Results tagged ‘ Arizona Diamondbacks ’
With the season underway and some fans already looking forward to next year, even this early, it is a good time to look down on the farms for some names that you should get to know. Everyone knows who Wil Myers, Dylan Bundy, and Oscar Taveras are at this point, so these are players performing at elite levels who may not be household names…yet.
Aaron Altherr, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Altherr is a big, raw prospect who seems to be putting everything together this year in the Florida State League. He was nowhere to be found on MLB.com’s top 20 list for the Phillies prior to this season, while John Sickels, of minorleagueball.com, had Altherr in the “others” section as a player to watch. Considering what he was before this season, it is pretty shocking that the 6’5″, 190 pound outfielder has jumped to the numbers that he is putting up in 2013, but he was clearly a toolsy guy prior to this year. His lanky frame still had impressive speed and gap power, so as he continues to mature physically, Altherr could become an even more intriguing prospect. Given the nature of how the Phillies handled Domonic Brown, however, you have to wonder if they’ll handle a player similar is size with varying talent in the same manner.
Rafael De Paula, RHP, New York Yankees
The strikeout totals are stupid, and so is the fact that the Yankees have De Paula in Low-A ball at the age of 22. Domination doesn’t even begin to tell the story of what De Paula has done this season, and another guy that MLB.com left unranked, but came in as the Yankees No.13 prospect at minorleagueball.com, has flown up the prospect rankings in the early going of the 2013 season. De Paula was signed in November of 2010 out of the Dominican Republic and he has been handled with baby gloves ever since. In a recent Baseball Prospectus chat, Jason Parks had this to say about the Yankee right-hander:
“ Powerful build; arm speed is near elite; fastball can work 91-95l touch even higher; huge life; misses barrels; shows plus potential with both hard, power curve and changeup; command profile could push him to the ‘pen down the line, as could secondary development. He’s a big time arm.”
Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
I had a hard time buying into Archie Bradley, even with high rankings from MLB.com (No.24) and Baseball America (No.25) prior to the season. It had a lot to do with the 84 walks that he posted last season, as I like to see that a pitcher can harness his stuff before I consider him elite. However, this time I was way off, as the hits per nine (5.8), K per nine (10.1), and home runs allowed (just six in 136 innings) goes to show the type of stuff and dominance that Bradley possesses. A 95 mph fastball with sink and a strikeout pitch in his curveball have allowed Bradley to post a 63:16 K:BB in 42.2 innings in 2013, and he has already been bumped up to Double-A at the tender age of 20. He was highly touted for a reason and he seems to have found the command necessary to become one of the top pitchers in the minor leagues.
Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers
It’s tough being a middle infielder in the Rangers system these days. With Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler signed to long-term deals and Jurickson Profar waiting in Triple-A, the Rangers have created a logjam of talent in their system that will either waste away or get traded away. It also isn’t very fair for the guys who aren’t Profar to have to try to put up numbers comparable to his to be taken seriously. Which leads us to a very impressive young player. Odor was just 18 last season when he put up a .714 OPS with 37 extra-base hits and 19 stolen bases in full season ball, and he has improved his stats in the early going this season. Not only that, his running game is much more solid, having stolen 11 bases in 12 attempts after being gunned down 10 times in 29 attempts last season. His ceiling isn’t nearly that of Profar’s, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a solid major leaguer.
Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
Franco has a lot of potential that is not obvious to his game yet, which is shocking when you consider he currently sports an .887 OPS as a 20-year-old in High-A. A third baseman with an excellent arm and solid glove, if Franco continues hitting the way that he has while showing improved plate discipline, the Phillies could have a superstar in the making. Franco doesn’t strikeout in bunches and he appears ready to turn some of those 32 doubles from last season into home runs this year. As he continues to mature, he will be a player to keep an eye on.
Carlos Contreras, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
The Reds have been all over the place in their handling of Contreras since signing him prior to the 2008 season out of the Dominican Republic. While they finally seemed to have figured out that he should start, Contreras finally seems to know how to pitch now, as well. He is putting it all together for a very bad Bakersfield team in the California League, and while the league is a hitter’s paradise, Contreras has been pretty dominant. He has a .179 batting average allowed to go with his 52:13 K:BB in 42.1 innings. He has a fastball that sits 92-96 and seems familiar with pressure after being a closer last season. We’ll see if he can maintain this production, but he looks like a live arm in the Reds system, which they need with Daniel Corcino pitching so poorly at Triple-A this season.
Jake Buchanan, RHP, Houston Astros
Houston has an interesting method of developing their pitchers, using tandem starting pitching at all minor league levels this season. Jake Buchanan is not one of the club’s brightest stars, nor is he expected to become one, but he really seems to enjoy how the Astros are doing things this year. A 0.93 ERA and 0.64 WHIP over 48.1 innings is pretty impressive, as is the .163 batting average allowed. With the major league roster looking like a mediocre Triple-A team, and a starting rotation with a 6.31 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, and .309 batting average allowed, it doesn’t hurt to know that Buchanan is having success in the minors for a team so desperate for pitching help. The 23-year-old could get a jump to Triple-A in the coming weeks to see if he can produce similar statistics there before getting a shot in Houston.
