What do you do when your called out? Do you shrink into a corner? Do you pick up your machete and start slashing? Do you ignore it and pull back on a Pilsner? My weapon of choice is the written word, luckily for Tim Heaney of KFFL.com.
(Tim an I go way back, so take what your about to read in the right vein. I’m just playing things up to make it look like Tim is a jerk-face. In truth, he’s one of the nicer guys around).
So what is this battle about that I speak of? Last week I tweeted that Henderson Alvarez had “no chance” of being a top-75 SP in 2012. Tim caught wind of this tweet, and offered a very reasonable rebuttal at KFFL.com.
“He’s a Scott Baker, Ricky Nolasco type – moderate K/9, pristine BB/9 – who’s much cheaper and offers similar upside, if not more for his relative cost.”
I’ll give Tim credit as he threw back in my face two arms that I always talk up each year, an always believe in. If Alvarez really is a pitching on par with those other two then I would be wrong to dismiss Alvarez as a potential top-75 arm. I hate admit when someone might have the drop on me. My only hope is that Alvarez isn’t the type of arm that is on par with those others. Let’s see…
Tim stated that the sample size with Alvarez is small – only 10 starts last year with the Blue Jays. That is always one of the bigger issues for me. In a general sense, I’m a big believer in the ‘I’ve seen him do it before so I feel fairly certain he could do it again.’ The result of that mindset is that I’m often much lower on rookies than many others are. I’m not stupid enough to state that guys like Brett Lawrie and Matt Moore can’t possibly be good because they haven’t played a full big league season, that would be completely foolish. However, I’m of the opinion that it’s tough to pass on a guy like Aramis Ramirez or Matt Garza in favor of youngsters that have yet to cut their teeth at the big league level. If I’m reluctant to go all in on elite talent then it’s not a leap at all to understand why I’d be less than thrilled to push Alvarez above proven big league talent.
Tim also points out another issue that apparently concerns me a bit more than it does him – Alvarez skipped Triple-A. Moreover, dude has all of 88 innings above A-ball. I don’t like that at all. Many pitchers need at least 500 innings of minor league innings to truly get everything under control an Alvarez is well under that at 405 total with less than a fifth of that against guys above A-ball. That makes me pretty nervous. Not like I’m unable to speak to you because you are a beautiful woman, but maybe more like I need a belt of booze in order to gain some courage to chat you up. Speaking of Henderson’s minor league career it’s not like he posted special numbers even at the lower levels. Here are his career totals: 27-24, 4.02 ERA, 1.30 WHIP an a 6.5 K/9 mark. None of that, none of it, says top-75 major league arm.
Despite what the numbers say, Tim does bring up a couple of salient points. First, Alvarez doesn’t walk anyone so even though his strikeout numbers might not impress his K/BB ratio is, in Tim’s words, pristine. Tim is right. The mark was 3.77 during his minor league days and even higher at 5.00 in 63.2 innings in the bigs last year. I gotta be honest though. Do you really think though that Henderson can be expected to walk less than a batter per start moving forward? The second point, and I can’t refute this one in any way, is that Alvarez induces grounders. That always helps a pitcher out and is often the key to mitigating big innings because homers can kill ya. Maybe the addition of another pitch – a slider – will help even further as Tim suggests.
So did I speak too quickly when I said that Alvarez had “no chance” to be a top-75 starter in 2012? Maybe, but I’m not backing down from it. Not only is Alvarez young and unproven at the big league level, he simply doesn’t have much experience against elite competition. He also doesn’t miss enough bats putting him at the mercy of his defense and some random forces. Don’t forget, and this is always big for me, even if a guy like Alvarez has a lot of big league success his value in mixed leagues is muted if his K/9 rate is a batter an a half below the big league average. Alvarez has a skill set that suggests success is coming, but that’s a far cry from making him a legit top-75 starting pitcher in fantasy leagues in 2012 in my opinion.
For Tim’s rebuttal to my reply see – The Brodown Continues.
What do people think of Alvarez over at Fleaflicker?
By Ray Flowers
Chris Carpenter was traded. Tommy Hanson has a concussion. Matt Moore won’t have an innings pitched limit. The Dodgers named their closer, an it’s not who you think. Raul Ibanez is a Yankee. Katharine McPhee is… well you have to keep reading for that.
RHP Chris Carpenter was traded to the Red Sox today. I know, crazy isn’t it? Oh wait, we’re talking about the 26 year old former Cub, not the Cy Young winning Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals. How made are you at me right now?
Tommy Hanson, who is attempting to return from shoulder woes, has reworked his mechanics to take better advantage of his lower half (i.e. his legs). While that sounds like a good thing, mechanical alterations for pitcher’s always make me a bit nervous. Now we get word that Hanson was involved in a car accident yesterday and that he received a Grade 1 concussion that will likely preclude him from doing anything for a few days. I know it’s early, but are you getting the unsettling feeling that things may not go Hanson’s way this year?
