This week it's the AL's turn for value headed into next year.
With the season wrapping up, most remaining value is tied up in keepers you can grab before rosters finalize for the winter. Last week, we checked out some NL relievers who weren't primary closers this year but might have a good shot at saves in 2011; today it's the AL.
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The Yankees' pitching prospect hopes to be a hero in his hometown of New York.
Dellin Betances knows where he came from, and if the 22-year-old right-hander can stay healthy, he’ll soon be pitching in his backyard. Drafted by the Yankees out of a Brooklyn high school in 2006, Betances has battled back from injuries and emerged as arguably the best power arm in the system. The 6-foot-8 flamethrower went a combined 8-1, 2.11 between High-A Tampa (14 starts) and Double-A Trenton (3 starts) this summer, notching 108 strikeouts while allowing just 53 hits in 85 innings. In Game One of the Eastern League playoffs, he outdueled top Blue Jays prospect Kyle Drabek in a 2-0 Trenton win.
Hot Spots looks towards 2011 with a check of NL relievers worth using a keeper spot on.
As you've probably noticed from my Hot Spots cohorts this week, we're using September to look towards next year. This week is the NL, and next week we'll cover the the AL. Now, I like to think that the weekly Hot Spots pieces have been pretty useful this season, but if it's taught me anything, it's that trying to predict saves from the lower level of relievers even a week in advance can be a difficult pursuit. That gets multiplied exponentially when talking about looking ahead to the following season, particularly because - as usual - I won't be wasting your time pointing out that Heath Bell and Mariano Rivera are really good at closing. So the guys we're looking at today don't necessarily enter 2011 as the undisputed closers on their teams (they can't, really, if they're to be "value picks"), but rather are young up-and-comers, lightly owned in fantasy, who have the right mix of talent and opportunity to make them interesting for next year.
The Red Sox' supplemental-round pick this year discusses getting drafted, his arsenal, and coming back from injuries.
Anthony Ranaudo lasted until the 39th pick of this year’s draft, but the 6-foot-7 right-hander might have the highest upside of any hurler selected. The Red Sox certainly hope so, as it took a $2,550,000 signing bonus—an agreement made minutes before the August 16 deadline—to get the LSU flamethrower in the fold. Widely regarded as the top draft-eligible pitcher going into the season, he ultimately fell to Boston in the sandwich round due to an inconsistent junior campaign, concerns about his elbow, and the Scott Boras factor. Ranaudo, who will turn 21 next week, joined the short-season Lowell Spinners after spending the summer pitching in the Cape Cod League.
The Brewers' first-round draft pick decided to forego pro ball for now after being diagnosed as a Type-1 diabetic.
Dylan Covey was out celebrating his birthday a day early at an amusement park. Covey wouldn’t receive his real birthday gift, though, until three days later, on August 16, when he planned to sign a contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, the team that selected him in the first round, 14th overall, in the June draft following his senior year at Maranatha High School in Pasadena, California.
Covey got a phone call while at the park from his dad, Darrell, who told Dylan that he needed to go to the emergency room of a local hospital. The blood work had come back from Covey’s physical examination with the Brewers, and his blood sugar levels were extremely high. Neither the doctors in the emergency room nor the Brewers medical team were completely certain about what was wrong, but they had an idea of what was going on.
What would it take to trade for Albert Pujols, Evan Longoria, Miguel Cabrera, and other superstars?
With hours to go in deadline season, we've already seen our share of upsets and surprises as far as trades made, many for less than expected. In many of these scenarios, money is playing one part, and absolute need another.
History offer little precedent for the Astros' move of situational left-hander Wesley Wright to the rotation.
In the abstract, a 25-year-old southpaw starter sounds like an asset to any rebuilding movement. In practice, of course, whether that starter turns out to be an asset depends entirely on the 25-year-old southpaw in question. In his recent two-part prescription to fix the floundering Astros, Marc Normandin noted that the ’Stros should be “using the Rule 5 draft to snag some talent other organizations can't hold onto.” As it happens, Houston has already landed one Rule 5 pick who’s managed to hang around Minute Maid Park: Wesley Wright, whom then-just-installed GM Ed Wade plucked from the Dodgers in December of 2007. Wright is a 25-year-old southpaw, all right, but he’s no starter. Or is he?
Wright has served as a major league reliever for the past two seasons, but the Astros have plans for the present and future that call for him to abandon the bullpen and reinforce the rotation. An enduring change in role for Wright would instantly give the team another young starter to go along with Bud Norris and Felipe Paulino (and perhaps Jordan Lyles, before long), bypassing the need to suffer through the sturm und drang of drafting and developing one, a process at which the Astros haven’t exactly excelled in recent memory. If Wright could succeed as a starter, his makeover might help jumpstart a stagnant franchise, but does he truly fit the profile of a suitable candidate for conversion, or are the Astros trying to strike gold in a pyrite mine? Let’s explore the pros and cons.