Move over Alicia Keys, these boys are on fire in the month of May:
Mitch Moreland, 1B, Texas Rangers
.347/.407/.796, 17-49, 11 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 8 RBI
Long overlooked as an asset in the Rangers order, Moreland appears to be establishing himself as a valuable piece to a Hamilton-less Rangers offense. His left-handed power is needed in the middle of an order that features Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz along with switch-hitting DH Lance Berkman. Moreland is 27 and in the midst of his prime. While he does feature a pretty ugly .662 career OPS against left-handed pitching, that number has bumped up to .789 in 2013, so he could still make an interesting career out of playing in Texas. He could certainly turn his recent hot streak into a total breakout.
.340/.393/.720, 17-50, 10 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 3 SB
After taking the world by storm last season, Trout started the season slower than some fantasy nerds would have liked, posting a .261/.333/.432 triple slash in the first month of the season. He is picking things up, though, in May, displaying the power and speed that made baseball enthusiasts drool last season. Trout could be on his way to posting numbers like this over the rest of the season. Just imagine what he would be doing if Josh Hamilton was alive and breathing for the Angels…if only he could pitch, the Angels might not look like such an embarrassment.
.522/.542/.783, 12-23, 3 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB
Do you need a sleeper? The Pirates are pretty loaded in the outfield with Andrew McCutchen in center and Starling Marte in left; however, right field is a little…Travis Snider-y. Snider is still just 25 but he is under-performing, again, as the Pirates primary right fielder in 2013. His .267/.347/.356 is very weak and Tabata is heating up with the weather. Tabata, himself just 24, is another floundering former top prospect, but his ability to use the gaps and his speed would make him an asset in real-life and fantasy baseball. Clint Hurdle is an interesting manager, to say the least, so it will be interesting to see if he sticks with a strict platoon or gives Tabata a chance.
Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins
.447/.552/.660, 21-47, 13 R, 10 2B, 5 RBI
Mauer continues to prove that his 2009 power surge and MVP season was an anomaly. The Twins are floating around .500 due to Mauer’s production and a whole lot of crappy pitching. If the club was serious about contending, they probably would have done something about Vance Worley and Kevin Correia being their No.1 and No.2 starter prior to the season. With a lot of their talent in their 30′s, including Mauer, the club will be hard pressed for a quick recovery. Oswaldo Arcia has been a nice addition but to even float around being mediocre, Mauer may have to hit .447 over the rest of the 2013 season. He’s hot and he’s a hitting machine.
Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle Mariners: 2-0, 3 GS, 0.82 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 22 IP, 20:3 K:BB
Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers: 1-0, 3 GS, 0.79 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 22.2 IP, 20:5 K:BB
Chris Sale, LHP, Chicago White Sox: 2-0, 3 GS, 1.16 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 23.1 IP, 19:2 K:BB
Jordan Zimmerman, RHP, Washington Nationals: 3-0, 3 GS, 1.19 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 22.2 IP, 20:2 K:BB
Patrick Corbin, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks: 3-0, 3 GS, 0.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 20.1 IP, 16:10 K:BB
Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals: 2-0, 2 GS, 0.60 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 15 IP, 18:1 K:BB
Scott Feldman, RHP, Chicago Cubs: 2-0, 3 GS, 1.23 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 22 IP, 21:5 K:BB
- Why the Texas Rangers need to stick with Mitch Moreland is in Baltimore (sportsblogs.star-telegram.com)
- Beltre and Moreland lead Rangers past Athletics in 10 innings (miamiherald.com)
- Closing Time: The case for Mitch Moreland (sports.yahoo.com)
Should you take Justin Verlander, David Price, or Felix Hernandez as the first pitcher in your fantasy league? Well, the Mariners haven’t helped King Felix win many games due to their inability to score runs, Tampa Bay has a pretty pathetic offense, and Verlander has Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder to back him up. While Verlander, Price, and Hernandez will post similar ERA, WHIP, and strikeout totals, Verlander will tend to get the nod due to the added wins.
In 2012, Cliff Lee was 6-9 over 30 starts and 211 innings. He didn’t win his first game until July 4, his 14th start, after winning 17 games in 2011. Lee has already won two games in 2013, something that he couldn’t say he did last season until July 31 last year.
This year, the name is Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg has lost four games already in 2013. In 2012, he didn’t lose his fourth game until July 6. While wins are quite overrated in the statistical world, when a pitcher isn’t getting them, those who follow the sport feel like they may be doing something wrong.
Is Strasburg doing anything wrong?
Over his career, Strasburg has won 67.7 percent of his decisions while posting a no-decision percentage of 31.2 percent. Nearly one-third of his starts have led to no-decisions, so in a given year, based on his first 45 starts of his career and 33 stars in a 162-game season, Strasburg would average a 15-7 record, a 2.93 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP, and a 4.67 K:BB. This season, Strasburg’s 3.16 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and a 3.5 K:BB.
