Saturday, September 28, 2013

Who will be manning first base when Konerko retires

Paul Konerko has been the White Sox starting first baseman since 1999 and he has been a great player on the Sox and a potential Hall of Fame. This season he has been hinting at retirement all season and said there is a "50-50" chance he returns next season and that raises a bigger question: Who will succeed Paulie?

The White Sox have a 1B in their AA team named Dan Black who is 25 years old. He hit .290 in AA Birmingham with 17 homers and 83 RBIs. He took 91 walks (leading the league) which is extremely impressive in the minor leagues. He had the 7th highest OPS, 8th in runs scored, 7th in doubles, 3rd in OPB, and 7th in homers. On the defensive side he had 7 errors for a .991 fielding percentage in 92 defensive games at 1B.

Another possibility for the White Sox is Andy Wilkins who is 24 and split time between Charlotte and Birmingham and hit 17 homers combined between the 2 of them (10 in AA and 7 in AAA). His numbers were down in AAA (.265/.312/.423) compared to AA (.288/.386/.477).  On the defensive side he made only 6 errors all year in 81 defensive games at 1B.

My prediction is that if Konerko retires this offseason Andy Wilkin will take the spot and Dan Black will play in AAA and then make the jump as a September call up if Wilkin struggles. If Konerko doesn't retire and 2014 is his last season then I think Black will be the starter if he does well in AAA.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Who should the Nationals resign first?

With the emergence of both Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg as potential young superstars for the Washington Nationals it raises an interesting question: Who do they sign long-term first?

Bryce Harper, 20 is 5 years younger than Strasburg and that could make a huge difference because pitchers are more high risk and with Strasburg already having Tommy John Surgery it definitely will be something the Nats look out for. Harper has hit .276 this season with 20 home runs and 57 RBIs with 11 steals. He has already learned to take a walk with a .371 OBP in 488 Plate Appearances. He averages nearly  4 pitches per plate appearance and has walked 12.3% of the time   He is well known for is absolute hustle no matter what but it could cause some concerns as he has already had to go on the DL after colliding with an outfield wall trying to make a catch.  He is already well awarded as he is a 2-time All Star and won Rookie of the Year last season.

Stephen Strasburg, 25 is having another solid season on the mound he is the young anchor of the Nationals rotation for years to come. There are some injury concerns as he has already had Tommy John surgery but has pitched very well after returning from the surgery. This year he is 7-9 with a 3.02 ERA and 187 strikeouts in 176 innings he has walked 56 batters and doesn't give up many hits with a 6.6 H/9 rate. He throws 64% of his pitches for strikes but his strikeout rate has slightly declined and his walk rate has slightly increased.
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Friday, September 20, 2013

The Fall of the Houston Astros

The last season the Houston Astros finished about .500 was in 2008 when they went 86-75 and finished 3rd in the division. Ever since then it was been a struggle for them to win ball games. In that same 2008 season the average batters age was 31.1 years and the average pitchers age was 30.9 years. Going into that season their top prospect was catcher J.R. Towles who has been awful in the big league level with a lifetime .187 average. After that season their top prospect was another catcher named Jason Castro and he has since turned into an All-Star catcher.

 In 2009 the team took a huge step backwards as the players got older and they finished below .500. But the good thing to come out of that season was that they upgraded their farm system and had 3 Top 100 prospects by the end of the season: Jason Castro, Jiovanni Mier, and Jordan Lyles. Two of them have played in the big leagues right now in Castro and Lyles.

 In 2010 they finished 76-86 and the rebuilding had officially begun with the average player age for both pitchers and hitters went below 30 for the first time since 2000. Their top prospects were Jordan Lyles and Jonathon Villar and both have made an impact at the big league level.

 In 2011 with rebuilding in full bloom the Astros finished 56-106, the first time in franchise history they had a lost 100 games in a season. Their top prospects after the season were Jonathon Singleton, Jarred Cosart, and George Springer. The average batter age was 28 and the average pitcher age was 27.

