Thursday, February 28, 2013

Game Wrap Spring Training 2013: Mariners 4 Giants 3

Matt Cain got roughed up a bit but is apparently healthy.  Brandon Belt looked like the Belter we all hope he can be.  In the end, it wasn't quite enough as the Giants were edged by the Mariners.  Key Lines:

Kensuke Tanaka- 1 for 1.  BA= .091.  Tanaka gets his first spring hit.

Pablo Sandoval- 1 for 2, BB.  BA= .500.  We'll just have to hope Pablo comes back from WBC play in one piece. Looks like it should be a great season for him.

Brandon Belt- 2 for 3, HR(1), SB(1).  BA= .300.  Brandon belts one!

Cole Gillespie- 1 for 2, 2B.  BA= .500.  Gillespie keeps the heat on for the 5'th OF role.

Matt Cain-  3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 6.75.

Dan Runzler- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.

Affeldt, Proctor, Hembree and Machi- 1 scoreless IP each.

Andres Torres was diagnosed with an oblique strain and will be out a minimum of 1 week.  Jose Mijares has an elbow impingement and is scheduled for an MRI. Both Torres and Mijares are pulling out of the WBC. Joe Panik is being held out of games due to hamstring tightness.

Scouting the Draft: 3 Rising Pitchers

BA gives a heads up on 3 college pitchers whose draft stock seems to be on the rise:

Braden Shipley, RHP, Nevada.  6'3", 190 lbs.  Shipley throws his FB in the mid 90's and already has a plus changeup and a developing breaking ball.  Usually the change is the last to come, so he's got a leg up already.  He as the Wolfpack's ace last year with a 2.20 ERA, 88 K's in 98 IP albeit with 40 BB's.  So far this season, he's gone 1-0, 3.21, 14 IP, 4 BB, 16 K's.

Chris Anderson, RHP, Jacksonville.  6'4", 225 lbs.  Has been sitting 91-94 MPH topping out at 96.  Throws a two seamer and 4 seamer.  Slider is his out pitch.  Developing curve and changeup.  His college pitching coach has worked with Barry Zito, Cliff Lee, Matt Garza and Doug Fister.  Got off to a great start this year with a 13 K performance against Radford.  Pitching line so far:  0-1, 1.29, 14 IP, 3 BB, 22 K's.  2012 line:  5-4, 4.48, 88.1 IP, 40 BB, 69 K's.  2011 line: 4-2, 3.91, 50.2 IP, 34 BB, 39 K, 11 Saves.

Alex Gonzalez, RHP, Oral Roberts.  6'3", 200 lbs.  FB sits 90-93 with a plus cutter. Reportedly up to 96 in the fall. He also has a developing curve and changeup.  His coach expects him to be in the mid-90's when the weather warms up. 2013:  0-2, 1.20, 15 IP, 3 BB, 15 K's.  2012:  6-3, 2.30, 86 IP, 24 BB, 66 K's.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Game Wrap Spring Training 2013: Giants 8 Angels 8

What?  Is this the 3'rd tie game in a row for the Giants?  Strange stuff going on down there in Arizona Land.  Ryan Vogelsong pitched 3 strong innings and Angel Pagan hit a 3 run dinger, but the bullpen was not sharp and let a 7-2 Giants lead slip away into the tie.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 1 for 4, HR.  BA= .300.
Marco Scutaro- 1 for 2, BB, SB.  BA= .429.
Brett Pill- 1 for 3, 3B.  BA= .286.
Hector Sanchez- 1 for 4, 2B.  BA= .333
Andrew Susac- 1 for 1, 2B.  BA= .500.
Ryan Vogelsong- 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 0.00.
Barry Zito- 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K.
Casilla, Mijares and Romo- 1 IP, 2 R allowed each.

Marco Scutaro has quietly picked right up where he left off last year as the hit machine rolls on.  Nice to see Susac join the list of kids who get to take a thrill or two away from spring training.  Kensuke Tanaka is 0 for 10 so far.

Scouting the Draft: Several Players From Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Gulf Coast Univ., the school that produced Chris Sale, swept Florida over the weekend, and in the process, several players gained some attention as potential draft prospects.  These are not likely first round material, or even second round, but some names you might want to look for down in the draft such as rounds 5-20 or so.

Harrison Cooney, RHP.  Cooney was FGCU's Saturday starter last year, but injuries to other members of the pitching staff have put him in the bullpen.  He is 6'2", 198 lbs.  He pitched 5 innings of shutout ball to win an extra-innings game on Sunday.  BA reports he was hitting 94-96 MPH in his first two innings of work then settled in at 92-94 over the last 3 innings.

Sean Dwyer is a 6'2", 188 lb OF/1B who hits and bats L.  He was drafted in the 10'th round out of HS by the Padres.  He hit just .234 as a freshman, but improved to .297/.393/.434 as a sophomore.  He had a big weekend against the Gators and now sits with a slash line of .310/.323/.586.

Brooks Beisner, 6'1", 229 lbs.  B-R, T-R.  Redshirt Sr. 1B/DH.  Transfer from Auburn where he struggled as a junior after a successful JC carreer.  He has been red hot at the start of the college season going .464/.545/1.000 with 4 HR in the first 7 games.  With all the interest in college seniors these days, he may be a surprisingly early draft pick.

Ricky Knapp,  RHP. 6'1", 191 lbs.  Knapp threw a CG win over Florida on Friday night.  His line for the season so far:  1-0, 1.20, 15 IP, 1 BB, 9 K's.  I don't have a scouting report on him.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Game Wrap Spring Training 2013: Giants 8 Dodgers 8

Brett Pill threw down a stake in the race to be the 25'th man on the roster hitting 2 HR's to lead the Giants to a come-from-behind tie of the Hated Ones in the Dodgers' home park.  Key Lines:

Brandon Belt- 1 for 3, 2B.  BA=.143.
Roger Kieschnick- 2 for 3, 2B.  BA= .286.
Johnny Monell- 1 for 1.  BA= 1.000.
Brett Pill- 2 for 5, 2 HR.  BA= .273.
Francisco Peguero- 1 for 1, BB, SB.  BA= .667.
Brock "Barry" Bond- 1 for 2 HR.  BA= .200.
Tim Lincecum- 1.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 1 K.
Yusmeiro Petit- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  
Jeremy Affeldt, Mitch Lively, Scott Proctor, George Kontos- 1 scoreless IP each.

Timmy got cuffed around in the 2'nd inning but everybody seems to be happy with the outing.  He reportedly felt strong and felt his mechanics were good.  Bochy played matchup ball bringing in the LH hitting Monell to face a RHP in the 9'th.  Monell's hit brought Pill up to hit the tying HR.  Good to see Roger K and Frankie Pegs having good springs so far.  Even if they get optioned out, good impressions made in spring training can pay off down the road.  Brock Bond muscles up for a rare HR.

Comment: It's All About the Money?

MLBTR and Rotoworld had some interesting comments about the Zack Greinke FA negotiations this offseason.   Good ol' Zack is openly saying that he made a proposal to the Rangers before he accepted the Dodgers' offer and added that he was simply looking for what team would give him the most money.  His exact quote?  "I could play for the worst team if they paid the most."

I'm not sure what to make of that.  I believe money is the biggest factor for most players, possibly rightly so.  Professional ballplayers work in an profession with a very small window in which to likely make the vast majority of the money they will ever make in their life.  It would be irresponsible for them to not grab it while they have the chance.  On the other hand, when you are talking about a 9 figure deal, it is also likely that you are set for life, no matter what and a few extra millions tacked onto an option are not going to determine whether you die in poverty or luxury.

You could reasonably infer from Greinke's comments that when push comes to shove, he's also not going to do anything to help his team win if it means something less for him, no matter how minute.  You have to wonder if a guy like Greinke would have reacted with the grace of Barry Zito if he was left off a postseason roster, or with the enthusiasm of Timmy if he was put in the bullpen for the postseason.

Maybe Zack Greinke will be the guy who solidifies the Dodgers' pitching rotation and gives that star-studded, gold-plated team the championship they are trying to buy.  All I know is there is another team in the Dodgers' division that has won it all 2 out of the last 3 seasons with a 180 degree opposite attitude coming out of the clubhouse.

Monday, February 25, 2013

College Corner: Hot Tip

Be sure and check out Big League Futures summary of college pitching and hitting performances over the weekend.  No point in me duplicating their work.  Their site is linked over to the left.

PS:  BLF finally has a Draft Profile up on Philip Ervin a guy I think we would all love to see the Giants draft.

Game Wrap Spring Training 2013: Giants 9 White Sox 9

The Giants built a seemingly insurmountable 9-0 lead after 3 innings only to give it away in a 7 run 8'th inning for the White Sox as the game ended in a 9-9 tie.  Key Lines:

Marco Scutaro- 2 for 3.  BA= .400.
Hunter Pence- 1 for 2, 3B, BB.  BA= .250.
Brett Pill- 1 for 3, 2B.  BA= .167.
Cole Gillespie- 2 for 3, 2 2B.  BA= .600.
Madison Bumgarner- 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.
Fabio Castillo- 0.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 0 K.
Brett Bochy- 0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K.
Chris Heston- 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 1 K.
Otero, Romo, Kickham, Dunning, Loux- 1 scoreless IP each.

Gillespie looks like he wants that 5'th OF spot real bad.  Bummy had a nice outing.  Castillo and Boch Jr gave up the 7 spot in the 8'th.  Castillo left with a couple of runs in and the bases loaded.  Bochy promptly gave up a double and a dinger before getting the last 2 outs of the inning.

Fantasy Focus: Relief Pitcher Rankings

Now that we have discussed general RP fantasy baseball strategy, let's look at specific RP's and how they should be ranked.  For the purposes of this discussion, I will leave out RP's who will likely function as SP's in 2013.  I will add in Yahoo's ADP by round and average auction cost for each reliever.

Tier 1:

1. Craig Kimbrel, Braves.

Managers are willing to pay the premium price because Kimbrel gives you close to SP K's plus helps your rate stats in addition to the Saves.  In addition, there does not appear to be any threat to his role and he gives no hints of impending injury.

Tier 2:

2. Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies:
3. Jason Motte, Cardinals

These guys have a high reliability factor and give you 90% of what Kimbrel gives you at considerably lower cost. If you want to closer early, these are better targets than Kimbrel.  Let someone else overpay for him!

Tier 3(The Peleton)

4. Fernando Rodney, Rays:  Stellar numbers last year, but has had an up and down career.

5. Rafael Soriano, Nationals:  Did a good job filling in for Mo Rivera last year, but has also had his ups and downs.

6. Joe Nathan, Rangers:  Seems to be all the way back from TJ, but he's starting to get a bit long in the tooth.

7. JJ Putz, D'Backs:  Looks secure for now, but has Heath Bell and David Hernandez lurking.

8. Greg Holland, Royals: Former closer-in-waiting who took over last year and did well.

9. Tom Wilhelmsen, Mariners:  Terrific season last year.  Can he maintain?

10.  Addison Reed, White Sox:  See Wilhemsen above.

11.  Huston Street, Padres:  Nobody seems to have much faith in this guy which may let you pick him up as an undervalue.

12:  Joel Hanrahan, Red Sox:  Moves to a new team in a much less pitcher-friendly environment.

