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Tuesday, February 16, 2010
After watching former starter, Brian Schnieder leave New York for National League East rival, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Mets were linked to Bengie Molina and Yorvit Torrealba among other available backstops this winter. With Molina back in San Francisco and Torrealba settling down in San Diego, the Mets are left with a collection of back up catchers and no clear cut option. Apparently they think that four back-up catchers equal two complete ones.
With four catchers already on the 40-man roster, the team added former Rays’ catcher Shawn Riggans into the mix on a minor league deal this past weekend. Riggans, 29, has opened the past few seasons as Tampa Bay's primary back-up catcher, but injuries cost him playing time in each season.
This is nothing new to Riggans who is constantly battling the injury bug. His medical history as well as the much maligned Mets training staff should make for an interesting pairing. As a Rays fan, I've witnessed his gritty-ness first hand. In 2008, Riggans took a Fernando Rodney fastball to the chest only to stay in the game and score the winning run minutes later.
When he was on the field, Riggans showed a decent bat with noted "pop." As a minor leaguer, his cumulative OPS is nearly .800 and he owns a career ISO of .154 in the majors. Unfortunately, a knee injury in 2008 and an arm injury in 2009 prevented him for getting any resemblance of consistent playing time. That said, if he does find some good health he could be an offensive sleeper at the position.
As it stands right now Omir Santos figures to get the nod as the Mets catcher most days. Santos saw his first significant playing time in 2009 and finished the season with a slash line of .260/.290/.381. As a right-handed batter, Santos was surprisingly better against pitcher with the same handiness. Against righties he hit .283/.321/.406. Of course, the sample size is rather small and in any case you would like to see him get on-base more. He walked less than 5% of the time this past season.
Behind Santos is a pair of major league veterans. After spending parts of four seasons with the Phillies, Chris Coste was signed to a minor league deal. Coste spent time with the Phillies and Astros last season.
Of all the potential candidates, Coste represents the best offensive potential. A career .272/.329/.416 hitter, his .325 wOBA is the closest to league average among the candidates. Unlike his fellow right-handed colleague, Santos, Coste enjoys platoon split against left-handed pitching. With a slash line against southpaws of .294/.345/.476, Coste would represent a fine platoon partner. Add in his decent .713 OPS against righties and his ability to play first base and I can easily see a spot for him on the Mets bench.
The other veteran in this group is Henry Blanco. A career back-up, Hank White has spent parts of 12 seasons with seven major league teams. Blanco's career slash line of .228/292/.366 is not pretty, but his game calling and defense behind the plate is highly regarded.
The final piece of the puzzle is 23 year-old Josh Thole. Mets fans briefly saw Thole's talents last year when he hit .321/.356/.396 in 59 big league plate appearances. Now that 34% line drive rate is unsustainable, but he has been a fine hitter over the past two seasons in the minors. After hitting .300/.382/.427 in High-A ball in 2008, Thole crushed Double-A pitching to the tune of .328/.395/.422. He skipped Triple-A completely and represents hope for the positions' future.
Due to their relative below average-ness, and questions about playing time, I would avoid all candidates until further notice. Thole represents the best talents, but could use
some minor league seasoning. In the interim, I would keep an eye on Coste as a platoon partner as well as Riggans if he can stay on the diamond long enough.
Posted by Tommy Rancel at 7:00am
After outdoing myself last week, I figured I'd return my roots and write an article a little simpler, a little less theoretical, and more practical. Picking up from where I left off two weeks ago, today I will evaluate pitchers who have large discrepancies in their highest and lowest draft position. As Bud Light commercials say: "Here we go."
Javier Vazquez | ADP: 61 | Earliest: 46 | Latest: 92 |
Pitchers who have renaissance years and then switch leagues make good candidates to be on a list such as this one, so it is no surprise to see Vazquez's name here. Last season on the Braves he posted Cy Young-esque numbers of 15 wins with a 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts in 219 innings of work, vindicating Derek Carty on his man-crush of him last year.
As impressive as last year was, people are still wary of owning Vazquez because of his age (33), the mileage on his arm (2,500 career innings), his switch to the offensive powerhouse AL East, his terrible season in his last go-around with the Yankees back in 2004, and finally his flyball tendencies in the flyball haven that is the new Yankee Stadium. Whew! That is a lot to not like about a guy. On the flip side people like Vazquez for his durability, his high strikeout and low walk rates, because he is now backed by the scary-good Yankees offense, and well, because of how spectacular he was last year.
A generally unlucky pitcher, Vazquez was bestowed with a little bit of luck in 2009 as his 3.24 LIPS ERA indicates. Making adjustments from that LIPS ERA number based on the work Derek did last offseason on the impact of switching leagues we can expect his ERA to rise .40 points from the league switch and then a couple of tenths more due to the higher run environment of Yankee Stadium. With a strikeout rate regressed back into the high eights partially from the 0.6 penalty from the switch to the AL, Vazquez is looking at a season with an ERA from 3.75 to 4.00, around 200 strikeouts, and 16-20 wins.
Nothing makes that line stand out from the lines of the pitchers taken around him, though if you are going to take a pitcher around this point in a draft, Vazquez's durability does make him a viable option.
Wandy Rodriguez | ADP: 125 | Earliest: 78 | Latest: 188 |
Like Javy, Wandy is coming off a tremendous 2009 season in which he finished with a 3.02 ERA and 193 strikeouts in 206 innings pitched. Despite his first name, Rodriguez is someone who has flown under many people's radars the past two years, over which he has proven himself a quality starting pitcher. His LIPS ERA of 4.03 in 2009 reveals that luck buoyed him to his 2009 ERA and he is not ready to join the elite ranks of pitchers.
As was the case with Vazquez, there is little to distinguish Wandy from the other pitchers, such as Matt Garza and Chad Billingsley, who are taken around him, making it difficult to say whether it is worth the investment in him. With starting pitching a relatively deep position, avoiding elite pitchers and nabbing a few starters at this point in drafts is a solid strategy that can lead to powerful offenses with still-respectable pitching staffs and Wandy is a solid No. 2 or 3 on any fantasy team.
Jorge de la Rosa | ADP: 195 | Earliest: 132 | Latest: 245 |
DLR is an emerging fantasy pitcher with tons of potential given his ability to punch batters out. Last year was a breakout season for the late-blooming 28-year-old, throwing 185 innings, posting a 4.38 ERA, and racking up 193 K's. Covered nicely in this Waiver Wire article, de la Rosa appears primed for an even more impressive season in 2010 with an ERA closer to his 2009 LIPS ERA of 4.03. Couple that ERA with 200 plus strikeouts and a healthy win total, and you are looking at a pitcher who is currently undervalued in drafts.
Especially considering the similarities between DLR and the pitcher we just covered, Rodriguez, de la Rosa emerges as another solid option to be that second or third starter on your fantasy team—except at a more palatable price.
Posted by Paul Singman at 4:24am
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