Neftali Feliz, Daniel Bard, Chris Sale, Aroldis Chapman, and Aaron Crow are all bidding farewell to the bullpen this spring. Are their teams making the right move, and which convert has the best chance of success?
Five talented young pitchers are attempting to enter the rotation this spring after making their first marks in the majors in relief. Neftali Feliz, Daniel Bard, Chris Sale, Aroldis Chapman, and Aaron Crow have all excelled in the bullpen, but they don’t have a single big-league start between them. However, they do have starting experience: all but Sale, who started in college, have pitched out of the rotation in the minor leagues, and Chapman was also a starter in Cuba before signing with the Reds in 2010. Are their teams making the right move by returning them to their original roles, or will they regret messing with their young arms’ early success?
Most relief pitchers begin their baseball lives as starters before being banished to the bullpen. Relatively few pitchers ever succeed in the rotation after becoming established as relievers. If all five of this spring’s newly-minted starters—who range in age from 22 (Sale) to 26 (Bard)—stick in the rotation, their simultaneous success would be unprecedented. Since 1950, there have been six seasons in which four pitchers successfully converted—throwing at least 100 innings predominantly as starters a year after throwing at least 50 innings predominantly in relief—but five would be a first. No pitchers pulled off the feat last season. Alexi Ogando came close to qualifying (he threw only 41.2 innings the year before), and Phil Coke tried and failed, but the last two to do it were C.J. Wilson and R.A. Dickey, both in 2010.
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The Cubs kick off the Epstein/Hoyer era by finding DeJesus, the Royals hope for a Broxton bounceback, the Rockies sign Ramon Hernandez, and Jeff Mathis gets some new catching competition in Anaheim at the cost of Tyler Chatwood.
Updates to the Team Tracker and the Player Forecast Manager make the tools more effective for managing your Scoresheet roster.
In-season Scoresheet team management probably gets rote for more owners, with good teams going on auto-pilot, perhaps with some injury adjustments, bullpen shuffling, home/road adjustments, and some “prefer to face” changes. Once such owners get into a system, there is little drama other than trades and drafts–mainly configuring the team for optimal playoff performance. For other teams, the drama is even less, as they are configured for future success, and failure to eke out a win here or there with managerial moves bothers them not at all. For the frantic few, however, every fraction of a percentage gained or lost could mean the difference between postseason glory and an early offseason.
One expert's educated guesstimate on how things will go down later today.
This one could be a mess folks, and it's all about bonus demands at this point. Right now, you have as many as four high school pitchers-Jacob Turner, Tyler Matzek, Matt Purke, and Shelby Miller-looking for big, big money, with the first three all telling teams they're looking for Rick Porcello-level deals (or more). This has the potential to blow the first round wide open, and turn it into into a very college-oriented first 30 picks, with numerous top talents falling to later picks than initially expected. One team picking in the top ten I spoke to this morning said he still had very little idea of who was going to be picked ahead of his club's choice.
An update of the wheelings and dealings of this year's top 30 picks.
Last year's draft was the first with the newly-implemented August 15th signing deadline, and it also introduced a new version of the game "chicken," as numerous players waited until the final 24 hours to finalize their deals. The sad truth for the teams in this situation is that those players who waited tended to get the most money, so as we enter the final week of this year's signing window, 11 of the 30 first-round selections remain unsigned. Here's a look at each of the first-round picks, discussing either their performance so far, or the status of their negotiations.
Looking into the crystal ball to see who drops where.
With 24 hours to go before the selections begin, the draft remains a muddled mess, making the process of doing a mock a series of hedged wagers. "This is easily one of the most unpredictable first rounds I've ever seen," said one team official. Basically, the draft pool has two clumps of players, one made up of the top ten, followed by a larger group of up to 40 players. With even the first overall pick still up in the air, any one last-minute flip could change the board dramatically.
Two weeks to go until draft day, but many teams atop the draft have yet to sort out what they want to do.
Even with just two weeks to go before the draft, and with plenty of college prospects seeing their season come to a close in the next few days, doing a mock draft is a bit of a silly exercise. Still doing a mock draft on the day before the selections are made can be a fruitless endeavor. Last year, the Royals did not decide to take Mike Moustakas over Josh Vitters with the second overall pick until the morning of the draft, while in 2003, the Devil Rays (and I can call them that, as that's what they were called then) decided on Delmon Young over Rickie Weeks somewhere around an hour before making the pick. So instead of attaching just one name to each team in the first dozen picks, let's be a little more loose and open and talk about philosophies are were teams are heading, as while selections are hardly etched in stone, some specific directions are starting to become much clearer.
Kentucky has some of the most impressive statistics in the nation, but are the Wildcats really as good as their record indicates?
I could tell you a lot of things that would make you believe the Kentucky Wildcats should be the favorite in every series they play. They are hitting .351/.452/.579 as a team. Their team ERA is 3.16, K/BB 3.12, and K/9 8.54. They have three regulars hitting above .400, five regulars slugging above .450 and two players getting on base above a 50 percent clip. Overall, the 26-5 Wildcats have scored 298 runs and allowed 116. Yet they enter this weekend in Athens, Georgia as the underdogs.
Can Louisville turn its season around against St. John's?
Last year's college baseball postseason was jam-packed with a greater number of fantastic subplots than most years. While numerous teams made storybook runs to the College World Series, none was more interesting than the upstart veteran Louisville Cardinals team. The Cardinals lost a double header last May 25 to St. John's to drop the Big East title, and were then assigned to the University of Missouri regional, and scheduled against Miami in the first round.
With the college season well underway, it's time to start evaluating the 2008 draft crop, which looks to be a little light on top-shelf talent.
Every year's draft coverage begins the same way. You start making the calls, and the nearly-universal reaction is, "Really, it's already time for this?" The answer is yes, as while the major league season has only kind-of-sort-of begun and minor league Opening Day is still nearly a week away, the 2008 draft is creeping up on us, with many of the top college players only offering up 8-10 more looks for teams getting ready to spend millions on this year's amateur talent pool.