photo © 2011 Keith Allison | more info (via: Wylio)
Here are some answers to some questions that I recently received at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account.
I’m solid in the power categories but need steals and runs. Should I trade Ryan Howard for Jacoby Ellsbury?
Clearly you’ve got a deal here that would meet your needs.
Ellsbury has been his old dynamic force this season as his body is finally healthy. Jacoby has easily been a top-10 overall performer given his 5×5 line (.318-7-33-49-24), pretty much the same situation that existed in his last two healthy seasons of 2008 and 2009 (his 2011 totals are projections).
He won’t hit 17 homers this season, it’s not likely at least given that his current HR/F ratio is 11.1 percent (the mark was 7.0 and 4.6 percent in 2008-09). He’s also striking out more than ever before with a 17.0 percent whiff rate (career 13.6 percent) and it’s hard to fathom that he will be able to keep up his current LD-rate (25.5 percent) and BABIP (.362). Still, as long as he stays healthy it’s not difficult at all to envision him matching his level of performance from 2008-09.
Howard is well on his way to another 30 homer, 100 RBI season with 13 bombs and 53 RBI in 65 games. Howard has gone 30-100 each of this five full seasons in the big leagues, so it doesn’t take much analysis to suggest another such season appears to be in the cards. On the negative tip though, Howard has 11 steals in his career and hasn’t hit .280 since 2006. In the land of titans, that being the first base position, Howard is always a fine option, but his production doesn’t stand out if he is hitting 35 homers with 120 RBI versus the level of production he offered from from 2006-09 (4-straight years of 45-136).
Given your needs I give you my blessing to consummate this deal, though I wont be giving you a 20.5 carat ring like Kris Humphries did when he popped the question to Kim Kardashian.
Is there any way I should drop Yunel Escobar for J.J. Hardy who’s been heating up lately?
Escobar has battled the injury monster a couple of times this year, but he’s appeared in 61 of 66 games for the Blue Jays as he has re-established himself as a bona fide big league hitter after last years el floppo (.256-4-35). He’s already hit more homers this season than last, he has seven, and his total of 24 RBI is just 11 behind his putrid total from last season. Escobar was hitting .300 a few weeks back but he’s slumped to .129 in 31 June at-bats. Still, he’s third at the position with a .360 OBP and his 38 runs place him sixth, and he’s on pace (I know how everyone loves “pace” talk) to end the year with a line that looks pretty similar to what he has done in the past.
Escobar’s currently drawing more walks than ever before (11.4 BB-rate vs. career 9.6 percent), and his line drive rate is a mere 12.8 percent (career 18.1), so it would seem very reasonable for you to expect Escobar to continue along at his current rate of production, especially when he starts lashing a few more line drives.
Hardy hit 50 homers and posted 154 RBI in 2007-08 as one of the most powerful shortstops in the game (he was second at the position in homers and third in RBI). However, a variety of injures hit him the past two seasons as he averaged just 108 games player per year. Over those 216 games he hit just 17 homers while knocking in 85 runs as his production fell off the proverbial map. Injuries have once again limited him this season, he’s appeared in just 36 games, but the old power stroke is back as he has six homers and 19 RBI.
I don’t question the skills with Hardy. His BB/K rate, line drive rate, HR/F, BABIP — all of that is pretty standard fair for him when you compare his current numbers to his career rates. He is hitting a few more fly balls and a few less grounders which has helped aid the power output, but the concern over his health is what eats at me.
I’d keep Escobar. I have more faith in his ability to stay on the field than the oft-injured Hardy.
Scott Baker or Jordan Zimmerman going forward?
It’s like everyone is all of a sudden coming to the conclusion that these two guys are both pretty good hurlers. In March when I released my Top-100 Starting Pitchers I had Baker at 53 and Zimmerman at 54. It may not seem like much now, but back then I got a lot of push back on those rankings. Obviously I’m not surprised that they have had success this season.
I get daily question about Baker, a fact I mentioned this in a piece yesterday titled Pointing Out the Obvious, and I’m not sure why that is. Baker is currently sporting a solid 3.55 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, solid numbers but still not career bests (he had a 3.45 ERA in 2008 and in 2008-09 his WHIP was 1.18 and 1.19). He is sporting a career best 8.39 K/9 mark, a batter plus over his career rate (7.19), and though he’s never posted a mark over eight before, he does have the skill to sustain this level. He is walking more batters than ever before (2.47 per nine), but his K/BB ratio is 3.39, just off his 3.37 career rate, because of the strikeout boost. The rest of his pitching line is pretty standard stuff for him which means solid production all-around.
Zimmerman started a bit slowly, especially in the strikeout column, but he has really turned things on his last eight outings during which time he has 47 Ks in 51.2 innings. With only 11 walks in that time his K/BB ratio since the start of May is an excellent 4.27, and check out his ratios – 2.26 ERA an a 0.99 WHIP. That’s dealing folks. His fly ball rate is a bit elevated this season though he’s been able to offset that fact with his HR/FB rate of 2.9 percent. He’s not likely to keep that up given that his career mark is right on the big league average at 9.5 percent, so that ERA could climb a bit, but this is a stable/strong skill set.
So who would I prefer to have on my roster? I’m going to suggest going with the veteran in Baker. Not only do we have a bit more of a track record with him, we also don’t have to worry about his innings pitched total being capped later in the year, a fact that any Zimmerman owner will have to deal with as the Nationals try to limit the workload on their young start who is returning from Tommy John surgery.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive, 5-8 PM Eastern, on Sirius 210 and XM 87.
By Ray Flowers