eric chavez
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It’s always fun to generate and debate lists. We’ll continue with the All-2000 to Present A’s Lineup.
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C – Kurt Suzuki
1B – Jason Giambi
2B –Jed Lowrie
3B – Eric Chavez
SS – Miguel Tejada
RF – Josh Reddick
LF – Nick Swisher
CF – Coco Crisp
DH – Yoenis Cespedes
SP – Barry Zito
SP – Tim Hudson
SP – Mark Mulder
SP – Sonny Gray
SP – Dan Haren
Closer – Andrew Bailey
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Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Houston Astros
Kansas City Royals
Los Angeles Angels
Minnesota Twins
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays


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Everybody knows two things about Dallas Braden. He threw a Perfect Game last year and he is not intimidated by anyone. Bravado aside, the question remains whether or not he should be part of your fantasy team. A look at his career record of 25-35 would suggest not, but we know how wins can be a tricky measure how to gauge a pitcher. |
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A look at his ERA and WHIP, which has decreased every year since his rookie season (2007), makes him a little more attractive. Especially given the solid 3.50 ERA, which was good for 33rd in the league, and the 1.16 WHIP, which was good for 16th, he posted last year.
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He also has the home ballpark working for him. The Oakland Coliseum had the 11th best park factor for runs (0.956) and the third best for home runs (0.701). It wasn’t just the ballpark for Braden though. He was nearly equally effective at home as he was on the road.
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Home:  6-8, 3.56 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .243 BAA
Away:  5-6, 3.43 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .256 BAA
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So he pitches in a pitcher’s park and does not get frazzled on the road. What’s not to like about him?
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Well, he is anything but a strikeout pitcher, having just 113 Ks in 192-2/3 innings. His K/9 ratio the past two years have been 5.33 and 5.28 respectively. Plus, while wins are a tough category to predict, he has a weak lineup backing him. Runs will undoubtedly be hard to come by.
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Fortunately, Braden won’t cost you a pretty penny. His ADP of 366 (100th starting pitcher), according to Mock Draft Central, means he will likely go undrafted in many leagues. That should be the case in smaller leagues, but in deeper ones he could be a nice option to help you in the ERA and WHIP categories.
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What are your thoughts on Dallas Braden?
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Also check out:

Thoughts that went through Dallas Braden’s mind while he threw the 19th Perfect Game in MLB history. This is great:

 

Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz has started the year on fire hitting .323 with 12 runs, 7 HRs, and 17 RBIs. The only thing that can slow him down is his body. He landed on the 15-day DL with a hamstring strain. He was expected to have a good year, but not to carry fantasy teams. You’ll have to make do without him for a couple of weeks. Craig Gentry got the call. Gentry is more of a speedster than a power hitter. He had 49 SBs last year for Double-A Frisco. He was hitting .293 with 12 runs, 2 HRs, 12 RBIs, and 5 SBs for Triple-A Oklahoma City. David Murphy and Gentry figure to share the ABs. Neither is a great fantasy option.

 

Oakland will be without Brett Anderson as well. The talented young southpaw landed on the DL, retroactive to April 25th, with a forearm strain. Anderson is off to a fast start with a 1-1 record, a 2.35 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 17 Ks in 23 innings. Chad Gaudin could take his spot in the rotation, but offers little fantasy value.


Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Kevin Kouzmanoff made the jump from the National League to the American League this year going from the San Diego Padres to the Oakland A’s. While he’s not in the most potent offense, he still has the opportunity to be a low-end fantasy starter at third base (click to see 3B rankings).

While his average leaves plenty to be desired, career .261 hitter, he has shown some pop despite spending the last three years in PETCO Park. His last three years he has 18 HRs & 74 RBIs, 23 HRs & 84 RBIs, and 18 HRs & 88 RBIs. 

The thing that troubles me is the 59.3 runs he’s averaged over the past three years. Considering a third of his runs came via his HRs, that number is just staggering. There were 197 players who scored more than the 50 runs Kouzmanoff did last year. He was the only player with at least 500 ABs that didn’t top 50 runs. Only three other players (Aubrey Huff, A.J. Pierzynski, Jhonny Peralta) had 500+ ABs with fewer than 60 runs. 

I realize he hit after the Padres’ only other RBI threat, but that number is ridiculous. Oakland’s isn’t much better, but I can’t imagine that he doesn’t see significant improvement in that category.

I wouldn’t want him as my starting third baseman, but would absolutely be fine with him as a corner infielder or as bench depth.

