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Thursday, January 21, 2010
After losing their ace, John Lackey, the Los Angeles Angels filled their empty rotation spot with Joel Pineiro on relatively fair contract worth two-years and $16 million dollars. Pineiro, coming off one of the best years of his career, posted double digits wins for the first time 2003. His win total of 15, as well as his 3.49 ERA, was the second best of his career, and by far the best numbers we've seen from the right-hander since his Seattle Mariner days.
His ERA was nearly in line with his 3.68 xFIP, but LIPS ERA had him about 4.0 in 2009. Under the tutelage of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, a known proponent of the ground ball, Pineiro saw his GB% shoot up over 60% last season. That said, if you are expecting bigger and better things from Pineiro next season, you are likely to be disappointed.
He is moving from the NL Central to the AL West. This means he is trading games against the Astros and Pirates for games against the Rangers and highly improved Mariners. The home ball park factor change is rather neutral and his ground ball tendencies actually match up well with the Angels middle infield group of Erick Aybar, Mazier Izturis and Howie Kendrick. Despite the upgrade in defense, there are a few things working against Pineiro moving forward.
Of qualified starters, Pineiro's 4.42 K/9 was third worst in the Major Leagues. His contact rate was nearly 88% and he induced a swinging strike less than 6% of the time. On the other hand, his walk rate was excellent as he handed out just 27 passes in 214 innings, but a 1.14 BB/9 is unlikely in 2010.
Thanks to his new found love for sinkers, Pineiro was able to keep the ball in the yard at an impressive clip (0.46 per nine); however, that may be a little too impressive. His HR/FB rate was just 6.5% which is nearly five percent under his career average; that number is due for some regression. Looking at his batted ball data, his .297 BABIP might be a tad low for all the ground balls, but certainly not something that stands out as a fluke. In addition to his BABIP, his LOB% might regress, but only slightly.
Unimpressive K rates and a regression-likely home run rate are not encouraging things when you factor in the move from NL to AL. Nonetheless, Pineiro is still a decent option for fantasy players. He is relatively healthy and surpassed 200 innings last year. His ground ball ability and the Angels middle infield seem to be a good marriage of talents. He should post double digit wins, and keep the walks to a minimum, but the low strikeout total is a turnoff and the likely home run correction is a bit of a concern.
Posted by Tommy Rancel at 7:30pm
In case you missed it, today we unveiled four terrific new writers for our revamped Buy On The Rumor blog. To get things started, I'll point out a few things from the past few weeks that I found particularly noteworthy. (Note that all quotes come from MLB Trade Rumors).
Brian Bruney told Bill Ladson of MLB.com that he wants to close for the Nationals in 2010. Bruney will have to compete with newly acquired Matt Capps for the role.
Bruney wants to close, and so does Eddie Guardado. Despite whatever perceived question marks surround Capps, it would be foolish to let Bruney or Guardado compete with him for the job, much less take it from him. Despite this, it does appear that Capps will have to compete for the job, but I'd draft him with relative confidence. Even if someone else comes out of Spring Training with the job, it shouldn't last long.
The Pirates inched closer to an agreement with [Octavio] Dotel last night...
With Capps gone they don't have a clear closer, and Dotel would receive a serious boost from this signing, which seems imminent. One guy who has received almost no play this off-season, though, has been Joel Hanrahan. His unlucky 2009 and public perception don't meet his skill level. A potential late-round steal if the Pirates don't end up signing a Dotel and still worth owning in some leagues even if they do — Dotel is far from a sure bet to stay healthy.
The Orioles need help at the infield corners, and they've contacted the agents for a long list of free agents: Carlos Delgado, Hank Blalock, Joe Crede, Nick Johnson, Ryan Garko, Garrett Atkins, and Mike Jacobs.
They ended up signing Atkins, but the fact that they were in talks with so many other CIs and that they're looking for yet another CI shows that they're probably not ready to give prospect Josh Bell playing time to start 2010, as some thought could be the case at one point. A mid-year call-up looks like the best case scenario, though without any time at Triple-A, we may be waiting until 2011 to see him.
Ed Price of AOL FanHouse... reports that the Angels are telling people there's a significant chance they deal an infielder, likely [Maicer] Izturis. Price says Erick Aybar and Brandon Wood sound "untouchable."
Am I the only one who finds this a little strange? Untouchable? Really? The Angels have had so many chances to give Wood a serious look over the years and they constantly bypass him. It might be that they just don't like his particular skillset, but I'm going to be wary of drafting him unless the Angels make a lot of room and make it clear that he's their guy. Then again, they've held onto him for this long, so they must like something about him.
[Ben] Sheets topped out at 92 mph on Tuesday...
A lot is being made of Sheets's encouraging throwing session, but 92 doesn't sound all that impressive to me (and some sources say it was 91). He usually averages over 93, so topping out at 92 means he was probably averaging around 90. It's still January, but since 2002, his lowest average speed was 91.7 in 2003 (when his K/9 was just 6.4). Add in his rising BB/9 over the past couple years (not to mention the declining K/9) and Sheets looks like an AL or NL-only pick to me, at least for right now.
