July 2010

What can Brown do for you?

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(By Dave)

Domonic Brown was just called up and will take over for Shane Victorino in the Philadelphia center field with the Flyin’ Hawaiian DL’ed due to an abdominal strain on his left side.

Here’s what you need to know about the 22-year-old outfielder:
  • Was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball in their Midseason Updated Top 25 Prospects”, released on July 9, 2010. 
  • Has made Triple-A look like Candy Land, posting a .346/.390/.561 triple-slash for Lehigh since his midseason callup, including five homers, six doubles, 21 RBIs and five steals with a 8/22 BB/K ratio over  107 at-bats.
  • Finished last season with a .299-14-64 line with 23 steals across three Minor League levels.
  • Is the best five-tool player and athletes in the Minors, outside of (maybe) Desmond Jennings.
Now, it’s unclear how long Victorino will be out, and it’s also unclear if the Phillies will make any moves at the Trade Deadline to free up a spot for Brown for the rest of the season — this could easily just be a two-week callup.
With that said, if Brown were to play out the rest of the season, I’d project a .305-5-18 line with 7 steals and 19 runs scored the rest of the way, with more value than other outfielders like Jose Tabata, Jay Bruce, Jose Guillen, Johnny Damon, Brennan Boesch, Austin Jackson and Raul Ibanez

When toiletries attack: Marlins call up Logan Morrison

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By Ian Kay

The Marlins have wanted to get Logan Morrison into the Major League lineup for a while, but probably not like this.

Left fielder Chris Coghlan will miss six to eight weeks after suffering a knee injury in a shaving cream pie celebration gone bad following Florida’s walk-off win on Sunday. Morrison has been promoted from Triple-A to take Coghlan’s roster spot and presumably keep an eye on any uppity toothpaste, shampoo or hair gel hanging around the Marlins clubhouse. 
Losing Coghlan isn’t a major blow for most owners. The outfielder had a big June but did little in the season’s other three months, hitting .268 with five homers and 10 steals overall. Morrison, however, could be the real cream filling in this unfortunate situation.
Baseball America’s No. 16 mid-season prospect, Morrison profiles closer to current Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez than right fielder Mike Stanton at this point. The 22-year-old has a career .292/.383/.465 Minor League line and is hitting an even more appetizing .307/.427/.487 with six home runs in 293 Triple-A at-bats this season. He controls the strike zone very well (48 BB, 35 SO this season) and hasn’t shown a major platoon split, which should make for a relatively easy transition to the big leagues. 
Morrison is primarily a first baseman, but he’s played 19 games in left field this season and figures to see most of his lineup time there unless the Fish deal Jorge Cantu before the Trade Deadline and shift Sanchez to third. While skipper Edwin Rodriguez said Morrison will initially share playing time with Emilio Bonifacio, that arrangement shouldn’t last long. Bonifacio can’t hit; Morrison can. 
While he’s probably long gone in dynasty formats, Morrison should be an immediate add in all NL-only leagues and 12-team mixers. As long as an early-season shoulder injury isn’t an issue, he’ll provide immediate help in the average category and could surprise with his power. Owners in OBP leagues should pay even closer attention. I peg him for a .291 AVG, 26 R, 7 HR, 23 RBI and 2 SB the rest of the way, with more value than Johnny Damon, Jose Guillen, Troy Glaus and Ike Davis.

Tradespin: Dan Haren done dealing in the desert

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By Ian Kay

The Angels and Diamondbacks got together on a deal Sunday, with right-hander Dan Haren heading to Lala Land in exchange for left-hander Joe Saunders, pitching prospects Rafael Rodriguez and Patrick Corbin and a player to be named later — reportedly pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs.

What the Angels got:

