Michael Street swaps Indians teammates on the VP list and looks at some undervalued options for the season's second half.
Heading into the All-Star Break, we'll split our attention between the VP list and some undervalued second-half possibilities. The VPs had an underwhelming week overall, and in the World Cup spirit, a few players receive yellow cards, warning them to improve their play or find themselves on the sidelines.
Travis Hafner gets the only red card, since his BA and OBP haven't balanced his low-power ways. Last week was his strongest performance in a while, picking up four singles in 19 PAs. But he also whiffed 7 times and walked twice; those two walks represent half of his free passes in the past four weeks. He's struck out 20 times over the same 62-PA span, for a limp .236/.323/.345 slash line, not strong enough to hold onto a VP spot.
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The big Cuban came up big in 2009 for the Halos, but were his improvements at the plate a sign of things to come?
Everyone knew the Angels planned on using Kendry Morales at first base to replace Mark Teixeira this year, but the number of people who thought it would be a good move was much, much lower. Morales had put up great numbers in the minors, and was highly regarded when he first came to the United States from Cuba, but his talent had not translated into major league production. But finally given his opportunity to play every day this year, he came around, turning in one of the Angels' most productive seasons. How did Morales get to that point, and what does his future hold for him?
The Rangers' right fielder's long road to The Show, and the lesson it provides.
It seems like it took forever for it to happen, but Nelson Cruz has proven himself to be a fine major league hitter over the past year. It took multiple organizations and a lot of time in the minors, but Cruz has turned himself into an important and productive member of the Rangers as they attempt to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1999, and for just the fourth time in their nearly 50-year history. What changed for Cruz over the past year or so that turned him into the hitter many thought he could be when he was tearing apart the minors?
When it comes to backstops, the level of talent available appears to be rising.
To complete our run through the infield rankings, this week we'll take a look at catchers. The top ten backstops make up a solid list of players ranging from some of the most productive in the game to guys worth two wins with the bat, while numbers 11 through 20 focus more on some solid players who aren't expected to log as many plate appearances. Things aren't as bad as they are at the middle infield positions though, and you should still be able to find worthwhile catchers floating around at the end of your draft.
The White Sox outfielder has finally arrived, but can he be expected to stay?
It seems as if Carlos Quentin had been a disappointing player for a long time, but that may just have been how positive the initial impressions of him were when he first arrived on the scene. In reality, we haven't been waiting all that long for Quentin to excel, and it appears he may have finally realized his potential in his first year with the White Sox. Today we will take a look at how Quentin got to where he is now, and whether his post-Arizona production is something we can expect more of in the future, or just a one-year aberration.
The sandwich salesman sizzles down the stretch, but it has been a down year for the Phillies slugger. What's amiss?
Ryan Howard has had himself quite the September, helping to boost a season line that had been a lot lower than what we're used to seeing from the Philadelphia slugger. In spite of the recent hot streak, his age-28 season has been the least productive of his career thus far, which brings up the question: What happened to Howard in 2008, and what can we expect from him going forward?
Reviewing the best catches in the college talent pool, from which tomorrow's stars will be picked this June.
Now that we've made our way around to understandingthe collegegame, it's time to start getting you focused on the players and programs primed to shine in 2008. The talent pool currently in college baseball is very deep, and the 2008 draft class is loaded at a few positions, particularly first base and shortstop. As we continue to preview the 2008 season, I wanted to give you a list of the most talented juniors in the country by position, the players who really should be the best in the nation this year. We'll be hitting on a lot more players before the college baseball season starts in a month, but through my conversations with people in the game, these are the players mentioned most often.
Onto a 40-man, or waiting on the Rule 5 Draft? A number of AFL players are about to find out if they're either.
In his two-partpreview of the Arizona Fall League, Kevin Goldstein covered the gamut of top prospects playing this season. However, while the AFL is perennially the premier winter league for the game's best young players, organizations also use the league for another purpose-as a last-ditch tool for evaluating and anticipating the shape of their 40-man rosters, and thus, it ranks as baseball's biggest windows into who may or may not become available in the Rule 5 Draft. Last season, after a 8.58 ERA in the AFL, the Twins decided they could better use a 40-man roster spot on someone else rather than Kevin Cameron. However, in that same performance, the Padres saw something in Cameron, and made him a Rule 5 pick, resulting in one of the draft's best choices.
Which low-level table-setters have the requisite statistical profiles to be projected as successful major league leadoff men?
Every June, the minor leagues are flooded with a new group of small, fast, up-the-middle players. Scouting directors take flyers on leadoff types in droves annually, and all the players have one thing in common: speed. However, the success rate of these players is especially poor, so over twoprevious articles, I have explored the traits beyond speed that good leadoff hitters have shown most often in the minor leagues. The quick five:
The Royals catcher is starting to make the Carlos Beltran trade sting a little bit less for Kansas City fans.
Despite another poor start in Kansas City-Joe Posnanski has already written his annual end of the season column for the Royals-there are a few bright spots on the team. Gil Meche has managed to pitch much more effectively than many analysts thought he would-more on that in a future profile-and John Buck has seemingly secured the catcher's job, despite the offseason acquisition of Jason LaRue. Buck has hit .299/.398/.588 to open the season, and although he has slowed down a bit in May after a torrid April, he finally looks like the hitter the Royals expected back in 2004 when they traded for him.
That day I was online reading the Toronto Sun and came across this tidbit
courtesy of new Blue Jays' skipper Buck Martinez: "We don't give a damn,
we're a team of free-swingers. I'd like to see us swing at better pitches, but
I'm sure not going to tell anyone on this team to go up there looking for a
walk. I'm not encouraging anyone to walk." After all, when a player with a
career OBP of .284 says that, and the hitting coach sported a career .298
OBP...well, you can call that a recipe for disaster. When I heard Martinez say
that I wanted to kick down the Jays' clubhouse door, knock Martinez flat on his
back, sit on his chest, and stuff pages from the Baseball Prospectus down
his throat until he saw the light.