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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pickoff Moves

Roster Notes

MLB Opens Youth Baseball Academy In Compton

It's a good idea, but the equipment expense will probably always put baseball at a disadvantage over football, which schools fund willingly and universally, and basketball, which only needs a ball and a court. Arte and Frank both made the opening ceremonies.

Giants Sign Randy Winn To 3-Year, $23.25M Extension

The Giants signed Randy Winn to a 3-year, $23.25 million extension.
"I thought the ballclub was really energized and had a different look when we acquired him," said Giants general manager Brian Sabean. "To get a switch-hitter [who is] a leadoff hitter with a lot of dimensions -- power, speed -- [and] the ability to play the outfield as he does is really a godsend to the organization.
Winn is 31 years old, and is signed through 2009.

Jim Bowden, Fool

Jim Bowden, on why the Nationals didn't put Brian Lawrence on an MRI before signing him:
"That's our bad," Robinson said. "We chose not to give him an MRI. The physicals should cover everything. . . . I would think that would be something to get our attention for the future, at least. Why not? [An MRI is] the only way you're going to be able to look at someone. But I don't make policy around here."

Bowden later said the team decided against an MRI, which can cost as much as $10,000, because Lawrence had been one of the most durable pitchers in baseball over the previous five years.

"It's too expensive to do MRIs on every single transaction," Bowden said. "In the case of Brian, he had made every start the last four or five years. We saw him throw a three-hit shutout. We were trading a player [Castilla] with bad knees. We thought there were MRI risks on both sides. [So] we made the decision not to."

It's Official: Guzman To Make The Move To Left

As suggested on Saturday, Dodgers superprospect Joel Guzman will move to left field, where he could conceivably start the season with the Dodgers out of spring training, according to Ken Gurnick at MLB.com.
Little indicated that if Guzman makes the club, it would only be as a starter. Little would rather have Guzman playing every day at Triple-A than sitting on a Major League bench. Guzman was Baseball America's Double-A All-Star shortstop last year and ranked as the organization's third-best prospect this year.
Jayson Werth is not expected to return to the Dodgers for two months or more after the season starts.

Angels Trade Callaspo To Arizona

The Angels have traded Alberto Callaspo to Arizona, according to Baseball America, for RHP Jason Bulger. Bulger had a 3.54 ERA in 56 innings of work with AAA Tucson last year, and a 5.40 ERA in 10 innings with the big club, his first cup of coffee.
Bulger, 27, was a 2001 first-round pick out of Valdosta State (Ga.), where he was primarily an infielder for the first three years of his college career. Two of his brothers pitched professionally last year, Brian in independent ball and Kevin in the Royals system. Jason struggled as a starter in his first two pro seasons and had Tommy John surgery in 2003, but has moved quickly as a reliever since returning. He made his major league debut in late 2005, going 1-0, 5.40 in nine games. He spent most of the year at Triple-A Tucson, going 3-6, 3.54 with four saves in 56 outings. He had a 55-27 K-BB ratio in 56 innings, while opponents hit .244 with three homers against him. Buldger throws hard, sitting at 93-96 mph and reaching 98 with his sinker. His curveball shows signs of being a good second pitch, but he needs to refine his command and resist the temptation to throw harder when he gets in jams. He has a career 10-21, 4.28 record with 23 saves in 127 minor league games.
His peripherals look pretty bad, honestly, but in fairness he has been working in Tucson, not exactly a pitcher's paradise. Not a very impressive trade.

Update: Also in the Arizona Republic, which notes that Bulger wasn't likely to make the big club after spring training. Not with numbers like those he wasn't.

Update 2: The Rev thinks it may be a case, along with Paul Byrd and Nick Adenhart, of picking up Tommy John survivors on the cheap. I might agree with that, but his 11.79 K/9 at the Lancaster launching pad has yet to be replicated at any other level. Color me skeptical, though I like the theory otherwise.

Update 3: Here's a Minor League Ball diary on the subject, including a comment from erstwhile FutureAngels proprietor Stephen Smith, who brings up, as others have in the comments, Callaspo's failure to develop power and Bulger's two-year distance from his Tommy John surgery; Smith labels it a "good trade for both teams".

Update 4: Safely back home, with all my reference books at my side, I pick the following out of the Baseball America 2006 Prospect Handbook, where Bulger (I keep thinking of codpieces whenever I read that name) was the 26th ranked prospect in Arizona's system:

Bulger was a surprise first-round pick in 2001 out of NCAA Division II Valdosta State (Ga.), where he was primarily an infielder for three years. He doubled as the team's closer as a senior and showed a mid-90's fastball that got scouts excited. Two of his brothers pitched professionally in 2005, Brian in independent ball and Kevin in the Royals system. Jason finally made it to the majors in 2005 after struggling as a starter for two years and having Tommy John surgery in 2003. Shelled by the Phillies in his big league debut, he recovered to deliver scoreless outing in six of his last eight appearances. Big and athletic, he fits the profile of a classic power reliever. His plus-plus fastball features plenty of sink, sits at 93-96 mph and touches 98. His curveball shows promise and he can throw it for strikes. Bulger can struggle with his command and is prone to overthrowing. He'll show too much confidence in his fastball and needs to learn how to mix it up better, particularly against lefthanders. At 27, Bulger isn't going to get much better but his stuff is good enough. He'll report to spring training as a favorite to earn a job in the Arizona bullpen.
This also showed up at MLB.com and in the Times:
"We gave up a guy who is about Major League ready for a guy that has spent a little bit of time there and has some Major League experience," general manager Bill Stoneman said. "With the depth that we have in the middle of the infield, we needed some depth in the bullpen. We like [Bulger's] arm a lot."


"It was an opportunity to get a guy with a real good arm, and it gave us a chance to balance our club a little bit," said Stoneman, who added that he has had a number of conversations with Arizona regarding Callaspo.

Bryan Smith On Super Sophomores

As we exit February and head into March, with its emphasis on real spring training games, it's only appropriate that Bryan Smith writes about the top 20 sophomores in baseball. There's a couple germane to this blog:
13. Casey Kotchman - 1B - Los Angeles Angels

Talk about a player PECOTA doesn't like. Thanks to a few years littered with injuries, Major League ineffectiveness, and a lack of opportunity, Kotchman is not a player that is projected well. His top ten comparables are a sorry group, and his high for the next five years -- in terms of WARP -- is 2.6. However, it's a prediction system far from perfect, and in Kotchman's case, numbers don't tell the whole story. For years, Casey has drawn the same comparison: Mark Grace. His fielding has always been lauded, as have his contact skills. Some would say that Kotchman's power would eventually develop, and his offense at first would be way above-average. Others, not so much. At this point, I think Kotchman is -- for his career -- a 15-25 home run player. To be successful, he'll need an average upwards of .300. He can do it.

15. Ervin Santana - SP - Los Angeles Angels

I'm not sure we really appreciate what Santana has done here. Sure, Bartolo Colon, Jarrod Washburn and John Lackey all had good 2005 seasons, and were more responsible for the Angels performance than Santana's. However, does anyone really believe that without Ervin, the Angels would have made the playoffs? For an October run, every team needs a player that steps up at the right time and replaces someone injured. That is what Santana did, and in effect, made Washburn's high price tag expendable this winter. Santana was on and off with his game last year, but had flashes of the lightning stuff that gained him notoriety in the minors. He's got a lot more bust potential than the names on this list, but he also could be really successful atop the Angel rotation.