While Strasburg’s walks seem to be up a bit, his peripheral statistics show that there isn’t much that he can be held accountable for. His xFIP is up to 3.86 (his career xFIP is 2.68), so there may be something there, but most of the blame can be attributed to the bats when he starts. Only Kevin Slowey (0.75) and Joe Saunders (1.20) have lower run support than Strasburg (1.40) this season. At 1-4, Strasburg is a fantastic buy-low option in fantasy leagues for anyone unintelligent enough to trade him right now for this reason.
Jeff Samardzija (3.03 ERA vs. 2.00 RS)
Trevor Cahill (3.60 ERA vs. 2.00 RS)
Madison Bumgarner (1.87 ERA vs. 2.60 RS)
Clayton Kershaw (2.14 ERA vs. 2.80 RS)
Since this was announced on Monday, which was April 1st (aka April Fool’s Day), it feels like this isn’t happening; however, after it was made official, giving a career .275/.342/.353 line an eight-year, $120 million seems like a nightmare, especially after the club was unwilling to give Josh Hamilton an extension or make the first offer when he hit free agency this winter. After allowing a player who has averaged a .305/.363/.549 line to leave for their biggest rival, they gave Andrus $15 million per season on an extension, all while Jurickson Profar waits for a position to open up in Texas.
Andrus is a fine player. Since arriving in 2009, he has posted a 13.0 WAR, which is sixth among shortstops during that time. He leads shortstops in stolen bases (123), he is second to Derek Jeter in runs scores (341), and he is 21st among shortstops in OPS (.695). TWENTY-FIRST.
Andrus provides a solid batting eye (8.4 percent walk rate vs. 13.2 percent strikeout rate) to go along with his solid speed, which allows him to utilize his skills on the base paths to score runs in a very potent offense. While he can get on base and score runs, his defense is where his true value develops.
Andrus’ UZR/150 rating is 7.8, fourth among shortstops since 2009 behind Brendan Ryan, J.J. Hardy, and Alexei Ramirez. His .971 fielding percentage is 15th among shortstops since 2009. Of the three players above Andrus in zone fielding who have higher fielding percentages than Andrus, only Alexei Ramirez has a higher OPS. If Ramirez can field better and post better numbers at short, is he worth $15 million or more per season?
Ramirez is 31 and doesn’t have the favorable upside that Andrus possesses, but we’ve seen speed become useless several times before. In 2004, Cesar Izturis had his best season at the age of 24:
While he didn’t post numbers close to what Andrus did prior to his age-24 season, he displayed solid gap power, speed, and, of course, impressive defensive skills. He won his first and only Gold Glove in 2004, posting a .985 fielding percentage and a 3.8 WAR.
Compare that production to Andrus’ career stats:
Is there a whole lot of difference in the abilities of these players, outside of the fact that Andrus’ had four seasons completed prior to his age-24 season, which will be the 2013 season? Certainly, Andrus is better than Izturis, but would anyone have paid Izturis $15 million per season if every one of his seasons had been as solid as his 2004 season?
Luis Castillo was an excellent second baseman early in his career for the, then, Florida Marlins. Sure, he wasn’t a shortstop, but he had the same type of skill-set, possibly better, with more speed and on-base skills, while Andrus seems to have more gap power. Once Castillo hurt his feet, though, his 50+ steals potential was also hurt, and he became a 20 stolen base, empty .300-hitting middle infielder. If Andrus gets hurt or loses speed, where is his value? He can’t cover as much ground defensively and his ability to create runs with his legs is gone, as well.
Shortstop is a very tough position, but the value of defensive metrics have taken over the player’s ability to help the club in other ways, specifically with their bat. Cal Ripken, Jr., Barry Larkin, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, and Miguel Tejada did a dirty, dirty thing to the position, allowing solid contribution across the board to become a reasonable expectation. Today, only Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes seem like those types of dynamic, offensive-minded shortstops, and for that reason, they appear to be worth exorbitant contracts.
The Rangers aren’t the only team that feels that defense is very important, though. When the Cincinnati Reds turned Didi Gregorius and Drew Stubbs into Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald in their trade with the Cleveland Indians this offseason, that was one thing, as Choo is a free agent after the 2013 season, but when the Indians flipped Gregorius to the Arizona Diamondbacks with Lars Anderson and Tony Sipp for Matt Albers, Bryan Shaw, and, potential ace, Trevor Bauer, the new value of shortstops in baseball was apparent. Slap-hitting, defensively skilled middle infielders now have quite a bit of value.
So, if Gregorius, a career .265/.317/.370 hitter in the minor leagues, had that sort of value, then what is Xander Bogaerts worth? Bogaerts, a Boston Red Sox farm hand, hit .307/.373/.523 with a 4.13 range factor and .959 fielding percentage as a 19-year-old over High-A and Double-A in 2012. Gregorius had a range factor of 3.96 and a .964 fielding percentage as a 22-year-old over Double-A and Triple-A in 2012.
Furthermore, if Elvis Andrus is worth an eight-year, $120 million contract, then shouldn’t Troy Tulowitzki fire his agent? His extension for the 2015 to 2020 seasons gives him roughly $19.67 million per season, which isn’t nearly enough considering Andrus can’t carry his compression shorts with cup, since jock straps aren’t used anymore.