13.  Mariano Rivera, Yankees:  Coming off a pretty bad knee injury.  At least it wasn't his arm.

14.  Sergio Romo, Giants:  Interesting situation here.  I expect Romo to get most of the Save opps with the Giants, but look for Bochy to try to limit his innings by bringing him in as late as possible.  Look for a lot of 1 and 2 out Save opps.  Boch could use his LOOGYs in the 9'th if the opposing team is stacked in LH batters.  I don't expect Romo to appear 3 games in a row and will be watched closely in back-to-back appearances.

15.  Chris Perez, Indians:  Everyone keeps predicting he will lose his job to Vinnie Pestano, but he keeps hanging in there.

16.  John Axford, Brewers:  Another guy who seems on the verge of losing his job, but I wouldn't count on it.

17.  Rafael Betancourt, Rockies:  Seems fairly safe, but how safe is any pitcher in Coors?

18.  Glen Perkins, Twins:  Very undervalued closer who seems pretty well entrenched, and pitched well last year.  Nice undervalued target.  LH closers are always suspect, but I think he's a good bet to remain closer all season.

19:  Steve Cishek, Marlins:  The Closer in Miami for now, but could be trade bait.

20.  Casey Janssen, Blue Jays:  The closer for now, but Sergio Santos is a small threat to take it back.  LH closers are always suspect.

21:  Jim Johnson, Orioles:  Not sure what to make of this guy.  Bushels of Saves last year, but his peripherals are less than stellar.

Tier 4(Risky)

22.  Jason Grilli, Pirates:  Promoted setup guy.  They don't always work out.

23.  Grant Balfour, A's: Was on a yo-yo all last year.  No reason to expect anything different this year.

24.  Brandon League, Dodgers:  Everybody expects him to lose the gig to Kenley Jansen, but I'm not so sure.  Could be undervalued because of that.

25.  Jonathan Broxton, Reds:  Nobody knows what is going to happen with Aroldis Chapman, but Broxton is the closer for now.

26.  Ernesto Freiri, Angels:  Everybody expects Ryan Madson to take over if and when he is healthy.

27.  Carlos Marmol, Cubs:  A meltdown waiting to happen, but I would not be shocked if he made a big comeback in 2013.

28:  Frank Francisco, Mets:  Definition of a high risk Closer.  Bobby Parnell might be a better guy to draft.

29:  Jose Veras, Astros:  Not sure who would replace him, but the walk rates are ugly.

30:  Bruce Rondon, Tigers:  Throws 100 MPH, but has command issues and has never pitched in the majors.  Not a lock to win the job out of Spring Training.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Spring Training Game Wrap 2/14/2013: Cubs 4 Giants 3

Matt Cain got roughed up in his first appearance of the spring taking a comebacker from Alfonso Soriano off the knee and later a 3 run dinger off journeyman catcher Dioner Navarro.  The important information is that Cainer is apparently alright.  He said he could have gone another inning, but the Giants felt he had threw enough pitches in the first inning.  Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 0 for 2, BB, SB.
Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 3, 2B.
Francisco Peguero- 2 for 3, 2B
Guillermo Quiroz- 1 for 2, SF, 2 RBI.
Angel Villalona- 1 for 3.
Matt Cain- 1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 0 K.
Edlefsen, Fitzgerald, Casilla, Mijares, Rosario, Runzler and Hembree- 1 scoreless IP each.

Pablo Sandoval appears to be ready to go right now.  Understandable since he played winter ball almost up to report day.  If he can stay healthy all year and keep his weight in check, I think we could be in for a real treat watching him this year.  He's been around awhile, but is just entering his age 26 season.  He has no more hamate bones to break.  Hitting behind Pagan and Scutaro and ahead of Buster should be a prime spot in the batting order to do serious damage.

Frankie Pegs makes an early statement that he is not conceding the 5'th OF spot to Gillespie.  I think the Giants would rather have Pegs playing every day while they will have no such compunctions about Gillespie.

Is it possible that Quiroz could take The Hector's backup catcher gig?  Or maybe the Giants carry 3 catchers?  Bochy didn't sound too happy with Hector's conditioning.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Spring Training Game Wrap 2/23/2013: Giants 4 Angels 1

The Giants picked right up where they left off in the fall as they smothered the Angels in the opening Cactus League game.  And yeah, we're still in Winter rather than Spring here at the game time temperature was 58 degrees.  Oh well, that's summer in San Francisco!  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 1 for 2, SB.
Pablo Sandoval- 1 for 2.
Jackson Williams- 1 for 2, 2B.
Ricky Oropesa- 1 for 1.
Gary Brown- 1 for 2, 2B.
Ryan Vogelsong- 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K.
Chad Gaudin- 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K.
Affeldt, Romo, Proctor, Kontos, Machi- 1 scoreless IP each with Machi credited with the Save.

Some of the Giants young position prospects got a chance to shine today. Monell and Cole Gillespie each got a hit too. They should get more opportunities with the long spring training and many veterans off playing in the WBC.

Fantasy Focus: Relief From Relief Pitchers

Most fantasy baseball leagues have a single category of Saves which SP's cannot help you with and the vast majority of points in the category are tied up at any given time in just 30 RP's who are designated as Closers by the respective MLB manager.  This creates, by far, the biggest headache and deepest intrigue in managing a fantasy baseball team.  Those 30 RP's come to have way more value than is warranted in real-life baseball and when you factor in the sometimes irrational exuberance over acquiring closers by fantasy managers, well, you really have an extremely skewed value allocation in the sport.

My own experience with RP's and Saves is very checkered, so don't look at me as being an expert by any means.  My experiences have pretty much run the gamut of options for dealing with the category, so I'll start with telling my story and then try to finish up with some comments.  Maybe some of the readers here will find it all helpful.

My first year in Fantasy baseball, I inherited a team with 5 very bad Keepers, so I tried to draft mostly young players with a lot of upside hoping to upgrade my Keepers.  I was able to accomplish this nicely.  My league expanded their Keepers to 6 players divided between 3 position players and 3 pitchers.  I was drafting #9 in a 10 team league.  When I got to the 3'rd and 4'th rounds, I decided I already had 3 pretty good SP's and now had 5 pretty good position players.  There were a few guys who had kept closers but none had been taken in the draft.  I got the jump on everybody by drafting 2 closers in rounds 3 and 4.  I ended up with a couple more a bit later in the draft.  I was very competitive in the Saves category and won my league championship in my second season of managing.  Now, with 6 Keepers and 2 additional draft rounds, that meant I was really drafting my closers in rounds 9 and 10, so I don't look at it as taking those closers early.  Everybody else got started too late!

The next season, I got out of sync in my draft and ended up with a weak team that finished 8'th in the 10 team league. The next season, I found myself with just 1 decent closer early in the season and opted to trade him and punt the Saves category entirely.  I put SP's with dual eligibility in the RP slots and tried to win as many W's and K's as I could and letting ERA and WHIP take care of themselves.  That strategy worked well enough for a 4'th place finish, but I found that punting one category completely forces you to go 6-3 in the remaining 9 categories just to salvage a 6-4 win and that can be very tough to do, especially in the playoff H2H's against good teams.

Last year, our league dropped the Keepers and went to an auction draft.  I drafted Brian Wilson, Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour, Kyle Farnsworth and Vinnie Pestano.  We all know what happened to Wilson.  Nathan had a good season, but Balfour lost and re-won his closer job with the A's at least 3 or 4 times.  Farnsworth took too long coming back from an injury and lost his job to Fernando Rodney and Pestano was never able to wrest the closer job away from Chris Perez in Cleveland.  I tried to pick up closers off the FA/Waiver Wire, but just couldn't get any traction.  By the time the playoffs rolled around, I was essentially punting the Saves category.  On the other hand, my friend came out of the draft without any closers at all, worked very hard at picking them up as the season went along, and ended up with 5 good ones.  I ended up beating him 6-4 in the championship H2H.

It's pretty easy to calculate how many closers you need to carry to be competitive in your league.  Just divide the number of closers at any given time, which is always 30, by the number of teams in the league.  For most leagues, you are going to need 3.  When you factor in that there are always 1 or 2 teams going with closer-by-committee, coupled with 3-4 really bad closers who will destroy your ERA and WHIP in any given week, add in the probability that at least 2-3 managers in your league will try to horde closers and it can be very tough to roster even 2, let alone 3.

So, what is a thoroughly frustrated manager to do?  Here are the realistic options I can think of:

1.  Accept the fact that you are going to overpay for Closers and make sure you get at least 3 in your draft.  Your job in this case is to not grossly overpay, such as paying $20 for Craig Kimbrel in an auction draft.  I would say it's reasonable to look for your first 2 closers somewhere in rounds 7-10 in a snake draft.  By that time you should have 5-6 position players drafted and 1-2 SP's.  Remember, you don't have to get Kimbrel as the first RP taken.  The #5-15 Closers are all almost as good as #1-4, but you also don't want to get buried by a run.  In Auction drafts, it's a good idea to budget $15-20 out of your $260 for your RP's.  You aren't going to get any for $1 in most real auctions.

2.  Punt the category in the draft, but try to acquire RP's off the FA/Waiver Wire as the season goes along.  Last year was a particularly volatile year for Closers, but in most years, you can count on a turnover at the position of about 1 in 3.  There will be opportunities to add Closers, but you have to remember that other managers will be scouring the same waiver wire looking for the same thing.  Be prepared to spend an inordinate amount of your time bird-dogging Closers and it still might not be enough!  A reasonable compromise strategy would be to try to get 1 or 2 Closers in the draft and add on from the FA/Waiver Wire after the season starts.

3.  Punt the category and fill your RP and 1 or 2 or your swing slots with good setup men.  These guys often log more innings than the closer on their team and often have exceptionally good ERA's WHIP's and K/9's.  If you get 3-5 of them on your team, they will get you as many K's as 2 good starters and will help your ERA and WHIP and not by a small amount.  They will even get you a Save here and there which might win you the category against another team that is also Save challenged.  They just won't help you build up very many W's.

4.  Punt the category and load up on SP's who have dual RP eligibility.  This enables you to potentially dominate the W and K categories and if you choose carefully, you can do quite well in ERA and WHIP too.  This probably only works in H2H leagues where you can use your bench as an extended rotation.  Many rotisserie leagues have innings limits which prevent you from running up K's and W's by piling up IP from a stockpile of starters.

I hope these thoughts are helpful to you fantasy baseball players out there.  I will write another post about specific RP's another time.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hot Stove Update: Giants Trade Conor Gillaspie For Pitching Prospect

The Giants must be very serious about their strategy of stockpiling hard throwing relief pitching prospects.  After loading up on them in the last 2-3 drafts, they added Fabio Castillo off the waiver wire and Scott Shuman out of the AAA phase of the Rule 5 draft this offseason.  Now they add yet another in a trade in which they unloaded Conor Gillaspie who presented a looming roster dilemma.

I'm not going to be one of those guys who proclaims that I could never figure out what the Giants saw in Conor Gillaspie.  He hit well over .400 in college and well, I'm kind of a sucker for .400 hitters at any level, myself.  I was happy when the Giants took him in the supplemental first round of the 2008 draft  Probably the biggest mistake the Giants made with Gillaspie was agreeing to give him a September callup in 2008 which necessitated putting him on the 40 man roster.  I thought that move was a slap in the face to Buster Posey who signed later, apparently without knowledge that Gillaspie had gotten what was essentially a MLB contract at his signing.  The other problem with that move is it tied Gillaspie to a much shorter development timeline as he then had 4 years to stick with the MLB club or be offered to other teams on waivers.  That timeline was up this year, thus pretty much forcing the trade.

