Monday, November 09, 2009

Hot Stove Update: Iwamura, Teahen, Hermida, Hardy and More!

I have been pretty sick this week which the reason for the lack of posts. I have had the flu, combined with a series of migraine headaches that make looking at the computer for more than a few minutes absolute agony. I have the team retrospectives for the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, and New York Yankees almost ready to go. I wrote them out long hand just need to check my stats and type them up. You should see those popping up this week.

Also remember to e-mail me with any questions, or for second opinions on players, trades, or transactions you may be considering in your keeper leagues. Jon (at) Advanced Fantasy Baseball (dot) com or just use the button in the sidebar.

The Pirates acquired second baseman Akinori Iwamura from the Rays in exchange for right-hander Jesse Chavez

Akinori Iwamura is a better player than Freddy Sanchez so the Pirates got that much right at least. Especially when you consider that they received a prospect in Tim Alderson, who should be much better than Jesse Chavez in the long term. If there is one thing that Neal Huntington understands it is that decent relief pitchers are a dime a dozen and with the quantity of arms he has been acquiring filling out his major league bullpen should not be a problem. On the other hand, I thought the Pirates should have given Delwyn Young a larger opportunity at second base where his bat projects very well. But I understand, since they believe defense has to be a priority for them. The Pirates are looking like an extremely good defensive team in 2010 and that should mean good things for their pitchers. Iwamura will remain a decent fantasy player in NL-only leagues and perhaps in extremely deep (think 18-plus) mixed leagues. He does not really pad the stats - a few homers, a few more steals and a good batting average. He should score runs in front of the Pirates power hitters. He won't make or break your fantasy team, but sometimes just not breaking it is the important part.

For Tampa Bay, Iwamura was becoming an expensive spare part. Ben Zobrist has clearly become the Rays second baseman and is also one of their better hitters. Jesse Chavez is a hard throwing reliever. His stats scream mediocre so unless he finds himself in contention for saves he is not worth much to fantasy owners.

The Royals' Mark Teahen has been traded to the White Sox in exchange for second baseman Chris Getz and third baseman Josh Fields.

The Royals have actually made a pretty good deal for themselves. They save themselves a little money and they acquire two useful players. The odd part is that neither of them is likely to be a starter off the bat. Josh Fields has a powerful bat but strikes out a bit too much. Okay, a lot too much. He does draw some walks just not so many as to negate his strikeouts. But he destroys lefties and is still young enough to develop some patience. He may be able to win a regular job against lefties, perhaps in a platoon with Alex Gordon or by splitting time at first, third and the outfield. or even better yet, he could fill the gapping hole the Royals have had at the designated hitter spot for years. Becoming a DH would relieve the Royals of having to tolerate his below average defense.

Chris Getz has some skills with the bat, he draws walks and makes excellent contact (at least he did in the minors). He knows how to work counts and draw walks. He is an excellent base stealer and a defensive asset at second and adequate at shortstop and third base. He has zero power. Getz is exactly the type of player that the Royals need -- players that can get on base. But he is blocked by Alberto Callaspo for now. Getz is only of use in fantasy if he is getting enough at-bats to steal meaningful numbers of stolen bases. This does not necessary mean he can't get them in some sort of utility role, but not all players can produce in such a role.

Mark Teahen becomes the White Sox third baseman
, moving Gordon Beckham to second base. His homerun numbers figure to improve just by virtue of hitting in the better park for hitters. Teahen is a player that is frequently put down by the sabermetric crowd for being overpaid and mediocre. In fantasy baseball however, Teahen is a useful player, so it is important not to get caught up in talk that is not as relevant to our game when making choices for your fantasy team. Teahen can play at a few different positions which makes it a lot easier for him to stay in the lineup. He has okay power, walks some, doesn't strikeout to an extreme, and can steal some bases. With better plate discipline he could probably stabilize his place in a lineup. He obviously is more valuable in an AL league than a mixed league but he should not be a priority in either. Teahen is a decent player to fill out your lineup but you would not want to count on him to produce. His price should match that expectation or lack thereof.

The Red Sox have acquired Jeremy Hermida from the Marlins in exchange for minor league left-handed pitchers Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez.

Jeremy Hermida was supposed to be the outfield version of Keven Youkilis but it never happened. In the minors he had outstanding on-base percentages and showed signs of becoming a productive outfield bat with solid defensive potential. It could still happen. Everyone is assuming that the Red Sox will acquire a Jason Bay or Matt Holliday and Hermida will find himself the fourth outfielder and that is the most likely scenario. But it is not the only one. The Red Sox went hard after Mark Teixeira last year and failed to sign him. They seem to be low balling Jason Bay (there is more interest in Jason Bay out there than some saber-types believe he deserves) and I think they have much more of chance at Bay than Holliday who many teams seem to have on their radar including teams like the Cardinals, Giants, and Yankees who can all spend money when they feel inspired. The Red Sox could also trade for Adrian Gonzalez and move Youkilis to third base which would lessen the need for a proven power hitter in left field.

