"Pitching has got to be the foundation in the organization. Everybody wants a good pitcher. The more pitchers we have, the stronger our organization will be."
- Dayton Moore, Kansas City Royals General Manager

Sunday, December 9, 2007

2008 St. Louis Cardinals Organizational Depth Report

1. chris perez, RHRP - 2008
2. adam ottavino, RHSP - late 2009
3. tyler herron, RHSP - 2010
4. p.j. walters, RHSP - mid 2009
5. jaime garcia, LHSP - mid 2009
6. clayton mortensen, RHSP - mid 2010
7. eddie degerman, RHRP - mid 2009
8. luke gregerson, RHRP - mid 2008
9. kyle mcclellan, RHRP - september 2008
10.jess todd, RHP - 2010

this system is quite pathetic. i don't think that's news to anyone, least of all cardinals management. they've clearly made it an imperative to stock the system with arms that are capable of moving through the system quickly as 7 of the 10 arms i've listed are college draftees taken in the last two years. in my opinion, that is as close to an admission of expected decline as an organization will ever get. they are in need of a rebuild, but they have no reinforcements immediately available.

i like chris perez alot. his walk rate will be high when he first gets called up, but i think it should settle in around 4 per 9 IP once he gets acclimated to the major leagues. his K rate should be outstanding, and the combination of the two should place him in the back end of st. louis' bullpen for many years to come.

i like p.j. walters, but as he advanced up the minor league ladder his GB rates were in a steady decline. if he can maintain a GB/FB rate of around 1.4, he projects as a league average starter, but if the decline in his rates continues in 2008, it'll be alot harder for him to stick.

spotlight: IOU

there is noone on this list that i have video and statistics of, so it'd be hard for me to give a the kind of indepth look that i try to provide in this article. when i do get aroubnd to it, i will likely be looking at 26 year old pitcher, adam wainwright.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

LOOK OUT FOR: rule 5 edition

randor bierd, RHRP, BAL (via DET)

bierd is the embodiment of a prototypical rule 5 draftee. he has a big, rugged frame, and a plus fastball, which combine to give him an adequate shot to withstand a season in the major leagues at a time in which he doesn't belong. what makes bierd a subject for this piece is that, in addition to his plus fastball, he's also exhibited good control in a half season at AA, which will be of great importance in the major leagues. of all the players selected in this phase of the rule 5 draft, bierd is the one i like most because of this combination, along with his being selected by baltimore, a team with no incentive to expose, rush, or hang out to dry this prospect.

lincoln holdzkom, RHRP, PHI (via BOS)

another big body, with a big fastball holdzkom is a lot less likely to have a successful career than bierd is. holdzkom has been held back by arm injuries in 2004 and 2005, and he has yet to regain any semblance of control, which is a major limiting factor when projecting his future. he's going to get a chance to win a spot with philadelphia, though, because of his ability to induce the most favorable outcome, and if he can keep his BB rate under 5 or 6 per 9 IP, he would still have some of value in the national league.

Jose Capellan, LHP, SF (via BOS)

capellan is a LH version of randor bierd, but 2 years younger, and with no full season experience. his solid 6'2" frame allows him to throw his sinking fastball with plus downward tilt, resulting in the most favorable outcome. he also has a raw changeup with plus characteristics, which helps to keep righthanded batters honest. i don't expect capellan to last very long at the major league level, and i think SF will go to great lengths to keep capellan on the disabled list.

2008 Milwaukee Brewers Orgnaizational Depth Report

1. yovani gallardo, RHSP
2. luis pena, RHRP, april 2008
3. manny parra, LHSP
4. zack jackson, LHSP
5. zack braddock, LHSP, mid 2009
6. mike mcclendon, RHSP, late 2009 *SLEEPER*
7. carlos villanueva, RHP
8. jeremy jeffress, RHSP, late 2009
9. dave johnson, RHRP, early 2009
10.chris cody, LHSP, 2009

the three pieces in this organization that really stick out to me are luis pena, mike mcclendon, and zack braddock. all three are big bodies, and all three have plus fastballs of different varieties. pena features a blazing 4 seam fastball that can reach the high 90s, mcclendon features a two seamer with solid downward tilt, which results in a high percentage of groundouts, while braddock features a prototypical power lefty repertoir of mid 90s fastball, and mid 70s curve.

dave johnson is in the same boat as mcclendon, in that he throw a hard 2 seam fastball on a downward plane that induces the most favorable outcome of a groundball. his breaking ball, though is not on the same level.

Spotlight: Carlos Villanueva

villanueva features a remarkably unspectacular fastball, which goes with his remarkably unspectacular curve, and his remarkably unspectacular changeup. he works quickly, and he has minimal deception in his windup. he shows typical splits as a RHP versus lefthanded and righthanded batters.

villanueva is lucky, though. there has never been a better time to be a pitcher with so little intrigue. the fact that there is nothing that makes villanueva stand out means that he has two advantages. 1) there is no reason to test him to see what his limits are as far as innings pitched, or games played is concerned. as a pitcher with hundreds of comparable predecessors with regards to both stuff and performance, his limits are well known. 2) he has value for all teams, regardless of whether they are in the midst of a championship run or in the beginning of a 4 year rebuilding process.

i don't know whether villanueva will stick in the rotation, or find himself in the bullpen in 2008, but i suspect that he can be successful in either role. i think milwaukee has a few brighter options to look at as starters before villanueva gets a chance, but if that's the case, that would be more of a result of looking for the higher upside talent, than taking the safe route of villanueva.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

2008 Chicago Cubs Organizational Depth Report

1. carlos marmol, RHRP
2. sean gallagher, RHSP
3. donald veal, LHSP - mid 2009
4. sean marshall, LHSP
5. jeff samardzija, RHSP - late 2008
6. mitch atkins, RHSP - 2009
7. carmen pignatiello, LHRP
8. rocky roquet, RHRP - mid 2008
9. mark holliman, RHSP - 2009
10.jacob renshaw, RHSP - 2011

after samardzija, the list peters out. atkins is okay if he's your team's 7th starting option going into the season. pignatiello is an alright reliever. roquet is an intriguing minor league reliever. i'm not optimistic about holliman's future. renshaw is young and projectable, which doesn't really belong on this list, but there is noone better to include.

marmol is someone that i had pegged to breakout in 2007. my having an accurate read on his situation is part of the reason why i started this site. i feel that the markers that i look for are a significantly more accurate predictor of future success than any of the projection systems or any of the traditional scouting methods. time will tell whether my confidence is warranted, but for now, i'm content to plug away.

i see sean gallagher as more of a 3/4 innings eater than a top of the rotation ace. i think his value to the cubs is mostly as a trade chip, but i'm not too close to the situation to know whether the cubs feel the same way.

Spotlight: Sean Marshall

marshall had most of his success in 2007 against aggressive lineups. this is because marshall pitches backwards. he throws his slightly above average curve ball and his deceptive changeup early in the count, and finishes hitters off with his fringe/average fastball. he's right at the line between junkballer and cunning lefty, with the difference being that he's 6'7" tall, which gives hitters a fraction of a second less time to recognize which offering is coming at them.

aggressive hitters will tend to jump on the first offering, and mostly make poor contact. patient hitters will wait him out, and take advantage of his still developing control. as it is, he's very susceptible to baserunners in this situation, but if he can hone his command a notch or two, he has a good future ahead of him, bouncing around the national league.

if he ever finds himself in the AL east, however, expect a round number to locate itself next to his name, in the ERA column.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

2008 Kansas City Royals Organizational Depth Report

1. zack greinke, RHSP
2. luke hochevar, RHSP
3. leo nunez, RHSP
4. dan duffy, LHSP - 2010
5. joakim soria, RHRP
6. kyle davies, RHSP
7. dan cortes, RHSP - mid 2009
8. jason godin, RHSP - late 2008 *sleeper*
9. rowdy hardy, LHSP - mid 2008
10.jarod plummer, RHRP - mid 2008

my tepidness on rowdy hardy should probably disavow any notion that i'm just a stat geek with a magic algorithm. hardy has a very accomplished minor league profile with an excellent BB rate and a quality hit rate. i don't think either of those will hold up at the major league level. kevin slowey learned a lesson this year that rowdy hardy should take to heart: there is a HUGE difference between command and control when you get to the top level of the profession.

i don't know what to think of hochevar. statistically, the only thing to like about his 2007 was that he was adequate in AA in his first full professional season. however, there is something in the back of my mind about his performance. i've heard rumors that hochevar was instructed by the royals organization to not throw his 2 seam fastball in the minors. that seems to be substantiated when his flyball tendencies in AA and AAA did a 180 during his september stint in the majors.

godin had back surgery in college, and lost the 2005 season as a result, but that just means two things to me: 1) there's one less year of wear on his arm and 2) he's gone through the pains of rehab, and has likely learned the importance of prevention. he seemed to tire out at the end of this season, but i'm not too concerned about that at this point. i see him peaking in 2009, so hopefully he'll get his feet wet in the majors in 2008.