 In their last season in the National League the Astros finished 55-107 which was one game worse than their 2011 record. Their top prospects were Carlos Correa ss Jonathan Singleton, George Springer, Lance McCullers, and Delino DeShield. The average batter age was 26.6 and the average pitcher age was 27.2.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How big of a weapon is speed?

Billy Hamilton of the Reds has always been known for his speed as he stole 155 stolen bases last season and 75 this season while being caught 52 times between those two seasons. In the big leagues he has stolen 9 bases in 9 Plate Appearances including 4 in his first big league start and has scored 6 runs. But that raises a question. How big of a weapon is speed?

Billy has a 0.5 WAR in 9 big league plate appearances and has a 3 Rbaser which is incredible but he doesn't have too much power as he has hit only 13 homers and 2,258 minor league plate appearances . He also is 3-6 and has drawn 2 walks as well for the Reds who are in a big playoff push.

Rickey Henderson, the all time stolen base king scored 2,295 runs and stole 1406 bases while being caught 305 times. He was a good hitter as well as he had 3,055 career hits and launched 297 home runs in his career. His Rbaser is 144 for his 25 year career.

But does that answer the question? For Rickey Henderson he was a 2 time world series champion and 10 time all star, but for Billy Hamilton his career has been too short for him to win any awards at the big league level. I would say it can be a big weapon if you have good hitters as well.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Are the New York Yankees any good?

The New York Yankees, marred by injuries have battled their way to a 79-71 record and only 2.5 games out of a Wild Card berth but are they overrated? They only have a .246 team average which definitely raises some eyebrows as they hit .264 last season and have hit only 136 home runs compared to 245 last season. A big weak spot for them have been RHB as they are hitting only .238 compared to .248 as a LHB.

The teams offensive stars have been attacked by injuries as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson have missed a total of 348 games and Curtis Granderson will be the 1st to appear in his 50th game as he is scheduled to play Center Field and bat leadoff against the Blue Jays.

The Yankees offense isn't the only problem as the pitching has struggled as well. The Yankees pitching staff has an ERA of 4.02 compared to a 3.85 mark the previous season. CC Sabathia who was supposed to be the ace of the Yankees staff has a 4.90 ERA in 31 starts. The ace has actually been Hiroki Kuroda who in 30 starts has a 3.13 ERA in 189.2 innings pitched at the age of 38. The staff has been giving up a lot more hits and is walking more batters. The Yankees pitching staff has a 7.76 ERA in losses but a 2.25 ERA in wins.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Vladmir Guerrero retires

Earlier today Vladimir Guerrero announced his retirement closing the books on what may be a Hall of fame career. But what made him a potential Hall of Famer is unbelievable talent. He hit .318/.379/.553 in his career playing for 4 teams (Expos, Angels, Rangers, and O's). He hit 449 home runs and drove in 1496. He was known as an exceptional bad ball hitter being able to take pitches way out of the strike zone and clobber it.

He was a player who any team wanted and even in his final season in 2011 he managed to hit .290 with 13 home runs and 163 hits. He rarely struck out as he K’d only 985 times in his 16 year career but he walked only 737 which can be attributed to his talent at hitting bad pitches.

His best season was probably his MVP season of 2004 where he hit .337/.391/.598 with 39 homers and 129 RBIs. He even stole 15 bases which would tie for the highest for the remainder of his career (he also had 15 in 2006). He banged 39 doubles and 2 triples giving him 80 extra-base hits on the season. What was even better was the Angels made the playoffs but ended up being swept by the eventual World Series Champions the Boston Red Sox.

His time with the Montreal Expos is probably what he is most known for as he was a lifetime .323/.390/.588 for them while clobbering 234 home runs and driving in 702. He stole 123 bases for them as well. He eventually signed with the Angels as a free agent after the 2003 season and played 6 solid seasons for them including the MVP season of 2004 and he hit .319/.381/.546 with 173 homers and 616 RBIs. Towards the end of his tenure in Anaheim his performance began to decline and he moved to the Texas Rangers for the 2010 season and proceeded to hit .300 with 29 homers and 115 RBIs at the age of 35. He then signed on with the Baltimore Orioles and hit a career low .290/.317/.416 with 13 homers and 61 RBIs.

