Tag Archive | "Jayson Werth"

starling_marte

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The Waiver Wire: The Starling Marte and Matt Harvey Edition

Posted on 27 July 2012 by Daniel Aubain

The dog days of summer are upon us and your fantasy baseball teams may be dragging a bit, too. What better way to add a spark to your lineup than combing through your league’s waiver wire looking for players who can help you make a run at a title while your fellow owners get all jazzed for the beginning of football season (that’s still a thing?). Stay active and pay attention to trades, call ups and players being designated for assignment (the dreaded DFA) to find opportunities to liven up your roster. Even if you are out of the running for a league title, now may be the time to target a keeper for the 2013 season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are making a run at the playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades and there’s no time like the present to call up their highly-touted outfield prospect Starling Marte. Marte was called up Thursday, immediately penciled in to start his first major league game in left field and inserted into the leadoff spot in the lineup. All Marte did was hit the first pitch he saw for a home run and finished Thurday night’s game 2-for-4 with a caught stealing.

In 99 games at AAA Indianapolis this season, Marte had 21 doubles, 13 triples, 12 home runs and 21 stolen bases. YES, PLEASE! My friend Mike Gianella (@MikeGianella) pointed out on his blog, Roto Think Tank, that Marte “could be worth blowing most or all of your remaining FAAB depending on your needs”.

I expect these numbers to change by time this article goes live but he’s currently owned in just 3.6% of ESPN leagues, 15% of Yahoo! leagues and a whopping 35% of CBS leagues. He was already gone in two of the five leagues I’m participating in this season (which made me realize I’m in three crappy leagues). Don’t wait to make a bid or use a waiver wire pick up for Marte much longer because he’ll probably be gone very, very soon.

Here are some other fantasy baseball players worth a look who may still be available on your league’s waiver wire:

 SP Matt Harvey, New York Mets: Harvey made his debut on Thursday night, too, and was equally as impressive as Marte. In 5.1 innings, he allowed just three hits, no runs, walked three and struck out 11 Diamondbacks. He threw 106 pitches (65 strikes) and also uncorked two wild pitches. He’s only owned in 5.5% of ESPN leagues, 1% of Yahoo! leagues but a hearty 38% of CBS leagues. For a complete breakdown of Harvey’s minor league history and major league potential, check out Full Spectrum Baseball’s own T.J. McDonald’s article from yesterday.

SS Josh Rutledge, Colorado Rockies: The Rockies may have found a temporary replacement for the injured Troy Tulowitzki who can actually provide some level of offensive production. In 12 games since his call up, he’s hit .356 (16-for-45) with five doubles, two triples and a home run. He’s also had six runs, six RBI and three stolen bases. He should be in the mix for the second base job once (if) Tulo is healthy. Owned in 29.5% of ESPN leagues, just 9% of Yahoo! leagues and 38% of CBS leagues, I wouldn’t wait much longer to decide if you should pick him up.

OF Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals: Werth is about a week away from returning to the Nationals and could be a nice addition to your roster in deeper mixed leagues or NL-only ones. Talk is he’ll split time in center field and right field at first, so don’t give up too much for him yet. In 98 at bats before the injury, he had a 5×5 line of .276/10/3/12/3. He’s owned in 41.2% of ESPN leagues, 52% of Yahoo! leagues and 72% of CBS leagues.

OF Justin Ruggiano, Miami Marlins: When Omar Infante was traded to the Detroit Tigers, the Marlins decided to move Emilio Bonifacio to second base and all but guaranteed Ruggiano a spot in the outfield for the rest of the season. And why not? All he’s done so far in 2012 with his 137 plate appearances is put up a slash line of .367 /.430/.683 with seven home runs and seven stolen bases. If you’re in need of a low-risk power/speed guy, Ruggiano is worth a look. He’s owned in 45.1% of ESPN leagues, 25% of Yahoo! leagues and 29% of CBS leagues.

