Tag Archives: Rangers

Can’t Be Worse in 2013… Right?

This picture made me very happy but has little to do with the article. Fair warning.

This time of year presents some of my favorite baseball writing. Beat writers struggling to make PFP drills and AAAA scrimmages as exciting as the real thing, often with weird and hilarious results. Authors rating the “best” offseason, analyzing rookies and naming sleepers. These are all fun, but one of my favorite types of articles is the “bounceback” story. Call me a sucker for redemption.

I read dozens of these every spring, yet it has only now occurred to me the amusing subtext in many of these pieces. Sugarcoat it all you want, throw in fancy words and compliments both back and front-handed, many baseball “bounceback” stories boil down to a most basic human sense of dread – it can’t get much worse.

So without dancing around the issue, here are the guys who can’t get much worse in 2013. Seriously.  If they did it might break math or something:

Michael Young

static lip reading: “shooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooot”

Maybe Michael Young got old (let’s be clear: he’s 36, so in real-people years his life is just kicking into full-on grown up gear – but in baseball years…).  I doubt that has to do with his crappy 2012.  If indeed he did get old…. damn did it happen fast.  Bizarrely so.  No, I imagine such suckitude was an anomaly.  Young has long been compared to Paul Molitor (or at least I always have), another guy who played wherever he was asked to, DH’ed a bit, and always went bout his business – the business of hitting.  Young had 9 straight years of 170+ hits, and that is with a 2009 season cut short with a hammy injury.  He had been a model of consistency.  So just how bad was he?  Let’s look at some numbers!  Hooray numbers!

Young had a negative WAR, -1.4.  You need to know very little about numbers and even less about WAR to know that a negative stat is probably bad.  In this case, that number signifies that a replacement player would have been a BETTER OPTION THAN MIKE YOUNG.  Yikes (For those of you unfamiliar with this and any following statistics, I refer you here, to Fangraphs’ Glossary, where much smarter people have explained them in much more intelligent ways).

Wanna know who had a better WAR than Young, just for kicks? Carlos Pena did, and he hit below .200.  Jemile Weeks did, and his WAR was zero – they could’ve put any schmo in the minors in his spot, right statistics?  Both Juan Uribe AND Juan Pierre had a better WAR’s and they’re, well, Juan Pierre and Juan Uribe.

WAR is not the be all, end all – just ask Mike Trout – but it is a useful measure in comparing players against the league norms.  Maybe you don’t like WAR.  Maybe you like ‘old school’ ideas and stats.  Sabermetricians and old fogie scouts can all agree that a great measure of a player (given enough At Bats or sample size, depending on your era) is OBP.  If a guy gets on base, whether you see it in numbers on paper or with yuor own fading eyesight, he’s generally a useful player, as Mike Young had once been.  In 2012, Young had an OBP of .312.  Which is gross. Howie Kendrick was 20 points better, and he swings at everything (154 BB career).  Hunter Pence’s OBP was higher and if he doesn’t swing 48% of the time the bomb in his bat detonates (Hunter Pence is a big, big Keanu Reeves fan).

Toss aside numbers for a moment, though.  If you had the misfortune of rooting for Mr. Young last year, whether it be for your fantasy team (me) or your real team (Rangers) or both (sorry, friends), you could see he looked plain bad.  Some skills fade with age, sure.  Young won’t be stealing double digit bases again.  But his hand eye and batting eye have simply not fallen off the map.  With an ADP well over 200 (230 at the time of this article), I assure you Young is worth taking a flyer on in Fantasy Baseball.  As for the real thing?  The Phillies also took a flyer, betting that Young will hit until he quits ( Molitor had 225 hits when he was 39 years old).  After all, it can’t get much worse.

Thanks, Vin! You’re welcome, Mike.

Eric Hosmer

shucks.

Pairing Hosmer and Young together in this list seemed… poetic.  Young is riding out his last few years in the league, striving to be productive.  Hosmer is the cornerstone of what is a recurrently ‘up-and-coming’ franchise.  We all assume he is really, really good.  He demolished each minor league level, then stepped up into the bigs and had a damn fine rookie year.  Dare I say sophomore slump?  Sophomore slump.  Yes, I dared, it’s right there in the previous sentence.  I even remembered that stupid ‘O’ in ‘sophomore.’  Pay attention.

