Each week I’ll be here answering questions that have been sent to me at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account.
My Jason Motte for Bryce Harper. Too much?
We’re all aware of it by now, but the attrition rate of closers this season is better than 50 percent, and that’s just stupefying. What it means is that if you can find a guy who appears to be locked into the 9th inning you better only move him if you are getting a killer deal. Motte has blown two of nine save chances, but he’s locked in for the Cardinals. Motte has pushed his K/9 rate to elite levels at 10.34, and he’s continued to be stingy with the free pass (2.30 per nine) leading to an uber-impressive 4.50 K/BB mark. That’s pretty rare territory an a great indicator that some serious success is going to be heading your way. You could claim small sample size – we’re only taking 15.2 innings for 2012 – so let’s go back to the start of the 2010 season for a broader perspective. In 136 innings Motte has a 2.25 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP, 8.93 K/9 mark an a 3.55 K/BB ratio. Those are elite numbers, no?
Harper, the Golden Boy of baseball, has done about what I expected from the youngster. He’s had moments of success and failure intermixed. It’s only been 17 games, and given his age you’d have to say his start has been a success, but at the same time he’s hitting .238 and has a mere .319 OBP. The .460 SLG is solid, but people are expecting more than a homer every 32 at-bats with Bryce Harper (he has two in 63 this season). The fact of the matter is that at this point he really doesn’t profile as more than a fourth or fifth outfielder in mixed leagues.
If it’s a re-draft league give me Mr. Motte.
My David Ortiz for his Jonathan Papelbon in a H2H League? My closers are David Robertson, Henry Rodriguez, Joe Nathan and Dale Thayer.
The reliever carousel continues…
Robertson thinks he can return in two weeks from his oblique issue, but how often do we see that happen when that part of the body is injured? Plus, if Rafael Soriano takes off and has a hot start working the 9th, will Robertson just be returned to his familiar 8th inning role?
Rodriguez is dealing with three factors. (1) He’s recently had some tightness in his forearm. (2) His performance of late has been spotty. In his last six appearances he’s walked five batters an allowed six runs over 4.2 innings. (3) Brad Lidge appears to be nearing a return to health, and Drew Storen as well (Storen could be more than a month away though).
Nathan looks pretty much as good as ever. He’s starting to hit 95-96 mph on the gun. He’s converted eight of nine save chances. His ERA is 2.87, his WHIP is 1.15, his K/9 10.91 and his K/BB 9.50. He appears to be “back.”
Thayer has locked down the 9th for the Padres going 4-for-4 in saves and pushing his career mark to one walk in 34 innings. However, as soon as Huston Street is ready to return Thayer loses his job with the Padres.
Papelbon is dominating hitters as he always does: 2.40 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 10.80 K/9, 4.50 K/BB, 10-for-10 in saves. Nuff said.
Ortiz (.345-8-27-27) has been spectacular so far. At the same time, there are concerns. (1) He only qualifies at DH/Utility limiting his value a bit. (2) After a blazing start that included a .405 average, six homers and 20 RBI in his first 22 games, Ortiz has slowed greatly hitting .259-2-7 over his last 15 contests. Hot starts often blind people to the facts which follow. (A) Ortiz is not a .345 hitter. In fact, three of the past four years he’s failed to hit even .275. He won’t keep up his current pace. Do you really think he’s going to have his best line drive rate since 2005 this year? Do you also think that a guy with a career .304 BABIP is doing to post a career best .357 mark this season? (B) Despite the success, Ortiz is actually taking walks at a 10 year low, and while I’d like to believe he’s capable of offsetting that by posting a career low K-rate, I find that unlikely to be the case in his 16th big league season.
So do you trade for Papelbon given the fact that three of your four closers may not hold their current 9th inning spots in a month? Ortiz is a high price to pay given that he will be a strong producer all season, but I’d get the Phillies’ closer.
Should I pick up and stash Ubaldo Jimenez? Does he turn it around?
Since I’m sich a glass is half full type, let’s start with the positive.
Ubaldo still alive.
So ends the positive talk.
Facetiousness aside, there’s not much to hang ones hat on here (people see to agree over at Fleaflicker as well where he is owned in only 64 percent of leagues).
A better than eight per nine strikeout guy in his career Ubaldo is currently sitting at 5.48 per nine. Part of the blame there is the fact that his 96.1 mph fastball from 2009-10 is now resting at 92 mph. You can also blame his one time 86 mph slider that now resides at 82 mph. His change up is also down from 87 mph to 83 by the way. The fact of the matter is that he’s lost four mph the past two years, and that’s alarming to say the least. Equally disturbing is that the downward movement that made Ubaldo such a special pitcher has apparently deserted him along with the speed. A one time 50+ percent ground ball arm, that number has dipped from 54.4, to 52.5, to 48.8 to 47.2 percent the past four years. This year, he’s taken another significant step back with that number dropping down to 41 percent.
Struggling to put hitters away, he’s not only been as wild as ever, he’s actually been way worse. However between 3.51 and 3.74 walks the past three years, he’s added nearly three full batters to that mark this year (6.26). You cannot have success walking that many batters. Ask Francisco Liriano and Jonathan Sanchez.
Given his stuff Ubaldo can still get batters out and have success as a big league starter, but with his inability to throw quality strikes and to avoid walks, there’s little chance he turns things around to previous levels unless he somehow magically rediscovers his lost heat. Where’s Rumpelstiltskin when you need to make a wish?
Can David Freese keep this up? Offered Freese for Chris Young.
Recall above when I wrote about perception becoming reality for some people? Take the case of Freese and look at his numbers the first two months.
April: .333-5-20 with a .935 OPS
May: .222-3-8 with a .786 OPS
In April he was George Brett. In May he’s been Melvin Mora. So are you asking me if he can keep up April or May? The truth lies in the middle since he’s neither Brett nor Mora. Overall he’s appeared in 35 of 37 Cardinals games, and given his track record it’s hard to believe he will be able to keep up that pace. I also feel pretty comfortable in stating that he isn’t a 35 home run, 120 RBI bat he’s on pace to be right now. In truth, I’d be a bit surprised if he’s even a 25-95 bat given the health concerns and the lack of elite power. Also don’t overlook the fact that while his .287 batting average is a strong mark that it would actually be, barely, a four year low.
Young should be back by the end of this week or the start of next week. Before injuring his shoulder he was off to a dynamic start as he was hitting .410 with five homers, 13 RBI and two steals through 11 games. An option to go 20/20 every season, Young has long struggled to lift his batter average to the realm of respectability (he’s never hit .260 in a season). Given that he’s coming back from an injured shoulder he’s basically having to start over meaning that you’ll likely be best served to reset your expectations for Young back to where they were eight weeks ago. Forget the hot start and look at him as a fella who could be a batting average drain while being a potentially significant source of counting category numbers in the outfield.
Do you need outfield help? Are you looking for a speed boost? If so, the easy answer is obviously Young. If you’re looking for some corner infield help and batting average security, the answer is square in the other camp of Freese. Without knowing the answer to those two questions I’d go with the more dynamic talents of Young who can give me 20 steals if pushed, but there are certainly plenty of scenarios in which it would make more sense to hold on to Freese.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday.