Archive for March, 2012

Alex Gordon Gets Royally Rewarded

Word broke late Friday afternoon that the Royals and 28-year-old left fielder Alex Gordon reached a contract extension. The skinny on the contract is that it’s a four-year deal worth $37.5 million, with a player option for 2016 that can bring the total value to $50 million even. The contract buys out two years of team control and an additional two of free agency, and breaks down to $6/$9/$10/$12.5, and negates the $4.775 midpoint, arbitration-avoiding deal the two parties agreed to in early February. Read the rest of this entry »


Brett Cecil’s Descent?

We spend a lot of our time at FanGraphs focusing on players who have bright futures ahead of them — or campaigning to have a blocked player finally get a chance in the major leagues. This makes sense, since it’s human nature to look for the positives and see the future with optimism. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always turn out that way for ballplayers. Many of them flame out at a young age.

Are we witnessing the same fate for Toronto Blue Jays starter Brett Cecil? Following his disastrous 2011 — during which he spent a stint in the minors — Cecil reported to camp this year having shed more than 30 pounds, but his velocity was down in the 87-89 mph range. In his latest start, he allowed five walks in only 2.2 innings, and he gave up five runs. While it’s true that it’s only Spring Training, this isn’t good news for a pitcher who has experienced velocity issues in the past, and was once was counted on to be a reliable middle of the rotation starter. Let’s take a look at Cecil’s development, and how it compares to where he is in 2012.

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Astros Release Livan Hernandez, Braves Swoop In

In perhaps the fasteset set of transactions I’ve ever seen, the Astros announced that they were releasing Livan Hernandez at 12:07 pm eastern time, and then Jon Heyman reported that Livan was signing with the Braves at 2:02 pm eastern. Livan wasn’t even unemployed for two hours.

Livan’s a pretty fascinating guy. While his xFIPs are crazy consistent over the last four years (xFIP- of 112, 111, 114, 111), his results have swung wildly from awful in 2008-2009 (ERA- of 138 and 133) to pretty good in 2010 (ERA- of 91) back to not great (ERA- of 118) last year. On one hand, you know exactly what you’re getting with Livan – a durable innings eater who won’t miss bats. On the other hand, you have no idea what you’re going to get from Livan, as his BABIP and HR/FB rates have fluctuated wildly over the last five years.

This series of moves perfectly illustrates how a player can have value to one team but not another. The Braves needed to reduce their exposure to disaster performances, and signing Hernandez gives them some rotation depth and the ability to let Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado start the year in the minors. While he doesn’t do anything to help raise their upside in win total, he probably helps raise the downside slightly, as they now have a decent enough fifth starter to keep the team from imploding if the kids aren’t quite ready on Opening Day.

The Astros, though, have little need to reduce their volatility. The marginal value of a win to a team in their position is quite small, and as a pure rebuilding organization, they’re better off figuring out what they have in a guy like Kyle Weiland instead. The innings Livan would have pitched for Houston would have just reduced the number of chances the team would have had to evaluate their young arms, and so the value of having a veteran stop-gap in place simply wasn’t there.

It’s weird to see a contender pick up a guy that the worst team in baseball just decided they didn’t want, but in this case, it makes sense for both sides. Perhaps that’s why it all happened so fast.


2012 Organizational Rankings: #16 – Arizona

Read the methodology behind the ratings here. Remember that the grading scale is 20-80, with 50 representing league average.

#30 – Baltimore
#29 – Houston
#28 – Oakland
#27 – Pittsburgh
#26 – San Diego
#25 – Minnesota
#24 – Chicago AL
#23 – Seattle
#22 – Kansas City
#21 – Cleveland
#20 – New York NL
#19 – Los Angeles
#18 – Colorado
#17 – Miami

Arizona’s 2011 Ranking: #29

2012 Outlook: – 55 (12th)

Combine an offense that is well above average with a pitching staff that is a touch above average, and you have a playoff team. It wasn’t enough to get the D-backs into baseball’s final four, but they came about as you could come, taking the Brewers into extras in the deciding Game 5 of their National League Division Series. Most of the principals from that team are intact this year. They are once again faced with mediocre competition in the NL West, and are in a position to win the division in consecutive years since the Randy JohnsonCurt SchillingLuis Gonzalez-mountains of debt years. And while Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson may be in for a bit of regression, the team may be better this year than last.

