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Posts Tagged ‘Joe Nathan’

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to go watch my hometown Twins play the Houston Astros. With a match up of Brian Moehler and Scott Baker, I expected an easy win for the Twinkies. However, that was not the case as they lost 6-5.

What surprised me is that Brendan Harris led off the bottom of the 1st with a homer, and Delmon Young, yes that Delmon Young who can’t hit the broadside of the Metrodome, hit a homer in the second.

Whatever happened to Young’s potential? Scouts raved about him before the ’08 season, but since then everyone is claiming he’s a bust? Seriously, the Twins seem to have gotten fleeced this time in the trade for Young and Harris for Garza and Bartlett. About time that the Twins tasted their own medicine. However, I don’t think one can make an accurate claim quite yet that the Twins got the short end of the trade. Give it another year or so. For example, most thought the Twins got the shaft when they traded AJ Pierzynski to the Giants for Boof Bonser, Joe Nathan, and Francisco Liriano. Well, after a few years, we all know who got the better end of that deal.

Needless to say, trade evaluation is difficult to objectively accomplish until several years after the trade (think the Michael Vick conundrum in 2001 where the Chargers traded down to number 5 and got LaDainian Tomlinson and the Falcons chose Vick number 1). I would venture to say that the Chargers got the better end of that trade, especially since they drafted Drew Brees with their second round pick that they got for trading down.

See, it isn’t until emotions are removed that one can see what side of the trade is better after the seasons have been played. However, this Young+Harris+Pridie for Garza+Bartlett seems to be quite onesided, but let us have history make the correct call in several years.

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Each, and ever off-season a number of moves leave even Bill Bavasi scratching his head. large_yanks26Today is one of those days. Surprisingly, it was the Yankees, who have splashed and danced this winter into a hot fiesta. However, every party must include a foolish act by even the best behaved.

The Yankees continue their off-season frenzy by signing Melky Cabrera and Xavier Nady each to one year deal today (1/21/2009). These signing make little sense unless they are planning to trade either Nick Swisher or Nady. Their outfield is loaded with Hideki Matsui (though a DH), Cabrera, Nady, Swisher (who will not play first because of the Teixeira signing), Johnny Damon, and Brett Gardner.

Matsui will clearly be a DH this year, leaving the other five outfields battling for playing time. Sure Spring Training tends of produce a few unwanted injuries, but there are still too many players for to few playing spot. The Yankee’s would benefit from a trade of Swisher or Nady because they would yield the most return. Instead of trading the future for the present, the Bronx Bombers would be wise to trade a part of the past for the future.

The wisest move to be made, though trades never look wise to begin with, (a la AJ Pierzynski (MN) to SF for Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano, and Joe Nathan) may be to trade Swisher, unless of course you enjoy paying a part-time player full-time wage. Though trading Nady might have more return because of his value right now.  It is amazing what a career year has for players. Maybe I am wrong!?! Maybe I underestimate the powers of Brian Cashman’s level of genius. Yet, questioning the Yankees moves more often than not looks better than their post-season record this past decade.

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*PS- the “Scouting the Unknown” article was delayed due to traveling over the weekend.  It will surface again soon and will be a double post (four players instead of two)!!!

The first big trade happened late last tonight as the Brewers traded Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, Rob Bryson, and a PTBNL to the Indians for C.C. Sabathia. The Brewers, unless they can resign this hefty-lefty to a long term deal, have an expensive summer rental on their hands. Lets just hope that the extended workout Sabathia received before being traded doesn’t come back to kick them in the butt (as I stated here that it could, and these guys warned you before the season started that it could). Going to the NL will surely help C.C.’s numbers improve as the pitcher is a nice out to grant to aces. Before I jump into last nights game here is the low down on the traded players (a bit of a smorgishborg of information I gathered):

Analysis of the Trade:

LaPorta is obviously the stud in the deal being dealt by the Brew Crew, with Jackson falling apart since AA (his last good year was in high-A ball) and has been stuck in AAA for 3 years now, and Rob Bryson is a young 20 year old drafted out of high school who has pitched in 109 innings in rookie and class A ball with a 143-32 K/BB ratio.