Spotlight: Leo Nunez

nunez works quickly and has a loose arm. he throws a FB which hits 95 MPH and sits 90-92 with good lateral movement. his slider sits in the mid 80s with more downward tilt than lateral movement. his changeup actually has very similar movement to his slider and comes in at a few ticks slower, which could cause some trouble for hitters.

nunez featured his changeup more during his string of relief appearances in september, and i think that helped him to throw hitters off. the development of this pitch, and his still young age will allow him to make the transition to the rotation, IMO. the problem is that he hasn't started for any appreciable length of time since 2004, and that was in low A.

i'd like to see him continue in his role as a long reliever for the next year. with the royals rotation being what it is, there will be plenty of innings for him to soak up in that role, and he'll continue to gain more confidence as next year wears on. his stuff is most definitely MLB ready, and despite the way he's been handled, i think he could be a better than league average starter as soon as 2009.

this kid's on his way up.

Monday, October 29, 2007

back in the mood

i admit, i fell behind writing up these reports in the last two weeks. instead of pushing through it and not really giving this project my full attention, i took a week off and got my head out of the statsheet, but now, i'm getting back into the mood.

i've kept my ears perked, listening up and looking out for some good baseball analysis, but aside from dan szymborski's zips projections, i've found my itch for good reading unsatisfied.

so, i'll be posting two articles in the next two days, and hopefully 3 more by the end of the weekend. the chicago cubs and the kansas city royals appear to be the next two teams on the dockett, so spread the word.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

2008 Florida Marlins Organizational Depth Report

1. scott olsen, LHSP
2. aaron thompson, LHSP - mid 2008
3. rick vandenhurk, RHSP
4. josh johnson, RHSP
5. brett sinkbeil, RHSP - september 2008
6. renyel pinto, LHRP
7. sean west, LHSP - 2009
8. anibal sanchez, RHSP
9. gaby hernandez, RHSP, late 2008
10.ryan tucker, RHSP, mid 2009

i love what this system is doing. the 2005 draft infused a great deal of high school aged pitching to the organization. the dividends have yet to be paid, but florida seems to be timing their run for early 2009. at that time, josh johnson and anibal sanchez will be coming back from injury and should be nearing 100%, as will sean west. brett sinkbeil will be 2 full years out of college, and primed for his debut.

anibal sanchez had good value and looked to be the premier piece in florida's long term plans, but a torn labrum has d ropped his value like a rock.

this list, in particular is quite useless because of the uncertainty surrounding josh johnson, sean west, and anibal sanchez. were there no injury concerns, the top 5 would probably be johnson, west, olsen, thompson, vanden hurk.

Spotlight: Scott Olsen

scott olsen is fucked as a marlin. he is a very talented pitcher, but he runs his mouth like a little shit, which cuts his legs out from under him when he has a valid complaint. because of his run ins with marlins management, the marlins would be best off getting rid of him. but because of inherent problems in the makeup of their team, olsen's on field value is as low as a healthy, hard throwing lefty's value ever should.

those inherent problems in the makeup of the marlins are H. ramirez and M. cabrera. both are at the bottom end of the defensive spectrum at their respective positions, and neither appear likely to get much better. unfortunately for marlins pitching, those two "problems" are incapable of being worked around because of their tremendous offensive talent.

olsen throws a 2 seam fastball that sits at 90-92 MPH. his changeup comes in at around 83, and between these two pitches, olsen can flat out dominate. he's at his best when he challenges with his fastball down in the zone. again, though, the problem with approaching the game this way is that the left side of the marlins infield is swiss.

unless olsen, cabrera, or ramirez is moved, i don't see olsen getting his ERA below 5.00. he still has good stuff, and he still has good enough control, but i don't think his pitchability problems will be solved until the defense behind him is sured up.

What is pitchability? You’ll get a lot of differing opinions, depending on who you talk to. Some will tell you it’s the understanding of how to exploit a hitter’s weaknesses. Some will tell you that it’s the knowledge of your own limitations and the ability to stay within your constraints as a pitcher and maximize what you have. Some will tell you it’s the ability to ignore pressure and throw the best game of your life when it really matters. I’ll tell you it’s all of the above and a whole lot more. It is what makes a pitcher successful, and everything else is secondary.
- david cameron

Saturday, October 20, 2007

2008 Los Angeles Angels Organizational Depth Report

1. jered weaver, RHSP
2. nick adenhart, RHSP - 2008
3. ervin santana, RHSP
4. sean o'sullivan, RHSP - 2009
5. jordan walden, RHSP - 2010
6. nick green, RHSP - late 2008
7. ken herndon, RHSP - 2009 *sleeper*
8. brok butcher, RHSP - early 2009
9. chris resop, RHRP
10.rich thompson, RHRP - april 2008

the angels deserve a vast amount of credit for bringing into their organization as many legitimate prospects as they have, but i don't much like the career prospects of many of these pitchers if they continue along this path. sean o'sullivan threw 160 innings this year as a 19 year old. ken herndon threw 152 as a 21 year old. nick green threw 180 innings as a 23 year old.

i believe that a pitcher's major league debut should be timed to his peak in development during his age 22, 23, or 24 season. in this system, i see a lot of players peaking at that age, but i see them doing it in A and AA. i like nick green a lot, but for him to throw 180 minor league innings this past season is completely unnecessary.

there are a bunch of other pitchers in this system that deserve to be mentioned as guys to watch in 2008. those names include: aaron cook, felipe arredondo, jeremy haynes, robert fish, young-il jung.

Spotlight: Ervin Santana

santana's fastball sits 91-94, and is a 60 on the 20-80 scale. he has a bad habit of leaving it up in the zone, and he also has a tendency to reach back for some extra velocity when he is having trouble finding the zone. his slider comes in at 83 and is a decent swing and miss pitch. it has a fairly pronounced downward spike, but it's his only offspeed pitch.

my first impression of both pitches were that they were fairly mediocre. his fastball's velocity and movement is negated by it's placement, and the effectiveness of his slider is negated by the lack of any other secondary pitch. on the plus side, he does vary the velocity of his fastball, but it's not such a good pitch that he can get away with throwing the 85% of the time that he did last season.

i'd like to see him throw a changeup, but if he doesn't already at this point, i doubt that he's going to in the future. what santana really needs is a pitch that can come in 15 MPH under his FB that would just end up making his fastball pop that much more.

as it is, i don't much like his future. starting pitchers that throw sliders generally develop arm problems at some point in their career. arm trouble in santana's case could cost him 2-3 MPH off his fastball, and that would pretty much end his major league career. that's a problem for all pitchers, regardless of repertoire, but i don't see anything from santana that would lead me to believe that he could adapt if that situation were to rear it's head.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

2008 Washington Nationals Organizational Depth Report

1. collin balester, RHSP - mid 2008
2. john lannan, LHSP
3. matt chico, LHSP
4. ross detwiler, LHSP - 2008
5. jordan zimmerman, RHSP - 2010
6. jon albaladejo, RHRP
7. zech zinicola, RHRP - 2008
8. garret mock, RHSP - late 2008
9. shairon martis, RHSP - 2009
10.jhonny nunez, RHSP - 2011

ross detwiler, josh smoker, jack mcgeary, and jordan zimmerman headline an excellent draft for washington. before the draft, i wasn't very high smoker or detwiler, but the combination of those two and the higher risk duo mcgeary and zimmerman form a very solid draft. only texas could claim to have brought in more pitching talent than via the 2007 draft than washington, but that is nothing to be ashamed of. i was not a jim bowden fan before he took over as the national's GM, but with what he's done to rebuild the organization's pitching depth, i have to give him an A for his effort.

albaladejo and zinicola are two more relievers in the mold that i love, good control, high GB%, low hype. i don't quite know where each fits in with washington's future plans, though.