Raul Ibanez signed a one year deal for $1.1 million to join the Yankees. The 39 year old Ibanez is nothing more than an AL-only play at this stage of his career. The expectation at this point is that he will form a solid DH duo with Andruw Jones. If we combine the 2011 production of Jones against lefties and Ibanez against righties the result would be a “player” who produced the following 5×5 line: .263-24-85-36-2. The homer and RBI production is solid, but what is it with these guys aversion to crossing home plate?
Ever do situps first thing in the morning? I tried it today, an I gotta tell ya, not a huge fan. Of course, I have to keep the temple that is my body in shape, so I did it anyway while reading the newspaper (yeah I’m one of those dinosaurs who actually gets a newspaper).
Don Mattingly told Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times Tuesday that “I’m going into camp thinking Javy Guerra is the guy.” Of course he meant the 9th inning arm for the Dodgers. I know that Kenley Jansen has a huge arm, and I’m a big proponent of the record setting fireballer (see the October 6th Around the Horn), but Guerra did stabilize a Dodgers’ bullpen that was a disaster last year and in the process he only blew two of 23 save chances. With the announcement today I wonder if people will change their drafting strategy since Jansen’s ADP is 176, roughly 60 picks ahead of Guerra (233) – numbers are from MockDraftCentral.
Big news out of the Rays camp Tuesday is that the club will not have an innings pitched limit for phenom Matt Moore. Executive VP Andrew Friedman said that the arm of Moore has been “built up in a pretty systematic way” which would seem to signal that he could be allowed to toss 200-innings this year. The Rays have certainly shown the ability to develop pitching over the years so I’m inclined to trust them here. If Moore does throw 200 innings he’ll finish the year as a top-10 AL strikeout arm who could live up the billing that has his current ADP sitting at 102.4.
Manny Ramirez will arrive at Athletics camp on Friday. He’ll make $306,000 on his pro-rated contract which tells you that he really is intent on returning to the game because a guy who has made nearly $207 million in his career certainly doesn’t need a few more bucks. He’s an AL-only grab, but he did hit .298 with a .870 OPS in 90 games in 2010 so he might be worth a reserve round add.
I admit it, I’ve watched the first two episodes of Smash (albeit with the controller in my hand to fast forward the slow parts). I know that Katharine McPhee never really made it as a singer, but something about her persona on screen is certainly enticing.
Johan Santana is throwing without pain, an everyone is getting excited. Let me say it again – don’t be one of that group. He’s coming back off major shoulder surgery and his performance has dipped year over year the past few seasons. Let him be a headache for someone else.
Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the 2012 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide.
By Ray Flowers
Gio Gonzalez is coming off two impressive seasons for the A’s as an innings eating, K machine (at least 200 innings and 171 strikeouts each of the last two years). He’s also won 31 games for a less than elite club in Oakland, and he’s a 26 year old left hander. So of course the A’s are looking to deal him. I get it, the A’s don’t have a lot of options since they are not exactly flush with cash, but what’s the point of having a club if you have to deal exactly the type of players that you should be building around? There is also a growing belief that the A’s and D’backs might work out a deal centered around Trevor Cahill.
Hiroki Kuroda is still looking for a home. It’s hard to tell if the reason he hasn’t signed is because teams fell that his heart really isn’t in it, i.e. that he wants to return to Japan, or if Kuroda is just being super picky about where he’ll sign.
Matt Moore is the best pitching prospect in baseball, a fact I spoke to in my Around the Horn Video from September 23rd (I compared him to Stephen Strasburg). The world saw that potential start to be realized late in the playoffs and the Rays, never one to ignore talent, have taken a big risk that could end up being a huge win for the team. The Rays signed Moore, who has just 9.1 innings of regular season work to his name, to a 5-year, $14 million deal (there are also three option years in the deal that could extend the contract out to $37.5 million over eight years, an a couple of escalator clauses could actually boost the total value up to $40 million). It’s a huge risk given his youth an inexperience, the Rays are saying their prayers that he doesn’t end up turning into Scott Kazmir, but if we’re six years down the road and Moore has been an All-Star four times, it will be a huge win for the club.
The Twins are operating under the assumption that Justin Morneau will be able to return to playing first base next season. Don’t count me in that group. As I said all offseason last year, I had no interest in adding Morneau to my fantasy squad, an unfortunately I was right (he appeared in only 69 games). For the Twins to expect the oft injured one to be handle first base duties is asking too much if you ask me. They’d be better off just sticking him at DH and letting him help the club with his bat.
