The Tigers have talent, but a thin farm system leaves little room for error
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade—whether in September (or before), the league division series, league championship series or World Series. It combines a broad overview from Baseball Prospectus, a front-office take from former MLB GM Jim Bowden, a best- and worst-case scenario ZiPS projection for 2012 from Dan Szymborski, and Kevin Goldstein's farm-system overview.
There's hope in Houston, just not for next season (or the one after that)
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade -- whether in September (or before), the League Division Series, League Championship Series or World Series. It combines a broad overview from Baseball Prospectus, a front office take from former MLB GM Jim Bowden, a best- and worst-case scenario ZiPS projection for 2012 from Dan Szymborski, and Kevin Goldstein's farm system overview.
A pair of rookie middle infielders come off the DL and rejoin VP this week.
Departures Tyler Flowers, Chicago White Sox (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS 8%)
Flowers was not completely terrible in his final week as the starter, tacking on another home run en route to a .118/.200/.353 week. Unfortunately, it was his last week as the starter in Chicago as A.J. Pierzynski returned from the disabled list and was reinstated as the primary catcher. Without playing time, Flowers will have to wait until 2012 to see if he can earn significant starting time to show off what he displayed this season.
A look at the new-look Astros and the many unknowns currently inhabiting Minute Maid Park.
Since July 1, the Astros are 9-23 and have been outscored 109-163. At the trade deadline, they traded away their two most recognizable offensive stars, Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn. Even before the deadline, Jeff Keppinger was sent packing. The Astros were probably the worst team in baseball before the deadline and were certainly that after it. The obscurity of the Houston lineup caused Larry Granillo to ask how the team would stack up against the Peanuts gang. That may be a stretch, but it seems fair enough to ask how they would stack up against a middling Triple-A team. Given how long Baseball Prospectus authors and our fellow travelers have been calling for rebuilding in the Bayou City, however, it seems unfair to criticize their current futility. Instead, let us provide this introduction to the new-look(-away) Astros.
Mike welcomes an under-the-radar middle infield prospect and a finally-healthy catcher to VP this week.
Departures Mark Ellis, Colorado Rockies (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 2%, CBS 11%)
Ellis is hitting poorly (.179/.200/.179 since the start of the last road trip on July 22) and, more importantly, is ceding playing time once again to bench players in Colorado's never-ending quest to find a consistent player to man second base. Ellis lost two recent starts at second base in favor of Chris Nelson, and if he continues to struggle, expect Jim Tracy to make a change yet again.
Michael welcomes the incomparable, 5'5 rookie sensation (thus far), Jose Altuve, to VP.
Chase d'Arnaud, Pittsburgh Pirates (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0.1%, CBS 2%)
The Pirates made me look foolish last week by promoting and starting Pedro Alvarez after I submitted my article regarding Chase d'Arnaud's last chance at a major league starting job in 2011. It did not help that he went on the disabled list with a fractured right little finger on July 27, dooming any remaining chances of him putting up fantasy numbers for the foreseeable future.
The Legend lives on as baseball's hottest prospects converge in red-hot Arizona.
Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros I told you he is small, and I told you he can hit. Altuve's first single was a little cheap, coming on a hard ground ball that a big-league third baseman would have had a better shot at making, but he also ripped a Shelby Miller fastball up the middle, made one out on a hard line drive to left, and even looked good in turning the double play. I remain proud about sneaking him on to my Astros Top 11 entering the season, and in retrospect that ranking was far too low. “Think about it,” said one scout in attendance on Sunday. “Now that Jordan Lyles is in the big leagues, you can at least make a legitimate argument that Altuve is the top prospect in the system.”
Are these guys failed shortstops, or is there more to the prospect than meets the eye?
I had to go the dreaded creative tier route with these rankings, because let’s face it, the talent at the position is plenty deep, but it’s not plenty sexy. (Unless you find general on-the-field competence attractive. If that’s the case, well, you probably spend quiet evenings at home alone in a provocatively lit room, with a bottle of wine and a collection of Tom Emanski’s finest on the ready. Fundamental fetish.)
Who are second basemen: Failed shortstops? Tweener outfielders with athleticism? Players who fail to eclipse the vertical heights of 5-foot-9? The answer is yes. It’s a position cast with inherent deficiency, but not a position that has a high tolerance for deficient tools. First and foremost, keystoners of modern vintage need to pack an offensive punch. Defense is great and we all love it, but the position will face judgment based on the quality of the stick over the quality of the leather. If a second baseman’s defense is worth the price of admission, I’d question why he wasn’t playing shortstop. Again, defense is more than icing on the cake, but let’s not pretend that all-glove, no-bat types are in high demand at the position, or that they are top prospects solely because of their defensive merits.