Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spring Training Pitchers Analysis Part 1

The Rangers have 32 pitchers in major league camp. I did an analysis of all of the pitchers who were in big league camp, gave their chances of making the team at the end of Spring Training, and will predict the pitching roster next week. I’ve also included each player’s stats from last year.

Mike Adams (73.2 IP, 1.47 ERA, 74 K with Padres and Rangers in 2011)
Adams is one of the top relievers in all of baseball, with a 2.11 career ERA, and a 1.47 2011 ERA. Mike did a great job as the Rangers set-up man after the trade last year and will fill that role again. He has not posted an ERA above 2.50 in any of his past four seasons, or one above 2.00 in any of his last three, and I expect that trend to continue.
Percentage chance of making the Opening Day roster: 100%

Joe Beimel (25.1 IP, 5.33 ERA, 17 K with Pirates in 2011)
Beimel, despite being a non-roster invitee, has a great chance of making the big league roster out of Spring Training, as with Darren Oliver gone and Mike Gonzalez still a free agent, the Rangers have no lefty bullpen pitchers that were good contributors to last year’s team. Joe, Michael Kirkman, Kelvin De La Cruz, and Mitch Stetter are the most likely candidates to be the lefty specialist to start off the year. Before last year, Joe had been pitching very well, with ERAs of 3.27, 2.96, 3.88, 2.02, 3.58, and 3.40 from 2005-2010, but then had his ERA rise by almost 2 full runs in 2011. If Joe can get close to where he was before last year than he will most likely be on the Opening Day roster.
Percentage: 45.6%

Jake Brigham (114.1 IP, 4.49 ERA, 114 K with Double-A Frisco in 2011)
Midway through last year the Rangers transitioned Jake into a reliever after being a starter his whole career, and the results were promising, as Jake’s 4.96 starters ERA was much higher than his 3.60 relievers ERA. This improvement led the Rangers to adding him to the 40-man roster in order to avoid having him be in the Rule 5 Draft. His 4.49 mark last season was his lowest ERA since the 2007 season when he was in Short-Season-A Spokane. However, despite his improvement since moving to the pen, he has almost no chance of making the Opening Day roster as he has never made it above Double-A.
Percentage: 1.8%

Fabio Castillo (52.1 IP, 6.36 ERA, 37 K with Double-A Frisco in 2011)
Fabio has absolutely no chance of making the big league roster at any point this season, barring a plethora of injuries to Rangers relievers. Castillo’s numbers fell off a cliff last year, as his 2.11 2010 ERA changed to a 6.36 2011 ERA. His batting average against went from .219 to .282 in just one season. He is most likely going to be one of the first players sent down to minor league camp.
Percentage: 0%

Yu Darvish (18-6, 1.44 ERA, 276 K with Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan in 2011)
Even though Yu has never thrown a major league pitch in America, there is no way that he won’t start off the season in the big leagues. Darvish is supposed to be the best pitcher to ever come out of Japan, and the Rangers bought in, giving both him and his former team a lot of dough. Yu is supposed to have up to seven pitches including a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. Darvish has the talent to be a true ace, and at age 25, is right in the prime of his career.
Percentage: 100%

Kelvin De La Cruz (86 IP, 4.19 ERA, 95 K with Double-A Akron in 2011)
Though it’s a long shot, seeing as he has never played above Double-A, and has had three straight years with ERAs over 4.00, Kelvin De La Cruz has a chance at the major league roster. However, last year’s 4.19 ERA is misleading, as his defense did nothing to help him, and Kelvin has an FIP (fielding independent pitching) of 3.54. The Rangers traded for him right before Spring Training after the Indians had DFA’d him, and since De La Cruz is a lefty, he is thrown into the lefty specialist competition as the most unlikely option. He will most likely start the year off at Triple-A.
Percentage: 10.4%

Miguel De Los Santos (94.2 IP, 5.04 ERA, 142 K with three different minor league teams in 2011)
Even though this is the second straight year that Miguel will be in big league camp, he still has no shot at making the team. De Los Santos has never made it above Double-A, where he struggled mightily last year, with a 8.04 ERA in 28 innings, and has a terrible groundout to flyout ratio at 0.46. While he has a high K per 9 ratio, Miguel still has a lot of work to do to make the major leagues anytime soon.
Percentage: 0%

