Philly Phools

Is anyone in Philadelphia phalling for the phluf phlowing phrom the mouth of Ruben Amaro, Jr.?  Amaro was quoted in the Reading Eagle on Sunday, saying this about Ryan Howard’s contract compared to Prince Fielder’s and Albert Pujols’ contracts:

“I’m kind of happy,” Amaro said. “Really happy because if I would’ve had to put eight or nine years on Howard’s deal right now, that would be a little disconcerting. Right now we have Howard for the next five years. I kind of like that rather than giving an eight-, nine- or 10-year deal.”

Seriously?  You’re happy that you’re paying a higher annual salary for a lesser player?  I don’t think Pujols will be worth his salary in 2015, let alone 2022, but check this out:

Pujols: 10-year, $240 million – $24 million/year

Fielder: 9-year, $214 million – $23.7 million/year

Howard: 5-year, $125 million – $25 million/year

Howard just turned 32-years-old in November, so he’ll be heading into his decline years halfway through this contract, which was signed in April of 2010 as an extension.  However, is Howard already in a decline?  Howard signed his extention after an incredible 2009:

.279/.360/.571, 105 R, 37 2B, 45 HR, 141 RBI, 186/75 K/BB with a WAR of 4.4.

Then, the extention came.

2010: .276/.353/.505, 87 R, 23 2B, 31 HR, 108 RBI, 157/59 K/BB, WAR 2.0

2011: .253/.346/.488, 81 R, 30 2B, 33 HR, 116 RBI, 172/75 K/BB, WAR 2.7

Very slowly, Howard’s batting average has gone down, his on-base percentage has gone down, and his slugging percentage has gone down.  Add in the fact that he is now coming back from a debilitating injury to the foundation of his swing, a torn Achilles tendon, and you can wonder what 2012 will bring for the slugger.  While Howard’s career strikeout rate of 27.4% includes the 25.3% that he posted in 2010 and 26.7% that he posted in 2011, he remains someone that strikes out well above the league average, which is a scary part to his aging process.  Are there Adam Dunn-2011 seasons ahead?

The issue with Philadelphia is that with their new stadium came revenue.  They’ve done well by investing the funds back into the roster, but have they done it correctly?  You never know how young guys are going to work out, but occasionally, teams need to hang onto them or at least give them a chance.  Howard deserved an extention, but probably not the length or money involved due to age and skill-set alone.  With John Mayberry, Jr. and Domonic Brown, the Phillies knew that they had talent to build around, even in April of 2010.  What have they done by locking up Howard, trading the first baseman of the future (Jonathan Singleton) for a right fielder (Hunter Pence), and blocking prospects by making trades and questionable signings?

Look at the latest!  The Phillies must loathe Domonic Brown.  They signed Juan Pierre to a Minor League contract, which, while it isn’t guaranteed, would positively block Brown from earning a roster spot.  At 6’5″, 205 lbs and 24-years of age, Brown has posted an .834 OPS over six Minor League seasons, including a .390 OBP and .843 OPS in Triple-A.  Pierre’s career OBP is .345, his career OPS is .708, and if you’re getting him for his speed…he was 27 of 44 stealing last year, 61.4%.

Ruben Amaro, Jr. needs to look around the National League East.  The Marlins are building, the Braves are still there, and the Nationals look legit.  He really needs to phocus on phinding talent within and building around it.  Pretty soon, phans will phind out that his contracts and the way that he has built the roster will be a pharce.


Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Catchers

I’ll be compiling lists of the top players at each position for 2012 Fantasy Baseball in the coming weeks.  Overall rankings will consist of their value in a points format, earning points for each H, R, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, basically a formula of Total Bases + RBI + Runs = Total Value.  I’ll begin with catchers.  You’ll see their stats for 2011 below their names with 2012 Projections in ITALICS

1. Mike Napoli, Texas

.320/.414/.631, 25 2B, 30 HR, 75 RBI, 85/58 K/BB in 369 AB

.295/.389/.560, 30 2B, 27 HR, 81 RBI, 101/68 K/BB in 446 AB

Napoli has always had power but he sat so often for the AMAZING Jeff Mathis on the Angels that he never got a chance to truly breakout.  He finally got a chance and became a near-MVP talent in Texas in 2011.  He may not repeat the AVG, but the power is real, especially in that lineup and ballpark.

2. Carlos Santana, Cleveland

.239/.351/.457, 35 2B, 27 HR, 79 RBI, 133/97 K/BB in 552 AB

.279/.401/.531, 31 2B, 33 HR, 91 RBI, 123/101 K/BB in 549 AB

I may be higher on Santana than most, but he’ll make more contact in 2012 and he posted these numbers in his first full season.  The sky is the limit and the value in Santana is that he plays 1B and DH when he isn’t behind the plate.

3. Alex Avila, Detroit

.295/.389/.506, 33 2B, 19 HR, 82 RBI, 131/73 K/BB in 464 AB

.286/.391/.511, 35 2B, 21 HR, 86 RBI, 124/76 K/BB in 471 AB

4. Yadier Molina, St. Louis

.305/.349/.465, 32 2B, 16 HR, 65 RBI, 44/33 K/BB in 475 AB

.301/.342/.437, 29 2B, 14 HR, 63 RBI, 46/36 K/BB in 461 AB

5. Buster Posey, San Francisco

.311/.374/.521, 31 2B, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 83/65 K/BB in 476 AB

We all know about his injury last year, but reports show he is ready.  His 2010 stats were: .305/.357/.505, 23 2B, 18 HR, 67 RBI, 55/30 K/BB in 406 AB.  Expect the same, maybe more.