Prediction:  .270, 65 runs, 20 HRs, 85 RBIs

Past profiles:
Arizona Diamondbacks:  Brandon Webb
Atlanta Braves: Yunel Escobar
Baltimore Orioles:  Adam Jones
Boston Red Sox:  Clay Buchholz
Chicago Cubs:  Geovany Soto
Chicago White Sox:  Jake Peavy
Cincinnati Reds:  Joey Votto
Cleveland Indians:  Grady Sizemore
Colorado Rockies: Ubaldo Jimenez
Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera
Florida Marlins: Cameron Maybin
Houston Astros: Lance Berkman
Kansas City Royals: Billy Butler
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Howie Kendrick
Los Angeles Dodgers: James Loney
Milwaukee Brewers: Corey Hart
Minnesota Twins: Joe Nathan
New York Mets: Jason Bay
New York Yankees: Robinson Cano

1. Will Hideki Matsui continue to produce?
He will turn 36 this summer so expectations should be tempered. He’s also leaving the HR Haven that is Yankee Stadium. Plus, the Angels’ lineup is not as formidable as the Yankees was. Given his injury risk and new home, he’s a player I would avoid in 2010.

2. Will Scott Kazmir continue to pitch well for the Angels?
After a miserable 2009 with Tampa Bay, Kazmir pitched well for the Halos posting a 1.73 ERA in six starts. He is always an injury risk, but should post a low ERA. Getting away from the Yankees and Red Sox should help. Don’t expect a ton of strikeouts from Kazmir though, as 2007 was more the exception than the rule.

3. Outside of Kurt Suzuki, will the A’s have any decent fantasy players on offense?
Rajai Davis will get you a bunch of SBs. Other than that it’s a crapshoot. The only dark horse is Jake Fox, who could possibly put up a bunch of HRs for Oakland.

4. Will Jose Lopez have a monster year?
With Ichiro and Chone Figgins setting the table, Lopez should have plenty of RBI opportunities. He averaged 92.5 RBIs the past two years, and should go over the 100 mark this year. See where he ranks among Second Basemen.

5. Will Ichiro win the batting title?
With Chone Figgins hitting behind him and Joe Mauer playing in a new ballpark, I think Ichiro is the favorite to take home the batting crown.

6. Will Chris Davis bounce back?
Davis was everyone’s darling last year and he fell short of expectations thanks to his .238 average . He still managed to hit 21 HRs though, and was a force in September and October hitting .318 with 5 HRs and 21 RBIs in 110 ABs. Look for him to be better in 2010.

7. How will the move to Texas affect Rich Harden?
He’s pitched in the AL West before so he has a brief track record at Ranger Ballpark. It’s not pretty though. In five starts he has a 7.66 ERA, a 2.01 WHIP, and a .330 BAA. Couple that with his injury history and he’s a player I’d avoid on draft day unless he came at an absolute bargain.

I continue the All-time team tour with the storied A’s.
 
Face of the Franchise:
connie-mack
Connie Mack
 
Manager: Connie Mack

C – Mickey Cochrane
1B – Jimmie Foxx
2B – Eddie Collins
SS – Bert Campaneris
3B – Jimmy Dykes
OF – Al Simmons
OF – Rickey Henderson
OF – Bob Johnson
DH – Mark McGwire
Bench:  2B/OF Danny Murphy, 3B Frank “Home Run” Baker, OF Reggie Jackson, OF Bing Miller

SP – Lefty Grove
SP – Eddie Plank
SP – Chief Bender
SP – Rube Waddell
SP – Vida Blue
P – Catfish Hunter
P – Dave Stewart
P – Barry Zito
P – Eddie Rommel
P – Jack Coombs
P – Tim Hudson
RP – Rollie Fingers
RP – Dennis Eckersley

That’s the team I came up with. Do you have any changes you’d like to suggest? I’m always open to them.

Past Teams
Yankees
Red Sox
Rays
Orioles
Blue Jays
Twins
White Sox
Indians
Tigers
Royals
Angels
Rangers
Mariners


Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

Having discussed his teammate, Trevor Cahill, over the weekend, today let’s profile Brett Anderson, the player who was rated the A’s #1 prospect by Baseball America.  The former second round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks (acquired as part of the Dan Haren trade) is just 21-years old and lacks significant experience, throwing just 31.0 innings above Single-A.  Like Cahill, however, he breaks camp as part of the team’s rotation.

He was dominant this spring, posting a 2.83 ERA over 28.2 innings.  While he was not overpowering, striking out 15, he used his pinpoint control, walking just 6, to be effective.  That certainly helped to open some eyes, as does this repertoire described by Baseball America:

“Anderson has premium command, averaging 1.9 walks per nine innings in his pro career and frequently locating his fastball on the corners of the plate. He’s more proficient working his fastball to his glove side than his arm side.  His two-seam fastball sits at 88-92 mph and generates a lot of groundouts. He also can touch 94 mph with his four-seamer. Anderson has above-average secondary pitches across the board, including a mid- to high-70s curveball with two-plane break. His low- to mid-80s slider gives him a second quality breaking ball, and his changeup is often a plus pitch.”