Cody Eppley (9 IP, 8.00 ERA, 6 K with Rangers in 2011)
Eppley pitched well enough in the big leagues last year, despite a misleading 8.00 ERA, to warrant a fighting chance at an Opening Day roster spot. He started off dominant when he was first called up to the big leagues last year, and even pitched well enough to be the top set-up man for a week or two in a struggling bullpen. Eppley allowed just one run in his first 6.2 big league innings pitched, before imploding in his sixth outing, allowing 6 runs, all earned, in just 0.1 innings, leading to his demotion to Triple-A Round Rock after a couple more appearances. Cody and Mark Hamburger will be the two most likely people to land the last righty bullpen spot in the case that Koji Uehara is traded, which I think will happen.
Percentage: 41.6%

Scott Feldman (32 IP, 3.94 ERA, 22 K with Rangers in 2011)
After having his season delayed by a knee injury, Scott excelled once he finally got back to the majors in mid-July last year, working out of the bullpen and as a spot starter. Feldman also played a key role in the Rangers getting back to the World Series in 2011, as he had a 3.29 playoff ERA in 13.2 innings pitched, including 8.2 scoreless innings between the ALDS and ALCS. Scott should once again be a long reliever and a spot starter for the Rangers this season, and should have another good year.
Percentage: 100%

Neftali Feliz (62.1 IP, 2.74 ERA, 54 K with Rangers in 2011)
While Neftali is obviously still a lock to make the team on Opening Day, he will be doing so in a very different role than he has been in each of the past two seasons. This year he will be on the team as a starter, after closing each of the past two years, in which he had a combined 72 saves, a Rookie of the Year Award, and ERAs of 2.73 and 2.74. Neftali, in each of his three big league seasons, has held opponents to a batting average of under .200, with a career mark of .173 and a career WHIP of 0.95. Despite these terrific stats, there are a lot of questions about how he will adjust to the starter’s role, especially with his tendency to have high-pitch innings.
Percentage: 100%

Wilmer Font (0 IP in 2011)
Not only has font never been above High-A before in his career, but he also missed all of last season due to an injury. And even if he hadn’t been hurt last year, he still probably wouldn’t have a chance at this year’s team, as he hasn’t done all that great in the minors with ERAs of 4.53, 3.49, 4.35 in his three pro seasons with a reasonable amount of innings.
Percentage: 0%

Sean Green (11.2 IP, 5.40 ERA, 7 K with Brewers in 2011)
While Sean has 269.2 innings of big league experience, chances are still against him being on the Opening Day roster, as not only is he a non-roster invitee, but he is also a righty, and the Rangers have an abundance of right-handed pitchers. After spending the majority of the 2007-2009 seasons in the majors with the Mariners and Mets, Green has thrown only 21 innings in the majors in the last two years combined. Green has a small chance at making the Opening Day team, but it will most likely take injuries. However, there is a very good chance he will be in the majors at some point this season.
Percentage: 18.5%

Mark Hamburger (8 IP, 4.50 ERA, 6 K with Rangers in 2011)
Even though Mark has almost no big league experience (8 IP), he still has a great chance at making the Opening Day roster as an innings-eater, since he has the ability to be a long man and even make a few spot starts here and there. He did a solid job in his limited time with the Rangers in ’11, but did really well with the RoughRiders (1.83 ERA in 19.2 IP) and with the Express (3.88 ERA in 62.2 IP), making for a combined 3.39 minor league ERA last year. Mark is a valuable man to have coming out of the pen and him and Cody Eppley are going to fight it out for the last spot if/when Koji Uehara is traded, which I fully expect to happen.
Percentage: 51.7%

Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39 ERA, 126 K with Rangers in 2011)
After struggling in each of his first three seasons in the majors with ERAs of 5.49, 6.11, and 4.71, Matt really broke through last year, posting a 3.39 ERA even with his 6.07 August ERA. After last season there is no way that he can be left off the team, and he would have to be really bad in Spring Training not to be in the rotation, but he at times seems weak mentally, so another good season out of him this year is not a given.
Percentage: 100%

Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95 ERA, 162 K with Rangers in 2011)
Like Matt Harrison did, Derek also had a breakout year in 2011, winning 16 games and having his first year with an ERA under 4.00. But while they both had good years last year, Derek seems much more mentally tough and still is nowhere near his potential. His potential was reached in the playoffs last year, though, as he had a 3.38 postseason ERA, including a 0.87 World Series ERA. Holland is clutch and has ridiculous talent. I expect him to be an All-Star and an ace this year.
Percentage: 100%

Michael Kirkman (27.1 IP, 6.59 ERA, 21 K with Rangers in 2011)
In an overall very weak lefty specialist battle for the Rangers this spring, Kirkman has a definitive advantage as the only one to both be on the 40-man roster and have big league experience. After a good season in his rookie year in 2010, in which he had a 1.65 ERA in 16.1 innings pitched, he followed that up with a 6.59 ERA. Despite the high ERA, he held lefties to a .214 batting average against, which also works to his advantage in the competition for the lefty specialist role coming out of the bullpen. Obviously, if the Rangers sign Mike Gonzalez, this all goes out the window and that spot in the bullpen goes to Gonzalez.
Percentage: 61.9%

Come back next week for part 2 of my Spring Training Pitchers Analysis.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Top 10 Catchers Right Now

This week I will start a new series in which I will give my top 10 players for each position. MLB Network has been running a similar series which provided me with the idea. This week I will be supplying my top 10 catchers.

10. Alex Avila, DET (2011: .295 AVG, 19 HR, 82 RBI, 2010: .228 AVG, 7 HR, 31 RBI)

After a very poor season in 2010, one in which he had almost no power and barely had an OBP over .300, Avila played very well in 2011, getting both an All-Star selection and a Silver Slugger Award (which should have gone to Mike Napoli). He put up solid power numbers, came up just short of hitting .300, and came up just short of a .400 OBP. On top of that, Alex had a .995 fielding percentage at catcher last year, which is very, very good. Avila isn’t fantastic and hasn’t had a great career so far, but last year was good enough to have him crack the top 10, barely over Russell Martin.

9. Ramon Hernandez, COL (2011: .282 AVG, 12 HR, 36 RBI, 2010: .297 AVG, 7 HR, 48 RBI)

While Hernandez is towards the end of his career, his performance has done nothing but improve the last couple of years. After hitting below .260 from 2007-09, Ramon has upped his game, hitting .297 in 2010 and .282 in 2011, with double-digit homers last year, just the second time in the last 5 years Ramon has accomplished that feat. And Ramon hardly ever makes an error, with a .998 fielding percentage last year, while throwing out 23 of 62 base stealers.

8. Carlos Santana, CLE (2011: .239 AVG, 27 HR, 79 RBI, 2010: .260 AVG, 6 HR, 22 RBI)

After being called up in 2010 and playing well before a season-ending injury, Santana came back in 2011, and while he struggled with his batting average, he hit close to 30 home runs, and walked 97 times, giving him an OBP of .351, which is not too bad, especially for a power hitter like Santana. However, he’s not a very good fielder, with a fielding percentage below .990, and throwing out only 28% of base stealers. He has a lot to work on, but Santana is a promising up-and-coming possible superstar.

7. Yadier Molina, STL (2011: .305 AVG, 14 HR, 65 RBI, 2010: .262 AVG, 6 HR, 62 RBI)

Yadier is almost the exact opposite of Santana. Molina is a guy who can hit for a high average, batting over .290 for three of the past four seasons. However, also unlike Carlos, he doesn’t have a whole lot of pop, hitting double-digit homers just once in his career, and yet another distinction between the two is that Yady is a terrific fielder, throwing out 44% of base stealers in his career, while Santana struggles in that department. Also, Molina is a salty veteran, while Santana is still a young player.

6. Miguel Montero, ARI (2011: .282 AVG, 18 HR, 86 RBI, 2010: .266 AVG, 9 HR, 43 RBI)

Despite throwing out 40% of base stealers last season, Montero is overall not a great defensive catcher. He is however, a player capable of producing some serious runs, as in 2 of the past 3 years, Montero has had a batting average over .280 (.294, .282), and 15+ home runs (16, 18). He actually played well enough in 2011 to make his first All-Star team. Since being called up in 2006, Miguel has had a fairly up-and-down career, but seems to have solidified himself over the past three seasons, with very good years in ’09 and ’11, and a solid season in 2010.