The good news for Andrus is that he has an opt-out clause after the 2018 season, allowing him to reach free agency during his prime, potentially earning more money if he reaches higher levels of production; however, if he under-performs or gets hurt, the Rangers don’t have an opt-out clause. The question now is: Was this a good contract for the Texas Rangers?
With Ian Kinsler signed through 2017 (with a 2018 team option) and Andrus locked up, where does Jurickson Profar go? What if Kinsler has another poor season, as his .749 OPS in 2012 was the worst of his career? Can they trade him? There have been leaks of Kinsler getting moved to left field or first base, but what happen to Mike Olt, another Rangers prospect, who is blocked through 2015 at third (possibly 2016, since Beltre has a vesting option)? Can Kinsler hit enough to play left? Do the Rangers trade Olt? Does Profar move to center even though Leonys Martin is hoping to prove himself there in 2013? Should they trade Profar?
The Rangers have committed to defense by signing Andrus and they have committed to spending a lot of money on mediocre offense. After letting Josh Hamilton walk, not addressing their No.5 starter situation this winter, and building excellent talent that they seem to be unwilling to commit to from their minor league system, the Rangers, who have made three straight playoff appearances, seem to have no clear direction to their roster makeup going forward.
Money, and lots of it, has been thrown around in the Los Angeles area since Frank McCourt sold the Dodgers to the Guggenheim group last season. The trade that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford out west was just the beginning, as the team spent $159 million on Zack Greinke, bid against themselves by giving Brandon League $27.5 million to (possibly) steal the closer’s job from Kenley Jansen, and $61.7 million (including the $25.7 million posting fee) on Hyun-Jin Ryu, a 25-year-old, seven-year veteran of the Korean Baseball Organization.
With the addition of Greinke and Ryu, the Dodgers have a loaded starting rotation; however, is it too loaded?
Clayton Kershaw will lead the group as the ace and even before signing and acquiring Greinke, Ryu, and Beckett, the team still had Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano, and Ted Lilly signed for the 2013 season.
But, you have to wonder whether the Dodgers spent money in the right places this winter. Surely, there wasn’t a large market of free agent third baseman, but is Luis Cruz the real answer there in 2013? The club had Hanley Ramirez playing there last season, but they’ve moved him back to shortstop, even with Dee Gordon, who struggled in 2012 as a rookie but can change a game with 56 stolen bases in just 143 games, still with the organization and probably going to Triple-A.
The club had pursued Scott Rolen before he decided to take some time to think about his options after the Cincinnati Reds moved on from the veteran. He could still become an option if the club doesn’t move Ramirez back to third or actually go with Cruz all season. Based on MLBTradeRumors.com Free Agent Tracker, the only remaining free agents at the hot corner are Rolen, Orlando Hudson, Adam Kennedy, and Miguel Cairo…not really the cream of the crop.
The issue becomes, is any team willing to part with a third baseman that could actually improve the Dodgers lineup?
Jordan Pacheco, Ryan Wheeler, or Chris Nelson could be a decent fit, and the Colorado Rockies seem to be a team constantly in need of starting pitching help, but as the team is finding its identity, why would they take on a veteran when they could give a rotation spot to Juan Nicasio, Christian Friedrich, or Tyler Chatwood?
With the Arizona Diamondbacks acquiring Martin Prado, could Matt Davidson, a slugging third base prospect, become expendable? While it would be a nice addition, the Diamondbacks are loaded at pitching right now, with Ian Kennedy, Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy, and Randall Delgado, not to mention Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin, and a soon-to-return Dan Hudson, so why would they need another arm?
While the Dodgers may want Ramirez at short, he’s probably better off at third so that the club can play Dee Gordon and see what they have in the 25-year-old, but the abundance of pitching will still be an issue. Can they keep Harang, Capuano, and Lilly in a relief role? Should they deal the veteran starters for any kind of minor league depth, considering the current state of the farm system for the Dodgers?
It’s great to have a lot of money, but that doesn’t change the fact that each team keeps 25 players active and has a 40-man roster…nothing more. While the additions of Greinke and Ryu could lead the Dodgers to the World Series, they were a part of a series of questionable moves considering the pieces that were already in place and the money that was spent.
If you had written last offseason that Mike Trout was going to score 129 runs, hit 30 home runs, and steal 49 bases in 139 games, you’d have to have impressive skills, like breasts that can tell you when it is going to rain, like Amanda Seyfried’s character in the movie Mean Girls.
Not everyone can be perfect with their inferences, but at least making predictions can be entertaining…especially when you look back and see how wrong you were months later. How wrong will I be this year? Here are my top breakout candidates for the 2013 MLB season:
Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
2012: 11-11, 3.81 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 175:81 K:BB, 177.1 IP
2013 prediction: 17-8, 2.92 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 191:77 K:BB, 208 IP
Why Moore Will Breakout: Over his final 14 starts in 2012, Moore was 6-5 with a 3.01 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP, posting a 79:31 K:BB in 77.2 innings, a tremendous improvement over his first half statistics (5-6, 4.42 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 96:50 K:BB in 99.2 IP). He has devastating stuff and an oddly familiar development, nearly mirroring David Price. If he continues that path, Moore will be an elite-level talent in 2013.