The A's acquired Kevin Kouzmanoff and Eric Sogard from the Padres for Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham.
Bad news for Dallas McPherson, a sleeper favorite of mine. And given the re-signing of Jack Cust as well, it also isn't great news for Jake Fox, who is probably looking at part-time at-bats, at best.
Yahoo's Tim Brown tweets that Valverde has offers from the Tigers, Cardinals, and one other team.
He signed with the Tigers (bad news for Joel Zumaya, who was never really a good fantasy option anyway), but the fact that the Cardinals were in on him is interesting. Ryan Franklin really doesn't have the skills of a closer, and he's not one of the better bets to last the year. Jason Motte and Kyle McClellan are two guys to keep an eye on.
Brown says the Tigers and D'Backs "are in" [on Valverde], so they've presumably made two of the offers.
Also interesting that the D'Backs were in on him. Chad Qualls is plenty good enough to close, but the D'Backs don't seem entirely convinced. Their name has been floated around, albeit quietly, in closer talks this winter. I'd have no problem drafting Qualls, but his margin for error might be a little smaller than other closers. Given the choice between him and an equally-talented closer, I'll take the other guy.
Posted by Derek Carty at 11:53am
Earlier this week, the Pittsburgh Pirates and free agent reliever Octavio Dotel agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal, adding a veteran power arm to the team's inexperienced bullpen. Given that the Pirates non-tendered incumbent closer Matt Capps earlier in the offseason, it seems likely that Dotel will be Pittsburgh's closer next season, given the lack of experienced alternatives.
Over the years, Dotel hasn't changed much as a pitcher, in spite of numerous injuries during the middle part of the decade. He's always been a fastball/slider pitcher, using the two pitches to put up monster strikeout rates, but he's had issues over the years with his control and keeping the ball on the ground. After three injury-plagued seasons during which he bounced around with four different teams, Dotel signed a two-year deal with the White Sox before the 2008 season, and managed to stay healthy enough to pitch over 60 innings in each season. His fastball velocity has declined over the years, and while he still gets good movement on it, it's no longer the elite pitch that it was during his prime.
Dotel showed some clear signs of decline in 2009, though, which are certainly worth noting. In 2008, he posted the fourth lowest contact rate among pitchers with 60 or more innings pitched, but last season he fell to 28th among the same group of players. His walk rate, fly ball rate and line drive rate all went up a solid amount in 2009, while he saw drops in his strikeout rate (not surprising given the increase in contact allowed) and fastball run value (according to FanGraphs' pitch values). There weren't any major apparent changes to his stuff, at least according to Pitch F/X data, but realistically the only reason that Dotel's ERA improved from 2008 to 2009 was good luck, as his HR/FB decreased substantially and his strand rate increased by nearly five percent.
Doc Oct isn't exactly one of the best relievers in the game, but his strikeout rate was ninth in the majors among pitchers with 60 or more innings pitched, and there's little reason to expect any regression there, as his 10.83 strikeouts per 9 innings in 2009 was actually below his career mark, and down from the 12+ marks that he posted in 2007 and 2008. Dotel is likely to see some regression in his ERA from last season, his 4.08 LIPS ERA indicates that he was a bit lucky with balls in play last season, but moving from a hitter's park in the AL to a neutral park in the NL should definitely help to offset some that.
Presuming that Dotel gets the closer job, which is almost a certainty at this point, he could very well be capable of providing 30-35 saves, and a healthy number of strikeouts, making him a potential bargain for both fantasy players and the Pirates alike, when you consider that guys like Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon are getting multi-year deals worth $5 million or more annually.
Posted by Satchel Price at 10:32am
Sorry the comments were off on my article on Monday. I didn't realize until now. Anyway, they're back on now if you guys would like to head back over there and discuss anything. There's also some good stuff over at The Book Blog about it.
Posted by Derek Carty at 6:24am
1. Yonder Alonso / 1B / Alonso does a lot of the little, overlooked things that you expect in a future star. But his questionable home run power leaves me wondering how bright his star can be. He has a great shot to be an above-average first baseman, however, and still possesses strong upside.
2. Mike Leake / SP / Leake's game is all about mixing his pitches to keep hitters off balance and using his sharp movement and command to his advantage. He doesn't look like much, but he is a future No. 2 starter who should move quickly.
3. Aroldis Chapman / SP / Chapman gets immense hype with his plus fastball and advanced repertoire, but I have come away unimpressed after nearly every video I have seen of him. His command is awful at times and he gives off an immature vibe. And, remember, he is 21, not 17. The upside is undeniable, but he needs to grow up fast before I buy in.
4. Juan Francisco / 3B / Francisco carries a big stick to the ballpark, including legit above-average power potential for a third baseman. His athleticism has evened out at higher levels and his approach at the plate still needs a lot of work, but he continues to improve year after year.
5. Travis Wood / SP / I got caught up in Woods' 2009 numbers, and, as a result, he is turning into the biggest over-rank on my current top-100 list. I have had an entire offseason to re-evaluate the list. Expect him to drop from the top 100 when my next update is released, but his control took a giant leap forward last year and his change-up is a true plus offering.