6. Miguel Montero, Arizona

.282/.351/.469, 36 2B, 18 HR, 86 RBI, 97/47 K/BB in 493 AB

.276/.349/.471, 33 2B, 20 HR, 84 RBI, 101/56 K/BB in 489 AB

7. Brian McCann, Atlanta

.270/.351/466, 19 2B, 24 HR, 71 RBI, 89/57 K/BB in 466 AB

.281/.363/.485, 21 2B, 22 HR, 79 RBI, 81/71 K/BB in 483 AB

8. Matt Wieters, Baltimore

.262/.328/.450, 28 2B, 22 HR, 68 RBI, 84/48 K/BB in 500 AB

.276/.339/.490, 29 2B, 27 HR, 84 RBI, 97/61 K/BB in 506 AB

9. Joe Mauer, Minnesota

.287/.360/.368, 15 2B, 3 HR, 30 RBI, 38/32 K/BB in 296 AB

.313/.394/.411, 31 2B, 8 HR, 71 RBI, 79/76 K/BB in 496 AB

It’s well documented about Mauer’s knee issues last season.  I can see him taking a Carlos Santana/Victor Martinez approach to stay in the lineup.  He won’t ever come close to his 2009 power outburst, but he can have value due to the ability to drive the ball in the gaps of Target Field.

10. Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati

.180/.226/.360, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 10/3 K/BB in 50 AB

.265/.329/.449, 18 2B, 14 HR, 59 RBI, 72/21 K/BB in 374 AB

Mesoraco will be a top catcher once he isn’t sharing the position.  He’s capable of hitting 15 homers in about 350 AB, and will settle into the Cincinnati lineup near Votto and Bruce to see plenty of good pitches.  He’s someone to watch in Keeper Leagues, but he’ll have value right away.

11. Geovany Soto, Chicago (N.L.)

.228/.310/.411, 26 2B, 17 HR, 54 RBI, 124/45 K/BB in 421 AB

.268/.335/.445, 28 2B, 23 HR, 73 RBI, 147/56 K/BB in 447 AB

Shoulder woes have sapped Soto’s value and possibly led to some offensive struggles, particularly with strikeouts, in 2011.  He may become a trade chip for the rebuilding Cubs in 2012, but he needs to build his value and show that he is healthy.  He can still hit, but can he do it consistently?

12. Jonathan LuCroy, Milwaukee

.265/.313/.391, 16 2B, 12 HR, 59 RBI, 99/29 K/BB in 430 AB

.269/.318/.401, 21 2B, 13 HR, 54 RBI, 112/41 K/BB in 456 AB

13. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston

.235/.288/.450, 23 2B, 16 HR, 56 RBI, 119/24 K/BB in 358 AB

.251/.301/.450, 27 2B, 19 HR, 62 RBI, 126/38 K/BB in 438 AB

It wasn’t always pretty last year for “Salty,” but he shows enough power and plays in the right lineup, so he has value.  He has always been huge and awkward behind the plate, but the Red Sox only have Ryan Lavarnway ready, and he isn’t ready defensively, and may never be ready defensively, to steal time from him.

14. J.P. Arencibia, Toronto

.219/.282/.438, 20 2B, 23 HR, 78 RBI, 133/36 K/BB in 443 AB

.231/.313/.479, 25 2B, 24 HR, 83 RBI, 145/31 K/BB in 471 AB

Arencibia doesn’t have a whole lot of time to hold down this job.  If he doesn’t show that he can make consistent contact in 2012, he may lose time to Travis d’Arnaud really soon.  Even being young, he may find himself as trade bait or moved off of the position.  We’ll see if that is enough motivation for him.

15. Russell Martin, New York (A.L.)

.237/.324/.408, 17 2B, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 81/50 K/BB in 417 AB

.249/.337/.415, 19 2B, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 80/61 K/BB in 443 AB

16. Wilson Ramos, Washington

.267/.334/.445, 22 2B, 15 HR, 52 RBI, 76/38 K/BB in 389 AB

.271/.339/.456, 24 2B, 19 HR, 68 RBI, 91/49 K/BB in 467 AB

17. Chris Ianetta, Los Angeles (A.L.)

.238/.370/.414, 17 2B, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 89/70 K/BB in 345 AB

.242/.359/.408, 19 2B, 12 HR, 57 RBI, 91/76 K/BB in 453 AB

18. Kurt Suzuki, Oakland

.237/.301/.385, 26 2B, 14 HR, 44 RBI, 64/38 K/BB in 460 AB

.229/.291/.376, 21 2B, 10 HR, 38 RBI, 71/31 K/BB in 398 AB

19. Miguel Olivo, Seattle

.224/.253/.388, 19 2B, 19 HR, 62 RBI, 140/20 K/BB in 477 AB

.212/.239/.371, 17 2B, 12 HR, 39 RBI, 131/16 K/BB in 348 AB

20. John Buck, Miami

.227/.316/.367, 16 2B, 15 HR, 57 RBI, 115/54 K/BB in 466 AB

.234/.327/.381, 18 2B, 16 HR, 54 RBI, 111/58 K/BB in 439 AB


Travis d’Arnaud – TOR

Wilin Rosario – COL

Jesus Monter0 – SEA: He’d be a top 10 talent “IF” he gets Catcher Eligibility

Yasmani Grandal – SD

Christian Bethancourt – ATL

Sebastian Valle – PHI

Gary Sanchez – NY (A.L.)

