December 10, 2013
And here's the full roster.
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Following are the one hundred most recent articles for the category Prospects .
11/14/2013: Let’s discuss the THT Annualby Dave Studeman
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12/09/2013: Leverage Index by inningby Dave Studeman
12/09/2013: How far are the Mariners from relevancy?by Brad Johnson
12/09/2013: Prince Halby Chris Jaffe
12/09/2013: Three underrated acquisitionsby Pat Andriola
12/06/2013: Cooperstown Confidential: Ed Charles and 42by Bruce Markusen
12/06/2013: The Athletics get busyby Brad Johnson
12/06/2013: Getting to know Ryan Haniganby Chad Dotson
12/04/2013: Cataloging the non-tendered playersby Brad Johnson
12/04/2013: Alone on the pedestalby Jason Linden
12/03/2013: Mascot fight!by Greg Simons
12/03/2013: Why is a sinker “heavy?”by David Kagan
12/03/2013: The role of fall leaguesby Jeff Moore
12/02/2013: Nationals make great deal for Fisterby Matt Filippi
12/02/2013: The Twins go holiday shopping, but to what end?by Brad Johnson
12/02/2013: The end of the benchby Chris Jaffe
11/29/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Danny Waltonby Bruce Markusen
11/29/2013: The best rookies of the ‘30sby Chad Dotson
11/27/2013: Towards an award prediction systemby Shane Tourtellotte
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11/25/2013: Stepping up to the plateby Frank Jackson
11/25/2013: 10 things I didn’t know about player birthdaysby Chris Jaffe
11/22/2013: The end of the road for Chris Carpenterby Chad Dotson
11/21/2013: All the news that’s fit to inventby Azure Texan
11/20/2013: Marcus Stroman, the mythbusting machineby Kyle Boddy
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11/19/2013: 2013 THT awards reviewby Greg Simons
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11/18/2013: Atlanta gets burned againby Frank Jackson
11/18/2013: The 2014 Hall of Fame VC ballotby Chris Jaffe
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11/15/2013: The best rookies of the ‘40sby Chad Dotson
11/15/2013: Card Corner: Wayne Granger: 1973 Toppsby Bruce Markusen
11/14/2013: 10th anniversary: the A.J. Pierzynski tradeby Chris Jaffe
11/14/2013: The Screwball: The face of championship baseballby Azure Texan
11/14/2013: Player-A-Day: Casey Fienby Brad Johnson
11/13/2013: Player-A-Day: Tim Lincecumby Brad Johnson
11/13/2013: Pitcher performance after batting successby Shane Tourtellotte
11/13/2013: 25th anniversary: Rob Neyer writes a letterby Chris Jaffe
11/13/2013: Houston hoodoo ‘62by Frank Jackson
11/12/2013: It’s The Hardball Times Annual 2014by Dave Studeman
11/12/2013: Player-A-Day: Joe Mauerby Brad Johnson
11/11/2013: Fastball velocity by game stateby Jon Roegele
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10/31/2013: Player-A-Day: Leonys Martinby Brad Johnson
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10/30/2013: Forecasting the major 2013 awardsby Shane Tourtellotte
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10/23/2013: Earn money watching baseballby Dave Studeman
10/23/2013: Player-A-Day: Jose Iglesiasby Brad Johnson
10/23/2013: 20th anniversary: The Joe Carter gameby Chris Jaffe
10/23/2013: Giants take a risk with Lincecum’s two-year dealby Matt Filippi
10/23/2013: BOB: Nolan Ryan retires…for nowby Brian Borawski
10/22/2013: Where does David Price fit?by Jeff Moore
10/22/2013: Survey says?!?!?by Greg Simons
10/22/2013: ALCS post-mortem: The Fielder playby Shane Tourtellotte
10/21/2013: The best rivalries of 2013by Chris Jaffe
10/21/2013: World Series workhorsesby Frank Jackson
10/20/2013: WPS recap: ALCS, 10/19/2013by Shane Tourtellotte
10/19/2013: WPS Recap: NLCS, 10/18/2013by Shane Tourtellotte
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October 18, 2012
Dustin Ackley, Nick Franklin, and the future of second base in SeattleThe Seattle Mariners weren't expected to be competitive this season, but they were expecting to have some high-points to build upon. One of main causes of pre-season excitement was the anticipation of Dustin Ackley first full-season in the majors, and the start of a new era of Mariners offense.
Fast forward six months, and there are questions about Ackley's future after he hit just .226/.294/.328 on the 2012 season as a part of a putrid offensive team performance.
The Seattle Mariners offense has been so bad for the past few seasons their management finally caved and agreed to move in the fences for next season.