5. Buster Posey, SF (2011: .284 AVG, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 2010: .305 AVG, 18 HR, 67 RBI)

Even though Buster hasn’t even played through an entire season in the majors yet, being called up halfway through 2010 and getting injured a quarter of the way into 2011, he still ranks #5 on my list because of what he can do when he actually does play. He played well enough in 2010 to win Rookie of the Year, with a .305 average, and very solid power numbers. He also played well in the playoffs that year. And in 2011, he was on his way to a very solid year, although not quite as good as his first one, before suffering a season-ending injury. And he’s also a very solid defensive catcher for the Giants. Posey is just an all-around great player.

4. Matt Wieters, BAL (2011: .262 AVG, 22 HR, 68 RBI, 2010: .249 AVG, 11 HR, 55 RBI)

Matt finally is starting to head towards reaching his potential, although his ceiling is quite a bit away. Wieters made his first All-Star team last year and received his first Gold Glove, while posting a decent batting average and some very solid power numbers. However, while last year was a good year, I think this year will be a great year.

3. Joe Mauer, MIN (2011: .287 AVG, 3 HR, 30 RBI, 2010: .327 AVG, 9 HR, 75 RBI)

Even though Joe has had some injury problems over the past few years, he is one of the best players in baseball when he is healthy. He has been selected to four All-Star games, has four Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves, and one MVP. That is a very impressive set of accolades to go along with a .323 career average. If not for injury issues, Mauer would easily be the number 1 player on the list.

2. Brian McCann, ATL (2011: .270 AVG, 24 HR, 71 RBI, 2010: .269 AVG, 21 HR, 77 RBI)

McCann, like Mauer, has an impressive set of awards/honors, as he has been named to 6 All-Star teams, and even won All-Star MVP in 2010, and has 5 Silver Sluggers. Brian has been one of the best catchers in all of baseball ever since his first full season in 2006. He has 20+ home runs in 5 of his 6 full seasons in the big leagues, and has 70+ RBIs in all of them. On top of that, he has only hit under .270 once in his seven year career. However, his poor rate of throwing out 22% of base stealers is what keeps him from being #1 on the list.

1. Mike Napoli, TEX (2011: .320 AVG, 30 HR, 75 RBI, 2010: .238 AVG, 26 HR, 68 RBI)

While Mike has hit 20+ home runs in each of the three seasons before 2011, last year was really his breakout year, as Napoli had hit .273, .272, and .238 in those years and also played subpar defense with fielding percentages of .986 in two of those three years, while throwing out just 22% of base stealers. However, in 2011, not only did Napoli’s power numbers get even better, setting career highs in home runs with 30 and RBIs with 75, but he set a career high in batting average, at .320, an astounding .092 improvement from the year before, OBP, at .414, and runs, with 72. And not only did his hitting improve, but his defense skyrocketed, as Napoli set a career high in fielding percentage at .996, while throwing out 36% of base stealers.

Come back next week for my top 10 first basemen.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Jon Daniels Trade Analysis Part 5

This week I’m posting an update to my Jon Daniels Trade Analysis series, rating each trade from May 15th of 2010 through the end of the 2011 season as a win, loss, or draw. This is the 5th part of the series. Please see the 5/15/10 post for the previous entry in this series.

One thing that’s tough about analyzing these recent trades is trying to project what prospects might do in the future. So I didn’t do that, meaning I’m scoring each trade on the basis of the impact at the major league level as of today, because impact at the major league level is ultimately how each trade will be judged. That means that many of the scores will probably change sometime in the future.

7/1/10 Acquired C Bengie Molina from the San Francisco Giants for RHP Michael Main and RHP Chris Ray.