Hermida re-discovered some of his plate discipline in 2009. His problem is he refuses to swing the damn bat at pitches in the strike zone. He walked 11.5 percent of the time and struck out 23.5 percent of the time, which also represents an improvement. Moving to Fenway Park should give all his numbers a boost that fantasy owners will like. Hermida has solid opposite field power and should love the Green Monster. The big question is how many at-bats he will see. I think the Red Sox may have another steal on their hands on a par with the David Ortiz acquisition. I hope to get him cheap. Hermida is almost the definition of a post-hype prospect.

The Milwaukee Brewers today acquired outfielder Carlos Gomez from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for shortstop J.J. Hardy.

If you did not realize that shortstop J.J. Hardy was on the trade market, you were not paying attention. This is a good trade for both teams. Hardy is a very good defensive shortstop and has been an offensively productive player at times. It would be easy to point to Hardy's low .264 BABIP in 2009 as the source of his problems (and I'm certain that was part of it) but you also need to note that Hardy's career BABIP is just .280 and in his best seasons featured just .280 and .306 BABIP's. We also need to look for a rebound in Hardy's HR/FB which dipped to just 8.3 percent in 2009 after a career high 14.1 in 2008 and a career average of 11.2 percent. It looks like it is very possible for Hardy to rebound from his bad 2009 season in 2010. There is not anything in the numbers (beyond his BABIP and HR/FB) that seems out of his normal range, especially considering the horrible luck he was enduring. In fact his IFFB (infield-flyballs) percentage actually sank to a reasonable level from his typically high marks, which helps make his .264 BABIP look like even more of a disaster level result. The Twins should be very happy with Hardy for the next two seasons at least.

Carlos Gomez hits infield flyballs at a extremely high rate (nearly 20 percent) and this is dragging his BABIP and thus his batting average down. His BABIP is also low for someone with a 19.2 LD percentage. His HR/FB is also extremely low for a player projected to develop power at some point. He hits fly-balls at a pretty typical rate which is not good for the skills that he presently possesses. Gomez is very simply, an unproductive player when he hits the ball in the air. As one of the fastest players in MLB, Gomez should be hitting the ball on the ground and even bunting for hits when he can. The stats feel like a player that is trying to be Carlos Beltran when he should be happy as Michael Bourn or even Juan Pierre. But the news on Gomez is not all bad.

In 2009, Gomez increased his walk rate and reduced his strikeout rate. He swung at fewer balls out of the strike zone and is one of the better defensive center fielders in baseball. He also is said to have a plus arm. Gomez has uncanny speed and with the exception of 2009 has been a very good base stealer. The Brewers have a very good coaching staff that I am certain will make developing Gomez a high priority. While Gomez should not be a high priority for Fantasy Owners he is worthy of some consideration in long term keeper leagues. In an NL-only league I would be happy to own Gomez for a single-digit price as my fifth outfielder. At that price his steals alone should make him a solid value, and it becomes an excellent price should he develop into a worthy keeper.

The Chicago Sun-Times' Joe Cowley reports the Chicago White Sox paid OF Jermaine Dye a $950,000 buyout of his $12 million option for 2010, making him a free agent.

Jermaine Dye is an aging player who is no longer an asset on defense and prone to more frequent minor injuries. His disastrous second half will certainly bring his fantasy price down in 2010. But Dye still has impressive power and will find a team to give him close to full-time at-bats in 2010 which puts him squarely on our fantasy radar. The slugger is a bit closer to end of his career and the results are definitely going to be in decline but if you can get Dye at a reasonable rate there is no reason he can't help a fantasy team hitting in the area of .260/.340/.480 with 25-30 homeruns. The key is acquiring him at the right price, something in the $12-$18 area in AL-only leagues would be alright. Much more than that and the risk becomes much higher than the reward.

Outfielder Manny Ramirez notified the Dodgers Friday that he will exercise his $20 million option and return to the team in 2010.

Manny Ramirez is an interesting case for 2010. On the one hand I was convinced that Manny would be a disaster (for the Dodgers and owners that believed he'd play as he did in his late season stint with the Dodgers) in 2009. This was based on his declining numbers as a Red Sox the last few seasons. He wasn't in a massive (dump him while you still can) kind of slump but the more subtle sort that can sneak up on you if you are not paying attention. I do not believe that performance-enhancing drugs have been inflating Manny's numbers. The science just does not support it at this point. But I do believe that their is a less-studied mental/psychological aspect of taking such drugs and that when the drugs are stopped it could have an effect on a player's confidence. This is just a theory, I have no proof of any kind. But if Manny has been using for a while and has now stopped because of the media attention -- that combined with his age-related decline could combine to predict a real disaster on the field. I suggest Fantasy Owners avoid owning Manny unless he comes at a large enough discount that the risk is significantly reduced.

1 comment:

  1. I found the Teahen trade interesting. First of all it seemed like Kenny Williams and Ozzie were pretty high on Chris Getz and Josh Fields was supposed to be Joe Crede's replacement and that failed LOL.

    But more specifically Gordon Beckham's natural position is shortstop so why not move Alexei Ramirez back to 2nd base since it was obvious he was not comfortable at short.