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April 26, 2012

Transaction Analysis

Can't Spell Depth Without DH

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

TAMPA BAY RAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed DH-L Hideki Matsui to a minor-league deal. [4/23]

Andrew Friedman is trying to fix his bench without spending much money. That means immersing himself in the market for freely available talent and hoping for the best. Friedman started the process by claiming Brandon Allen off waivers last week. The upside with Allen is genuine, but so is the downside. Which is more likely? A wise man would put money on Allen failing to progress. Friedman may or may not be wise; however, he is hedging his bets by adding Matsui.

In essence, Matsui is a safety net, around to help the Rays if the need develops. Matsui’s time as Godzilla—a perennial 20-home run threat in the majors—is naught but a memory. Yet a large drop in Matsui’s Isolated Power overstates his power loss. Consider the complexion of Matsui’s hits last season when compared to the previous three seasons. The overall rate of extra-base hits is close to the same while the distribution shifts:

Hit Distribution

2008-2010

2011

Single

65.7%

69.2%

Double

17.4%

21.5%

Triple

0.6%

0.0%

Home Run

16.3%

9.2%

Did Matsui’s physical decline or Oakland’s tough hitting conditions cause the shift? PECOTA can’t be sure, so it projects Matsui to finish with a better True Average than Allen (.274 to .272). The Rays will require a bigger gap in performance than two points of TAv in order to justify making the swap. Give Friedman this if nothing else: the Rays have added two options better than their in-house alternative (Stephen Vogt, projected for a .246 TAv) at minimal cost over the past week.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Designated RHP Jonathan Albaladejo for assignment. [4/24]

Optioned LHP Joe Paterson to Triple-A Reno. [4/24]

Recalled RHP Joe Martinez from Triple-A Reno. [4/24]

Purchased the contract of LHP Mike Zagurski from Triple-A Reno. [4/24]

Sometimes the numbers do tell the story, like in Paterson’s case:

Season

IP

H

R

HR

BB

2011

34

28

11

1

15

2012

2.2

15

11

2

3

From a nifty Rule 5 pick to a proverbial gas can within 12 months, Paterson is the embodiment of the fungible relief specialist. The fellow replacing Paterson, Zagurski, is the epitome of the corn-fed Nebraskan. Armed with a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a slider, and a curve, Zagurski can get left-handed batters out. He never received much of an opportunity with the Phillies, so this could be his big break. At least until he proves replaceable, too. 

ATLANTA BRAVES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Optioned RHP Jair Jurrjens to Triple-A Gwinnet. [4/24]

Promoted RHP Cory Gearrin from Triple-A Gwinnet. [4/24]

Since making the All-Star team last July, Jurrjens has allowed nearly seven runs for every nine innings pitched. Jurrjens has allowed 22 more hits than innings pitched as well, and has four more strikeouts than walks. The picture gets bleaker when Jurrjens’ decreased velocity is considered. Atlanta’s decision to demote Jurrjens leads to the assumption that maybe there is a mechanical fix; otherwise, the Braves would have placed Jurrjens and his $5.5 million salary on the disabled list. Expect the returning Tim Hudson to take Jurrjens’ rotation spot starting this weekend.

For the time being, Gearrin will provide additional bullpen support. For those familiar with the Braves, think of Gearrin as a Peter Moylan clone. For the unfamiliar, think of a side-arming righty with groundball-heavy tendencies.

NEW YORK METS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed OF-L Fred Lewis and INF-R Brad Emaus to minor-league deals. [4/24]

Placed RHP Mike Pelfrey and OF-R Jason Bay on the 15-day disabled list. [4/24]

Recalled INF-R Zach Lutz from Triple-A Buffalo. [4/24]           

Recalled LHP of Robert Carson from Double-A Binghamton. [4/24]

Recalled 2B/CF-L Jordany Valdespin from Triple-A Buffalo. [4/23]

Optioned RHP Jeremy Hefner to Triple-A Buffalo. [4/23]

Recalled RP Jeremy Hefner from Triple-A Buffalo. [4/23]

Placed INF-R Ronny Cedeno on the 15-day disable list. [4/23]

The Mets wouldn’t be the Mets without Pelfrey heading to the disabled list with an elbow injury and Bay joining him with a fractured rib.

The three promotions bring various traces of intrigue to the table. Carson is a physical southpaw with the arm strength to hit the mid-90s and little more. Lutz can hit, but features an exploitable uppercut swing and has negative defensive value. Valdespin, whom the Mets are experimenting with in center field, brings a blend of power and speed, but he often plays out of control.

Lewis is a smart get. He can hit right-handed pitching and play the three outfield positions. Once Lewis’ bum shoulder heals, don’t be surprised if he lands on the active roster.


 

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:  Hideki Matsui,  Jair Jurrjens,  Mike Pelfrey

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