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Miguel Montero and the Victor Martinez Contract

Contract extension talks between catcher Miguel Montero and the Arizona Diamondbacks reportedly ended without a resolution this spring. Montero is said to be looking for something like the four-year, $50 million contract Victor Martinez received from the Tigers in free agency prior to the 2010 season. The Diamondbacks do have Montero under contract for 2012 (the last of his team-controlled arbitration seasons), but at the moment it looks like he will become a free agent after the World Series. Is Montero’s desire for such a contract reasonable?

Read the rest of this entry »


2012 Organizational Rankings: #17 – Miami

Read the methodology behind the ratings here. Remember that the grading scale is 20-80, with 50 representing league average.

2012 Organizational Rankings

#30 – Baltimore
#29 – Houston
#28 – Oakland
#27 – Pittsburgh
#26 – San Diego
#25 – Minnesota
#24 – Chicago AL
#23 – Seattle
#22 – Kansas City
#21 – Cleveland
#20 – New York Mets
#19 – Los Angeles Dodgers
#18 – Colorado

Miami’s 2011 Ranking: 17th

2012 Outlook: 53 (14th)

The biggest strength for the Marlins this year will likely be their lineup. While the team finished slightly behind the middle of the pack in wOBA at .311 (9th in the NL) last year, the progressions of Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton, along with the expected bounce back from Hanley Ramirez and the acquisition of Jose Reyes should make this one of the better lineups in the league.

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The Indians: If Abreu, Why Not Damon?

Reports last night suggested that the Angels and Indians were working on a deal that would ship Bobby Abreu’s discontented soul to Cleveland. The deal has apparently fallen apart, and right now, it doesn’t look like Abreu’s going to get his wish to get out of Anaheim. However, Buster Olney raised an interesting question this morning:

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Community Playing Time Forecasts

It’s time for the annual community playing time survey.

Find the team you follow, and take a couple of minutes to fill it out.

http://tangotiger.net/survey/


Trevor Bauer and High Heat

Last weekend, as many may have noticed, Arizona Diamondback prospect Trevor Bauer was engaging his twitter followers in regards to fastballs both in the upper and lower part of the zone. Well, to be more accurate, he was suggesting that the fascination with throwing your fastball down in the zone was overrated and generally just wrong. It all began with this:

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2012 Organizational Rankings: #18 – Colorado

Read the methodology behind the ratings here. Remember that the grading scale is 20-80, with 50 representing league average.

2012 Organizational Rankings

#30 – Baltimore
#29 – Houston
#28 – Oakland
#27 – Pittsburgh
#26 – San Diego
#25 – Minnesota
#24 – Chicago AL
#23 – Seattle
#22 – Kansas City
#21 – Cleveland
#20 – New York Mets
#19 – Los Angeles Dodgers

Colorado’s 2011 Ranking: #10

2012 Outlook: – 50 (17th)

The Rockies has a disastrous 2011 season, finishing 4th in the NL West, 21 games behind the Diamondbacks and 17 games off the wildcard pace. The Rockies led the NL West in runs scored with 735, but the Astros were the only team in the NL to give up more runs than the 2011 Rockies. The team threw in the towel on the season at the trade deadline, sending its ace pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez, to the Cleveland Indians for a package of prospects including highly regarded pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Alex White.

Read the rest of this entry »


Daily Notes for March 30th

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Daily Notes.

1. Select Televised Games
2. SCOUT Leaderboard: Spring Training Batters
3. Superfluous Video: Freddy Galvis Gets Three Hits

Select Televised Games
Today’s notable games available on MLB.TV.

Miami at Washington | 18:05 ET
Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond has a .304 career on-base percentage, has produced one of the worst offensive performahnces of the spring (see batting laggardboards below), and yet has batted in the leadoff spot for at least each of the Nationals’ last seven games — and will likely do so for the foreseeable future. Does batting Desmond leadoff ultimately have a profound negative effect on run production? Probably not. But it appears to be symptomatic of a sort of devotion to baseball orthodoxy (in this case, the Baseball Law that the leadoff spot should be reserved for a fast, light-ish-hitting batter) that one imagines can’t help a team.

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FanGraphs+ 2012: Available Now!

FanGraphs+ (formerly The Second Opinion) is now available for just $4.99!

