Showing posts with label Jason Bay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jason Bay. Show all posts

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Jason Bay and the New York Mets Injuries

Photo from fOTOGLIF

I hope you have all borne witness to my powers. A few days ago I wrote about the New York Mets and Jason Bay and the very next day they had completed a deal. For my next trick...

Matt Holliday needs to accept that he will not receive a better offer than the 100 million dollar one he received from the St Louis Cardinals. If he waits much longer he risks pulling a Jody Reed (or more recently a Juan Gonzalez) and end up with a much lesser deal from a much lesser team. But this is not the topic of discussion today.

The Jason Bay deal is a fair one in my mind. It comes with considerable risk in its later years for the Mets but they understand that. They are one of the few teams that can afford give out contracts with extra years and extra millions tacked on to get the deal done. With just the tiniest bit of good luck avoiding injuries (unseen in Queens in quite some time) the Mets should bounce back quite strongly in 2010.

Bay has had just one bad season in his last seven and even that was due to playing through injuries. He walks at a 12.9 percent career rate. He strikes out quite a bit but nothing unexpected from a player with his power, which is considerable. He has a career .240 ISO, which was .269 in 2009 for the Red Sox. He has good plate discipline measured by a career 19.4 swing percentage at pitches out of the strike zone (MLB average is around 25 percent). What does this all mean for your fantasy team (and to a lesser degree for the Mets)? Bay should hit for a decent average with lots of homeruns. With a decent lineup around him he should score runs and collect RBI in bunches.

The key for the Mets is better health and productive seasons for the following players who were certainly disappointments in 2009:

David Wright, Third Baseman
The Mets franchise player was shook by the dimensions of Citi Field Park, which according to the small sample size of one season, actually plays neutral for homeruns. He fiddled with his swing and changed his game dramatically. The result was not a horrible season just not one we were not expecting. He was one of the few players to stay healthy the entire season (well, almost - he missed two weeks with a concussion) and should be productive again in 2010. The question is if this was a one year change or have we seen the last of the David Wright that belonged at the top of the first round in any fantasy draft.

Wright's batted ball rates were in the normal range - he hits a ton of line drives 25.7 percent in 2009, and 35.9 percent flyballs. The flyball rate dropped a couple percentage points but the real difference was in his HR/FB percentage which dropped from a career rate of 13.9 percent to a low of 6.9 percent in 2009. His plate discipline stats were right around career levels. I'm afraid that we will have to wait for David Wright to show us that things are returning to normal before Fantasy Owners can draft him with their former confidence. I'd take him in the second round if he lasted that long but surely someone in every league will jump the gun.

Jose Reyes, Shortstop
With a few years separating him from the rash of injuries that he suffered to begin his career, we had stopped thinking of Jose Reyes as injury prone. I am not suggested we re-attach the tag. However, Reyes is obviously still sensitive about the designation. He repeatedly tried to test the injury in an attempt to return as soon as possible and that set him back further each time. It also did not help that the Mets medical staff seemed unable to figure out exactly what was wrong with Reyes or how to treat it.

This lead Reyes' agent, Peter Greenberg to attempt his own solutions. He pressured the Mets to allow him to take Reyes to Toronto to receive platelet-rich plasma therapy — a procedure that does not violate baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policies — from Dr. Anthony Galea. If that name is familiar it is because he has also provided his service to other high-profile athletes such as Tiger Woods. Galea was recently arrested for attempted to smuggle drugs (including Human Growth Hormone) into the United States where he is not licensed to work. Fortunately, the Mets were smart enough to have a team official with Reyes during all the testing and treatment done with Galea so there is no reason to suspect Reyes of wrong doing. Unfortunately, the treatment did not work.

Reyes was finally forced to have surgery on his hamstring, which the Mets believe will solve the problem completely. In mid-December Reyes claimed to be healthy, and was doing some light running leading up to full workouts in January. The Mets expect him to be at full health to start Spring Training. Fantasy would be wise to avoid drafting Reyes in the early rounds before seeing evidence that he is in fact healthy and ready to resume stealing bases at a high rate of success.