6. Todd Frazier / OF / Frazier's gap power is impressive, and he uses his above-average speed very well when stretching singles into doubles. I question how far his home run power and base-stealing ability will carry him in the majors. He seems like an ordinary, average outfielder unless his home run power takes off.
7. Chris Heisey / OF / From a current skills and performance perspective, Heisey is a very similar prospect to Frazier. Heisey is nearing his prime, however, and doesn't have much upside left. I think we're looking at a prime of a .270 batting average and 15-20 home runs.
8. Matt Maloney / SP / Maloney continues to perform well level after level and has nothing left to prove in the minors. He has a nice repertoire but below-average velocity to work with. He should settle in nicely as a positive back-of-the-rotation presence.
9. Devin Mesoraco / C / Mesoraco's athleticism has petered out as his body has filled out and he has adjusted to full-time catching. He has some power and plate discipline, but his bat has holes and, even though the journey of a high school catcher adjusting to pro ball is a long one, his bat has taken longer to develop than expected. His injury history is concerning as well. He's still one to watch, but his stock continues to fade.
10. Brad Boxberger / SP/RP / Boxberger's command is a head-scratcher of a question mark, as one expects college players to have more polish. It's hard to tell whether his future lies in the rotation or out of the bullpen, but Boxberger has a strong three-pitch mix that will aid him as he feels out his role.
1. Pedro Alvarez / 3B/1B / Alvarez has the makeup of a middle-of-the-order mainstay, warts and all. His power potential is through the roof, and he's patient enough at the plate to make it work in the majors. Like most big league sluggers, though, he has contact issues at times. So, we're not dealing with the next Pujols here. His defensive position has turned into a question mark, although I think he can be average defensively at third base.
2. Tim Alderson / SP / With his peripheral numbers struggling as he ascends the minor league ladder, maybe I promote Alderson a bit too much. But he is just 21 years old, has a great frame and, despite lacking ace stuff, has the makeup of a No. 2 starter.
3. Tony Sanchez / C / Make no mistake, Sanchez was an overdraft at No. 4 overall in the 2009 draft. But his initial numbers have been very impressive, and he has the skills necessary, both at the plate and behind it, to be an above-average big league catcher.
4. Brad Lincoln / SP / Lincoln may finally be all the way back from his injury-plagued beginnings. He features a terrific fastball/curveball blend with improving command. Expect him to nail down a full-time big league rotational spot at some point in 2010.
5. Robbie Grossman / OF / Grossman is a five-tool talent, and his 2009 Sally League performance gave us glimpses. His speed is an asset, his power isn't much now but has legitimate upside judging by his swing, and his patience is advanced. Holding him back, though, are the massive holes in his swing, which are even more concerning when you consider the lack of power he produced in 2009.
6. Brett Lorin / SP / Lorin has a mammoth presence on the mound and a plus curveball to back it up. At 22 years old in 2009 he didn't advance beyond Single-A, however. Is something holding him back? I don't see a reason why he shouldn't be put to the test in 2010.
7. Jose Tabata / OF / Am I the only one that is no longer impressed with Tabata's upside? His Arizona Fall League performance was tremendous, but his home run power and base-stealing ability are ho-hum. Plus, I'm really starting to question whether he has the plate discipline for the big leagues.
8. Victor Black / SP/RP / Black's slider has the makings of a plus offering to go with his mid-90s fastball. His command and endurance are two huge question marks on his resume, however. Pittsburgh will give him every opportunity to start.
9. Brooks Pounders / SP / For a high schooler, Pounders has a tremendously advanced arsenal at his disposal. He doesn't have much velocity, and may never have anything more than average velocity when all is said and done, but he has the potential for a great change-up and plus command.
10. Daniel McCutchen / SP / Pittsburgh has put together a deep system, as Starling Marte and Rudy Owens were tough cuts to make. I have been a McCutchen fan for a few years now and felt obligated to include him, despite his advanced age. He has nothing left to prove and has the look of a strong back-of-the-rotation starter.
Posted by Matt Hagen at 6:20am
Hey everyone. I've got some exciting news today as we announce a refreshed version of our Buy On The Rumor blog and introduce four new writers into the THTF mix.
When we first introduced our Buy On The Rumor blog, I said that much of what we offer at THTF comes in the way of theory or strategy or even player analysis, but when Marlon Byrd signs with the Cubs, we don't currently have a medium to convey our thoughts about it. The idea behind Buy On The Rumor was to provide this medium, to provide a way for us to get across succinct analysis about today's developments in the world of baseball. It would allow us to communicate with you quickly, in an easily accessible format, and provide THTF's insights into current events. As you've probably noticed, though, BOTR hasn't been very lively this off-season, but that's about to change.
Today, I'm proud to introduce four great new writers to the THT Fantasy team. These four writers will frequent our Buy On The Rumor, posting their thoughts on player transactions and rumors and whatever else they feel is important. In no particular order, let me introduce you to the new BOTR team:
As always, if any readers have any comments, thoughts, or suggestions, don't hesitate to shoot me an e-mail. We're here to provide you with the things you want, and we can only guess at what those things are unless you let us know directly.
Posted by Derek Carty at 2:00am
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