What's darned impressive is the fact that the A's have four players on this list; on the other hand, Bryan drops the caveat for 19th rated Nick Swisher and Dan Johnson (and probably applicable to 17th rated Joe Blanton as well) that
... Swisher and Johnson don't have any traits that are fantastic, but enough tools needed for success. This is very similar to my comment on Blanton, and in fact, could be considered a bit on Oakland A's players in general. This team is filled with solid players, top to bottom, that will make them a competitive team on an annual basis. But a World Series team? I don't see it, as there aren't very many players that could have fantastic career years. This holds true for Swisher and Johnson, neither of whom will be taking a large step in 2006.
Of course, people said that of Garret Anderson at one time, and Darin Erstad before he came up. Critics of Oakland's farm system have pounded on their relatively low draft position and focus on college players as handicaps and limiting factors, but I'm not so sure. Billy Beane has shown remarkable resiliance in confounding the critics, graduating players like Rookies of the Year Huston Street and Bobby Crosby from a supposedly barren cupboard. This year, Baseball America ranked Oakland's farm 26th overall (IIRC), yet they seem to have a fair number of prospects about to make the majors.

One point I've been quick to make about the Dodgers farm system is that its lack of productivity is immediately apparent at the major league level. The alleged gap in the in the A's minors must remain an open question until the players arrive.

OT: I'd Feel Better If I Knew It Was Photoshopped

... but so far as I can tell, it's not.

Barry Bonds in drag

That's the real Barry Bonds in all his ... glory. Thanks to BTF for that one.

Update: More on this from MLB.com, which adds this was for a charity event. Thank you, "Mary" Bonds.

Roster Notes

Pickoff Moves, Padres Edition

Not quite true, but a couple of these links are courtesy of Gaslamp Ball...

Brian Giles Wants To KISS You!

In a small way, anyhow... my God is that hilarious!

Old People Say Dumb Things

Speaking, of course, as an old person who's about to get even older, but every time Tommy Lasorda speaks, he says dumb things:
HANNITY: You said there's a couple of guys who were asked to play. They turned it down and this really ticked you off.

LASORDA: I have no respect for those guys. Unless they were injured, I have no respect.

HANNITY: Are you naming names?

LASORDA: No, I'm not going to name names. But I'll tell you this. They'll know who I'm talking about. You get an opportunity to do something for your country, you better get out and do it.

I guess he hasn't been watching how the WBC teams are being formed... I mean, sheesh, if it wasn't for guys like Piazza playing for the Italian team...

Survival Of The Fittest

Baseball America on the Darwinian fun about to unfold in Tempe:
The interesting scenarios will unfold on the back fields in Tempe as Erick Aybar, Alberto Callaspo, Brandon Wood and Howie Kendrick will battle it out for Triple-A roster spots--and all four are frontline middle-of-the-diamond talents.

Aybar is coming off a solid winter season with Licey in the Dominican League, hitting .325 in 166 at-bats and playing a key role in the Caribbean Series for the Tigers. He likely will break camp as the starting shortstop at Triple-A Salt Lake, but both his bat and prowess with the glove will be difficult to keep on the farm.

It's much the same story with Callaspo, who spent the winter in his native Venezuela, hitting .304-3-24 in 121 at-bats for Oriente. The only difference between the two is Callaspo has shown more versatility in the last two years, moving from shortstop to second base, and played some third this past winter.

"Nothing can take away from what they've done or what they've been through the past few winters," Angels director of minor league operations Abe Flores said. "They've built their credentials to a high standard against a higher level of competition than Brandon or Howard."


Monday, February 27, 2006

Fox Sports Net Rebranding To "Prime Ticket" In April

Fox Sports Net will be rebranding to Prime Ticket, the old name used by Fox prior to the FSN label. The renaming will occur one hour before the opening game of the Dodgers regular season, on April 3.

Thanks to Kurt from Forum Blue And Gold, and formerly, the best name ever for a Dodgers blog, Arrive In The Third, Leave After Seven.

Percival Leaves Tigers Spring Training

Troy Percival has left Tigers spring training camp, and has cleared out his locker and had his nameplate removed. He clocked only 26 appearances and eight saves with the Tigers, who paid him a $12 million, two-year contract.

Pickoff Moves, Lunchtime Edition

UTK Tidbits

From today's UTK:

The Hee-Seop FAQ

Thanks to Jon for mentioning (if not linking to) Dodger Math's Hee-Seop Choi FAQ. Choi's never going to be a great player, and if John Sickels is to be believed, it's unlikely he'll even make it to competence. Pity.

17 Voted Into Hall Of Fame

Seventeen players have been elected to the Hall of Fame, seven of whom were Negro Leagues players:
The electees include seven Negro leagues players: Ray Brown, Willard Brown, Andy Cooper, Biz Mackey, Mule Suttles, Cristobal Torriente, and Jud Wilson; five pre-Negro leagues players: Frank Grant, Pete Hill, José Méndez, Louis Santop, and Ben Taylor; four Negro leagues executives Effa Manley, Alex Pompez, Cum Posey, and J.L. Wilkinson; and one pre-Negro leagues executive Sol White. Manley, an owner in the Negro leagues, becomes the first woman elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Hat tip: The Griddle.

Vlad Leaves Angels After Deaths Of Three Cousins

Vladimir Guerrero left the Angels spring training after three cousins were killed in an auto accident in the Dominican Republic. He is expected back in camp on Tuesday.

Rocket Gives Up A Blast -- To His Own Son

Koby Clemens took his dad deep on the first pitch of a simulated game. Dad Roger was practicing for the upcoming WBC, but remains without a major league contract so far.
Koby Clemens said his dad was ready to retire in December, but his family talked him out of it.

"We were all like, 'You should wait and allow yourself to rest your body,'" Koby said. "He was still kind of hurting, kind of tired. He was like, 'I don't want to do this again.'"

Time to retire, I think.

Lawrence Also Has A Torn Rotator Cuff

Former Padres starter Brian Lawrence also has a torn rotator cuff in addition to his torn labrum. Oh, yeah, he's out all year. (Via BTF.)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sweep: CSULB Dirtbags 10, UIC Flames 0

I hadn't read much on any of the midwestern NCAA leagues, so when I read that Dirtbag Andrew Carpenter one-hit the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames in a 6-0 rout, I figured they were, like many teams playing out of their division, an aspiring team hoping to improve their national and program standing by playing tougher out-of-division foes. San Diego State did this last year by playing the Dirtbags.

Even so, Baseball America tagged UIC to finish first in the Horizon League, though the Flames did not make the top 25 seeds. So saying today's game was a mismatch was something of an understatement, if a little surprising, as the Dirtbags tore through the Flames 10-0, mostly on the strength of an seven-run second inning punctuated by infield errors from third baseman Bryan Nolte and freshman first baseman Jake Carr.

Evan Longoria got a sac fly in the first to drive in his only run of the game, but kept the second inning pounding alive by walking. Baseball America has tabbed Longoria, a star of the Cape Cod summer league, to be possibly the top position prospect in the 2006 draft, which, if true, would be the second Dirtbag shortstop taken in the first round in consecutive years. (Last year's was Troy Tulowitzki, who's so wowing the Rockies that some say he will be the starting shortstop in Colorado before 2006 is over.)

UIC ran through four pitchers after starter Don Phillis ran out of gas, including erstwhile shortstop Chad Schroeder. Phillis didn't actually look too bad, but for his defense; only four of the runs were earned, and he might have been saved from another one if the scorer hadn't given a bad throw to the runner in the first.

