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04-05

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The BP First Take: Thursday, April 5
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Daniel Rathman

04-04

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, April 4
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04-02

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11

The BP First Take: Monday, April 2
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03-30

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The BP First Take: Friday, March 30
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03-28

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, March 28
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03-26

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The BP First Take: Monday, March 26
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03-21

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, March 21
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03-20

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The BP First Take: Tuesday, March 20
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03-19

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The BP First Take: Monday, March 12
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03-15

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The BP First Take: Thursday, March 15
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03-13

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The BP First Take: Tuesday, March 13
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03-12

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The BP First Take: Monday, March 12
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03-08

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The BP First Take: Thursday, March 8
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03-07

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, March 7
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03-05

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The BP First Take: Monday, March 5
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03-02

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The BP First Take: Friday, March 2
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02-29

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, February 29
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02-27

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The BP First Take: Monday, February 27
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02-24

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The BP First Take: Friday, February 24
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02-22

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, February 22
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02-21

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The BP First Take: Tuesday, February 21
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02-20

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The BP First Take: Monday, February 20
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The BP First Take: Friday, February 17
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02-16

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The BP First Take: Thursday, February 16
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The BP First Take: Wednesday, February 15
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The BP First Take: Tuesday, February 14
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02-13

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22

The BP First Take: Monday, February 13
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02-10

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14

The BP First Take: Friday, February 10
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02-08

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, February 8
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02-07

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The BP First Take: Tuesday, February 7
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02-06

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The BP First Take: Monday, February 6
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02-03

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The BP First Take: Friday, February 3
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The BP First Take: Thursday, February 2
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The BP First Take: Wednesday, February 1
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01-31

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The BP First Take: Tuesday, January 31
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01-30

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The BP First Take: Monday, January 30
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01-26

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The BP First Take: Thursday, January 26
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01-25

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, January 25
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The BP First Take: Tuesday, January 24
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01-23

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16

The BP First Take: Monday, January 23
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01-20

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The BP First Take: Friday, January 20
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01-18

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, January 18
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01-17

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The BP First Take: Tuesday, January 17
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01-16

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The BP First Take: Monday, January 16
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01-13

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The BP First Take: Friday, January 13
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01-12

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9

The BP First Take: Thursday, January 12
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01-10

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The BP First Take: Tuesday, January 10
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01-09

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3

The BP First Take: Curtains for Posada
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Daniel Rathman

01-06

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The BP First Take: Friday, December 6
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01-05

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The BP First Take: Thursday, January 5
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The Padres' farm and new TV deal give the team a brighter future.

It is a good time to be a Padres fan—or, rather, it will soon be. The big-league club is not expected to contend this year, but the farm system is among baseball’s best, and a new TV deal has ensured its long-term financial wellbeing.

Kevin Goldstein released his annual Top 101 prospects list on Monday, and the Padres—thanks to smart draft picks and shrewd trades—are all over it. The top future Friar is catcher Yasmani Grandal at number 38, but what the system lacks in elite prospects it makes up for with depth. Ten of the Padres’ young talents are considered among baseball’s 101 best; in other words, nearly 10 percent of baseball’s top talent resides in a single pipeline.

Read the full article...

If Oakland could develop its own hitters, it wouldn't need to invest in players like Yoenis Cespedes.

Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes was expected to get around $40 million in guaranteed money, most likely from the Marlins, Tigers, Yankees, or Cubs. But the mystery team—this time the A’s—struck again. Yesterday, our own Kevin Goldstein and Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tried to make sense of it all.

Both explained why a small-market team that has spent the bulk of the offseason rebuilding and whittling down its payroll, that already has a glut of outfielders on its roster, and that faces an uncertain future in Oakland with no (public) assurance of a move to San Jose, might choose to dish out $36 million over four years to the 26-year-old Cespedes.

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Which baseball player measures up to the Linsanity sweeping the nation?

Football season is over. Spring training is still a few days away. That means, for multi-sport fans like me, there is little choice but to get immersed in college basketball and the NBA. And doing so during the past week meant going Linsane.

Point guard Jeremy Lin emerged as the New York Knicks’ savior, reviving a team that was struggling to stay afloat in the absence of stars like Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. A Harvard graduate who went undrafted and was rejected by two teams, Lin certainly did not take the beaten path to fame, but that only adds to the intrigue of his timely breakout. Hoops Analyst writer Ed Weiland is one of the few who can claim he saw this coming.

Read the full article...

Dan Duquette's experience in the international markets makes his recent fiasco look even worse.

Under the direction of new general manager Dan Duquette, the Orioles have spent the better part of this offseason making inroads in Asia. They signed Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada to a two-year, $8.15 million deal in December, and then inked Taiwanese southpaw Wei-Yin Chen to a three-year, $11.3 million hitch in early January.

For a rebuilding team looking to bridge the gap between itself and the AL East powerhouses, wading in the talent pool across the Pacific is a sound strategy. Wada and Chen do not have star-level potential, but both could be solid contributors at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, the Orioles went a step too far when they brought in 17-year-old amateur lefty Seong-Min Kim from South Korea on January 30.

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The A's future may be up in the air, but the leadership at the helm of the ship is not.

Say this for Athletics owner Lew Wolff: The man is loyal to his staff. Wolff told Bloomberg Television on Tuesday that he intends to keep general manager Billy Beane and president Michael Crowley with the organization through at least the 2019 season, or roughly five years after the projected move to San Jose.

Beane has come under fire in recent years for the A’s seemingly perpetual rebuilding process. While the Giants won the World Series in 2010, fans across the bay have not seen playoff baseball since 2006, and the Athletics do not project to contend in 2012 or 2013, either. Beane has made his fair share of ill-advised trades in recent years—perhaps most notably the Matt Holliday deal that sent Carlos Gonzalez to the Rockies—and Oakland’s last few draft classes have left much to be desired.