Here’s what you get:

Player Profiles – Over 1100 player profiles written by the FanGraphs and RotoGraphs contributors you’re already familiar with. Available on either the player pages or in blog format.

Articles – 11 in-depth articles to help you win your league:

-Keeper League Prospect & Rookie Strategies
-How to Use PITCHf/x in Your Fantasy League
-Keepr Conundrum: Bryce Harper or Mike Trout
-Improve Your Control and Break Out
-The Difficulty in Predicting Saves
-Valuing Upside Graphically
-Ottoneu Strategies for Every Setting
-Projections and Playing Through Pain
-Mining for Under (and Over) Performers: Strikeouts
-Prospects with Pedigree: Eno’s Rookie Lineup
-The 2nd Annual Cistulli-Sarris Prospect Face-Off Challenge

Quick Opinions – Short one to two sentence profile that give you the bottom line about a player. These are also integrated into our various projection pages so you can quickly get more information about a player.

FanGraphs+ Year Round Content – FanGraphs has partnerned with ESPN Insider again this season and everything we write for ESPN will be available. (2 – 3 articles weekly)

FanGraphs+ Archives – Our previous two year’s worth of FanGraphs+ content will also be available to you.

For those of you wondering, there is no PDF (again) this year. I know we released one sometime in mid-March last year, but I just don’t feel comfortable promising a half-hearted PDF.

The idea of FanGraphs+ is to enhance your FanGraphs online experience and I think for $4.99, it’s really an amazing bargain.


Yoenis Cespedes and the Cuban Tradition

I don’t mean to #humblebrag, but I was there in person for Yoenis Cespedes’s first home run in a major league uniform. It was just the luck of circumstance: I was there with a lot of my Fangraphs colleagues for spring training, and the first spring training game of my life just happened to feature the moment where Jeff Francis tried to sneak an 82-mile an hour fastball past Cuba’s best outfielder. Mike Newman was there as well, and he captured the moment. But now that Yoenis has homered in his second continent and third major land mass, I thought I’d take a look at the recent history of Cuba’s best players to come to America, to whose number Cespedes now belongs.
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Mike Newman Prospects Chat – 3/29/12


Rangers’ Robbie Ross Vying for Bullpen Role

As spring training winds down, the Texas Rangers bullpen is still in flux. In particular, Robbie Ross is chasing a left-handed reliever role that current Toronto Blue Jay — and one of the game’s better relievers — Darren Oliver once had. At present, Ross is competing with Michael Kirkman for the job, which is of interest because Texas might employ only one lefty in its bullpen.  While neither Ross nor Kirkman can be expected to be as consistent Oliver, it’s Ross who has the command and the arsenal to adjust quickly to the major leagues.

Read the rest of this entry »


Notes from the Backfields: Jupiter, FL, Day 3 of 3

I’m currently in Jupiter, Florida, as a guest both of (a) my 91-year-old grandfather and (a) the Miami Marlins of Florida. Today was the third and final day on the backfields here, and what follows represents the third and final installment of mediocre analysis on same. (Read Day 1 and Day 2.)

Today, I watched mostly the Double-A game between the Cardinals and Marlins — or, alternately, the Springfield Cardinals and Jacksonville Suns of the Texas and Southern Leagues, respectively.

On Michael Blazek
Right-hander Michael Blazek, 23, pitched for the Cardinals, and is probably the most polished pitcher of any that I saw this week — if not always in terms of command, then at least in his ability to repeat the same shape and velocity on all his pitches. Blazek doesn’t have what you’d call “pedigree”: he appears neither on our Marc Hulet’s top-15 prospect list for the Cardinals, nor on Baseball America’s top-30 list (from their Handbook), nor on John Sickels’ top-20 list, nor on Kevin Goldstein’s top-20 list. There are probably a number of reasons for why his (i.e. Blazek’s) name is omitted from so many lists. The easiest one to which we can point is velocity: at no point did Blazek hit as high as even 92 mph on the radar gun. And it’s a fact that there’s a real correlation between fastball velocity and run prevention.

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2012 Organizational Rankings: #19 Los Angeles Dodgers

Dave Cameron laid out the methodology behind the rankings last Friday. Remember that the grading scale for each category is 20-80, with 50 representing league average.

