Archive for November, 2012

Angels Replace Risky Dan Haren with Risky Tommy Hanson

Some time ago, the Angels attempted to trade Dan Haren to the Cubs in exchange for Carlos Marmol. The Angels had concerns about Haren, and wanted to turn him into something useful. The Cubs had concerns about Marmol, and wanted to turn him into something useful. On paper, the deal looked lopsided in the Cubs’ favor, and so one had to consider that maybe the Angels knew something scary about Haren’s medicals. Sure enough, the deal fell through, and now Haren is a free agent looking for a short-term contract. No one’s going to be ballsy enough to give him a long-term contract.

Friday, the Angels completed sort of the opposite of that Haren/Marmol trade. Instead of the Angels dealing a troubled starter to get a troubled reliever, they’ve dealt the somewhat troubled Jordan Walden to the Braves in exchange for the troubled Tommy Hanson. Unlike with Haren, we don’t have to speculate that something might be up with Hanson, physically — we know that his shoulder has been groaning. The Angels, without question, know that they’re taking a chance, here. They determined, at the cost of Jordan Walden, the chance is worth taking.

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Last Chance To Win a Free Copy of THT 2013!

In case you hadn’t heard, The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2013 has hit internet bookshelves. You can read all about it here in Dave Studeman’s post, or you can listen to Carson Cistulli and myself discuss it here on a FanGraphs Audio podcast.

Because we’re giving folk, and since it’s the beginning of the holiday season and all, we want to give you a chance to win yourself a free copy of the book. So each day this week, we’ve been running a trivia contest based on one of the articles in the book. Today is our final contest — you can find the previous contests here, here, here and here if you’re into that sort of thing. The first person to post the correct answer in the comments today will win a free physical copy of the book (sorry, no free Kindle or Nook versions). It’s just that simple!

Today’s question comes from the article entitled “Bryce Harper and Mike Trout Make History.” Written by THT’s prospect wizard Jeff Moore, it takes a look back at the season that was for the two impactful rookies, and how the season compares to other seasons with awesome rookies. And that brings us, dear reader, to the trivia question before you today:

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The Mets Are Not That Far Away

This morning, the Mets re-signed David Wright to a seven year, $122 million contract extension that seems to be a good price for the team, and right about what we expected he would get if the two sides wanted to reach an agreement. Wright is probably going to be worth the contract on his own; the real argument has been about whether or not the Mets should be the one giving it to him.

I touched on this briefly last week in my article about the perils of losing on purpose, but I don’t think the Mets are the kind of team that need to be tearing down the talent in place and going for a youth movement. While the Mets have had four straight losing seasons, I just don’t see a lot of evidence that the team can’t win in the near future. When I look at this team and what they have in place, I just don’t see a roster that is really all that far away from being a viable contender.

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The Stolen Base Matters More Now

Much of the deliberation over whether or not Russell Martin deserves the two-year, $17.5 million contract he pulled in from the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday will hinge on how his defense is viewed. Martin has been measured as a tremendous pitch framer, and for many that will be enough to put a notch in the team-friendly side for this contract.

But what about his arm Martin threw out just 24 percent of basestealers last season, down from 30 percent last year. The league rate also fell, from 28 percent to 25 percent — 2012 was the best year for basestealers since 2007, when they also accomplished a 75 percent success rate. Still, it was a disappointing year for the 29-year-old backstop, his first below average since 2008.

In today’s pitcher-friendly environment, the equation on the basepaths has shifted towards more and more stolen bases. Observe:

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Mike Newman Prospects Chat – 11/30/12

Scouting Rule 5 Eligible Prospects

The MLB Rule 5 draft is scheduled for Dec. 6 during the final day of the 2012 Winter Meetings. It’s become a fan favorite over the years but the draft is not as valuable as it used to be for clubs. In the last Collective Bargaining Agreement update roster rules were changed to give organizations one more year of protection for prospects before they had to be added to the 40-man roster and therefore protected from the selection process.

The key thing to remember about players chosen in the amateur draft is that they cannot be optioned down to the minors (expect for an injury rehab assignment) and must remain on the big league roster for the entire season. There are basically two approaches for teams to take: 1) Take a very raw player from the low minors and use him sparingly for the year expect perhaps in blowouts, basically spending the year with a 24-man roster, or 2) Look for a player that is MLB ready and can hopefully provide at least league-average production for a league-average salary.