Derek Norris – OAK

Andrew Susac – SF

GM for the Day: Tampa Bay Rays

Losing the greatest player in their brief history, Carl Crawford (arguably), was supposed to lead the Rays back to the basement in 2011.  Instead, they swiped the Wild Card from the floundering Red Sox on the last day of the season and lost in the ALDS to the AL pennant-winning Rangers, finishing 91-71 for their 4th straight winning season.  The Rays managed to keep their General Manager, Andrew Friedman, who has developed an incredible system of winning from within.  With graduates from the system like Matt Moore and Desmond Jennings joining the squad for a full season in 2012, it’s easy to see why the Rays are a team that is built to win now and in the future.  Here is a look at their current roster:

2 Catchers: Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton

1B: Carlos Pena

2B: Ben Zobrist

3B: Evan Longoria

SS: Sean Rodriguez

LF: Desmond Jennings

CF: B.J. Upton

RF: Matt Joyce

DH: Luke Scott

Bench: Sam Fuld (OF), Reid Brignac (2B/SS), Jeff Keppinger (INF)

Starting Pitchers: David Price, James Shields, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, and Jeff Niemann

Relief Pitchers: Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, J.P. Howell, Jake McGee, Juan Cruz, Andy Sonnanstine, and Fernando Rodney

In an effort to save payroll, the Rays have been shopping B.J. Upton for what feels like forever.  They should hold tight on him for 2012, as they don’t have any other prospects coming up to push him, as Jennings can man left for another season before taking over center if Upton leaves via Free Agency in 2013.  If they feel that it is necessary to move him, they could move Jennings to center, Zobrist to right, Joyce to left, and make Keppinger their everyday second baseman, which isn’t very pretty.  They could also move Rodriguez to second and start Brignac at short, hoping he isn’t as awful as he was in 2011.  They DO, however, need to do something about their catching situation.  Molina isn’t the answer there.  They let Kelly Shoppach go and they have some questions as backups.

Rumors have been all over about the Reds dealing catching depth to the Rays, but after letting Ramon Hernandez walk and dealing prospect Yasmani Grandal to San Diego, they aren’t as deep there as they once were.  For the Reds sake, though, (and especially their fans), they could deal Ryan Hanigan to Tampa, along with a solid arm or outfielder (like Daniel Corcino or Yorman Rodriguez) for Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann, preferably Niemann as Davis is locked up to a nice deal.  It would help both teams and the Reds could let Devin Mesoraco play catcher for about 120 games to see what they have there, which is apparently something special, while grabbing a veteran to handle the 1-2 games per week he would need off.  The Rays have enough pitching depth, as Alex Cobb and Davis look like they’ll either be long relief guys or Triple-A depth as it stands now, while they’d get stronger offensively at catcher by grabbing Hanigan.  At this point, making trades is about all that they are going to get value out of, as remaining Free Agents are not looking pretty.  Outside of catcher, the Rays look set.  Mikie Mahtook may need until mid-2013 before taking over in left, and the Rays have Moore, Alex Torres, Alex Colome, Chris Archer, and Taylor Guerrieri as top-level pitching prospects, so they aren’t going away anytime soon.

After dealing for Ryan Hanigan, this would be their 25-man roster:

2 Catchers: Ryan Hanigan and Jose Molina

1B: Carlos Pena

2B: Ben Zobrist

3B: Evan Longoria

SS: Sean Rodriguez

LF: Desmond Jennings

CF: B.J. Upton

RF: Matt Joyce

DH: Luke Scott

Bench: Sam Fuld (OF), Reid Brignac (2B/SS), Jeff Keppinger (INF)

Starting Pitchers: David Price, James Shields, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, and Wade Davis

Relief Pitchers: Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, J.P. Howell, Jake McGee, Juan Cruz, Andy Sonnanstine, and Fernando Rodney

GM for the Day: New York Yankees

What a difference a weekend makes, huh?  When the Yankees were showcasing a starting rotation that looked just a little better than the dung that the Red Sox call a rotation, with Ivan Nova, Phillip Hughes, A.J. Burnett and Freddy Garcia behind C.C. Sabathia, it looked like they were heading in the wrong direction, as well.  Suddenly, the Yankees traded super-prospect Jesus Montero to Seattle for Michael Pineda and they signed Free Agent Hiroki Kuroda, then you’re wondering what role two of Burnett, Hughes, and Garcia will have with the club in 2012.  The roster is still aging, and the contracts that were forced to Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter will probably come back to bite them in the buttocks, but they still have one thing going for them.  Money…and lots of it.  Here is a look at the current 25-man roster:

2 Catchers: Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli

1B: Mark Teixeira

2B: Robinson Cano

3B: Alex Rodriguez

SS: Derek Jeter

LF: Brett Gardner

CF: Curtis Granderson

RF: Nick Swisher

DH: Andruw Jones

Bench: Eduardo Nunez (INF), Ramiro Pena (INF) and Chris Dickerson (OF)

Starting Pitchers: C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda, and Freddy Garcia

Relief Pitchers: Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Boone Logan, Corey Wade, Phillip Hughes and A.J. Burnett

You have Garcia, who can’t be traded until June due to his contract, at the back of the rotation to build value.  He could be bumped for Burnett, who still has two-years and $33 million on his deal, to see if they can get something out of their investment.  He could be bumped for Hughes, who will need to show something to become a part of the Yankees future.  It’s a nice “problem” to have, especially after looking lot a hot mess just a week ago.

The offense is an interesting blend.  They have a young, speedy left fielder in Brett Gardner (28).  They have the future of the organization, their best and most valuable asset, Robinson Cano.  They have a slugger in his prime who has changed his swing and become a menace to pitchers around the league, Curtis Granderson.  Then, they have the declining stars: Jeter, Rodriguez, and Teixeira.  Why is Teixeira’s name there?  He’ll be 32 in 2012 and his OPS since joining the Yankees in 2009: .948, .846 and .835; however, people tend to focus on Jeter’s decline and A-Rod’s decline because it has been so obvious.  When Rodriguez opted out of his contract after the 2007 season, did they really think that a 10-year deal for a 32-year-old was a good idea?  Well, do the numbers 138, 124, 137, and 99 mean anything to you?  Those are the number of games Rodriguez has played since 2008.  Not to mention his OPS has dropped from  Good luck with Pujols, Angels.  Jeter will be 38 in 2012 and he has declined since 2009; however, not as drastic as some would think.  He did have a .297 AVG and .355 OBP in 2011, but it’s the .388 SLG that is killing his “value.”  His WAR was a career worst 0.7 in 2011.  He still has value…he just isn’t driving the ball and his range stinks.  Jeter certainly isn’t worth the 3-year, $51 million deal he got before 2011.  Public relations can be a bitch.