In Dan Haren, the Halos receive…well, that depends. Between ’05 and ’09, the right-hander was one of the baseball’s great under-appreciated assets. Over those five seasons — the first three with the A’s, the last two in Arizona — he averaged 15 wins per season with a 3.53 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 7.8 K/9. His K/BB paced the Majors in each of the past two campaigns.
This year, however, has been a different story. Despite increasing his K-rate once again (he’s done that in each successive season of his career) to 9.00 and keeping his walks at a better-than-respectable 1.9 BB/9, Haren is 7-8 with a 4.60 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. The difference? Our old friends, BABIP, HR/FB rate and LOB percentage. 
Haren is seeing more balls in play drop for hits (.350 BABIP in ’10, .305 career), more of his flyballs leave the park (13.9 percent in ’10, 11.1 career) and stranding fewer runners on base (70.9 percent in ’10, 73.2 career) than usual. Plain and simple, it’s bad luck. That’s really the only explanation for a 4.86 K/BB ratio producing an ERA worse than the league average.
Sometimes, a change of scenery is the perfect solution to luck-induced mediocrity. Haren moves to a tougher league, but he’ll also toss home turns in a far more pitcher-friendly ballpark and have a much more reliable bullpen protecting potential victories. There’s no guarantee he’ll turn things around this year, but the percentages are in his favor. I liked him as a buy low before and I like him even better now. How does 7 wins with a 3.11 ERA, 84 Ks and a 1.08 WHIP sound? Good? I thought so. Make an offer if his owner isn’t into the whole “advanced stats” thing.
What the Diamondbacks got:

In short, not much fantasy owners need to worry about. This looks more like a salary dump than anything else.
Joe Saunders is what he is at this point: a pitch-to-contact lefty whose ERA is mostly dependent on luck. He posted a 3.41 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in ’08 thanks to a .257 BABIP, but a 4.61 mark in 306 innings since then is probably a better indicator of his true talent level. Chase Field deflates his fantasy value slightly, but Saunders was just spot start material in 12-team mixed leagues anyway.
The other players the D-backs received figure to have even less immediate fantasy value than Saunders. Rafael Rodriguez is a right-handed reliever with 32 2/3 Major League innings under his belt. Arizona’s ‘pen has been a mess all year, but even Raf-Rod isn’t a high-K option and probably won’t factor into the saves picture any time soon.
Neither Patrick Corbin nor Tyler Skaggs has pitched above Class A, but Arizona’s return in this trade will ultimately depend on their development. Skaggs, the 40th overall pick in the ’09 Draft, has a 3.60 ERA and 82 Ks in 82 1/3 innings with Class A Cedar Rapids. Corbin, a second-rounder a year ago, has a 3.88 ERA and 64 whiffs in 60 1/3 innings one level higher at High-A Rancho Cucamonga. Both should be on the radar for owners in deep dynasty formats, but they’re still at least two years away from contributing in the Majors.

Flash Gordon Approaching (again)

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(By Dave)

It only took David DeJesus dislodging his thumb in a nearly catastrophic
way, but, yeah, Alex Gordon is finally back in the Majors with the Royals.

Get out the chips and guac — this could be big!

Wait, actually, put them back. Before we get too excited,
let’s rewind.

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft
and the 2006 Baseball American Minor League Player of the Year, Gordon started
off the season as the Royals’ starting third baseman after a few injury-plagued
and lackluster years in the bigs.

The 2010 campaign didn’t start out so hot for Gordon, as the
26-year-old hit .194 (6-for-31) with a double, home run, RBI and 5 runs scored
in 12 games for the Royals before getting demoted to Omaha.

And when Gordon gets demoted to Omaha, Gordon gets mad. And
when Gordon gets mad, pitchers get obliterated.

Since his demotion into Counting Crows Country, Gordon shifted to the outfield and hit .315
(82-for-260) with 20 doubles, three triples, 14 home runs, 44 RBI and 59 runs
scored over 59 games. 

Hey, quit doodling his name on your binder, I’m not done
here.

Those numbers translate into a stellar .315/.442/.577
triple-slash, and, yes, that’s really a .442 OBP, and, yes, at this point I
just want to see how many commas I can fit into one sentence.

In all seriousness, Gordon deserves legit consideration even
in shallow mixed leagues. Crazier things have happened than a former blue-chip
prospect finally figuring it out at the age of 26.

Just don’t tell Brandon Wood that. 

Take your pick: Reyes or Kinsler?

