Xmas in June Continues: Carlos Santana Called Up

June 11, 2010

Indians fans and fantasy owners alike rejoice. We can stop obsessively Google searching his name now that ESPN Desportes reports Carlos Santana will arrive in Cleveland to start behind the plate tonight against the Washington Nationals. If you can’t read Spanish, click this.

Welcome to the show Carlos. Now go show ’em what you got!

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Bloops and Bleeders: Stolen Baby Edition

June 10, 2010

Wow, I didn’t realize Pittsburgh’s newest lead-off man, Jose Tabata, thought SB stood for “Stolen Baby.” Yowza! Credit Grey from Razzball for that one. As I said previously, he’s fast and gets on base, so if you need a speedy outfielder go get him. Here’s a run down on some other goings on going on in the baseball mundo both real and fantastic.

I offered a trade of Nick Swisher and Jaime Garcia to SD (not to be confused with wrestler S.D. Jones) from my keeper league, in exchange for Justin Verlander. The response was priceless:

“this is actually a decent offer, but I love Verlander and I think I’ll need him going nuts down the stretch. I’ll take a look and maybe propose something more skewed to only help me.”

I appreciated your honesty Sean.

Delmon Young lost some weight, got in better shape and has looked like an improved player this season. Fortunately, he hasn’t lost his sense of humor.

“Second base seems like it’s in left center when I get to first sometimes,” he said. Where did it seem last year? “I never really got on base until September, he said, so I couldn’t tell you.”

Thanks J.D. for that one. For more Delmania, check out Dave Golebiewski’s piece on the former can’t miss prospect’s reemergence.

With G.M. Kenny Williams waving the white flag on the South Side, the ChiSox are open for business. A few of the high salary names bandied about as possible trade bait are Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzinski, Bobby Jenks, J.J. Putz and Scott Linebrink. Jake Peavy says that if the pale hose look to rebuild, he’ll ask for a trade. That doesn’t seem likely though as Williams was quoted as saying:

“If we do something it will be along the lines of shuffling the deck with the expectation that we’re going to add impact guys to win,” said Williams, adding: “I have to listen. It’s not that I want to, but I’m not blind.”

From the sound of it, Williams hasn’t really given up on this year and Peavy’s is owed $33 million over the next two seasons with either a $4 million buy out or another $22 million in 2013. There aren’t many teams that are willing to come up with that kind of scratch, so he’d be very tough to move regardless.

Another front line pitcher who’s name is appearing frequently in trade rumors is Cliff Lee. With the Mariners mired in last place and showing little signs of life, it’s expected that they’ll deal the former Cy Young winning lefty at some point before the July 31 deadline. Of course the Yankees are the first team who’ve been mentioned as a destination for Lee. The Yanks however say they have no intention of going after a starter, in spite of having the prospects (Jesus Montero, Eduardo Nunez, Austin Romine) that could bring in such a quality arm.

Needing a bat to replace DH Nick Johnson, who shockingly is spending his Yankee cash on the DL, The Yankees are said to have scouts looking at Lance Berkman. Berkman would be a nice fit in that lineup but he is making $14.5 million this year, which might be a stumbling block to any move for the Big Puma. It seems like Puma and fellow Astros stalwart Roy Oswalt, are not long for Houston, which is about as much of a surprise as Johnson getting hurt.

While the Yankees are usually the first team mentioned when other teams make their top-tier talent available, the Mets as usual are setting their sights a little lower. Such illustrious names as Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie and Jake Westbrook have been said to be scouted by Queens’ Finest. Exciting stuff for Mets fans. Don’t expect to see any deal coming out of Flushing until we approach the July 31 trade deadline, when prices will drop.

St. Louis added some depth to their battered pitching staff today, by reacquiring Jeff Suppan who had been recently waived by the Brewers. The Cards will pay Suppan the prorated minimum, while the Brew crew get the pleasure of picking up the rest of the $10.5 million they owed the disappointing pitcher. After a successful run in St. Louis from 2004-2006, culminating with a starring role in their post season surge (Mets fans remember that well), Suppan signed with Milwaukee for 4 years and $42 million, then the richest contract in team history. Perhaps Dave Duncan can sprinkle his magic pixie dust on Suppan and turn him back into a serviceable hurler.