2012 Organizational Rankings

#30 – Baltimore
#29 – Houston
#28 – Oakland
#27 – Pittsburgh
#26 – San Diego
#25 – Minnesota
#24 – Chicago AL
#23 – Seattle
#22 – Kansas City
#21 – Cleveland
#20 – New York NL

Los Angeles’ 2011 Organizational Ranking – #23 

2012 Outlook: 45 (19th)

While Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten and their team agreed to buy the Dodgers from Frank McCourt for more than $2 billion yesterday, these rankings were compiled before that became public, and the ratings reflect knowledge that the team would be sold but not to whom or for how much. There’s still much we don’t know about the Dodgers new ownership group and how their investment will impact the future of the team, but it’s probably fair to say that if we re-did the rankings today, the Dodgers would grade out a bit higher. After all, there are already rumors about the new owners upgrading via mid-season trades if they get approved in time and the team is contending. But for now, we evaluate the Dodgers outlook in 2012 based on the current roster.

Read the rest of this entry »


2012 Organizational Rankings: #20 – New York Mets

Dave Cameron laid out the methodology behind the rankings last Friday. Remember that the grading scale for each category is 20-80, with 50 representing league average.

2012 Organizational Rankings

#30 – Baltimore
#29 – Houston
#28 – Oakland
#27 – Pittsburgh
#26 – San Diego
#25 – Minnesota
#24 – Chicago White Sox
#23 – Seattle
#22 – Kansas City
#21 – Cleveland

New York Mets’ 2011 Ranking: #21

Read the rest of this entry »


2012 Organizational Rankings: #21 – Cleveland

Dave Cameron laid out the methodology behind the rankings last Friday. Remember that the grading scale for each category is 20-80, with 50 representing league average.

2012 Organizational Rankings

#30 – Baltimore
#29 – Houston
#28 – Oakland
#27 – Pittsburgh
#26 – San Diego
#25 – Minnesota
#24 – Chicago White Sox
#23 – Seattle
#22 – Kansas City

Cleveland’s 2011 Ranking: #26

2012 Outlook: 47 (18th)
Once upon a time, in the mid-2000s, the Indians were brimming with young talent and very valuable major league pieces in C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner. They peaked in 2007, with a 96-66 record, and an AL Central crown. Since then, a combination of untimely injuries, poor drafting, and a lack of acquired talent — especially through trading Sabathia and Lee — has kept the Indians below the .500 mark.

While the Indians may win more than 81 games in 2012, the oddly constructed roster is unlikely to contend for a playoff berth. Scoring a 47 on the 20-80 scale is appropriate, as they are a middle of the pack team that would need a lot to break right to challenge for one of the Wild Card spots. Crazier things have happened, but when Shelley Duncan projects to log 400+ PAs for your team, the odds aren’t ever in your favor.

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Daily Notes for March 29th

Carson Cistulli is still rubbing elbows with Bill Parcells, Celine Dion, Bryant Gumbel and all the other beautiful people who populate Jupiter, Fla., but he will return tomorrow with observations about the human condition as it relates to baseball that are both insightful and humorous in nature. Today, you are stuck with me, and I will provide neither. Sorry about that.

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Daily Notes.

1. Select Televised Games
2. Things You Can Buy With 2.15 Billion Dollars
3. Crowdsourcing Broadcasters: Oakland Radio

Select Televised Games
Notable games available on MLB.TV.

2012 National High School Invitational | 13:05 ET, 16:35 ET
Yesterday, the first-ever National High School Invitational kicked off at USA Baseball’s National Training Complex in Cary, NC. If you’re unfamiliar with Cary, it is located just outside of Raleigh, and is one of the primary towns in North Carolina’s fabled “Research Triangle.” This week, 16 of the country’s top high school programs have descended upon Cary to take part in a single-elimination tournament, and the winner gets bragging rights as the top high school team in the land. But while the tourney is single elimination, all teams will get four chances to play, which is just information overload for the scouting community. Several top prospects are scheduled to participate in the tourney, and you can watch two of today’s games live on MLB.com. Today’s games will be quarterfinal games, with the semis being broadcast live on Friday and the Gold medal game being live at noon ET on Saturday. Usually, we get nothing more than snippets of video from amateur players, so don’t miss out on the chance to watch several players that could go in the first two rounds this June. Check here for more details.

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