As good as Hosmer’s 2011 was, so too was his 2012 not (good, that is).  Sentence structure aside, many were left disappointed by the young slugger’s campaign.  He declined in every important offensive category, save for steals.  So at least he was trying.  When you dive into the numbers, his season is just plain yucky.  

Here’s another fun statistical measure: wRC+ (ahem, Fangraphs).  Here’s what you need to know about Weighted Runs Created (wRC):  it’s an improved version of Bill James’ Runs Created (RC) statistic, which attempted to quantify a player’s total offensive value and measure it by runs.  Cool right?  That James guy is a superweirdo, but he’s wicked smaht.  The stat itself makes sense in a very basic way, right?  Well Hosmer sucked at it.  Technically, he was ‘above average’ with his wRC+ of 81 (80 is above average, in general), but when looked at a comparative, larger context, we see the idea of ‘above average,’ measured statistically or not, is subjective.  Here are four players (minimum 400 PA, which Hosmer had easily) with better wRC+ than Hosmer.  Tell me if any of them are guys you MUST have on a team in a non-ironic way:

Andres Torres (87) // Omar Infante (92) // Rajai Davis (86) // Justin Smoak (85)

None of these guys are genuinely BAD players, but Hosmer is a Franchise player and once played like one.  Skate Play better, man.  Not to pick on Carlos Pena, but damn, Hosmer, even HE had better value metrics.  Speaking of sexy new player-value statistics, Hosmer also clocked in under zero at a robust -1.1 WAR  (RAR, Runs Above Replacement, is not only hilarious thing cats say, but also a negative measure of Hosmer badness (-10.4)).

Tired of these WAR’s and LOL-ing and RAWR’s and tweetsnapping?  Forget the new statistical measures, his basic numbers stunk too, from BA to RBI.  Check his splits.  He stunk prior to the AS break.  He stunk after.  He had a decent month of August… and that’s about it.  LHP/RHP splits – both bad.  I could go on.  He stunk.  On top of all that, anecdotally, you will not find a person who said he looked good last year not named Hosmer (and his Mom even admitted he ‘probably could have been better against off speed pitches’).  The best news?  You can draft him in fantasy at a bargain price.  The further good news?  Sophomore slumps only apply to Sophomores and Freshmen who decide to go to private school and get held back a  year so they can still somehow be ‘Freshmen.’  Also?  He can’t get much worse.

right back at you, dawg

Honorable Mention: Carlos Pena, who might actually get worse than his sub-.200 batting average.  Sorry Carlos.

he seems okay with it.

Ricky (retch noise) Romero

(sobbing)

Where to start with Ricky?  As someone who is unfortunately a Red Sox fan, I witnessed the abomination that was 2012 Ricky Romero several times closely.  As someone who drafted him in fantasy baseball 2012, I said horrible, horrible things about Romero regularly.  He made the 2012 Valensox look like sluggers and in several games I streamed on MLB.tv looked like he was throwing a damaged wiffle ball, having no idea where his (hopefully) better thought out pitches were going to end up.  I know, I know – cool story, bro.

More numbers?  More numbers.

FIP/xFIP or (Expected) Fielding Independent Pitching are really cool measures, far more relevant as they attempt to look deeper and normalize (in statistical, not Stepford, terminology) the crude measure of ERA and how good/bad a pitcher was.    As a general (ahem, Fangraphs) rule, an FIP/xFIP of 4 is average and an FIP/xFIP of 5 is AWFUL (Their word).  Romero’s line?  FIP: 5.14   xFIP: 4.86

Whether you want an expected or calculated measure (a difference of how HR rates are calculated), Romero was about as bad as it gets.  To pile on the crappy numbers, his K rate, usually a high point, fell to just over 6 (mediocre).  His BB/9 inning rate was an absurd 5.22.  His swinging strike rate dropped a full percentage point – it’s easy not to swing and miss when the guy has to groove it over the plate in desperate need of a pitch in the strike zone.  The best thing you can say about his 0.5 WAR season? He pitched.  In an injury plagued year for Toronto pitchers, Romero started 32 games.  So… good job, good effort.  He didn’t even have a better year than the internet’s favorite SP (starting punching-bag), Bruce Chen (more wins, higher K/9, 1.4 WAR on and on…).  The good news for Toronto?  They made a few move this offseason, I think.  As for Romero?  It cannot get much worse.

it’s good to have hobbies.