Carlos Beltran, Center Fielder
Carlos Beltran was assigned to the disabled list because of a bone bruise behind the right knee cap on June 22nd. He wouldn't play again until September 8th. Beltran seems like another victim of the Mets' medical staff's inability to properly diagnose injuries but there is no evidence (aside from a very long recivery period) that they did anything wrong. Like Reyes, the player and his agent began to seek second opinions from outside sources. Beltran visited Dr. Richard Steadman in Colorado. Steadman is the doctor who invented microfacture surgery but he agreed with the Mets that Beltran was suffering from a bone bruise. Steadman suggested a longer rest and recovery period.

If Beltran is healthy he is one of the better players in baseball and worthy of a first round pick. Fantasy Owners would be wise to avoid picking Beltran too early but at least he was able to play when the 2009 season ended. But as with the other names on this list Spring Training will tell the story. The Mets medical staff will return in 2010 largely intact. But they did release a statement in October regarding a new direction when it comes to treating and diagnosing injuries.

From the New York Post:
The medical staff will remain in place for 2010 but “we are changing our medical protocols to better treat and prevent injuries,” Wilpon said, declining to get into specifics. The son of owner Fred Wilpon also said he plans to take a more active role in how the club releases information about ailing players.

Injuries to Reyes, Beltran and Delgado became a season-long soap opera as they appeared to be close to playing again, only to remain sidelined. Beltran was the only one of the three who returned to the lineup.

Wilpon said part of the communication problems occurred when players were hurt on the road.

“We relied on visiting team doctors to diagnose,” he said. “When Jose had a hamstring tendon that was partially torn to begin with, the doctor in, I forget where it was, L.A., said it was his calf. Now the radiating pain was through his calf. It wasn’t really what happened.”
Carlos Delgado, First Baseman (presently a Free Agent)
Delgado is nearing the end of his career, of that there can be little doubt. But he was productive in limited time in 2009 and has just begun a stint as DH for Gigantes de Carolina in the Puerto Rican Winter League. The Mets are one of the few teams interested in adding a 39-year old first baseman, mostly because they do not have many options. Daniel Murphy was productive but with the Mets trying to put butts in the seats and get back to the playoffs, he'd fit better as depth for now.

Delgado missed most of the season due to a need for right hip surgery. Complications of the surgery delayed his winter league debut but he was able to perform as the designated hitter on Sunday (he went 1-for-4). Hip surgery has become all the rage, but older players like Delgado and Mike Lowell do not bounce back as quickly as Chase Utley and Alex Rodriguez. Fantasy Owners (and the Mets) are likely to see Delgado playing far less than full time and likely at a lesser level than they are used to seeing from the veteran slugger. I suggest fantasy owners avoid rostering Delgado unless they can bench him at minimal expense.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hot Stove Update: Heilman, Thompson, Grabow and Stuff!

(This bad-ass photo of Cy Young Winner Tim Lincecum was taken by Brad Mangini of

You should see the Yankees Fantasy Report later this afternoon. The Hot Stove season has wasted little time getting going. We have already seen a handful of trades and signings. The Rule V draft is coming and there always seems to be someone drafted that has a major league impact. Last year it was Everett Cabrera who I attempted to grab in my primary NL-only but failed to acquire. The lesson I learned is not to wait until dollar days for the guys you really want. Even if you expect to get them for $2, there is always some owner who hasn't spent his money hanging around to steal your guy! Okay, maybe it was his guy too, but you take my meaning.

The Arizona Diamondbacks strengthened their bullpen by acquiring right-hander Aaron Heilman from the Cubs for a pair of minor leaguers. (LINK)

I like this move for the Diamondbacks. Heilman is not an ideal closer but he has stuff that I think he can rediscover if he's over his pouting about being a starter. Oddly, Heilman was dealt to save the Cubs a few bucks which they used to sign a lesser pitcher. But more on that later. The D'Backs are thin enough in the bullpen that Heilman becomes a potential saves candidate should anything happen to Chad Qualls. The minor leaguers don't appear to be worthy of fantasy consideration at this point.