He hooked on with the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system in 2012 but was eventually cut. He signed with the Long Island Ducks earlier in 2013 but never played a game with them and he eventually announced his retirement.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Jose Fernandez: Baseballs newest young ace

Jose Fernandez does what he does best
When the Miami Marlins called up Jose Fernandez the move was met with a lot of criticism. But it has been a move that has surprisingly worked out for the Marlins as he is the likely Rookie of the Year in the National League.

His stats are incredible for a dismal Miami team: 12-6, 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts and he was an all-star. If you look at the advanced stats his numbers are even more incredible as he has a 177 ERA+ and hitters are hitting .182/.257/.265 against him and that is a .522 OPS. He strikes out batters at a 27.5% rate and walks hitters at a 8.5% rate. He only averages 3.83 Pitches per Plate Appearance. If you use run-converting metrics he would have a 3.44 ERA in an environment like the 2000 Rockies.

He is the NL Rookie of the Year even though his team is awful (54-92 with today's loss to the Atlanta Braves). He has had some issues with getting really fired up (for example yesterdays confrontation with the Braves in his final start of the season due to an innings limit)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How long has Alex Rodriguez really been declining

Alex Rodriguez had an unbelievable 2007 where he hit .314 with 54 home runs and 156 RBIs at the age of 31 but ever since then he has been at a quiet decline. If you look at the basic numbers from 2008-12 you see a player with a .282 average with 129 homers and 447 RBIs. The .282 average is well below his .300 lifetime average but the homers are pretty good. He hit 129 of his 652 home runs in that span. But if you dive into the advanced stats you can see an obvious decline. His XBH% has been down from 12% in 2007 to 9.3% between 2008-12. His AB/HR rate of 10.8 in 2007 is 17.9 between 2008-12.  After striking out 17% of the time in 2007 he has struck out 19% of the time in the same time range and has walked 11.3% compared to a 13.4% in 2007). The last time he posted a WAR above 5 was in 2008 where he had a 6.8 WAR in his last season as a truly great hitter.

His decline has also been off the field as well as he has admitted to steroids in 2009 and has recently been suspended (pending appeal) an unprecedented 211 games because of his connection to the Biogenesis scandal.

 Thanks to for providing the access to the stats.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Interview with Kevin Goldstein

Kevin Goldstein is the Pro Scouting Coordinator for the Houston Astros and a former writer for both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America. He was kind enough to answer some questions I had for him about the Astros farm system.

1. Did the prior experience at Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America help you when you started out with the Astros?
It helped me get noticed and make connections and get noticed. It helped me talk to other General Managers and scouting directors and get noticed in the baseball community

2. What do you think about the Astros system?
We have one of the best systems in baseball as we have good pitchers and hitters. We have a lot of depth and we could be a good team in the next couple of seasons

3 Where do you see Carlos Correa starting the 2014 season in?
too early to say because you have to wait until spring training when all the players come in for spring training and you get a chance to evaluate them and start forming rosters.

4 who is the biggest under the radar prospect in the Astros system in your opinion
there are many prospects who have impressed us and many players considered to be under the radar prospects making an impact and having breakout seasons it makes our farm system one of the best in baseball and we are definitely going to make an impact withing the next couple seasons

5 With the Major League team struggling pitching wise this year could Mark Appel get a cup of coffee next season?
He is very talented like Carlos Correa and he has pitched well but it all depends how he performs next season.

6 With Jason Castro already been proven to be a All-Star catcher where does Max Stassi fit it the organization?
It is a nice problem to have and with Stassi having a breakout season in AA it makes it a closer competition between the two.

Did Jonathon Singletons drug suspension effect how you viewed him?