With the game so far out of reach early on, both teams made plenty of second-team substitutions. And unlike yesterday, it wasn't as though Long Beach pitching was baffling the UIC offense. UIC managed to put up as many hits as the Dirtbags, but they never got any of their men on base back home. Probably the most exciting offensive moment in the game for the Flames came when catcher Justin Johnson popped a foul ball into one of the lights, shattering it and sending pieces onto the fans below. Otherwise, UIC hit into a pair of double plays and just couldn't get it going. Tough road trip for them, but good for the Dirtbags, who go 9-4 on their young season.

Update: Now with pictures. Woot!

Update 2: Bob Keisser has more on Saturday's one-hitter in the Press-Telegram.


Thank God The Angels Have A Grownup GM

How else to explain this bit of juvenalia by White Sox GM Kenny Williams?
"He's an idiot. He's selfish. That's why we don't miss him," Williams said, responding to a Thomas interview that appeared in The Daily Southtown, a newspaper in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park, Ill.
The Daily Southtown interview contained this bit:
Arvia: The weird thing about this is A's GM Billy Beane and Kenny are pretty tight (or were until Beane made some disparaging remarks about Williams in a book) ...

Thomas: No it isn't. Bottom line, Kenny and I have never seen eye to eye, from Day 1. There's no secret about that. It started in 2000. That has stuck with him from Day 1, when he took the job in 2000.

I would have been better off in 2000 asking to be traded instead of sitting in that situation I did for that five years. After we lost to Seattle in the playoffs that year, I should have been traded.

That's when the bitterness started, and it was over a contract. You're damn right. And you saw how it ended up — first superstar in the game to get money taken off the (bleeping) plate. That's where all that started.

Thank God Stoneman keeps his mouth shut.

Percy's Done

Sorry it had to end this way, buddy:
Troy Percival's last game was simulated. The pain was real.

So were the results of his pitches, which ultimately convinced him that his comeback attempt wasn't working. Percival ended it Sunday, essentially saying he'll retire barring some drastic improvement. He wants to see if his arm feels any better this year, but admitted he has "probably" thrown his last pitch.

"I always wait for something miraculous to happen," Percival said. "I probably don't think it's going to happen, but I'll keep doing what they ask me to do."


"I've been fighting it all spring," Percival said. "I thought I could give this organization an opportunity to make a decision. I tried to go back to the arm angle I'm accustomed to and it's not there. There's a lot of pain. Right now, I can't help this club, physically. Mentally and with my heart, I think I can, but I have to be realistic and say there's just no way, physically, I can go out and help this club right now."

Dr. Lewis Yocum recommended Percy retire last year after his muscle tear, but Percy refused.

Percy had a 2.99 ERA in 586 1/3 innings and 579 games, though his 2002 postseason record of 7-for-7 save opportunities, including his appearance on the mound for the final three outs of the concluding Game 7, will be indelibly burned on the retinas of Angels fans everywhere.

Thanks to Daniel Zappala for the word.

Pickoff Moves

Shooting Fish With Both Barrels

Lies They Tell In Spring Training Dep't:
Dodgers manager Grady Little said Friday the club's revamped roster will allow for a more aggressive running game, especially with veteran speedsters Rafael Furcal and Kenny Lofton hitting first and second, respectively.

"I think with the personnel we have assembled here, that will definitely be the case," Little said. "But we'll try to use good, common sense and do whatever is right in a particular situation. Guys who can run and guys who can steal a base are different things."

Kenny Lofton, speedy? Did I read that right? A guy who made only 201 putouts in center for the Phillies last year in 97 games, down from 420 in 143 for Cleveland in 1992, and whom PMR ranks as having significantly-below-average range? The guy who only stole 22 bases last year, down from a career high of 75? About the only thing in his favor is his 109 Rate2 score, which, amazingly, places him as a superior center fielder -- as good as Milton Bradley was last year. But I dunno. A guy about to turn 39 looks to me to be a guy whose wheels are gonna fall off, and if they're couting on him for speed, they could be counting too much on the wrong guy.

Memo To NL West Teams: Hit It To Right

... and always run on anything landing in front of Drew, because he's making scary noises about being 100% by the time the regular season starts (from the same article above):
"It's just a matter of getting the strength built up and not trying to overdo it in spring training," he said. "I'll just play it by ear. I have gone up to 150 feet just playing long-toss, but it's more of a high-arcing throw than a power throw. But we'll build on that as spring training progresses."
In Drew's case, the Dodgers should be grateful his wrist is still attached...

An Angels Conundrum

A brain-teaser for Mike Scioscia:
"The thing about Ersty is that when he gets on base he has a knack to create runs," Scioscia said. "Last year, if he would have stayed in the No. 2 spot, he'd have scored well over 100 runs."
Well, yeah, except that he wasn't producing enough to justify batting so high in the order. OBP. They're just three letters. Make them your friend, Mike. Maybe not all the time, but at least, maybe, at the top of the order?

Pinto Beans

Thanks to the Rev for posting David Pinto's positive analysis of the Angels' offseason:
I really like what the Angels did this winter. Very quietly, they got younger. Finley and Molina are gone, Kotchman and Mathis are going to be everyday players, and McPherson is looking to get significant playing time. That's three players 25 or under moving into the lineup. And if McPherson can play third, I suppose it's possible to get Erstad's bat out of the lineup with Figgins moving to center (although that may not be the best defensive alignment).

Bullet Dodged

How happy is Kevin Towers not to have Brian Lawrence on his squad now that he's torn his labrum and will miss half the season?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Little: Billingsley "A Factor" In 2006

In the Let's Try And Get Him Sent Back To AA Before The Year Even Starts Department, Grady Little's hot for Chad Billingsley:
"I don't think this guy is going to be a good pitcher; I think he's going to be a great pitcher," Little said, proceeding to list the reasons: "The body style. The look on his face when he's on the mound. The way he walks around in a major league clubhouse. And his stuff."

The last starter the Dodgers rushed to the big leagues was Edwin Jackson, who struggled the last two years, became a walking, talking cautionary tale, and was traded in January.

Little knows this too. But he can't help himself.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Billingsley was a factor on this big league team in 2006," he said. "He's a guy we will be sure we make all the right decisions with. I want to make sure his upward progression stays upward."

Which would best be helped by you keeping your fool mouth shut and letting the kid change minds at Las Vegas and not in spring training, Grady. (Hat tip: BTF.)

Joel Guzman To ... Somewhere Else

The Dodgers are busy moving Joel Guzman from shortstop to ... well, somewhere else, possibly first base, maybe the outfield.
"He doesn't look like the prototypical shortstop, but he catches ground balls nice and he's got a good arm," said Little. "We'll evaluate him at a couple different spots."

The options are the corner infield and outfield spots. Most likely is first base and left field. Guzman might be the most talented Dodgers prospect without a defined defensive position since the arrival of another Dominican slugger, Pedro Guerrero, almost 30 years ago.

"We want him to get comfortable wherever we want him to play once the season starts," said Little. "We'll put him where it helps him the most to get to the Major League club at the best pace. We want him to start the season with the best chance to help us the quickest. That's probably not shortstop. I think there's more than one place where he's able to help us. He may play multiple positions."

In other news, Oscar Robles -- stop me if you heard this one before -- has opted out of the WBC.

OT: Good Night, Mr. Limpet: Don Knotts, RIP

Don Knotts, of "The Andy Griffith Show", "Three's Company", and to me, one of the best animated/live action features ever, The Incredible Mr. Limpet, died of lung cancer at UCLA Medical Center. He was 81 years old. He most recently worked on the Disney animated feature, Chicken Little, providing the voice of Turkey Mayor.