Gillaspie was not a terrible hitter in the minors.  In fact, he was consistently good.  It's just that he did not come close to dominating any hitting category at any level.  He had a good BA and a solid OBP, but only modest power and essentially no speed.  Those numbers might make him a prospect at SS or 2B, but not so much at 3B which seemed to be the only position he could play besides 1B, which is even worse from a hitting perspective.  I've seen several comments by people wondering why the Giants never did the obvious move to 2B with him.  Well, think about it for a minute.  The Giants have never been shy about asking their prospects to try new positions.  Either Gillaspie was stubborn and unwilling to make the move or the Giants coaches could see that he just didn't have the tools for it.  I tend to favor the latter explanation.

I saw Conor Gillaspie play several times while he was with the San Jose Giants.  Now, I'm not a scout, but to my eye, he could not play 3B.  It wasn't just an obviously weak throwing arm either.  He had very stiff awkward movements at the position, which often seemed to leave him in unadvantageous positions to make plays.  I watched one game with the dude who goes by the handle of Tacklebox, and I believe his impression was pretty much the same as mine.  In very brief MLB action, Conor made some decent plays and a couple of not-so-great ones, reinforcing the impression that he is defensively challenged.

Hopefully things will work out for him in Chicago where there is a potential opening at 3B at the MLB level.  Maybe the friendly confines of the ballpark there will help him hit a few more HR's than he would on the west coast.

Jeff Soptic is a fireballing RHP drafted by the White Sox in the 3'rd round of the 2011 draft.  He has shown decent K rates so far in his pro career but has walked almost as many batters as he has K'd.  Well, the Giants seem to really like those kinds of prospects, so he joins the likes of Ian Gardeck, Stephen Johnson, Scott Shuman and many others in a derby to see which ones Dick Tidrow and his staff can straighten out.  Getting a pitcher who can throw 100 MPH, who was drafted 3 years after an out-of-options Conor Gillaspie is an excellent salvage operation by Brian Sabean.

Fantasy Focus: SP's I Like

In order to do justice to the SP position in a straight ranking, I would need to rank at least 100 pitchers.  That is not really practical and would probably bore all of you to death.  Instead, I'm going to discuss several SP's I really like and will be targeting in my own fantasy draft.


Justin Verlander, Tigers:         17 Wins, 2.64 ERA, 239 K, 1.06 WHIP.
Stephen Strasburg, Nationals:  15 Wins, 3.16 ERA, 197 K's, 1.15 WHIP.
David Price, Rays:                  20 Wins, 2.56 ERA, 205 K's, 1.10 WHIP.

I would not be afraid to pay top dollar for any of these 3.  Price is the value pick as he is going half a round later in snake drafts and for $5-10 cheaper in auction drafts.  I'm staying away from Kershaw due to his hip issue late last year.


Matt Cain, Giants:             16 Wins, 2.79 ERA, 193 K's, 1.04 WHIP.
Zack Greinke, Dodgers:     15 Wins, 3.48 ERA, 200 K's, 1.20 WHIP
CC Sabathia, Yankees:       15 Wins, 3.38 ERA, 197 K's, 1.14 WHIP
Yu Darvish , Rangers:        16 Wins, 3.90 ERA, 221 K's, 1.28 WHIP
Johnny Cueto, Reds:           19 Wins, 2.78 ERA, 170 K's, 1.17 WHIP
Mat Latos, Reds:                14 Wins, 3.48 ERA, 185 K's, 1.16 WHIP.
Felix Hernandez, Mariners: 13 Wins, 3.06 ERA, 223 K'S, 1.14 WHIP.
Cole Hamels, Phillies:        17 Wins, 3.05 ERA, 216 K's, 1.12 WHIP

Cainer is finally getting some run support and he certainly put up ace numbers last year.  I am concerned that he is building up tremendous mileage on his arm and he was visibly fatigued down the stretch an into the postseason.  Darvish has tremendous upside and seemed to turn a corner down the stretch last year, but needs to prove he can keep his walks down over a full season.  I worry about whatever is going on with Hernandez' elbow and I question Hamels' longterm durability.  Sabathia and Cueto may be the two value picks here.  I am avoiding Wainwright, Halladay, Sale and Dickey for various reasons.

Breakout Specials:

Matt Moore, Rays:       11 Wins, 3.81 ERA, 175 K's, 1.35 WHIP
Matt Harvey, Mets:      3 Wins, 2.73 ERA, 70 K's, 1.15 WHIP.(59.1 IP).
Brett Anderson, A's:     4 Wins, 2.57 ERA, 25 K's, 1.03 WHIP(35 IP).
Homer Bailey, Reds:    13 Wins, 3.68 ERA, 168 K's, 1.24 WHIP.

These are the guys I think are going to have huge breakouts in 2013.  I intend to get at least 2 of them for my fantasy team.  Moore has a little post-hype sleeperishness to him.  Harvey looks like beast.  Anderson should be fully recovered from TJ surgery.  Bailey was a beast down the stretch last year and is a classic post-post-hype sleeper.

WHIPping Boys:

Madison Bumgarner, Giants:       16 W, 3.37 ERA, 191 K, 1.11 WHIP
Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals:  12 W, 2.94 ERA, 153 K, 1.17 WHIP
Doug Fister, Tigers:                   10 W, 3.45 ERA, 137 K, 1.19 WHIP
Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees:            16 W, 3.32 ERA, 167 K, 1.17 WHIP
Mike Minor, Braves:                  11 W, 4.12 ERA, 145 K, 1.15 WHIP
Jonathan Niese, Mets:                 13 W, 3.40 ERA, 155 K, 1.17 WHIP
Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays:            13 W, 3.74 ERA, 125 K, 1.17 WHIP

WHIP often gets ignored as a category by fantasy managers, so it presents an opportunity for undervalued commodities.  If you are in a H2H league and can use your bench as a rolling extension of your SP rotation, it can pay off big time to load up on modestly priced pitchers with a low WHIP and plan on winning your K's and W's just by shear volume.  All of the above pitchers should be reasonably priced in your draft.  WHIP's under 1.20 are a big plus!

SP's With RP Eligibility:

Lance Lynn, Cardinals:       18 W, 3.78 ERA, 180 K's, 1.32 WHIP
Marco Estrada, Brewers:      5 W, 3.64 ERA, 143 K, 1.14 WHIP.
Alexi Ogando, Rangers:       2 W, 3.27 ERA, 66 K, 1.00 WHIP.
Wade Davis, Royals:            3 W, 2.43 ERA, 87 K, 1.09 WHIP
Shelby Miller?, Cardinals:    1 W, 1.32 ERA, 16 K, 0.95 WHIP
Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners:  9 W, 3.16 ERA, 101 K, 1.28 WHIP
Erasmo Ramirez, Mariners:   1 W, 3.36 ERA, 48 K, 1.00 WHIP.

If you are thinking of punting Saves, then you will want to use your RP slots to boost your W and K totals and surest way to do that is to have a SP in those slots.  These are some guys you will want to have on your list should you decide to go that direction come draft day.  Some of these situations bear watching in spring training, but all are pretty good bets to make their respective team's rotation.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Dominican Dandies

It's tough to know where to rank players from the Dominican Summer League in the overall rankings of Giants prospects. Unless they really stand out for some reason, like Adalberto Mejia last year, or were signed to a very large bonus like Gustavo Cabrera this year, I usually cover them separately in a post I call Dominican Dandies.  Here are a few of the names from last year's team, which seemed a bit weaker than in recent years:

Hengerber Medina, SS.  DOB:  10/12/1994.  5'11", 158 lbs., B-R, T-R.
.313/.453/.344, 7 SB, 26 BB, 16 K in 128 AB.  Age is important to look at here.  Anyone over 18 should be suspect as a true prospect and over 19 is almost surely a non-prospect.  Medina did not turn 18 until well after the season was over, so he's on a good track.  Has some room to fill out, but I would worry about his lack of power at higher levels.

Royel Astacio, 3B.  DOB:  9/27/1993.  6'2", 197 lbs.  B-S, T-R.
.244/339/.355, 2 HR, 28 BB, 50 K in 197 AB.  Astacio repeated the DSL which in itself is not a great sign. He improved his numbers modestly. Kind of a borderline call here.

Carlos Valdez, OF.  DOB:  6/22/1994.  5'11", 180 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
.232/324/.370, 7 2B, 5 3B, 4 HR, 4 SB in 211 AB.  Not great numbers, but enough power to give a ray of hope for the future.

Anthony Gomez, 3B.  DOB:  11/23/1994.  6'3", 200 lbs. B-R, T-R.
.191/.378/.309, 2 HR in 68 AB.  Like the size here.

Kleiber Rivas, C.  DOB:  6/22/1995.  5'11", 200 lbs.  B-L, T-R.
.156/.460/.156 in 32 AB.  The birthdate and LH bat catches my eye.

Carlos Diaz, LHP.  DOB:  11/18/1993.  6'2", 176 lbs.
8-2, 2.91, 80.1 IP, 20 BB, 68 K, GO/AO= 1.56.  Don't know anything about him except the numbers.

Keury Mella, RHP.  DOB: 8/2/1993.  6'2", 200 lbs.
3-3, 2.47, 69.1 IP, 28 BB, 75 K, GO/AO= 1.39.  6 figure bonus baby.  Should be in Arizona in 2013.

Alejandro Flores, RHP.  DOB:  9/25/2993.  6'0", 180 lbs.
6-4, 2.04, 61.2 IP, 9 BB, 44 K, GO/AO- 1.20.  Mexican prospect.

Diomedes Mateo, LHP.  DOB:  10/26/1989.  6'2", 180 lbs.
3-0, 1.62, 61 IP, 18 BB, 76 K, 6 Saves.  Older prospect who picked up from the Pirates organization who apparently was caught up in the age/identity scandal.  We'll see if the Giants can get him to the States and see if his numbers hold up.

Shawn Gomez, RHP.  DOB:  8/24/1994.  6'4", 180 lbs.
2-1, 3.60, 25 IP, 8 BB, 21 K, GO/AO= 2.12.  Looks like he has a projectable frame at a young enough age.

Angel Villalona, 1B. DOB:  8/13/1990.  6'3", 255 lbs., B-R, T-R
.303/.430/.497, 7 HR, 23 BB, 40 K in 155 AB.  One of the biggest mysteries of the Giants organization is what the future holds for Angel Villalona.  You all know the story here.  Was still very raw with extremely poor plate discipline when he last played in the states in 2009.  Huge raw power.  Will it ever be developed?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fantasy Focus: My Mock Standard Draft

This last weekend, I had a little extra time on my hands.  I decided to try another mock draft.  Since I am in an auction league, I intended to do another auction draft, but there was a glitch in entering the draft room and I found myself in a standard "snake" draft holding the #6 pick in a 12 team draft.  I think a lot of people would have bailed and let the autodraft take over, but I decided I could learn something from any experience that helps get a feel for how players are being valued.  Then I thought that some of my readers might be in fantasy leagues with a standard draft and might learn something from seeing how my mock draft went.