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The Mets' decision to revoke Howard Megdal's press credentials is yet another worrisome misstep for the franchise.

Over the past few weeks, two relatively prominent writers have had their voices silenced for making disparaging comments about their respective teams’ owners. First, it was Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, whose accidental tweet about Browns owner Randy Lerner resulted in his removal from the beat. Yesterday, LoHud Mets blogger Howard Megdal learned that his book Wilpon’s Folly had put his press credentials in limbo.

Despite these parallels, there are important differences between the two cases.

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Will more players follow Brad Penny's lead in playing overseas for more money?

Brad Penny is taking his talents to Japan to play for the Softbank Hawks. But that is not the real story here—the real story is that the Hawks will pay Penny $4 million in 2012, and offer him the potential to earn $3.5 million more in incentives. The deal also carries a $4.5 million mutual option for 2013.

By major-league standards, Penny has become a shadow of his former self. In 31 starts last season, he struck out a paltry 74 batters in 181 2/3 innings and walked 62. His 9.2 K-percentage was dead last among qualifying starters. Penny turns 34 in May and is now purely a contact pitcher with the ability to eat innings, but without the ability to do so productively. He has not been worth more than 1.0 WARP since 2007.

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Casey McGehee could prove to be a valuable pickup for the Pirates.

As spring training approaches, almost every player looking for a bounce-back season claims to be in the best shape of his life. Pirates infielder Casey McGehee is no exception; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Bill Brink tweeted on Thursday that the first-year Bucco has lost nearly 25 pounds and “cut [his] body fat in half.” The premise may be as clichéd as any in baseball, but there is reason to believe that McGehee is not whistlin’ Dixie.

The 29-year-old McGehee will begin the 2012 season with his third NL Central organization in the last five years. A 10th-round pick of the Cubs in 2003, he was claimed off waivers by the Brewers after a cup of coffee in 2008, and unexpectedly took off when handed the keys to the third-base job midway through the next season. McGehee hit .301/.360/.499 in his first year with Milwaukee, then followed that up with a .285/.337/.464 campaign in 2010, contributing 2.0 and 2.6 WARP in those seasons, respectively. But the wheels came off last year, and he was traded to the Pirates for reliever Jose Veras in December.

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To prevent cases of false identity, Major League Baseball needs to look more at the system, not the players.

Indians manager Manny Acta has many vested interests in Dominican baseball. A native of the baseball hotbed of San Pedro de Macoris, he understands what young players dreaming of a big-league career endure just to give themselves a chance. On Wednesday, Acta shared his views with MLB.com Indians beat writer Anthony Castrovince.

Entering his third year in Cleveland, Acta is walking a thin line because of the identity and age scandal surrounding one of his pitchers, formerly known as Fausto Carmona. Sports Illustrated’s Melissa Segura explained the economic considerations surrounding Roberto Hernandez Heredia’s decision to change his name and pare three years off his age, and those of others like Marlins pitcher Juan Carlos Oviedo (Leo Nunez). Acta added that, beyond just money, teams are also cognizant of the smaller window of opportunity that older players face, forcing them to adjust not only to professional baseball but also to the new culture more quickly. 

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If Davey Johnson has his way, NatsTown could be even more fun if Bryce Harper joins the team on Opening Day.

The first time I began to feel old was when players younger than me started reaching the majors last season. Jordan Lyles, Arodys Vizcaino, Julio Teheran, Jacob Turner, and Mike Trout were the culprits in 2011. According to Jon Heyman, if Nationals manager Davey Johnson has his way, Bryce Harper will join that club on Opening Day of the 2012 campaign.

Harper, who is arguably the top prospect in baseball, hit .297/.392/.501 across two minor-league levels last year, though his Double-A batting line was a relatively mediocre .256/.329/.395. That triple-slash looks markedly better when you consider that Harper was just 18 years old—two years the junior of the Eastern League’s youngest pitcher, 20-year-old Yankees prospect Manny Banuelos—but it nonetheless suggests that he could use some more seasoning in the upper minors.

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Did the Brewers make a major mistake in trading Brett Lawrie to the Blue Jays last year?

What a difference a year makes? Last offseason, the Brewers traded top prospect Brett Lawrie to the Blue Jays for Shaun Marcum. This offseason, the Jays had the opportunity to flip Lawrie to the Mariners for Michael Pineda—and, according to Jeff Blair of The Globe and Mail, they turned it down.

Pineda was later traded to the Yankees in a four-player deal also involving Jesus Montero, Hector Noesi, and Jose Campos. But the more interesting fallout here appears to be the change in Lawrie’s value. Marcum is a nice pitcher, to be sure—he was worth 2.9 WARP last season—but he does not have Pineda’s upside, and while Marcum came with just two years of control remaining at the time of the trade, Pineda still has five.

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The Yankees and Mariners both might have to make moves this year that could lead to PR nightmares.

Admitting a star player’s decline is perhaps the most difficult public relations situation that a franchise can encounter. That’s especially true when the player is the face of the franchise, the one drawing fans to the ballpark and attracting attention to the team from outside its market.

The Mariners are facing that dilemma heading into the 2012 season, with Ichiro Suzuki coming off by far his worst campaign in the United States. Ichiro logged a .272/.310/.335 triple slash last year, failing to reach the 200-hit mark for the first time since coming over from Japan. Now 38, Ichiro is losing the speed and acceleration out of the box that are vital to his slash-and-dash approach. With that decline, his overall value plummeted from 3.2 WARP in 2010 to -0.7 WARP in 2011.

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