No because it was a huge mistake and he still has a ton of potential and he said it was a dumb mistake to make and next year we will see how he does and if it has effected him.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Top 10 Prospects Season Wrap-Up

Baseball Prospectus is one of the best sources for player evaluation in both the big leagues and the minor leagues and every year they release a Top 100 Prospect list. But how did they perform this season?

1. Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers
Profar split time between Round Rock and Texas. He hit .240/.316/.338 with 5 homers and 27 Runs Scored in 300 Plate Appearances for the Texas Rangers and hit .278/.370/.438 with 4 homers and 27 Runs Scored in 166 Plate Appearances for Round Rock. He played all over the place in the MLB with time in the outfield, at 3B, SS, and 2B. He has struggled a little bit defensively but that may be because of him moving all around the field.

2. Oscar Taveras, St Louis Cardinals
Taveras struggled with injuries this season but managed to hit .306/.341/.462 in 186 Plate Appearances for AAA Memphis. He made 2 Plate Appearances for the Cardinals Rookie League team as well. He hit 5 homers and scored 25 runs and he played good defense.

3. Gerrit Cole Pittsburgh Pirates
Cole made 12 starts in Indianapolis pitching to a 2.91 ERA and striking out 47 in 68 innings. He gave up only 44 hits and 22 earned runs until he was called up to the Pirates and is currently 6-7 with a 3.76 ERA and 66 strikeouts with 90 hits allowed in 91.1 innings pitched. His K/BB is actually better than it was in AAA.

4 Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles
He missed the entire season due to Tommy John Surgery

5. Zack Wheeler New York Mets
Wheeler made 13 starts in Las Vegas before being called up to the Mets. He pitched 68.2 innings giving up 61 hits and striking out 73 but walking 27. Since being called up he has made 15 starts compiling 88 innings with 75 strikeouts with 39 walks. He has a 7-4 record for the Mets.

6 Jose Fernandez Miami Marlins
What bad things can you say about Fernandez. He has played the entire season with the Marlins and will easily win Rookie of the Year for an awful Miami team. He has a 2.23 ERA in 27 starts with an 11-6 record in 165.2 innings and striking out 182 with a 175 ERA+.

7. Wil Myers Tampa Bay Rays
Another prospect that came up in June and made an impact was Wil Myers who hit .286/.356/.520 in AAA Durham before getting the callup to Tampa Bay where he has hit .286/.348/.468 with 11 homers and 34 runs scored. He has shown a good eye for a 22-year old with 25 walks. He has been great defensively as well.

8. Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
Buxton has been having a fantastic season in the low minors with a .334/.424/.520 line in 574 between 2 levels of Class-A ball. With 18 triples and 55 Stolen Bases he is easily one of the speediest prospects in the Minor Leagues.

9. Taijuan Walker Seattle Mariners
Walker made 25 starts combined between AA and AAA and pitched to a 2.93 ERA with 160 strikeouts in 141.1 innings. He has since been called up and has made 2 starts for the Mariners with a 3.60 ERA and only 4 strikeouts in 10 innings

10 Francisco Lindor Cleveland Indians
Lindor hit .303/.380/.407 in 403 Plate Appearances between A+ and AA. He hit 7 triples and stole 25 bases while playing poor defense. He walked more times than he struck out which is outstanding for a 19 year old player in the minor leagues.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Guest Post: Cubs Season Recap