So, what can the Yankees do from here?  They could get a DH.  Rumors have Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada and Lou Gehrig returning to the Yankees…Actually, add Carlos Pena, Raul Ibanez, and Vladimir Guerrero to the list of “legendary” Yankees.  All of these guys can get coffee for $1 at McDonald’s all day (old…), but they could be had for pennies on that dollar.  Due to the left-handed power alley, I’d take Carlos Pena.  Pena is also a solid defender at first, so he could spell Teixeira there on occasion.  The Yankees could then put Jones into a reserve outfielder or right-handed platoon at DH-role, utilizing his power and strengthening the bench.  Chris Dickerson is a decent 4th outfielder, and suddenly, the Yankees are just as poor as the Red Sox and can’t pay a luxury-tax.  Cry me a river big market.  Welcome to reality!  They’ll settle with Dickerson there.

The rotation is set, the bullpen is loaded, and you have depth with Hughes, Burnett, and/or Garcia in the pen.  I wonder when over-working kills Robertson the way that it killed Scott Proctor, but ride him while he’s there.  The Yankees are basically locked in at this point with the roster.  A DH is about all you’ll see them reach out for, and they should be able to get a veteran that wants to win a championship to sign on the cheap to fill that role.  So, this is the new roster based on my simple moves:

2 Catchers: Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli

1B: Mark Teixeira

2B: Robinson Cano

3B: Alex Rodriguez

SS: Derek Jeter

LF: Brett Gardner

CF: Curtis Granderson

RF: Nick Swisher

DH: Carlos Pena

Bench: Andruw Jones (DH/OF), Eduardo Nunez (INF) and Chris Dickerson (OF)

Starting Pitchers: C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda and A.J. Burnett

Relief Pitchers: Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Boone Logan, Corey Wade, Phillip Hughes and Freddy Garcia

GM for the Day: Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox suffered through an interesting 2011 season.  The biggest collapse in baseball history was a terrible way to end it, but fans looking for big changes aren’t getting them this offseason.  The team doesn’t look to be spending money, as ownership doesn’t want to go over the luxury-tax threshold, causing a patchwork rotation and a Winter of a lack of movement in Free Agency.  The team did make a couple of trades, grabbing some bullpen help from Houston and Oakland, along with their “right fielder of the future(?)” in Ryan Sweeney.  Let’s take a look at their current roster:

2 Catchers: Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach

1B: Adrian Gonzalez

2B: Dustin Pedroia

3B: Kevin Youkilis

SS: Marco Scutaro

LF: Carl Crawford

CF: Jacoby Ellsbury

RF: Ryan Sweeney

DH: David Ortiz

Bench: Mike Aviles (INF), Ryan Lavarnway (1B/C/DH), Nick Punto (INF), Darnell McDonald (OF)

Starting Pitchers: Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard and Vicente Padilla

Relief Pitchers: Andrew Bailey, Mark Melancon, Bobby Jenks, Franklin Morales, Alfredo Aceves and Matt Albers

The Red Sox are FINALLY out from under J.D. Drew’s contract, but they’ve invested huge amounts of money into Adrian Gonzalez (so far, so good) and Carl Crawford (huge flop).  They also gambled on John Lackey’s arm and lost, and have dealt with ups, downs and, eventually, injuries to Daisuke Matsuzaka.  Due to those monetary issues, the Red Sox find themselves in a tough situation.  If ownership isn’t going to pay the luxury-tax, are they going to be willing to face the backlash from fans who, suddenly, are used to winning?  With Lester, Beckett and Buchholz (if healthy), the Sox have a solid foundation at 1-3 in the rotation, but the rest of it is a nightmare.  The bullpen looked like a total loss, but they dealt Josh Reddick and a couple of prospect for Bailey and Sweeney, then dealt Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland to Houston for Mark Melancon.  However, they have Vicente Padilla, Daniel Bard, Andrew Miller, Aaron Cook and other fecal matter to fill out their rotation.  You have to wonder if they were hoping the Cubs tossed Matt Garza to them for Theo Epstein because Ben Cherington has really done nothing to address the need for starters.  Signing off the scrap heap isn’t something that the 2004-current Red Sox have done.  There isn’t anything else out there if they aren’t willing to fork over cash for Edwin Jackson.  They can wait for  Matsuzaka to come back in the middle of 2012, he is making his way back from Tommy John surgery, to see if he has anything left in the final year of his deal.  Lackey is out for all of 2012 after having Tommy John surgery in November.  The current list of “solid arms” that remain Free Agents would be: Jackson, Roy Oswalt, Javier Vazquez (he hasn’t “officially” retired), Kevin Millwood, Brad Penny, Scott Kazmir, Rich Harden, and Livan Hernandez.  Not really the “outstanding” group, eh?  For what it’s worth, they could probably get Millwoord, Penny, Harden or Hernandez on a Minor League deal at this point.  Those guys will be looking for a landing spot where they could break camp with the team, and based on Daniel Bard’s September and awful results as a starter in the Minors and Vicente Padilla’s absolutely terrible looking face, any one of them could be better fits, although, they are just more of the scrap heap-types.

