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Thursday, February 11, 2010
Yesterday, the Giants signed Todd Wellemeyer to a minor-league deal with an invitation to join the team in Scottsdale for Spring Training. Although the plan calls for Madison Bumgarner to be the team's fifth starter when camp breaks, that didn't stop the San Francisco Giants from adding a bit of insurance. It might not be good insurance, but the kind you need to have because you don't have it. Wellemeyer, 31, made 28 appearances, including 21 starts, for the St. Louis Cardinals last season after posting career best numbers in 2008.
In his first four and a half seasons, Wellemeyer made over 100 appearances as a relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, Florida Marlins and Kansas City Royals. Upon his arrival to St. Louis in 2007, he was converted to a starter, and as mentioned, had a pretty decent 2008 campaign for the Cardinals. He won 13 games while pitching 191.2 innings over 32 starts with a 3.71 ERA. All of those numbers reflect career highs.
In 2009, the glass slipper fell off and so did part of his shoulder. Whether it was due to the increased workload or not, he made just 21 starts and threw 122 inning of unimpressive 5.89 ERA ball. Looking at his LIPS ERA, it's not surprising that his 2008 season had a little bit of luck sprinkled on top. LIPS had him pegged with an ERA of 4.24, or a little more than half a run higher than his real total.
On the other hand, LIPS suggest that his 5.89 ERA in 2009 includes a bit of bad luck. Last season's LIPS ERA of 4.90 was a full run lower than his actual number. His BABIP also suggest more of the same. A career .300 BABIP pitcher, he enjoyed a .273 mark in 2008, but saw that shoot up to a .346 in 2009 despite actually seeing a slight decrease in line drives allowed.
Regardless of metric, Wellemeyer was below average in 2009. Throw in an additional candle on the birthday cake and a questionable shoulder and you can see why he signed a minor league deal. Throughout his career he has posted strikeout rates around 6.5 per nine innings, but not surprisingly those numbers have dipped to around 6.0 as a starter. He also walks more than you would like and gives up home runs at a sightly elevated pace.
Unless Bumgarner is just not ready, I find it hard to see Wellemeyer beating him for a rotation spot. Nonetheless, should that happen or if there were an injury to one of the other starting pitchers pop up, then Wellemeyer is a cheap band-aid option for the Giants. Unless you are just desperate for a starting pitcher, I would avoid Wellemeyer in any league.
Posted by Tommy Rancel at 6:55am
1. Christian Friedrich / SP / Friedrich heads a terrific group of starting pitching prospects with his four-pitch arsenal, highlighted by his knee-buckling curveball. He needs to adapt more of an attacking style, and his command could use more work, but he has the look of a future ace.
2. Jhoulys Chacin / SP / Chacin induces a tremendous groundball rate from his varied arsenal. His velocity and command are average at this point, but he could be an effective Coors Field No. 2 starter.
3. Tyler Matzek / SP / Matzek has the raw tools necessary to be a future ace. He has a strong four-pitch repertoire, and every one of them has the chance to be at least average. His command needs serious work, but the potential is through the roof.
4. Eric Young / 2B/OF / Young is an underrated fantasy sleeper heading into 2010 due to his exceptional speed and ability to get on base. He should hit the ground running in Colorado, and could be a top-of-the-lineup force for years to come.
5. Rex Brothers / SP/RP / With sharpened command, Brothers could have a great fastball/slider combination. His lack of a change-up and questionable endurance are strikes against his bid to become a starter, but Brothers has a promising left arm. We'll know more about his future role very soon.
6. Mike McKenry / C / With his solid all-around game, McKenry is an underrated catching prospect. His bat combines together strong contact skills, above-average plate discipline, and a bit of power to give Colorado a potentially solid everyday catching option very soon.
7. Nolan Arenado / 3B / Fresh out of high school, Arenado has shown a quick bat and terrific contact skills. He also has raw power in his bat, and if it develops his stock could explode.
8. Wilin Rosario / C / Rosario posted a mildly disappointing 2009. His bat and defense both have a long way to go, but he was young for the California League. My guess is that he will get another chance to conquer Advanced-A competition. Next year I'll be looking for more power, a better contact rate, and signs of improved plate discipline.
9. Chris Balcom-Miller / SP / Balcom-Miller had a terrific 11-start debut in the Pioneer League, showing off a solid three-pitch mix, highlighted by his superb change-up. This is an aggressive ranking, but one that may be more than justified after we see him in full-season ball.
10. Tim Wheeler / OF / Wheeler has plus speed, but his contact skills appear to be a lot of hype at this point. He doesn't have much power either, but he does have upside in every aspect of his game. I'm willing to give him a year to win me over.
San Diego Padres
1. Donavan Tate / OF / Tate has the raw tools to be a star. He has plus raw power and speed, but he has some serious refinements to make before those tools result in home runs and stolen bases. San Diego made him the No. 3 pick overall for a reason. They think he is a five-tool talent who, given enough time to develop, has a good chance to be an impact player. I'm buying it.