Ervin Santana

keep askin’

You may be saying, “gosh, Romero was bad, but is there a guy who threw a random 1-hitter in June yet somehow managed even worse numbers?”  IF you are saying that, I’m guessing you were an Ervin Santana owner in 2012.  He gave up 39 homers.  Honestly, I thought about ending the paragraph right there.  That’s really bad.  I’ll add a few more.  He had a -0.9 WAR, a 5.63 FIP (jeebus christ!), and had a HR/Fly Ball rate of 18.9%, which is simply bananas.  I will not pile on Santana, as his issue was more inconsistency (numbers were FAR better second half of the year).  However, his numbers were not good, and given his up and down nature, I assure you – it can’t get much worse actually, he might get worse. Heads up.

Honorable Mentions/Tie: Heath Bell / John Axford / Alfredo Aceves

An he held his arm there for 4 days, but no one would give him that pound

Aceves blew at least 8 games in spectacular fashion for a 2012 team that captured awfulness in spectacular fashion.  He was inconsistent on the field, unhappy off the field and was (well, is, I guess) a weirdo overall.  Just when you though it was safe to own him in fantasy baseball or root for him in real baseball, he would walk 4 guys in an inning and look wholly uninterested.  He had an unseemly 5.36 ERA but that was helped by a few decent spurts.  Even when he was pitching “well,” he would walk a batter for every strikeout.  The numbers fib, in this case.  As someone who watched more of the turd stain that was the Boston Red Sox 2012 season, I can attest to the fact that Aceves, save for perhaps one 15 day stretch in the spring, was a bad guy to have on any team, in any sense.  Plus, his disgusting sweatiness made me uncomfortable watching games and must be very difficult on the hardworking laundry staff at Yawkey Way.

His FIP was a poor 4.33.  He pitched worse as the god-awful season went on.  He blew saves and holds. He had a BB/9 inning of 3.33.  But most important of all, when he came into a game, there was an audible groan in the Northeast.  This guy made an awful season worse.

Axford blew 9 saves and forced the Brew Crew to realign their bullpen.  Bell blew 8 saves and was the first domino to fall (2nd game of the year) in a disastrous Marlins season.  Bell looked old and lost, regaining and losing his job and looking like a man who lost his mojo.  Axford, on the other hand had enough sense to regain his gnarly facial construction when chopping it off caused catastrophe.  I include Axford because he led the league in blown saves and did so in a short period of time in mesmerizing fashion (his June-beginning of August was BRUTAL).  For Axford, it can’t get much worse.  As for Bell and Aceves… Relievers are notoriously up-and-down, so one would assume they’ve already bottomed out.  I’ll say it – they can’t get much worse, either.

distracting.

There you have it, the players who scraped the bottom of the barrel in 2012.  Here’s to new beginnings and sneaky ADP’s going forward.

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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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Are You Left-Handed? You Could Be ‘THAT Guy.’

You know when you’re watching a movie and you see ‘that guy?’  The surly beat cop.  The troubled scientist.  The grizzled war general.  The character actor.  They do not land glamorous roles, they’re never stars but they come up again and again in similar roles across mediums (The King? Clint Howard.  He’s my all time favorite. Or this guy.).  These actors and actresses make a living doing small but crucial roles in a larger scheme.  We have lots of character actors in baseball.  For every Albert Pujols, there is an Alex Cora.  We give them monikers like ‘character guys,’ ‘defensive specialists’ and, in some sports ‘glue’ guys.  I would like to take a moment to recognize one of the finest character actors we have in sports today, Mr. Darren Oliver, lefthander extraordinaire.