One pitcher that I left out of the last rookie round-up is Madison Bumgarner. With Todd Wellemeyer-wiener making a preemptive leave from his start today in Cincy with a strained quad, we may see the highly touted lefty arriving in San Francisco soon. Word is Wellemeyer may need a trip to the DL. Bumgarner posted a nano-tastic 0.94 ERA in May, but has come back to Earth in his two June starts. On the year, he’s 6-1 with a 3.13 ERA/1.37 WHIP, 47K/20BB in 69 innings at AAA Fresno. I wrote a little already about the 20 year old’s return to form after a poor spring and the addition of a cutter to his repetoire. Bumgarner’s numbers look nice on the surface, but his BB/K rate isn’t great and he’s got a 3.99 FIP. Expect that number to jump if he’s called up. While he might be a asset in deep leagues, I don’t see him as more than a streaming option in 12 team mixed right now.

Note: Madison Bumgarner was suspended three games and fined for blowing up at an umpire during his Monday loss. He’ll serve his suspension tomorrow, Sunday and Monday, making him eligible to pitch by the next time Wellemeyers turn in the rotation comes up, next week against Baltimore.

Because everyone loves to mock failure, I’ll leave you with this video from last night of Oakland outfielder, Matt Carson face-plant into the wall from yesterday’s 7-1 Angels win over the A’s.

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Stephen Strasburg Leads The Rookie Parade

June 10, 2010

…And on the eight day, God created Stephen Strasburg and he was very good. As baseball followers know, the Capitol City phenom made his first entry into Baseball’s history books last night with a scintillating 14 strikeout, zero walk victorious debut against the hapless Pirates. The first overall pick of last year’s draft exceeded all expectations, gunning down the Pittsburgh batters with prodigious power, precision and a maturity perhaps never before seen in a pitcher so young. Across the Maryland border, Matt Wieters scoffed at another player being The Chosen One and immediately got three hits in defiance.

While Strasburg worked his magic before a rabid D.C. crowd (nice to see that kind of excitement in Washington) another youngster was making a splash a short trip up I-95 in Philidelphia. Mike Stanton premiered with the Florida Marlins after decimating AA this year. The hulking outfielder who lead all of minor league baseball in homers with 21 in 52 games, picked up three singles in five plate appearances in the Fish’s 10-8 loss to the Phillies.

But wait, there’s more! You may have missed the above players in your league, or whiffed on Heyward, Jaime Garcia or Leake, but don’t cry with one eye like the Indian in the old PSA. there are more rookies who’ve just arrived, or on the way, who can help your fantasy teams this season. Here are a few…

Jose Tabata made his big league debut for Pittsburgh against Washington tonight, going 2 for 4 with a run scored and a steal. Good timing for the Pirates, since everyone’s still talking Strasburg. Tabata lead the International league in stolen bases and contributed a 42R/3HR/19RBI/25SB/.318/.385/.436 line in 247 PA at AAA Indianapolis. His base stealing prowess is something of a new development, but Tabata has always displayed an advanced plate discipline, which sets apart the good speedy guys from your average fast whoshisface.

Brad Lincoln made his debut the above mentioned game for the Buccos tonight and had a rather inauspicious start to his major league career, surrendering five runs on two BB, seven hits and a homer, while striking out three in six innings to take the loss. Lincoln, the 4th overall pick in the 2006 draft had solid numbers in AAA prior to his arrival in the show, going 6-2 3.16/.99/14BB/55K in 68 2/3 innings of work. He’s not more than a streamer in 12 team right now, but keep an eye on the kid.

While we’re talking Pirates, we can’t pass up an opportunity to mention hometown hero in the making, Pedro Alvarez, who I hope to see with the big club soon. The red hot Washington Heights native has picked up his numbers and currently posts a line of 37/11/48/3/.283/.374 over 246 PA. Expect Andy LaRoche to be traded and hard-hitting young slugger to move on up to the big time soon.

Jake Arrieta makes his first big league start tomorrow against the Yankees. The O’s 2008 5th round pick out of Texas Christian University (so he’s got god on his side, along with Matt Wieters) has been almost Strasburg-like in his domination of AAA hitters, going 6-2 with a 1.85 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and a 34/64 BB/K split in 73 innings before being pegged as a human sacrifice, so Jeremy Guthrie can get an extra day of rest. The Baltimore Orioles saw how Washington lined up Strasburg against the weak hitting Pirates and said, “Pfft. That’s too easy. We want our young star in the making to have a challenge!” So Arrieta gets to have his young spirit horse crushed by the Bronx Bombers in their series finale tomorrow. Way to ease a kid into the show Charm City.