By Ian Kay
Working on a trade in a 10-team mixed league this morning, I was offered a choice between Jose Reyes and Ian Kinsler.
Both are middle infielders with stud potential but plenty of  injury issues. One is a shortstop with 70-steal wheels. The other is a 30/30-caliber keystone. 
Who’s the better value the rest of the way? Let’s pro/con this together, folks.
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Why Reyes?
Speed: It’s probably the most valuable commodity in the roto game, and Reyes has more of it than just about anyone. He’s stolen at least 56 bases in each of his five full seasons and is 19-for-21 in theft attemps this year. Kinsler is a speed merchant in his own right, but Reyes is in a whole different category.
Position: There are fewer quality shortstops than second basemen this season. Besides Hanley Ramirez, which of baseball’s star offensive options play short? There’s Troy Tulowitzki (currently on the DL), Jimmy Rollins (down year) and, uh, that’s about it. In a 12-team league, guys like Marco Scutaro and Cliff Pennington are starters at short. Check out the Yahoo! position rankings for three players who qualify at both slots: Ben Zobrist: No. 4 SS, No. 8 2B; 
Juan Uribe: No. 10 SS, No. 14 2B; Jeff Keppinger: No. 15 SS, No. 19 2B. Juan Uribe as a 10-team starter? That’s a serious lack of depth.
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Why Kinsler?
Power: What Kinsler loses to Reyes in speed, he makes up for in power. The second baseman hit 31 homers last season and has a career .472 slugging percentage. Reyes’ career high was 19 bombs back in ’06. His career slugging mark is nearly 40 points lower at .433. While the pair is dead even at six homers each right now, that likely won’t be the case for long. Kinsler’s gone yard five times in his last 20 games — including one each of the past two nights — and is slugging .617 in that span.
Environment: Rangers Ballpark is a hitter’s paradise, especially when the weather really heats up late in the summer. Kinsler’s lineup spot is also pretty cushy — behind Michael Young‘s .353 OBP and in front of Josh Hamilton and Vlad Guerrero‘s combined 145 RBIs. Reyes, meanwhile, plays home games at cavernous Citi Field and won’t see many RBI opportunities leading off for an NL team. 
The Verdict
Personally, I’m going with Reyes. The gap between these two is razor thin, but the chance at 20-plus second half steals without hurting my batting average is too much to pass up. That said, if I needed a second baseman more or was hurting in the power categories, I’d have no reservations adding Kinsler to my squad.

Mid-afternoon snack with Pedro and Tommy

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(By Dave)

I already covered Aramis Ramirez in today’s Rundown, but I
wanted to dedicate a little space to two other players who have been really, really good lately. 

Pedro Alvarez, 3B,
Pirates

          Alvarez went 2-for-4 last night with a pair of homers and
five RBIs. One of those homers was a grand slam.  Guess what the other one was.

Since July 9, he’s hitting.355 (11-for-31) and slugging .742
with three homers, three doubles and eight RBIs. This is good.

He’s also walked five times in this span, compared to the
six walks he drew in his previous 72 at-bats – Growth!

The bad news is the strikeouts – Pedro continues to whiff at
an incredible 38.8 clip, pretty much tarnishing any change of his ability to
sustain an average north of .300 (or probably even .275) the rest of the way.

With that said, he’s strong like bull (.277-13-53 line for
Triple-A Indianpolis) and should be a productive hot cornerman the rest of the
way.

It wouldn’t surprise me if he outproduces Scott Rolen,
Michael Cuddyer, Chase Headley and if he’s really really really really really
lucky, Chris Davis.

 

Tommy Hunter, SP,
Rangers

          Hunter tossed seven shutout innings last night vs. the
Tigers, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out three to improve
to 7-0 with a 2.09 ERA.

Eight of Hunter’s nine starts have been quality

His 1.11 WHIP is delicious.

His 31/14 K/BB ratio does not forebode well. At all.

His .253 BABIP tells me tells me this is some spicy psychedelic
lights show about to go very wrong.

His next two starts are against both likely to be against
the Angels, and I’d sell him immediately for pretty much any good pitcher who’s
production hasn’t been living up to his draft stock (I’m well aware of how
poorly constructed that last sentence was. But I’m pretty much referencing
Javier Vazquez, Wandy Rodriguez, James Shields and Chad Billingsley).

 

Spot Check: Call my name, Alejandro

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By Ian Kay

Here are a few widely-available starters whose matchups, recent performance and horoscope readings point to useful turns in the next couple days.

