Archive for November, 2011

Angels Acquire Iannetta

Chris Iannetta is finally free. After employing the worst starting catcher in baseball last season (min 250 plate appearances), the Los Angeles Angels decided to seek out an upgrade. Despite some success in the majors, Iannetta never endeared himself to the Colorado Rockies’ front office. After seasons of speculation, the Rockies finally gave up on the 28-year-old catcher, trading him to the Los Angeles Angels for Tyler Chatwood. With the full backing of his new organization, will Iannetta make the Rockies look foolish?

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FanGraphs Audio: The Thunderous Dayn Perry

Episode 106
After a pair of weighty episodes, FanGraphs Audio makes an about face and embraces the entirely vapid and superficial. Who better to help in that endeavor than Dayn Perry?! Matters discussed: David DeJesus signing with the Cubs; Bobby Valentine, with the Red Sox; and little else of substance.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 25 min. play time.)

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Adam Kennedy Gets a Major League Roster Spot

Ned Colletti has reportedly given Adam Kennedy a major league contract. $800,000 is not a big deal to a major league team — it’s not even going to be 1% of the final player budget for the Dodgers. But why not save almost a half-million dollars?

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Opportunity May Knock for Cubs’ Josh Vitters

Since being drafted third overall in the 2007 draft, few prospects have developed in more disappointing fashion than Chicago Cubs third base prospect Josh Vitters. Once considered an elite player with baseball skills including 70 power and hit tools, Vitters has stumbled to a .277/.319/.439 triple slash line across five minor league seasons. Due to these struggles, Vitters’ status as a prospect has slipped as 2011 was the first where he failed to make the Baseball America top-100.

However, 2011 also saw Vitters post his best numbers since the 2009 season in the Southern League at 21. With a .283/.322/.448 line, he has at least placed himself in a position to compete for the Cubs third base job now that Aramis Ramirez is a free agent and extremely unlikely to return to Chicago. For Vitters, the stars seem to be aligning perfectly as the Theo Epstein era, combined with his being placed on the 40-man roster equals a fresh start in an organization where the term “bust” had already been thrown around pretty liberally.

Video after the jump

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David DeJesus Signs With Cubs, Epstein

It appears that despite the move to the Windy City, Theo Epstein hasn’t lost his touch. In his first move since joining the Cubs as their General Manager President of Baseball Operations, Epstein signed* David DeJesus to a two year, $10 million contract today. The contract also has an option for a third year.

Just by taking a glance at DeJesus’ player page, it’s easy to fall in love with this deal. DeJesus is no star outfielder and his name doesn’t conjure up images of diving catches or towering home runs, but he’s a quietly productive and underrated player. He’s no whiz with the bat — .277/.349/.417 line over the last three years, which translates to a .334 wOBA and 5% above average — but he makes up for it by being an above average baserunner and defensive outfielder. DeJesus played the majority of the 2011 season in right field for the Athletics, and depending on what defensive stat you trust most, he was anywhere from a +10 to +13 fielder out there. He had one of his worst seasons at the plate last year — .309 wOBA, 5% below average — but even then, he managed to be a 2.2 WAR player in right.

So on the face of things, the Cubs just got a great deal. They signed an average outfielder to a below-market rate contract — they’re paying him like he’s a 1.0 WAR outfielder, essentially — and they filled their hole in right field. They also improved their team overall, as DeJesus is an improvement over 34-years-old-and-sinking-fast Kosuke Fokudome.

But this deal also raises two interesting questions. Considering he had such a rough offensive year in 2011 and he’ll be 32-years-old in 2012, should the Cubs be worried about his bat? And what does this deal mean about top prospect Brett Jackson?

*Good catch, everyone. Jed Hoyer is technically the GM for the Cubs right now. Whoops, my bad.