SP A.J. Griffin, Oakland Athletics: Griffin has made the first six starts of his career in 2012 and pitched exactly six innings in each of those games and recorded a quality start in all six, too. In those 36 innings, he’s allowed just 27 hits and eight walks while striking out 29. He has a 2.25 ERA (3.56 FIP; 3.92 xFIP) with a 0.97 while batters are hitting just .205 against him. Owned in just 13.2% of ESPN leagues, 13% of Yahoo! leagues and 49% of CBS leagues, he’s definitely worth streaming while continuing to perform.

How much did Marte and/or Harvey go for in your FAAB league(s)? How are league-only owners dealing with trade deadline moves in which players change leagues? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. Also be sure to follow me on Twitter @DJAubain for daily fantasy baseball nuggets, news and links. I’m always available to discuss anything and everything related to the game of baseball.

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bryceharper

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Line of the Day: Bryce Harper

Posted on 29 April 2012 by Daniel Aubain

April 28, 2012: Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals made his long-awaited major league debut, going 1-for-3 with a double and a sacrifice fly RBI in a 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 10 innings. He also made an impressive laser-beam throw to the plate that would have gunned down a base runner had Wilson Ramos not dropped the ball.

Line: 3 AB | 0 R | 1 H | 1 RBI; 2B | SF

My fantasy perspective: Harper was a guy I avoided in my drafts this offseason because 1) only one league so far was a keeper and he was protected; 2) I wasn’t willing to use a draft pick as high as teams were grabbing him; and 3) I truly didn’t think he’d be called up this soon in the season to make an impact on my fantasy roster.

I watched his debut on the MLB Network last night and I have to say I was impressed with his composure and am disappointed I didn’t grab him in at least one league. Oh well. So what now? Does he stay on the major league roster once players like Mike Morse and Ryan Zimmerman come back from injury? Is Rick Ankiel the odd man out and either Harper or Jayson Werth move to center field? Is Harper simply up for good and the team will deal with any ups and downs he goes through this season?

With all of these (and more) question marks surrounding Harper’s fantasy value, it’s hard to say what’s in store. But know this, fantasy baseball owners will be watching carefully. As an fantasy owner of Harper, what are your fantasy expectations for 2012 now that he’s made it to the major leagues already?

Agree with my pick? Disagree? Check out ESPN’s formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section below and/or hitting me up on Twitter @DJAubain.

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Washington Nationals: Not buying the hype

Posted on 04 April 2012 by Graham Womack

A couple of years ago, Sports Illustrated ran a preseason story hyping the Seattle Mariners on the strength of the defensive metric, Ultimate Zone Rating. I remember reading the article and wondering if I was behind the times, especially since I’d never heard of UZR (and truth be told, I still don’t really understand fielding stats.) The piece seemed a little odd since the Mariners didn’t look to have much offense or many big names, but I gave SI the benefit the doubt because, well, it’s SI. From there, the Mariners proceeded to go 61-101 and score 513 runs, the kind of numbers Gold Glove fielders and Cy Young hurlers curse silently. Heck, even the Hitless Wonder 1906 Chicago White Sox scored 570 runs.

This year’s version of the 2010 Mariners might  be the Washington Nationals. All winter, I’ve heard writers saying this will be the year the Nationals break through. They point to Washington’s young talent, to splashy pickups like Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson. They say that Jayson Werth will bounce back after a disappointing first year in town, they hint at the possibilities if Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann can stay healthy, if super prospect Bryce Harper can get a full year in the majors. Manager Davey Johnson has called for his firing if Washington misses the playoffs, and on Monday, two SI.com writers predicted the Nationals would nab a wild card spot.

Suffice it to say, I’m not buying the hype. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nationals finish below .500 and end the season with a different manager. As a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and a blogger, I try to embrace sabermetrics and new ideas in baseball, but this is one time I’m not ashamed to fall back on my traditionalist roots. And by various traditional measures, the coming season doesn’t bode well for the Nationals.

Where do I see Washington running into trouble? Let’s start with the Nationals’ division, one of the toughest in baseball. If Washington was in the National League Central rather than the NL East, I’d have no problem predicting good things for them. I’ve spent a lot of the winter doing as much for the Pittsburgh Pirates, with their division in a state of flux and looking to be a crap shoot. Like the Nationals, the Pirates are young and offensively-challenged. Put them in the NL East, and I’d count on them to lose 90 games. It’s simply too tough to contend, what with the Phillies’ window of opportunity still open, the Braves retooled, and Miami Marlins management suddenly doing its best to end the recession.

From there, I look down the Nationals roster and see mostly a collection of young ballplayers and second-rate veterans, no batter besides Ryan Zimmerman striking much fear and Zimmerman himself coming off an injury-shortened, 101-game season. I see several players that might shine if things go well, from Gonzalez to Strasburg to Werth, though it seems they could just as easily struggle mightily in 2012. Mostly, I see a club that looks hard-pressed to improve on the 624 runs it scored in 2011, and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that scoring a lot of runs and having a positive run differential are a one-two punch for success in baseball. The Nationals did neither of these things last year and have applied no sure remedy for this year.

Could I be wrong? Of course, and it’d be nice to see the Nationals thrive. They’re using a model similar to how the Braves became a force 20 years ago, assembling a slew of solid young pieces, and I believe it’s a matter of when, not if the Nationals become relevant again. I just doubt it will be this year. The 2010 Mariners taught me as much.

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The Roster Report – February 22, 2012

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The Roster Report – February 22, 2012

Posted on 22 February 2012 by Bryan Grosnick

Hey there, hardball fans! Spring Training is here, so get pumped! Get ready for a month of what our colleague Dennis calls “microfanning.” A great example of microfanning is the recently-built tumblr Bad Spring Training Twitpics and all the terrible, blurry, useless pics therein. But don’t miss out on the great nuggets of info that come through during ST…how about you just trust us to filter out some of the useless information for you? The latest minor moves (no Roy Oswalt again!!) are here for your perusal in this most recent Roster Report.

Raul Ibanez

The New York Yankees sign LF/DH Raul Ibanez to a one-year, $1.1MM contract.

When a big new free agent signs with the Yankees, there’s usually lots of buzz and fanfare. The big new Bomber acquisition for the 2012 season has come, and it’s a 39-year old coming off the worst season of his career. Raul Ibanez has agreed to join the Yankees, and he’ll probably be the left-handed hitting half of a DH platoon, partnering with Andruw Jones. The New York faithful hopes Raul hits closer to his 2010 self (109 wRC+) than his 2011 self (90 wRC+), but he probably won’t get more than 300 AB regardless.

Honestly, I’m not too sure this is a great deal for the Yankees. Maybe I’m just feeling the recency bias, but Raul was just an average hitter even on the good side of his platoon split last season (.322 wOBA against righties). Given that he offers little upside and negative defensive value, I feel that the Yankees could have done better by waiting for a Spring Training cut or trade opportunity like Brandon Allen, Kila Ka’aihue, Juan Francisco, or Clete Thomas. In Ibanez, the Yankees are paying for name value and past production…something that they’ve done quite a bit in the past. Granted, a million dollars is very different from the contracts they’d handed out to aging superstars in the past, but it is money that did not need to be spent. If he would’ve taken the contract, Johnny Damon probably could provide better offense than the equally aged Ibanez.

At best, Ibanez is going to be a platoon DH, and players like that have little to no fantasy value. In AL-only leagues, he may be worth a late-round flyer, but I’d rather have his platoon partner, Andruw Jones. Jones is likely to be a better hitter with more power potential, but neither player is worth rostering in most leagues. Expect Russell Martin, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez to get a fair share of DH plate appearances as well as Ibanez.

Manny Ramirez

The Oakland Athletics sign LF/DH Manny Ramirez to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

Hahahahaha. Ahahaha.

With that out of the way, I literally cannot believe the Athletics have added another outfielder / designated hitter type, especially after also adding Yoenis Cespedes (and Seth Smith and Jonny Gomes and Collin Cowgill and Josh Reddick). I’m so glad I spent all that time breaking down The Hydra, and then re-breaking things down after the Cespedes signing. Manny will be Manny in Oakland, at least after he serves a 50-game suspension for PED use.