I posted my results on the Yahoo Message Board and got some criticism for where I drafted certain players.   In response to that, I looked up Yahoo ADP's on all of my picks in addition to the draft position from a recent LABR Experts Mock Draft.  The LABR draft was a 15 team affair, with a lot more total draft slots to fill, so some relievers went much later than they would in a 10 or 12 team draft.  So, here's my draft by round with my overall draft position for each player followed by the Yahoo ADP and finally the LABR Mock Draft position:

Round 1:  Albert Pujols 1B, #6, Yahoo ADP 6.6, LABR 9.  I have Pujols at #5 on my own ranking after Braun, Trout, Miggy Cabrera and Robinson Cano.  I believe last year's first half was an adjustment to a new team and new league.  I'm looking for a very strong year for Pujols in 2013.

Round 2:  David Price SP, #19, Yahoo ADP 23.6, LABR 38.  I have David Price as my #4 ranked SP, but right there with the top 3 of Verlander, Kershaw and Strasburg.  Much as I love Matt Cain, there is a distinct dropoff from Price to Cain and the next tier of pitchers.  Most experts wait on pitching, so it's safer to wait on pitching in an expert draft.  The top 3 were already gone in my draft.  I was not enamored by the position choices that usually go in round 2, so I took the guy I consider one of the 4 true #1's in this year's fantasy draft.  Needless to say this is where the most intense criticism came from the Yahoo board.  Those guys said I should have taken an infielder, but really?  Jose Reyes?  Aaron Hill?  No thank you!  I'll take David Price over those guys in a heartbeat.

Round 3:   Bryce Harper OF, #30, Yahoo ADP 35.1, LABR 14.  I admit you have to believe in Harper's upside to take him this high, but I do believe.  Notice where he went in the LABR draft, which is almost certainly on overdraft, but hey, that guy must believe too!

Round 4:  Yeonis Cespedes OF, #43, Yahoo ADP 53.4, LABR 31.  Another guy you have to believe in his upside with, but I picked him up off the waiver wire last year and he was a huge part of my championship fantasy team.  Even if he simply stays healthy all year without progressing as a player, he'll be a 5 category stud.  I consider 20/20 to be his absolute floor.

Round 5:  Yu Darvish RHP, #54, Yahoo ADP 58.7, LABR 47.  Something seemed to click for Darvish in September of last year.  I know you should not base these kinds of decisions on a 1 month performance, but I just couldn't resist Darvish' upside here.  Even if he just repeats last year, he's still pretty darn good and the potential for a lot more is there.

Round 6:  Allen Craig OF, #67, Yahoo ADP 58.4, LABR 36.  I think Craig is a steal here. Yahoo and LABR both seem to agree with me.  I took him as an OF since I already had Pujols for 1B.

Round 7:  Matt Moore SP, #78, Yahoo ADP 88, LABR 77.  As you can see, I am a sucker for upside.  I have been drafting and picking up pitchers who fit Moore's general description ever since I started playing fantasy baseball and I have been very successful with it.

Round 8:  Jonathan Papelbon, RP, #91, Yahoo ADP 78.1, LABR 128.  I didn't like any of the position options here and I already had 3 SP's.  I figured it was a good time to lock up one of the more reliable closers in the draft. Again, note that RP's went later in the LABR draft due to the larger size of the draft.

Round 9:  Wilin Rosario, C, #102, Yahoo ADP 103.2, LABR 137.  I consider Rosario a solid value here.  Not sure why he lasted so long in the LABR draft.

Round 10. Matt Harvey, SP, #115, Yahoo ADP 149.7, LABR 174.  OK, I reached.  I absolutely love this guy!  I think he just might move into ace territory this year.

Round 11.  Pedro Alvarez, 3B, #126, Yahoo ADP 155.7, LABR 143.  Most of the 3B were gone by now. Alvarez hit 30 HR's last year.  Yes, he struck out a lot, but K's are not a fantasy category for hitters and his .240+ BA is not nearly as bad as, say, Adam Dunn.  I think there is still upside here as he is a former #2 overall draft pick.  I probably could have waited for a Moustakas or Todd Frazier, but I had Alvarez on my fantasy team last year and felt like he really helped me a lot.

Round 12.  Carlos Gomez, UT, #139, Yahoo ADP 130.8, LABR 152.  Gomez is a bit of a polarizing figure, but he did come 1 dinger short of a 20/20 season last year and seems to be finally living up to his potential.

Round 13.  Ben Revere, UT, #150, Yahoo ADP 160.9, LABR 106.  Philadelphia didn't make this trade for Revere to sit on the bench.  He is clearly going to be their Michael Bourn.  I actually think he might steal more bases and score more runs than Bourn who is going much earlier in most drafts.

Round 14.  Neil Walker, 2B, #163, Yahoo ADP 179, LABR 108.  Steady Eddie 2B who is going much higher in expert mocks than drafts that ADP is based on.

Round 15.  Glen Perkins, RP, #174, Yahoo ADP 196, LABR 209.  I wanted a minimum of 3 RP's and preferably 4, so had to start taking them.  Perkins is a very underrated one.

Round 16.  Jason Grilli, RP, #187, Yahoo ADP 177, LABR 200.  Grilli gets the first shot at closing for Pittsburgh.

Round 17.  Casey Janssen, RP.  #198, Yahoo ADP 191.5, LABR 136.  I'll have to double check that LABR number.

Round 18.  Steve Cishek, RP.  #211, Yahoo ADP 206.6, LABR 229.  OK, I took 5 RP's in all.  They come in handy as trade bait once the season starts.

Round 19.  Wade Miley, SP.  #222, Yahoo ADP 199.  LABR 235.  I'm not sold on Miley, but he was the best SP option here and I had already made up my mind to wait SS out until the final round.

Round 20.  Johan Santana, SP.  #235, Yahoo ADP 243.6, LABR 230.  I have this sneaking suspicion that Santana might have a big comeback up his sleeve.  I'm willing to risk a late round pick to find out.

Round 21.  ? ? Ryu, SP.  #246, Yahoo ADP 226.7, LABR 238.  Unfortunately, I'm starting to think this guy could be for reals and the Dodgers have themselves a steal.  Again, a late round pick to find out.

Round 22:  Gerrit Cole, SP.  #259, Yahoo ADP ???, LABR 414.  Gotta stash either Bundy or Cole for the long haul.

Round 23:  Zack Cozart, SS.  #270, Yahoo ADP 263.1, LABR 334.  Cozart hit 15 dingers in his first MLB season.  His R and RBI's might suffer if he hits out of the 8 hole, but SS is so risky from top to bottom this year, I just don't see that a young guy who hit 15 dingers is a bad choice even if you took him much higher in the draft.

So, here's my team by position:

C   Wilin Rosario
1B  Albert Pujols
2B  Neil Walker
3B  Pedro Alvarez
SS  Zack Cozart
OF  Bryce Harper
OF  Yoenis Cespedes
OF  Allen Craig
UT  Carlos Gomez
UT  Ben Revere
SP  David Price
SP  Yu Darvish
RP  Jonathan Papelbon
RP  Glen Perkins
P    Jason Grilli
P    Casey Janssen
P    Steve Cishek
P    Matt Moore
P    Matt Harvey
BN    Wade Miley
BN  Johan Santana
BN  Ryu
BN  Cole

3 criticisms:  1.  Not enough power.  2.  Depends too much on upside from Harper and Cespedes  3.  Pitching is too strong.  Those are fair criticisms, but I figure pitching is half the categories and I always try to dominate the pitching side of the ledger.  If I took away this team in a real draft, I'd actually feel pretty good about it.

College Corner: First Weekend Highlights

We already covered some of the more outstanding Friday night pitching performances from the first weekend of college baseball.  There were several more on Saturday and we'll take a look at the weekend hitting highlights.  As usual, we'll keep one eye on the draft in the process.  Most of these numbers are taken from BA's compilation.

Phil Ervin, OF,  Samford.  7 for 15, 3 HR.

Adam Frazier, SS/2B, Mississippi St.  8 for 16 3B, SB.

Ryon Healy, 3B/1B, Oregon.  8 for 12, 3 2B, HR, SB.

Eric Jagielo, 3B, Notre Dame.  6 for 11, 2B, 2 HR.

Jacoby Jones, 2B, OF, LSU.  3 for 7, HR.

Aaron Judge, OF, Fresno St.  5 for 13, 2B, HR, SB.

Michael Lorenzen, OF, Cal State Fullerton.  2B, HR, 3 SB.

DJ Peterson, 3B/1B, New Mexico.  5 for 11, 2B, 3B, HR.

Hunter Renfro, Mississippi St.  5 for 14, 2 2B.

Stanford's hitters got shut down by Rice.  Austin Wilson left in the middle of the first game and did not return the rest of the weekend.  No word on a specific injury.

Saturday Pitching performances of note:

Ryan Eades, RHP, LSU.  6.1 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K's.

Kyle Finnegan, RHP, Texas St.  6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 11 K's.

Jonathan Gray, RHP, Oklahoma.  6.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K's.

Marco Gonzalez, LHP, Gonzaga.  6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 5 K's.

Alex Balog, RHP, USF.  7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K's.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Hot Tip: How the White Sox(And Maybe the Giants) Beat Projections

Dave Cameron has an extremely interesting article up on Fangraphs addressing the question of why the Chicago White Sox seem to consistently end up with a better record than their PECOTA, and apparently other projection systems project(not predict) them to.  As you might expect, Cameron has found a potential explanation that has nothing to do with the predictive value of the projection system for performance on the field.  The explanation?  Good health!  You see, over the years, the White Sox have remained remarkably free of injuries.

Injuries are something that projection systems assume we cannot predict and so they adjust to league averages, or something like that.  They may make some projection regarding injury because they do project PA's and injuries are a factor in limiting PA's.  In other words, if Player X misses significant time 3 years in a row and thus averages only about 400 PA's per year, chances are the projection system will project him to not a whole lot more than 400 PA's for the following year too.

Anyway, why do I as a Giants fan give 1 hoot about all this?  Well, it just so happens that the Giants are one of the teams who have been consistently successful in limiting injuries.  What else have the Giants done over the last several years?  That's right.  They have won 2 championships with teams who a lot of people believed were not good enough for that.  In both of those champioship seasons, I think all of us have acknowledged at one point or another just how fortunate the Giants have been to keep all their key players, especially the pitchers healthy for the full season.

Now, it seems that it is quite possible that health for the Giants as well as the White Sox has been due to more than good fortune.  I appears that some teams have developed a skill at keeping their players injury free while others are  not so good at it.  The ones who are not good at it end up paying a steep price in performance on the field.

This is something I think ogc might be particularly interested in, as it fits perfectly with his use of business principles in understanding how baseball teams are constructed and find success.  Isn't it a goal of all good businesses to minimize days of work lost to work related injury?

At this point, we don't know if the Giants and White Sox' success in limiting injuries is due to the training staff, medical staff, how they teach pitching mechanics and other techniques or some combination of all of the above.  After all, Pablo Sandoval is not exactly a poster child for good conditioning and Tim Lincecum has not been either over the last 2 years or so.  What we do know from this information is that it is likely that it is not just do to chance.  Maintaining a healthy team is likely one of the ways the Giants gain a competitive advantage over other MLB baseball clubs.  Can we say it is an undervalued commodity and call it Moneyball?