Spotlight: Matt Chico/John Lannan

chico's fastball can touch 89, but it mainly sits in the 85-88 range, which isn't much of a problem, as he spots the pitch very well. his changeup comes in a few MPH under his fastball at 81-84 MPH, and he also throws a slurve that comes in at about 77 MPH. chico is completely underwhelming, and if the nats' new park plays just league average, chico could see his ERA skyrocket. there is nothing about chico that is impressive, and though his numbers look solid, i cannot see him having a long successful career.

john lannan throws a mid 80s fastball which he does a pretty good job of keeping down and spotting on both corners. like chico, his changeup comes in just a few MPH under his FB. his breaking ball is real slurvy, and not a true swing and miss pitch.

neither pitcher is a real good bet for success in 2008, but lannan's got a slight advantage because of the deception that comes with having a 6'5" frame. both lannan and chico should fit into washington's 2008 rotation as slightly below league average to slightly above replacement level type starters.

Monday, October 15, 2007

2008 Atlanta Braves Organizational Depth Report

1. joey devine, RHRP
2. kris medlen, RHRP - august 2008
3. jamie richmond, RHSP - mid 2009
4. tommy hanson, RHSP - late 2009
5. anthony lerew, RHSP
6. jo-jo reyes, LHSP - late 2008
7* cole rohrbough, LHSP - 2010
8* jose ortegano, RHSP - 2012
9* edgar osuna, RHSP - 2012
10.jose ascanio, RHRP

the fact that the top two arms in this system are both relievers should be a big concern for anyone with a stake in the team's future. i like both devine and medlen, but neither is a lights out option, and both have their warts. medlen gets the nod over richmond and hanson because i view him to be more likely to be an above average player.

i've been searching for a legitimate justification for ranking richmond ahead of hanson, but i can't really come up with anything. i guess the best support i could use is that i think hanson's BB rate will start to drag him down when he reaches AA. i just think richmond is the better bet to be a solid starter.

lerew had TJ surgery in june, and will likely be out of action until that time in 2008.

the three short season pitchers are included with asterisks because including them goes against what these lists attempt to do. but i don't see any better options for inclusion.

to put it bluntly, this is an organization that is primed for a steep decline. the major league rotation is mediocre overall, and downright horrible in the 3-5 spots, but even worse is that there are no reinforcement's coming. i like jamie richmond, but i don't think he's particularly close to being ready to debut. ditto for tommy hanson.

Spotlight: IOU

i could do joey devine here, but i don't see any pressing need. after i'm done with these lists, i think i'll take some time to look at chuck james to make up this missing piece.

Friday, October 12, 2007

2008 Seattle Mariners Organizational Depth Report

1. felix hernandez, RHSP
2. brandon morrow, RHRP
3. kam mickolio, RHRP - april 2008
4. chris tillman, RHSP - 2009
5. eric o'flaherty, LHRP
6. nathan adcock, RHSP - late 2009
7. robert rohrbaugh, LHSP - 2008
8. kyle parker, RHSP - late 2009
9. roman martinez, RHRP - 2009
10.nicholas hill, LHRP - 2011

felix hernandez is still a stud. give him time to grow into his role, and just realize that he is doing what he is at a time when most of us would be juniors in college. enjoy him while you have him, because in 4 years, he'll be in pinstripes.

i don't much like the way that seattle is handling chris tillman. i don't think he should have thrown as many innings as he did, and i don't think he should have thrown those innings at the level he did. but considering the relative success of adam jones, brandon morrow, and wladimir balentien, maybe i could learn something from bavasi and company. then again, there is a case to be made against this manner of promotion, which is typified by asdrubal cabrera, so maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle. maybe they've just learned their lessons from the ryan anderson years, and decided to push their pitchers fast, so that even if said pitchers break down, the organization would have gotten some use out of them

mickolio is 6'9", and pitches as such. he gets a lot of sink on his fastball, and should be a successful middle reliever for the next 6 years.

roman martinez is a reliever in the seattle mold. i like him, but i don't see a clear path for him to advance to the majors, so he might just be trade fodder.

Spotlight: Brandon Morrow

morrow's got a fastball that gets easily into the high 90s. it sits in the 94-96 range, but it's mostly straight, and if you can catch up to it, it'll go a mile, as sean casey can attest (7th inning, 7-13-2007). his curve sits in the mid 80s and has a decent late break. i get a pretty strong feeling that he's overthrowing it, though. his changeup also comes in at 84-87 MPH, and is apparently refered to as a splitter by baseball america and the mariner's announcing crew.

the big question for morrow going into next season is whether he will start or relieve?

based on what i've seen of morrow throughout the 2007 season, i can honestly say i have no idea whether he would be a successful starter. his fastball is nice, but is relatively straight, his curve is average, and his splitter is a nice out pitch, but i don't think it can be relied upon 12-15 times per game, as would be necessary if morrow is converted to a starter.

there are two comparable pitchers that i've looked at already, whose situations were parallel to what morrow is facing going into '08. those pitchers are brandon mccarthy and mike pelfrey (convenient, huh?).

mccarthy started out his major league career in the bullpen for the sox 2005 world series winning team. his profile was as a fireballing righty with a good curve. he was moved into the rotation in 2006 and then traded to texas for john danks and nick masset in 2007. when i watched him pitch this year, his high 90s 4 seamer from october 2005 had turned into a 90-92 MPH 2 seamer. this relates to morrow because, as mccarthy found out in 2006 after being converted to starter, you can't expect your high 90s heat to work if you can't maintain the velocity or location into the 5th, 6th, or 7th innings.

mike pelfrey is a name i bring up because, at the time he was drafted, he was said to have a plus-plus fastball and a plus curve. i don't believe that report is entirely dissimilar to morrow's scouting report out of college and through his first year and a half in pro ball. as it turned out for pelfrey, his curve was inadequate at the professional level, and this past year, he scrapped it altogether, opting instead to throw a slider.

this is as good a case as i can make against morrow moving into the rotation. i'd be interested in hearing a counter argument in favor of changing morrow's role, inserting him into the rotation.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

2008 New York Mets Organizational Depth Report

1. mike pelfrey, RHSP
2. phil humber, RHSP
3. kevin mulvey, RHSP - may 2008
4. jon niese, LHSP - 2009
5. eric brown, RHSP - 2009
6. deolis guerra, RHSP - 2012
7. joe smith, RHRP
8. jacob ruckle, RHRP - 2009
9. german marte, RHRP - 2009
10.bobby parnell, RHSP - 2009

i really like eric brown. i'm not sure that he'll make the show as a starter, but i think, at the very least, he will be a quality major league reliever in the mold of another guy i've looked at on this site, sean green.

parnell and ruckle should be followed next season, as i think both are possibilities for a step up in performance.

i'm not a huge fan of deolis guerra, though he does show a lot of tendencies that i like. i don't think he's particularly close to being ready to pitch at the major league level, and i think there is way too much time between now and his major league debut for him to experience a significant injury. that's true for any pitcher, but for an 18 year old in A+, the fact sometimes gets lost.

mulvey is close to being ready to take the ball every 5th day for the mets, but i'm not quite sure he's there yet. humber and niese are in the same boat. all three are solid bets to be average major league starters, and none really stands out above the others, but that's a bit of a problem when the team across town has three pitchers that are looking to be studs, in the form of phil hughes, joba chamberlain, and ian kennedy. those three starters combine substance and flare to take their spots atop most minor league prospect rankings.

but there is one guy who has shown that level of flare in the mets organization...