So is Manny a good signing? Sure, in a vacuum. In 2010, the third-worst season of his career, Manny was still a way-above-average hitter with a .382 wOBA. Quite honestly, Manny Ramirez can hit. He can hit in any park, in any situation, and he could probably hit falling out of an airplane. If he’s healthy, I fully expect him to ruthlessly conquer the DH spot in the Athletic lineup, and put up decent numbers in the process. But he’s going to take plate appearances away from guys like Josh Reddick and Collin Cowgill and Chris Carter. Maybe the A’s aren’t the best fit for Manny, but they’re the most willing fit, and none of the players Manny is displacing is a sure thing. This may just be crazy enough to work.

Fantasy-wise, don’t draft Manny. Please. He could be a solid waiver-wire pickup two weeks before he’s ready to come off his suspension. But the power is diminishing, and he’ll probably be of minimal value in anything that’s not an OBP league. If you play an OBP league…well, he could be more than just an ok play.

Chris Carpenter

The Boston Red Sox receive RP Chris Carpenter as compensation for the signing of GM Theo Epstein.

This probably is not the Chris Carpenter that the Red Sox would like to see, given their rotation uncertainty. But as a compensation pick for losing a year of GM Theo Epstein, the Sox could do a lot worse than Chris Carpenter. Carpenter is a live arm, capable of hitting triple-digits in short stints, but he’s struggled at times with his command. He’s also consistently ranked among the top 15 Chicago Cubs prospects in a number of lists over the past few seasons. At best, he could be a high-leverage reliever and the next coming of Daniel Bard. At worst, he’ll walk five guys per nine innings and never make it past Triple-A.

In two years, Carpenter might be a nice piece to the Boston bullpen, or he could be missing in action. But there’s no point in drafting him in your fantasy league this year. Even in dynasty leagues, CC might be a bit too far off to waste a draft pick on.

Quick Hits

  • One of the most underrated players of the last two decades, Mike Cameron, has announced his retirement from baseball. This comes on the heels of signing to compete for the starting center field job for the Nationals, but the Nats still have depth on hand in Roger Bernadina, Rick Ankiel, and (maybe) Jayson Werth. Cameron will forever be known as a linchpin in the Ken Griffey Jr. trade to Cincinnati, but he was a tremendous player in his own right. Depending on your WAR flavor of choice, Cameron was worth between 45 and 55 wins above replacement over his 17-year career. He played stellar defense, he hit for power, and he stole bases. Mike Cameron was a heck of a ballplayer, and had a terrific run in the majors.
  • The Cleveland Indians agreed to sign former Twin, National, and Ranger Cristian Guzman to a minor league deal in the hopes that he can back up Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis this season. Guzman is (believe it or not) a two-time All-Star, but missed 2011 due to a shoulder injury. If that injury is healed, Guzman may be able to retain his old form…but Guzman has a history of sub-par hitting and average-to-poor defense. In his earlier years he was quick on the basepaths, but these days he’s a high-contact, low-power hitter at best. If he plays like it’s 2009, then Guzman could be a decent big league piece, but if not, he’s probably out of work.
  • The Yankees weren’t done adding hitters after signing Ibanez, as they also brought back 3B/1B Eric Chavez on a one-year deal. The deal, which is estimated at $900K, hinged on the Yankees dumping some of A.J. Burnett’s salary in recent days. As such, Chavez should be the primary backup to both Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. Though Chavez’s bat is a far cry from his All-Star seasons in Oakland (he only posted a .263/.320/.356 slash line in 2011), he’s still a solid defensive player and veteran presence in the Bronx.
  • The last (and least) of the recent Yankee signings is relief pitcher Clay Rapada. Rapada has been inked to a minor league deal, which is probably for the best, considering he’s never been very good at the major league level. In 16.1 major league innings last year, Clay posted a 6.06 ERA and a 4.49 FIP for the Orioles. Unlike Ibanez and Chavez, Rapada is likely not to have any effect at all on the Yankees’ playoff chances, and probably will be the last man in the bullpen at best.