J.J. Hardy- A hot month of June (SLG of .609) has been followed by a scorching July. With two more homers today he has hit six this month. Remember last April, well this may this years July (and you can quote me on that).

Brad Lidge- 3 years and $37.5 million dollars for a 32 year-old closer? I am sure there is a better way to spend that $12 million a year (even though the Twins did one better by signing Joe Nathan to a 4 year $40 million contract and they know their pitchers and budget pretty damn well).

Lance Berkman- Had the day off due to pink eye. I can think of other reasons to have a day. I can just imagine what that conversation went like: “Um, coach, I can’t play today.” “Why’s that?” “Just look in my eyes, and you can see why” “Oh, I hope that isn’t from… never mind.” He did pinch-hit in the top of the 15th and line out to left with the bases loaded.

Cody Ross- This southern boy sure loves the mountain high tops. In four games at Colorado he went 12/20 with six runs, four doubles, two home runs, and had 15 of his season 47 RBIs. This of course dramatically improved his average by 30 points, and should easily win NL Player of the Week honors. He is riding a 10 game hitting streak, and has a hit in 15 of his last 16. With games at San Diego, and at Dodger Stadium expect those type number to decline, and that hitting streak to screech to a halt.

Brandon Morrow- He has been lights out since May 24 (last outing he allowing a run) pitching in 16 2/3 innings allowing only two hits, and two walks in that time frame; all the while striking out 22 batters along the way. When J.J.Putz returns after the All-Star Break, there is going to be some serious decisions made in Seattle (and recently they haven’t done such a splendid job cough* Jeff Clement* cough) [Manager Riggleman said he won’t throw him in the closer role right away, instead placing him into middle relief when he (J.J.) eventually returns from his rehab assignments].

Edinson Volquez- Went 6 innings with 3 runs, walks and strike outs, along with 5 hits. Not his greatest outing of the year (but the last two weren’t either). With 56 of his 89 pitches for strikes, his control continues to be suspect (when hasn’t it?). If you weren’t fully on the bandwagon before, jump and pretend like you were to the sucker that you just sold him to because we all know an over worked Dusty Baker pitcher who was never the same after Dusty mishandled him (RIP Mark Prior).

Dave Bush- When is he going to but together a string of good games? For every poor outing he has he follows it up with two decent to good outings. Looks like he has one more good one before the All-Star Break against Colorado (though you never know with Davy).

Greg Smith- I hype him up only to see it backfire (5 innings, 4 runs and 6 walks). Hmm, seems like I jinxed him for his last start, this next one I predict that he will … But for serious he is only a rookie, and outings like that should be expected.

Scott Linebrink- Got his first save of the season against the A’s. It looks like Bobby Jenks could be heading to the DL with a sore back. The only positive light I could see about Jenks going on the DL is that they can retroactive to June 30th. This means that if he does go on the DL he would be eligible to come off after the break, giving the White Sox an open roster spot to fill.

Rich Harden- He was handed his first loss of the season by walking four batters in 5 innings. He wasn’t sharp at all throwing 55 of his 95 pitches for strikes. You could attribute this to the dead arm that the team was saying he was having (I know I would) with his last outing not being good either (59-91 for strikes). The All-Star Break couldn’t come at a more perfect time for Rich.

Chris Volstad- Picked up his first win as a major leaguer by pitching two innings of scoreless ball. He has an abundance of talent but will still need a few more years (at least one) until he is a viable fantasy option, but down in Florida we probably wont hear much about it until he has already made it. Keep an eye on him in the up coming year(s).

Oliver Perez- Pitched seven innings of shutout, four-hit baseball Sunday. When he is one, he is one of the top pitchers in the league, but when he is bad, well lets just say we wish we never saw what he could do because that nasty line was in our starting lineup. Rotoworld said that Dan Warthen, his pitching coach, fixed a flaw in his delivery and this is what has made the markable improvement in his performance.

