantasy numbers after a year plagued by injuries. At 27, Reyes is entering his “prime” and will want a contract that will reflect that. Look for him to be a bright spot on an otherwise pretty bad Mets team.

3B: Aramis Ramirez

Yes, he is 32. Yes, he had a bad year last year. But the contract he signs next offseason could be his last professional contract and he will want to make it count. The Cubs should be improved this year which will help him, and the addition of Carlos Pena to the line up will also do wonders. I am not saying you should draft him early (or at all), but look for him to put together a streaky season and pick him up while he is on a hot-streak. As I said before, he is 32 and he knows he has an expiration date, he needs to show teams he hasn’t already past his. This should motivate him to a better season than last year.

OF: Jose Bautista

Another guy who will go early in drafts but also another guy who has a lot to prove. Can he put up the same numbers he did last year or will come back down to earth. (Also, just a note, he is recovering form offseason hernia surgery so keep an eye out for his recovery from that.)

OF: Grady Sizemore

The Indians have an option for Sizemore for $8.5 million or a buyout of $500,000 in 2012. Sizemore needs to prove his worth to the Indians or he might be facing free agency a year early. Especially after two down seasons (including one almost completely lost last year) Sizemore has to come up big. He was once the next can’t-miss superstar, but now he is looking like almost the exact opposite of that. This is a make or break year for him, and he knows it.

OF: Josh Willingham

This should be an interesting season for Willingham who will have to adjust to a new league and a new coast. Other than Navarro, he has to most to lose this season. If he puts up big numbers, he will get a large contract. A real boom-bust guy.

SP: Edwin Jackson

Another guy who is entering his “prime” Jackson has a lot more questions than answers. He can throw the ball nice and fast but can he improve his ERA and WHIP?  There have been other pitchers who had control problems who put together a solid contract year season (see Wright, Jaret) and Jackson could be poised to do just that.

CL: Jonathan Papelbon

Talk about a guy who is pitching with a chip on his shoulder. Pap has more than enough motivation to rebound after last season’s subpar performance and especially after it was reported he would have been non-tendered had the Red Sox signed Mariano Rivera this off-season. This guy is really pitching for his contract because it looks like Daniel Bard (or Bobby Jenks) is poised to take over the Sox  closer role after next season. Paps will come out on fire and put together an extremely impressive fantasy season.

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