We’ve had quite the exciting offseason in baseball with players being dealt faster than Lindsey Lohan has racked up court appearances. The latest deal was a huge three way effort that includes a couple of 20/20 performers and one of the brightest young arms in baseball. Here is how all the dealing played itself out between the Diamondbacks, Indians and Reds.
Let’s go team by team and how these players should be looked at for the 2013 season.
First off, not quite sure what the D’backs are doing, and I’ll have more on that in a coming piece about Justin Upton. As for this deal…
Gregorius is the shortstop that the Diamondbacks claimed they must have (they have been tied to Andrus/Profar of the Rangers and Simmons of the Braves all offseason). Most new-school baseball folks are of the opinion that Gregorius is a solid defender who isn’t likely to be an all-star because of his bat, but there is no denying his physical gifts (for more see MLB’s Prospect Watch Report). Gregorius has hit a mere .271 in the minors with a .699 OPS, and just 40 steals over 443 games. He’s 23 and ready for a big league gig right now, though how far he develops is anyone’s guess (opinions are pretty divergent).
Sipp is a decent arm who strikes out a batter an innings, but he’s also never walked fewer than 3.47 batters per nine innings, and is constantly allowing home runs (1.47 per nine innings over 248 outings). He’s nothing more than a passable setup arm and could get a lot of holds.
Anderson used to be a player with a future, he was Baseball America’s 17th ranked prospect in 2009, but he’s accrued only 48 big league at-bats hitting .167 without a single homer. Not just that, but the 25 year old hit .250 with nine homers in 111 games at Triple-A last year. He’s nothing more than organizational depth at this point.
The Reds brought back Ryan Ludwick to play left field (2-years, $15 million), and they have a perennial 30 homer bat in right field in Jay Bruce. That means newly acquired Shin-Soo Choo will have to take over in center field, a position he has appeared at only 10 times in 699 big league games. But the Reds didn’t add Choo for his defense, they added him for his offense. A 20/20 performer who hit .300 in each of the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Choo was limited to a mere 85 games in 2011 due to thumb and back issues. He started off very slowly in 2012 but in the end he was nearly back to his previous levels as he hit .283 with 16 homers, 21 steals an a career best 88 runs scored last season. Still a threat to go 20/20 while hitting .280 or better (career .289), Choo’s real value to the Reds is in his ability to get on base. Not only did he post a mark of .373 last year in the OBP column, but he also owns a career .381 mark. His performance also took off last year when the Indians asked him to lead off, and in 99 game there last season his OBP was .389. Choo will be asked to hit leadoff for the Reds. Studies have shown that each spot in the batting order that a player moves up he gains about 15 plate appearances. Obviously that news should be music to Choo’s ears. As a result the deal his 2013 fantasy outlook is shaping up as a potentially huge one. A 20/20 effort cannot be ruled out, and hitting atop a powerful Reds’ lineup, and spending half his games at Great American Ballpark, should give Choo a real shot at 100 runs for the first time if he can stay healthy.
Don’t forget either, this move signals that Billy Hamilton will not break camp with the Reds in 2013. Not only that, Billy may not even be up at the All-Star break cause you don’t want to bring up a young guy and just ask him to sit on the bench, that’s just not good for anyone’s development. He might not be anything other than a September call-up while he learns a new position (center field).
Donald? Move on in the fantasy game. There is nothing to see here.
Bauer is an elite arm and it’s shocking to see the D’Backs so quickly give up on him. Bauer walked 13 batters an posted a 6.06 ERA in four starts last year, but we all know that small sample sizes can skew numbers dramatically. All this talk about his funky mechanics and preparation methods are ridiculous to use as a reason for Arizona to deal him. Bauer never pretended to be anyone other than who he was. Why was that OK a year an a half ago for the D’backs and not now (they drafted him 3rd overall in 2011)? It might also be wise to point out two main facts. (1) Bauer is one of the greatest pitchers in the history of college baseball. (2) Here are his minor league numbers in 29 starts: 13-4, 3.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 11.5 K/9. His control can desert him at times, and that’s a concern, but this guy is uber talented and more than capable of being a mixed league option in 2013.
Stubbs is an elite talent with an unhealthy love of the strikeout that often tramps down his production. For his career Stubbs has a K-rate of more than 29 percent and that has led to 3-straight years of 165 Ks. As a result his career OBP of .312 is awful, but somehow he was able to convince the Reds that he should be their leadoff hitter. He shouldn’t ever see an at-bat at the top of the order (he’s a 6th hitter if I ever saw one). He’s a flawed player, and one who isn’t likely to suddenly rectify that issue with a new team, but this deal is actually still good news for Stubbs. Why? He was at serious risk of losing playing time if he remained with the Reds. With the Indians playing time shouldn’t be an issue. A three time 30 steal man, it might surprise many of you out there to learn that over the past three seasons that Stubbs has averaged 17 homers, 86 runs scored and 33 steals. That’s near near a 20/30 season with 86 runs scored folks, and that’s his average the past three years. Yes his batting average is just .241 for his career but just like with B.J. Upton (more on him in his Player Profile) Stubbs is an impressive fantasy performer if you can find a way to work around his batting average.
Albers has appeared in 300 games in the big leagues with little to show for it. He did have a strong season last year with a 2.39 ERA and 1.13 WHIP over 60.1 innings, but that was his first season of relevance. Still can’t feel that great about a guy who strikes out 6.5 batters per nine innings while walking more than four per nine, even if he is a strong ground ball arm (1.59 GB/FB). Worth a look in AL-only leagues in the reserve rounds.
Shaw is even more of a ground ball option than Albers with a ground ball rate of 57.5 percent over his two big league seasons. That’s an elite mark. If he keeps that up he is going to have an awfully long big league career. In the fantasy game though there is nothing at all that stands out one bit. Lower on the totem pole than Albers in terms of his fantasy value.
By Ray Flowers