What I Should Have Been Doing

Not that I didn't enjoy It Came From Beyond -- which is hilarious, by the way -- but damned if I didn't miss Andrew Carpenter lead the Dirtbags to a 6-0 victory by way of a one-hit complete game shutout in which he faced one more than the minimum, retiring 14 in a row at one point. Holy moly!

Sickels All Questions Answered Bits

Selected samplings from John Sickels' All Questions Answered thread:
Q: Howie Kendrick: Can he keep his career minor league batting average over .350? Is he that great of a contact hitter?

A: Yes, he can keep his minor league BA over .350, or at least .340. I think he'll tear up the PCL.

Yes, he is an outstanding contact hitter.

Q: Chuck Tiffany, Edwin Jackson or Jason Hammel

Which one of these 3 Rays Prospects will have the best year in 2006(overall, stat-wise)?

A: Hm. Well, hard to say since they will be (probably) pitching at different levels. It would not surprise me to see Tiffany put up the best numbers, which doesn't mean he has the best future.

Q: Why are so many people down on Jered Weaver?

He had immaculate control in college and looks like he's got great "stuff" compared to his older brother...yet people are pegging him to be a bust....why?

A: Bust? Who is pegging him to be a bust?

He's not Mark Prior but he should be a good pitcher.

Q: I have your book and know how you rated them in your top 50, but in terms of liklihood of making a smooth transistion to the majors and immediately playing at a star/all star level upon their arrival in the majors (ie. a Pujols path not an up and down for a year or two Arod path) how would you rank between Wood, Kendrick, Gordon, Marte?

A: Well, I don't think ANYONE can be EXPECTED to pull a Pujols. But in terms of "not struggling" too badly, I'd make it

Gordon, Kendrick, Marte, Wood.

I expect all of them will be excellent players in the long run.

Q: BP in their explanation of their top 50 provided this:

Wood's PECOTA card reflects this sentiment, as his raw numbers of .321/.383/.672 translate to a more reasonable and conservative .257/.309/.506. A 815 OPS is still solid for a SS.

A 1.055 OPS becomes a .815 OPS? Wood's home park wasn't even High Desert or Lancaster. I don't buy that.

Don't you believe that Wood has more than just a "solid year for a SS" and that this translation goes overboard? IMO, he coulda slugged >= .550 in any run environment vs A-ball pitchers this year.

A: Without breaking down the numbers myself I don't know if the PECOTA translation is excessive or not.

I do know that I am still not convinced by the accuracy of MLE translations at the A-ball level or lower. . .I take them with many dashes of sodium cloride. Double-A and Triple-A translations I put much more stock in. But the leap between Class A and Double-A, let alone Class A and the majors, is so great that I have a lot of doubts about whether those translations are accurate or not.

In Wood's case, getting to see him in Double-A is one of my main goals for early in the coming season. [Me, too. I'm planning a trip to Arkansas in early May just to take a gander at Wood in action. -- Rob.]

Q: John, I know you posted a pretty good recap of his history, but didn't notice much in terms of your future expectations for him (and didn't leave a comment later). Do you have a prognosis for him?

A: I think Choi will end up having one or two really outstanding seasons as a platoon player, but that he will age poorly and never live up to the potential he showed in the minors.

Whether things could have been different if he'd been given consistent playing time in Chicago, I don't know.

Q: If you were held at gunpoint and told you had to pick 1 prospect to have the best baseball career from the following choices, who would you pick?

  1. Delmon Young
  2. Daric Barton
  3. Billy Butler
  4. Alex Gordon
  5. Justin Verlander
  6. Brandon Wood
A: Young.
I'll check back later in the day; the thread's closed right now, but I imagine he'll answer the stuff that entered the queue before the deadline.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Angels Anagram

For those who missed it, the Score Bard has a delicious Angels offseason anagram wrap.

Names Return To Dodger Uniforms In 2007

It's about fargin' time:
During his remarks to the press, Scully made reference to all the new players on the Dodgers this season, and how he felt he hardly knew many of them.

"I wish we had the names on the back of the uniforms more than ever this year, especially when I get to Vero [Beach, Fla.]."

Upon finishing his comments, McCourt returned to the podium and said, "We weren't going to say anything today, but when Vin Scully asks for something, you have to give it to him. So starting in 2007, the names will be back."

According to McCourt, both Scully and Dodgers vice chairman and president Jamie McCourt have been campaigning strongly for the return of names ever since they were first removed. After the press conference, Scully admitted that while he had been vocal about it, he believed that, "Jamie probably has a little more influence on Frank than I do."

Names went off on the 2005 squad's uniforms, and they go 71-91. See?

Chrysalis To Butterfly: Watching Jeff DaVanon Relaunches As Watching All Angels

Keith of Keith 'n' Maya dropped a line to let me know that Watching All Angels has gone live, and is the replacement blog for Watching Jeff DaVanon. Looks like it's gonna be a lot more fully featured, including baseball book reviews, Maya's coming to grips with her DaVanon-ism, and a slew o' other stuff. Sidebar links, ahoy!

Brian Clevinger's Spring Training, Day 4 Photos

More spring training photos from Brian Clevinger, who gives us this intro:
Back again today. The players came out before 10 am so i got a few pictures of them walking to the practice fields, then general warm-ups.

When they broke to do drills, again, the OFs went directly back to the Tempe Diablo Stadium complex and presumably to the batting cages there.

The infielders and catchers went to three different fields to do bunt situations, catchers throwing to 3rd, or to 2nd, and the "wheel play". Later the pitchers joined them rotating through for the same with pick-off moves and bunt coverage. The coaching staff would call out the situation right when the ball went into play so the players had to quickly decide the right course of action - pick off attempt to 2nd, bunt and throw to 3rd, to 2nd, or to 1st. The major leaguer field had Figgy and Alfonzo at 3rd, OC at SS, Kennedy at 2B, and Casey at 1B; (Figgy later took same practice at 2nd too). Scioscia was the batter. The next field over had D-Mac at 3rd, Izturis & Aybar at SS, Callaspo at 2nd, and Quinlan at 1B, and the last field had Specht at 3B, then Wood SS, Kendrick 2nd, and Morales 1B. I wonder how telling that was to see D-Mac on the 2nd field (?). Pitchers were assigned to each field too based on their seniority/talent level.

After that was over, the top talent infielders and catchers also left for the Tempe Diablo Stadium complex so that was it for them today too.

The last thing we saw when we left was Bartolo throwing batting practice to the minor leaguers, followed by Jeff Weaver. i picked up a few autographs for my daughter - Hensley, Zimmerman, Dunn, Gregg, and Lackey. Finally, i didn't see Frankie out there today yet, and no Arte today either.

That will be it for my coverage before the games start. Next week, i'll see if i can get to a game or two. Also, more fans are showing up now - it's probably about 50-70 now.

I proposed we should hook up when I go to ST in about four weeks. Should be fun!

Dodgers Are Teh Suckk

Mike Carminati at Mike's Baseball Rants has a great review of the worst 25 contracts of all time as measured in dollars per win share. Unsurprisingly, there are a number of late-90's/early-oughts' Dodgers in there, starting pitchers all: the recently retired Darren Dreifort, Chan Ho Park, Kevin Brown, Kazuhisa Ishii, Carlos Perez, and Andy Ashby. Of course, it's also probably worth mentioning that Park's real string of sucktitude didn't hit until after Dan Evans sensibly let him and Scott Boras get a big contract from the Rangers, and part of Ishii's lousiness was borne by the Mets. But -- ye gods! -- what a miserable set of starters. Not even Gene Autry had so badly misspent back in the 70's and 80's.