The Royals agreed to a Minor League contract with former Cardinals right-hander Brad Thompson. (LINK)

This is a good move by the Royals. If Dayton Moore understands anything about team building it is that good relievers can be had. Thompson is unestablished by showed some tools in the past. It was worth the minor league contract to find out if he can harness them. We will have to wait to see how things develop for the Royals before deciding on his chances of having some fantasy impact.

The Cubs and left-hander reliever John Grabow have agreed on a two-year deal worth $7.5 million. (LINK)

Dave Cameron of went off on this earlier but Grabow is a lefty specialist who is overrated due to his ERA. We fantasy owners like it when our relievers experience good fortune but we smart fantasy owners don't bet on it happening again.

Free-Agent outfielder Jason Bay rejected an offer believed to include four years and around $60 million. This comes from's Jon Heyman. (LINK)

I have no inside information on how far the Red Sox are willing to go to sign Jason Bay. However, if this report is true and Bay really wanted to return to Boston he probably should have taken the deal. Bay will probably find someone willing to give him more years but I doubt he'll do much better on an annual basis. I do think Bay will continue to be a pretty good fantasy player for a few more years but we've already seen his steal totals erode along with his defense. It is all downhill from here.

Tom Hicks may manage to hold on to the Texas Rangers. Hicks is putting together a group of local investors, including Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, for a bid that would enable him to keep majority ownership of the team. (LINK)

I hope Hicks pulls it off. The Rangers have been doing incredibly good work lately. I would hate to see it screwed up by some idiot looking to make an impact.

Tim Lincecum won the 2009 NL Cy Young Award, and became the first repeat winner since Randy Johnson won four straight times from 1999-2002. (LINK)

I love Timmy. There is no pitcher I would rather have on a fantasy team right now.

Zack Greinke won the 2009 AL Cy Young beating Felix Hernandez by a wide margin. (LINK)

I love Zack. There is no pitcher I would rather have on an AL-only fantasy roster right now. If you listen to Greinke's comments you can see that he still suffers quite a bit of social anxiety. I hope he's continuing to get help.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Boston Red Sox Fantasy Report

Last offseason the Red Sox made a concerted effort to bolster their offense by signing Mark Teixeira. There were also several rumors of them attempting to trade for various offensive stars. They also seemed determined to upgrade their captain Jason Varitek with a younger, more offensively oriented catcher. They pretty much failed in every effort. However, the team projected as stacked and there were few public concerns. Then David Ortiz, the heart of the sox lineup began the season with a horrendous months-long slump. The Red Sox were still scoring runs but after every loss, fingers were pointed at the offense and the lack of it from the designated hitter. Eventually Ortiz did pull out of his slump and had a strong second half but the doubts remains as he heads into the last year of his guaranteed year of his contract (the club holds a $12.5m option for 2011).

As David Ortiz slumped, Jason Varitek was as inconsistent as expected from an offensive viewpoint. Lauded as a great leader and fair defensive catcher, Varitek did many intangible things to help the team win. Nevertheless, the Red Sox wanted offense from the catcher position and got it when they sent several prospects to the Cleveland Indians for Victor Martinez who will be the starting catcher in 2010. Varitek will return by virtue of utilizing his player option for $3m and incentives after the Red Sox passed on using theirs.

