photo © 2009 Keith Allison | more info (via: Wylio)
Here are some answers to a few of the questions that I recently received at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account.
Would you trade away Alexi Ogando for Carlos Beltran?
Back on May 16th I wrote the following about Ogando. “…there is no way he can perform this well all season… Ogando has been magnificent, but if you can convince someone that he is a top-20 hurler, now is the time to move him.” I have to admit he’s held on much longer than I thought he would, but at the same time there are some troublesome signs. First, he’s failed to last more than five innings in three of four starts. Second, over his last four starts he’s 1-3 with a 6.61 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. Now you might say small sample size to brush off that recent run of poor work, but the mitigating factor here is that Ogando has already reached a career-high in innings pitched. In this day and age of pitch and inning counts, just how hard are the Rangers going to push Ogando? For that matter, how will his arm hold up under the increasingly heavy workload? Finally, Ogando owns a middling K/9 rate (6.73), a poor GB/FB (0.88) and there is still no way to explain his .247 BABIP given his over 22 percent line drive rate.
Beltran has been as good as ever at the plate. It’s pretty shocking actually given the physical issues that limited him to 145 games played the last two years. Let’s compare his work this season to his career averages.
It’s pretty amazing how close those numbers are. How about the counting stats you ask? He only has 350 plate appearances right now, so I’ll give you those numbers and his career averages per 350 PAs.
Career: 14 homers, 52 RBI, 54 runs, 14 steals
2011: 12 homers, 55 RBI, 46 runs, three steals
Pretty much everything suggests that Beltran is “back,” though the pink elephant in the room is the lack of steals. Given his knee issues the past few years they may never come back, but that doesn’t mean Beltran won’t continue to be a force with a bat in his hands.
I find it hard to believe I’m typing this, but I’m going to say Beltran is the better bet to replicate his first half work in the second half. Beltran could be traded to a team with a better offense and get a chance to ply his trade in a better home park, and that intrigues me. Plus, I’m just not sold that Ogando is (a) going to keep up his current level of performance and (b) that his arm isn’t going to fall off if he more than doubles his previous career-high in innings.
As a Matt Capps owner I picked up Joe Nathan. How much longer till I’m dropping Capps?
Capps blew a save chance July 2nd, and then on July 3rd he was removed after allowing two hits (it was Glen Perkins and not Nathan who was called in to clean up the mess). Capps was not pleased, and he even got the kiss of death after the game when manager Ron Gardenhire said he was still the closer for the Twins. Capps has been as good as ever with a mere 1.03 BB/9 mark, he just doesn’t beat himself, but oddly his K/9 mark is way down to 5.40 per nine, a terrible mark (career 6.83). That’s danger territory. At the same time virtually all the other major indicators with him point to this being a “normal” Capps effort which equates to solid without being overly interesting or dominating.
Is that enough to hold off Nathan? There are two things at work here. (1) Nathan is still working his way back to full strength (Nathan’s thrown the ball very well since returning from the DL but we’re only talking about four innings). It is heartening though that over his last six outings that he’s picked up six Ks without a single walk. He’s getting closer, and the mph is creeping up, but he’s still not back to 2009 form quite yet. (2) The Twins continue to be beat down by injuries as much as any club in baseball, and as a result they are in fourth place in the AL Central. They’re only eight games out, but there is a chance that we reach the end of the month and the Twins make the decision to move Capps to another contender. If that occurs then the 9th would be wide open in Minnesota.
For now you have to keep Capps because you won’t get much for him on the trade market. There’s also the fact that he is still the Twins’ closer. However, know that he isn’t at all likely to be picking up saves in August unless it’s with another club.
I have Vlad Guerrero and Bobby Abreu. Nick Swisher just became a free agent. Drop one for him?
Swisher killed it in June hitting .326 with seven homers and 23 RBI. As a result he is on pace to go .248-19-92-77 over 533 ABs this season. In his career, per 533 at-bats, Swisher has produced a line of .252-27-84-88. Obviously he’s right back where he should be, and it’s clear he shouldn’t be on waiver-wires.
Guerrero has 442 homers, 1,461 RBI, owns a .318 career average and has more than 2,500 hits in his career. He’s also never failed to hit .295 in a season, and every time he has had 500 ABs he has gone deep at least times 27 with 83 RBI. He’s aging (36 years old), and his body has been oft injured the past few years, but it’s pretty shocking to find him on pace to go .276 with 11 homers and 53 RBI. Abreu is another aging vet who has one big advantage over Vlad – he still steals bases. Abreu has 13 thefts putting him on pace for a 13th straight season of at least 20 steals. He’s also seen his average come up to .285 on the year, and the dude can still get on base with a .395 OBP. His power seems pretty much gone, even 12 homers will be a surprise this season (he currently has three), but he’s still pretty stable at the dish and on the base paths.
Add Swisher at the expense of Bad Vlad.
Which Jays’ OF to go with: Travis Snider, Eric Thames or Rajai Davis?
A first round selection in 2006, Snider has been up and down more than the super hero genre in movie theaters this year. When he’s in the majors he has struggled hitting .249 with a .743 OPS in his career, but he kills it in the minors. Snider hit .333 this year at Triple-A as the Jays left him down there a long while to make sure he found his stroke after hitting .184 in 87 at-bats with the Jays earlier in the year. Snider had three hits in his first game back, is just 23 years old, and scouts will tell you this is a 30 homer bat.
Thames hit 27 homers with 104 RBI last season at Double-A to gain everyone’s attention. With the Jays recent dump of Juan Rivera, Thames should get ample chance to prove himself in the bigs. He likes to swing at the first pitch, and sometimes struggles with secondary stuff, but there is no disputing that he has talent. However, he will likely have to contend with Corey Patterson and Davis for playing time which is why I’d prefer Snider over Thames.
What about Davis? It seems like he got the message that his playing time was about to be curtailed. Davis has five hits and four thefts in his last two outings. Despite all his struggles he is still looking at a third straight 40-steal season. It also deserves to be pointed out that Davis loved to hit in the second half as his average is .302, .046 points better than his first half mark, while his OPS goes up to .758, .119 points better than his first half mark.
Davis would be my choice here. His average should come up from his current .237 mark, and his wheels are elite giving him a chance to be a second half difference maker.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive, 5-8 PM Eastern, on Sirius 210 and XM 87.