The offense is solid.  There is no way that Carl Crawford is as bad as he was in 2011.  Take into account that in 2011 his K-rate was 19.3% (compared to a career 14.7% rate), his BB-rate was 4.3% (compared to a career 5.3% rate), his BABIP was .299 (his career BABIP is .328), a career low OBP (.289), a career worst in steals (18, stole 9 in 63 games in 2002 but it wasn’t a full season), and a suck-factor of “holy crap”, and you know he is going to become an average Carl Crawford in 2012, if not the actual Crawford, who can be an All-Star and change a lineup and game due to his power and speed blend.  Ryan Sweeney could be considered the weak link, as Marco Scutaro is there for his glove but is still a solid on-base guy, but is he that bad?  Sweeney has a .286/.346/.383 slash in 1,051 AB since 2009.  He has a 156/97 K/BB, 62 2B, 8 3B…but just 8 HR.  He has just 8 SB in the same time period, too.  Sweeney has a solid glove and excellent gap power.  He could create a career out of slapping the ball the opposite way off of the Green Monster.  He could also make a living by being on the field, something Drew never could do.  Sox fans shouldn’t dismiss the skills Sweeney has.  He doesn’t have the name and he may not possess the power that Josh Reddick seemed to, but in the world of statistics and an organization that uses them, Sweeney could be very, very valuable.

If the Sox don’t get some starting pitching, the least they could do is grab an outfielder.  Darnell McDonald may have been the only player who showed up in the September collapse (.382 AVG, .950 OPS), but he stinks.  He can’t hit lefties, so if they want to platoon Sweeney, who has hit just .240/.316/.312 in 221 AB vs. lefties since 2009, then they need an upgrade at the #4 outfielder spot.  A solid fit, who wouldn’t cost too much (if he’ll accept the little bit of playing time), would be Jonny Gomes.  Gomes has hit .298/.383/.492 in 356 AB vs. lefties since 2009, smashing 23 2B and 14 HR.  He could fill in at DH on occasion, but he may look ugly out in right field.  He made five starts in right last season, but hadn’t played there since 2009 prior to that.  I’m not sure the value that Ryan Lavarnway provides on the current roster.  He could get sent back down to Triple-A to get regular at bats.  They could give Ryan Kalish some time to rot on the bench to start the year, especiallly after Carl Crawford’s wrist surgery that could keep him from starting the season healthy.  I had mentioned trading him in a package to Baltimore to acquire Nick Markakis.  The O’s probably wouldn’t do the deal until they accept that they stink worse than Boston’s current rotation; however, the deal still makes sense.  If ownership will open their purses (satchels?) and spend on the Sox instead of their soccer team, this deal could happen.  Wait until the Red Sox stink and Henry and Co. keep investing in the sport that doesn’t matter to Americans!  You think the blame game on Francona and clubhouse drinking got ugly this past offseason…

I think signing Livan Hernandez in that ballpark would be a joke.  Brad Penny still has, what seems to be, a heavy fastball, so he could do well in Boston on a Minor League deal.  I think ownership is serious about playing the “broke” game, so don’t count on another deal.  Gomes would be a solid platoon partner for Sweeney.  So, making just a couple of simple deals, the roster would change to:

2 Catchers: Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach

1B: Adrian Gonzalez

2B: Dustin Pedroia

3B: Kevin Youkilis

SS: Marco Scutaro

LF: Carl Crawford

CF: Jacoby Ellsbury

RF: Ryan Sweeney

DH: David Ortiz

Bench: Mike Aviles (INF), Ryan Kalish (OF), Nick Punto (INF), Jonny Gomes (OF)

Starting Pitchers: Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Brad Penny and Vicente Padilla

Relief Pitchers: Andrew Bailey, Mark Melancon, Bobby Jenks, Franklin Morales, Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard

The Over-valuing of New York Prospects

Should anyone deal with the Yankees?

I am not someone who screams East Coast bias on every whim, nor am I a true hater of the big spenders; however, I am someone who has sat back and watched the “hype machine” of the media create an over-valuing of talent that lives within the organizations of New York.  It doesn’t stop with baseball, but it begins there; I mean, Eli Manning won a championship because of a great defense and a guy caught a ball on his helmet…Trent Dilfer won a title, too.  Baseball, as a fan and writer for the sport, has been a wasteland of trades and hype for New York for as long as I can remember.

When Brien Taylor was drafted in 1991, I was 11-years-old.  I remember some crazy discussions about Taylor’s value, and it could have had something to do with Scott Boras being involved in his signing.  Regardless, that is where it began for me.  Sure, the Yankees built from within with Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, but that is where it started and ended for me…and baseball.  The Yankees began buying their talent, the talent that they couldn’t draft, spending crazy money on Free Agents.  Yet, when they couldn’t get who they needed via Free Agency, they dealt their top prospects around for the final touches.  Here is your example (via Baseball America):

Year Player, Pos 2011 Org
2002 Drew Henson, 3b Out of baseball
2003 Jose Contreras, rhp Phillies
2004 Dioner Navarro, c Dodgers
2005 Eric Duncan, 3b Cardinals
2006 Phil Hughes, rhp Yankees
2007 Phil Hughes, rhp Yankees
2008 Joba Chamberlain, rhp Yankees
2009 Austin Jackson, of Tigers
2010 Jesus Montero, c Yankees
2011 Jesus Montero, c Yankees

The last ten seasons have created a solid example from the Yankees perspective, but the Mets are just a mess right now and they’re trading talent or letting them go to save money.  However, if you look at some of their prospects, they have been quite the hyped talent, as well:

Year Player, Position 2011
2002 Aaron Heilman, rhp Pirates
2003 Jose Reyes, ss Mets
2004 Kazuo Matsui, ss Rakuten (Japan)
2005 Lastings Milledge, of White Sox
2006 Lastings Milledge, of White Sox
2007 Mike Pelfrey, rhp Mets
2008 Fernando Martinez, of Mets
2009 Fernando Martinez, of Mets
2010 Jenrry Mejia, rhp Mets
2011 Jenrry Mejia, rhp Mets