The Mariners have been desperate to conjure up some offense in any way they can, to the point that they traded a young, team-controlled pitching prospect (the most valued commodity in baseball) for a catching prospect destined to become a lifetime DH. You can argue whether or not the Mariners knew something about Michael Pineda's arm that the Yankees didn't, but regardless, the pitching for hitting trade signified just how desperate the Mariners have become to find offense.
That desperation is only going to get stronger, as ace Felix Hernandez is joined in their starting rotation by a stable of young pitching prospects, led by Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton. That group of pitching prospects is as good as any trio in one organization as there is in baseball right now, and the Mariners don't have to look too far into the future to see a day when they have a playoff-caliber starting rotation.
Now they have to figure out how to have a decent offense to support it.
It remains to be seen how the new fences will change the offensive strategy of the Mariners, but it won't be a cure-all for their offensive woes. There's no doubting the effect of Safeco Park on offensive production, and enough has been written about it that I don't need to touch on it here, but the fact remains that the Mariners offense hit just .247/.300/.403 on the road, meaning they just weren't that good no matter where they played.
The new dimensions could benefit Ackley as much as anybody, but his .658 OPS on the road signifies much larger problems with his offensive game.
There were those who doubted Ackley's bat when the Mariners selected him second overall in 2009, but one season is certainly not enough time for the Mariners to give up on him. When, in their desperate search for more offense, the Mariners look towards their farm system, however, they find Nick Franklin, a shortstop who has been playing more and more second base in each of his professional seasons.
Franklin is the closest thing the Mariners have to a major league-ready offensive contributor in their farm system. Drafted as a shortstop, Franklin played almost as much second base in 2012 and is playing there primarily in the Arizona Fall League. Most scouts don't believe in Franklin as a shortstop, and their shifting of him towards second base indicates that the Mariners don't either.
The problem is that Franklin will be ready for the majors before the Mariners are prepared to make a decision on Ackley's future. Franklin will begin the 2013 season in Triple-A, where he spent the second half of 2012. He struggled there slightly offensively, but should be fine there next season. If he remains healthy and hits the way he has in has throughout his minor league career, he should be ready for the majors by mid-season.
Franklin should offer more power than Ackley, but it was Ackley's hitting acumen that got him drafted in the first place. Ackley has acclimated himself nicely to second base, but he's no gold-glover there and could find a new home in the field. No matter how much Ackley struggles, it's hard to envision a scenario in which the Mariners are ready to give up on him by the 2013 all-star break. Come July, the Mariners are going to have to find a way to get both Franklin and Ackley in their major league lineup.
The obvious answer is to leave Franklin at shortstop for the time being. He'd certainly be an offensive upgrade over the defense-only Brendan Ryan, who literally didn't hit his weight this season, but the Mariners have built their current roster around pitching and defense, and this could constitute a major philosophical change.
Which may not be the worst thing. But it's not a long-term answer.
Franklin may be able to handle shortstop for the second half of the 2013 season, and if the Mariners are out of contention, then they might as well make the defensive sacrifice in order to get both him and Ackley major league at-bats. But ideally, Franklin and Ackley both become productive major league hitters, right? Then what?
One of them will almost certainly have to play in the outfield. Ackley has played first base, but no matter how he progresses, he's almost certain to be an offensive black hole compared to other first basemen. Even as a corner outfielder, Ackley will have below-average power and will have to be a .330 hitter to be better than league average. Additionally, his weak throwing arm would limit him to left field.
The Mariners haven't had to cross this bridge yet, but it's coming. Franklin should be the Mariners shortstop by the end of the season, but defensively, he's not their long-term solution at the position. His bat should have enough power in it, however, that the power-hungry Mariners will need to get him in their lineup one way or another.
Ideally for the Mariners, Ackley begins to hit as expected and gives the Mariners a problem like this to deal with. Otherwise, the answer could be painfully simple.
Posted by: Jeff Moore
September 14, 2012
Lasting impressions: Reviewing the Beckett-Hanley tradeSo often, and of course in our Twitter-infused, must-have-it-now sports world, we want to know immediately what will be the impact of things like big trades. Who won the Josh Beckett-Adrian Gonzalez-Carl Crawford to Los Angeles fiasco of a trade? You couldn't listen to sports-talk radio the next day without being inundated with that question, and 25 different answers from 25 different talking heads.*
*Of course, if you're listening to sports-talk radio, you're kind of asking for that type of punishment, aren't you?
We obviously don't know who will end up winning that trade. Heck, it's still hard to tell who won the first big Beckett trade.
But with Beckett and Hanley Ramirez (the main player he was traded for the first time) coming full circle and ending up as teammates out on the left coast, it seemed like a good time to look back and check out the trickle-down effects from that deal that are still being felt.
The original deal was Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota heading from Florida to Boston for shortstop prospect Ramirez, young pitcher Anibal Sanchez and minor leaguers Harvey Garvey and Jesus Delgado. It took place during the offseason before the 2006 season.