Below, you’ll read three scouting reports on prospects who I personally feel could make solid Rule 5 selections in 2013. For those of you new to the process, here is a quick primer for the Rule 5 draft by our own Bradley Woodrum.

  • Odubel Herrera | Texas Rangers | 2B/SS

    The Texas Rangers minor league system boasts an impressive glut of middle infield prospects – including Jurickson Profar, Luis Sardinas, Rougned Odor, Leury Garcia, and Hanser Alberto – which is likely one of the reasons that led to the exclusion of Herrera from the 40-man roster. The situation actually reminds me a bit of the Toronto Blue Jays system back in the late 90s when the organization had the likes of Felipe Lopez, Cesar Izturis, Michael Young, Joey Lawrence, Tomas Perez, and Brent Abernathy, many of whom contributed at the big league level but with modest overall results.

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  • Daily Notes: Tender (Deadline) Is the Night

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

    1. Baseball Event: Tender Deadline, Tonight
    2. GIF: Mark Reynolds Bat Toss
    3. SCOUT Leaderboards: Australian Baseball League

    Baseball Event: Tender Deadline, Tonight
    The deadline by which teams must tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players is tonight (Friday) at 11:59pm ET. Players to whom contact offers are extended then have the opportunity to negotiate with their respective teams until January 18th, when arbitration figures are due for exchange. Players to whom contracts are not tendered become free agents and are free to negotiate with all 30 teams.

    Using some combination of a slide rule, abacus, and cheat codes from early and beloved Nintendo game Contra, Matt Swartz has projected salaries for all arbitration-eligible players and published the results at MLB Trade Rumors.

    Here are three notable players who might become free agents tonight:

    Player: Mark Reynolds, CIF, BAL
    Proj. Salary: $8.9 million
    Notes: Reynolds has been worth less than a win in over 1100 plate appearances as an Oriole. Owing to his power, he’d certainly receive attention as a free agent, but likely not $9-million-annually of attention.

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    David Wright Deal a Solid Bet for Mets

    Multiple sources are reporting that David Wright and the New York Mets have reached agreement on a contract extension that essentially makes the third baseman a Met for life.

    Initial reports have the deal at 7 years/$122 million. This is on top of next year’s $16 million team option, taking the total years and value of the contract  to 8/$138.

    It always pays to be skeptical of long-term deals for players on the wrong side of 30, simply because we know — on average — that performance only declines from this point on.

    Let’s take a look at how this might play out for the club.

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    Q&A: Taylor Guerrieri, Rays Pitching Prospect

    The Tampa Bay Rays have a deep and talented pitching staff, which extends into their farm system. Of the bunch, Taylor Guerrieri has a chance to be as good as any.

    A 20-year-old [as of tomorrow] right-hander, Guerrieri is the team’s top pitching prospect. Drafted 24th overall in 2011, he began his professional career this summer with short-season Hudson Valley and dominated the New York-Penn League. He featured a mid-90s fastball and a plus curveball while he logged a 1.04 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP in 12 starts. In 52 innings, he struck out 45 batters and walked only five.

    Guerrieri talked about his pitching approach after the Futures at Fenway doubleheader in mid-August.


    David Laurila: How do get guys out?

    Taylor Guerrieri: I just get ahead with the fastball, or really with any pitch. Making sure you stay ahead is the key. To me, it’s get ahead early and get ahead often.

    I try to stay true with my pitch sequence. A lot of it, for me, is based on where the guy is set up on the plate. If he’s further in, I’m going to come in. If he’s a little bit away from the plate, I’m going to go away. A lot depends on the batter, but I also have a game plan.

    DL: Who dictates your game plan?

    TG: It’s basically the manager, pitching coach and myself. It’s about staying ahead with the fastball until they prove they can hit the fastball. I usually don’t show them too much until they show they can hit it. The plan isn’t so much about particular hitters as it is my approach.

    DL: You throw your two-seam fastball more than your four-seam. Why?

    TG: I grew up throwing a two-seamer. I’m just now learning how to throw a four-seam off the mound and get comfortable with it. That will be a big pitch for me, so I’m looking to progress with it.

