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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Lights, Camera, Action… Jackson!

May 5, 2010

Flashback to 2006: Your fantasy baseball team is in first place, riding high on hot starts by names that strike fear into the hearts of fantasy opponents… like Chris Shelton and Chad Tracy. Maybe you had a venerable Tom Glavine holding down your rotation by leading the league in ERA after a month of play. You see where this is going, don’t you fair reader?

Exactly. Don’t get too excited about what a player does during one mere month of baseball. While you’re riding high on Ivan Rodriguez’s gaudy Average or Livan Hernandez freakishly lucky run, just remember that Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. With a 162 game schedule, there is no greater equalizer than time.

So who are some of baseball’s surprise performers in the early going?

Of course I have to lead off with the blazing hot lead-off man that everyone’s talking about, Austin Jackson. I gushed about Action Jackson a few weeks ago and he hasn’t disappointed. In fact Austin Jackson currently leads all of baseball in hits with 44 going into today’s action, leading to a surprising early line of .376/.430/.521. Of course his .521 BABIP will not remain at such a ridiculous level, but with 38.8% of his contact going for liners, Jackson is hitting the ball hard and that’s all a hitter can hope to do. While he’s whiffed out at a 29.1% rate, Jackson has only struck out twice, while walking three times in his last eight games. While just about every fantasy expert in the game is telling people to sell high on Jackson, I’m not in any hurry to get rid of him (although I had an offer of Jackson and Kevin Gregg for A.J. Burnett rejected in my keeper league). Perhaps Action read Joe Pawlikowski’s article in Fangraphs, because it looks like the studious young outfielder is proving to be a quick learner as he adjusts to Major League pitching.

Fantasy baseball zombie extraordinaire Barry Zito has been in vintage form as he mows down hitters with his devastating curve-ball. The curse of Alissa Milano has been lifted and Zito is pitching as though he were back in an Athletics uniform. With a 1.53 ERA and 2.67 FIP, Zito is finally performing like the $126 million pitcher that The Giants paid for. While he carries a microscopic .209 BABIP against and he has yet to give up a HR in 35 1/3 IP, his 2.18 K/BB ratio and 44.7% GB rate should help maintain the crafty lefty’s continued success.

Another lefty who has channeled his past to out-preform his expectations is Yankee stalwart Andy Pettite. Pettite entered his start against Baltimore this afternoon with a 3-0 record with a 2.12 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. While Pettite has lost quite a bit of velocity over the years, his solid command and ability to keep the ball on the ground (48% GB rate) keep Pettite running strong. Having one of the most potent offenses in the game behind him should help his Win totals as Andy builds his credentials for a possible Hall Of Fame call in a few years.

Two of the biggest surprises in the early going of 2010 have been Toronto Blue Jays teammates, Alex Gonzalez and Vernon Wells. The Blue Jays tandem have displayed impressive power, with eight HR each so far. Gonzalez will never be accused of being a contact hitter, and his .279 BA is held aloft by a .307 BABIP (he carries a career .284 BABIP). Even with some correction dropping his average and power, he should continue to be a solid play for someone who you probably found off of waivers. Vernon Wells’ career looked about to hit rock bottom last season but he too has risen from the dead, much to the chagrin of American League pitchers. After posting a paltry 84/15/66/17/.260/.311 line in 2009, Wells has already posted nearly half that homer total and a third of last season RBI. A seriously hefty .310/.360/.660 line has made Wells’ owners feel like the smartest guys in their league for having probably drafted him in the late going or picking him up for peanuts at auction. In the past Wells has displayed 30+ HR power and if his present health holds, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t approach those totals again.

Any talk of power cannot exclude the ridiculous power surge that South Sider favorite Paul Konerko has shown so far. Leading the universe with a 1.066 OPS and .460 ISO, Paul Konerko has turned back the clock to a time when he was one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. Three True Outcomes lovers swoon over his lovely 17.4%/11.5% BB/K split, as they’ve watched him leave the yard 15 times in 109 PA. Strangely enough, while Konerko’s been jacking off like a horny teenager, his .179 BABIP tells us that he’s been rather unlucky when his balls don’t leave the yard. While I don’t imagine Konerko keeping up this colossal power pace, Paulie Walnuts could certainly see his .279 BA improve a bit. While his Chicago White Sox have been pretty poor offensively in the early going, they should improve, which will boost Konerko’s Run and RBI production.

The last guy I’ll talk about makes me cringe. In fact every time he hits a HR, I curl up into a ball in my bathtub and cry, traumatized by what Kelly Johnson did to my fantasy team last season. After losing his gig in Hotlanta last year, Johnson came to the desert to beat baseballs like a guy who’s really pissed off at having a girl’s name. Channeling his inner Chase Utley, Johnson has tormented National League pitchers with a 1.066 OPS and .376 ISO, both second in the game behind Konerko. With an 18/9/18/2/.301/.389 line so far, Johnson, at 27, seems to be finally developing into an upper-tier second baseman, like many of us thought he would in the past. While Johnson will K his fair share (he’s done it in 22.6% of his PA), his 13% BB rate matches his career high, more than making up for his whiffs. Great. Why couldn’t you be half this useful last season Kelly?

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