Kyle Kendrick, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
2012: 11-12, 3.90 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 116:49 K:BB in 159.1 IP (37 games, 25 starts)
2013 prediction: 15-6, 3.46 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 167:60 K:BB in 201 IP
Why Kendrick Will Breakout: Kendrick turns 29 late in the 2013 season, but you have to wonder if finally having a role will allow him to thrive. Since the Phillies traded Vance Worley and let Joe Blanton walk in free agency, he should settle into the No.4 spot behind Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee in the Philadelphia rotation. not to mention, in 12 second half starts in 2012, Kendrick was 7-4 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and a 51:14 K:BB in 70.1 innings. Kendrick may be overlooked due to the talent ahead of him in the rotation, but he could be a nice addition, especially if the Phillies veteran offensive talent rebounds and stays healthy.
Chris Tillman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
2012: 9-3, 2.93 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 66:24 K:BB in 86 IP
2013 prediction: 16-9, 3.29 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 157:60 K:BB in 205 IP
Why Tillman Will Breakout: Tillman, a former top 25 prospect, saw his fastball jump from 89.5 mph in 2011 to 92.4 mph in 2012, which had a lot to do with his success. Tillman didn’t make his first start for Baltimore until July 4 last season, so a full season could lead to similar results. He had a bright star early in his career and with a solid roster forming around him in Baltimore, there is no reason to think that the soon-to-be 25-year-old can’t continue to establish himself as a viable major league starter.
Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals
2012: .301/.328/.471, 16 2B, 11 HR, 39 RBI in 305 PA
2013 prediction: .298/.339/.483, 26 2B, 17 HR, 71 RBI in 497 PA
Why Perez Will Breakout: Perez is a monster at 6’3″, 245 pounds, and he is healthy after missing time due to knee surgery last season. He won’t even turn 23 until May, but Perez has shown that he can hit in the big leagues over 463 plate appearances over the last two seasons. With Billy Butler settling in as an All-Star quality bat and Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, likely, taking positive steps in their development, Perez’s numbers will likely shoot up in 2013.
Ike Davis, 1B, New York Mets
2012: .227/.308/.462, 26 2B, 32 HR, 90 RBI in 584 plate appearances
2013 prediction: .267/.353/.508, 32 2B, 35 HR, 112 RBI in 623 PA
Why Davis Will Breakout: An OPS of .888 with 20 bombs in the second half is one reason to get excited about what Ike Davis could become in his age-26 season in 2013, but a full, healthy season is the most enticing thing to look for. In 2011, Davis shredded his ankle and upon his return in 2012 from that injury, he lost a lot of power after coming down with Valley Fever last spring. After having flu-like symptoms from that illness for several weeks, on top of recovering from his ankle, Davis seemed to find his stroke, but not until he had already posted an ugly .201/.271/.388 line in the first half of the 2012 season. A healthy Ike Davis could become one of the top power hitters in baseball, an elite first baseman, and a great offensive producer for a Mets team with David Wright and very little else offensively. After posting a .246 BABIP in 2012, Davis could have more luck and get back to his career levels (.321 in 2010 and .344 in 2011) for BABIP and come close to 40 home runs.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
2012: .286/.359/.490, 43 2B, 20 HR, 82 RBI, 18 SB in 587 PA
2013 prediction: .283/.374/.503, 38 2B, 27 HR, 105 RBI, 13 SB in 613 PA
Why Goldschmidt Will Breakout: Goldschmidt is about to become a superstar and he will be playing the 2013 season at the age of 25. After combining for 65 home runs in High-A and Double-A in 2010 and 2011, the slugging first baseman seems poised to present more of that power at the major league level, transferring some of those 43 doubles from 2012 into more home runs in 2013. Goldschmidt was much better in the first half (.920 OPS) than in the second half (.782 OPS) in 2013, but with adjustments and growth, those numbers could level out, which would make Goldy an All-Star caliber player.
Chris Johnson, 3B, Atlanta Braves
2012: .281/.326/.451, 28 2B, 15 HR, 76 RBI in 528 PA
2013 prediction: .271/.319/.463, 31 2B, 18 HR, 72 RBI in 543 PA
Why Johnson Will Breakout: With Brian McCann, Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla, B.J. Upton, Justin Upton, and Jason Heyward in the lineup, the only non-threats in the Atlanta Braves’ lineup would appear to be Andrelton Simmons and Johnson. While Johnson will always be a liability due to his defense and inability to take a walk (4.8 percent career walk rate), he does have a bit of power and he should see a lot of fastballs, which will only help his power numbers and contact rates. It is unknown at this point if he is going to win the third base job, as Juan Francisco could take this spot as another free-swinging alternative, but Johnson was solid after being dealt to the Diamondbacks last season, posting an .824 OPS over 44 games with the Snakes.