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part 5

Demondre Arnold, RHP.  DOB:  3/18/1992.  6'3", 208 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
Low A:  5-2, 5.43, 56.1 IP, 48 BB, 45 K, GO/AO= 1.45.

Arnold had a terrible second half of the season going from a 3.03 ERA in the first half to a 8.75 ERA post All-Star break.  Was he tired?  Hurt?  Opposing hitters figure out his stuff?  Gotta get that walk rate down!  It was pretty much the same all season, so maybe the first half was just luck?

Jackson Williams, C.  DOB:  5/14/1986.  5'11", 200 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
AAA:  .247/.281/.417, 11 HR.

A defense-first catcher who might have a chance for a Eli Whiteside/Chris Stewart type career as a backup catcher if the chance ever presents itself.  Could be a decent backup plan if The Hector regresses and the Giants decide he needs more seasoning.

Ryan Lollis, OF.  DOB:  12/16/1986.  6'2", 185 lbs., B-L, T-L.
High A:  .296/.347/.418, 5 HR, 5 SB in 318 AB.
AAA:     .309/.393/.434, 3 HR, 2 SB in 175 AB.

Lollis is probably just an organizational guy but he had a nice season at two levels.

Brett Krill, OF.  DOB:  1/24/1989.  6'4", 220 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
Low A:  .288/.335/.388, 5 HR, 8 SB in 448 AB.

Krill is a personal favorite going back to his pre-draft days at UCLA.  Put up a nice BA for Augusta, but the power numbers were disappointing.

Mitch Delfino, 3B.  DOB:  1/13/1991.  6'2", 210 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
College(Cal):   .355/.413/.485, 5 HR in 200 AB.
Rookie AZL:  .208/.283/.333, 2 SB in 48 AB.
Short Season:  .269/.315/.341, 12 2B, 2 SB in 167 AB.

Not much that stands out about his stats, but we'll include him in the HM list because he reportedly impressed at fall instructionals where he was named organizational MVP.

OK, that concludes the Honorable Mentions from DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects list.  Anybody I missed?  Can't include everybody, you know.  I will try to put something together about the DSL players who bear watching called Dominican Dandies in the next few days.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

College Corner: First Friday Highlights

Friday nights are special in college baseball.  That is the night all the college teams put their #1 SP out there and they often go head-to-head with each other making for some very dramatic baseball.  Let's check out some of the highlights from college baseball's first Friday of the 2013 season.

Ryne Stanek, Arkansas.  4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K's.  Several mock drafts have Stanek going #1 overall.  He's off to a cautious start as Arkansas downed Western Illinois 9-1.

Kent Emmanuel, UNC.  9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K's.  UNC blanked Seton Hall 1-0 behind their big LHP.

Aaron Nola, LSU.  6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K's.  Nola is a sophomore RHP of interest for the 2014 draft.  LSU downs Maryland 1-0.

Kevin Ziomek, Vanderbilt.  6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K's.  Ziomek is a polished college LHP.  Vandy topped LBSU 10-4.

Tom Windle, Minnesota.  4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K's.  Windle takes on Adam Plutko of UCLA and comes out the winner.  John Klima did a post on him yesterday and he looks like he has copied Barry Zito's delivery.

Adam Plutko, UCLA.  6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K's.  This line shows just how tough it is to pitch in Friday nights in college.  Nice line, but a losing line.

Mark Appel, Stanford.  5 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K's.  Appel lost to Austin Kubitza of Rice.  Performances like this may make him regret not signing with Pittsburgh.

Austin Kubitza, Rice.  6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 12 K's.  Kubitza takes on the vaunted Stanford lineup and outpitches Mark Appel.

Jake Reed, Oregon.  6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K's.  Reed is a sophomore. Oregon shuts out Hawaii 3-0.

Bobby Wahl, Mississippi.  6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K's.  Ole Miss edges TCU 1-0 on an unearned run.

Jonathan Crawford, Florida.  3.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K's.  Duke tops Florida 4-3.  Crawford has a less than stellar opening Friday.

Dillon Overton, Oklahoma.  7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K's.  I did a post on Overton for Scouting the Draft recently.  This performance came against Hofstra who Oklahoma beat 10-4.

Michael Cederoth, SDSU.  5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 6 K's.  Cederoth is a sophomore who reportedly hits triple digits on the radar gun. He shut down San Diego's tough lineup in this one, although he may need to tone down the walks.

Buck Farmer, Georgia Tech.  8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 14 K's.  Farmer chose to stay in school for his senior season.  He got off to a great start last year too.

Scott Frazier, Pepperdine.  7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K's.

Not much to report on hitters, except Philip Ervin went a combined 4 for 8 with 2 HR's for Samford against Youngstown St.

Friday, February 15, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part 4

Jarrett Parker, OF.  DOB:  1/1/1989.  6'4", 210 lbs.  B-L, T-L.
High A:  .247/.366/.443, 15 HR, 28 SB, 70 BB, 175 K in 409 AB.

Former 2'nd round draft pick in 2010.  Somewhat surprisingly repeated the Cal League in 2012 with pretty much the same results as 2011.  Low BA, moderate power, good speed, great BB rate, frightful K rate.  Would be a sabermetric darling if he put up the same numbers in MLB.  The K rate and BA are disturbing, but I'm not ready to totally write him off.  I say, send him to Richmond and let's see what happens.  If he puts up the same numbers there, he could be a serious prospect.

Rafael Rodriguez, OF.  DOB:  7/13/1992.  6'5", 198 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
Short Season:  .235/.287/.364, 3 HR, 7 SB, 9 BB, 31 K in 162 AB.

Former international bonus baby.  2012 was his 4'th pro season without much in the way of progress.  This was his highest IsoP since 2010 when he repeated the AZL.  If you take his numbers and multiply by 4 to get a full season's worth of AB's, they don't seem quite so terrible.  Another kid who I think it's still too early to give up on.

Alex Burg, UT.  DOB:  8/9/1987.  6'0", 190 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
High A:  .252/.341/.429, 10 HR, 41 BB, 77 K in 345 AB.

I have to say I was disappointed that Burg got sent back to San Jose for 2012 after a terrific season in 2011.  His 2012 numbers were not as good, but not bad either.  Hopefully he gets a chance to show if he can handle AA in 2013.

Ryan Cavan, 2B.  DOB:  6/27/1987.  5'10", 180 lbs.  B-S, T-R.
AA:  .228/.283/.338, 10 HR, 32 BB, 89 K in 426 AB.

These aren't great numbers, but go take a look at Brandon Crawford's AA numbers.  The EL is one tough place to hit.  Have to say things aren't looking too promising for Cavan, though.

Justin Fitzgerald, RHP.  DOB:  3//3/1986.  6'5", 230 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
AA:  7-8, 3.22, 164.2 IP, 60 BB, 130 K, GO/AO= 1.25, BAA= .225.

Fitz repeated AA in 2012 and put up slightly better numbers. Big bodied pitcher who can pound the zone.  NoCal kid, so you gotta root for him.

Fantasy Focus: Mock Drafting

Yahoo opened up their fantasy baseball site last week.  I was itching for some fantasy baseball action and had a little time last weekend to participate in a mock draft.  Mock drafts do not play out exactly like real drafts.  You tend to get a lot of people who spend all or most of their money on 3 or 4 players early then bail leaving the rest of the draft on autodraft.  Then you get a guy like we had in our draft who spent almost no money early, THEN switched to autodraft creating a long stretch where if you wanted a player, you had to bid $1 above Yahoo's value or the autodrafter would take him.

Still, participating in a mock draft or two prior to your own is a good way of learning approximately what players are available early, middle and late and how long you can afford to wait to get a good player at any particular position.  I did a mock draft before my real draft last year and feel it helped me immensely. I ended up winning my league, although I only had about 1/3 of my original team on the roster by the end of the season.

My own league has 10 teams with 26 roster spots each.  I participated in a 12 team mock auction draft with 23 man rosters each, so the total number of roster spots was only 16 different.  Having 12 teams does create a bigger pool of total money spent on the draft by $540 which creates some price inflation compared to my real draft.

I ran into a glitch right off the bat when my screen failed to come up after loading the draft.  I had refresh the screen to open the draft page only to find the computer had already autodrafted Ryan Braun for $55!  Oh well, at least it was Ryan Braun!  Here's the roster I ended up with and how much I paid for each player($260 total to spend):

C   Wilin Rosario $11.  With $55 out of my pool after the first pick and with all the autodrafting going on, it was really hard to find value in this draft.  I consider Rosario at $11 my biggest steal.  BTW, Buster Posey went for almost $40!

1B  Adam LaRoche $5.  First basemen were flying off the board at inflated prices. I kept waiting for a reasonable price on one.  Finally got one with LaRoche.  I'm not thrilled with him but he did hit 33 HR last year and he has that wind tunnel to RF in Nationals Park and is surrounded by a great lineup.

2B  Rickie Weeks $9.  Rickie Weeks was a 20/20 guy last year in what most people consider a down year for him, so I figure a pretty valuable guy has a good chance to be even better this year.  The price was fair.

3B  Brett Lawrie  $21.  I think this is an overpay.  Lawrie should be going for around $15-$17, but I love his upside potential and wanted him badly.  At worse, he'll give you double digits in both HR and SB.

SS  Derek Jeter  $5.  I wasn't planning to draft Jeter, but when it became obvious his price was not going to be bid up, I felt like he was a huge value for $5.

OF  Ryan Braun  $55.  I came into the mock draft planning to not spend more than $50 on any one player, but was willing to go as high as that for at least one of Braun, Trout or Miggy Cabrera, so $55 is not terrible for one of the 3 top tier players.  Just for comparison, Trout went for $60 and Cabrera for $57, so Braun was the best value out of the 3.

OF  Yoenis Cespedes  $24.  Cespedes, Bryce Harper, Jason Heyward and Adam Jones are a grouping of 4 OF's that I really like and am targeting in the $20-30 range.  The other 3 all went for more than $5 more, so I feel like I got great value in Cespedes.  If he stays healthy, he's almost a lock for 20/20 with an outside shot at 30/30.

OF  Shane Victorino  $1.  I did not want Shane Victorino!  I nominated him for $1 thinking someone would bid at least $2, but it never happened so I ended up with him.  He did steal 39 bases last year though, so considering guys like Michael Bourn and even Ben Revere are going for a lot more, makes $1 a steal for Victorino.

UT  Jose Altuve  $13.  This was an overpay.  I temporarily forgot I already had Weeks and somehow thought I was running out of time to draft a 2B.  He does give you BA, SB's and Runs though.  Could have some trade value.  Still, I was hoping for more bigger numbers from my UT position.

UT  Josh Willingham $9.  Since I was stuck with Altuve at one UT spot, I figured I just needed to look for the guy who would give me the most HR's for my second one.  I think this is a fair price for Willingham.

SP  Felix Hernandez $34.  I didn't know about the UCL concern at the time of this draft.  I consider Felix to be an elite SP and felt like $34 was a fair price.

SP  Zack Greinke  $24.  I drafted Greinke as my ace last year.  He wasn't an ace, but was a steady anchor to my rotation.  I like him as a #2.