The curveball and change-up appear to be the two pitches that draw the most comments from scouts, with Keith Law making a similar statement:

“Anderson is a command left-hander with an out-pitch curveball and an average changeup that projects as plus. The curve has a very sharp, almost spiking two-plane break; he maintains good arm speed on the changeup and it runs late towards his arm side.”

Those two pitches easily could allow him to succeed in the major leagues, even with a fastball that is said to touch 94, but realistically sits in the high-80s to low 90s.  That’s obviously not overpowering, but with the mix of stuff he can be successful.

The inexperience is a huge concern, especially heading into 2009.  No matter what the talent, it is tough to make this big of a jump.  Let’s look at a few pitchers asked to make a similar jump in recent years, and how they performed in their rookie campaign:

  • Clayton Kershaw – He had thrown 86 innings at Double-A before being recalled.  Last season he posted a 4.26 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 107.2 innings for the Dodgers.
  • Tim Lincecum – He had thrown 31 innings at Triple-A (and none at Double-A).  In 2007 he posted a 4.00 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 146.1 innings for the Giants.

The biggest difference is that those two pitchers had the ability to generate significant swings and misses.  Not that they were overly impressive to begin with, but a strikeout is a quick way to bail you out of a jam.

When you pitch to more contact, you need to have that experience… That feel, to draw on.  Yes, Anderson has posted impressive strikeout rates in the minor leagues (his career K/9 is at 9.7), but I am not convinced that he can maintain it at the upper-levels.  A number more in the high 6s is likely, which is not bad, but it is not overly impressive, either.

The stadium in Oakland will be beneficial to him, but he is not solely going to be pitching there.  He’s got to take his act on the road and who knows what that will bring with it.

Additionally, he is at the disadvantage of pitching in the American League.  Granted, he’s not in the strongest division, but the Angels and Rangers should boast solid offenses.  Also, don’t forget about the fact that the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays will all face him sooner or later.  That could spell disaster.

His first start is scheduled in Los Angeles against the Angels, so we will quickly learn if spring performance was reality or just a flash in the pan.

For those interested, here’s what I’m projecting for him this season:

135.0 IP, 8 W, 4.53 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 103 K (6.7 K/9), 40 BB (2.67 BB/9)

With his control, he has the potential to be more successful then Cahill, especially in the WHIP department.  However, there is a downfall to being right around the zone  the majority of the time, because he opens himself up to give up significantly more hits.  With time and experience, he’ll improve, but in 2009 struggles could abound.

I would take a similar approach that I recommended with Cahill, watching from a distance for the time being.  If he proves early on that he can succeed, then he’ll be worth it.  Otherwise, yearly league owners should just wait and see.

Keeper league owners, obviously, is a different story.  Stash him away and wait for him to fully develop.

What do you think?  Is Anderson someone you think will be worth owning in 2009?  Would you rather own him or Cahill?


Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

On the eve of Opening Day, there’s a little bit of closers news worth noting:

  • According to Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times (click here for the post), Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu has named Brandon Morrow (pictured) the team’s closer from the outset of the season.  If you were holding onto a few of those relief pitchers in hopes of stealing a few saves over the first week or two, it is safe to move on.  Morrow has the potential to be among the elite closers in the game.
  • According to mlb.com, the A’s have placed Joey Devine on the 60-day DL, with a visit to Dr. James Andrews scheduled on Wednesday.  Obviously, the team is not expecting very good news, leaving Brad Ziegler as the team’s closer from the outset.  Ziegler is obviously unlikely to repeat last seasons remarkable performance, but is obviously usable in all formats now that he should have the closers job to himself early on.

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor and I have decided to team up and debate Mark McGwire’s Hall of Fame worthiness.

Numbers
Played 1986-2001 (16 Seasons)
1874 Games
6187 At Bats
.263 Batting Average
.394 On-base % (77th All-time)
.588 Slugging % (9th All-time)
1167 Runs
1626 Hits
252 Doubles
6 Triples
583 Home Runs – (8th All-time)
1414 RBI – (65th All-time)
1317 Walks – (35th All-time)
12 Stolen Bases
3639 Total Bases

One .300+ Season
Three 100+ Run Seasons
Eleven 30+ HR Seasons
 Six 40+ HR Seasons
  Four 50+ HR Seasons
   Two 60+ HR Seasons
    One 70 HR Season
Seven 100+ RBI Seasons (Two with 147)