Oliver is about to sign with the Blue Jays on a 1-year deal.  When he does, it will mark the start of his 19th season in the MLB.  Oliver is such an interesting case to me.  Proof, if you will, that every left-handed child should learn to throw a curveball.  Oliver was a mediocre but effective back-end starter for those Rangers teams in the late 90’s when they time and time again failed to defeat the Yankees despite putting up video game numbers on offense (actually, he threw a really nice start in game 3 of the ALDS against the soon-to-be World Series Champs Yanks, poor Braves).  But his mediocrity caught up to him and by 2005, he was not signed to a major league team.  By then, he had become a 6th starter, a swingman.  Starting games and mopping up messes.  Then he wised up and became a situational lefty.  There are very few careers in the world so beautifully, specifically designed.

very dramatic pose.

And this is when and why I find him so endlessly delightful.  You can see here in some sortable stats and pretty-colored charts that Oliver is rarely touching 90 on the radar gun.  There is something undeniably fun about seeing major league batters pop up on an 80 mph fastball and clearly mouth some truly foul expletives as they head back to the dugout.  It humanizes them.  There’s no solid logic for what makes Oliver so effective as a reliever.  Barely throwing swiftly, let alone hard, Oliver gets the job done time after time out of the pen.  He held lefties to a .225 batting average in 2011 and had the same batting average against with men on base last year.  He is the consummate ‘crafty lefty.’  Straight out of baseball’s central casting.  He’ll never sign a deal for $25 million a year, but Oliver and guys like him win championships and don’t go away easily.  Congratulations, Mr. Oliver.  Your fastball-slider combo gives hope to every high school lefty worrying that, while it might send you back in time, 88 mile per hour won’t get you to the big show.

 

-w

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Texas Two-Step

As in, step one: buy a sports team.   step two: PROFIT!

Not Jim Crane. Sadly.

Baseball is shaking things up.  Let me rephrase that.  As much as they can allow themselves to become more exciting, baseball is making some changes.  As I outlined brilliantly in my 3-part “Gritty MLB Reboot” series (or rant, depending on how you take it), baseball is in dire need of some different spices in the pot (Part One, Part Two, Part Three).  Perhaps this purchase and movement of the Astros, and the dominoes their scenario knocks around, is a step in the right direction.

Let us address the sale of the Astros and subsequent move to the AL West.  Effective 2013, the Houston Astros will join their Texas brethren in the AL West.  This instantly creates a legitimate in-state rivalry, unlike the ones MLB and Fox try to force upon us when interleague play arrives (my distaste for interleague is a different story for a different day).  The battle for Texas will provide an interesting tweak on both the division it is entering and the one it is leaving.  Competitively, the NL Central loses  a punching bag, as the Astros have been downright astro-cious the past few years.  Horrible puns aside, the World Champion Cardinals especially benefitted from the Astros, going 10-5 against the 100-loss Houston team.  With the additional wild-card games and an added loser (the Astros, undeniably, will be bad for several years at the very least), the AL West becomes legitimate players.  Do the Athletics take a big step forward?  And does their impending success help persuade the A’s move out of woeful Oakland?  The ramifications of this move could prove to be far reaching competitively, financially, and emotionally – if Nolan Ryan would just say something outlandish to stir the pot (I sincerely hope this happens).  This nugget does not suffice:

“I’ve always thought of the Astros as a National League team,” said Rangers team president Nolan Ryan (who played for Houston from 1980-1988.)  “But when I look at it from our perspective, I like it.”

With a big, big TV deal in place and a mini-dynasty in the making, the Rangers surely like the idea of having a bad team to beat up on.  But the Astros, bad as they might be, will benefit from this too.  Texans are stereotypically a competitive lot, so, somewhat counter-intuitively, two teams in the same state should build up both teams’ TV share and attendance.  Jim Crane paid a pretty penny for a struggling team.  But he may have lucked into the perfect storm of circumstance.  Additional playoffs and a Champion-caliber, in-state rival should put the Astros in a good position financially going forward.  Now if they could only find some players.

Here are some other bits from around the league:

–> Infielder Matt Antonelli will undergo a physical on Monday to finalize his major league deal with the Orioles, tweets Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun.  Matt’s a good dude.  And he’s from Peabody.  And he’s read our blog before, so he’s wicked smaht.  Good to see Dan Duquette give him a go.  Glad he’s healthy again.