Carlos Santana is still in AAA, which hurts my heart. It’s like having Christmas come late. Only worse, because I have money the on the pagan celebration falling on Jesus’ birthday. C.S. Smooth keeps making AAA pitchers wish they were never born with nary a peep about an arrival date in Cleveland. Oh he’s raking by the way, to the tune of 36R/12HR/47RBI/6SB(!)/.314/.447 (best in the minors)/.580

Andrew Cashner got his call to the bigs last week, as Epic Beard Lou and the Cubbies continue to throw shit against the wall to see what sticks in the bullpen. Not to say Cashner’s shit by any means. To the contrary, by Cubs 2008 first round pick (19th overall) was dynamite in AA and AAA before being sent to Chi-Town. Over the two levels, Cashner racked up an impressive line: 6-1/15BB/59K/2.05 ERA/.95WHIP in 57 innings (9 starts in 11 appearances). Cashner’s racked up four scoreless innings in the majors so far and looks to be in line to become the Cubs setup man, which would mean closer if Marmol screws the pooch.

Matt Carson had a cup of coffee in Oakland last season, as well as this past April, getting one start before being sent back to AAA Sacramento. Down on the farm he went 25/6/19/9/.293/.362 in 138 PA before getting recalled today. Carson who turns 29 next month, started in center tonight, going 0-3. The Swiss Army Knife of an outfielder is an under the radar kind of player, who can do a little bit of everything. If you asked me before the season, which Oakland outfield prospect would make an impact in 2010, I’d have gone with Michael Taylor. The more heralded outfielder and presumed heir-apparent in center has struggled however and if Carson makes his presence felt, he can have some value for the A’s and fantasy owners alike.

Mike Moustakas has been such a hit in the Texas League that he got a burger named after him. With Stanton making the jump from double at to the majors, and Moustakas hitting at a similarly ridiculous clip at AA, could the Royals bring their young third base prospect up sooner rather than later? Moustakas certainly deserves to be promoted as much as anyone as he’s put up some gaudy numbers with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals: 35/13/49/.368/.441 in 177 PA. Somewhere Alex Gordan waits above the stage, like the Phantom of the Opera (or Park if you will) waiting for the curtain to fall. The former 2nd overall pick of the 2005 draft has had his difficulties in the bigs but is currently leading the PCL in OBP at 1.196, since getting sent down early last month.

Which newcomers do you think will make an impact in the final two thirds of 2010?

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Bizarro World: Where’s Panda?

June 7, 2010

We’re a third of the way through what has been a historically crazy season of baseball. From extremes of perfection and incompetence to umpires gone wild and a new crop of fantastic rookie pitchers, I dare even the games most knowledgeable experts to try and predict what will happen in the remaining four months of the season. I double dog dare you! Grady Sizemore worthless. Jose Bautista leading the bigs in bombs. Jaime Garcia staking a claim to NL ROY honors. Cries of “replay!” from every mountain top, seas boiling, rain of toads, dogs and cats living together as Yogi would say, “Who’d have thunk it?” Here’s a little round up of what’s been going down are the diamond…

Ken Griffey Jr. had a fantastic career that came to an end 23 years to the day from when the Seattle Mariners first drafted him. Whether at the plate or gliding across the outfield, Griffey was as close to a fucking rock star as baseball had in the 90’s. Injuries cut short his claim to the all-time homer crown, but in an age of ‘roided out freaks, Junior took the high road and accepted his body’s natural limitations. Had he been so deranged as to jack himself up like The Hulk, he probably would have out-banged Bonds. Thanks for the memories Griff, we’ll see you in Cooperstown.

Props to Bruce Bochey from putting his best hitter in the eight hole on Saturday night. It stands to reason that a guy like Panda, who swings at everything, would prosper with the pitcher hitting behind him. That’s sarcasm. Sandoval was back hitting third today and went 2-5 with an RBI and a run scored in todays 6 – 5 Giants win over the Pirates. Sandoval’s been scuffling lately, largely due to a .306 BABIP, handcuffed to a paltry 15.5% LD rate. Last year those numbers were .350 and 18.6% respectively. His power has dropped as well, from a .226 ISO last season to a pedestrian .145 ISO coming into Sunday. While that sounds grim, his .59 BB/K rate isn’t far off of the .63 he posted in ’09 and his contact rate remains high at 82.4% versus 82.6% in the last campaign. While he may not reach 25 homers, like last season, his average should pick up with runs and RBI to go with it. If I could do it again, would I have kept Sandoval? No. However I’m not looking to dump him as he should still prove to be a solid contributor in the remaining two thirds of the season.