    I don’t think there’s a lot of difference [in velocity]. It’s more of a placement pitch; more of a set-up pitch. I like to throw a lot of two-seamers and my four helps me set that up.

    My two-seam has a little running action and some sinking, as well. It has more run toward the glove side and more sink toward the arm side.

    DL: How important is velocity to your game?

    TG: It is important. I’m not going to lie. Read the rest of this entry »

    Russell Martin Bringing New Element to Pirates Baseball

    Russell Martin was a Yankee, and then Russell Martin became a free agent. Russell Martin is a catcher, and once he became a free agent, the Yankees were in need of a catcher. Russell Martin is pretty good, and he wasn’t looking to break the bank with a contract. Russell Martin is 29. Martin seemed like an excellent candidate to re-sign, and indeed, there were indications that the Yankees were making Martin a priority. Then Thursday, Martin signed a two-year deal with the Pirates. It’s worth just $17 million, but the Yankees reportedly weren’t interested in matching that price. While the Pirates had been mentioned as a serious suitor in recent days, it’s an undeniable surprise to see the Yankees essentially get priced out for something they could really use.

    The Yankees, as has been mentioned several times over, are trying to avoid paying luxury-tax penalties in 2014, meaning they’ve placed a particular emphasis on one-year contracts. In that light, staying away from Martin makes some sense, but the Yankees still need a catcher, and guys like A.J. Pierzynski and Mike Napoli are unlikely to sign for one season. Surely the Yankees will figure something out, and this isn’t going to make or break their whole next year, but from the outside, this is a little perplexing.

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    Effectively Wild Episode 92: Why the Twins’ New Prospect Isn’t Their Type/Why Didn’t Russell Martin Make More Money?

    Ben and Sam discuss why prospect Alex Meyer isn’t the Twins’ usual type, then wonder why teams didn’t think Russell Martin was worth more than the Pirates paid him.

    Nationals Try To Tame Alex Meyer

    This article was originally published on May 17th. With Meyer’s trade to Minnesota today, we’re re-running it in order to give Twins fans a look at what they’re getting.

    With rain being a scouting nemesis for much of early April, having Nationals first rounder Alex Meyer fall into my lap in Rome, Georgia after consecutive postponements was a welcome surprise. Meyer’s start marked the beginning of a three-day stretch of scouting which included four top-100 pitching prospects (Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Nathan Eovaldi, Allen Webster), along with two former first rounders in Chris Withrow and Meyer. And while the former University of Kentucky Wildcat held his own against this group in terms of raw stuff, Meyer’s poor command pushed him to the back of the line compared to other prospects scouted that week.

    Video after the jump.

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    FanGraphs Audio: Question Time with Dayn Perry

    Episode 281
    Dayn Perry, contributor to CBS Sports’ Eye on Baseball and author of two books (one of them serviceable), answers questions from concerned readers.

    Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

    You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

    Audio after the jump. (Approximately 54 min play time.)

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    Nationals Steal Denard Span From Twins

    Another day, another NL East team solves their center field problem. Yesterday, the Braves spent $75 million to sign B.J. Upton to a contract that is perfectly fair and should provide them with a quality player going forward. Today, the Nationals spent $21 million — and, to be fair, a solid pitching prospect — and got a similarly valuable player in Denard Span. Advantage, Nationals.

    Similarly valuable doesn’t mean similar, of course. The similarities between Span and Upton pretty much end after you note that they’re both athletic center fielders. Upton derives a lot of value from hitting for power, while Span has hit nine home runs in the last three years combined. Span derives most of his value from making contact and running, using his speed to help him get on base, score runs, and save them in the outfield. And yet, at the end of the day, they end up with results that are about equally effective at winning games.

    For his career, Upton has a 107 wRC+ while Span checks in at 105. Interestingly, both players produced a wRC+ in 2012 that was an exact match for their own career average. Span struggled a bit the previous couple of years — and his issues were compounded with a mid-summer concussion that ended up costing him about half of the 2011 — but he rebounded nicely last year and showed some of the production that made him such a dynamic player earlier in his career.