Win – Neither Bengie or Chris Ray did very well statistically the rest of the regular season with their new teams, with Bengie .240 with 2 home runs and 19 RBIs with the Rangers (although he did hit for a cycle during that time). Ray had a 4.13 ERA in his time with the Giants after pitching well with the Rangers. The difference between the two is the playoffs, as Chris didn’t play in any series, while Molina played very well during the postseason. Overall, Bengie had a .293 playoff ERA with 2 home runs and 8 RBIs, but he really dominated the first two rounds, hitting .357 in the ALDS and .313 in the ALCS. Bengie also brought some important intangibles in his handling of the Rangers pitching staff, both during the regular season and the postseason. Neither player returned to the teams they were traded to in 2011, as Molina retired, and Ray signed with Seattle.

Jon Daniel’s Cumulative Record: 21-7-17

7/9/10 Acquired LHP Cliff Lee and RHP Mark Lowe from the Seattle Mariners for 1B Justin Smoak, RHP Blake Beavan, RHP Josh Lueke, and 2B Matt Lawson.

Win – This one is a no-brainer as Cliff carried the Rangers on his back and got them to the World Series. Even though he was only a Ranger for half of a season, and didn’t even do all that well in the regular season (3.98 ERA), what he did in the ALDS and ALCS makes it to where no matter what Justin Smoak does as a Mariner, this trade is a win. In the ALDS, Cliff posted a 1.13 ERA and had 2 wins, including a complete game victory over Tampa Bay in Game 5. In the ALCS, Lee had a 0.00 ERA, and threw 8 shutout innings in his only outing. And even though he struggled in the World Series, his playoff performance was spectacular. Also, Mark Lowe, the other piece the Rangers got in the trade had a pretty solid year in 2011, with a 3.80 ERA in 45 innings. And it’s not like Smoak has done much yet, either, as he only hit .234 with Seattle last year. Blake Beavan did have a solid 2011 season, though, as he had a 4.27 ERA in 97 innings pitched in his first major league appearances. Josh Lueke also made the majors last year, but with not quite as much success, as he had a 6.06 ERA in 32.2 innings, and is now with the Rays.

Record: 22-7-17

7/30/10 Acquired 1B Jorge Cantu from the Florida Marlins for RHP Omar Poveda and RHP Evan Reed.

Draw – This trade, while seeming great at the time, ended up being meaningless, as Cantu stunk with the Rangers, hitting .235 with 1 home run and 2 RBIs in 98 at-bats in the regular season, and going 0-for-8 in the playoffs. Neither Poveda or Reed have made the majors yet.

Record: 22-7-18

7/31/10 Acquired RHP Roman Mendez and 1B Christopher McGuiness from the Boston Red Sox for C Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Draw – While Jarrod is playing a lot of innings with Boston, and neither Mendez or McGuiness have made the big league team (and McGuiness never will), this trade is a draw for the Rangers. Salty had solid power numbers last year, with 16 home runs and 56 RBIs, but also hit just .235 and played awful defense. On top of that, the Rangers would have had no room for him on the team with both Napoli and Torrealba.

Record: 22-7-19

7/31/10 Acquired 2B Christian Guzman from the Washington Nationals for RHP Ryan Tatusko and RHP Tanner Roark.

Draw – Neither Tatusko or Roark have reached the majors yet, and Guzman was poor as a Ranger, hitting .152 in 46 at-bats, and not even making a playoff appearance.

Record: 22-7-20

8/31/10 Acquired RF Jeff Francoeur from the New York Mets for 2B Joaquin Arias.

Win – This was a big-time win in two ways: we got Jeff, and we finally got rid of Arias. Thank goodness. Francoeur played pretty well for the Rangers in September, hitting .340 with 2 home runs and 11 RBIs as a Ranger, and while he struggled in the playoffs, he was still a good addition to the team. Also, we finally got Joaquin Arias out of the organization, and surprise, surprise, he has struggled in his major league at-bats since the trade.

Record: 23-7-20

1/8/11 Acquired RHP Ryan Tucker from Oakland Athletics for RHP Guillermo Moscoso.

Loss – While both players made major league appearances in 2011, only Moscoso pitched well. Tucker posted a 7.20 ERA in 5 innings, while Moscoso had a 3.38 ERA in 128 innings for the A’s, and pitched really well, holding opponents to a .212 batting average despite his 8-10 record. Guillermo is now with the Rockies.