Beckett was in the last year of team control and about to hit free agency for the first time after the 2006 season, but during July of that year, the Red Sox signed him to a three-year extension. This wasn't a given for the Red Sox when they made the trade, but the likelihood of them being able to come to a deal with Beckett had to have been pretty good for them to give up their top prospect in Ramirez and an arm like Sanchez's.
The deal worked out well for both sides.* Ramirez went on to post a 32.5 WAR over six-plus years before being sent to Los Angeles this season in a deal that was more about his moping than his abilities, while Sanchez earned the Marlins 13.4 wins above replacement during roughly the same time period before leaving this season in a separate deal.
On the Red Sox side, Beckett turned in a WAR of 26.8 and they also got an unexpected 10.4 WAR out of Lowell, who was basically considered a salary dump by the Marlins.
From a strictly numerical standpoint, the Marlins won the WAR*, but no one has ever put a numerical value on winning a World Series, expect maybe the team owners who made a ton of money off the impending Red Sox dynasty that came with winning their second title in four years. Beckett and Lowell were key contributors on a World Series winning team, so that has to be worth the difference in WAR right? The Red Sox gave up a lot in Ramirez, but was it not worth a championship? You won't find too many people in Boston who regret that deal.
*sorry, I couldn't help myself
But the trade can't be fully evaluated based on just those four players. The Red Sox have turned Beckett into more prospects, as have the Marlins with both Ramirez and Sanchez.
Beckett was sent to Los Angeles last month, along with Gonzalez, Crawford and Nick Punto in a deal that returned James Loney, Ivan DeJesus Jr., Allen Webster and eventually Rubby de la Rosa and Jerry Sands, once they are able to be named later. Beckett wasn't the main draw for the Dodgers in that deal, but he's not chopped liver either, so he gets at least a little credit for part of the Red Sox return.
Soon after Boston acquired Mota, and before he ever suited up for the Sox, he was flipped to Cleveland, along with prospect Andy Marte, catcher Kelly Shoppach and minor leaguer Randy Newsome for Coco Crisp, Josh Bard and David Riske. Marte was probably the main part of that deal for Cleveland, but Crisp became a seven win player during his time with the Red Sox before being flipped to the Royals for reliever Ramon Ramirez. Ramirez was later traded to the Giants for minor leaguer Daniel Turpen, who never made it to the majors, but Ramirez was worth a half-win for the Red Sox during his time with the team. That's an additional 7.5 wins for the Sox, for which at least a portion of the credit goes to the Beckett trade.
On the Marlins side, most of their action came this season. After their all-in approach crashed and burned, the Marlins began to sell their players for parts, and the grumpy Ramirez was among the first to be put on the block.
After six-plus years of Ramirez, the Marlins turned him and reliever Randy Choate into pitching prospect Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough. The book is still wide open on their contributions to the Marlins. The same goes for the three prospects the Marlins got back for Anibal Sanchez: Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn.
So what's the tally in the end?
The Red Sox got six mostly strong years from Beckett, a few good years from Lowell, some solid pay from Crisp, and whatever Webster, de la Rosa and Sands turn into in exchange for Ramirez, Sanchez, Marte (Crisp deal, who turned into nothing) and a couple of good seasons from Shoppach. Oh, and they got a World Series ring out of it, too.
The Marlins got six mostly good years of Ramirez, a few good years from Sanchez, and whatever Turner, Brantly, Flynn and Eovaldi turn into in exchange for one more year of Beckett (who wouldn't have re-signed in Florida) and Lowell, whose contract they couldn't afford anyway.
We still don't know who won the trade, which wasn't the exercise here anyway. Six years later, the Marlins have only a collection of prospects to show for their deals, but that could be better than what the Red Sox have left. The Red Sox, however, have the jewelry to claim a victory.
I'm going to do this exercise once a week with a major trade from some time in the last decade, not in an attempt to determine a winner and loser (although if there is an obvious one, I'll point it out), but rather to look at the dominoes that continue to fall today from the trades we remember from years back.
Posted by: Jeff Moore
June 04, 2012
Nats picked a great time to stinkThe Washington Nationals are leading the National League East by percentage points going into Monday's games. Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft begins Monday. These two events are not unrelated.
Two reasons the Nats are (finally) finding success are the contributions of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, two of the most hyped draftees in history. And Washington had the distinct pleasure of selecting these players with back-to-back No. 1 overall picks in the 2009 and 2010 drafts.
After dealing with Tommy John surgery that cost him more than a year's worth of starts, Strasburg has returned to the form he displayed when he first burst onto the major league scene. He is punching out 10.9 batters per nine innings with a 4.65:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, leading to a 165 ERA+. Traditionalists eat up his 6-1 record and 2.35 ERA.