Update: In case you were wondering, here's what the Dodgers rotations looked like while these jokers were collecting their paychecks at Chavez Ravine:

Hideo Nomo
Ismael Valdez
Chan Ho Park
Pedro Astacio
Ramon Martinez
Chan Ho Park
Ismael Valdez
Darren Dreifort
Dave Mlicki
Ramon Martinez
Brian Bohanon
Hideo Nomo
Carlos Perez
Kevin Brown
Chan Ho Park
Ismael Valdez
Darren Dreifort
Carlos Perez
Chan Ho Park
Kevin Brown
Darren Dreifort
Carlos Perez
Eric Gagné
Chan Ho Park
Eric Gagné
Terry Adams
Luke Prokopec
Kevin Brown
Darren Dreifort
James Baldwin
(Andy Ashby)**
Hideo Nomo
Odalis Perez
Andy Ashby
Kazuhisa Ishii
Omar Daal
Kevin Brown
(Darren Dreifort)†
Hideo Nomo
Kevin Brown
Odalis Perez
Kazuhisa Ishii
Wilson Alvarez*
Andy Ashby
Darren Dreifort
Jeff Weaver
Kazuhisa Ishii
Odalis Perez
Jose Lima
Hideo Nomo

* Wilson Alvarez mostly earned his suckage with the Devil Rays; he was a very good pitcher for the Dodgers.
** Andy Ashby spent virtually the entire year on the DL while costing the Dodgers $6M in salary.
† Dreifort absorbed $9.4M while spending all his 2002 on the DL. Ouch.

Man, what a waste.

Pickoff Moves

Today's Birthdays

Con Lucid BRO b. 1874, played 1894-1895, d. 1931-06-25
Gary Moore LAN b. 1945, played 1970
Eddie Murray LAN,ANA b. 1956, played 1989-1997
Fred Sington BRO b. 1910, played 1938-1939, d. 1998-08-20

Eric Karros Joins KCAL/9 As A Baseball Analyst

Eric Karros will join KCAL/9 as a baseball analyst for the pregame Think Blue show. I wasn't all that impressed by him when he was on the radio; he seemed pretty surly and quick to attack his former teammates. On the other hand, all his former teammates are now gone.

Broadcast Notes

Quote, Unquote

"I understand," Choi said when asked about the situation. "I don't know (what will happen). They told me in the offseason - backup first base, pinch-hitter. I just try to play hard, have fun."
-- Hee-Seop Choi, on the Dodgers' plans for him
"Right now, he's in camp competing for a job as an extra player on this ballclub. We have 57 players out there in that clubhouse. We're going to leave here with 25. You do the math."
-- Grady Little
"I am able to do everything I want to do -- run, throw, swing. Now all I have to do is get out there playing every day -- play nine innings, come back the next day and keep coming back the day after that."
-- Dallas McPherson
"Getting hurt allowed me to restructure my mechanics. I really didn't have any concept of pitching. I threw too much across my body," said Adenhart, who added that he always had a rubber arm. "I had a year to sit back and watch."
-- Nick Adenhart
"I was surprised today," said Gagne. "A little better pop today, and I had good control facing hitters for the first time. It's a big step for me. I didn't expect the zip on the fastball and the movement on the changeup and the location on the pitches."
-- Eric Gagné, after facing live batters for the first time since his surgery

Thursday, February 23, 2006

BPro Angels Stuff

A couple items from Baseball Prospectus on the Angels: first off, the team health report is out, and it's loaded with risks. Both Jeff Mathis and Jose Molina profile as red lights (mainly because of the increase in innings), as does starter Ervin Santana, for essentially the same reason. K-Rod also profiles as a red light injury risk because of his complicated delivery, and Erstad and Anderson are risky because of their injury history. Yellow lights include Casey Kotchman, Adam Kennedy, Vlad Guerrero, Kelvim Escobar, and Bartolo Colon.

The second piece is BPro's PECOTA projection for prospects. Brandon Wood turns up third in the list of shortstop prospects after Dodgers prospects Joel Guzman and Erick Aybar, and why?

I suspect that it’s hard for people, myself included, to make the full mental adjustment for the California League. Cal League teams averaged 5.73 runs per game last season, a figure about 20% higher than the Carolina League, and 25% higher than the Florida State League, the other two leagues at the High-A classification. It’s as though Wood were playing half his games in Coors Field.

However, the most basic reason for Wood’s modest rating isn’t quite as sexy as that. Namely, 2005 isn’t the only season on Brandon Wood’s track record, and his numbers prior to 2005 were not especially impressive. I went back and re-ran Wood’s PECOTA, using his 2005 numbers only. When we do that, his combined rating shoots up to 498.1, which would rank him as the second best prospect in baseball, and #1 in the Upside department.


He’s a tremendous prospect [....] Nevertheless, it’s very unlikely that he was really as good as his numbers last year, even after we get done adjusting for his league and level.

Unsurprisingly, Howie Kendrick places first in their second basemen projection, Delwyn Young seventh, Alberto Callaspo eleventh, and Estanislao Abreu 29th. (Dude, get some consonants!)

More Angels Spring Training Pics From Bricoot

Brian sends his latest photos with these words:
Back today with a few hundred more pictures from Tempe. It was just a perfect sunshine day here in Arizona! First up you'll see some of the Tempe Diable upgrades. If you've been there, you'll notice the entrance is completely different and looks great! It's just wide open with a grand set of stairs leading into the home plate area. i walked in and grabbed some pictures of the field too and you can see the new bleachers and seats. You'll also see the concourse area and a new ticket booth on the first base side with plenty of constructioon still going on. Next i got the players walking over to the practice complex - man, it was great to see Vlad smiling! In fact today was the first day of me seeing all the position players - sweet! That's followed by some distant shots of morning warmps. the infielders broke off to a separate field and did some 'laps' on the outfiled grass from 1st to 3rd. i caught of few of the circuits, and spent too much time there because i only got one or two of the outfielders doing the same thing. Then the Outfielders left to go back to the main stadium, presumably to the hitting cage underneath the stands so that was it today for Vlad, Rivera, Ersty, Garret, et al. Too bad --- so hopefully i'll catch some more of them tomorrow.

The rest of the day was as follows

  1. seeing 2nd-SS players doing double play drills and pick off drills - they were divided into two groups. One group was assigned to pitchers who were working on pick off moves, while the other did the double play 6-4-3 and 4-6-3. Then they rotated. You'll see different batches of those lumped together as well as the pitchers who rotated through. Wood is #3, Kendrick is #47, Callaspo is #73, and Aybar is #32.
  2. Catchers doing fielding drills like pitch outs and throwing to 1B. Again two groups, but unlike the middle infielders, the two groups were definitely divided based on seniority - Mathis, Molina, Budde and Napoli were in one group, with Collins, Wilson, Del Chiaro, Martinez in the other.
3. More pitchers pictures and a few shots of Arte.

i didn't see any hitting today - i was there from when the players arrived about 10 am until just before 11:30 am.

I forgot to link to his second set of spring training photos; here they are.

Derek Lowe To Be Opening Day Starter

Grady Little announced that Derek Lowe will be his opening day starter.
"It will probably be Derek Lowe. We're leaning toward that being the case," said Little, who added that Brad Penny and Odalis Perez would start the other two games of that opening series.
The Dodgers open their season against the Braves at home on Monday, April 3, at 1:10 PM. The game will be nationally broadcast on ESPN.

Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects

Baseball America published their Top 100 Prospects list, in two parts; the list (you'll have to pay for the comments) goes like this:
  1. Angels SS Brandon Wood
  2. Dodgers RHP Chad Billingsley
  3. Angels 2B Howie Kendrick
  4. Dodgers 3B Andy LaRoche
  5. Dodgers SS/3B Joel Guzman
  6. Dodgers C Russell Martin
  7. Angels SS Erick Aybar
  8. Dodgers LHP Scott Elbert
  9. Angels RHP Jered Weaver
  10. Angels C Jeff Mathis
  11. Dodgers RHP Jonathan Broxton
  12. Angels 1B Kendry Morales
  13. Dodgers 3B Blake DeWitt
  14. Dodgers OF Andre Ethier
  15. Angels RHP Nick Adenhart
  16. Dodgers OF Matt Kemp
Jim Callis also held court at a chat after these lists were published; here's a couple gems:
 Q:  Jock Thompson from Orange County, CA asks:
Hi Jim! You've been quoted as suggesting recently that Brandon Wood would spend one or two months in the minors before getting the call to LA-of-ANA and being installed as a regular. I had the priviledge of watching Wood play last season and was amazed by what he accomplished offensively, even in the CA league, but isn't this a bit of leap of faith for a 21-year old who has had all of 19 ABs above Single-A?

Jim Callis: It is a leap of faith, but that's how much I believe in Brandon Wood. I think he'll start the year by tearing up Double-A andor Triple-A and force his way into the Angels lineup.

 Q:  Bob N from London, UK asks:
Although he has not demonstrated the progression of a breakout minor league stud, I was wondering how close James Loney came to being listed in the Top100. At best, I see him as a younger version on Conor Jackson with less power, but a sweeter glove. I feel like with the obscene level of talent in the LA system, Loney's ranking in lists such as the Top100 takes a hit. I would appreciate any feedback you could provide.

Jim Callis: Loney needs to get his bat going again to jump back into the Top 100. I don't have as much faith in his bat to compare him to Conor Jackson but you're right, he does get lost a little in the deep Dodgers system.

 Q:  Jock Thompson from Orange County CA asks:
How big an issue is Howie Kendricks' defense? You have him ranked highly, maybe justifiably due to his offense alone. But given the way the Angels play and the fact that they've been spoiled by Adam Kennedy for so many seasons, how much of a problem will this for Kendrick in breaking into that lineup?

Jim Callis: Not a huge issue. Most of his value is in his bat, and he'll hit enough to make up for what he doesn't offer with the glove.

Update: Here's a special shout out to former Dirtbag Troy Tulowitzki, who appears 25th on this list. Also, thanks to Anon in the comments for pointing out this ESPN chat with Jim Callis, in which he called Brandon Wood an "unstoppable force", and of Kotchman, "he'll develop more power and become one of the best first basemen in the majors."

Today's Birthdays

Jim Anderson CAL b. 1957, played 1978-1979
Bobby Bonilla LAN b. 1963, played 1998
Phil Haugstad BRO b. 1924, played 1947-1951, d. 1998-10-21
Ron Hunt LAN b. 1941, played 1967
Fred Kuhaulua CAL b. 1953, played 1977
John Morris CAL b. 1961, played 1992
Luke Prokopec LAN b. 1978, played 2000-2001
John Shelby LAN b. 1958, played 1987-1990
Grant Thatcher BRO b. 1877, played 1903-1904, d. 1936-03-17

Pickoff Moves

Roster Notes

Grady Little Says, Headphones Only

Grady Little is a manager of few rules, but he does have this one: music via headphones only, and no music after the game unless it's a win.
"This was always kind of a locked-in rule with [former boss Bobby Cox]," Little said. "I have never seen a situation where you have 25 players in a room and everybody likes the same music. If you need music to prepare for a game, you can get some of those nice headphones they make now.

NRI Pitching Review

MLB.com has a review of non-roster invitee pitchers to spring training.

Weaver And Weaver

Here's another Register article by Steve Bisheff about the two Weavers ending up on the same team.
"Finances were never really the issue," [Jeff] Weaver said. "I've been fortunate to make a lot of money in my career. I wanted to put myself in a position to succeed, to be on a team that could get to the playoffs. Long-term deals are nice, but you want to make sure it's the right decision. If I handle my job here, who knows? Maybe I'll stay around awhile."

Bill Stoneman On KSPN, 6-10 AM

Joe in the comments says that Bill Stoneman will be on the Colin Cowherd show later today from 6-10 AM. No verification of that online anywhere else, though. Looks like he does have podcasting on his archives page, though, so if you miss it, you should probably be able to pick that up online.

Overestimating The Fog

It's that dead time of year between the last of the big signings and March, when the regular spring training scrimmages begin, and so the writers amuse themselves by speculating who'll do what. It's totally understandable, of course; I did it last year, and like Tom Tippett, Nate Silver, Rich Lederer, and virtually the whole damn staff at Baseball Prospectus, I picked the A's to win the division; the only exceptions at BPro were Christina Kahrl, Jay Jaffe, Clay Davenport, and Joe Sheehan. Of these, three of them -- Kahrl, Jaffe, and Davenport -- correctly picked the order of finish in the AL West, while Joe Sheehan got the first two finishers in the right order but had the A's grabbing a Wild Card berth.

But it's the others in the BPro dogpile that have worked up the hackles of Matt Welch and others around the Halosphere. Take this Griddle interview with Rob Neyer, where Neyer once more dismisses the Halos, saying, "I don't find the AL West at all difficult; on paper the A's are easily the best team in that division, and they might be the best team in the major leagues." Or, how about ESPN's power rankings (good luck if you're running Firefox on that one, by the way), which rate the Angels' offseason a tepid 11th overall in the majors?

I bring this up in part because it's part and parcel of a theme that Matt Welch brought up in his Hardball Times Annual 2006 essay, "Getting With The Program". Matt argues that the sabermetricists have done themselves no favors by being so forlornly, consistently, pig-headedly wrong in their predictions, year in and year out, of the A's taking the division, league, and even World Series title.

In 2002, the year the Anaheim Angels would go on to win the World Series after racking up the best Pythagorean win-loss record in baseball, each and every one of the 11 Prospectus writers came to the exact same preseason conclusion: the team from Orange County would finish dead last.

Such are the many joys and delicious ironies of being both an avid Angels fan and consumer of sabermetric analysis. Year after year, Mike Scioscia's boys and their distasteful "productive outs" are picked to stumble; year after year, the widely scrutinized moves of Oakland's Billy Beane are picked to pay off with division titles, MVP Awards, even World Series rings.

Now, forget that the "productive out" correlates poorly to runs scored (something Larry Mahnken blasted in Hardball Times two years ago). It isn't even really something the Angels care about per se, as evidenced in Jeff Angus' Management By Baseball interview with Mike Scioscia last year, when Scioscia said that the two most important stats they care about are hitting with RISP and hitting with RISP and two out (RISP2) -- which is to say, they care about hitting in the clutch, and doing so in extremis.

The "Beaniacs", as some would call them, have for years said there's no such thing as clutch hitting as a statistically verifiable skill, or maybe more accurately, if there is, it requires a phalanx of statistical caveats so deep even an insurance company actuary couldn't find it. This got started by the research of Dick Cramer, and while there has been endless research on the topic, the distance between particular players -- Gary Sheffield, for instance, whom some say has this skill -- and the general mass of hitters is still quite great, and so to my knowledge, "hitting in the clutch" as a skill remains as solid as a mirage.