RP  Addison Reed  $2.  I was just looking for any Closers I could get for $1-2.  The difference in value between Reed and Craig Kimbrell is a lot smaller than the difference in price.  Kimbrell went in the high $30's in this mock draft, which is insane.

RP  Glen Perkins  $1.  Perkins labors in anonymity for Minnesota but is firmly entrenched as the closer and should be good for the standard 30+ Saves you get from a full season closer.

P  Jason Grilli  $1.  Grilli is first in line to replace Joel Hanrahan as the closer in Pittsburgh.  There are 2 RP spots on this roster, but I figure you need at least 3 and possibly 4 to be competitive in Saves.

P  Kenley Jansen $1.  I was surprised Jansen was available for just $1.  He will probably end up with the closer gig in LA and gives nice value as a setup man even if he doesn't.

P  Tim Lincecum  $6.  I don't know if Timmy is going to have a bounceback year or not, but $6 is a small enough price to pay to find out.

P  Jeff Samardzija  $9.  Assuming he stays healthy, Samardz should end up with numbers close to a Zack Greinke and other #2's.

BN(SP)  Doug Fister  $7.  I was just picking off SP's who I like at this point.  I was having to pay Yahoo rates because of that one autodrafter, but this is still a good price for Fister.

BN(SP)  Brett Anderson  $3.  I'm looking for a huge year from Anderson and $3 is a steal here.

BN(SP)  Matt Harvey  $4  I think Harvey is poised for a breakout with the Mets.

BN(SP)  Homer Bailey  $1.  Homer Bailey was a beast at the end of last season and could be finally ready to fulfill his enormous expectations.  A classic post-hype sleeper.

BN(SP)  Gerrit Cole  $1.  I wanted to stash either Dylan Bundy or Gerrit Cole.  I couldn't find Bundy in the list. Not sure if someone else had already taken him.  I like Cole almost as much.

There you have it.  Inevitably, someone always criticizes my drafts for having not position players on the bench.  I consider position players a waste of roster space on the bench in a H2H league where you can re-set lineups daily.  The most efficient use of the bench in that situation is to extend your starting rotation.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

News and Notes: Pitchers and Catchers Report

Just a few things I'd like to comment on gleaned from news about the first day of spring training:

I'm excited about Tim Lincecum.  It appears he's done a lot more than change his hairstyle.  From the pictures I've seen, he looks to be right about perfect weight and it looks like solid weight.  Even better, from his comments it sounds like Timmy is fully aware of what the weight extremes did to him and consciously made the effort to correct that.  In addition, it sounds like he put in a lot of work into his delivery.  I know everybody is optimistic on the first day of spring training, but these are concrete things that Timmy needed to address in the offseason.  From all appearances, he did just that.

Remember the discussions about options for some of our Top 50 prospects?  There are just two significant players in camp who are out of options:  Yusmiero Petit and Conor Gillaspie.  Ehire Adrianza, Francisco Peguero and surprisingly, Dan Runzler still have an option left and can be sent to Fresno, which is probably good for both them and the Giants as all 3 need some seasoning and getting to do that in an organization that is familiar with them is probably better than being cast adrift into the unknown waters of DFA land.

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part 3

Alberto Robles, 2B.  DOB:  9/14/1990.  5'11", 155 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
Rookie AZL:  .380/.429/.420, 4 SB, 5 BB, 7 K's in 50 AB.
Low A:          .167/.205/.167, 2 SB, 1 BB, 8 K's in 42 AB.

Robles spent a couple of years in the DSL where he had more walks than K's both years.  Mixed results in his stateside debut.

Jose Valdez, RHP.  DOB:  8/1/1988.  6'7", 250 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
High A:  6-4, 2.83, 57.1 IP, 28 BB, 78 K, GO/AO- 1.20, 7 Saves.

Valdez is a huge physical talent who has been in the Giants organization seemingly forever.  Last year was statistically his best season, but to be stuck in A ball after all these years is not what you are hoping for.  Has a spring training invite.  Look for him to be a guy who opens some eyes, or maybe not.

Fabio Castillo, RHP.  DOB:  2/19/1989, 6'1", 235 lbs.  B-R, T-R
AA:   2-1, 2.89, 37.1 IP, 12 BB, 28 K, GO/AO= 2.27
AAA: 2-0, 4.82, 18.2 IP, 14 BB, 13 K, GO/AO= 1.71.
DWL: 0-1, 1.86, 19.1 IP, 6 BB, 13 K, GO/AO= 1.65.

Hard throwing RHP who once pitched in the Futures Game signed as a minor league FA out of the Rangers organization.  Command problems stalled his progress in the Ranger's organization.  Will compete for a bullpen role with the Giants, but will most likely start the season in Fresno.

Scott Shuman, RHP.  DOB:  3/28/1988.  6'3", 205 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
AA:  0-1, 8.83, 34.2 IP, 47 BB, 54 K, GO/AO= 1.50.

Selected out  of the Rays organization in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft.  Unlike in the MLB phase, the Giants do not have to offer him back to the Rays if he fails to stick at any particular level.  Hard thrower with obviously severe command/control problems.  Can the Giants fix him?

Johnny Monell, C.  DOB:  3/27/1986.  5'11", 205 lbs.  B-L, T-R.
AA:  .257/.345/. 449, 11 HR, 41 BB, 84 K in 323 AB.

Monell repeated AA in 2012 and improved slightly on his numbers from 2011.  Lefthanded hitting catchers with pop do not grow on trees and with many MLB teams emphasizing platooning, it would seem there must be a place for him somewhere in MLB as some point.  Word on the street is he is being held back more for defense than his hitting.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part 2

Jonathan Jones, 1B.  DOB: 2/15/1992.  6'4", 205 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
Rookie AZL:  .282/.354/.485, 6 HR, 11 BB, 54 K in 163 AB.

Drafted in round 23, 2011 out of Canada JC ball, Jones got just 17 AB in the AZL after the draft, so for all practical purposes, 2012 was his first pro experience.  He showed some power potential, but the K rate is frightful.

Randy Ortiz, OF.  DOB:  6/15/1993.  5'11", 170 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
Rookie AZL:  .247/.332/.330, 30 SB, 7 CS, 15 BB, 47 K.

DSL graduate.  Looks like another no-power/speed guy.  AZL numbers very similar to DSL except lower BA.  Needs to cut down on the K's.

Andrew Leenhouts, LHP.  DOB:  3/28/1990.  6'3", 195 lbs.  B-L, T-L.
Rookie AZL:  3-1, 4.38, 37 IP, 14 BB, 60 K's.

Tremendous K rate but definitely old for the league.  23'rd round draft pick in 2012.  No BA scouting report.

Emmanuel DeJesus, LHP.  DOB:  1/6/1994.  6'0", 175 lbs.  B-L, T-L.
Rookie AZL:  1-0, 5.91, 10.2 IP, 8 BB, 8 K's.

Disappointing year for the smallish LHP after a tremendous DSL campaign in 2011. He's still young, though.

Gabriel Cornier, C.  DOB:  6/10/1992.  6'0", 190 lbs.  B-S, T-R.
Rookie AZL:  .319/.394/.429, 12 BB, 26 K in 91 AB.

Switch-hitting catcher prospect in his 4'th professional season.  Had just 23 AB's in the AZL in 2011 after 2 seasons in the DSL.  This was, by far, his best season at the plate.  Switch-hitting catcher prospects are always interesting.

Monday, February 11, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part 1

Let's take a quick look at some of the Honorable Mentions from my 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects list.  I think you will find that there are interesting prospects in the system clear down in this range.  These are in no particular order.

Joseph Rapp, 1B.  DOB:  11/27/1989.  6'2", 225 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
College(Louisiana-Monroe):  .322/.418/.527, 9 HR, 7 SB, 32 BB, 59 K in 245 AB.
Short Season:  .272/.375/.464, 11 HR, 33 BB, 73 K in 239 AB.  Big Strong guy who looks like he has a pretty good hit tool to go with the power.  Strong walk rates but big time K rate to go with it.  The Augusta IF was weak last year, so I could see him starting at 1B for San Jose, unless Angel V starts there.

Joe Biagini, RHP.  DOB:  5/29/1990.  6'4", 215 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
Low A:  0-4, 7.41, 34 IP, 29 BB, 36 K, GO/AO= 1.56.
Short Season:  2-4, 4.27, 59 IP, 18 BB, 63 K, GO/AO= 1.56.  The Giants obviously see something here that is not apparent in the stats.  They drafted him in the 26'th round in 2011 out of UC Davis after he barely pitched there at all.  Then they gave him a 125 K signing bonus to keep him from going back to school.  Maybe he started to put it together at Salem-Keizer?  I expect to see him back in Augusta to start 2013.

Joan Gregorio, RHP.  DOB:  1/12/1992.  6'7", 180 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
Short Season:  7-7, 5.54, 76.1 IP, 23 BB, 69 K, GO/AO= 0.79.  A tall beanpole of a pitcher out of the DR.  He has worked his way up the Giants system one level at a time since his DSL debut in 2010.  He had ERAs < 3 in the DSL and AZL. His BB and K numbers remained strong but his GO/AO has been steadily dropping and the longball hurt him at Salem-Keizer as he allowed 9.  I'd expect to see him move up to Augusta for his age 21 season.

Travious Relaford, SS.  DOB:  5/13/1992.  5'11", 160 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
Rookie AZL:  .331/.412/.492, 13 2B, 4 3B, 0 HR, 19 BB, 17 K, 2 SB in 130 AB.
Low A:  .143/.143/.143 in 7 AB.  Late, late round draft pick in 2011 out of JC ball.  Seems very toolsy and raw.  Maybe he is the high ceiling SS prospect we all are hoping for?  Cousin of former big leaguer Desi Relaford.

John Polonius, SS.  DOB:  1/13/1991.  6'2", 170 lbs.  B-R, T-R.
College(West Virginia):  .308/.386/.408, 2 HR, 4 SB, 11 BB, 22 K in 147 AB.
Rookie AZL:  .300/.378/.408, 7 SB, 12 BB, 19 K's in 120 AB.  Undrafted FA sign.  Don't know much about him, but he sure looks good in a baseball uniform!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Scouting the Draft: Jan Hernandez

I guess it's no secret that all things being equal, I would really like to see the Giants draft a high ceiling SS in the first round of the 2013 draft.  The problem is that high ceiling SS's are in great demand on draft day and likely to be long gone by the time the Giants draft at #26.  Oscar Mercado and JP Crawford are the most frequently mentioned true SS's in the early pre-draft analyses and most early mock drafts have them off the board long before the Giants draft.  Needless to say, whenever I see a mock draft or draft prospect ranking, one of the first things I do is look down the list to see if there are any shortstops listed at or below #26 who might be what I want the Giants to take.  John Sickels put out a top 50 draft prospect ranking a couple of days ago.  Jan Hernandez is a name at #35 I had seen before but hadn't paid much attention to. He is out of the Carlos Beltran Academy in Puerto Rico.  The Giants have been active in the Puerto Rican market recently, so there might be a fit here.