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Starting today, and continuing on Saturdays, I am going to pick to young(er) players and give a brief in-depth (oxymoron, but just hold on for a second) scouting report. It isn’t that I know every single player, but I am going to look at some minor league numbers (probably not minor league sabermetric stats, but I might throw some of their major league saber stats in there), and see what you should expect from their history. This hopefully will switch some things up so it isn’t just the same things posted every day (that and I want the weekends to be a bit different than the daily routine). So without further ado, here’s my introductory “Scouting the Unknown”

Brian Buscher- Grab yourself a Busch and relax, here is one can-of hype Bert Blyleven and Dick Bremer (the Twins TV announcers: hall of fame pitcher (Bert) and his side-kick) can’t seem to talk enough about. The Twins acquired Brian in 2006 via the Rule-5 draft from the San Francisco Giants (they sure seem to like the Giants farm system *cough Liriano, Nathan, Boof *cough), and he is a 27 year old left handed hitting third-baseman.

Since Brian has been recalled this year, the twins have been 13-2, and he has been getting some timely base-hits. Key word here is base hits. He has only two doubles and a homerun, which happens to be a trend that he had in the minors too (career minor league SLG% of .404). However, since joining the AAA affiliate he has improved his slugging by over 100 point over his career totals (.514 this year). Though at age 27 he is primed and ready to go as he has had a chance to mature into his body. In 337 AAA at-bats he has 15 homers. Nothing super impressive, but it hasn’t translated through to the majors yet (3 homers in 133 at-bats). His ‘high’ slugging and OBP right now are inflated due to his high batting average. As the scouting report gets out on him his numbers will fall even more.

Brian has a .280 career minor league average with a .349 OBP in 1995 at-bats in the minors. Nothing spectacular, but serviceable .As of June 24 (the last up to date sabermetric tables out, so there are 5 games missing where he went 5/17)) he has a BABIP or .375, LD% of .293, but a contact rate of .941. With only four strike outs in 50 at-bats he is whiffing at half the rate he was in the minors. I would expect him to have his average fall because of his BABIP, but his contact rates says it could stay near the .285-.290 range. Though with a fly-ball percent of .412, and a groundball percent of .29, he could see a lot more of his contacted balls fall into leather.

With what the Twins have to offer at Third-base, aka nothing (Mike Lamb), he should get the majority of the at-bats until he slumps hardcore. I don’t think he is a legit fantasy option, unless he keeps his hot-streak going because there are better options to place in your 3B slot (like Keppinger, Kouzmanoff, Jose Bautistia (who has had a better last month than Brian). However, in the last month he was rated at 248th best player in Yahoo games. Whatever value you take for that he has been hot of late, but don’t expect similar numbers throughout the rest of the year, unless of course you are looking for a singles hitting third-baseman.

Jonathan Sanchez- Here is what Rotoworld just said about him after his start today; “He’s given up exactly seven earned runs in three different starts, but has also surrendered three or less earned runs in his other 14 starts.” That was of course after he went seven, k’ing six, and walking only one. He has been up since April, and now people are jumping on his bandwagon, and I am waiting for the axle to shatter (I am bitter as you will soon find out why). It isn’t that he has no talent, or that his track record says different. It is for the same reason why there is such a thing call a pitch count. If you believe in that young pitchers should only increase their total amount of innings pitched from year to year until they are fully developed by 15-25 innings then you should be wary of Jonathan Sanchez pitching the rest of the year.

In 2006, at age 23 he pitched in 95 innings between AA, AAA, and the MLB. In 2007, he pitched in only 75.6 innings. In the low minors he was a starting pitcher. However, as he progressed through the Giants system they switched him over to a reliever. In 2005, the year before his move to the bullpen, he pitched 125.3 innings. This season he has worked in 95 innings and might be nearing a period were he gets dead arm, or that the Giants might be thinking about letting him take longer rests between starts like Lincecum did last year. That or the Giants shut him down for the season. If you look at Lincecum’s last month of work for 2007, you will notice an extreme difference then when he first started. So bare in mind, that Sanchez could be posting some awful numbers soon (mid July at the earliest, but for surely by August).

His minor league line was impressive with 252.1 innings, 9 homers allowed, 333 strikeouts and 98 walks (for a K/BB of 3.4), and ERA of 3.42 and a WHIP of 1.19. In 2005 his k-rate dropped upon reaching the majors, which is typically expected of rookies. But now after his third season up in the majors, and his first that he has started here, he has been impressive. His control problems haven been any worse than teammates Matt Cain, and has just four more than Tim Lincecum after this game (Cain, Lincecum, and Sanchez have 307 strikeouts, and they are the only 3 team mates in the top 15 in total k’s with the Reds Volquez and Harang as the only other teams in the top 15, that’s pretty impressive).