Starting with the reason for this piece, the Yankees.  Drew Henson is out of baseball.  What did the Yankees get for him?  Denny Neagle in 2000, who struggled to a 7-7 record and a 5.81 ERA, yet, he was the biggest arm available.  Henson immediately was unhappy in Cincinnati, as he wanted to either play for New York or play Quarterback in the NFL.  The Reds traded him back to the Yankees for another super prospect, Wily Mo Pena.  Pena showed glimpses of talent, in between miserable defense and hundreds of strikeouts, but evolved into another wasted talent, who, at 30, is out of a job in the Majors while hitting massive homeruns and improving attendance in the Minors.  Dioner Navarro was traded with Javier Vazquez to get Randy Johnson, after Vazquez sucked up New York for 32 starts.  Johnson didn’t work out great in his two seasons, either, but he was still one of the most coveted arms in history.  Navarro, however, has gone from Arizona to Los Angeles to Tampa and back to Los Angeles, while posting a career .244/.306/.353 in 1,942 career at bats.  Eric Duncan was the next “great” young player to come through the system.  After nine seasons in the Minors, he still hasn’t appeared in the Majors, while posting a career .248/.321/.412 slash, including .226/.290/.343 in Triple-A.  The jury could still be out on Phil Hughes due to injury, the same could be said for Joba Chamberlain, who was handled pretty inappropriately at times by the Yankees.  Austin Jackson gained the Yankees Curtis Granderson, which is obviously a huge upgrade over Jackson and his lack of power, patience and on-base skills.  While Jackson is still young, you have to wonder if he’ll ever be more than a great defender with some speed…if he gets on base.

The true purpose of this blast on the Yankees and the “hype machine” is the value given to Jesus Montero.  Montero was traded to Seattle with Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda and Jorge Campos on Friday night.  Montero just turned 22 in November and he is ranked in the top five of nearly every prospect list you’ll see.  Montero was a pretty good hitter in the Minors, posting a career .308/.366/.501 slash, including a .289/.351/.493 slash in two seasons at Triple-A.  The issue becomes that Montero can’t really catch in the Majors.  He has thrown out 22% of 217 would-be basestealers, while having 22 passed balls in the last two seasons.  He has the luxury of being a DH in the American League, but due to bouts of laziness in the Minors, will sitting on the pine and hitting for a living make him into another flop?

Montero’s .843 OPS in Triple-A is solid but it isn’t ELITE.  Bryce Harper posted an .893 OPS as a 18-year-old in the Minors last season, but he is a different type of talent.  How does a Triple-A slash of .275/.352/.487 look to you?  That is what Brandon Moss has done at the Triple-A level.  Very special, right?  The “super prospect” label came with the ability to catch, but Devin Mesoraco hit .283/.364/.482 in Triple-A and doesn’t get the press.  Why?  Because he isn’t a Yankee.

Today, the Yankees have a very good, young starting pitcher in Michael Pineda.  Pineda could struggle outside of Safeco Field in Seattle, but he will get more run support and showed that he can miss bats.  After making the All-Star team in his rookie season, the Yankees now have one of the better young starting pitchers in baseball, and he won’t hit Free Agency until 2017.  Some people have said that Montero was worth more than Pineda because he was better than the Alonso’s, Rizzo’s and Peacock’s who have been traded for other top arms this Winter.  Well, the Yankees could only get what they could for the young hitter, who doesn’t have a position, who was traded away because the Yankees didn’t find him valuable enough to build around…like they did with Cano, Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte, and Posada.  When a team needs a DH, why else would they give up their “top talent” unless they didn’t feel he was as valuable as others view him to be.  They’ve been doing it for years and burning teams each time.

2012 Top 50 Prospects

Below is a list of the top 50 prospects in baseball, in my opinion.  The ranking, player name, position, team, date of birth and highest level in 2011 are listed on the top line, followed by their Minor League stats for 2011 below.  The top 20 prospects have a little bit more information there, again it is my opinion of the player.  I am not a scout, I am a school teacher and father.  I read a lot of baseball and research on my own.  Leave comments about anyone you feel that I left out or under sold, I’d love to mock you for being wrong!

Top Prospects 2012

1.      Bryce Harper, OF, Washington: 10/16/92, Double-A

.297/.392/.501, 24 2B, 17 HR, 87/59 K/BB, 26 SB

Harper is as elite as it gets.  He could start the year in the Washington outfield.  His power is off the charts and he is about as can’t-miss as it gets.

2.      Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Bay: 6/18/1989, Majors

12-3, 1.92 ERA, 155 IP, 210/46 K/BB, .184 BAA

Moore was a part of the Rays Postseason roster and he’ll be a part of their Opening Day roster in 2012.  He’s better than David Price ever was, so consider him a future ace.

3.      Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis: 10/10/90, Double-A

11-6, 2.77 ERA, 139 2/3 IP, 170/53 K/BB, .219 BAA

Miller is a studly prospect in a solid organization.  He can throw strikes and he is an ace in the making.  He could be ready by mid-2012, but the Cards won’t need him unless Wainwright’s elbow isn’t all the way back, Lohse comes back to reality, or Westbrook falters.

4.      Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta: 1/27/91, Majors

15-3, 2.55 ERA, 144 2/3 IP, 122/48 K/BB, .232 BAA

His Triple-A stats don’t blow you away, but Teheran was just 20 when he was facing the vets and advanced hitters there.  He may not have struck out 10 per 9 IP, but he did well for his age.  His fastball and change are great pitches, but he still could refine his breaking ball.  If Teheran improves his curve, he could be better than any pitcher on this list.

5.      Jesus Montero, C/DH, Seattle:11/28/89, Majors

.288/.348/.467, 19 2B, 18 HR, 98/36 K/BB

Montero was just traded to Seattle, the hitter’s wasteland of the American League.  While his fantasy production could take a hit there, he is still a player with elite upside.  Montero is a DH that has caught before.  He could get enough starts there to keep catching eligibility in fantasy leagues, but he could be the 2nd Mariners DH to make the Hall of Fame…Edgar Martinez is my plug here.