Matt Garrioch at Minor League Ball posted a draft profile on Hernandez on 1/13/2013:  DOB:  1/3/1995(he will be 18.5 yo on draft day).  6'3", 195 lbs.  He is big for a shortstop and may need to move to 3B in the future, but can play the position as of now.  He has a nice powerful swing and projects as a power hitter in the future.  His bat should play even if he does have to move off SS.  Garrioch posted a video.  Gotta love what you see there.  Maybe a little herky jerkiness to the swing, but that should be fixable.  Dare I say if you squint your eyes, you can see just a bit of a young ARod in that video?  Come on, John Barr.  If he's there on draft day, do it!

BTW, Big League Futures does not list Hernandez in their top 50 draft prospects nor does BA.  BA lists Crawford at #9 and Mercado at #19.  Hernandez is BA's #34 HS draft prospect while Crawford is #5, Mercado #11 and Andy McGuire #24.

Fantasy Focus: Outfielder Rankings

Outfield is a deep position this year with value to be had up and down the rankings with elite players who are worth a high bid or top 3 overall pick as well has huge value in the early and mid single digit rounds as well as the 2'nd and 3'rd tier of bids on auction drafts.  Let's break it down:

1.  Ryan Braun, Brewers.  108 R, 41 HR, 112 RBI, .319 BA, 30 SB in 598 AB.  I have Braun as the #1 overall fantasy draft pick due to elite contributions in 5 categories and track record of success.  Small risk of further suspension due to involvement with drug lab in Miami, but it sounds like he has an unassailable alibi unless further evidence is uncovered.

2.  Mike Trout, Angels.  129 R, 30 HR, 83 RBI, .326 BA, 49 SB in 559 AB.  Trout would probably be number on if he had a longer track record of success.  One of the Elite 3 with Braun and Miguel Cabrera.  A lot of drafts will have him #1 overall and the highest auction bid.

3.  Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins.  75 R, 37 HR, 86 RBI, .290 BA, 6 SB in 449 AB.  Legitimate threat to hit 50 HR's.  Will he see any strikes in a stripped down Marlins offense?

4.  Matt Kemp, Dodgers.  74 R, 23 HR, 69 RBI, .303 BA, 9 SB in 403 AB.  Kemp was injured for much of last year.  Would be ranked ahead of Stanton and possibly Trout if it was certain he will be healthy to start the season.

5.  Andrew McCutchen, Pirates.  107 R, 31 HR, 96 RBI, .327 BA, 20 SB in 593 AB.  Some people worry that 'Cutch could be in for a regression due to an insanely high BABIP and a late season fade.  He will likely cost more than the $30 I paid for him in last year's auction draft.  If he does, I'll pass.

6.  Josh Hamilton, Angels.  103 R, 43 HR, 128 RBI, .285 BA, 7 SB in 562 AB.  Hamilton might be the most productive player in baseball when he is healthy and in the lineup.  He's had trouble staying in that state for a full season.  A partial season from Hamilton is worth more than most player's full seasons.  Probably no greater differential between risk and reward in all of baseball.

7.  Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies.  89 R, 22 HR, 85 RBI, .303 BA, 20 SB in 518 AB.  Another guy capable of putting up elite numbers who hasn't always done it, but even a subpar year for him is pretty good by most standards.

8.  Matt Holliday, Cardinals.  95 R, 27 HR, 102 RBI, .295 BA, 4 SB in 599 AB.  A lot of people suspect Holliday is starting on the downside of his career.  He's been a consistent performer, though.

9.  Jose Bautista, Blue Jays.  64 R, 27 HR, 65 RBI, .241 BA, 5 SB in 332 AB.  Bautista missed almost half of last season with a wrist injury.  Reports are that it is fully healed.  Bautista has the potential to hit 50 HR's if fully healthy.  BA will be a negative though.

10.  Bryce Harper, Nationals.  98 R, 22 HR, 59 RBI, .270 BA, 18 SB in 533 SB.  NL ROY.  His numbers were dwarfed by Trout's in the AL, but were still really good and many analysts believe this is just scratching the surface of his potential.

11.  Yoenis Cespedes, A's.  70 R, 23 HR, 82 RBI, .292 BA, 16 SB in 487 AB's.  Speaking of scratching the surface, 2012 was Cespedes first MLB season coming directly from Cuban ball.  He also had a few bumps and bruises that limited his playing time.

12.  Jason Heyward, Braves.  93 R, 27 HR, 82 RBI, .269 BA, 21 SB in 587 AB.  5 tool OF who may be just coming into his peak years.

13.  Adam Jones, Orioles.  103 R, 32 HR, 82 RBI, .286 BA, 16 SB in 648 AB.  Jones' numbers have been steadily improving year-by-year and he won't turn 28 yo until August. You could make a case for ranking him ahead of Harper, Cespedes and Heyward.

14.  Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays.  84 R, 11 HR, 60 RBI, .346 BA, 13 SB in 459 AB.  Melky was on his way to an epically good season before his 50 game PED suspension.  He likely was due for a regression anyway, but some analysts are putting him back to his Yankee and Braves numbers.  At this point, I believe his 2011 numbers with KC are his floor and Toronto is a much more friendly hitting environment than KC or SF. Don't overpay, but if he drops in your draft, grab him!

15.  Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox.  43 R, 4 HR, 26 RBI, .271 BA, 14 SB in 303 AB.  Ellsbury's season was no great shakes even without the missed time, but he's in a contract year and should start the season healthy.  Capable of 5 category goodness.

16.  Curtis Granderson, Yankees.  102 R, 43 HR, 106 RBI, .232 BA, 10 SB in 596 AB.  The BA will kill you if you are trying to compete in that category, but many owners won't care.

17.  BJ Upton, Braves.  79 R, 28 HR, 78 RBI, .246 BA, 31 SB in 573 AB.  Upton's numbers have been improving slowly but steadily over the past several seasons.  Came the closest to 30/30 of any player not named Braun or Trout last year.

18.  Justin Upton, Braves.  107 R, 17 HR, 67 RBI, .280 BA, 18 SB in 554 AB.  The younger Upton had a poor season by his standards, partly due to nagging injury, and fell out of favor with the D'Backs for reasons that remain somewhat mysterious.  Decent bet for a bounceback season with good health and a new team as well as playing with his bro.

19.  Alex Rios, White Sox.  93 R, 25 HR, 91 RBI, .304 BA, 23 SB in 605 AB.  Solid 5 category production.  Tends to alternate good and bad seasons, so buyer beware!

20.  Jay Bruce, Reds.  89 R, 34 HR, 99 RBI, .252 BA, 9 SB in 560 AB.  Bruce is still probably on the upswing of his career trajectory.

21.  Austin Jackson, Tigers.  103 R, 16 HR, 66 RBI, .300 BA, 12 SB in 543 AB.  Gives you 5 categories but you might want a bit more pop and/or a few more SB's.

22.  Shin-Soo Choo, Reds.  88 R, 16 HR, 67 RBI, .283 BA, 21 SB in 598 AB.  HR could increase with move to Great American Ballpark.

23.  Jason Kubel, D'Backs.  75 R, 30 HR, 90 RBI, .253 BA, 1 SB in 506 AB.  Kubel will lose AB to late inning defensive replacements, but with power in such short supply, gotta love the 30 dingers he put up last year.

24.  Carlos Beltran, Cards.  83 R, 32 HR, 97 RBI, .269 BA, 13 SB in 547 AB.  Still a great producer when healthy, but you gotta hold your breath every time he slides or goes after a ball in the OF.

25.  Michael Bourn, Unsigned.  96 R, 9 HR, 57 RBI, .274 BA, 42 SB in 624 AB.  Bourn is a reliable source of SB's without ruining your BA.  A lot of owners will pay a lot for that.

26.  Ben Revere, Phillies.  70 R, 0 HR, 32 RBI, .294 BA, 40 SB in 511 AB.  Will get a chance to lead off every day for the Phillies.  Could give you everything Michael Bourn gives you and you probably won't have to pay as much.

27.  Alex Gordon, Royals.  93 R, 14 HR, 72 RBI, .294 BA, 10 SB in 642 AB.  Gordon had a bit of a down year and was still pretty good.

28.  Alfonso Soriano, Cubs.  68 RBI, 32 HR, 108 RBI, .262 BA, 6 SB in 561 AB.  The 30/30 days are long gone but there is still lightning in the bat.

29.  Carlos Gomez, Brewers.  72 R, 19 HR, 51 RBI, .260 BA, 37 SB in 415 AB.  Came within 1 HR of a 20/20 season.  Appears to have the CF job to himself in Beer Town.

30.  Mark Trumbo, Angels.  66 R, 32 HR, 95 RBI, .268 BA, 4 SB in 544 AB.  Defensively challenged, but with a ton of power in his bat.  He should get more AB this year in Angel Town, but tailed off a bit in the second half last year.

31.  Jayson Werth, Nationals.  42 R, 5 HR, 31 RBI, .300 AB, 8 SB in 300 AB.  Werth has become a forgotten man after losing half a season to injury.  The broken arm should be fully healed.

32.  Angel Pagan, Giants.  95 R, 8 HR, 56 RBI, .288 BA, 29 SB in 605 AB.  A bit inconsistent, but over the course of a season should give you solid BA, R, SB's.

33.  Desmond Jennings, Rays.  85 R, 13 HR, 47 RBI, .246 BA, 31 SB in 505 AB.  The BA was a bit disappointing but is just starting what should be an excellent career.  Lots of room for these numbers to go up.

34.  Norichika Aoki, Brewers.  81 R, 10 HR, 50 RBI, .288 BA, 30 SB in 520 AB.  Pleasant surprise for the Brewers and for fantasy owners last year.

35.  Starling Marte, Pirates.  18 R, 5 HR, 17 RBI, .257 BA, 12 SB in 167 AB.  Don't sleep on this guy!  True 5 tool stud in the making.

36.  Dayan Viciedo, White Sox.  64 R, 25 HR, 78 RBI, .255 BA, 0 SB in 505 AB.  Runs hot and cold.  Will hit 7-8 HR's in a week then go cold for a month, but will give you nice power numbers over a full season with room for more.

37.  Hunter Pence, Giants.  87 R, 24 HR, 104 RBI, .253 BA, 5 SB in 585 AB.  Has been remarkably consistent over the course of his career, but the days of double digit SB's are probably over.  He hopefully will give similar power numbers but with a better BA in 2013.

38.  Josh Reddick, A's.  85 R, 32 HR, 85 RBI, .242 BA, 11 SB in 611 AB.  Came out of nowhere last year, but tailed off badly at the end of the season.

39.  Shane Victorino, Red Sox.  72 R, 11 HR, 55 RBI, .255 BA, 39 SB in 595 AB.  A bit of a down year in 2012, but there are not that many players who will give you close to 40 SB with double digit dingers.

40.  Ichiro Suzuki, Yankees.  77 R, 9 HR, 55 RBI, .283 BA, 29 SB in 629 AB.  Probably nearing the end of his career, but 29 SB's with a .283 BA is not nothing.

41.  Josh Willingham, Twins.  85 R, 35 HR, 110 RBI, .260 BA, 3 SB in 519 AB.  Some people are questioning whether he can repeat these numbers, but Willingham has always been able to hit as long as a team is willing to put up with his bad D.  I think I should have ranked him higher here, but too much work to change it now.

42. Adam Eaton, D'Backs.  19 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, .259 BA, 2 SB in 85 AB.  D'Backs traded away Chris Young to make room for this guy.  He has more speed than it looks like from these numbers and tremendous on-base skills.  Will be the everyday CF and leadoff batter in Arizona.

