Showing posts with label Victor Martinez. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Victor Martinez. Show all posts

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hot Stove Update: Martinez,Garland, Huff, and More

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgivings or at least went to the movies. I'm digging through the AFL results and reports and thinking about the Rule V Draft, so you should see stuff about that soon. I also have a report on Elvis Andrus, who believe it or not some have been labeling overrated.

Major Free-Agent Signings

The Detroit Tigers signed free agent catcher Victor Martinez.

The Detroit Tigers signed Victor Martinez to a four-year, $50 million contract to become their primary catcher (catching about half the time), part-time designated hitter and occasional first baseman. The contract is not a bad one for the Tigers. Martinez is one of the better available bats in free agency and is a solid versatile player. He may not be catching in 2013 when the Tigers' other catcher, Alex Avila, will have either proven himself or been replaced. However, he should still be a valuable designated hitter. What this means for players like Ryan Raburn and Carlos Guillen hasn't been made clear yet. Be patient before reacting to changes on the Tigers, there is still a lot of Hot Stove Season left.

The Tigers pitching staff could be cringing at this news considering Martinez has problems on the defensive side of the catcher position. Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka all pitched considerably better during the 2010 season when Martinez was not behind the plate.

The Los Angeles Dodgers signed free agent right-hander Jon Garland.


Garland will be guaranteed $5 million for 2011 with an additional $3 million in incentives and an $8 million option in 2012 that will become guaranteed if he reaches 190 innings pitched in 2011. He has reached that number in all nine seasons since he became a full-time starter.
By most measures, Dodger Stadium is not quite the pitchers' haven that Petco Park has become. Still, if the Dodger defense bounces back, Jon Garland should be a very effective fifth starter for the Blue. Garland had a nice 2010 season with a boost in his k-rate and the Petco effect complementing well. He is very likely to take a step back in 2011. However, if I owned Garland at a reasonable price in a NL-only league I would definitely consider adding him to by list of keepers. In mixed leagues it depends on the depth of the available pitching but it would still be a consideration at the right price.

The San Francisco Giants re-signed free agent first baseman Aubrey Huff.

The Giants rewarded their best hitter of their 2010, World Series winning season with a two-year $22 million deal to continue to hit in the middle of their lineup. Huff isn't an elite first base option, and has had problems with consistency but was a solid option at first base in a short term contract such as this one. Huff should be a nice keeper option in most NL-only leagues and a solid middle round connection in mixed leagues. Brandon Belt owners should have no fear of Huff blocking him. One of them, most likely Huff, will move to left field when the time comes.

There seems to be a perception out there that Huff was playing over his head. He clearly was not. He did not have a great 2009 season and that was the reason he was available on the cheap for the Giants. His 2010 stats while very good were much different than his other good seasons. I would not want to bet on him at full price in a fantasy league but at the price he was available at last year, he makes a great keeper.

The Detroit Tigers signed free agent relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit.

Joaquin Benoit banks the huge season he had for the Tampa Bay Rays. He will receive $16.5 million over three years to become the primary set-up reliever for closer Jose Valverde. Many analysts believe this contract is too long for benoit who has not been durable in the past. I think it is fairly reasonable. When Benoit is healthy he is one of the better relievers in baseball and deserves to be paid as such.

The Trades

The Pittsburgh Pirates traded lefty Zach Duke to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Pirates designated Zach Duke for assignment and made him available to every team in the process. The Arizona Diamondbacks stepped in and offered a Player To Be Named Later for Duke. Chances are the Diamondbacks will make Duke a decent contract offer. If he accepts he'll be in the rotation this season, if not he'll be non-tendered.

It's easy for prospect-crazed analysts to look at the Pittsburgh Pirates young stars and see a brighter future. They certainly have the bats of a future contender to build around. They have a few big arms on their way up the minor league system. Things are brighter than they've been in a long time, so tossing Zach Duke away like so much garbage seems pretty easy from the perspective of a Pirates fan and possibly even Pirates staff. the unfortunate part is the Pirates never put Duke in a position to succeed.