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    Marvin Miller’s Legacy, and the Decline of Labor

    [O]ne thing a trade union leader learns to do is how to count votes in advance. Whenever I took one look at what I was faced with, it was obvious to me it was not gonna happen…
    [General Sherman] basically said, ‘I don’t want to be president. If I’m nominated I will not campaign for the presidency. If despite that I’m elected, I will not serve.’ Without comparing myself to General Sherman, that’s my feeling. If considered and elected, I will not appear for the induction if I’m alive. If they proceed to try to do this posthumously, my family is prepared to deal with that…
    What [Groucho Marx] said was words to the effect of, ‘I don’t want to be part of any organization that would have me as a member.’ Between a great comedian and a great general, you have my sentiments.
       — Interview with Marvin Miller, 2008, after asking the Hall of Fame to stop nominating him

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    The 2012 Season In High Home Runs

    Last time, I said this didn’t need any introduction, then I wrote a three-paragraph introduction. That’s probably going to happen again, because if I know anything, I know me. See? I’m wasting words already. Here’s the background:

    I’m looking for pitches in extreme locations that were hit for dingers. Following will be the highest pitches that were hit for dingers this past season. I’m fascinated by what happens at the extremes, and if you aren’t, I guess that just makes us two different people, which we already knew beforehand.

    This, as you can tell, is the fourth part of a four-part series. There are virtually limitless ways that you can sort all the season’s home runs, and I might go on to look at, say, the fastest and slowest pitches that got hit out, but I’d consider that a different but related series. Like a sibling, but not a twin.

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    Win a Free Copy of THT 2013!

    In case you hadn’t heard, The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2013 has hit internet bookshelves. You can read all about it here in Dave Studeman’s post, or you can listen to Carson Cistulli and myself discuss it here on a FanGraphs Audio podcast.

    Because we’re giving folk, and since it’s the beginning of the holiday season and all, we want to give you a chance to win yourself a free copy of the book. So each day this week, we’ll be running a trivia contest based on one of the articles in the book. You can find the previous contests here, here and here, if you’re into that sort of thing. The first person to post the correct answer in the comments will win a free physical copy of the book (sorry, no free Kindle or Nook versions). It’s just that simple!

    Today’s question comes from the article entitled “Fishing For Expansion Supremacy.” Written by FanGraphs’ prospect wizard Marc Hulet, it takes a look back at the 1992 expansion draft for the Marlins and Rockies. In it, Hulet details the significant players selected in a family-tree style. Each player was his own branch, and the players that came to the respective teams as a result of trading that player away helped fill out those branches on each team’s expansion team tree, so to speak. And that brings us, dear reader, to the trivia question before you today:

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    It’s Time To Expand HOF Ballots

    The BBWAA released the 2013 Hall of Fame ballots yesterday, and in a related story, writers from around the country made it clear that they weren’t going to vote for players that have been implicated in PED usage. Some even find it an annual tradition to be celebrated.

    Regardless of where you stand on the issue of PEDs and the Hall of Fame — and hopefully we can all agree that reasonable people can disagree on this — it should be pretty obvious that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are not getting inducted into Cooperstown this year. Jeff Bagwell probably won’t either. The contingent of voters who want to keep these guys out is large enough to block them from getting 75% of the vote this year, and probably for the foreseeable future.

    However, the contingent who wants them to be voted in based on their on field accomplishments is large enough to keep them on the ballot. Even inferior performers with ties to PEDs — such as Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro — have a large enough base of support that they remain on the ballot. And so, as the Hall of Fame ballots go forward, they’re going to run into a significant overcrowding problem. They might be there already.

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    Eno Sarris Baseball Chat — 11/29/12

    Pitch to Watch: Jonathan Broxton’s Cutter

    Let’s not forget: Jonathan Broxton was sharp with the Reds this season. The hulking righty recorded a 2.82 ERA and a 2.42 FIP. The strikeouts shot up to 8.0 per nine innings from 6.3, the walks were slashed to 1.2 per nine innings from 3.5.

    From September on, we saw shades of the exceptional Jonathan Broxton who dominated hitters in Los Angeles from 2007 through 2009. Broxton pitched 13.1 innings after September 1st, allowing just a .192/.224/.277 line against and a 1.35 ERA, striking out 14 and walking just one. It would just be another on the pile of small reliever sample sizes, except for one detail: he added a cutter in late August.

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