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The Roster Report – February 8, 2012

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The Roster Report – February 8, 2012

Posted on 08 February 2012 by Bryan Grosnick

Hello there, hardball fans! Just when you thought the past four days would give you absolutely nothing on the transaction wire, Dan Duquette and Dan O’Dowd made a deal. While not the most exciting move in the baseball world, it at least gives us something else to talk about while teams gather minor league depth and wait for pitchers and catchers to report. We’ve got coverage and analysis of all the big and little moves right here, in this edition of the Roster Report.

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The Baltimore Orioles trade SP Jeremy Guthrie to the Colorado Rockies for SP / RP Jason Hammel and RP Matt Lindstrom.

I was surprised (not shocked, but surprised), when the word came through that the Orioles had traded Jeremy Guthrie away, and received just two average-to-below-average major league veterans in return. The Orioles were in the midst of some expensive arbitration proceedings with their one long-term rotation stalwart when they decided to deal him to Colorado for two other, ostensibly inferior pitchers. But this deal wasn’t a salary dump, as the pitchers that Baltimore added cost roughly the same amount as the Orioles would have had to pay Guthrie, who signed a one-year deal for $8.2MM after the trade to Colorado.

Jeremy Guthrie, over the past five years with the Orioles, has been the very definition of average. Guthrie’s ERA has always outpaced his FIP, which means that luck has played a bit of a role in his success, but he is doggedly consistent from year to year. Once again, in 2011 Guthrie struck out about five and a half batters per nine, walked about two and three quarters per nine, and gave up a little more than one home run per nine. All of this added up to a 4.48 FIP, and an ERA nearby at 4.33. He only won nine games, but that’s because he played for the Orioles. Those numbers on a team like the Red Sox or Yankees would have been good for 13 or so wins. Though these numbers make him only a two-win starter, we’re talking about a guy who has taken the ball for nearly a thousand innings over the past five years. There’s a great deal of value in that fact, which probably drove his high arbitration number.

Going to Colorado, however, is probably going to hurt Guthrie’s performance. Guthrie gives up far too many homers at Camden Yards, so you’d have to believe that he’ll give up even more in Colorado. The good news, though, is that Guthrie is out of the AL East, and we’ll get to face the Giant and Padre offenses instead of the Red Sox and Yankees. Moving to the easier league with his career xFIP of 4.61 and career SIERA of 4.60 should be good enough to still be a solid #3 or #4 starter, due to his reliability. But if the HR spike, then he could go downhill in a real hurry. And in fantasy, I’d avoid him…he gives up too many hits, and doesn’t rack up enough strikeouts.

The return that the Orioles received is anything but exciting. Matt Lindstrom is a reliever with a blistering fastball, one that averages 96.1 mph according to PITCHf/x data available at FanGraphs. The only thing is, Lindstrom doesn’t use that heater to strike very many people out. In 2011, Lindstrom only managed a 6.0 K/9 ratio, far inferior to pitchers with worse speed and stuff. Though his K/9 rate has decreased consistently over his five seasons in the majors, Lindstrom stays effective by limiting HR and walks. With 45 saves in his major league career, as well as a respectable (but not excellent) 3.48 career FIP, Lindstrom is a perfectly adequate and slightly above-average reliever. But Lindstrom also has little-to-no upside, and will be a free agent after making $3.6MM in 2012. He’ll have fantasy value if the Orioles dub him the team’s closer, but beyond that, he’s probably a pass unless you’re in a holds league.

Jason Hammel is the other piece that the Orioles received in the deal. After two sneaky-good seasons in 2009 and 2010 with Colorado, Hammel pitched poorly in 2011, eventually getting dropped from the Rockies’ rotation late in the season. In his first two seasons with Colorado, Hammel was worth 7.8 Wins Above Replacement according to FanGraphs. To put that in perspective, he was better than Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, and Yovani Gallardo over that span. But 2011 was a down year, as his strikeout rate (4.97 per nine) and walk rate (3.59 per nine) regressed badly, and he was only able to put up a single Win Above Replacement. Eventually, Hammel was banished to the bullpen in favor of younger, higher-upside pitchers.