6.      Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas: 2/20/93, Low-A

.286/.390/.493, 37 2B, 8 3B, 12 HR, 63/65 K/BB, 23 SB

Profar could be the 2B of the future in Texas if Elvis Andrus sticks around.  The fact that he was 18 and showing the patience and hitting skills in full-season ball makes scouts and fans drool.  His body doesn’t ooze the ability to be a power hitter in the future, but you have to wonder if some of those 37 2B will make it out of Arlington.  Alfonso Soriano wasn’t a beefy power hitter, either.

7.      Manny Machado, SS, Baltimore: 7/6/1992, High-A

.257/.335/.421, 20 2B, 5 3B, 11 HR, 73/45 K/BB, 11 SB

The comparisons to ARod coming out of High School weren’t just due to his size.  This is a future All-Star SS with power and speed.  Machado IS the future of the Baltimore organization.  If he doesn’t become the star that he looks like he could, the current 14-season long losing streak will become 20.

8.      Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati: 6/19/88, Majors

.289/.371/.484, 36 2B, 15 HR, 83/52 K/BB

Mesoraco looked like a flop of a first-round pick in 2009.  Then…2010 happened and 2011 legitimized his status as a future All-Star catcher.  By dealing Yasmani Grandal to San Diego and letting Ramon Hernandez leave via Free Agency, Cincinnati is committing to Mesoraco as their catcher right now.  He’ll split time with Ryan Hanigan, but could become a 20-25 HR hitter as soon as this season.

9.      Trevor Bauer, RHP, Arizona: 1/17/91, Double-A

1-2, 5.96 ERA, 25 2/3 IP, 43/12 K/BB, .257 BAA

Bauer didn’t have an impressive ERA, but 43 punch outs in 25 2/3 IP is just sexy.  Bauer looked better than his UCLA teammate, Gerrit Cole, in his final season there, enough to make me think that he is going to be better long-term.  He’s small, like Tim Lincecum (but not that small), but he possesses top of the rotation stuff.

10.  Jacob Turner, RHP, Detroit: 5/21/1991, Majors

4-5, 3.44 ERA, 131 IP, 110/35 K/BB, .238 BAA

Turner could be an ace or he could be the next Rick Porcello, a young starter with great stuff who was rushed to the Majors, losing his breaking ball while looking to throw strikes in the Minors.  Turner’s name keeps coming up in trade rumors, specifically for Matt Garza, but the Tigers may have a better arm here long-term.  They just need to be a little careful with him.

11.  Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington: 6/6/90, NONE

Rendon was the top college bat in the 2011 MLB Draft.  He could be an All-Star at 3B, but he’ll move to 2B if Ryan Zimmerman is going to stick around in Washington.  At 2B, if he posts numbers like he is projected to, he could become a Hall of Fame talent.  He has enough athletic ability to hold down the position, even after the ankle injury.

12.  Martin Perez, LHP, Texas: 4/4/91, Triple-A

8-6, 4.33 ERA, 137 1/3 IP, 120/56 K/BB, .284 BAA

Perez, like Teheran, was 20 last season while pitching in Triple-A.  He may have posted underwhelming statistics, but he still has a great repertoire, one that makes him an elite prospect.

13.  Wil Myers, OF, Kansas City: 12/10/90, Double-A

.254/.353/.393, 23 2B, 8 HR, 87/52 K/BB, 9 SB

Myers moved to RF from catcher last season so that he could move quicker through the system.  He didn’t post the numbers that he did in 2010, but he was slowed by various injuries in 2011 and was just 20 in Double-A.  He could repeat in Double-A in 2012 due to his struggles, but he won’t be there long when he returns to 2010 form.  That’s right…when.  He is a future star on the same side of the field as the Royals foundation, Eric Hosmer.

14.  Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis: 9/21/91, High-A

6-5, 3.93 ERA, 84 2/3 IP, 98/44 K/BB, .238 BAA

Martinez possesses upside that could make him better than future teammate Shelby Miller.  He needs to get more innings under his belt in 2012 to see what the Cardinals have.  If he does what he’s done the last couple of seasons, he’ll be a top five prospect in 2013.

15.  Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh: 11/18/91, Low-A

2-3, 3.98 ERA, 92 2/3 IP, 97/22 K/BB, .249 BAA

Taillon was babied by the Pirates in 2011, as the Bucs didn’t allow Taillon to go more than 5 innings in any start.  That is understandable: see Bobby Bradley and John Van Benschoten.  Taillon and Cole could be a solid 1-2 for Pittsburgh for years to come, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Taillon is the #1.

16.  Danny Hultzen, LHP, Seattle: 11/28/89, NONE; Played in Arizona Fall League

1-0, 1.40 ERA, 19 1/3 IP, 18/5 K/BB, .225 BAA

Hultzen has a mid-90’s fastball and is about as polished of a college arm that you will ever see.  He has huge fantasy upside due to pitching in Safeco, but he would have that wherever he would have landed.  He could start 2012 in Double-A, but if he doesn’t, he’ll get there quickly.

17.  Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle: 8/13/92, Low-A

6-5, 2.89 ERA, 96 2/3 IP, 113/39 K/BB, .202 BAA

Walker is a future ace.  He is a big kid who could fill out and become even more intriguing than he already is, which is scary.  It’ll be interesting to see what Seattle does with him, as Inland Empire of the California League could lead to a short stay and a jump to Double-A, saving Walker from confidence issues.

18.  Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh: 9/8/90, NONE; Played in Arizona Fall League

2-0, 3.00 ERA, 15 IP, 16/4 K/BB, .179 BAA

Cole was the #1 pick in the 2011 MLB Draft and he has “upside” out the wazoo.  Like I mentioned earlier, his college teammate, Trevor Bauer, seemed to out-pitch him in 2011, but Cole has the 100+ mph fastball that makes people envious.  He looked very good in the AFL, so I, like others, am looking forward to where Pittsburgh starts him and how he does.