Because why use a roster spot on one pitcher when you can use it on three?
Mixed league
Brett Myers, Astros (available in 76 percent of Yahoo! leagues)
Start: Wednesday, July 21 at Cubs
Outlook: Why is Myers still a spot starter? Why is he available in so many leagues? Stop the madness! Myers has gone at least six innings in each of his 19 starts this season, has a 3.19 ERA since the beginning of May and won’t kill your WHIP. The Cubs have the fourth-worst offense in the NL and Myers already shut them down once this season (6 2/3 IP, 9 baserunners, 2 ER, 6 Ks and a win on June 6). Grab him and hold him until things go south — I’m begging you.
Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies (51 percent available)
Start: Thursday, July 22 vs. Marlins
Outlook: JDLR’s first couple turns after returning from a 10-week DL stint were pretty messy (7 2/3 IP, 10 H, 11 ER, 6/6 K/BB), but I say he rights the ship on Thursday. Ks have always been his calling card and only the D-backs have struck out more then the Marlins this year. Mike Stanton already has hat hair from the Golden Sombrero-to-be (just kidding — Dave <3’s Mike Stanton and so do I).
AL-only
Marc Rzepczynski, Blue Jays (99 percent available)
Start: Wednesday, July 21 at Royals
Outlook: It’s uncertain how many starts Rzepczynski will make for Toronto, but he’s someone who should be on the AL-only radar. The left-hander posted a 3.67 ERA in 11 turns for the Blue Jays last season and he comes with definite whiff potential — 9.5 career Minor League K/9, 60 Ks in 61 1/3 big league innings last year and 10 more in 6 2/3 frames this season. The Royals have the AL’s highest batting average (that stat is guaranteed to win you money in a bar bet), but their lineup seriously lacks pop. Roll the dice with Rzepczynski. And for the record, it’s pronunced “zep-CHIN-ski”.
NL-only
Alex Sanabia, Marlins (99 percent available)
Start: Friday, July 23 vs. Braves
Outlook: Summer, 2010: Lady Gaga’s hit song “Alejandro” surges into the top-5 on pop charts worldwide. Simultaneously, Alex Sanabia posts a 2.03 ERA and 65/16 K/BB ratio for Double-A Jacksonville. Alex’s real first name: Alejandro. Coincidence? I don’t think so either. Clearly, what we have here is a spurned right-hander trying to win back his pop icon ex-girlfriend by upping his strikeout rate and limiting walks in his first season in the high Minors. “Don’t call my name, don’t call my name, Alejandro.” It’s working, too. Sanabia held the Nationals scoreless and struck out five over 5 2/3 innings in his last start. “I’m not your babe, I’m not your babe, Alejandro.” The Braves have scored more than four runs just three times in July. If Sanabia pitches a no-hitter Friday while Gaga cheers him on wearing only her underwear and a Marlins jersey — well, he might just become mixed league relevant.

Tales of Giancarlo

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(By Dave)

Note: I have no idea why the rest of this post is in bold, SO BACK OFF

Mike Stanton has been hitting the ball very well and far lately.  Let’s dig a little deeper.

The 21-year-old outfielder is batting just .235 on the year with six homers, 23 RBIs, a .445 slugging and an 11/55 BB/K ratio. Those are not the kind of numbers that inspire conga lines.

But these might:

.313-21-52 line in just 192 at-bats with Double-A Jacksonville.

And so might these:

Over his last 11 games, Stanton’s batting .297 (11-for-37) with four homers, four doubles, 10 RBIs and a .730 slugging percentage. If that wasn’t enough, and perhaps it isn’t, he’s also shown a more-mature-but-sure,-it’s-not-incredible 5/11 BB/K ratio in that span, and he’s only fanned once in his last five games. Show me progress!

With a free-swinging approach, it only makes sense that it would take some time for Stanton to morph into a Major League hitter. And to take an Ian Kay approach to this little writeup, Stanton is owned in only 25 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Personally, I’d rather take a flier on his power potential than keep the likes of Jose Bautista, Brennan Boesch and maybe even Colby Rasmus. 

Weekend tidbits

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By Dave

Things I liked and disliked over the weekend:

Matt Diaz: Raise your hand if you like platoon players. Come on! Diaz went a
combined 5-for-8 with two homers, five RBIs and two doubles between Saturday and
Sunday. He’s batting .400 (14-for-35) with a .829 slugging for July. For those
of you who are actually disciplined enough to go about it, Diaz is the perfect
platoon option to insert in your lineup, as he owns a .278/.316/.574
triple-slash vs. lefties this year, and is a lifetime .341 hitter vs.
southpaws. NOW raise your hand if you like platoon players. Thought so. 

Gordon Beckham: Ian
already covered most of GBex here, but feel free to bend Beckham again after
his 4-for-4 Sunday.

Yunel Escobar: Went
3-for-4 with a grand slam – his first homer of ’10 – on Sunday, and is 6-for-13
as a member of the Blue Jays. Yu know yu want to pick up Yunel.

Dexter Fowler:  Everyone’s favorite serial killer went
1-for-12 on the weekend which improves his slump to 1-for-25. Time to cut bait.
Few managers are as fickle as Jim Tracy, so expect Fowler to lose at-bats immediately.