What little analysis I’ve seen of this deal has been straightforward: since the Orioles didn’t save any money and didn’t add any players with long-term team control, it was a bad deal on their end. And as for the Rockies, well, they added a guy who will give them 200 solid innings, and at no premium cost. Allow me to take a dissenting opinion. Jason Hammel saw his strikeout rate go down, and his walk and homer rates go up in 2011. If this was an abberation and could even regress to his career averages, not just his pretty-good 2009-2010 form, then I’d argue that Hammel is a better pitcher in 2012 than Jeremy Guthrie is. But the AL East is a harsh place to pitch, and Hammel could wind up replicating his 2007 season with the Devil Rays. There’s a much wider range of outcomes than there was with Guthrie. The other issue in play is Matt Lindstrom’s value as a mid-season trade piece. If the O’s do use Lindstrom as a closer, they may be able to flip him mid-season for a middling prospect or a lottery ticket, which would increase the value of this deal. Again, this is a lot of moving pieces, but after taking a deeper look, there’s potential in this trade for the Orioles. Given that Guthrie probably wasn’t long for Baltimore anyways, giving up a little surety may not be the worst thing in the world for the O’s.

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The Washington Nationals sign OF Rick Ankiel to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

By know, you know the story about Rick Ankiel. A stud pitcher loses his control and moves to the outfield, proceeds to hit for power and not much else. Well, in 2011, Rick Ankiel stopped hitting for power too, managing just an .124 isolated slugging and nine homers. Ankiel hits left-handed, and has become a platoon-only bat, doing nearly all of his damage against right-handed pitchers, but he no longer does enough damage against them. Let’s put it this way, even when he faced righties, Ankiel only managed an 86 wRC+. In layman’s terms, this means that Ankiel was 14% below league-average against righties…and those are the guys he’s supposed to be able to hit!

Ankiel does have redeeming factors, though. Namely, he can play all three outfield positions, and he acquits himself fairly well in the field. Aside from his well-documented cannon of a left arm, he showed good range in center for the Nats last season, posting an 11.6 UZR/150. Though that’s too small of a sample size to make a blanket statement of excellence, Ankiel has a history of solid outfield defense that scouting reports can back up. He’s also about average as a baserunner, nabbing 10 steals in 2011 against three times being caught.

The thing is, Washington already has several capable outfielders ready to play. Jayson Werth and Mike Morse are locked in to two of the outfield spots, and there are plenty of players competing for the third starting slot. Roger Bernadina is ready to go, and though he’s a bad hitter as well, he still out-hit Ankiel in his limited duty in 2011. That’s not saying much, however…Bernadina was merely 11% worse than league average, according to wRC+. Bernadina offers more speed on the basepaths than Ankiel, hit better against righties, and could be close to Ankiel’s capabilities defensively. Mike Cameron was also added, albeit on a minor-league deal. Cameron could be the right-handed hitting part of a platoon, as he’s always mashed lefties. Well, except for last year, when he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Oh, and then there’s also uber-prospect Bryce Harper waiting in the wings, and either he or Werth could slide into center field at any point if management deems him ready for the big leagues.

In truth, there’s hardly any way that Rick Ankiel opens the season as the regular center fielder for the Nationals, and may miss out even if the Nats go with a CF platoon. Perhaps he could be the fifth outfielder on the Nationals due to his flexibility, but Rick would have better been served signing with a team like the New York Mets who could use a player who can play all three outfield positions, hit righties, and doesn’t already have Roger Bernadina. Even if he does break camp with the Nats, don’t expect him to get much run, and certainly don’t pick him up in fantasy unless a major injury hits.

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The Seattle Mariners sign RP Hong-Chih Kuo to a one-year, $500K contract.

