Archive for January, 2012

FanGraphs Audio: Dayn Perry, Quite Contrary

Episode 133
Like a book by Jonathan Safran Foer, today’s guest Dayn Perry is incredibly loud and extremely close. Unlike a Safran Foer book, Perry also swears a lot with his child in the room. Among the topics discussed in this edition of the podcast: baseball cards of the 1980s, Dayn Perry’s employment history, human sexuality.

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 34 min. play time.)

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FanGraphs After Dark Chat

Mike Newman Prospects Chat – 1/31/12

Estimating a Miguel Montero Extension

Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero narrowly avoided his arbitration hearing today, agreeing with the club to a one-year, $5.9 million deal for 2012 — i.e. Montero’s last year of team-control.

Per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, both the Diamondbacks and Montero are interested in discussing a long-term deal to keep the catcher in Phoenix for the foreseeable future.

Projecting a market-value contract for the Montero depends on what you think about his true-talent level. He finished fourth per WAR among catchers last season (counting Mike Napoli as a catcher) — and is sixth among catchers between 2009 and ’11. Still, a lot of that value comes from Montero’s strong 2011.

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Notable Recent Minor League Pacts

The offseason has provided a good amount of drama, some mammoth contracts, and plenty of frequent flyer miles racked up. One thing that I think has gone under the radar a bit is the caliber of players — maybe more so in terms of how good they once were — who have already settled for minor league deals, or may be in line for them as we draw closer to Cactus and Grapefruit League play.

Today, let’s take a glance at the minor league pacts signed in the last week, and have a look at their potential implications.

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Montero or Lawrie?

Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail had an interesting note in his column today, noting that there’s speculation in Toronto that the Mariners offered Michael Pineda to the Blue Jays in exchange for Brett Lawrie. They passed, and as we all know, the Mariners shipped Pineda to New York for Jesus Montero instead.

So, this brings up an interesting question – who is the more valuable player going forward, Lawrie or Montero? A year ago, Marc Hulet ranked Montero as the fifth best prospect in the game, while Lawrie came in at #35. Baseball America concurred, putting Montero at #3 and Lawrie at #40. Lawrie had a fantastic 2011 season, capped off with a monstrous performance in the Majors, but Montero hit well in his late season call-up as well. His minor league performance wasn’t as impressive, but you have to adjust for the difference in league/park and note that catching generally diminishes offensive numbers, so the gap might not be as large as it might seem on the surface.

Of course, Lawrie looks like he could be a quality defensive third baseman, while Montero offers little in the way of defensive value. Scouts seem to be a bit more sold on Montero’s bat, though, and prior year minor league performances all favor Montero. They’re essentially the same age, and both will be counted on as building blocks of their respective team’s offenses for years to come.

So, that brings up the question – who would you rather have going forward, Lawrie or Montero?

Poll after the jump.

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Stress and Anxiety in Baseball

Baseball is a team sport. Between the foul lines, however, the outcome of the game is inextricably composed of multiple individual performances, and in today’s hyper-analytical and overly-critical society that places each individual performance under a microscope, stress amongst baseball players has — by all accounts — risen to never-before-seen levels.

For some players, that stress lacks a healthy outlet. It builds and builds until mental disorders begin to bubble to the surface, and in some cases, they can become debilitating for players.

Taylor Buchholz became the latest major league baseball player to come forward and announce that he will take time away from baseball due to anxiety and depression issues.

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Was Pat Burrell a Bust?

Yesterday, Pat “The Bat” Burrell retired, seeing his playing days end due to a combination of chronic foot problems and a lessening need for a bat-only player who flopped in his one audition as a DH. Burrell finishes his career with 6,520 plate appearances and a .253/.361/.472 line, good for a 117 wRC+ and 21.9 WAR. If you offered nearly any player a 12 year career with those kinds of numbers, they’d probably jump at them, as Burrell had a nice run as a quality player for the Phillies.

However, Burrell wasn’t just any player – he was a member of an exclusive club of players selected #1 overall in the June draft. When you’re taken first overall, expectations are high. You’re not just supposed to be a nice player – you’re supposed to become a star. Anything less could be perceived as a disappointment, and given that Burrell never made an All-Star team and only had two season where he posted a WAR above +3.0, his career could be construed as a failure to live up to those lofty expectations.

Are those expectations fair, though? What is the normal performance for a position player taken with the top overall pick in the draft? I wasn’t sure, so I decided to use the Custom Player List function on the leaderboards to find out.

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Yoenis Cespedes and the Success of Cuban Players

The Yoenis Cespedes signing is at hand. The exciting Cuban defector is at most weeks, at least days, away from a payday with a major league ball club:

And according to Baseball America’s Jim Callis, Cespedes would instantly be the top prospect for 24 of the 30 franchises:

If Cespedes had signed, he would have ranked somewhere in the 10-15 range on my list. The only systems in which he wouldn’t be a slam-dunk No. 1 would be the Angels (Trout), Rays (Moore), Nationals (Harper), Rangers (Darvish), Mariners (Jesus Montero) and Orioles (Manny Machado).

(Tip o’ the hat to MLB Trade Rumors.)

But is all the hype really warranted? Is Cespedes really going to make an impact? Heck, is he even going to play on a major league club in 2012, or just work his way through the minors?

We cannot say for certain what the Future holds so greedily in its little secrets pouch, but we can delve into the grayish soup of history and at least make a guess. And my guess is we will both see Cespedes in 2012, and he will not be so bad maybe.
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Offseason Notes: Entirely About the Caribbean Series

Scholars maintain that the translation was lost hundreds of years ago.

Caribbean Series Begins Thursday
With the victory on Monday of Dominican Winter League team Escogido over Cibaenas, the four teams for the very entertaining Caribbean Series — which begins Thursday, February 2 — have been decided.

Here they are, with links to team pages and a list of players whose names and/or faces you’re most likely to recognize:

ARAGUA (Venezuelan Winter League)
Edgardo Alfonzo, Seth Etherton, Wilson Ramos.

ESCOGIDO (Dominican Winter League)
Julio Borbon, Jose Constanza, Andy Dirks, Francisco Liriano, Julio Lugo, Jordan Norberto, Denis Phipps, Fernando Rodney, Aneury Rodriguez, Fernando Tatis, Pat Venditte.

MAYAGUEZ (Puerto Rican Winter League)
Jeff Dominguez, Ruben Gotay, Martin Maldonado, Eddie Rosario, Ramon Troncoso.

OBREGON (Mexican Pacific League)
Alfredo Amezaga, Luis Ayala , Karim Garcia.

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