Zach Duke is a pitcher that relies heavily on the defense behind him. He has better than average control, He induces a fair number of groundballs, but does not have the stuff to rack up strikeouts in large bunches. In the estimation of many analysts Duke would seem to have two thirds of the stuff we like to see in our pitchers (as far as results are concerned, tools/stuff is another thing altogether) control and groundballs. Now, consider that the Pirates had one of (if the absolute worst) defense in MLB in 2010. In 2010 Duke was worth 0.4 WAR in an awful season. In 2009, the Pirates had one of the better defenses in MLB. In 2009, Duke was worth a solid 2.5 WAR. Now the Diamondbacks, owner of one of the better 2010 defensive teams, own Duke, and a sleeper (for NL-only leagues at least) is born.

The New York Yankees traded first baseman Juan Miranda to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor leaguer Scottie Allen.

Juan Miranda had no place to go in the Yankees organization. He was trapped behind Mark Teixeira and the aging Yankees who will populate the designated hitter spot over the next few years. The trade to the Arizona Diamondbacks could be a blessing in disguise for both Miranda and fantasy owners. Miranda projects as a solid MLB first base option. Offensively he is probably a little better than Diamondback first base prospect, Brandon Allen. Allen can play left field, where the Diamondbacks presently have penciled in the weak-hitting (but defensively superior) Gerardo Parra. Miranda is capable of batting around .260-.270 with 25-35 homeruns with a solid walk rate and decent defense in a full season. Fantasy owners should keep a close eye on this situation.


Scott Allen, meanwhile, goes to the Yankees in the Miranda deal. The 19-year-old was an 11th round draft pick in the 2009 draft. In 2010, he posted rates of 9.1 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 78 innings pitched at South Bend of the Low-A Midwest League. According to Baseball America, the 6-1, 170 pound Allen sits 87-91 MPH with his fastball, mixing in a decent high-70s slider and changeup and a fringy curveball. Allen didn’t crack either Kevin Goldstein’s or John Sickels’ recent lists of top Diamondbacks prospects.

Other Significant Transactions

Kansas City Royals released RHP Bryan Bullington.

Seattle Mariners signed free agent LHP Fabio Castro.

Seattle Mariners signed free agent RHP Charlie Haeger.

Seattle Mariners signed free agent RHP Chris Smith.

Cincinnati Reds signed free agent LHP Dontrelle Willis.

Minnesota Twins signed free agent 1B Justin Huber.

New York Yankees released RHP Jonathan Albaladejo.

St. Louis Cardinals signed free agent LHP Raul Valdes.

Philadelphia Phillies signed free agent 2B Josh Barfield.

Philadelphia Phillies signed free agent 2B Pete Orr.

Philadelphia Phillies signed free agent LHP Dan Meyer.

Kansas City Royals signed free agent RF Brett Carroll.

Other Thoughts...

The Minnesota Twins were the top bidder for the rights to sign Japanese middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka. The Twins are trying to add speed to their lineup. Nishioka has it but is not an elite base stealer, just a competent one. How his stolen base rate translates to MLB will be something to watch, I would not set my hopes at middle infield Ichiro, as some have suggested.

Catching prospect Derek Norris could be a nice sleeper. He has a higher upside than Wilson Ramos who has a solid shot at being the primary catcher for the Washington Nationals in 2011. Watch for Norris owners who are ready to give up on him due to the poor batting average and the Ramos acquisition. Norris is still one to watch.

Gary Sanchez is the long term future of the Yankees at the catcher position. He has tremendous offensive potential and the instincts to be a dynamic defensive catcher. He is a primary target in AL-only leagues with minor league systems.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Down the Stretch: The Top Catchers of 2010

What happened to Victor Martinez? Geovany Soto has made a nice comeback this year but still has doubters out there. Buster Posey seems like the next big thing but he needs to work on that walk rate.