Kevin Correia isn’t right. Padre manager, Bud Black isn’t worried, but I am. His latest debacle in Philly cost me dearly in my H2H league. Little surprise here actually. How could he be right after the recent death of his brother? I can’t imagine being able to maintain the focus needed to perform at the major league level, while dealing with such a catastrophic loss. After the 2008 season, much was written about how the death of his father affected Pedro Martinez‘ pitching perhaps more than the injuries he was recovering from. Having lost people close to me, I know how hard it can be to put on a mask of sanity and go out one’s business. Since returning to the mound after the tragedy, Correia’s only had one Quality Start and he walked six in that game. I’m giving Correia one more start, next week against a soft Mariners lineup. We’ll see where we go from there.

Buster Posey is good at hitting baseballs. Not this good however. I see him as a .290 hitter at season’s end and that may be generous. Drawing only his first walk as a 2010 Giant today doesn’t bode well. If I owned Posey in a redraft league, I’d sell while his value is at it’s peak.

Hey Tex, it’s June. You can start hitting now…

I’m really really happy that I traded Nelson Cruz for Kevin Youkilis in the Big Ballers League.

I’m shocked that Armando Galarraga is still on waivers in the BBL. Does a guy have to throw a perfect game to get some respect? I was pretty surprised to pick up Dallas Braden off of waivers this week too after he was dropped. I’m thinking of taking Galarraga over Hisanori Takahashi, who’s been dreadful in his last two starts against the less than intimidating Padres and Fighting Fish. The gracious Galarraga isn’t as good as he was last week against Cleveland, but he showed some positive signs in 2008. Gotta be worth a flyer in a league so deep!

Mike Stanton will bring his minor league leading HR power to The Show this week, showing either Cody Ross or Cameron Maybin to the pine. Maybin’s been a disappointment and it’s easy to see why he’d be benched. After being the centerpiece of the deal that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis (who made his presence felt in his D-Backs premiere this weekend) to Detroit however, I feel the Marlins have to give Maybin every shot to succeed. Hopefully for The Harlem Hangovers, I’m right, but Ross has definitely been the one deserving of playing time.

Jaime Garcia continues to throw Quality Starts as he dances between raindrops. I’m not looking forward to his crash back to Earth.

Kevin Gregg’s best chance to keep his closer job involves not pitching. Nobody in the Blue Jay pen seems to want the gig, so Gregg keeps it by default.

Harlem Hangovers fall to 92 points, down to 5th place. Lima Time Forever loses 7 – 4 and finishes the week 15 games under .500, tied for second to last place. It’s not looking good. Changes are in the wind.

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Next In Line…

April 21, 2010

A few quick notes about some high profile prospects, who are not “The Last In line,” like Ronnie James Dio:

  • Giants prime-time pitching prospect, Madison Bumgarner has seemed to regained the form that earned him a ton of hype over the past couple of seasons. In his last start, Bumgarner’s velocity had improved greatly, reaching into the low-90’s, rather than topping out in the 80’s, as he had been doing in his previous starts this season. Giant’s GM, Brian Sabean claims that Bumgarner’s struggles had a lot to do with his spending the off-season preparing for his wedding, rather than preparing for the 2010 season where he was expected to be S.F.’s 5th starter. Todd Wellemeyer has been awful so far in the starting role so Bumgarner getting back on track is fantastic news for the Giants and fantasy owners in 16 team keeper leagues that might own Bumgarner.
  • 2008 saw Armando Galarraga emerge as a fantastic sleeper for fantasy owners, as he posted 13 Wins and a 3.73 ERA over 178 1/3 IP. With a FIP of 4.88 in ’08 however, it was plain to see that Galarraga would take a step backwards in ’09. After a predictably forgettable campaign last year, the 28 year old righty began this season in AAA, where he has been pounding the K zone at eye-popping rates (18/1 K/BB with a 1.96 ERA in 3 starts). If he keeps this up, you can bet that The Tigers will find a place for him if one of their starters falters.
  • Cleveland’s stud catching prospect Carlos Santana, collapsed in agony after fouling a ball off of his leg in a AAA game this afternoon. Scary stuff for the promising young backstop, who should be getting the call up to Cleveland some time in late May to early June. Also scary for fantasy owners like me, who have already hitched a lot of hope on the kid. Santana is currently mashing Independent League pitching to the tune of .727 SLG. Early reports say that Santana is not seriously hurt. With Lou Marson and Mike Redmond hitting a combined .125 with 1 XBH so far, Santana has a clear path to an everyday catching job when he arrives in the bigs.
  • Chris Davis is still swinging at everything and what he is hitting is not leaving the yard. In 40 PA’s this season, the Texas 1B has actually swung at slightly more pitches outside the zone, than he did last season (34.4% O-Swing % currently, 34.1% in ’09). While it’s a small sample size, it’s a bit alarming, especially when you consider that the young slugger has yet to hit a HR. As Justin Smoak keeps progressing, it looks more and more likely that he will be replacing Davis at first sooner, rather than later. On Saturday, ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote:

“Chris Davis is off to a terrible start that is a lot like his start in 2009… Meanwhile, Smoak is off to a strong start in Class AAA, hitting .300; he drew a walk on Friday night in Oklahoma City’s victory over Memphis, his 10th this season, in nine games; he’s got just three strikeouts, and four extra-base hits.