Harper is tearing it up right of out gate, posting a .288/.380/.542 triple-slash line, good for a 148 OPS+. He's also walking nearly as often as he strikes out and making highlight-reel defensive plays with regularity.
Basically, these guys are living up to the hype, which is saying quite a bit given the lofty expectations placed upon them. The funny thing is, the Nationals wouldn't have either of these terrific players if they weren't so terrible a few short years ago. By posting awful 59-103 and 69-93 records in 2008 and 2009, Washington "earned" the first pick in both of the following year's drafts.
Yes, this is exactly how the draft is supposed to work. The worst teams from the previous season get the first shot at the top talent in the draft with the hopes of developing that talent into a cheap, young nucleus around which pricey free-agent pickups and savvy scrapheap acquisitions can be added. Ideally, these players all gel a few seasons down the road and the former doormat becomes a potential juggernaut. The Tampa Bay Rays are another example of how this is supposed to work.
But Washington had the additional benefit not only of back-to-back top picks, but also of having these two preternatural talents available and ownership's support to pay what it took to sign them, spending roughly $25 million on two kids with no professional experience. And while the Rays can pin some of their success on multiple No. 1 overall picks, only David Price has contributed directly to Tampa Bay's winning ways. The Rays also took Josh Hamilton, Delmon Young and Tim Beckham at the top of the draft, but none of those players did much to push the Rays to the top of the AL East.
Having the first pick is great—it's yielded such talents as Justin Upton, Joe Mauer, Adrian Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones and Ken Griffey Jr. over the last couple of decades—but using that pick on the right player is crucial. After all, Matt Bush, Bryan Bullington and Brien Taylor have gone No. 1, and nobody remembers any key on-field contributions they've made.
Draft well, develop your minor league talent, and spend wisely to supplement that talent. It seems so straightforward, but we all know it's not. Just ask the Pirates.
But when it works out—and the baseball gods bless you with two consecutive über-talents—things can come together very quickly. Just ask the Nationals.
Posted by: Greg Simons
December 29, 2011
2011 A’s vs. 1997 MarlinsIn 1997, the Florida (now Miami) Marlins won the World Series, bringing joy and enthusiasm to the team and its fan base. Days later, the destruction of the team began as management shipped off nearly every high-priced veteran it could to save money.
The excuse was that the team couldn't afford such a large payroll without a larger fan base, and more fans would come only if the team got a new stadium. Well, it took nearly 15 years, but that new stadium is finally a reality, and it looks to be a stunning ballpark, though the structural integrity and financing of the facility have been called into question.
In 2011, the Oakland A's went 74-88. There were no victory parades, but the team's teardown has been as thorough as the Marlins' was 14 years ago.
Starting pitchers Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez have been shipped off to the Diamondbacks and Nationals, respectively, in return for a gaggle of hot prospects. Middle reliever Craig Breslow joined Cahill in the move to Arizona, while closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney were just sent to Boston for three more promising youngsters.
Josh Willingham, David DeJesus, Coco Crisp and Hideki Matsui—all solid, if unispiring, offensive contributors—will not be returning to Oakland. The roster has been stripped so bare that at one point Sweeney was listed on the A's official Web site depth chart as the starting outfielder at all three positions.
Like the Marlins, the A's say they need a new ballpark to compete. And with the Angels signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, and the Rangers coming off back-to-back World Series appearances and acquiring the rights to Yu Darvish, they certainly need something to keep pace.
Rumors abound that the team soon will be allowed to move to San Jose, though Bud Selig's Blue Ribbon Committee that has been studying the issue for a few years now has not made any formal proposals. Given how long the Marlins waited for a new facility, A's fans shouldn't hold their breath.
When the Marlins tore things down, they shaved massive financial commitments from their books, but at least they had a title to show for their investment. The A's are dealing away young, cheap, cost-controlled talent for even younger, even cheaper, cost-controlled potential. And they have nothing to show for their efforts other than the possibility of being the cheapest, most anonymous ball team since the 1998 Marlins.
Things were awful in South Florida in '98, as the team fell from 92 victories the season before to a mere 54 wins. The A's starting point is 74 wins. An equal 38-game dropoff would yield a 36-126 record that would make the 1962 Mets look like world beaters.
Oakland is unlikely to be quite that bad in 2012 and beyond, but it's going to be horrendously ugly for the next few years. It may even be so bad that this monstrosity will look good by comparison.
Posted by: Greg Simons
May 31, 2011
The Giants pigeonhole Brandon BeltFollowing Buster Posey's horrific injury last week, the Giants recalled Brandon Belt from the Pacific Coast League. Should he be on the major league roster and how much playing time should he get?
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Posted by: Brad Johnson
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