—> Joe Nathan signs a 2 year (3rd year team option) with the Texas Rangers.  This really makes me mad, actually.  I have been saying for several weeks now – louder since Papelbon left for Philadelphia – that the Red Sox should make Daniel Bard a starter and sign Nathan to be their closer.  It was a concept borrowed from these same Rangers, and a damned good one, so they did it with their more-than-a-closer Neftali Feliz.  The worst part of this going forward is now the Red Sox must either overpay for a guy who’s not that good, have open tryouts a-la “Invincible” or… gulp… make Bobby Jenks their closer.

—> Philadelphia Phillies acquire Ty Wiggington for a bag of trail mix.  I’m confused by the Phillies reluctance to sign players or develop players under 30.  Between Jim Thome and Ty Wiggington, the Phillies’ bench seems better equipped for lumberjacking than winning baseball games.

—> The Red Sox are circling around Bobby Valentine for their managerial position.  More details and lots of swearing to come in the following weeks.

—> The MLB is working on a new CBA and it will allegedly address issues such as HGH testing and draft slotting.  More details will begin to emerge and once they announce the official parameters, I will break them down.

 

 

Adios, muchachos, enjoy this phenomenal new Black Keys song and the awesome dancing.  Don’t know how this guy stole my moves.

-w

 

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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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Dead (armed) Dudes

rick porcello

With Halloween coming up, I have decided to tackle the zombie issue in the major leagues.  And by this I mean the walking dead…arms.  Gotcha.  Here are some guys, for various reasons (but mostly just young guys with large innings loads) who could be zombie-like at some point next year:

C.J. Wilson

Heads our list because, c’mon, he was a closer/setup guy before this year.  Now do not get me wrong, I owned Wilson almost all year- I love the guy.  But going from 73 and 2/3 innings to 204(WOW!  I had to double check this number) is an astounding jump.  It’s a testament to Wilson’s toughness he went so many innings this year.  Without too much research, inkling, foresight, pretty much with only a heap of common sense, I can tell you, C.J. Wilson will go through some point next year with a dead-ish arm.  This could mean a variety of things; from him simply losing velocity and becoming less effective for a stretch to him needing to be shut down with a tired arm.  But with the load of the past season AND the tough postseason,  I am telling you- Wilson will experience zombie arm syndrome (ZAS) at some point.  And yes, I just coined that phrase.

Ricky Romero

Ricky Romero is going to be a good pitcher for years to come.  His changeup is too good to not be effective.  However, in 2009, he threw 192 innings in 2009, and 210 in 2010 (cool beans!).  All I’m saying is that he went from 88 in 2007 to 160ish in 2008 to the aforementioned numbers and relies on the difference between his fastball and change to be effective… this could all be a moot point as John Farrell, pitching guru and former Red Sox great is apparently in line for the managerial spot in Toronto, but I’d watch for a midseason swoon from a tired Romero, as this year’s September swoon (1.59 WHIP) might suggest.  I’m still drafting him though.

 

Gio Gonzalez

Another case of over doubling major league innings (Gonzalez threw 61 in the minors in 2009, but I say there is a large difference between minor league innings and major league ones- especially out of the bullpen as Gonzalez often did), Gonzalez went from 98.2 IP in 2009 to 202.2 in 2010.  Gonzalez showed all kinds of signs of learning and becoming a Jonathan Sanchez-type starter this past year, but it is undeniable that he saw a considerable innings spike and throws lots of pitches in general as he has a relatively high BB rate, which got worse in September as did his other stats (except for BAA, which leads me to believe it was more of a control issue…).  Once again, I could be totally wrong and Oakland may have a genius way of working their pitchers just so to their peak effectiveness (actually, pretty likely).  But MY bet going into 2011 is that Gio Gonzalez is going to have a couple of months where his fastball doesn’t have that same ziiiiip.  ZAS STRIKES AGAIN! FEEEEED ME ARM AND SHOULDER LIGAMENTS!