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Vlad Guerrero and the Threat of Unemployment

If you’re looking for a big bat this offseason, the free agent market has plenty to offer. There’s Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder at the top of the food chain, Carlos Beltran and Aramis Ramirez a notch below that, and Josh Willingham and Carlos Pena a notch below that. Aside from Pujols, no player on the free agent market has accomplished more in his career than Vladimir Guerrero, the once great slugger who has since become an afterthought.

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Kenley Jansen’s Dominant Fastball

Every year it seems we hear about a former position player trying to transition to the mound in order to save his professional career.

Two years ago, it was Tony Pena Jr. with the Royals who moved from a light-hitting shortstop to reliever. In 2010, Sergio Santos of the Chicago White Sox grabbed headlines after making the big leagues as a shutdown reliever after struggling for a better part of a decade as a shortstop. Trevor Hoffman also failed as a shortstop before trying his luck as a pitcher. Carlos Marmol played two years as a catcher and outfielder for the Cubs before stepping foot on the mound for good.

It’s not uncommon. One can set foot in a big league bullpen and likely find a former position player lurking in that group — a player that just couldn’t cut it as a professional ballplayer at their respective positions — but the organization saw a special arm they wanted an opportunity to refine on the mound.

In 2011, the position-player-turned-reliever that firmly burst onto the scene was right-hander Kenley Jansen of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Offseason Notes for November 30th

Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte: kinda, sorta baseball’s top prospect.

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Offseason Notes.

1. Projecting: Some Notable OLIVER Projections
2. Projecting: ZiPS for Seattle
3. Crowdsourcing Broadcasters: Baltimore Television

Projecting: Some Notable OLIVER Projections
Brian Cartwright’s OLIVER projections are now available at The Hardball Times. Some minor technical issues might remain with the functionality, although I personally have had no problems.

As I did last year, I’ve assembled below what can most accurately be described as a “Kinda, Sorta” Prospect List — in that it’s simply a list of the top-10 rookie-eligible batters sorted purely by OLIVER’s projected 2012 WAR. (Projections assume a full MLB season.)

Note that Jesus Montero, Mike Moustakas, Jason Kipnis, Todd Frazier, and Ryan Lavarnway — i.e. all players who both (a) made their major-league debuts in 2011 and (b) played decently while doing so — were all on this same list last season.

A Kinda, Sorta Prospect List

1. Starling Marte, OF, PIT
2. Jedd Gyorko, 3B, SDN
3. Derek Norris, C, WAS
4. Andrelton Simmons, SS, ATL
5. Adam Eaton, OF, ARI
6. Anthony Rendon, 3B, WAS
7. Matt Carpenter, 3B, STL
8. Jaff Decker, LF, SDN
9. Brian Dozier, SS, MIN
10. Joe Panik, SS, SFN

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Q&A: Brendan Ryan, Dog Catcher in Disguise

Brendan Ryan isn’t a scuba diver or a dog catcher. The 29-year-old Cardinal-turned-Mariner is a middle infielder — a pretty good one at that — but when a little subterfuge is in order, he can be most anything. Above all, he can be one of baseball’s more engaging personalities, as adept with a quip as he is with scooping up a ground ball. Befitting a .256-liftime hitter with limited pop, he is also appreciative for the opportunity to wear a big league uniform, which he did last year in Seattle after spending four seasons with St. Louis.


David Laurila: How did you end up attending college in Idaho?

Brendan Ryan: First of all, it was a very different experience. I grew up south of Hollywood, east of Beverly Hills, and west of downtown, so I was right in the middle of L.A. To go from that to Lewiston, Idaho, a town of 30,000, was culture shock. Things were slower, to say the least.

How did I get there? In high school I was busier playing baseball, and being rewarded with detention, than taking my studies as seriously as I should have. My family and I thought that Lewis and Clark State might be a good fit, because there would be fewer distractions. I also had an opportunity to play there on a scholarship.

DL: Was culture shock a valuable lesson leading into pro ball?
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FanGraphs After Dark Chat