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July 7, 2011

Transaction Analysis Blog

M's Promote Seager

by R.J. Anderson

IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BOSTON RED SOX
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Boston Red Sox
Placed LHP Jon Lester on the 15-day disabled list. [7/6]
Recalled RHP Scott Atchison from Triple-A Pawtucket. [7/6]

After Lester left Tuesday’s start with a strained lat muscle, it only makes sense for the Red Sox to place him on the disabled list. Because of the All-Star break, Lester is likely to only miss one start, which works out nicely, as the Red Sox can plug in Alfredo Aceves for a day and let him go to town. Lester has been as consistent as ever, posting a 122 ERA+ and averaging 6.4 innings per start (as he did in 2008 and 2009). Getting him healthy is a bigger key to the Red Sox than one measly start.  It is worth mentioning that Lester is the third Red Sox starter currently on the disabled list, joining Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

SEATTLE MARINERS
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Seattle Mariners
Designated C-R Jose Yepez for assignment. [7/6]
Purchased the contract of 3B-L Kyle Seager from Triple-A Tacoma. [7/6]

Yepez loses his 25- and 40-man roster spots for Seager, who will join his college teammate Dustin Ackley in remaking the Mariners infield. Seager started the season in Double-A, but earned a promotion after hitting .312/.381/.459 in 299 plate appearances. After 60 Triple-A plate appearances with a .455/.500/.673 line, the Mariners decided it was time to move on from a Chone Figgins-Adam Kennedy platoon at third base, and give the 23-year-old a shot at the majors.

The key for Seager is to put the bat on the ball, as a line-drive stroke and quick hands are his finest assets. Otherwise, his tools are mundane and he relies on heady play to get by. Don’t expect superstar play, as Kevin Goldstein ranked Seager as the Mariners eighth-best prospect, surmising that he becomes a second-division starter or good utility man in the perfect world.

TAMPA BAY RAYS
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Tampa Bay Rays
Placed RHP Wade Davis on the 15-day disabled list. [7/6]
Recalled RHP Brandon Gomes from Triple-A Durham. [7/6]

Yesterday, John Perrotto ran a quote from a scout about Davis that went like this, "His stuff has taken a step back this year. He's not throwing as hard, and he doesn't have a real feel for the changeup. He's having trouble putting hitters away because he doesn't have an out pitch to rely on." I have watched each of Davis’ starts this season, and I can assure you that scout is right on the money.

Davis has opted for lower velocities this season in an attempt to sure up his control and command, while still pumping his fastball into the 93-94 range when necessary, but his secondary stuff is lacking—particularly against righties, as he has one of the highest ISO allowed in the league against them. A forearm injury might explain some of the issues, but it isn’t likely to fix a slurvey slider or teach him a cutter.

The Rays catch a scheduling break, just like the Red Sox, as they can now manage their rotation so that Davis’ slot will not be a problem until the middle of July, at which point it seems likely that Alex Cobb will come up for a spot-start. In the interim, expect Gomes to get some looks versus righties.

HOUSTON ASTROS
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Houston Astros
Optioned C-R J.R. Towles to Triple-A Oklahoma City. [7/6]
Activated C-R Humberto Quintero from the 15-day disabled list. [7/6]

What a difference a few months make. Towles’ April looked like the beginning of his breakout, as he hit .364/.462/.606 in 39 plate appearances. In the 106 since, Towles has hit .116/.190/.189, meaning that, yes, he actually recorded more hits in April (12) than in May, June, and a slither of July combined (11).  Towles now has 464 major league plate appearances over five seasons and a 588 OPS. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, it seems Towles will never fulfill his promise. It’s too bad, because the Astros alternatives, Quintero and Carlos Coporan, just aren’t very good, yet Towles might not be any better.


R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Kyle Seager

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<< Previous Article
Collateral Damage: Alb... (07/06)
<< Previous Column
Transaction Analysis B... (07/06)
Next Column >>
Transaction Analysis B... (07/13)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospectus Perspective... (07/07)

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