2. Jaff Decker / OF / Decker is a 20-year-old with some of the best plate discipline in the minor leagues, and some serious power in his bat to back it up. He still has major holes in his swing to clean up, but with another uptick in his overall development and similar production at a higher level, he could challenge Tate for San Diego's No. 1 prospect spot.
3. Simon Castro / SP / Castro's command hit a new level in 2009, meaning his mid-90s fastball was too much for the Midwest League to handle. I can't wait to see if his slider takes a leap forward in 2010 and becomes his out pitch.
4. James Darnell / 3B / Darnell has good plate discipline and average current contact ability. Combine that with his solid, demonstrated power and San Diego appears to have a future asset at third base on its hands.
5. Edinson Rincon / OF/3B / Rincon has shown an advanced bat for his age, with some developing power and terrific plate patience backing it up. I need to see him against better competition, but his potential is immense and underrated.
6. Wynn Pelzer / SP / Pelzer has a solid low-90s fastball and an emerging slider. His command comes and goes, and his violent delivery leads many to believe that his future lies in the bullpen. But if his command improves and his change-up takes a step forward, his bid to start will be strengthened.
7. Logan Forsythe / 3B/OF / Forsythe has the patience at the plate to play in the majors right now, but his swing still has some holes and, more importantly, there isn't much power to speak of, which is disconcerting for a player who will have to make his living at a corner position.
8. Rymer Liriano / OF / At just 18 years old, Liriano is understandably undisciplined at the plate, and he has some gaping holes to iron out, but the athletic young man has a great-looking swing and some raw power to work with. He is one to watch.
9. Aaron Poreda / RP/SP / Poreda's lack of secondary stuff, troublesome delivery, and shaky command lead me to believe that he will be a bullpen arm. But he has time to develop into a late-inning role, as his mid-90s fastball and track record of success cannot be ignored.
10. Everett Williams / OF / Williams is a wholly untested high schooler who is known for having a bit of a power/speed combination to work with, but on the downside he is also known for having an undisciplined bat that is littered with holes. I'm willing to give him a shot to impress me, though.
Posted by Matt Hagen at 6:30am
When it comes to draft or auction strategy, it is always extremely useful to plan ahead and to think about what you want to do later in the draft/auction (from now on, I'll just refer to a draft) when planning your first moves. But, don't get too caught up in your masterful late-round strategies.
Whether you're the type of player that comes into a draft with a full ranking and/or dollar values for all players or if you're the type that comes in with a few gut feelings and casual sentiments, I bet that you always think at least several moves in advance during a draft. If you use a draft queue to remind yourself of some players you're interested in in your league's "draft room," then you're definitely planning ahead.
Planning ahead is inescapable and helpful. Perhaps you "reach" for a particular second baseman because he's the last one left that you put any decent value on. That's planning ahead. Perhaps you decide to first draft a shortstop because there are still many acceptable closers left. That's planning ahead.
A form of planning ahead is called "backward iterating" or "backward induction." The above examples are fuzzy cases of backward iteration. Basically, you think about what you're going to do several steps ahead and that, in some way, helps you decide what to do in the first or present step. So much expert advice, if you listen closely, is a form of backward induction.
Here's the thing, though: You must work in the element of chance, of uncertainty. Whether or not you backward iterate, there's no getting rid of chance. But a common mistake is to put too much faith in your end-of-draft strategies, leading you to make early-round mistakes.
An example: You've done your valuations and compared them to some ADPs or consensus valuations. You see, perhaps, that you project Ryan Doumit to be a 15th-round value but that his ADP is (just making this up) in the 21st round. "Ah ha," you say, "I can wait on drafting a catcher and still get a good late-round value." Moreover, even though Victor Martinez is still on the board at the end of the sixth round (making him a good value, according to your projections), you wait on getting a catcher, prioritizing other positions first. You'll draft Doumit in perhaps the 17th round and still make an expected profit.
But what happens if by then someone else has taken Doumit? You may be left with Rod Barajas or some such character.
The problem is that your strategy was contingent on a very distant forecast—in this case, at least 10 rounds into the future. Ten rounds is likely an eternity in drafts—equivalent to forecasting the rain a month out or presidential elections 20 years hence. There's lots and lots of potential variance. Sure, you can probably forecast where a player will be drafted on average (ADP does a pretty good job of this, almost a fortiori). But strategies such as the one above aren't built on average; they are built on forecasting extremes. You really don't want to be too late drafting a position if you're backward iterating in such a risky manner.
The use and misuse of backward iteration casts a tightrope that we all must walk. On the one hand, drafting a "steals guy" in the second round just because you drafted a "power guy" in the first round seems excessively precautionary. Don't give up the chance to draft another "power guy" who may be the better value at that point; you'll be able to get steals later. However, you shouldn't put all your eggs in the Nyjer Morgan basket for the 10th round either, drafting only non-steals guys till then. Same goes especially for closers. Whether or not you subscribe to some version of the "don't pay for closers" mantra, planning on getting a specific closer in the late rounds is folly.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 6:10am
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