Archive for March, 2012

Alex Gordon Gets Royally Rewarded

Word broke late Friday afternoon that the Royals and 28-year-old left fielder Alex Gordon reached a contract extension. The skinny on the contract is that it’s a four-year deal worth $37.5 million, with a player option for 2016 that can bring the total value to $50 million even. The contract buys out two years of team control and an additional two of free agency, and breaks down to $6/$9/$10/$12.5, and negates the $4.775 midpoint, arbitration-avoiding deal the two parties agreed to in early February. Read the rest of this entry »


Brett Cecil’s Descent?

We spend a lot of our time at FanGraphs focusing on players who have bright futures ahead of them — or campaigning to have a blocked player finally get a chance in the major leagues. This makes sense, since it’s human nature to look for the positives and see the future with optimism. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always turn out that way for ballplayers. Many of them flame out at a young age.

Are we witnessing the same fate for Toronto Blue Jays starter Brett Cecil? Following his disastrous 2011 — during which he spent a stint in the minors — Cecil reported to camp this year having shed more than 30 pounds, but his velocity was down in the 87-89 mph range. In his latest start, he allowed five walks in only 2.2 innings, and he gave up five runs. While it’s true that it’s only Spring Training, this isn’t good news for a pitcher who has experienced velocity issues in the past, and was once was counted on to be a reliable middle of the rotation starter. Let’s take a look at Cecil’s development, and how it compares to where he is in 2012.

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Astros Release Livan Hernandez, Braves Swoop In

In perhaps the fasteset set of transactions I’ve ever seen, the Astros announced that they were releasing Livan Hernandez at 12:07 pm eastern time, and then Jon Heyman reported that Livan was signing with the Braves at 2:02 pm eastern. Livan wasn’t even unemployed for two hours.

Livan’s a pretty fascinating guy. While his xFIPs are crazy consistent over the last four years (xFIP- of 112, 111, 114, 111), his results have swung wildly from awful in 2008-2009 (ERA- of 138 and 133) to pretty good in 2010 (ERA- of 91) back to not great (ERA- of 118) last year. On one hand, you know exactly what you’re getting with Livan – a durable innings eater who won’t miss bats. On the other hand, you have no idea what you’re going to get from Livan, as his BABIP and HR/FB rates have fluctuated wildly over the last five years.

This series of moves perfectly illustrates how a player can have value to one team but not another. The Braves needed to reduce their exposure to disaster performances, and signing Hernandez gives them some rotation depth and the ability to let Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado start the year in the minors. While he doesn’t do anything to help raise their upside in win total, he probably helps raise the downside slightly, as they now have a decent enough fifth starter to keep the team from imploding if the kids aren’t quite ready on Opening Day.

The Astros, though, have little need to reduce their volatility. The marginal value of a win to a team in their position is quite small, and as a pure rebuilding organization, they’re better off figuring out what they have in a guy like Kyle Weiland instead. The innings Livan would have pitched for Houston would have just reduced the number of chances the team would have had to evaluate their young arms, and so the value of having a veteran stop-gap in place simply wasn’t there.

It’s weird to see a contender pick up a guy that the worst team in baseball just decided they didn’t want, but in this case, it makes sense for both sides. Perhaps that’s why it all happened so fast.


2012 Organizational Rankings: #16 – Arizona

Read the methodology behind the ratings here. Remember that the grading scale is 20-80, with 50 representing league average.

#30 – Baltimore
#29 – Houston
#28 – Oakland
#27 – Pittsburgh
#26 – San Diego
#25 – Minnesota
#24 – Chicago AL
#23 – Seattle
#22 – Kansas City
#21 – Cleveland
#20 – New York NL
#19 – Los Angeles
#18 – Colorado
#17 – Miami

Arizona’s 2011 Ranking: #29

2012 Outlook: – 55 (12th)

Combine an offense that is well above average with a pitching staff that is a touch above average, and you have a playoff team. It wasn’t enough to get the D-backs into baseball’s final four, but they came about as you could come, taking the Brewers into extras in the deciding Game 5 of their National League Division Series. Most of the principals from that team are intact this year. They are once again faced with mediocre competition in the NL West, and are in a position to win the division in consecutive years since the Randy JohnsonCurt SchillingLuis Gonzalez-mountains of debt years. And while Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson may be in for a bit of regression, the team may be better this year than last.

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Miguel Montero and the Victor Martinez Contract

Contract extension talks between catcher Miguel Montero and the Arizona Diamondbacks reportedly ended without a resolution this spring. Montero is said to be looking for something like the four-year, $50 million contract Victor Martinez received from the Tigers in free agency prior to the 2010 season. The Diamondbacks do have Montero under contract for 2012 (the last of his team-controlled arbitration seasons), but at the moment it looks like he will become a free agent after the World Series. Is Montero’s desire for such a contract reasonable?

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2012 Organizational Rankings: #17 – Miami

Read the methodology behind the ratings here. Remember that the grading scale is 20-80, with 50 representing league average.

2012 Organizational Rankings

#30 – Baltimore
#29 – Houston
#28 – Oakland
#27 – Pittsburgh
#26 – San Diego
#25 – Minnesota
#24 – Chicago AL
#23 – Seattle
#22 – Kansas City
#21 – Cleveland
#20 – New York Mets
#19 – Los Angeles Dodgers
#18 – Colorado

Miami’s 2011 Ranking: 17th

2012 Outlook: 53 (14th)

The biggest strength for the Marlins this year will likely be their lineup. While the team finished slightly behind the middle of the pack in wOBA at .311 (9th in the NL) last year, the progressions of Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton, along with the expected bounce back from Hanley Ramirez and the acquisition of Jose Reyes should make this one of the better lineups in the league.

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The Indians: If Abreu, Why Not Damon?

Reports last night suggested that the Angels and Indians were working on a deal that would ship Bobby Abreu’s discontented soul to Cleveland. The deal has apparently fallen apart, and right now, it doesn’t look like Abreu’s going to get his wish to get out of Anaheim. However, Buster Olney raised an interesting question this morning:

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Community Playing Time Forecasts

It’s time for the annual community playing time survey.

Find the team you follow, and take a couple of minutes to fill it out.

http://tangotiger.net/survey/


Trevor Bauer and High Heat

Last weekend, as many may have noticed, Arizona Diamondback prospect Trevor Bauer was engaging his twitter followers in regards to fastballs both in the upper and lower part of the zone. Well, to be more accurate, he was suggesting that the fascination with throwing your fastball down in the zone was overrated and generally just wrong. It all began with this:

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2012 Organizational Rankings: #18 – Colorado

Read the methodology behind the ratings here. Remember that the grading scale is 20-80, with 50 representing league average.

2012 Organizational Rankings

#30 – Baltimore
#29 – Houston
#28 – Oakland
#27 – Pittsburgh
#26 – San Diego
#25 – Minnesota
#24 – Chicago AL
#23 – Seattle
#22 – Kansas City
#21 – Cleveland
#20 – New York Mets
#19 – Los Angeles Dodgers

Colorado’s 2011 Ranking: #10

2012 Outlook: – 50 (17th)

The Rockies has a disastrous 2011 season, finishing 4th in the NL West, 21 games behind the Diamondbacks and 17 games off the wildcard pace. The Rockies led the NL West in runs scored with 735, but the Astros were the only team in the NL to give up more runs than the 2011 Rockies. The team threw in the towel on the season at the trade deadline, sending its ace pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez, to the Cleveland Indians for a package of prospects including highly regarded pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Alex White.

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