43.  Torii Hunter, Tigers.  81 R, 16 HR, 92 RBI, .313 BA, 9 SB in 534 AB.  Hunter is still sneakily productive and is motivated to show the Angels they made a mistake in letting him go.

44.  Dexter Fowler, Rockies.  72 R, 13 HR, 53 RBI, .300 BA, 12 SB in 454 AB.  Fowler has the talent to have a breakout 5 category season, but has never seemed to be able to maintain traction.

45.  Justin Ruggiano, Marlins.  38 R, 13 HR, 36 RBI, .313 BA, 14 SB in 288 AB.  Ruggiano will get  chance at 600 AB this year in Miami.  Question is if these numbers can be sustained for a whole season.  Nice flyer at the end of the draft.

46.  Andre Ethier, Dodgers.  79 R, 20 HR, 89 RBI, .283 BA, 2 SB in 556 AB.  Always seems to get off to fast starts to seasons but tails off in the second halves.  Decent overall numbers though.  The Dodger fans in my league always overpay for him.

47.  Cody Ross, D'Backs.  70 R, 22 HR, 81 RBI, .267 BA, 2 SB in 476 AB.  Lands a starting gig in Arizona in the wake of the Justin Upton trade.  The ballpark there is hitter friendly, but it doesn't have a Green Monster to hit pop flies over.

48.  Nelson Cruz, Rangers.  86 R, 24 HR, 90 RBI, .260 BA, 8 SB in 585 AB.  Named in the Miami drug lab scandal.  Otherwise solid producer.

49.  John Jay, Cardinals.  70 R, 4 HR, 40 RBI, .305 BA, 19 SB in 443 AB.  Seems to have soidified starting CF gig in St. Louis.

50.  Alejandro De Aza, White Sox.  81 R, 9 HR, 50 RBI, .281 BA, 26 SB in 524 AB.  Sneaky source of SB's.

Rookie Watch:  Oscar Tavares, Wil Myers and Billy Hamilton.

If you miss out on the heavyweights, Braun and Trout, I would skip over the second tier and try to land at least 2 out of Harper, Cespedes, Heyward and Adam Jones.  Don't be afraid to pay for them either.  You can then easily fill in the rest of your OF and Utility slots at the end of the draft in bargain basement time.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

News and Notes: Spring Follies

We have reached the silly point in the offseason where there are few, if any, moves left to make.  Everybody is starving for baseball, but there is none being played.  Pretty much ANYTHING counts as a story no matter how trivial and unrelated to baseball activities.  Players quotes about being "in the best shape of my life" are popping up all over the internet.

One guy we are NOT hearing that about this spring is Pablo Sandoval.  Pablo came to FanFest weekend sporting a respiratory infection and was promptly sent packing to Scottsdale with parting instructions to work on his weight and conditioning.  Bruce Bochy asked Pablo point blank how much he weighs and was reportedly "satisfied" with the answer, but acknowledged Pablo has some work to do.  That may be difficult with the WBC interruption and all.  A quick glance through Google Images of Pablo in his VWL Magallanes uniform.....well, let's just say he is not thin!

Perhaps the biggest news in the Giants organization is Angel Villalona finally getting a visa to come to the U.S.  He is on the 40 man roster, so will be in major league spring training camp in Arizona.  Angel V played in the DSL last summer after being cleared of murder charges in his native Dominican Republic.  OGC has a  nice summary of the history of this story over on  What he looks like in spring training, where he is assigned for the 2013 season and how he performs will be one of the more interesting story lines of the upcoming season.  

Just a quick review of his DSL line:  .303/.430/.497, 7 HR, 23 BB, 40 K in 155 AB.  As ogc pointed out, at age 21 with stateside experience, Angel was a man among boys in the DSL, so those numbers have to be looked at in that context but at least the power was there.  As someone said in the comments of a previous post, he's probably at least a 3 year project at this point, but that would put him in the majors at age 25 which is not terrible at all.

In other news.....

Tim Lincecum showed up with a new preppy haircut and professorial looking glasses.  About the only thing missing from the look was a plastic pocket protector!  I really don't care what Timmy's hair looks like.  I just hope he put on a few pounds of lean body mass since the end of last season, but it would be awesome if he rocked those glasses out on the mound!

There were some guarded comments to the press from all parties about the catching situation and whether there are problems between Timmy and Buster Posey.  Buster referred to it as "speculation", said he and Timmy have a "great relationship" and "ultimately we both want the same thing, and that's to win."  Then he added that it's Bruce Bochy who makes out the lineups and referred further questions to him.  Bochy responded by saying he didn't see it as an issue and pointed out that Buster and Timmy worked well together in October, "they'll carry that into the spring."  Timmy's comment:  "If you are there for the right reasons and to win, it shouldn't really matter.....I feel like last year with us throwing together in the playoffs a few times, it'll help springboard us into that comfort level."  Notice that Timmy is referring to "comfort level" in the future tense here.  That may be parsing things a bit too fine, but you get the feeling that there is at least an ember of fire behind all this smoke.

My take is that both Timmy and Barry Zito proved they could pitch very successfully with Buster putting down the fingers and framing the pitches during the postseason.  That's about as big as it gets.  Bochy may well run a set catcher/off day/1B rotation with Buster to help save his legs for the long haul which may match him up with certain pitchers more than others.  Pitcher performance with the two catchers should not be an issue going forward with the proof being in the 2012 postseason.  Oh, and the Naysayers need to understand that Buster will not and should not catch 162 games.  If Bochy puts him at 1B some of those off-days, it's not a choice between Brandon Belt and Hector Sanchez but a choice between Belt and Buster Posey.  

Speaking of which, word is out that Brandon Belt will be taking flyballs in LF during spring training.  The Giraffe says he put on 4-6 pounds of "muscle" during the offseason, which I think is another way of saying he's in the best shape of his life.

Brian Sabean held a presser yesterday.  A bit of a dust storm blew up between Sabes and Brian Wilson's agent, Dan Lozano.  Sabes insists that Wilson is looking for more guaranteed money while Lozano fired back that money has not been discussed.  Sabes strongly implied that the Giants have made an incentive based offer that has not been accepted which is circumstantial evidence that Wilson's camp is indeed looking for more guaranteed money.    Sabes stated flatly that the Giants will not be signing any more guaranteed money contracts before the season starts.  Gotta think that at this point, BWillie's ship has sailed out of the bay.

Sabes also stated that the Giants have "lost contact" with Ryan Theriot, mainly because The Riot is looking for more playing time than he is likely to get with the Giants.  Sabes went on to say that there are a few roster spots up for grabs with bullpen, a utility IF and extra OF slots still undecided. Tony Abreu, Wilson Valdez, Kensuke Tanaka and Nick Noonan would appear to be the candidates for the last IF position.  I gotta think Tanaka has the inside track, although Abreu did score a 40 man roster spot.  The last OF slot should be between Francisco Peguero, Roger Kieschnick and Cole Gillespie.  Gary Brown will not make the 25 man roster unless he is starting, which is highly unlikely.

Barry Zito said he wants to finish his career as a Giant and is open to a contract extension.  This would seem to raise the possibility of a contract extension with the $7 M buyout for 2014 as the starting point for discussion of a per-year salary as an alternative to buyout vs picking up the option for $18 M.

Hot Tip:  Check out Inside the San Jose Giants podcast with Joe Ritzo over at  Nice discussion, although it moves a bit slowly, of what to look for on the SJ Giants roster in 2013.

Is anybody going to FanFest today?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments section.  5 days until pitchers and catchers report.  Can't wait!

Friday, February 8, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #50: Kentrell Hill

Kentrell Hill, OF.  DOB:  10/27/1990.  6'0, 180 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

Short Season(Salem-Keizer):  .283/.404/.323, 8 SB, 10 CS, 40 BB, 50 K's in 198 AB.

Kentrell Hill was the Giants 10'th round draft choice in 2011.  His BA pre-draft scouting report described him as having "loud tools."  It went on to say he is "raw at the plate", and "power will be his last tool to come."  He received praise for intangibles such as work ethic, aptitude and makeup.  He had modest results from his first pro experience in the AZL in 2011, and appeared to make progress at the higher level in 2012.  The BA was solid and the walk rate tremendous.  He could stand to cut down on his K's, although that is likely a byproduct of his selectivity at the plate.  And of course, the power needs to develop more too as well as his SB success rate.  He is the kind of toolsy sleeper in the system who I like to slot into the #50 spot.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #49: Derek Law

Derek Law, RHP.  DOB:  9/14/1990.  6'3", 218 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

Low A:  5-2, 2.91, 55.2 IP, 23 BB, 67 K, GO/AO= 1.13, BAA= .216, 2 Saves.

Law was drafted out of JC ball in the 9'th round 2011.  BA's pre-draft scouting report had him with a FB in the 89-93 range with a power downer curve with a comment that he "scares off talent evaluators with his rough arm action and hard delivery."  He appeared for 18 IP in Arizona ball in 2011 with 4 Saves and 19 K's against just 2 BB's.  He had a solid season for Augusta in 2012.  Even in July, when his ERA ballooned up to 5.11, he had 18 K's against just 4 BB's in 12.1 IP.  I expect to see him pitching out of the bullpen in San Jose in 2013.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Fantasy Focus: Chris Carpenter's Career Over?

Yesterday, the St. Louis Cardinals held a press conference to announce that Chris Carpenter will miss the 2013 season due to recurrent symptoms in his arm after last year's surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.  You may recall that TOS is the condition that the Giants medical staff supposedly missed in Noah Lowry, but I digress.  While they did not announce Carpenter's retirement, this is probably more due to contractual factors than any hope he might comeback as the Cardinals clearly referred to his career in the past tense.

If, in fact, this is the end of Chris Carpenter's career, it has been a stellar one.  Not HOF stellar, but stellar, nonetheless:  15 Seasons, 144-94 W-L with a 3.76 ERA, Cy Young Award(2005), 3 time All-Star, pitched on 2 WS championship teams.  His career might have been even more impressive had it not been for numerous injuries that caused him to miss the better part of several seasons including 2002 and 2003, 2007, 2008 and 2012.  He underwent 3 major surgeries:  Shoulder 9/2003, TJ 2007, and the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery in 2012.

Carpenter was a highly regarded prospect for Toronto.  He pitched well at times for the Blue Jays but was inconsistent and shuttled between the rotation, bullpen and DL.  The Blue Jays waived him after his 2002 shoulder surgery and the Cardinals claimed him.  He then missed all of the 2003 season but rewarded the Cardinals patience with a breakout season in 2004.  His career flourished with the Cardinals where he amassed a 101-44 record including a 6-2, 2.94 ERA in post-season competition.

So, what is the Fantasy Focus here?  A presumed healthy Carpenter would have made a nice middle round target in fantasy drafts.  That's is now gone.  The news opens up a rotation spot for a young Cardinals pitcher.  Shelby Miller is the most likely choice with Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal as possibilities.  Miller would have immediate fantasy value as a likely later round draft pick with a high ceiling.  Fantasy managers should keep a close eye on Trevor Rosenthal through the spring and may want to consider drafting him as a late-late round flyer.  He will give you great numbers as a middle reliever with the possibility of moving into the rotation mid-season if there is an injury or Miller stumbles.