Playoffs:  1 Ring, 28 of 129 (.217), 13 Runs, 2 Double, 5 HRs, 14 RBI, 18 Walks

Awards
1997 Rookie of the Year
12 All-Star Games
1990 Gold Glove
3 Silver Sluggers (1992, 1996, 1998)
10 Seasons with MVP Votes (3 Top 5 MVP finishes)

Top Ten Finishes
On-Base % – 4 Times (Led league in 1996 & 1998)
Slugging % – 8 Times (Led league in 1987, 1992, 1996 & 1998)
OPS – 7 Times (Led league in 1996 & 1998)
Runs – Twice
Home Runs – 10 Times (Led league in 1987, 1996, 1998 & 1999)
RBI – 6 Times – (Led league in 1999)
Total Bases – 3 Times
Extra-Base Hits – 6 Times (Led league in 1998)
Walks - 8 Times (Led league in 1990 & 1998)
Intentional Walks – 6 Times (Led league in 1999)
Hit by Pitch – Twice

Hall of Fame Yardsticks
Black Ink: Batting – 36 (41) (Average HOFer ≈ 27)
Gray Ink: Batting – 110 (190) (Average HOFer ≈ 144)
HOF Standards: Batting – 42.1 (123) (Average HOFer ≈ 50)
HOF Monitor: Batting – 169.5 (62) (Likely HOFer > 100)

Lester’s Take
Mark McGwire hit a ton of Home Runs with a ton of RBI and Walks.  With his HR total, this should be a slam dunk case.  If you look at the Hall of Fame yardsticks, you can easily see it’s not a slam dunk case.  Half of them suggest he belongs.  The other half suggests he doesn’t.  That’s where I am at with Big Mac myself.  You have to appreciate the power numbers he put up.  However, you’d be lying to yourself if you if you think those numbers don’t come with baggage.  For starters, there was the whole Andro thing.  Granted it wasn’t against the rules at the time, but it’s pretty naive to think that Big Mac stopped there.  Surely, his appearance before Congress didn’t help his cause.  I think you have to eventually let the cheaters in otherwise you are condemning a whole era.  I’m certain there will be guys who make the HOF from the era that somehow dodge steroid speculation based on their personality.  Evenutally the steroid guys will be addressed, but I’m just not sure the numbers are there for Mac.  There isn’t a Hall of Famer position player with 6000 At Bats that has fewer than McGwire’s 1626 Hits.  Without the power surge at the end of his career he likely wouldn’t have reach the 500 HR mark.  His first six seasons he averaged 36 HRs per year.  His last six he averaged 51 HRs per year.  Usually you don’t have your best production in the last six years of your career.  Even if he averaged the same production as he did during his first six years, you’d have to shave 90 HRs (six years at 15 HRs per year) off his total.  That would put in him at 493 HRs and on the outside looking in.  McGwire never had 30 Doubles in a year.   He didn’t score 100 Runs in a year until 1996, a decade into his career.  People credit him and Sammy Sosa with saving baseball in 1998, but come on.  It’s baseball.  We would have come back.  All they did was speed up the process.  Sorry, Big Mac.  You’d never get my vote.

Rotoprofessor’s Take
I know the perception around Mark McGwire; a steroid user, a cheater. We all saw his appearance in front of Congress, which left little doubt. The truth of the matter is, however, at that time it was not illegal in baseball to do what he did. If you are going to hold what he did against him, you are going to have to hold it against an entire generation, because no one knows for a fact who was clean and who wasn’t. Steroids were running rampant throughout the sport, and while I’d agree that the standards for being considered a Hall of Fame player have to be adjusted, you can’t disqualify him solely on that reason. Steroids or not, he still had to hit the ball. There are some players who I feel like you have to look beyond the numbers, especially during this era, not only the “Steroids Era”, but the era of the compiler. I know you can look at the number of hits he had or the number of runs he drove in and say that outside of his HR’s he just doesn’t stack up with the other players already enshrined. Maybe that’s true, but McGwire’s presence transcends the numbers. He was the dominant force in the game from 1996-1999, putting together a stretch like no other, hitting 245 HR and driving in 530 RBI. The rest of the league was so scared to face him that he walked 512 times. He completely dominated the game. No matter what the numbers were for his entire career, which were very good anyways, for those four years he was the elite. The one player opposing pitchers feared. Since McGwire, there have been other players who put up over 500 HR, take Jim Thome for instance. As of right now he has 541 career HR, but he was never truly the dominant force at the plate. To me, he’s not a Hall of Famer, but that’s a discussion for another time. Just because you reach 500 HR doesn’t make you a Hall of Fame player anymore. Dominating the game like McGwire did, that earns you my vote. He deserves to be there, along with the other greats, and he’d get my vote every year his name appeared on the ballot.

There you have it folks.  Feel free to weigh in and take a side.


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