Carlos Gomez, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
2012: .260/.305/.463, 19 2B, 19 HR, 51 RBI, 37 SB in 452 PA
2013 prediction: .255/.305/.455, 24 2B, 24 HR, 67 RBI, 47 SB in 574 PA
Why Gomez Will Breakout: The statistics above aren’t really breakout level, but Gomez could surprise a lot of people if he were to repeat or come close to repeating the numbers that he put up last year. To say that Gomez is a free-swinger is an understatement: His 107 career walks in 2,130 plate appearances are just two more than the 105 that Adam Dunn drew in 649 plate appearances in 2012…if you listen closely in the winter, you can hear Gomez swinging a bat somewhere in the world. Gomez has been around for a long time because he was rushed to the bigs by the Mets, a shocking development considering that is what the Mets always do. Still, if Gomez can steal bases, hit home runs, and not have to share his job with the likes of Nyjer Morgan, as he did for part of 2012, he could continue to establish himself as a valuable fantasy and real-life commodity.
Dexter Fowler, OF, Colorado Rockies
2012: .300/.389/.474, 18 2B, 11 3B, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 12 SB in 530 PA
2013 prediction: .280/.378/.469, 22 2B, 8 3B, 17 HR, 22 SB in 642 PA
Why Fowler Will Breakout: Fowler continues to show impressive on-base skills and he has the ability to spray the ball all over the field. He will probably show a significant decrease in the batting average category, as his .390 BABIP was absurd in 2012, but keep in mind that it was .354 in 2011, so he does have quite a bit of luck with where he can put the ball into play in his career. Fowler is an interesting player, as he is heading into his age-27 season (fully in his prime), he has a nice blend of power, speed, and on-base skills, and he plays in a friendly home ballpark in Denver. Look for him to take another step in the right direction in 2013.
The Arizona Diamondbacks just couldn’t help themselves. They just had to get rid of 25-year-old right fielder Justin Upton this offseason, and they finally found the right deal, which appeared to be any deal when the sent the potential MVP-candidate to Atlanta, with third baseman Chris Johnson, for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury, and Zeke Spruill on Thursday afternoon.
Upton, a two-time All-Star who finished 4th in NL MVP voting in 2011, is due $38.5 million between 2013 and 2015 before he reaches free agency. Considering the Diamondbacks thought that Cody Ross was worth $9.5 million per season from 2014 through 2016 (when he’ll turn 35), it seems completely unreasonable that the team felt that Upton wasn’t worth $12.8 million per season over the next three years before he turns 27 and can cash in again. Ross had a fine 2012 season, but is the potential that Upton brings not worth the extra $3.3 million that they would have paid Upton per season, had they not signed Ross to join an already-crowded outfield?
While B.J. Upton has been quite unpredictable when it comes to his consistency, he was still worth a five-year, $75.25 million deal this winter. It just seems unreasonable for the Diamondbacks to have rid themselves of the talented, young slugger, given his 108 home runs, 80 stolen bases, and .832 OPS in his six seasons, Kirk Gibson, the Diamondbacks’ manager, or Kevin Towers, their General Manager, must have had some personal belief that Upton wasn’t going to improve.
Maybe someone in Arizona should read what Keith Law thinks of Upton’s 2012 season:
Upton has some of the best bat speed and the strongest wrists in the game, generating hard contact and easy power, similar to Andrew McCutchen when he’s squaring up the ball consistently. In 2012, Upton’s timing was off for much of the year, and he was popping up a lot of pitches on the inner half that, the year before, he would have driven to the left-center gap or out of the park. Much of this probably was tied to a thumb injury he suffered in the third game of the season but never addressed with time off. Hand injuries of any sort tend to sap power by reducing a hitter’s ability to make hard contact, and that was a major issue for Upton all year.
Martin Prado is a solid major-leaguer, one of the better contact hitters in all of MLB, but he certainly shouldn’t have been a centerpiece to a Justin Upton trade. Randall Delgado, who turns 23 in February, has a solid 3.95 ERA over 127.2 innings and he has the potential to become a solid No.2 or No.3 starter for Arizona. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that the Diamondbacks will flip Nick Ahmed, with a pitching prospect, to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello. Spruill has back-end starter or long relief in his future, while Drury has struggled to make consistent contact and lacks plate discipline.
The package that the Diamondbacks received from Atlanta was a far cry from the offer that the Seattle Mariners supposedly made (Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush, and Stephen Pryor), but you can’t blame Arizona since Upton had the ability to veto the trade, and he did.
The Diamondbacks have made some interesting moves this winter, dumping Upton today and Trevor Bauer earlier this winter in their three-way deal with Cincinnati and Cleveland. Were these deals purging of players that weren’t willing to mold to the goals of management at the expense of acquiring equal talent in return? It certainly looks that way on paper.
Upton apparently needed a change of scenery and the Diamondbacks seemed to do whatever it took, even taking a lesser offer, to help make that happen. The team was forced to make the deal when they signed Cody Ross and as the season crept closer, Upton’s value and his potential suitors seemed to be dwindling. Unfortunately, this offer was probably the best that they could do, and it is another example of indecisiveness and a lack of direction for a team that appeared to have built a strong minor league system to match production at the major league level in recent seasons.
Last year, the Seattle Mariners finished 75-87, last place in the AL West, a spot that they have held for seven of the last ten years. What are the Mariners doing to build a contender?
The club is loaded with pitching prospects, like Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, Brandon Maurer, and James Paxton, and they have collected some fine offensive prospects, like Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin, and Brad Miller along the way. With Jesus Montero being added last season and the ascension of Dustin Ackley to the majors, you would think that the Mariners were building for a run in 2015.