Spotlight: Mike Pelfrey

i've done 3 of these writeups to this point, and i assume that i'll be doing 26 more afterwards. in that time, i don't think that i will find a fastball with better movement than mike pelfrey's. if there is a better example of a plus-plus fastball than the one he throws, i haven't seen it.

but there is a downside to having this amount of movement: pelfrey has trouble spotting his fastball for strikes. when i looked at kyle kendrick, i made a point of mentioning that his fastball could tail inside, dart outside, or sink straight down. pelfrey doesn't have those different faces. his fastball has one look, and only one look.

now, getting behind hitters is always a bad idea, but for pelfrey, it takes on a higher level of importance because of his reliance on getting hitters to swing at his fastball. if pelfrey gives hitters the advantage of a first pitch ball, they are then able to sit back, and wait for his mediocre offspeed offerings.

teams that approach pelfrey with sustained patience will have the most success against him. they might not win every game, but more often than not, they will get ahead in the count and force pelfrey to throw a lot of pitches early in the game, leading to an early exit.

one thing i'd like to see pelfrey start doing next year is throw his changeup as a first pitch offering. his fastball is an excellent swing and miss pitch, but he can have problems locating it. getting ahead 0-1 with his changeup would allow him to really let loose with his fastball, and put hitters at a real disadvantage.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

2008 Oakland Athletics Organizational Depth Report


1. trevor cahill, RHSP - 2010
2. chad gaudin, RHSP
3. henry alberto rodriguez, RHSP - 2010
4. huston street, RHRP
5. andrew bailey, RHSP - late 2008
6. jason glushon, RHSP - ???
7. jason windsor, RHSP - late 2008
8. jason fernandez, RHRP - 2010
9. jerry blevins, LHRP - 2008
10.dallas braden, LHRP

this organization really has no depth. the top three of cahill, gaudin, and rodriguez are very solid, but beyond that, street has questions about how effective he can be returning from injury and glushon is an undrafted free agent, about whom i can't find any biographical information. windsor hasn't pitched since may, and braden and blevins are the definition of mediocre.

andrew bailey is intriguing, though it's hard to get excited about a college senior in A ball.

it should be noted that three players not eligible for this list, dan haren, joe blanton, and rich harden make the lack of pitching depth in the A's organization a minor concern. they, along with chad gaudin, form the makings of a very strong pitching staff.

Spotlight: Chad Gaudin

Gaudin has an odd profile. he pitches off of a low 90s 2 seam fastball, which he tends to leave up in the zone. it's got good movement, so most hitters have problems driving it, but it can be a liability if he throws up a dud. his slider generates a lot of swings and misses, as does his changeup.

there;s a saying about how to approach hitting a knuckleball: "if it's high, let it fly; if it's low, let it go." for gaudin, this saying also rings true. he generally throws his fastball up in the zone, while his offspeed stuff is released down in the zone. it's a lot easier to jump on his high fastball early in the count than it is to take a more laid back approach, and risk getting behind, giving gaudin an opportunity to showcase his quality slider.

but here's the thing: this works to gaudin's advantage. it allows him to get through some innings in 5 or 6 pitches. it allows him to get ahead of hitters who are aggressive early in the count. it allows him to get into the 7th and 8th innings, even though his BB rate is horrid, and his hit rate is pedestrian.

i don't much like gaudin's stuff. i don't much like gaudin's control. i don't much like gaudin's approach to pitching. but it's pretty damn effective, and i think it'll continue to be, so long as his slider remains effective at generating swings and misses.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

2008 Philadelphia Phillies Organizational Depth Report

1. cole hamels, LHSP
2. carlos carrasco, RHSP - late 2008
3. josh outman, LHSP - mid 2008
4. kyle kendrick, RHSP
5. edgar garcia, RHSP - 2010
6. drew carpenter, RHSP - may 2009
7. james happ, LHSP - mid 2008
8. antonio bastardo, LHSP - 2010
9. fabio castro, LHSP
10.scott mathieson, RHSP - mid 2008

the phillies organization has created a lot of depth by finally diving into the latin american markets. carrasco, garcia, and bastardo were all products of the team's latin american academies, and the pipeline has only just started, as the organization's dominican summer league affiliate had a conglomerated ERA more than a half a run lower than league average, with their rotation having players aged 17, 17, 18, 19, 21. unfortunately, none of those prospects appear to be ready to head stateside in 2008, so while this is the tree that keeps on giving, the fruit might not start ripening until 2010.

i am very high on carlos carrasco, but i have a slight concern that he's been overused these last 2 years. he's thrown 300 combined innings since 2006 opened, and i never like to see that many innings on a teenage arm. scouting wise, he varies the speed of his fastball, so it sits from 88-93, but he has little problem revving it up to 95. his changeup is his best pitch, and when he's on, he is flat out dominating, not just because of his stuff, but because of his insistance on varying the speed of his best two pitches. the whole is most definitely greater than the sum of it's parts.

james happ had a relatively horrible season in 2008, and that is mostly due to the collapse of his BB rate. he is not a good enough pitcher, and he is not a good enough thrower to be able to succeed with a BB rate around 4.5/9 IP. i think his BB rate will regress to about 3.5/9 IP, but if it doesn't get under 3, he has very little value.

scott mathieson received inclusion to this list based on his tremendous fastball-slider combination, but it should be noted that he is still recovering from TJ surgery, and he likely won't be fully healthy until september of 2008.

also receiving consideration were kyle drabek and mike zagurski, who both underwent TJ surgery during this season *edit: zagurski had season ending surgery for a torn hamstring, not TJ surgery.* drabek would have slotted in at 4 if healthy, and zagurski would have fought for the 10th spot, but would likely have fallen short.

i did not include savery because i don't have a good enough feel for him. as a philly resident, i was against the pick at first, because of the torn labrum that he suffered as a result of a bone growth in his shoulder, but i have since been assuaged of that feeling. if the phillies team doctor's did their jobs (which considering the joe borowski and freddy garcia situations is a big if) savery should be a very good acquisition for the phils. savery would rank behind outman, but ahead of drabek, if i included him in this list. my reasoning for not including savery can be found on the sidebar to the right.

Spotlight: Kyle Kendrick

Kendrick's fastball is his bread and butter. whereas carlos carrasco, kendrick's 2006 teammate at low A lakewood, creates unease in the minds of opposing hitters by changing speeds on his fastball and changeup, kendrick creates unease by sinking, cutting, and running his low 90s fastball in, down, and off the plate versus left and right handed batters.

kendrick also features a slider that sits in the mid 80s. he doesn't really use it as a strikeout pitch, but instead as more of a show me pitch. his changeup is also a show me pitch, at best.

getting runs on the board against him doesn't seem to be that difficult a task if batters have the right mindset stepping up to the plate. short compact swings will have the most success against kendrick because of his propensity for pitching to contact, and their willingness to take it. players with longer swings will have more trouble against kendrick as a result of their having significantly less time to identify and react to whichever variation of his fastball is coming. this leads to exactly what kendrick wants, weak contact and foul balls.

kendrick pitches most every game, every inning in the danger zone, but so long as he pitches his home games in a bandbox, where hitters are preoccupied with sending a ball over the wall, he should be a quality starter, and a quality innings eater.

Monday, October 8, 2007

2008 Texas Rangers Organizational Depth Report


1. eric hurley, RHSP - mid 2008
2. blake beavan, RHSP - 2011
3. brandon mccarthy, RHSP
4. kasey kiker, LHSP - 2009
5. michael main, RHSP - 2011
6. douglas mathis, RHSP - april 2008 - sleeper
7. omar poveda, RHSP - late 2009
8. edinson volquez, RHSP
9. luis mendoza, RHSP - late 2008
10.daniel ra herrera, LHRP - mid 2008

the depth of this system has been helped greatly by the last two drafts. kiker, beavan, and main all have tremendous potential. beavan's best pitch is his turbo sinker, kiker's is a power curve, main's is a 100 MPH 4 seamer. also added through the past two drafts are danny ra herrera and brennan garr. another young pitcher, omar poveda flashes an above average changeup, and would be featured more prominently on this list if he had less propensity for flaring up. as it is, he's probably the pitcher that i underrated most on this list.

douglas mathis is the exact type of pitcher that has been undervalued in the last decade. pitchers with his profile, mediocre stuff, low K rate, average K/BB ratio, and high GB%, don't tend to get a lot of recognition until they have a few productive seasons at the major league level. i think mathis will have his first such season in 2008.