Mat Latos

Ho nasty was this kid down the stretch?  Actually, he wasn’t. Check out those splits.  He tired out as September arrived, as his BAA took a huge jump.  It had sat around .190 (WOW) for many months, only to jump over .300 in September/October.  Latos went from 50.2 major league innings (123 overall- 47 in AA, 25.1 in A ball) in 2009 to 184.2 in 2010.  Now I’m not saying to not draft or keep Latos next year- quite the opposite, I’ll take him both ways in my leagues.  Owners should be prepared for a month in the middle of the season where his numbers drop off/the league corrects to him.  Unlike the aforementioned starters, Latos had the added benefit of being a newbie on the scene meaning teams did not have as much info on him going into games.  With a season of data on the young hurler, not only are the innings going to catch up to him, but the hitters are as well- yes, even in the NL West.  Baseball has become a game of technology and patterns and you can bet your ass there are a great number of NL hitters who spent some serious time analyzing some embarrassing AB’s against the young Latos.  All that being said, he’s one of my keepers for next year in my league with my buddies, so don’t get too down, people.

Phil Hughes

Go back and look at Phil Hughes monthly splits.  Do it here. Going from around 100 Major and minor league innings to 175 clearly affected the young righty, as his numbers dipped in June-July-August.  Like Latos, Hughes got the butt end of some good scouting I’d bet, as teams got a better feel for him pitching against them.  Hughes is an interesting candidate for ZAS, though.  Did he already go through his growing pains?  Is my Yankee bias shining through?  Yes and yes.  But bias aside, the innings did add up and hitters did get smarter.  The Yankees scored a ton of runs for him and that can be a sort of mental cushion as well.  It is my opinion that it isn’t the year of the jump in innings that gets a pitcher, but rather the year after.  Hughes is in my book as a guy to be cautious with in 2011, as I see the innings and league catching up with him.

And who knows, maybe all the innings ill catch up with Sabathia too and it won’t matter when the Yankees sign Cliff Lee.  Sigh.  I can hope, can’t I?

 

BEWARE ZOMBIE ARM SYNDROME

 

and don’t eat too much candy corn, you’ll trip on corn syrup (so I’m told)

 

GO RANGERS!  GO ZOMBIES!

 

-w

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Filed under batter v. pitcher, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Posted, Random Thoughts

Phew, What a Day…

thank god I'm not in Cleveland anymore

The back and forth and almost reporting (ahem… guilty hand raised) is done, Cliff Lee is going to the Texas Rangers in a 6 player swap (USA Today story here).  Good for the Rangers, first of all, for stepping in and beating the Yankees out and for finally making a push for that one guy to make them serious contenders.  I love parity.

Now on to the meat and potatoes.  What in the world does this mean for fantasy?  Let’s break it down:

Seattle gets…

Justin Smoak, 1B

Smoak was a fantasy darling this year and has on more than one occasion been compared to former Ranger Mark Teixeira, another switch hitter (who also had trouble with lefties when he came up…).  He came out of the gate big, but has cooled off considerably.  Okay I’m sugar coating, he has struggled a lot recently, but the pedigree is phenomenal.  By all accounts, Smoak will be a good-if-not great first baseman and, more importantly for us, a viable fantasy option for years to come.  And just to beat those naysayers to the punch, Safeco Field might be good for Smoak.  With its large power alleys, Smoak, a great line drive hitter, could be in line to rake in the doubles out in Seattle.

Blake Beavan, Joshua Lueke, and Matt Lawson

*Beaven was the 17th pick in the 2007 draft (WOW HE’S ONLY 21!) and is supposedly an excellent control pitcher.  He’s also 6’7” 250, so he has the build of a monster, or at the very least Jeff Nieman 2.0.

*Lueke, another big fella (6’5” 220), was a 16th round selection in 2007 draft.  He’s had biiiiiiiiiig strikeout numbers in the minors and he’s older (25) leading me to believe he is going to be a useful bullpen are along the way, as some scouts have called him a ‘top relief prospect.’  I read that to mean he’s a power arm, plain and simple.

*Lawson is an interesting player, listed as a 2B/OF- always an interesting combo.  A 14th round selection in that same 2007 draft (nice haul, Texas).  He seems like a solid player, hitting for a nice combo of speed and power with a decent OBP.  Who knows how he’ll play out, but he seems to be an athlete at the least.  The only issue might be the K’s (127 in 545 Plate appearances in high A last year), but it appears he has corrected that somewhat (64:37 BB:K ratio this year in AA).

The Rangers Get…

This Guy Named Cliff Lee?