Geovany Soto Cubs 16.80% 24.40% 0.286 0.404 0.515 0.229 0.324 0.398
Buster Posey Giants 5.90% 13.20% 0.342 0.386 0.516 0.174 0.366 0.387
Joe Mauer Twins 12.10% 10.40% 0.33 0.408 0.487 0.157 0.349 0.383
Carlos Santana Indians 19.30% 19.30% 0.26 0.401 0.467 0.207 0.277 0.383
Brian McCann Braves 13.60% 20.90% 0.264 0.376 0.456 0.192 0.288 0.365
Jorge Posada Yankees 13.20% 23.70% 0.251 0.359 0.461 0.21 0.278 0.362
Carlos Ruiz Phillies 12.70% 14.30% 0.297 0.389 0.443 0.147 0.328 0.36
Ramon Hernandez Reds 8.10% 14.50% 0.306 0.367 0.45 0.145 0.337 0.359
Miguel Montero Diamondbacks 10.00% 21.80% 0.29 0.361 0.477 0.187 0.329 0.358
John Buck Blue Jays 3.20% 27.20% 0.286 0.315 0.503 0.218 0.341 0.35
John Jaso Rays 15.50% 11.20% 0.271 0.386 0.378 0.108 0.291 0.35
Ryan Hanigan Reds 12.40% 11.90% 0.287 0.381 0.399 0.112 0.304 0.344
Miguel Olivo Rockies 6.90% 31.00% 0.278 0.327 0.474 0.196 0.358 0.343
Mike Napoli Angels 6.80% 29.80% 0.248 0.315 0.471 0.223 0.292 0.339
Yorvit Torrealba Padres 9.50% 18.20% 0.292 0.367 0.377 0.085 0.347 0.334
Victor Martinez Red Sox 7.50% 11.20% 0.281 0.332 0.441 0.16 0.29 0.334
George Kottaras Brewers 15.00% 22.80% 0.199 0.316 0.421 0.222 0.197 0.324
Ryan Doumit Pirates 7.60% 20.30% 0.247 0.318 0.413 0.166 0.28 0.322
Chris Iannetta Rockies 13.10% 24.60% 0.204 0.321 0.394 0.19 0.218 0.318
Chris Snyder - - - 14.00% 31.90% 0.222 0.332 0.391 0.169 0.275 0.317
Russell Martin Dodgers 12.40% 18.40% 0.248 0.347 0.332 0.085 0.287 0.306
Kurt Suzuki Athletics 5.60% 9.80% 0.246 0.304 0.383 0.137 0.243 0.304
Matt Wieters Orioles 10.10% 20.50% 0.239 0.317 0.372 0.133 0.273 0.303
Yadier Molina Cardinals 8.70% 11.30% 0.261 0.329 0.337 0.076 0.28 0.297
Jonathan Lucroy Brewers 4.70% 16.60% 0.271 0.309 0.359 0.088 0.311 0.296
Ronny Paulino Marlins 7.30% 16.10% 0.259 0.311 0.354 0.095 0.295 0.293
Nick Hundley Padres 8.70% 24.10% 0.237 0.303 0.379 0.143 0.284 0.291
Alex Avila Tigers 11.50% 26.20% 0.214 0.308 0.325 0.112 0.265 0.29
Matt Treanor Rangers 7.90% 18.40% 0.222 0.3 0.346 0.124 0.242 0.289
Rod Barajas Mets 3.00% 15.70% 0.225 0.263 0.414 0.189 0.219 0.289
Jake Fox - - - 4.70% 27.00% 0.22 0.265 0.384 0.164 0.261 0.284
Francisco Cervelli Yankees 8.00% 16.40% 0.239 0.314 0.296 0.058 0.281 0.281
A.J. Pierzynski White Sox 3.10% 7.60% 0.248 0.282 0.362 0.114 0.254 0.281
Jason Kendall Royals 7.20% 10.20% 0.26 0.318 0.302 0.043 0.284 0.279
Ivan Rodriguez Nationals 3.00% 15.80% 0.271 0.293 0.347 0.076 0.313 0.278

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 -