Spotlight: Brandon Mccarthy

Mccarthy appears to have changed his profile from pitching off of a high 90s 4 seam fastball when he was in the white sox bullpen to throwing a low 90s 2 seam fastball for texas in the rotation. seeing as his ERA went from being near 10 through april, to the mid 3s from may to august, i think this change has had the desired effect. mccarthy also employs a high 70s change, and a loopy mid 70s curve.

his stuff has taken a step back since moving from chicago to texas, and he still misses with his location too often to be relied upon as a top of the rotation starter. his curve is average, his change is average, his fastball is average.

but he's big, and when at his best, hitters look uncomfortable against him, taking half swings, and just missing hitting the ball on the nose. unfortunately, in texas, even a half swing can turn into a round tripper on a regular basis, so the next step for mccarthy is to make sure that when he misses, he misses down.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Organizational depth reports: TOP 10 Pitchers under 25 years old

my philosophy for evaluating young pitchers is based on three assumptions:

1) Age is unimportant. i don't much care about age as a standalone evaluator of talent. there are too many chris sampsons, too many chris carpenters, and too many jason schmidts, gil meches, and tommy johns for me to exclude or downgrade a pitcher's stock based solely on age. that being said:

2) in terms of stuff, all pitchers peak from ages 18-25. that qualifier means more than the statement in my mind, but i feel that this assumption creates an accurate approximation for timing a young minor league pitcher's arrival to the major leagues.

3) innings are a warning sign, not an asset. when i see a 21 year old that has thrown 300+ innings in his first two professional seasons, i cringe. it is not a sign of durability, it is a sign of overuse.

that being said, using innings as a proxy for determining overuse is about as effective as cost plus pricing has been in iraq.

cole hamels is an amazing athlete, but just as amazing as his athleticism is the way that he developed into being an excellent pitcher. he did not pitch as a junior in high school because he broke his arm before the season started. he threw only limited innings as a senior as he recovered, and after being drafted, he did not throw any innings in short season ball.

in his first full season in the minor leagues, hamels threw only 101 innings, and was limited by soreness in his back. in his second full professional season, he was limited to 16 IP because of back and elbow soreness. before his third professional season he broke his pitching hand in a bar fight, and once healthy, was limited to 35 innings, again due to back soreness.

going into 2006, hamels had an interesting track record. he had thrown ~150 minor league innings with an era ~2.00. he had an injury history a mile long, but when he was on the mound, his potential was staggering. he was going to be 22 years old, 4 years removed from high school, with a devotion towards a training, stretching, and throwing regime that can only be cultivated by having your future flash before your eyes as you lay on a table in the trainer's room getting treatment for your ailing back.

nothing interesting happened between the end of the 2005 season and the start of spring training in 2006. hamels was the same as ever, only healthy, and with the determination to stay that way. he started the year in high A clearwater for the 3rd straight season. he was there for all of 20 innings before he was promoted to AAA. at AAA it was more of the same, his fastball-change combination was electric, and he was near unhittable for the 23 innings he spent there before getting called up to the show.

since then he's thrown 315 innings, with more than a 3:1 K:BB ratio, and more than a K/IP. he's been the best starter in his division since the time he was called up.

what does this narrative have to do with my third point of innings being a warning sign, not an asset? sometimes a feel for pitching can only be learned on the field, but in my opinion, the most important lessons are learned off the field. nursing a kid through his first seasons as a professional is a lesson that i don't see exhibited by many organizations.

if you draft an 18 year old high school pitcher, what is more important than him throwing 160 innings in his first three minor league seasons, taking his lumps at the minor league level, learning to harness his stuff when it's at his best, and how to pitch like a veteran when it's not?

these organizational depth reports will be my takes on each of the 30 major league baseball teams. i'll try to feature one player in each organization and give my honest take on what i like, or what i don't. i'll try to outline one sleeper in each organization. for the most part these sleepers will be guys in the mold of chien ming wang and aaron laffey, guys who exhibit strong ground ball tendencies and low BB rates. organizations like the mets and the mariners might not have a sleeper indicated, but teams like the white and red sox have a few guys that i feel are underrated. if i've seen these pitchers throw i'll include a scouting report that is what i see, not what i've heard. for the most part, such pitchers will be guys on the fringe of the 25 man roster, not the cream of the crop, such as scott kazmir or cole hamels.

for the most part, 2007 draftees will not be included, however guys that i really like (blake beaven and david price) or guys that are flat out dominant (adam mills and dan duffy) will be included.

after i go through all 30 orgnanizations, i will publish my top 75 pitchers under the age of 25. these will be the cream of the crop, the guys who will dominate baseball for the next decade.

so, with all that being said, the first list, which will be published monday afternoon, will be the texas rangers.

Monday, September 10, 2007

egbert and floyd - a tale of two sox

hardball warriors

"I love everything about Jack Egbert; from his control, his effectiveness, and his groundball tendencies, to his stamina, his performance, and his scouting report. At the same time, and at the same age, everything about Gavin Floyd screams overrated to me. His control is mediocre (but improving), his stuff is not dominating, and he gives up a TON of homeruns as a result of his fly ball tendencies. From the fact that he used to be a top prospect to the fact that he still only has a workable fastball/curve combination, there is very little that fits the mold of a pitcher that I want on my team.

"Here is where the two stories intersect in my mind: I think Gavin Floyd will have a better career than Jack Egbert. I don't think it will even be close."

click the link for the rest of the story

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

a tale of two sox

Jack Egbert: My Name ain't Plain, but How's my Game?

year level age IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA
2005 A 22 147 6.55 2.93 .31 3.12
2006 A+/AA 23 161 8.04 3.02 .11 2.68
2007 AA 24 152 9.36 2.54 .18 2.89

What’s not to love? His K rate is over 9 (and rising). His BB rate is under 3 (and falling). His HR rate is miniscule, and his ERA reflects all of the above. Even better than that, he's a workhorse.

What do I notice in this line? His K rate being over 9 means that he strikes out more than a batter per inning. This is important because, when it comes to detecting whether a pitcher with borderline stuff can succeed at higher levels, more than a K per inning can mean that it is safe to promote him. His K/BB ratio is better than 3:1, which is a good approximation for how efficient he's been. Again, his homerun rate is miniscule. And he's passed the AA litmus test with flying colors.

Reading Egbert’s profile in last year's Baseball America prospect handbook, I see a scouting report that I love. His fastball sits in the high 80s with good movement. His changeup is plus. He throws his curve in all counts, and for strikes. Plus he played his college ball in the northeast, which should have limited his innings during those three years.

He looks like the perfect back of the rotation starter.

Gavin Floyd: White Bread; Force Fed

year level age IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA
2005 AAA/MLB 22 163 6.29 4.53 .88 6.79
2006 AAA/MLB 23 169 6.34 3.73 1.22 5.22
2007 AAA/MLB 24 145 7.45 2.86 1.43 4.16

So, this is what improvement looks like? He has made good strides in reducing his walk rate, which absolutely killed him his first two years bouncing between AAA and MLB. His strikeout rate has also improved this season, likely as a result of finally having a consolidation year in AAA.

The scouting report on Floyd is that he's got a straight, hard fastball, and a tight, if inconsistent curve. His changeup lags behind both pitches in both movement and control.

I love everything about Jack Egbert; from his control, his effectiveness, and his groundball tendencies, to his stamina, his performance, and his scouting report. At the same time, and at the same age, everything about Gavin Floyd screams overrated to me. His control is mediocre (but improving), his stuff is not dominating, and he gives up a TON of homeruns as a result of his flyball tendencies. From the fact that he used to be a top prospect to the fact that he still has a workable fastball/curve combination, there is very little that fits the mold of a pitcher that i want on my team.

Here is where the two stories intersect in my mind: I think Gavin Floyd will have a better career that Egbert. I don't think it will even be close.

Intellectually, there is little reason for me to have this belief. I can find no hole in Egbert's game, and at the same time, I can find no solid ground in Floyd's. But I feel as though Jack Egbert's career has peaked. He has passed the injury nexus that is described in this baseball prospectus column, but there is another theory that I have about pitchers passing through this age.