He’s just plain good.  Even in Texas.  I feel like I don’t need to write him up at this point.  But I will.  Lee goes to a solid rotation in Texas and makes them legitimate contenders.  Not that this is set in stone, but I am fascinated by the effect Lee might have on the rising young arms in Texas, especially my favorite C.J. Wilson.

Mark Lowe

Lowe is a very solid reliever and an established one at that, unlike the young arms the Rangers traded away.  This is a smart move by the Rangers, as I always think it is wise to grab established relievers over young potential relievers.  He figures to add to an already solid Ranger bullpen and anchor the last few innings with Francisco and Feliz.

And there you have it, blurbs for all, the deed is done and the Lee is gone.  Great deal for both teams, I’m excited to see Smoak develop and the Rangers with an actual ace for once…

-w

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Filed under Cajones, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Opinion, Pickups, Posted, Random Thoughts, Rookies, Sleepers

Smoak him if you got him

Here’s a clip of superstud v. superstud. Check out some of the related videos for more footage of Smoak, and be sure to check out that Youtube station, farmsystem, they have TONS of good clips.

With the arrival of Mr. Smoak, we can finally rest easy that this Chris Davis nightmare is over, praise the fantasy gods.  Players like Davis are the bane of optimistic fantasy players’ existences.

We’ve been waiting for Smoak to bring his sweet switch-hitting swing (say that five times fast) to the Banbox in Arlington.  Would you like to hear about Smoak’s pedigree?  Thought you might.  He is South Carolina’s home run king (not a shabby program to hold that title in!) with 62 and also is the career leader in RBI’s and walks…. so says Wikipedia…. and anyway, those are a few of my FAVORITE categories.  But they use metal in college, so who cares? What has he done in the minors?

(courtesy of baseball-reference.com)

Games PA Hits 2B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP OPS
Minors (Rk-AAA) 135 599 144 30 17 68 96 99 .293 .411 .872

He was in Rookie, then AA ball.  Last year.  Suffice to say, the kid’s a fast upward mover.

Just take a look at those numbers.  He is 23 years old (and currently boasts a 3:1 BB:K ratio… in 5 ABs…).  Many compare him to similar switch hitters Larry Chipper Jones and Mark ‘Gonorrhea’ Texeria (ask him about it).  Admittedly, he does not have the same 40 homer upside Crash Davis may have provided, but as you know, I’ll take a bunch of doubles, walks and a huge OBP- all of which scouts believe Smoak can provide right now.  Also, let’s not sell the kid short, when scouts say he doesn’t have the power potential yet, they’re still seeing him as a 20-30 homer guy… Heck. CBS in their ‘accuscore’ predictor thing have him as a potential 20-80 guy, not bad for 23.

I’m practically foaming at the mouth looking at him on some other lucky b*$t&#!s’ team.

The kid can rake.  If he is somehow still on your wire  grab him.  If you missed him, nuts, maybe next time (We’re waiting, Mike Stanton…)

Smoak projects to be the type of First Baseman you want on a fantasy team.  At the very least, make a note somewhere reminding you to overdraft him next year.

Another bad reference, pick the kid up, he’s

SMOAKKKKKKKKKKINNNNNNNNN’

-Gooch

(yeah, I’m a Microsoft paint wizard)

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Filed under Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Posted, Rookies

I Brings Da Ruckus

I GETS MINE, LARRY

Pickup in all leagues, people.  Assign to closer positions.  Get ready for some K’s.

Ok, so if you haven’t heard of Neftali yet, it’s about time you upgraded from that little rock you’ve been under to one with WiFi.  His stuff, simply put, is outstanding, and that is not a word I take lightly.  Out.  Stand. Ing.  And he has looked dominant to open year, not reading  too much into this but it was this time of Texas when a young Johnny Paps made his debut as closer.  Just saying.

(p.s. I realized it wouldn’t necessarily obvious, so this ALSO means go get Rauch, Frasor, Perez or some other scrap if you’re going that thin… )

-W

(p.p.s. JJ Putz.  Just have a feeling.  Honestly, have only seen him a handful of times but I’ve grown confident in him due to his outstanding facial hair.  Down the middle of his face… kidding, I just  don’t care how much weight fatso Jenkins loses, he’s bound to suck)

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Filed under Closers, Fantasy Baseball, MLB