The Red Sox run the risk of losing slugging left fielder Jason Bay to free agency. A loss that will be difficult for the Red Sox faithful (an unsabermetricly inclined crowd to say the least, despite the clear beliefs of the teams management) to understand. Most analysts believe that signing Bay to the rumored deals that include several years and over 100 million dollars would be a colossal mistake. Granted, it is a mistake the Red Sox can afford to make. Unlike the rival New York Yankees, the Red Sox have avoided including extra years into contracts as incentives to sign. But Bay is an aging player (who some describe as a Three True Outcomes type) who is mediocre at best defensively and a perhaps a future designated hitter. Paying full price for Bay seems like something the Theo Epstein Red Sox would never do but then you hear things. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports on the Extra Bases Blog this series of events:
So we're talking to Theo Epstein Monday afternoon and he mentions that restructuring Tim Wakefield's deal will save the Sox $1.5 million on the CBT, which is GM-speak for the payroll luxury tax, or collective bargaining tax. "That's important because there's some things we want to do this winter and we don't have a ton of room under the CBT," Epstein said. The tax threshold for 2010 will be $170 million. Are the Red Sox actually planning to approach that? I mean, zowie. They were around $125 million this season. Keeping in mind that is an extremely rough estimate, I have the Red Sox committed to approximately $109 million for next season. That's figuring arbitration raises for Jonathan Papelbon, Jermey Hermida, Hideki Okajima and Ramon Ramirez and $500,000 each for the assorted 0-3 service-time players. Let's say they sign Jason Bay for $18 million. So now they're at $127 million. Where is that extra $43 million coming from that Theo seemed concerned about? Are the Red Sox leaving room for Roy Halladay and some other superstar? This is total conjecture, of course, and perhaps Epstein was just musing out loud. But perhaps that was a clue that the Sox are, if nothing else, giving themselves the option to make a huge splash.
It seems impossible that the Red Sox could worry about approaching the tax threshold without planning to devote a substantial amount to re-signing Jason Bay. Maybe they plan to sign Bay AND Holliday and put Bay at designated hitter. That would be out Yanking the Yankees, no doubt.

Fantasy Focus

Clay Buchholz, RHP
The Red Sox have a very strong pitching staff. They have a clear ace in Josh Beckett. Jon Lester is among the top starters in the American League and he has room in his development to become a dominating lefty ace. Daisuke Matsuzaka has been a slight disappoint for the Red Sox but he still has that amazing talent which made him such a desirable roster addition. Tim Wakefield is the versatile, and effective veteran that has the ability to throw opposing lineups into weeks-long slumps. But the pitcher who has the potential to have the biggest impact on the Red Sox staff as it now stand may be Clay Buchholz. The Red Sox have been huge believers in his incredible talent and have refused to include him in potential deals for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Felix Hernandez, and even Roy Halladay. After several brief appearances in the Red Sox rotation and some rumored (but hard to document) fiddling with his mechanics over the last three seasons (which include a no-hitter in his second major league start), he appears to have finally cemented a place in the Red Sox rotation for the 2010 season.

Coming through the Red Sox farm system Buchholz displayed double strikeout rates and solid groundball rates. He reportedly owned a potentially plus slider, plus fastball, plus-plus change up, and a plus-plus curve ball --The curve being his devastating out pitch. The strikeout rates have fallen in the higher levels (which is to be expected). However, the 6.65 k-rate Buchholz displayed in the majors in 2009 was much lower than we had come to expect. The 7.85 mark for triple-A Pawtucket was also an unexpected low but it may have been a price paid to deliever something else – an increased groundball rate. Buchholz delivered a career best 52.5 GB percentage for Pawtucket in 2009 (discounting small sample sizes). He brought that powerful skill with him to the majors in the second half where he produced a 53.8 percent mark in 92 innings and 16 starts.

FIP says that Buchholz was not as good as he looked this season (4.69 FIP, 4.21 ERA) probably due to his relatively low .289 BABIP. It does not look quite so much like good fortune when compared to his .270 minor league career BABIP. Buchholz has a minor league career K/9 of 10.12, a ML career GB% of 47.6 percent, and a HR/FB of 8 percent. This makes the 15.7 percent HR/FB in the majors look like more of an aberration than his .289 BABIP. The skills are there and even if his development has not gone exactly as expected he does not have anything left to prove in the minors.

Buchholz is an extremely talented pitcher and the Red Sox view him an extremely valuable. In fact, if what we know of trade negotiations is true, they see Buchholz as untouchable. This places him in a very elite class of prospect. I think the Red Sox look at Buchholz and see a pitcher that will eventually compare well to Felix Hernandez and Roy Halladay. While Fantasy Owners should be very careful not to expect too much of young pitchers without a full season of experience in the majors, I think there is a lot of reason for optimism here.