It is my completely unresearched, completely empirical opinion that a pitcher's raw stuff peaks from ages 18-25. That is not to say that those are a pitcher's peak years, but it is, in my opinion, the time at which your fastball is the hardest, and your breaking ball is your sharpest. That says nothing about a pitcher's control, command, pitchability, or health, but it does say that if your stuff is mediocre at age 24, it's not likely to take a great leap forward.

Which brings me back to Jack Egbert. If this theory holds true and his stuff is at its peak while he's in AA, which I think is the case, that doesn't speak all too well for his future.

I love the pitcher that Jack Egbert is right now. I just don't think he will be able to maintain his stuff long enough to succeed at the major league level next year, or any subsequent year.

As for Gavin Floyd, so long as he maintains his fastball-curve combination, he'll have a job. He has had no success in the major leagues to this point in his career (147 innings, 6.97 era, 65 ERA+), but i feel that has been more because of misuse, rather than because of inadequacy. He’s been jerked around almost constantly over the last 4 years, first by the Phillies organization, and this year by the White Sox organization. His role has gone from starter, to long man, back to starter, then to middle reliever, and now back again. And that's just this year. He’s been moved from AAA to the majors, and back, too many times to count since his first promotion to the big leagues.

The Canary in the Coal Mine

One last point that needs to be made about Floyd is that his HR rate is exceptionally high. It is only a slight worry in my mind because of his tendency to give them up in bunches, but i'm not overly concerned about it because it's not a problem that is easily, or even possibly fixed. He throws a hard, straight mid 90s fastball, and there are always going to be hitters that can catch up to it, and send it 450 ft. He also throws a curve, but no matter how well he throws it, he's going to hang it every once in a while, which will also leads to 450 ft. bombs. He will also throw his next few years in a ballpark that plays very unfavorably for pitchers with homerun issues. as a result of this, he's going to get lit up every once in a while.

Earlier this year, I made known my preference to keep Floyd in the AAA rotation for the rest of this season, followed by a move to the bullpen at the start of spring training next year. I believed this was best for him because he had been jerked around so much in the preceding years, that I felt he needed a consolidation year in AAA to figure out what he wanted to do on the mound, and how he wanted to do it. But, instead of leaving him at a single level, allowing him to get a full year of success under his belt, Floyd was again made to ride the shuttle between AAA and the majors, and most of the success he's had at AAA has been overshadowed by the truckload of homeruns he's allowed in the majors.

I still think that a move to the bullpen is a necessity for Floyd because of his homerun tendencies, and I’d like to see it happen sooner, rather than later.

It is WAY too early to call Floyd a bust, considering the stuff that he continues to display. at the same time, it would be irresponsible to pencil Floyd into next year's white sox rotation considering the wholly inconsistent nature of his performance at the major league level.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

dan meyer on the comeback trail

he's a little too old to be a top prospect. he's a little too green to be expected to dominate. he's got too long an injury history to project to be a workhorse. but beyond that, this former top prospect is a pretty good bet to be a solid starter.

for those who don't know the dan meyer backstory, this article does a pretty good job of going through it:
Dan Meyer rolled into the operating room thinking he was having a simple exploratory surgery.

When he woke up, the doctor had some startling news for him.

"Your career might be over," Meyer was told...

"It was tough, but you've got to keep strong," Meyer said Thursday before the A's 8-5 win in 10 innings against the Chicago White Sox. "Doubt creeps in there, but you've really got to push it out of your mind. You can't let it overcome you. It really does make a man out of you...."

his career wasn't over, and on friday night, dan meyer made his first major league appearance since 2005. his fastball ranged from 88 to 94, his changup sat around 80, and he wasn't in the game long enough to show much of anything else.

what i was expecting from someone in meyer's shoes was more walks than strikeouts, more hits than innings pitched, and at least one homerun. that being the case, and those expectations ringing true, watching the game on MLB.TV, i can't fault or criticize him too much for his effort.

dan meyer is not a traditional power lefty. while his mid 90s fastball has good life, his breaking ball is very soft, and his changeup is indistinguishable from it.

i'm fairly lax when it comes to pushing a pitching philosophy, but from what i've seen, the safest way to go about developing a pitcher is to find ones in high school that have decent velocity on their fastballs and quality changeups that can keep hitters off balance. ideally, from that point, an organization would evaluate both pitches, and have a coach work with the pitcher to develop a breaking ball whose velocity would be near his better pitch.

for instance, if a certain left handed pitcher's fastball has low to mid 90s velocity, plus lateral movement, while his changeup flashes competance, but is inconsistant overall, i would suggest a breaking ball that is nearer in velocity to his fastball. either a power slider or a splitfinger fastball would be ideal.

instead, meyer throws a slurvy breaking ball in the low 80s that fools noone and sets up nothing.

while this negative has a fairly easy solution in theory (teach meyer a splitter), in practice, teaching him a new pitch after he's had so much arm trouble could be an uphill battle from a purely psychological perspective.

as i've been writing this article, i've had a webpage open in another tab that i wanted to look at, but resisted because i wanted to give my own opinion, first, so i could see where i came out against someone who's closer to the situation than i am. this article, written by nico at athleticsnation.com, has a fairly similar scouting report, but comes to a slightly different conclusion:
Meyer is late-cutting action (on his fastball) away from being an Andy Pettitte protegĂ© in delivery and arsenal—and potential, if he can stay healthy.

i'm not going to say that my suggestion is better, but what do you think:

which solution is best for dan meyer
split-fingered fastball
his breaking ball is fine

Monday, August 6, 2007

thoughts on justin masterson

i know that justin masterson is kind of out of the scope of what this blog is supposed to focus on, but with the two pieces that i'm planning to write (a graduated rookie list, which would rank all players who will have lost their rookie eligibility this season, and a top young pitchers list, which would rank the top 200 or so pitchers under the age of 25), i think i'm preparing to enter the nexus between prospects and young veterans.

i went to the harrisburg senators, portland sea dogs game on sunday, august 5 for the express purpose of watching justin masterson with my own eyes. i had read a lot of information that i liked about masterson, and i wanted to see if he was as good as advertised.

he was, but at the same time, he wasn't.

after he was promoted to AA, and while he proceeded to tear it up, i had heard a few things about him that i wanted to see for myself. i had heard that he throws with a low 3/4 arm delivery (true), which gives his fastball sick lateral and downward movement (true). i'd heard that he could also run his fastball up in the zone up to 98 MPH (i did not see this). his slider was described as a plus pitch (it wasn't), but it showed great promise when he threw it at josh whitesell's back foot, resulting in a swing and miss strikeout.

masterson's warm up before the game seemed cursory, at best, but it's possible that he threw and stretched before he came out to left field. he tossed with the catcher for about 5 minutes, then threw about 15-20 pitches off the mound in the left field bullpen before going into the dugout. i'm not going to criticize this, or suggest tweaking his warm up regimen, but he did start the game off wild, and threw 22 of his 81 pitches in the first inning.

masterson's fastball is as good as advertised, even though it was not as fast as advertised. it kept hitters off balance all game, and it was not driven once. it looked as if harrisburg hitters were afraid to even swing at it because they knew that all they could do was pound it into the ground.

his changeup was fairly mediocre, and he still could improve by refining it, but i don't think that'll be a necessity until he gets 4 or 5 starts in at the major league level. i don't think it will be exposed until that time.

of the sliders, there was only 1 that impressed me. in his final inning, against josh whitesell, the best hitter, by far, on harrisburg's roster, masterson got the count 1-2 with 2 FBs and a change. he threw a purpose pitch fastball inside of the plate, that was called a ball. masterson then buried whitesell with a backfoot slider that he had no chance to hit.

i don't know why he was taken out after 81 pitches, but he was hit in the right leg with a batted ball in the 3rd inning. the trainer came out to see if he was okay, but masterson waived him off, and completed the inning, and another 3.

there has also been talk of moving him A)to the bullpen or B)to AAA, so either of those are possibilities. i did not see him on the field at the end of the game when portland came out to celebrate their extra inning victory, so along with his leg swelling up, those are two possibilities for him being gone at that time.

the following is video that i shot of him with my cameraphone, out in the bullpen when he was warming up before the game. the quality is fairly mediocre, but it's good enough to get the point across.