Carlos Pena is a mere consolation prize for whomever doesn’t add Prince Fielder, but given that there could be a $100 million difference between their contracts, maybe he isn’t that bad a fall back option. Pena’s career batting average is pathetic (.239), an as I’ve written before he’s hit under .230 the last three seasons, but he is a legit power bat. The Cardinals, who now have an opening at first base, are reportedly kicking the tires.
Francisco Rodriguez apparently didn’t like what he was hearing from the marketplace, so he decided to accept the Brewers offer of arbitration. Given that the Brewers aren’t very likely to be pleased about paying a setup man $13 million a year (that’s the estimate of what K-Rod will get in arbitration), it’s hardly a surprise that the Brewers are engaging in talks with multiple teams about the setup man who wants to be a closer.
And finally, the Cubs and Rockies worked out a deal that involved Ian Stewart going to the Cubs along with Casey Weathers for Tyler Colvin and D.J. LeMahieu. Colvin has some nice pop, he’s hit 26 homers with 78 RBI and 78 runs in 581 career at-bats, but he really struggled last year hitting just .150 with a .509 OPS in 206 at-bats. The Rockies figure to give him some time in the outfield and at first base. As for Stewart, he’ll be given a chance to compete for the opening at third base with Aramis Ramirez no longer in the mix. A talented hitter with prodigious power, Stewart is a strikeout machine that simply hasn’t been able to figure out big league pitching. Still, he’s only 26 years old, so perhaps a chance to play on a regular basis will allow the former first round draft pick to finally find his footing at the big league level.
By Ray Flowers
(1) Leo Nunez not actually Leo Nunez?
(2) All Michael Young does is hit, hit, hit.
(3) Pablo Sandoval proving 2010 was a fluke.
(4) Can Matt Kemp actually win the NL Triple Crown?
(5) Ryan Howard ready to return from ankle injury.
(6) Matt Moore dominates the Yankees. Is he the next Stephen Strasburg?
By Ray Flowers
Matt Moore has been called up by the Rays. If you don’t know who he is, here’s a little crash course. Moore is a 22 year old, left handed starting pitcher for the Rays. He owns a fastball that can hit 94 mph, but it’s his curveball, roundly regarded as the best in all of minor league baseball (he explains how he throws it in this video), that leads to his dominating strikeout totals. Moore made 18 starts in Double-A this season before taking the hill for nine starts in Triple-A. The results were astounding.
12-3, 1.92 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 12.19 K/9
That’s right, the lefty struck out more than 12 batters per nine. Even if that number comes down by 25 percent in the bigs we’re still talking about a strikeout per inning arm.
Don’t go overboard with expectations this season. He’s going to start by working out of the pen, and though there is some hope that he will make a start on September 21st, it’s not certain that he will make any starts for the Rays this season. Next year? This kid has the talent to be the left-handed, AL version of Stephen Strasburg, he honestly could make that big of an impact. Be ready to pay dearly on draft day if you’re planning on acquiring his services.
Albert Pujols watch. He’s dealing with a sprained ankle, but he’s pushed his season line up to .297-34-89-93. The guy is simply amazing.
Mike Stanton did not suffer a setback with his injured hammy, but Marlins’ manager Jack McKeon pulled Stanton from a start Saturday because the slugger simply cannot run. “I can’t put him out there if that’s the fastest he can run,” McKeon said. I’d suggest extreme caution when deciding what to do with Stanton. Personally, I wouldn’t take the risk on the slugger who has 32 homers and 81 RBI unless I simply didn’t have any other options.
Troy Tulowitzki (hip) might miss both games of the mini series with the Brewers this week. Terrible timing for those of you in the fantasy playoffs. If you need a fill in, how about Marco Scutaro of the Red Sox. Why you ask? Because he has been killing it of late with multi hit games in five of his last seven outings. In fact, he has 14 hits in his last seven games while he’s knocked in 11 runs.
Look who is suddenly hot. B.J. Upton may only be hitting .232 on the year, but he’s gone 20/20 (20 homers and 27 steals), and he’s pushed his RBI total up to 71. In his last seven games Upton has knocked two long balls, including a grand slam, on his way to 10 RBI and 12 hits. The recent hot streak has upped his average from .220 up to .232. It’s still a terrible number, and it’s looking like he’ll finish the year with a third straight season hitting less than .242, but Upton still has value for his counting stat production.
Chase Utley (concussion) isn’t likely to return until later this week. He passed his first neurological test, and the team has set up one more for him to work through before he gets back out on the field. Luckily for the Phils they have the luxury of taking their time with Utley since they have a 12 game lead over the Braves. Utley is hitting only .262 on the year and if you give him 550 at-bats at his current level of production we’d be looking at a season of 16 homers, 65 RBI, 79 runs and 21 steals. That’s a far cry from what we are used to seeing from Chase.
By Ray Flowers