Showing posts with label Jeremy Hermida. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jeremy Hermida. Show all posts

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

Firebrand of the American League -

Yawkey Way Academy -

ProJo Sox Blog -

El Guapo’s Ghost -

Sox Prospects -

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.