Or perhaps I should say, it remains as solid as the fog Bill James recently wrote about. In a thumb-in-the-nose at his most avid followers, a piece he wrote for the Baseball Research Journal entitled "Underestimating The Fog", James argues that Dick Cramer's discovery that clutch hitting is a chimera is as accurate as Columbus' claim to have discovered a new route to India:

Cramer was using random data as proof of nothingness and I did the same, many times, and many other people also have done the same. But I'm saying now that's not right; random data proves nothing and it cannot be used as proof of nothingness.

Why? Because whenever you do a study, if your study completely fails, you will get random data. Therefore, when you get random data, all you may conclude is that your study has failed. Cramer's study may have failed to identify clutch hitters because clutch hitters don't exist as he concluded or it may have failed to identify clutch hitters because the method doesn't work as I now believe. We don't know. All we can say is that the study has failed.

This is a very disturbing paragraph. He may be right about that, but I see no functional difference between the two. James here suggests that there may be clutch hitting, but we cannot yet prove it. Well, I reply, so what? We also cannot mathematically prove the existance of God, mermaids, and unicorns; does this now mean we get to (or have to) believe in all three? James, who is unquestionably a smart guy, here asks his audience to prove a negative, something that is logically impossible.

Worse, in pushing for a distinction between "the study has failed" and "there is no statistical proof of X as a skill" (where X may be "clutch hitting" or any of a dozen other similar issues within baseball), James has opened the door to all the snake oil peddlers like Buster Olney to tout their wares. If Nate Silver, Keith Woolner, Keith Davenport and the like over at Baseball Prospectus have, from time to time, been the victim of overzealous jacket blurbs (PECOTA, "deadly accurate"? What, it's a weapon of mass instruction?), at the same time at least they can say whether a player's future performance fit within the error bands the projection gave. It's a flawed system, to be sure, but player projection is notoriously difficult. But to surrender some knowledge for unverifiable speculation -- and make no mistake, in the absence of proof, that is what the notion of RISP- and RISP2-hitting-as-skills are -- amounts to creationism, the "intelligent design" of baseball.

Update 5/21/2014: Corrected the link for the Bill James essay, no longer available as a PDF.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Today's Birthdays

Almost forgot!

Steve Barber CAL b. 1938, played 1972-1973
Bruce Christensen CAL b. 1948, played 1971
Steve Colyer LAN b. 1979, played 2003
Ryne Duren LAA b. 1929, played 1961-1962
Tom Griffin CAL b. 1948, played 1978
Bill Hall BRO b. 1894, played 1913, d. 1947-08-15
Casey Kotchman ANA b. 1983, played 2004
Clarence Mitchell BRO b. 1891, played 1918-1922, d. 1963-11-06
Roy Spencer BRO b. 1900, played 1937-1938, d. 1973-02-08
Bob Wilson LAN b. 1925, played 1958, d. 1985-04-23

Pickoff Moves

"Oh My God, He Wants To Come Here"

Apparently Manny was rather desperate to get out of Boston, so much so that he called Orlando Cabrera for a scouting report on the media here:
"He asked me in particular about you guys," said Cabrera, who helped the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series. "A lot of [the problems] he has in Boston are about a lack of privacy. He's bothered by the media all the time.

"I told him [Anaheim] is a normal city. When you try to compare the media in any city to the media in Boston, nothing is the same. It's crazy over there. The only thing close to that is New York."

Sox owner John Henry personally called Arte Moreno at one point, but the Angels balked at the players Henry wanted. "Oh my God, he wants to come here," Cabrera said. "He'd be happy here."

Update: The Register has more on this. Cabrera:

"He really wanted me to talk to people here to tell them that he really wants to come here," Cabrera said. "I don't have that kind of power. I don't mess around with that, trying to become the GM or anything like that. That's not my job."

Roster Notes

Sheehan: Bonds Must Play In 2007 To Catch Aaron

Here's really good piece in Baseball Prospectus from Joe Sheehan about Barry's future. Turns out, Bonds will have to play in 2007 if he wants to surpass Hank Aaron:
Bonds cannot catch Hank Aaron for the all-time home-run crown unless he puts on a uniform in 2007. The 500-odd plate appearances he lost to multiple knee surgeries last year put him too far behind the Hammer, and while a leap to second place on the list--currently Babe Ruth, with 714 bombs--is virtually certain, Bonds would need 47 home runs just to tie Aaron, and there’s virtually no path to that number in 2006.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

OT: Researchers Create Whole Breast From Stem Cells

No, I'm not kidding, and damn, that's cool, even if it's only on a mouse. Human applications -- including cancer treatments and customized breast enhancements -- are still a ways a way.

Sickels, BA On The Dodgers Prospects

The Dodgers are trumpeting the merits of their farm system now that Baseball America has ranked them number one in the majors. Likewise, John Sickels ran his Dodgers system top 20 prospects on Saturday as promised. Here they are:
  1. Chad Billingsley, RHP, Grade A-
  2. Joel Guzman, SS-3B-OF, Grade A-
  3. Andy LaRoche, 3B, Grade B+
  4. Jonathan Broxton, RHP, B+
  5. Russell Martin, C, B+
  6. Scott Elbert, LHP, B+
  7. Blake DeWitt, 3B, B+
  8. Chin-Lung Hu, SS, B
  9. Andre Ethier, OF, B
  10. Justin Orenduff, RHP, B
  11. Etanislao Abreu, 2B, B-
  12. Delwyn Young, 2B, B-
  13. Travis Denker, 2B, B-
  14. Matt Kemp, OF, B- (grade change from C+ in the book)
  15. Blake Johnson, RHP, B-
  16. Hong Chi Kuo, LHP, B-
  17. James Loney, 1B, C+
  18. Justin Ruggiano, OF, C+ (grade change from B- in book)
  19. Anthony Raglani, OF, C+
  20. Josh Wall, RHP, C+

"The best farm system in baseball", he says, but for me, the usual caveats apply.

Dodgers Extend Scully Through 2008

The Dodgers have extended broadcaster Vin Scully through 2008, according to MLB.com. Spanish-language broadcaster Jaime Jarrin was extended earlier in the year through 2010, five additional years.

More On BPro's Top 50

Jered Weaver, are you listening?
The ability to fare well against both right and left-handed hitters prevents major league managers from stacking the lineup against the pitcher. The recent signing of Jeff Weaver by the Angels, for example, bodes well for the likes of Mark Teixeira, Hank Blalock, Dan Johnson and Eric Chavez. Weaver’s splits are among the most extreme in the game. Over the last three years, he’s held RH hitters to .238/.277/.355 while lefties teed off to the tune of .309/.369/.506. It’s difficult to evaluate minor-league pitchers in this category due to the relative lack of information, but a right-handed pitcher who has a good “reputation” and “nice upside” but fails to get left-handed hitters out at an adequate clip is in for trouble at the highest level.

A Public Plea For Performance

Dear Baseball Prospectus:

Please fix the performance of your player PECOTA cards. They are slow, slow, slow. Thank you.