19.  Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado: 4/16/91, High-A

.298/.349/.487, 32 2B, 20 HR, 122 RBI, 53/47 K/BB

I love this guy, maybe a bit too much.  Maybe it’s the fact that there aren’t many good third basemen in baseball right now, maybe I like when 20 year-olds post solid power numbers.  Sure, it was in the California League, but Arenado shows the ability to make contact, just 53 strikeouts in 517 at bats, and it isn’t like the Rockies ballpark isn’t a hitter’s paradise, either.  Huge upside here.

20.  Travis d’Arnaud, C, Toronto: 2/10/89, Double-A

.311/.371/.542, 33 2B, 21 HR, 100/33 K/BB

Just like Mesoraco did in 2010, d’Arnaud finally had his breakout in 2011 in Double-A, showing incredible power while developing a major issue in Toronto.  With J.P. Arencibia already in Toronto, what will the Jays do with these two power hitting monsters behind the plate?  I am wondering if the club might look to get d’Arnaud some looks at first or left field in Triple-A in 2012.  They may not want to mess with what they have, but it wouldn’t hurt their future lineup if they can keep d’Arnaud’s bat in it.

21.  Manny Banuelos, LHP, Yankees: 3/13/91, Triple-A

6-7, 3.75 ERA, 129 2/3 IP, 125/71 K/BB, .266 BAA

22.  Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco: 9/28/88, High-A

.336/.407/.519, 34 2B, 13 3B, 14 HR, 80 RBI, 77/46 K/BB, 53 SB

23.  Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Arizona: 7/13/91, Double-A

9-6, 2.96 ERA, 158 1/3 IP, 198/49 K/BB, .218 BAA

24.  Jarrod Parker, RHP, Oakland: 11/24/88, Majors

11-8, 3.79 ERA, 130 2/3 IP, 112/55 K/BB, .236 BAA

25.  Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston: 9/18/91, High-A

.298/.392/.441, 23 2B, 13 HR, 123/70 K/BB

26.  Michael Choice, OF, Oakland: 11/10/89, High-A

.285/.376/.542, 28 2B, 30 HR, 134/61 K/BB, 9 SB

27.  Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota: 5/11/93, Rookie Ball

.292/.352/.637, 18 2B, 7 3B, 20 HR, 59 RBI, 77/23 K/BB, 5 SB…267 AB

28.  Eddie Rosario, OF, Minnesota: 9/28/91, Rookie Ball

.337/.397/.670, 9 2B, 9 3B, 21 HR, 60 RBI, 60/27 K/BB, 17 SB…270 AB

29.  Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Tampa Bay: 11/4/90, Double-A

.292/.365/.416, 17 2B, 15 3B, 5 HR, 94/53 K/BB, 33 SB

30.  Zack Wheeler, RHP, Mets: 5/30/90, High-A

9-7, 3.52 ERA, 115 IP, 129/52 K/BB, .231 BAA

31.  Christian Yelich, 1B/OF, Miami: 12/5/91, Low-A

.312/.388/.484, 32 2B, 15 HR, 77 RBI, 102/55 K/BB, 32 SB

32.  Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis: 6/19/92, Low-A

.386/.444/.584, 27 2B, 5 3B, 8 HR, 62 RBI, 52/32 K/BB…308 AB

33.  Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Minnesota: 5/9/91, High-A

.291/.335/.531, 23 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 51 RBI, 70/18 K/BB

34.  Zack Cox, 3B, St. Louis: 5/9/89, Double-A

.306/.363/.434, 27 2B, 13 HR, 68 RBI, 98/40 K/BB

35.  Jean Segura, 2B/SS, Angels: 3/17/90, High-A

.281/.337/.422, 9 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 26/15 K/BB, 18 SB…185 AB

36.  Yonder Alonso, 1B, San Diego: 4/8/87, Majors

.296/.374/.486, 24 2B, 4 3B, 12 HR, 60/46 K/BB, 6 SB

37.  Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs: 8/8/89, Majors

.331/.404/.652, 34 2B, 26 HR, 101 RBI, 89/43 K/BB in 356 AB

38.  Brad Peacock, RHP, Oakland: 2/2/88, Majors

15-3, 2.39 ERA, 146 2/3 IP, 177/47 K/BB, .188 BAA

39.  James Paxton, LHP, Seattle: 11/6/88, Double-A

6-3, 2.37 ERA, 95 IP, 131/43 K/BB, .215 BAA

40.  Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Colorado: 11/22/88, Majors

4-3, 1.78 ERA, 101 IP, 119/38 K/BB, .189 BAA

41.  Yasmani Grandal, C, San Diego: 11/8/88, Triple-A

.305/.401/.500, 31 2B, 14 HR, 68 RBI, 97/59 K/BB

42.  Trevor May, RHP, Philadelphia: 9/23/89, High-A

10-8, 3.63 ERA, 151 1/3 IP, 208/67 K/BB, .221 BAA

43.  Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City: 8/3/92, NONE

44.  Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore: 11/15/92, NONE

45.  Jonathan Schoop, 2B/3B, Baltimore: 10/16/91, High-A

.290/.349/.432, 24 2B, 5 3B, 13 HR, 71 RBI, 76/42 K/BB, 12 SB

46.  Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego: 6/20/91, High-A

.298/.365/.465, 31 2B, 9 3B, 12 HR, 68 RBI, 108/53 K/BB, 66 SB

47.  Jake Marisnick, OF, Toronto: 3/30/91, Low-A

.320/.392/.496, 27 2B, 6 3B, 14 HR, 77 RBI, 91/43 K/BB, 37 SB

48.  Mike Montgomery, LHP, Kansas City: 7/1/89, Triple-A

5-11, 5.32 ERA, 150 2/3 IP, 129/69 K/BB, .271 BAA

49.  Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Kansas City: 3/27/90, Double-A

10-7, 3.73 ERA, 147 IP, 157/44 K/BB, .244 BAA

50.  Anthony Gose, OF, Toronto: 8/10/90, Double-A

.253/.349/.415, 20 2B, 7 3B, 16 HR, 154/62 K/BB, 70 SB