Written by: Ricky Linares
As we know, the horrid season of the Chicago Cubs is coming to a close. In my opinion the Cubs are one more bad season away before they start winning more than 70+ games.  I'd like to start off by stating my opinion on the cubs season. If you recall the cubs bullpen was awful in the beginning to midpoint of the season. Carlos Marmol, James Russell, Shawn Camp to name a few. The cubs had a chance in almost all those games. I believe that the bullpen cost the cubs at least 5 wins by blowing the lead late in the games. Besides that the cubs pitchers has done decent for a none contending team.  Jeff Samardizja has done well for his first full season as a starter. He had some great games where he was striking out players left and right. He flashes a starter at times but his pitch count would stack up fast and he would not be able to go more than 5-6 innings. Travis Wood was great in the first half almost guaranteeing a quality start every time he started but has since then fallen back to earth. One of my favorite moments of the year is when Scott Feldman had his first career complete game. I was on the edge of my seat hoping he would get done and he deserved it. When Matt Garza returned to the rotation he was stellar to say the least and was surprised he didn't get injured before being traded. He had the same velocity and the stuff looked like a 2 at times which helped the cubs get C.J Edwards, Mike Olt, Neil Ramirez and Jake Arieta. On to the Cubs young hitters. Anthony Rizzo has done nice for his first full year as a big leaguer. He has hit .230, 21 home runs, and getting on base at a .326 . Starlin Castro... His season has been an underachievement after having great seasons the past two years. He's batting .244, his onbase is not good enough to sustain batting high in the order. Once 2013 is over Castro must put this behind him and work hard this offseason. 2014 is a big year for Castro he could be traded if he's not performing. That's it for mlb players, now to down on the farm. The Cubs minor league system has been exciting to watch this year. A few highlights are Javier Baez had a four homer game in A+ Daytona, Daytona has had two no-hitters, lastly Baez,Vogelbach and Pierce Johnson were promoted after having nice seasons showing they were ready for a tougher challenge. Pierce Johnson gets my vote as pitcher of the year for the cubs minor league system. He has shown that he can handle A- Kane County dominating at times. At Kane county he through 69.2 innings allowing 109 hits striking out 84 walking 43 his average against LH and average against RH. In Daytona he has still handle the hitters with ease at times, 48.2  innings 41 hits 50 Ks and 21 walks. As for my hitter of the year Dan Vogelbach gets the nod. His stats combined with Kane county and Daytona: batting .284 19 homers OBP a stellar .375 SLG .449. Walk to K ratio discounting intentional walks was a nice 70-89. Dan has a long way to go in his journey to the show and when he does I invision him as a solid replica of David Ortiz. 

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Quick Decline of Daniel Bard

Daniel Bard from 2009-11 was one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. He rarely gave up any hits and struck out a bunch of batters. But in 2012 he suddenly struggled when he was changed into a starting pitcher. He struggled with his command and didn't strike out many batters, was eventually returned to the bullpen, and then continued to struggle in Pawtucket with his control.

In 2013 he struggled in 2 MLB relief appearances pitching 1 inning total before going back to Pawtucket. He went as far as Low-A Lowell due to his struggles in the high minors. What makes this more shocking is that he is 28 years old and should be entering, not exiting his prime.

But who is to blame? Is it the Red Sox for trying to turn him into a starter? Or is it Bard not commanding his pitches. His downfall began in 2011 after a 2.05 ERA in the first half he declined to a 5.05 second half ERA and hitters hitting .256/.396/.376 in the Red Sox historic September collapse in the 2011 season and a 11/9 K/BB ratio.

He was Designated for Assignment by the Red Sox (Link) this week hoping he can clear waivers to return to the minors and regain his form. But is it too late?

NBPA: Franchise Hockey Manager review

Franchise Hockey Manager is a new hockey game that is trying to improve on what Eastside Hockey Manager did. The first release was today and I have the game as I helped on the research team.

REVIEW: This game has a lot of potential. It is probably a lot better than many first attempts at video game development. It as of right  now not near the level of OOTP but it is definitely eventually going to go up there in quality.

Graphics: Good looking game for a text-sim. No graphics what so ever. Some glitches and bug but they can be patched. 7.5/10

Gameplay: Some bugs but they can be patched. Gameplay is simulation gameplay and you do not actually control the player. Great hockey manager game especially in the realm of there are multiple leagues with their own individual rules. 8.0/10

 Quality: Good quality especially for the 1st version of a hockey sim. Has so much potential and is the first hockey sim in quite some time. Some small issues however that might make the game unplayable for people. 7.5/10

Overall: Very impressive game it has as much potential as Mike Trout. However potential does not reflect where it is now and has some big issues at release.