Trevor Bell | Los Angeles | SP
YTD: 6.8 K/9, 4.0 K/BB, 6.75 ERA
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
A rocky 2008 in the California League—including a temporary move to the bullpen—dropped Bell’s prospect status to almost non-existent. For people in deep leagues, it’s good to remember that “survival” for a pitcher in the California League can often be a sign of great talent, as it’s just that difficult to pitch there. Bell doesn’t have “great talent,” and he’s about as far from being truly ready as Sean O’Sullivan, and not quite as good. Either is a better choice than Matt Palmer, however. Only in desperation in AL leagues.
Marlon Byrd | Texas | OF
True Talent: .281/.341/.446
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, .280 AVG, 0.2 SB
How’s that for a player matching his “True Talent” prediction? Well, there’s not much to add about Byrd. What you see is what you get, rate-stat wise. We’re going to avoid joining the people who’ve picked him up lately, while various other Rangers have been nicked and missing time. Chris Davis is a likely callup, and it’s hard to see Byrd continuing to get playing time against RHP in September. The “Next Week” numbers should be safe to assume, though.
Rajai Davis | Oakland | CF
True Talent: .261/.319/.362
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, .260 BA, 1.8 SB
Hearkening back to the days of “Whitey Ball” (about which THT’s Dan Fox did an interesting writeup back in 2006), metrically aware teams are suddenly “re-discovering” the value of speed and of defensive outfielders. Anyone who’s seen Rajai track flies has to wonder how RZR/OOZ rate him as below average (.922 RZR, 30 OOZ plays in 436 innings), and the BIS +/- system has him as only the 14th-best CF. Yes, this is a fantasy column… Davis is a marginal hitter, as shown by TT, and his ability to make a defensive impact will determine how many at bats—and thus stolen bases—he gets for a fantasy team. So, it’s good to know that at least the popular-if-flawed UZR system loves his defense, and he’s probably a safe bet to keep getting PT as long as he doesn’t go into a prolonged slump.
Derek Holland | Texas | SP
YTD: 7.5 K/9, 2.5 K/BB, 5.04 ERA
True Talent: 6.8 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 5.90 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 4.2 IP, 0.2 W, 4 K, 6.36 ERA
Over at Baseball Daily Digest, I had some observations on the Rangers leading the league in run prevention this season. Part of the reson is that they appear to be intent on keeping their talented pitchers. Holland’s fastball averages 93 mph this year. He’s still a young pitcher with a crappy home park, so fatigue may wear him down, but for a guy who was expected to begin the year in Double-AA to have allowed a batting line of just .190/.272/.306 in the past month is impressive, even if starts against Seattle, Oakland, and KC are in there. Expect hiccups, but this guy is for real. Don’t be surprised if his ERA is almost 2 points under that TT projection the remainder.
Jake Peavy | Chicago | SP
YTD: 10.1 K/9, 3.3 K/BB, 3.97 ERA
True Talent: 9.3 K/9, 3.1 K/BB, 3.61 ERA
Next Week Forecast: n/a
We’re of a split mind on the Peavy trade at Heater, as John Burnson hated the deal, while yours truly jumped on the White Sox bandwagon based on it. Peavy has that sort of polarizing influence. He has a career Home ERA 1.0 points better than his road ERA, compared to a typical value of 05. He’s a flyball pitcher coming to a park that allows homers. And those are the parks that caused him road ails in the NL—17 HR allowed in Chase Field, a .500+ slugging in both Coors and Wrigley—and which Kenny Williams is banking both money and cheap talent on him being able to reverse. On the plus side, his career OBP against is under .300, his K/9 rate is 9.0, with a fantastic 3.1 K:BB ratio. Non-pitchers have hit just .243/.311/.393 against him, and if you believe in “clutch” pitching, he’s been better in the second half and much better in “high leverage” situations (just .215/.285/.314 against). Personally, this author would put every FAAB $ available down on Peavy and not have any reservations. But be warned that many smart people think otherwise.
Cliff Pennington | Oakland | SS
True Talent: .232/.319/.315
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, .231 AVG, 0.5 SB
Before people start thinking about former Athletic Ryan Ludwick, and other top prospects who dropped off the grid for a few years only to rebound and rake, Pennington was primarily a defensive prospect years ago. Out of nowhere he posted a .426 OBP in 2008, and stole 47 bases between ’08 and ’09 in Triple-A (711 PA)—bringing back memories of Esteban German‘s minor-league stats. He is unlikely to ever post a great OBP, but he brings the speed and defense that the new (or is it “old school”) Billy Beane seems to be coveting now.
Travis Snider | Toronto | OF
True Talent: .250/.317/.424
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Sharp roto players everywhere lit up their transaction lines grabbing Travis Snider when Rios was claimed on waivers away from Toronto. But Randy Ruiz was recalled. What happened? Suspicions are that the Jays are trying to avoid letting Snider qualify for “Super Two” arbitration status, which would at least mean they haven’t cooled on him. He’s hitting .325/.421/.650 in Las Vegas. Expect him to be up in September and never go down again. He may not be the mega-star many were projecting, but don’t read too much into that TT projection, either.
Junichi Tazawa | Boston | SP
YTD: 10.8 K/9, 4.0 K/BB, 4.05 ERA
True Talent: 9.6 K/9, 3.5 K/BB, 3.27 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.2 IP, 0.5 W, 7 K, 3.38 ERA
ESPN—sometimes seemingly the Red Sox flagship station—would love nothing more than to see Tazawa thrive. He turned down an offer worth millions more from Texas because he wanted to be on a team with Dice-K, and by most accounts would have been a first-round pick if he’d been in the U.S. draft, or the first overall pick in Japan. So, when ESPN columnist Keith Law suggests that he’s a No. 3 starter if his control stays at its best, some yellow flags go up. Before jumping in with both feet based on that “True Talent” prediction, consider that he struck out under 8 batters per 9 IP this year between Double-A and Triple-A, and his fastball usually comes in around 90 mph. A similar Yankees pitcher, Ian Kennedy, also had good K/9, K:BB, and FIP rates in the minors. Tazawa might be good, but the TT line is an upside.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.