B.J. Upton and Colby Rasmus had sky-high ceilings as prospects, but their up-and-down performances in the majors has led them to the trading block.
The July 31 trading deadline traditionally turns the spotlight on pending free agents that can shore up a contender's roster for the stretch run. Carlos Beltran and Hiroki Kuroda are the belles of the quick-fix ball this year, and if they don't sound tremendously enticing, it helps explain why so much talk is focused elsewhere, on younger and more affordable players still under club control. Ubaldo Jimenez and Hunter Pence fit that bill, even if their respective teams' willingness to trade them is something of a head-scratcher. More puzzling is how B.J. Upton and Colby Rasmus have arrived at this juncture, particularly given the big things projected for them just a few years ago. On the other hand, maybe that explains exactly why they're here.
Rich Harden resurfaces at just the right time, Travis Snider getting off the schneid means bad news for Juan Rivera, the Dodgers' Dee Gordon fails his first audition, the D'backs lose their closer, the Yankees release some insurance, and more.
Does the Brew Crew's collection of bench has-beens suggest that they've forgotten the lessons of 2008, or are they still in the process of building a contender?
Much as I try to keep track of transactions, there are, at any particular time, a certain number of players dotting major-league benches and bullpens whose existence manages to elude me entirely. Take current Braves third-string catcher J.C. Boscan. If you’d asked me what team he was on, I would’ve had at best a one-in-thirty chance of answering correctly; if I’d known he was a catcher, the odds would have been even worse, since I wouldn’t have guessed that a team fortunate enough to have both Brian McCann and David Ross would feel the need to go three deep behind the plate. As far as I can tell, Fredi Gonzalez wants him around in case Ross starts and McCann pinch-hits for him, which would leave the Braves only one unlikely catastrophic injury away from disaster—making Boscan little more than a security blanket with a catcher’s glove and an unusual goatee.
I managed to miss both Boscan’s lone plate appearance in 2010 (a walk!) and his single plate appearance in 2011 (a strikeout!). Those two no-contact cameos (and a pair of innings behind the plate) compose the entirety of his major-league career to date. In fact, he didn’t even make it into the BP annual, a snub that makes you either a nobody or the 1996 Cardinals. Of course, now that I’ve written about him and associated him with Mrs. Peterman’s dying words, I’ll remember J.C. Boscan to my dying day, even though it would be safe to forget about him as soon as Jair Jurrjens bumps him off the roster this weekend.
Applying PECOTA to its namesake reminds us why conservative projections aren't a curse.
As backronyms go, “Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm” is squarely on the intimidating side. That’s why it’s somewhat comforting that our BP-branded projection system also has a human face, even if that face couldn’t muster a very convincing mustache. For those who’ve joined us late, PECOTA’s name is jack-of-all-forecasts Nate Silver’s nod to Bill Pecota, a light-hitting utility infielder of the 1980s and ’90s whose scrappy play earned him entrance to even the most hardened of baseball analysts’ hearts, despite questionable artistic taste and the kind of stat lines that normally invite ridicule from the sabermetric set (especially when they’re associated with someone wearing a Kansas City uniform).
Odes to Pecota the player have already been written, so I’ll refrain from presenting a complete history, but we all know the type. Pecota played as many positions as he did seasons, putting Willie Bloomquist to shame in terms of positional flexibility (if not value) by spending time everywhere on the diamond that it’s possible to appear, with the possible exception—at least in some seasons—of the basepaths. Although he retired a year before the offseason that produced our first annual, robbing us of the ability to put something snarky about him on paper, we likely would have pointed to his utter lack of patience and power as compelling reasons not to employ him. Still, with 21st-century hindsight, we can say with some confidence that Pecota’s glove may have made him worth playing at times, since our new-and-improved implementation of FRAA gives him credit for 36 runs in the field, albeit with a margin of error of 23.
The Brewers' closer discusses his path to the majors, film, and social networking.
When most baseball fans think of John Axford, they think of a hard-throwing right-hander who came out of nowhere to replace Trevor Hoffman as the Brewers’ closer last season. Many also look at him as the guy with the cool mustache, but there is far more to Axford than the 24 saves and the facial hair that is approaching cult status. A 27-year-old native and resident of Ontario, Canada, Axford teetered on the brink of baseball oblivion before making his mark in Milwaukee. He underwent Tommy John surgery while earning a film degree at Notre Dame, and subsequently found himself going from indie ball in western Canada to a minor-league stint with the Yankees, who released him after just one season. Signed off the scrapheap by the Brewers in 2008, he is now a bona fide big-leaguer and burgeoning online sensation.