Archive for July, 2012

FanGraphs After Dark Chat – 7/31/12

Today’s Trades

For those of you just playing catch-up, here’s a rundown of the deals that were made before the deadline today.

Philadelphia Phillies send OF Hunter Pence to San Francisco for C Tommy Joseph, OF Nate Schierholtz, and RP Seth Rosin.

Pence analysis here, Prospects analysis here

Philadelphia Phillies send OF Shane Victorino to Los Angeles Dodgers for RP Josh Lindblom and SP Ethan Martin.

Trade analysis here

Chicago Cubs send SP Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers for 3B Christian Villanueva and SP Kyle Hendricks.

Dempster analysis here. Prospect analysis here

Kansas City Royals send RP Jonathan Broxton to the Cincinnati Reds for SP J.C. Sulbaran and RP Donnie Joseph.

Broxton analysis here.

Miami Marlins send 1B Gaby Sanchez and RP Kyle Kaminska to the Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Gorkys Hernandez and a competitive balance pick in the 2013 draft.

Sanchez analysis here.

Arizona Diamondbacks send RP Craig Breslow to the Boston Red Sox for RP Matt Albers and OF Scott Podsednik.

Miami Marlins send RP Edward Mujica to the St. Louis Cardinals for 3B Zack Cox.

New York Yankees send RP Chad Qualls to the Pittsburgh Pirates for 3B Casey McGehee.

Boston Red Sox send 1B Lars Anderson to the Cleveland Indians for SP Steven Wright.

You can find stats for each player by clicking on their name above, and find analysis of the deals in the posts here on the main page.

FanGraphs Audio: Matt Sussman of the Internet

Episode 222
Matt Sussman has distinguished himself for his excellent Twitter feed (@suss2hyphens), but who is Matt Sussman really? That’s merely one of the questions left unanswered — left unasked, really — on this edition of FanGraphs Audio.

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 43 min. play time.)

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Pirates Take Calculated Risk In Acquiring Sanchez

The Pittsburgh Pirates have built up a pretty good farm system under Neal Huntington’s watch. Our own Marc Hulet ranked them ninth before the season, and over at ESPN, Keith Law ranked them eighth. They have also simulteanously been upgrading their Major League core, and have morphed into a contender this season. To do this at the same time, you have to get a little bit lucky, and you have to be a little bit creative and you can’t be squeamish about taking risks. They showed the latter two elements in trades both yesterday — when they acquired Travis Snider — and today by making two deals that essentially swap out Casey McGehee for Gaby Sanchez.

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Reds Beef Up Strong Bullpen With Broxton

The Cincinnati Reds acquired right-handed relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for minor-league pitchers Donnie Joseph (LHP) and J.C. Sulbaran (RHP). Broxton signed a one-year deal with the Royals for $5.6 million and has been the Royals closer. He will be a free agent at the end of this season.

Joseph has pitched in relief for the Reds’ Double-A and Triple-A teams this season. Subaran has been a starter for the Reds’ Double-A squad.

The Reds’ acquisition of Broxton was a bit surprising, given the strength of Cincinnati’s bullpen this season. As we profiled last week, Aroldis Chapman has been lights out as the Reds’ closer, posting record-breaking strikeout numbers with his 100 mph fastball and his nasty slider. But Chapman’s not the only Reds reliever having a strong season. Overall, the bullpen has posted a 10.23 K/9, a .79 HR/9, and a .216 batting average against. Walks have been a bit of a problem, particularly for right-handed relievers Logan Ondrusek and Jose Arredondo. Broxton somewhat adds to that problem.

The burly right-hander was having a nice season for the Royals, but is no longer the dominant closer he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2007 to 2009. Broxton’s strikeout numbers — which used to rival what Chapman is doing this year — have steadily declined; his K/9 this season is at 6.31, the lowest of his career. Broxton has gotten his walk rate under control — now at 3.53/9 — after a disastrous season of walks with the Dodgers in 2011. He’s also been much stingier with home runs this season, but that may very well change as he moves from the spacious Kauffman Stadium to the launching pad at Great American Ballpark.

USA Today is reporting that the Reds will use Broxton in the 8th inning to set-up Chapman in the 9th. But a mix-and-match scenario with left-hander Sean Marshall makes more sense. Marshall’s been effective against all batters this season with a 5.75 K/BB and a 2.39 FIP in 38 innings pitched. On the other hand, Marshall hasn’t yielded a home run to a left-handed batter all season and posts a higher strikeout rate and lower walk rate against left-handed batters.