pitch data summary:

total (strikes/pitches): (56/81) 23 batters faced
fastballs: 55
sliders: 8
changeups: 17
curve: 1

vs. LHB: (29/45) 13 batters faced
fastballs: 32
sliders: 3
changeups: 10

vs. RHB: (27/36) 10 batters faced
fastballs: 23
sliders: 5
changeups: 7
curve: 1

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

transaction monitor

DET LHP wilfredo ledezma for ATL LHRP macay mcbride

regrettably, i like this deal a lot for both sides. mcbride is the LOOGY that detroit desperately wanted, and desperately hoped ledezma would be. except for his occasionally terminal control problems, mcbride will be a great addition to detroit's pen. i think he'll get his control problems figured out well enough to be effective, and, unlike ledezma, he'll be able to shut down left handed batters. since mcbride came off the DL, he put up this line:

12 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 14 K, 1 HR, 3.00 era

as for what atlanta is getting, i would not be surprised in the least if ledezma turned into a cy young caliber power lefty in the mold of dan haren. in other words, i like it. i like it a lot. and i think they do too. they have been very high on macay mcbride since he was drafted in the first round in 2001, and to to get rid of him now, is by no means a negative reflection on macay mcbride. ledezma has near limitless potential, and he's already passed the injury nexus without a major incident.

i don't know whether my projection of ledezma is real, or if it's just a manifestation of 15 straight years of braves' supremacy, but i think this is a GREAT match of a player and an organization.

on deck:
i'll be weighing in on the chisox' bullpen shuffle

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

full disclosure

the following players are ones that i control on my lone personal fantasy baseball team (i would consider doing a tout wars league, but i'm pretty damn happy only having one league to follow).


Albaladejo, Jonathan
Blackburn, Nick
De La Cruz, Eulugio
Delcarmen, Manny
Hoey, James
Marcum, Shaun
Patterson, Scott
Rodriguez, Wandy
Schmidt, Jason
Speier, Justin
Stockman, Phil
Wasserman, Ehren
Castro, Ramon
Zaun, Greg
Chavez, Angel
Feliz, Pedro
Greene, Khalil
Hill, Aaron
Kotchman, Casey
Phelps, Josh
Ankiel, Rick
Baldelli, Rocco
Botts, Jason
Ethier, Andre
Van Every, John
24 players
1 on DL

Reserve Roster

Elbert, Scott
Floyd, Gavin
Hansen, Craig
Jackson, Edwin
Liz, Radhames
Masterson, Justin
Motte, Jason
Moylan, Peter
Romero, Ricky
Tejeda, Robinson
VanBenschoten, John
Vandenhurk, Rick
Johnson, Mark L.
Frazier, Todd
Mitchell, Lee
Quintanilla, Omar
Santos, Sergio
Whitesell, Josh
Wilson, Josh
Casto, Kory
Duffy, Chris
Majewski, Val
Michaels, Jason
Nixon, Trot

24 players
Total Roster size

Waived Players
Gorneault, Nick
Beltran, Francis
Duncan, Eric
Palmisano, Lou

Free Agents
Cameron, Kevin
Fulchino, Jeff
Gardner, Lee
Green, Sean
Lugo, Julio
Pavano, Carl
Radke, Brad
Millar, Kevin
Phelps, Josh
Barker, Sean
Cruz, Nelson
Guzman, Freddy
Werth, Jayson
McDonald, Darnell
Rapada, Clay
Rabelo, Mike
Orie, Kevin
Corey, Mark
Devore, Doug
Ford, Matt
Espinosa, David
Warden, Jim Ed
LaMura, BJ
Parrish, John
Peguero, Jailen
Nunez, Abraham

Steagles random thoughts

check the comments

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Anatomy of ERA

take a look at these two lines for two houston astros SPs:

Pitcher A: 54.7 IP 54 H 14 BB 50 K 6 HR 3.50 DIPS
Pitcher B: 55.0 IP 58 H 16 BB 27 K 5 HR 4.34 DIPS

the difference in ERA for these 2 starters is a full run. for those of us who subscribe to voros mccracken's DIPS theorey, it would be expected that pitcher A has the lower ERA. that is not the case, though. pitcher A, wandy rodriguez, has an ERA of 4.45 while pitcher B, chris sampson, has an era of 3.44.

the main difference between these two pitchers' statistics is that wandy rodriguez has struck out 23 more batters than sampson. everything else is remarkably similar. according to DIPS, rodriguez's 23 extra strikeouts give him an advantage of 8 tenths of a run in expected ERA. what factor could possibly be significant enough to account for the 1.8 run difference between expected DIPS era and actual ERA?

the answer is not as sexy as one might think. it all comes down to the difference between pitching with the bases empty versus pitching with runners on. here are the numbers:

Chris Sampson:
bases empty: 133 PA .296/.338/.488 12 XBH 5 HR
men on: 99 PA .247/.320/.329 6 XBH 0 HR

Wandy Rodriguez
bases empty: 133 PA .262/.301/.421 12 XBH 3 HR
men on: 94 PA .256/.326/.476 11 XBH 3 HR

it really is that simple. 5 more XBH and 3 more HR with men on base led to 8 more runs scored on rodriguez than were scored on sampson in this situation.

i think this is a trend that warrants tracking through the rest of the season. i've seen it exhibited by relief pitchers such as geoff geary, and have had this to say in the past about it:
"to guess why there is such a profound difference between geary's performance with runners on base and with the bases empty, i would say that with the bases empty, geary elevates his fastball earlier in the count, leading to more solid contact against. without looking at video to confirm, i can only guess that geary's front side flies open in the windup, leading to the higher pitch location."

- steagles
-april 20, 2007
i have yet to follow up on geary's situation, but i will keep an eye on both he and sampson to see what similarities they posess.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

look out for:

rocky cherry, RHRP CHN

cherry is a the right handed equivalent of ray king. he is death on RHP. he does not get as many groundballs as the most notable ROOGY, chad bradford, and that'll take his ceiling down a little bit, but he can still be an extremely effective bullpen cog. he is currently riding the shuttle between chicago and iowa, but he has been effective thusfar at the major league level.

sean green, RHRP SEA

green is a standard issue AAAA RP, except for 2 things. he is 6'6", and he throws a 2 seam fastball with nasty sink. this combination leads to the complete domination of the game once he enters. his strikeout rate isn't great, and he walks a significant amount of batters, but because of his fastball, no hitter is going to drive what he throws.

wes littleton, RHRP TEX

a late addition, but he's worth it. littleton doesn't strike many hitters out, but he also doesn't walk them. he allows a fair share of homeruns, but that could be due more to the hitting environments that he has pitched in than anything he has control over. he has an awkward sidearm delivery that has proven to be effective versus hitters the first time around, but he may have trouble once hitters adjust to his motion. another cause for concern could be that he has a tendency to put on weight in the offseason.

but for now, he should be an effective bullpen cog for texas.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

john koronka

Raw data:
year  ORG   level    IP    H    K   BB  HR
2004 CHC AAA 153 164 116 65 19
2005 CHC AAA/MLB 151 154 106 56 14
2006 TEX AAA/MLB 144 164 78 54 19
2007 TEX AAA 35 38 25 13 4
this basically profiles koronka as a bottom of the rotation innings eater in the mold of a mark redman. but is that an apt comparison? here are their comparitive peripheral statistics from 2006:
player     IP   FIP   k/bb   GB%   +WPA
koronka 125 5.24 1.30 42.3 8.63
redman 167 5.04 1.21 44.4 12.47
well, i think we have a match. koronka's WPA added was about 30% less than redman's but he also pitched about 30% fewer innings. koronka has the advantage of being 7 years younger, but he has the disadvantages of being relatively unproven and having his only major league exposure in a hitter friendly environment.

redman's most successful campaign came in 2003 when he played in dolpin stadium with juan pierre and juan encarnacion manning the outfield along with miguel cabrera. the difference between his home era and his road era was about 1.5 runs, and he got slightly hit lucky, having a BABIP 25 points under his career average.

what can he do to improve?

i think koronka could be a moderately effective pitcher if used correctly. his flyball tendencies would play best in a city with a large ballpark and a speedy outfield. specifically, though, there is one thing that i think he needs to improve. assuming there is nothing he can do about his homerun rate due to the environments in which he will pitch, koronka needs to throw his changeup early in the count, especially while he is in AAA.

batters teed off against him when he was behind in the count. if he could turn his changeup into a pitch that he can throw over the plate for a strike, at will, he would benefit from being less predictable as well as from having a pitch that would throw off the rythm of right handed batters.

i like koronka. i think he can be a useful part on a team that is smart enough to put him alongside the right pieces. he's certainly more valuable than esteban loaiza, horacio ramirez, and david wells.