In space-time continuum terms, Hong-Chih Kuo is not too far removed from an excellent 2010. But in performance terms, Kuo is way totally far away from that year. 2011 was, to put it bluntly, a disaster. Last season, Kuo suffered from a social anxiety issue, and when he pitched, he pitched very, very poorly. Being an older reliever with no developmental upside, you might think that Kuo is a low-upside player…but you’d be wrong. In 2008 and 2010, Kuo was one of the best relievers in the majors, and has always been able to strike out more than a batter per inning. In 2011, control became a major issue, as he came close to walking a batter an inning as well. That just won’t play anywhere. Kuo also used to be able to limit his HR, and that went out the window in 2011 as well.

The fact of the matter is, Kuo might be broken beyond fixing. But for a million dollars (the amount Kuo will make if he makes the Mariner team), the Mariners are taking a risk on huge upside. If Kuo’s command, injury, and anxiety issues that damaged his performance are less than 2011, then he’ll be a very talented, very valuable reliever in 2011. But unless he unseats Brandon League as closer early in the season, he’s probably not a good bet in fantasy.

Quick Hits

  • Brad Penny, formerly of the Tigers (and Cardinals…and Giants…and Red Sox…and Dodgers…and Marlins) has agreed to a one-year deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. Penny pitched a full season with Detroit last year, but was incredibly ineffective in his 181.2 innings. Both his ERA (5.30) and FIP (5.02) were nearly 25% worse than league average, so finding work on a major league roster was going to be tough. Penny has become completely unable to strike anyone out, despite a fastball that still lives at 92.9 mph, but he could be effective in Japan.
  • The New York Yankees made their second-most important free agent signing of this offseason, inking utility player Bill Hall to a $600K deal. Hall hit for no power and played bad defense last season…but he can hit poorly and play poor defense at a number of positions, so I guess that means he has value. Even though the Yanks don’t have a lot of depth at the ML value, Hall still won’t last long as a major-leaguer in the Bronx. No fantasy value, virtually no real-world value.
  • The Nationals also signed Mark Teahen to a minor league contract, and invited him to Spring Training. Why? I’m not sure. Teahen, famous for his role in Moneyball (the book) and most recently part of the Colby Rasmus trade to Toronto, was devastatingly bad in 2011. If you like wRC+ as a metric, get this…he was about 50% worse than league average with the stick. Since Teahen’s never been a defensive whiz, and there was no indication that his performance drop was due to injury, he’s extremely unlikely to be a major-leaguer in 2012. Triple-A roster filler.
  • Conor Jackson isn’t just a picture on milk cartons anymore…he’s a Texas Ranger. Added to the franchise on a minor league deal, Jackson is a corner outfielder and first baseman who hits for no power. As you might imagine, that’s not something that draws lots of demand. But the Rangers are very left-handed, so there’s a non-zero chance he could pair as a platoon partner for Mitch Moreland or spell David Murphy…but he’s just not a very good hitter, even against lefties. Pass on him in fantasy, and don’t expect him to get more than 150 PA, if any at all, in Arlington.
  • The Mariners weren’t done adding relievers this week, signing Shawn Camp, formerly of the Blue Jays. Camp is a groundball specialist who is particularly effective against right-handed batters. Camp’s FIP has lived around 4.00 for the last three years, and though his strikeout numbers are continuing to diminish, he probably can still be effective for another year or two. But he won’t get the benefit from Safeco Field that many pitchers do, and he’ll be completely irrelevant in fantasy.
  • The Cardinals signed Alex Cora to a minor league deal, which probably says more about the state of available middle-infield players than it does about Cora. Cora’s not a particularly slick fielder and an atrocious hitter, managing just a .224/.287/.276 slash line in 2011. If he makes the major league roster, it will be as a defensive replacement, and should get very little burn.
  • Newly-minted free agent Justin Ruggiano was picked up by the Houston Astros on a minor-league deal. Though the Astros are awful, they’re actually probably set in the outfield with players like J.D. Martinez, Jason Bourgeois, Fernando Martinez, Brian Bogusevic, and Jack Cust. Ruggiano, who has been a solid hitter in Triple-A, plays good defense and could catch on as a utility outfielder…but his upside is pretty low.

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