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Vic, They’re Stealing!

April 21, 2010

Remember back in the day when you’d be walking down 34th Street and all of a sudden like 20 kids would rush out of Macy’s with armloads of stolen goose downs and knit sweaters and jeans and what not? That’s how shit went down back when I was growing up in The City. If shit wasn’t nailed down, somebody would steal it. You’d be driving up the Harlem River Drive and all of a sudden it would be pitch black, not a lit street lamp in sight, because crack heads have stripped the wires and sell the copper for scrap. Back in the 80’s and 90’s base runners stole a lot more too. Guys like Ricky and Vince would rack up bags like a posse of hoods hitting the Coach store. As the 90’s wore on, guys started juicing up and jacking off like never before, leading managers to give their burners the stop sign, since they figured someone would probably go yard behind them.

Flash forward to today, the post-P.E.D. era (lets play pretend here) and you’ll find that runners are stealing again. In fact The Texas Rangers ran like crazy last night, racking up a team record 9 stolen bases, against the Bean-town battery of ageless knuckler Tim Wakefield and spaghetti armed Victor Martinez. Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz lead the way with 3 steals a piece in the wild affair that The Sawx would ultimately go on to win 7-6, on a walk off hit by newly called up OF Darnell McDonald.

For fantasy purposes, it’s helpful to know that base runners have been swiping bags from Boston batteries like Thirstin Howl III swipes Polo gear, and not just the soft-tossing Wakefield. In fact Boston catchers have throw out only 1 would-be base stealer in 32 chances. Something to remember when you see that your guys are playing Boston.

Also of note: Boomstick left the game in the 9th with a cramped hammy. He woke up today feeling better and says he will play tonight.

For a look at the easiest (and toughest) teams to run on, check out the Fangraphs advanced team fielding chart. rSB means runs saved while defending against the Stolen Base. You’ll notice that Boston tops the list of teams that are easiest to steal against so far this season.

Enjoy Mr. Howl’s ode to thievery, “John, They’re Stealing”:

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Carlos Santana Wants Us To Listen How His Rhythm Goes

April 15, 2010

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I’m a bit giddy right now after plucking Cleveland Indians stud catching prospect Carlos Santana off of waivers the other day in the Big Ballers League. All guitar player jokes aside, Young Senior Santana might be arriving soon to rock Cleveland in a big way. Listed as Baseball America’s 10th best prospect in the game and the 3rd best catcher behind Jesus Montero and Buster Posey, Santana is a switch-hitting masher, with a good eye and a fairly clear path to the majors in the very near future. Essentially, he’s being looked at as the second coming of V-Mart.

What was that you heard? The sound of 14 other fantasy owners smacking themselves in the head. This is a two catcher league after all and even a lotto ticket is better than a lot of the scrubs being rostered in the C slot. I was shocked to find him on the wire. With all of the virtual ink he’s been receiving lately, I knew he wouldn’t be around long.

Not long after picking him up, I was offered Buster Posey and Anibal “sometimes dirty” Sanchez for the Indians prospect, which I declined. From what I read, in the long term, Posey and Santana might be a toss up. Posey’s more of a contact hitter, while Santana has more pop. The Giants however are winning now, with newly reupped Bengie Molina doing his thing behind the plate. You don’t mess with a good thing behind the plate, especially when your team is built on young pitching. I can’t see Posey playing much this year if it’s fairly tight in the NL West, which I think it will be. Santana on the other hand should prove to see playing time, sooner rather than later if Lou Marson continues his futility at the plate. Even if Marson does hit, he may ultimately be shipped off because of Santana’s impact bat.

I’m really hoping for good things from Santana this season. The Harlem Hangovers could really use some pop and it’d be nice if he could soften the blow of losing Montero a bit. I’d be happy with a similar line as Wieters last season. When the time comes, I’m totally slapping Abraxas on the turntable and dropping a hit of acid to enjoy his debut.

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