Author Archive

Trade Targets: Corner Outfield

Continuing our Trade Targets series, here are five corner outfielders who could be available at (or before) the deadline.

PLAYER: Andre Ethier
TEAM: Dodgers
CONTRACT STATUS: $9.25M, arbitration-eligible after this season (free agent after 2012)

Read the rest of this entry »

The Fearsome Foursome and The Super Two Quandary

Every year around this time, the cries grow louder for teams to call up top prospects from the minors. Sluggers are raking, pitchers are dealing, yet fans don’t get to see their team’s best young players at the major league level. We can thank the dreaded Super Two rule of salary arbitration eligibility for that.

The good news is that Major League Baseball is, if you believe the rumors, possibly considering scrapping or at least reforming the Super Two rule this offseason, as part of the next round of collective bargaining with the players union. Some teams are operating as if the rule will go away. For instance, Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore sits on MLB’s Rules committee, and he had no qualms about calling up top prospects Eric Hosmer and Danny Duffy before the likely Super 2 cutoff date. The Seattle Mariners didn’t look like contenders at the start of the season, but M’s GM Jack Zduriencik called up stud starter Michael Pineda anyway, to great results.

Still, many teams are carrying on as if the rule won’t change, in the process holding back players who by most objective standards should be playing in the big leagues.

Here are four of the top position players prospects we’re watching, how their absence is affecting the big club, and when we might expect to see them crack the majors.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jonah Keri FanGraphs Chat – 5/23/11

Jaime Garcia Is the New Adam Wainwright

When the news hit that Adam Wainwright would be lost for the season, it was tough to imagine the St. Louis Cardinals overcoming that loss to win the NL Central. The Cards had already fallen short to Cincinnati last year. They’d also made few major off-season changes, while the hitting-loaded Brewers picked up two top-shelf pitchers in Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. A third-place finish was a perfectly reasonable projection.

Perfectly reasonable until we realize that Jaime Garcia is the new Adam Wainwright.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jonah Keri FanGraphs Chat – 5/16/11

Jonah Keri FanGraphs Chat – 5/11/11

Milton Bradley: The Man an Army Couldn’t Save

You know what statheads love to do? Find pet players who’ve been overlooked by teams, and lobby for them to find a real home. Often, we focus on players with strong minor league track records who’ve never gotten a shot because of perceived weaknesses, only to see those perceived weaknesses regurgitated by the big club as their numbers grow gaudier and gaudier. Ten years ago, we wanted to Free Erubiel Durazo. Now, we want to Free Brandon Allen.

We’ll also, on occasion, back a player with supposed attitude problems. Whether or not those problems are real or harmful, we will (sometimes) argue that consistent performance should outweigh a jerky demeanor. If the A’s of the 70s could put up a mini-dynasty with 25 men and 25 cabs, how much harm can one rouser of rabble cause? That was Milton Bradley, and that was us.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jason Marquis, Pennant Race Linchpin?

It’s never too early to start wildly speculating about the MLB trade deadline. In the past three years, we’ve seen big names like Cliff Lee, Manny Ramirez, Adam Dunn and Jason Bay switch teams for the stretch run. The mere sliver of a chance that a walk-year Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder might get dealt if their teams falter will trigger the sexiest trade talk. But more likely scenarios will involve players one tier down, who could be meaningful contributors for contending teams.

Players like Jason Marquis.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jonah Keri FanGraphs Chat – 5/2/11

Could Ike Davis Be Better than We Think?

Let’s get all the Ike Davis caveats out of the way first.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jonah Keri FanGraphs Chat – 4/25/11

MLB Takes Over Dodgers, Expos Fan Nods Sadly

Not again. Good Lord, not again.

It’s impossible to see Bud Selig’s announcement that Major League Baseball will assume operating control of the Los Angeles Dodgers and not remember the last time MLB made this move.

On Valentine’s Day 2002, the league did the same with the teetering Montreal Expos. By the end of the 2004 season, MLB had presided over a trade that set the Expos’ successors back several years, helped short-circuit a last-gasp playoff run, ended baseball for good in Montreal, and reminded us why a sports franchise in league hands is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jonah Keri FanGraphs Chat – 4/20/11

The Shaka Smart All-Stars

Note: Last lingering thought from the NCAA tournament, promise.

Last week, Virginia Commonwealth men’s basketball coach Shaka Smart signed an eight-year contract extension worth $1.2 million a year — nearly quadrupling his previous base salary. With apologies to the team’s impressive 55-21 record in Smart’s two years at VCU, Shaka got his money for one reason: the Rams’ incredible tourney run, from play-in afterthoughts who many said didn’t deserve to make it, all the way to the Final Four.

Smart might prove to be an elite coach who turns VCU into a perennial power. But breaking the bank for any sports commodity based largely on one flash of excellence can be risky. In baseball, we’ve seen many players ride a small sample of greatness — a stretch-run tear, monster playoff performance, even a single game or play — to big paydays.

While Smart’s contract will be evaluated over the course of the next few years, we’ve already seen the track record of baseball contracts earned through signature moments. It’s not pretty.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wishing for Better Playoff Systems

As the Butler Bulldogs and Connecticut Huskies clanged shot after shot in last week’s NCAA title game, pundits raced to explain the ugliest championship in a generation. Both teams played stifling defense. They gameplanned well. They were tired after long seasons and long tournament runs.

There are grains of truth in each of those explanations. But all those justifications ignored the obvious: These were two mediocre teams, brought together by a playoff system that’s exciting, unpredictable…and criminally unfair.

We haven’t seen a World Series quite that bad in recent memory. But Major League Baseball’s playoff system also gives very little advantage to teams who fared best over 162 games. Again, unfairly so.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jonah Keri FanGraphs Chat – 4/11/11

Manny Ramirez’s Legacy, and the Fate of the Rays

Manny Ramirez, one of the greatest hitters to ever walk the face of the Earth, and one of the most polarizing athletes of his generation, abruptly announced his retirement this afternoon.

Major League Baseball had notified Ramirez about “an issue under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention/Treatment Program.” Reading between the lines, it’s likely that Ramirez chose to retire rather than face a second (major) suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. He leaves behind a complicated legacy, a checkered Hall of Fame case, and a team that suddenly faces some gigantic decisions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jordan Walden: The End Justifies the Means

Here at FanGraphs, we’re big fans of emphasizing process over results. We’re not the only ones. The Tampa Bay Rays have made a cottage industry of it. The Kansas City Royals have built the best farm system in baseball, though their Process remains a riddle wrapped inside an enigma, plastered on a Jump to Conclusions mat.

When someone benefits from a faulty process, or even makes the right move for the wrong reasons, it’s our duty as responsible analysts to hate it. But lately I’ve been having trouble doing that. First, there was Terry Francona‘s oddly timed but smart decision to drop Carl Crawford in the Red Sox batting order against left-handed pitchers. Now, it’s Mike Scioscia‘s move to make Jordan Walden the Angels’ new closer, just four games into the season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jonah Keri FanGraphs Chat – 4/4/11

2011 Organizational Rankings: #9 – Cincinnati

After 10 years below .500, and 15 years without a playoff berth, the Cincinnati Reds surged to 91 wins, won the NL Central, and earned an MVP award for their homegrown (and Canadian!) star first baseman.

Present Talent – 83.33 (T-8th)

Reds Season Preview

Future Talent – 85.00 (T-5th)

Reds Top 10 Prospects

Financial Resources – 77.31 (16th)
Baseball Operations – 82.50 (10th)

Overall Rating – 81.56 (11th)

Read the rest of this entry »