Friday, May 4, 2007

yorman bazardo

bazardo is not particularly interesting. he has a nice name, and he has a nice track record, but beyond that, there isn't much of note.

bazardo is only on my radar because of the fact that the Seattle Mariners general manager, Bill Bavasi, designated the 22 year old righthander for assignment just prior to the opening of spring training because there was no room on the mariner's 40 man roster. he was traded to detroit for a minor league outfielder before passing through waivers, and was added to the tigers' 40 man roster immedietly thereafter.

Raw stats:
year  age  level  ORG    IP   H     K   BB   HR
2005 21 AA FLA/SEA 142 146 99 47 16
2006 22 AA SEA 138 144 80 45 10
2007 23 AAA DET 26 29 16 9 0
as i said, he's nothing special. but he's young, and we can work with it. lets look a little deeper at the possible effects of switching organizations 3 times in 3 years:

OPS with Men on Base vs Bases Empty by organization in the last 3 seasons:
ORG    Men on    bases empty
FLA .792 .704
SEA .678 .761
DET .856 .651

the sample size with detroit renders their numbers almost insignificant, but even looking only at the florida and seattle numbers, it is apparent that bazardo's profile has changed over the last 2+ seasons. with florida, bazardo pitched well out of the windup, but was moderately below league average from the stretch. that trend reversed itself with seattle, but the park bazardo pitched out of leaned significantly towards favoring pitchers.

OPS vs. left and right handed batters by organization in the last 3 seasons:
ORG   vs. LHB    vs. RHB
FLA .760 .731
SEA .727 .780
DET .735 .758

again, bazardo's profile has fluctuated between organizations. so, basically he's a 23 year old pitcher trying to figure out what works at the upper levels of the minors. the fact that he has had as many as 4 pitching coaches in the last 2+ seasons is probobly not a good thing, but could serve him well down the road.

so, what can he do to get better:

i'm not going to attempt to be another voice in his ear (you know, if he's the type to read newly launched blogs by philadelphia area college students). i think he should be allowed to pitch however he feels comfortable with minimal input from his pitching coach or catcher except when prompted. bazardo should be allowed to find his own style, because he's probobly heard enough suggestions from various pitching coaches in his professional career that he should already have a good idea of what he wants to do. it's his career, and he's still young enough that he will get plenty of chances to prove his worth, so long as his head is squarely on his shoulders.

as for anything more concrete, the data is too random for me to offer up a legitimate suggestion. i'll just have to see how he does with a more meaningful sample size in toledo.

Ryan Madson

originally posted on april 19, 2007

raw stats:

2004 77 55 19 6 68 2.34
2005 87 75 25 11 84 4.15
2006 134 99 50 20 176 5.69

looking deeper:

2004 3.56 .276 1.21
2005 3.74 .299 1.25
2006 4.58 .358 1.69

madson was great in 2004. by any metric, he was a very good relief pitcher. in 2005, madson was still pretty good, but his homerun rate climbed from its 2004 level, as did his hit rate.

if looking at the lines from 2004 and 2005, it would be within reason to have expected madson to bounce back in 2006. his babip was moderately high in the 2005 season, and if it regressed back to league average levels, he would have remained a slightly above league average pitcher.

but it didn't regress. it became even more of a statistical outlier. the average major league BABIP is between .270 and .290. there is very little variation in this number because the amount of control that an individual pitcher has over balls in play is extremely limited.

a .358 BABIP is all but unheard of; it indicates something that goes beyond luck, something that happens while madson was on the mound that caused balls in play to fall in for hits at a higher than normal rate.

but is this outlier unique to ryan madson? here's a look at the phillies three other right handed relievers that logged 50 innings:

last name BABIP ERA
geary .330 2.96
gordon .303 3.34
franklin .284 4.58

geary has the exact same bloated batting average on balls in play (BABIP) that madson has. gordon's is also a little high. franklin's is significant only in that he had the potential of having an era north of 6 were his BABIP were more in line with the rest of the staff.

i'll be monitoring this effect more as this season goes on, and the sample sizes grow. right now, i'm not quite sure how these numbers will affect madson and geary in 2007.

Where does madson go from here?

as much as i talked about it in this posting, BABIP was not madson's only problem. his k rate dropped, while his BB and HR rate rose. this combination alone would have made for a mediocre season regardless of BABIP. so, what can be done to return madson to his 2004 form?

1. madson cannot go back to throwing only his fastball and changeup. he needs to develop a third pitch. i don't think a curveball is the right pitch for him because of its similar velocity to his changeup. i'd be thinking more along the lines of a cut fastball or a sinker that would be about 4-5 MPH off from his fastball and 10-15 MPH off from his changeup. this pitch would not be a strikeout pitch, per se, but more of a pitch that he can rely on to limit the amount of contact that hitters can make off of him.

2. madson should be put back into a situation where he can log a significant amount of innings. whether it is in kansas city, tampa bay, or ottawa, doesn't much matter, but what is important is that he should not continue to function in a 6th/7th inning role. that is not going to help him get back to his 2004 form.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Question: Why does this blog exist?

Answer: JD Durbin.

Durbin came into spring training this year as the twins 10th best prospect, as rated by Baseball
America. He was out of options, so he would either have to make the team outright, or pass through waivers to get to AAA.

Durbin didn't make the opening day roster and on March 29, the Minnesota Twins designated Durbin for assignment to AAA. Before he got there, he was claimed by the Arizona Diamondbacks on waivers, and made the trip out to
Arizona for one appearance, in which he allowed 7 runs on 7 hits in the span of 2/3 of an inning. Not surprisingly, he was waived by the diamondbacks the next day.

Durbin was claimed again, this time by the red sox, and spent 4 days waiting to be added to their 40 man roster. But that didn't happen, and he was designated for assignment again on April 11.

The Phillies picked Durbin up on waivers and attempted the same procedure. This time Durbin passed through untouched, and he was assigned to AAA Ottawa. He has yet to report.

As evidenced by the fact that he was claimed on waivers by 3 different teams in the span of 3 weeks, Durbin has good value. There are general managers and scouts who think that, at some point in the near future, Durbin will be an effective major league ballplayer.

It’s just that none of them, other than Josh Byrnes, were willing to put their necks on the line and let him get some innings at the major league level to work through his issues.

Durbin threw 89 innings in AAA last season at a 2.33 era. Thanks to his page at minorleaguesplits.com, we can see that he has three faces that come out in different situations:

Vs. LHB:

Against LHB, Durbin dominates the pace of the game. His K and BB rates are both significantly above league average, but the rest of his line is wholly unremarkable. He seems to use all of his pitches, but his location is mediocre. If AAA batters swing, they K or put the ball into play weakly. If they’re patient, they walk.

Vs. RHB:

Against RHB, Durbin pitches to contact. He gets a lot of pop-ups and he gets a lot of line drives. He seems to primarily throw a heavy fastball, which limits the amount of outfield flies, but increases every other batted ball event.

W/ Men on base:

In this situation, Durbin seems to lose control. He allows a lot of baserunners and he throws a lot of pitches, but hitters don’t seem to be able to drive his pitches. He gets by on his raw stuff alone, which works well in AAA, but won’t cut it in the majors.

What can he do to improve?

Here’s the problem: Durbin has no control of his changeup. His curveball is an effective out pitch, but again, he can’t locate it for a strike. He has also had labrum issues, which makes it likely that his command issues are not entirely within his control.

But, his fastball is really nice, and would be an effective pitch if he could develop a secondary pitch to keep hitters off balance.

Were he willing to put his career on the line, I would suggest that he throw his curveball early and often when he gets back to AAA. If he could turn his curve into a reliable secondary pitch that he can locate for a strike, he could be an effective bullpen arm in the major leagues for as long as his arm held together.