I had him for the first one he had when he faced the Brew Crew, and at that time I was reading that he would be sent back down, but he has proved me wrong. I gave up on him right then and there and he has come back to bite my ass. As a jealous owner, I wish I would have kept him and I have been waiting all year for him to just bomb, though he hasn’t helped out in WHIP, but his ERA keeps dropping with each good start. And really you own him for the K’s, not the wins that he Giants somehow find, or the crippling walk inflated WHIP. You have been warned, pawn him off ASAP!

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I am going to digress a bit, and take a detour from my planned course of action. Instead of jumping into the middle of the week with player analysis, I am going to give a few strategies that I feel are worth considering.

The middle relievers get a back rap in many small leagues because they do not consistently get wins. Instead, they may gain a vulture win, but more or less pitch an inning and then are replaced by another MR or the closer. In larger leagues where holds are a category, a filthy MR is just as important as a closer.

There a handful of dominating closers (K-Rod, Nathan, Mariano Rivera, Papelbon, Soria), and you can make a case for many more. Those are just a few consistent dominating closers. A good closer will give you not only your much desired saves (which as a product of a teams ability then the skill of the closer, for without the team providing the lead but only enough for a save chance a closer has no chance to acquire that save, but I digress), but they also provide excellent WHIP, and ERA.

However, closers aren’t the only players that can provide those excellent WHIPs and ERAs. True starters can too, but more importantly those MRs that throw sick nasty stuff do to. In leagues that count holds, this is dually important too because you don’t want a MR that provides holds, but their peripherals are atrocious (I am talking to you Luis Ayala).

These players are tricky to pinpoint within a draft, and may not be worth using a middle to late pick on (depending on the size of the league and your valuing of such players). Last years top MR (by holds) were: Brandon Lyons, Heath Bell, Derrick Turnbow, Jon Rauch, Jonathan Broxton, Scot Shields, Tony Pena, Hideki Okajima (only one without 30 holds was Okajima at 27). This year only Okajima is even in the top 12. This provides an example that MR turnover quickly or they become the closer (Brandon Lyons, Jon Rauch).

This though does not prove that they are worthless. Instead, many MR come on later in the year and provide great Peripherals (2007- Carlos Marmol, Joba Chamberlin, 2008- Max Scherer, Hong-Chih Kuo). So instead of drafting Rafael Betancourt and Pat Neshek (who was also dominated last year) in the draft, wait for those that prove themselves during the year.

This year the top non-closing MR is so far Carlos Marmol. Lou Pinella has used his young MR for 40 IP (prior today) and he has responded by striking out 60 batters while having a 0.80 Whip and a 2.25 ERA, along with his 19 holds (Which is 4 more than the next 3 all tied at 15). However, there has been some MR putting up equally good numbers while still acquiring high amounts of holds (Joba, McClellan, Linebrink, Dan Wheeler, Chad Qualls. Tony Pena, Taylor Buchholz, Doug Brocail, Heath Bell (again, but hasn’t been as dominate as last year, Blaine Boyer (remove two rough outings and has filthy numbers too).

Essentially what I am saying is that if you combine 2 dominating MR you equate 1 dominating starter. Think if I add Carlos Marmol’s numbers and Hong-Chih Kuo’s I get 77 1/3 IP, 100 k’s, 0.92 WHIP, and a 2.09 ERA, 4W’s and 3 SV. Granted Kuo does get that rare start, but those numbers combined would easily be the number one pitcher in the game (Yes I know I got to pick two MR and combine their stats and skew the data a bit, but more point is still there). True that Carlos was drafted in the high rounds because Kerry Wood was suppose to be a flop, but he is still producing stunning numbers. He is legit, and so is many other MR that could help your team in more than just Holds.

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Scour the WW weekly and you are sure to find a MR that will do better than rotating a mediocre at best streamer. Put a bit of effort into the newly developing and highly criticized MR.

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