Travis Wood: Took
the tough-luck loss vs. the Rockies on Sunday despite limiting Colorado to one
earned run over six innings while striking out six against four walks. With
quality starts in three out of four tries and a 23/9 K/BB ratio, there’s some good
Wood here.

Jeanmar Gomez: Tossed
seven innings of earned-run-free ball and fanned four in his first career start
vs. the Tigers on Sunday. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he posted
a 5.78 ERA and a 67/41 K/BB ratio over 101 innings for Triple-A Columbus this
season. Now the not-so-bad, kinda-good news is that Gomez went 10-4 with a 3.43
ERA and a 109/40 K/BB ratio over 123 1/3 innings last season as a 22-year-old
in Double-A. This portion of good news/bad news/not-so-bad, kind-good news is
brought to you by Advil.

Starlin Castro: Batting
.545 (12-for-22) over his last six games with three doubles, a triple, two RBIs
and two steals. Hitting .367 and slugging .571 on the month and has hit safely
in 17 of his last 19 games. Just press click.

Kevin Kouzmanoff: Went
5-for-13 with a homer, two doubles and seven RBIs over three-game series with
the Royals. And that’s why you pick up guys when facing Royals pitching.

Jose Tabata: The
guy that Pirates got from the Yankees for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte is
batting .458 (11-for-24) with four doubles, three RBIs and two steals since
July 9. Need steals? No? Well, need a Pirate? Yeah, ya do.

Justin Smoak: Went
0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Sunday. Wait! There’s good news! Went 5-for-7
with two homers and four RBIs between Friday and Saturday. I’m not saying you
should start doodling his name in your binder, but you should at least consider
dumping Chris Davis for him.

Chris Davis: Whoa, sorry there Chris — didn’t see ya standing there. Davis is batting .182 (4-for-22) with zero extra-base hits since his callup
after the Smoak deal. I want to ❤ Davis so much but he gives me no choice
but to start seeing other people.

Miguel Montero: In
the middle of a 3-for-27 slump and is reason No. 219 why you shouldn’t have
drafted a catcher before Round 20 this year.

Geovany Soto: Unless
it was Geovany Soto! Soto’s been hitting .373 with three homers, six doubles, 14
RBIs and seven runs since June 27.

Jay Bruce: Batting
.109 with nary a homer or RBI since July 2. How bad is a .109 average? It’s
5-for-46. Now just look at how small that first number is compared to that
second number.

Chris Perez: With
Kerry Wood on the DL, Perezis the new closer in Cleveland. He saved Saturday’s
first game against the Tigers. It was a double-header. How fun are those?

Rickie Weeks: Went 3-for-5 with two homers on Sunday, is batting
.429 (9-for-21) over a five-game hitting streak and now sports a .272-17-57
line on the year. How much do you hate yourself for vowing not to be fooled by
Weeks again?

 

 

 

 

 

Injuries-a-go-go: Justin Morneau

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By Dave

Justin Morneau hurt his head and is now officially on the
DL. The move is retroactive to July 8 but Morneau’s injury trail is retroactive
to 2005. And just because you can’t replace a guy who is hitting .345 with 18
homers and 56 RBIs doesn’t mean you can’t try.

Pickup possibilities:

        
Casey Kotchman – Hitting .400 (12-for-30) with
four homers and seven RBIs in last 10 games. That’s the good news. The not good
news is that Justin Smoak started over him last night and that the chances of
Kotchman replicating those numbers even without Smoak hovering around him are
nein!

        
Travis Ishikawa – Wiretap favorite, Ishikawa has
hit safely in eight of his last 10 games, batting  .375 (12-for-32) with a home run and 11 RBIs
in that span. Remember Crystal Clear Pepsi? That was awesome. Remember Crystal
Clear Gravy? Also awesome. Remember Ishikawa socking nine homers with 49 runs
scored and 39 RBIs in 300 at-bats as a starter last season? Also , also awesome.

        
Chris Davis – You knew this already. See — here’s proof. Just ignore that whole paragraph on Wieters, k? Good. 

        
Justin Smoak? – Worth monitoring but let’s see a
pulse before we press click, k?

Matt Wieters also landed on the DL yesterday. This is
actually good news since having him in your lineup everyday was likely hurting
you more than just leaving that roster blank. If only now you are tracking down
a replacement and ignored the Carlos Santana, Buster Posey, Miguel Olivo and
anyone-not-named-Matt-Wieters gravy train, then your team has probably been out
of contention and you probably aren’t reading this right now.