However, that can’t be the case after the club has traded for Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse, both free agents after the 2013 season. While the club gave up John Jaso to get Morse and Jason Vargas to get Morales, the Mariners left themselves with some question marks.
With Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez, and Blake Beaven penciled into the rotation, the club may have to rely on Hector Noesi, Hultzen, or Paxton in the rotation to start the year. Noesi was 2-12 with a 5.82 ERA for the M’s in 2012, Hultzen was just 1-4 with a 5.92 ERA in 12 Triple-A starts in 2012, and Paxton would be jumping to the majors from Double-A. While Vargas isn’t close to being considered an ace, the Mariners will have a tough time replacing the 217 innings and 3.85 ERA that he provided last year.
After trading Jaso to Oakland, the Mariners only have Jesus Montero at catcher. Montero, who turned 23 in November, caught in just 56 games in 2012, throwing out 17 percent of base runners and posting a -8 Rtot (runs below average that he was worth defensively). While his bat has great potential, Montero is not an everyday catcher at the major league level.
There are two examples of their everyday lineup that I have found:
C: Montero C: Montero
1B: Morse 1B: Smoak
2B: Ackley 2B: Ackley
3B: Seager 3B: Seager
SS: Ryan SS: Ryan
LF: Ibanez LF: Morse
CF: Gutierrez CF: Gutierrez
RF: Saunders RF: Saunders
DH: Morales DH: Morales
Example one is eliminating Justin Smoak from the equation. Smoak has over 1,200 at-bats and has a career slash of .223/.306/.377 line, but he is just 26 years old and he posted a .341/.426/.580 in September, showing a glimpse of what he can do when he is healthy, and he has battled a thumb issue for the last couple of seasons.
Example two eliminates Raul Ibanez from the lineup. Ibanez has had great success in Seattle, having played 10 of his 17 seasons with the Mariners, but at the age of 41, he may just be a situational talent.
The Mariners could really use a catcher. If the club was able to deal Smoak to Boston for Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway, the Mariners could then move Montero to DH, Morales to first, and Morse can play left field. The Red Sox only have Mauro Gomez at first base right now, so the deal would make sense for both clubs, as the Sox have David Ross and whatever catcher they don’t trade to roster.
The M’s could also rush Mike Zunino, who was the top college player in last year’s MLB draft. Zunino could take over at catcher, allowing for the same moves with Morales and Morse as above, while the club could keep Smoak around in case of an injury. Zunino had 51 at-bats in Double-A last year, so he could use some more seasoning in the minors, but he could be a better option behind the plate than Montero already.
Regardless of the moves at catcher that the Mariners could make, the additions that the club has made have not been stellar.
Morse has a powerful bat but he has issues making contact, having posted a 223:52 K:BB while hitting 49 home runs over 928 at-bats over the last two seasons. Turning 31 years old in March, Morse has two seasons with a WAR over 1.0 (1.2 in 2010 and 3.1 in 2011), so one has to wonder if his 2011 season (with 31 home runs and a .910 OPS) was his peak.
Ibanez is not a player that a rebuilding team needs. His age and declining skills limit his potential.
Morales rebounded nicely after missing nearly two years due to injury, posting a .787 OPS. In 2009, Morales posted a .924 OPS and he had an .833 OPS in 2010 prior to his celebratory injury. Is the drop in production due to his injury, timing issues due to being away from the game, or pressing to hit at the levels that he did in 2009? Can he reach those numbers when he is playing half of his games in Seattle?
Add in the interest that the Mariners have in Justin Upton and the supposed offer (Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Stephen Pryor, and Charlie Furbush) that they made, and the team seemingly has no long-term or short-term direction. The Mariners pitching, as it stands, is questionable at best. If the team is rebuilding, why would they offer two of their top five prospects instead of cashing in on any of their veterans that have value, even Felix Hernandez?
While John Jaso and Jason Vargas aren’t superstars, you have to wonder if the club would have been better off with the two players still on their roster. While they wouldn’t have made many moves to improve upon their last place finish from 2012, the Mariners wouldn’t have question marks all over the field like they do right now.
Ian Kennedy has posted some pretty solid numbers over his career, going 46-30 with a 3.76 ERA over 112 games (110 starts). Having been around since 2007, when he came up with the Yankees, it is easy to forget that Kennedy is just 28 years old, with a lot of time left to become a useful pitcher, whether that is in real life or fantasy baseball. The only issue is, which Ian Kennedy is the real Ian Kennedy?
As a New York Yankee farm hand, Kennedy was totally lights-out, going 19-6 with a 1.95 ERA over 46 games (43 starts), posting a 273:77 K:BB in 248.2 innings. In 2007, Kennedy jumped to the majors for three starts in September, going 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA over three starts and 19 innings. Kennedy wasn’t so good in 2008, going 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA over 10 games (9 starts) before being banished to the minors (all the way to the Gulf Coast League), where he worked on some things and earned a start on August 8, which didn’t go very well. Kennedy would make just one more appearance in the majors with the Yankees before a blood clot, which needed surgery, was found in his throwing shoulder. He was dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks, as part of a three-way trade with the Detroit Tigers, on December 8, 2009 in a deal involving Curtis Granderson, Max Scherzer, and Edwin Jackson.