Cubs closer Carlos Marmol is striking out batters at an amazing rate.
It might seem like something out of a Hollywood script or the latest iteration of your baseball video game of choice, but there's a pitcher out there who's recorded nearly two thirds of his outs via the strikeout this season. What's more, he's not Sidd Finch's younger brother, nor has he been toying with immature batters in the low minors. He's as real as you or I, and has accomplished his heroics at the highest level (well, OK, so maybe just the National League). I'm talking, of course, about Cubs closer Carlos Marmol, who boasts an incredible 16.9 K/9 through his first 45 1/3 innings of work in 2010. The breeze off of Lake Michigan may be responsible for Chicago's "Windy City" moniker, but opposing batters have been generating gale-force winds of their own with Marmol on the mound.
Marmol has faced 197 batters, and struck out an almost unfathomable 85 (43.1%). To put that into perspective, the man has walked nearly seven batters per nine, a rate that would ticket almost any other pitcher for a bus back to the bush leagues, and still sports a respectable 2.6 K/BB ratio, better than those of CC Sabathia, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Johan Santana, to name just a few Cy Young hopefuls. No fewer than 54 pitchers have thrown at least (and in most cases, significantly more than) twice as many innings as Marmol without equaling his strikeout total; Carl Pavano has more than tripled Marmol's innings pitched total, and still fallen short of his strikeout tally.
Explaining a seldom-used and confusing procedure that enables a club to quickly clear a roster spot.
When Scott Mathieson made his major-league debut approximately four years ago, the Philadelphia Phillies were a very different team. David Bell played third base, Aaron Rowand patrolled center field, and the three-headed monster of Mike Lieberthal, Sal Fasano and Chris Coste were the catchers. Mathieson, a 22-year old flamethrower, had shown plenty of promise but was still in need of some seasoning, which made things all the more disappointing when he fell prey to the injury bug and had to go under the knife for surgery on his ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. The road back has been tenuous, as rehabilitation was stunted by the need for a second Tommy John surgery. After successfully rehabbing from the second surgery, Mathieson found himself a minor-league reliever with fans clamoring for his presence on the big club’s roster.
Ubaldo Jimenez is having a great season, but has also had a lot of luck on his side.
Ubaldo Jimenez is a very talented pitcher. After all, the vast majority of the pitchers on the planet cannot throw 100 mph while mixing in a nasty changeup, curveball, and slider. However, the Ubaldo Jimenez who has 12 wins a month before the All-Star break and carries a microscopic 1.16 ERA into his start for the Rockies against the Twins at Target Field this afternoon has not been very different than the regular front of the rotation flamethrower that posted a 3.47 ERA while playing half his games in Coors Field last year.
Before we get too carried away with Stephen Strasburg, remember there were other pitchers who started fast then fizzled.
It was a week ago that Stephen Strasburg, who is no relation to Steven Spielberg even though some say he has to be an extraterrestrial, made his major-league pitching debut. If a Hall of Fame vote had been held the morning after he zapped the Pirates with 14 strikeouts and nary a walk, the only real blemish coming when Delwyn Young hit a changeup for a home run, Strasburg would have been our first unanimous Hall of Famer.
But allow a warning to be issued here. As Lee Corso of football fame would say, “Not so fast, my friend." See, we’ve been there before.
Perhaps it's another case of the Orioles being the Orioles, but they saw Garrett Atkins hit two doubles and drive in a baserunner last week—no, really, he did!—and figured he'd gotten this whole pesky hitting thing sorted out well enough to let him be while the organization does with Nolan Reimold what they'd already done with Luke Scott. So, Reimold's getting a crash course in first-base play while marking time with the Tides, this while Scott doesn't get employed at first base after all, leaving at-bats to be burned on Atkins until some new idea becomes fashionable. Meanwhile, they decided they had to had to had to have a second lefty in the pen with the decision to spot utility pitcher Mark Hendrickson for David Hernandez on Sunday, which turned out about as well as you could hope in terms of Hendrickson's performance (three runs allowed in five innings). Meanwhile, Dave Trembley's managed to leave a number of roster spots idling—Jason Berken hasn't pitched in a week, and Lou Montanez hasn't played in almost two weeks—but if Hernandez isn't able to make his next turn on Friday, you can hope that they might at least make a retroactive move and reclaim at least that slot and apply it to some useful purpose, unless they want to just start listing certain players' positions as “witness,” given what little else they're being asked to do.