The Reds added to a strength by trading for Broxton. Cincinnati’s bullpen has performed well so far this season, but also been one of the least used ‘pens at only 273.1 innings to date. Manager Dusty Baker will have more flexibility in the later innings to use Broxton against right-handed batters and Sean Marshall  against lefties. That will free up Arredondo, Ondrusek, Alfredo Simon and Sam LeClure for middle relief.

Overall, the Broxton trade may not have been a necessary one for the division-leading Reds, but it makes them stronger down the stretch.

Rangers Swoop In On Ryan Dempster

With Ryan Dempster unwilling to go to Atlanta and the Dodgers unwilling to pay up, the door opened on this trading deadline afternoon for the Rangers to swoop in and grab one of the season’s most surprising starting pitchers. Texas will send right-hander Kyle Hendricks and infielder Christian Villanueva to the Cubs to complete the deal.

For the Rangers, dealing with injuries to Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis as well as the ineffectiveness of Roy Oswalt and Scott Feldman, starting pitching suddenly became a need. The Rangers are six games clear of a Wild Card and a near-lock to make the playoffs, but the Athletics and Angels are within 3.5 and 4.0 games respectively, and with the Angels nabbing Zack Greinke a division title is by on means locked up. The Rangers sensed a need for starting depth and pounced.

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Christian Villanueva Rates As Rare Rangers Sleeper

This was written in January, but is being re-posted with Villanueva on his way to Chicago as part of the Ryan Dempster trade.

In 2011, Hickory was a hotbed of minor league talent including the best true shortstop prospect in baseball and multiple first round picks in catcher Kellin Deglan, center fielder Jake Skole and pitcher Luke Jackson. If not for being blown away by Boston Red Sox shortstop prospect Xander Bogaerts, my trip to Greenville would have been highlighted by a modestly performing, all but unknown third base prospect named Christian Villanueva. Villanueva went on to belt 10 home runs and steal 14/15 bases over the final two months of the season raising his prospect profile to legitimate sleeper.

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Philly Receives Respectable Return for Hunter Pence

The San Francisco Giants have secured a veteran outfielder for the stretch run but it comes at the cost of a young catching prospect.

Tommy Joseph, 21, was the organization’s second round draft pick in 2009 and he’s moved methodically through the minor league system, one level each year, and landed in double-A to begin the 2012 season. Despite being known as an offensive-minded catcher, the Arizona native has yet to post a wRC+ above 95, meaning he’s struggled to produce league-average offense. Despite that, he’s shown raw power potential and slugged 22 home runs in 127 high-A games last season. This season his isolated power rating has dipped to .132 (from .198 in ’11).

Joseph doesn’t hit for average, his walk rate is modest and he flirts with 20% strikeout rates so he’ll need to remain at catcher to have any true value at the big league level. Defensively, he’s made strides in the finer aspects of his game, which is good news because his strong arm would be wasted at first base and he just doesn’t have the type of profile that hints at future success there.

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Chad Billingsley Gets Friendly With Strike Zone

I had the opportunity to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers game on Saturday, which saw Chad Billingsley face off with Barry Zito. While I knew Billingsley was having a resurgence of sorts, his stellar outing versus the San Francisco Giants on this day sent me to the Fangraphs leader board where you can see him currently at 2.3 wins above replacement — hanging out with the likes of Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Madison Bumgarner. Despite posting just six wins thus far, it turns out that Chad Billingsley is having a rather superb season, and I’m not too sure that many saw it coming after a disappointing 2011.

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Giants Upgrade Their Outfield With Hunter Pence

The San Francisco Giants today acquired Hunter Pence from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for outfielder Nate Schierholtz, catching prospect Tommy Joseph, and right-handed pitcher Seth Rosin, who’s still in Single-A. The Giants will be responsible for the remainder of Pence’s $10.4 million salary for this season. Update: The Giants will receive cash from the Phillies to cover some portion of the $3.3 million remaining on Pence’s salary this season, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Next season will be Pence’s last year of arbitration-eligibility after which he will become a free agent.

Pence is a right fielder and will replace the Gregor Blanco-Nate Schierholtz platoon that’s patrolled right field at AT&T Park this season. Pence will upgrade the Giants on offense but could be a liability on defense, particularly in the tricky corners of the right-field wall and Triples Alley at AT&T.

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