Jonathan Papelbon, RP
They have died down recently but not long ago, Red Sox Nation was flooded with rumors about a possible change in the closer role for the Red Sox. These rumors found fertile ground in a few areas. One, Red Sox General Manager, Theo Epstein, does not believe in paying exorbitant prices for closers. He has learned well the PR lesson of not actually having a closer but I doubt that his core beliefs on building bullpens has changed. Two, Jon Papelbon has refused attempts to sign a long-term contract. He has indicated that he will not accept anything that does not pay him as one of the best closers in the league. In other words, he wants to be paid like Mariano Rivera. This makes it unlikely that he remains in Boston past his arbitration seasons. Three, rookie Josh Bard came up from the minors and justified all the talk of him being the closer of the future. In fact, Bard was dominating in the playoffs. Meanwhile, many fans have blamed Papelbon for the Red Sox failure to advance past the first round.

Papelbon was not his usual self in 2009. His control was way off and his fastball was much less effective than it has been. This is not to say that Papelbon was bad. In fact, he was a fine closer. Nevertheless, he was less deceptive, less dominating, and less intimidating in 2009. It does make some sense that the Red Sox in their search for offense use Papelbon as bait. Bard is definitely a closer-quality talent who the Red Sox love. They have a deep bullpen and plenty of help in the minors should Bard fall apart. With the Detroit Tigers in dump mode, perhaps the Sox can pry Miguel Cabrera away to fill the role they failed to fill with Teixeira. It would give the Tigers a real closer finally, and dump enough salary that they could keep Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson. Just a thought…

Searching for Sleepers

Jeremy Hermida, OF
Red Sox fans were surprised by the acquisition of Jeremy Hermida. They were expecting news regarding Jason Bay, one of several shortstops, or maybe even Roy Halladay, not a fourth outfielder. This is what Hermida represents to Red Sox fans these days. If you aren’t a huge name with a huge contract, what good are you? The thing is Hermida has it in him to be good…very good. I will not re-hash Hermida’s development as a prospect. Since the trade, a million and one blogs and newspapers have related the story of Hermida’s high minor-league walk rates and impressive plate discipline. However, what they have neglected to share is that Hermida was probably a bit overrated based on numbers put up in the low minors. Yes, he had good walk rates but his strikeout rates were not very impressive and this is part of his problem.

I am not going to pretend to completely understand strike zone dynamics, but I am going to share my theory anyway. Despite the ability to lay off pitches outside of the strike zone, Hermida still has high strikeout totals. He is not missing pitches in the zone; he has an upwards trending contact rate in the strike zone. I am guessing that he is being called out on strikes in the zone (I could not find this data – I know it is out there somewhere, but I wanted to get this published). Perhaps he is being stubborn about a personal strike zone, or Umpires just are not respecting his judgment. Whatever it is, I think he needs to start swinging at more pitches. Hermida had a 90 percent contact rate in 2009, and swung at just 23.9 percent of pitches outside the strike zone. Either he has been just unlucky (possible), or he is being called out on borderline pitches, pitches that Hermida needs to do something with. There is more evidence that Hermida needs to swing more in his BABIPs. His MLB career BABIP stands at .322, yet his career batting average is just .265. How can his discipline be good, his BABIP be high, and his batting average low, when he does not swing at many pitches? If you look at the image below, it appears that he does receive a lot of called strikes out of the zone but I have no idea if this is typical or not.

Here is what we do know. Hermida makes better than average contact in the strike zone, and less than average at pitches outside the zone. When he makes contact the result is better than average. His walk rate is back on the rise and has been better than average anyway. He is trending more fly balls and line drives and fewer groundballs. He looks (in my eyes) like a player just on edge of a leap forward. The Red Sox obviously see things they like and believe he can be a productive player for them. They certainly did not acquire him for his defense. Therefore, they must believe that he can contribute with the bat. The Red Sox are excellent evaluators and have top notch coaching, that in combination with Hermida’s talent make me willing to take a chance on Hermida in AL-only leagues. I would have to be very impressed during Spring Training to recommend him to shallow mixed-leaguers, but anything can happen.

Best Team Blogs for the Boston Red Sox

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