Once with Arizona, Kennedy’s career took off. In 2010, Kennedy stayed healthy, starting 32 games and tossing 194 innings while going 9-10 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.20 WHIP and posting a 168:70 K:BB. Then, 2011 was the breakthrough…
Kennedy went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP over 222 innings, posting a 198:55 K:BB. Kennedy finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting (behind Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee), while earning MVP votes, finishing 14th. At the age of 26, Kennedy was poised to take the step to become one of the top pitchers in Major League Baseball…
Only in 2012, things weren’t as positive for Kennedy, as he went 15-12 with a 4.02 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP, while posting a 187:55 K:BB in 208.1 innings.
While Kennedy’s 2011 season was a great step towards stardom, is he the pitcher that he was then or what he was in 2012…or somewhere in between, such as 2010?
Take a look at some statistics:
Kennedy’s ERA, WHIP, xFIP, HR/9, and LOB% were all at career bests in 2011. In 2012, Kennedy’s BABIP was higher than the league average, which is .300, but is that enough to say that he was unlucky or was he just lucky in earlier years in Arizona?
If 2011 was an aberration, then Ian Kennedy is more likely to post a 3.90 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP over 200 to 220 innings. But…if Kennedy maintains his strikeout rate and his BABIP falls to his career average, .280, could Kennedy return to the 2011 form, or at least post an ERA closer to 3.00 than 4.00 and a WHIP closer to 1.10 rather than 1.20 or 1.30?
At 28, Sabermetrics guru Bill James sees Kennedy as more of the 2011-version, having the right-hander go 13-10 with a 3.49 ERA over 214 innings in his projections. Based on Baseball Reference’s Similarity Scores, Kennedy is most similar to Tommy Hanson, Clay Buchholz, Mark Prior, and Mat Latos. Due to some injury concerns for a few of those players, fans of the Diamondbacks certainly hope that Kennedy can come up with a new group of pitchers to be ranked with, and if he has another season like 2011, he could do that pretty easily.
When the Texas Rangers signed Lance Berkman to a one-year, $10 million deal (with a $12 million option for 2014, which vests at $14 million for 550 plate appearances in 2013), they really caused some chaos on their roster.
Berkman will be the primary designated hitter in 2013, at least for as long as his ailing knees will allow him to after he missed 117 games in 2012 due to injuries to both knees and his left calf. The Rangers are making a very questionable decision in this signing.
Texas has been linked to deals with the Arizona Diamondbacks all offseason, as Arizona GM Kevin Towers continues to shop Justin Upton. While Rangers GM Jon Daniels has refused to create a package around top prospect Jurickson Profar, the club may have just blocked their prized possession by signing Berkman.
Daniels announced on January 7 that with the signing of Berkman, the club was going into the 2013 season with Ian Kinsler at second base and Mitch Moreland at first base. Daniels confirmed on December 9 that Kinsler was an option at first base, which would have opened second base for Profar or allowed the club to keep Profar at short and move Elvis Andrus to second.
With Adrian Beltre entrenched at third base for the Rangers, Mike Olt, another top prospect for Texas becomes expendable, even after the club traded Michael Young to Philadelphia. Olt could play some first base, but with Moreland, Kinsler, and Berkman (possibly) capable of handling the position, he’ll probably head to Triple-A Round Rock for the start of the 2013 season…if he isn’t traded.
While the club mentioned Kinsler as an option at first, he could still make sense in left field. With Josh Hamilton signing with the Los Angeles Angels, the Rangers outfield is suddenly very weak, at least on paper. The top four outfielders are David Murphy, Nelson Cruz, Leonys Martin, and Craig Gentry. If Kinsler played left, where his bat could play well still, it would open the door for Profar at second, at least, and the club could still hope that a package featuring Mike Olt could still land the club Upton. Kinsler could handle center, possibly, as an up-the-middle player with solid speed (157 steals in seven seasons), which would allow the club to move Cruz to left.
While Berkman has been a fantastic player over his career, a club with so many options offensively should not have locked up a player for, potentially, two season if “Big Puma” were to actually hit his vesting option. Even a rotation of players would have been a solid use of resources, possibly DHing Nelson Cruz to keep his legs, which have kept him out of 83 games since the start of 2010, fresh.
What would the best-case scenario be for Berkman and the Rangers? With Murphy in left full-time and Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt in Triple-A, all because of Berkman’s inability to play the field at this point of his career, the Rangers are not better. They have de-valued one of the top prospects in baseball by tying Ron Washington‘s hands with a player in the decline of his career.
Jon Daniels has done nothing to help the Rangers this offseason. While we don’t know if it was his call to hope that Josh Hamilton called the Rangers to allow them to match an offer, only to lose out to their division-rival, the fact that the club continues to hold onto Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar instead of upgrading by getting Justin Upton continues to be the driving mistake of the offseason for the club. At least Upton is someone to build around, as he is 25 years old and signed through 2015.
Jon Daniels may have just blocked Jurickson Profar AND Mike Olt for the next two seasons. There is no excuse for that, even for a team that had the money to spend.