-- Rob

Pickoff Moves

Today's Birthdays

Player birthdays in history:

Jack Billingham LAN b. 1943, played 1968
Fred Newman LAA,CAL b. 1942, played 1962-1967, d. 1987-06-24
Norman Plitt BRO b. 1893, played 1918-1927, d. 1954-02-01
Ted Savage LAN b. 1936, played 1968
Jeff Schmidt CAL b. 1971, played 1996

Roster Notes

Rich Lederer On Strikeout Proficiency

Rich Lederer has a two-part series up about a new way to measure strikeout proficiency, namely, by looking at the number of strikeouts a pitcher gets per 100 pitches, or K/100 (I prefer K/100P to disambiguate it from the established K/9). David Pinto wrote a rebuttal, and there was a BTF thread on it, too. Interesting reading, though my question is, how good is a pitcher at putting away batters in two-strike situations?

Baseball Prospectus Publishes Top 50 Prospects

Baseball Prospectus published its top 50 prospects list yesterday, and here's the damage:
5. Howie Kendrick, 2B, Los Angeles of Anaheim
6. Brandon Wood, SS, Los Angeles of Anaheim
14. Joel Guzman, SS, Los Angeles
22. Andy LaRoche, 3B, Los Angeles
24. Chad Billingsley, RHP, Los Angeles
26. Kendry Morales, 1B, Los Angeles of Anaheim
35. Jered Weaver, RHP, Los Angeles of Anaheim
50. Eric Aybar, SS, Los Angeles of Anaheim

Honorable Mention:

Jonathan Broxton, RHP, Los Angeles
Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles
Russell Martin, C, Los Angeles

Monday, February 20, 2006

Ervin Santana Opts Out Of WBC

Another casualty: the Angels' Ervin Santana will not participate in the WBC.
"I want to focus on what we do and our season," Santana said of remaining in camp with the Angels. "You don't know what happens there with injuries."

Rich, You Were Right About Barry

Barry Bonds has retracted his USA Today interview, sort of:
"If I can play [in 2007], I'm going to play; if I can't I won't," Bonds told MLB.com in a telephone interview Sunday. "If my knee holds up, I'll keep on going. I'm playing psychological games with myself right now. I don't want to set myself up for disappointment if things don't work out this season. So I go back and forth. Back and forth every day. These are the things that are going through my mind. This is what I'm struggling with."
Looks like you were right, Rich.

Happy Presidents' Day!

Happy Presidents' Day, all. I'll be celebrating by doing as little actual work as possible, and making noise and sawdust in the garage.

Pickoff Moves

Today's Birthdays

Here's a featurette that somebody suggested a while back: player birthdays in both teams' histories. It's all a matter of automation, so here we go:

Charlie Babb BRO b. 1873, played 1904-1905, d. 1954-03-19
Jack Bolling BRO b. 1917, played 1944, d. 1998-04-13
Clyde Wright CAL b. 1941, played 1966-1973

Wish I could remember who it was that suggested it... anyway, look for these updates in this space every day!

Not An Average Jered

There'll be no punishment for Jered Weaver from the Angels:
After conducting their own investigation, the Angels decided not to discipline Jered Weaver for a Feb. 9 incident in which the pitching prospect was cited for public intoxication in Long Beach, but Manager Mike Scioscia did provide some counseling for the right-hander.

"He said you're not an average Joe from Simi Valley anymore," said Weaver, who met Sunday morning with Scioscia, General Manager Bill Stoneman and pitching coach Bud Black.


"That's not to say I'm a standout or anything, but people are going to know who you are when you hang out. Just keep it to a minimum, have your few and go home. Try to stay out of harm's way is what I guess he was trying to tell me."

Weaver was exiting the Basement Lounge in Long Beach and said he felt "antagonized" by a bar manager who was ushering a large number of patrons out the door. Weaver also believed he was "singled out" by the officer who cited him.


"Bad things happen sometimes; you've got to learn from it and move on," Weaver said. " … I apologize to the team if it was a burden on anyone. It's definitely not going to happen again. I learned my lesson."

Scioscia: Morales "A Stretch" To Make The Big Club

In that same article, Mike Scioscia said Kendry Morales would be "a stretch" to make the major league club out of spring training this year.
Though Scioscia believes the switch-hitting Morales has an "explosive" bat with 30-homer potential, "You can also see some things he needs to work on to hit major league pitching," Scioscia said. "This guy needs experience."

Milton Bradley Tells Bay Area Beat Writers To Buzz Off

On his first day in an A's uniform, no less.

A's Unlikely To Re-Sign Zito

Not a surprise, but in that same article, A's GM Billy Beane suggested the team won't be able to re-sign starter Barry Zito.
"When you look at last year's free-agent market, you'll see the going rate for a pitcher is prohibitive, and Barry would have been the best guy out there. ... The fact is, if Barry's contract comes to an end, he's going to be an attractive free agent and it's going to be a challenge for anyone to sign him, let alone the A's."

Is Andre Ethier Glad To Be A Dodger?

And be in the Show? You bet:
"The A's had already added me to the 40-man roster and told me what they were looking for from me in spring training," said Ethier, who reported to camp on Sunday. "I hadn't heard any trade talks involving me, and neither had my agent. The only thing I was upset about was that I wouldn't be going to spring training at home in Phoenix anymore.

"But when I sort of re-examined the situation, I realized how many guys, not only in minor-league baseball but just 18-to-35-year-olds in general, would love to be doing this and to have the opportunity I have. I'm just proud to wear the uniform and play the game."

Ethier will be joined in camp by fellow Dodgers prospects Matt Kemp and Andy LaRoche. Just before the trade, they were his teammates with the Phoenix Desert Dogs, who won the Arizona Fall League title in November.

"I was sad to say goodbye to those guys, but I didn't realize we would be teammates again in just a couple of weeks," Ethier said.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

YES Network Trumps ESPN Ratings

The Yankees' YES Network had higher daily ratings than ESPN in that market, according to Jon Friedman at MarketWatch.
It has been the most-watched regional sports network in the U.S. the past three years, and topped ESPN in 2005 to become the most-watched sports network in New York during the primetime hours. The reason for its success is clearly the Yankees. The team -- which boasts such stars as matinee idol and backbone Derek Jeter, 2005 Most Valuable Player Alex Rodriguez and Japanese export Hideki Matsui -- has reached the playoffs in every season since 1995. It boasts four World Series victories over that span (no other team has won more than two). Yes airs about 130 of the team's games a year.

Götterdämmerung: Bonds, Brown Announce Retirements

Former Dodger Kevin Brown has decided to retire, because of his back.
"Kevin didn't have me pursue any teams because he wanted to see how his health was," Scott Boras, Brown's agent, told [a reporter from the New York Times]. "He decided after the painful process last year he was not going to play. His arm is still remarkably good, but it's about his back."
His last game was a July 23 loss to the Angels, in the last year of a seven-year, $105 million contract he signed with the Dodgers in 1997. But lest you think I imply that Brownie was anything close to a Hall of Famer (had he fewer injury years, that might have been the case), the fellow I have in mind most to match the title of this entry is none other than Barry Bonds, who in a USA Today interview says he will retire at the end of the season.
"I'm not playing baseball anymore after this," Bonds told USA TODAY in a wide-ranging telephone interview near his home in Beverly Park, Calif. "The game (isn't) fun anymore. I'm tired of all of the crap going on. I want to play this year out, hopefully win, and once the season is over, go home and be with my family. Maybe then everybody can just forget about me."


"I can't even tell how you may pain pills I am on or how many sleeping pills I'm taking," Bonds said. "I don't have a choice. I can't even run that much anymore. How can I run? I don't have any cartilage in that knee. I'm bone on bone.

"But I can still hit. I can rake. I can hit a baseball."

He can, that.

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