Record: 23-8-20

1/25/11 Acquired C Mike Napoli from the Toronto Blue Jays for RHP Frank Francisco and cash.

Win – Win is an understatement in this trade, as Mike Napoli was clutch for the Rangers, both offensively and defensively. And all they had to give up to get him was an above-average relief pitcher. While Frankie had a 3.55 ERA with Toronto last year, Napoli was tearing it up with the Rangers, hitting .320 with 30 home runs and 75 RBIs. Napoli also tore it up in the playoffs, hitting .328 with 3 home runs and 15 RBIs. Plus his defense and handling of the pitching staff were top-notch.

Record: 24-8-20

3/28/11 Traded C Matt Treanor to the Kansas City Royals for cash.

Draw – This trade only happened because the Rangers had told Matt that he would have a big league spot when they signed him, but that wasn’t going to happen after they traded for Napoli. The Rangers ended up trading to get Treanor back, anyways.

Record: 24-8-21

7/19/11 Acquired SS Nick Green from the Baltimore Orioles for LHP Zach Phillips.

Draw – Phillips only threw 8 innings for Baltimore last year, and although he did well, 8 innings is not enough to make a trade a win or a loss. Green never made it to the majors with the Rangers.

Record: 24-8-22

7/31/11 Acquired RHP Koji Uehara from the Baltimore Orioles for 1B Chris Davis and RHP Tommy Hunter.

Loss – Koji was absolutely awful with the Rangers last year, and in fact did so poorly the Rangers are trying hard to get rid of him in a trade right now. After having a 1.72 ERA with the Orioles the first half of the season, Koji got to Texas and had a 4.00 regular season ERA, and then a 33.75 postseason ERA and got left off of the World Series roster. And, no, that 33.75 ERA is not a typo. 33.75. And to get him, the Rangers gave up two guys who have starting spots with Baltimore. Davis is currently the Oriole’s starting third baseman after hitting .276 after the trade last year, and Hunter is penciled into their starting rotation for now, despite having a 5.06 ERA with Baltimore last year.

Record: 24-9-22

7/31/11 Acquired RHP Mike Adams from the San Diego Padres for RHP Joe Wieland and LHP Robbie Erlin.

Win – This win is definitely as of right now, as Wieland and Erlin are currently the #7 and #8 prospects in the Padres organization and could be very good big league pitchers. But so far, neither of them have made the majors yet, and Mike Adams pitched very well for the Rangers last year, with a 2.10 regular season ERA with Texas and a 3.24 playoff ERA. Uehara may not have lived up to the hype, but Adams sure did, and Mike helped the Rangers make it to their second straight World Series.

Record: 25-9-22

8/18/11 Acquired RHP Tim Wood from the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later.

Draw – Wood has not pitched in the majors with the Rangers.

Record: 25-9-23

8/31/11 Acquired LHP Mike Gonzalez from the Baltimore Orioles for a RHP Pedro Strop.

Win – Mike was a very good pitcher for the Rangers coming out of the bullpen, even though his numbers might not show it. He did a good job as a lefty specialist, but had a 5.14 ERA with the Rangers. However, that did improve in the playoffs, as his postseason ERA was 4.15. And while Pedro did do very well in Baltimore, with a 0.73 ERA in 12.1 innings pitched, he was not going to have any role with the Rangers.

Record: 26-9-23

8/31/11 Acquired C Matt Treanor from the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations.

Draw – Matt went 0-for-10 with the Rangers after the trade and had no playoff appearances.

Record: 26-9-24

Updated Comparison of Trades by Rangers General Managers:

Tom Grieve:
Record: 10-13-28
Winning percentage: 43%
Number of trades: 51 in 11 years (average of 4.6 trades per year)

Doug Melvin:
Record: 15-14-16
Winning percentage: 52%
Number of trades: 45 in 7 years (average of 6.4 trades per year)

John Hart:
Record: 7-11-18
Winning percentage: 39%
Number of trades: 36 in 4 years (average of 9 trades per year)

Jon Daniels:
Record: 26-9-24
Winning percentage: 74%
Number of trades: 59 in 6 years (average of 9.8 trades per year)

Come back next week for offseason analysis.