There's no future for Matt Dominguez at third base in Miami, but the Marlins' former top prospect might still make another team happy.
The most immediately visible effect of Miami’s signing Jose Reyes to a six-year deal last December was that face-of-the-franchise shortstop Hanley Ramirez would be forced to another position. The Marlins were quick to clarify that Ramirez would not move to center field as some had speculated, but rather third base, where he would team with Reyes to give Miami one of the most potent left sides of the infield in the game. Less discussed was that Reyes’ arrival virtually closed the door on former top pick Matt Dominguez’s career in Miami, exactly three months after he’d made his major-league debut against the Mets.
It may seem like Dominguez has been around for ages, but the truth is that he won’t turn 23 until the end of August. The 12th-overall pick in the 2007 amateur draft, Dominguez was considered by some to be a “Scott Rolen starter kit” at third base, possessing acumen on the field and in the batter’s box that would enable him to serve as a franchise cornerstone for a decade or more. He and shortstop Mike Moustakas, taken second overall by Kansas City, became the second pair of high school teammates selected among the top 15 picks of the same draft.
Disappointments about in all three instances, but is there any good news to be found?
Obvious Good Move: You want a good move from a team that is giving Mike Hampton a last chance? It used to be that this sort of desperate effort to hang on was the butt of jokes in venues as obvious as Tank McNamara, when it made light of Steve Carlton's unwillingness to give up 25 years ago. OK, let's see... how about cutting Bobby Crosby? I figure a few A's fans might get a contact high from that.
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Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting. Picking favorites for the Wild Card for the respective leagues initially might have seemed easy, since the selections universally favored the second-place team in the AL East, while all but two voters picked their second-place teams in the NL East to earn the non-division champ playoff team, but a tie in the rankings had to be broken in favor of the team named the Wild Card winner on the most individual ballots, which is sure to upset some people.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that's been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.
A preview of the Dominican Winter League, taking a look at the teams, stadiums, managers, and players to watch for.
The "National Religion" came back on October 16th, as the Dominican League launched its 56th edition. Reliably praised as having the highest level of talent among the winter leagues, one should expect to watch another mix of highly ranked prospects, mid-level major leaguers, a few recognizable American players, veterans looking for another shot, and some major league stars between now and the end of the Caribbean Series in February. The league format has six teams playing a 50-game regular-season schedule, with the four best records advancing to a long 18-game round-robin playoff, and the two remaining best clubs play a best-of-nine final series to decide the league's champion. Without further ado, here's what this season will bring us:
Tigres del Licey (Licey Tigers)
Home: Santo Domingo
2008-09 record: 26-24, fourth place (tied) regular season; 12-6, first place round-robin; beat the Gigantes in the final series 5-0.
Ballpark: Estadio Quisqueya; strong pitcher's park, with a Park Factor of 92.
Whatever's getting into Pedro Feliz these days, it might be worth bottling.
Last week, we profiled Pedro Feliz of the Phillies, noting his abnormally high on-base percentage and calculating the probability that a player so historically poor at reaching base safely would exceed his 90th-percentile PECOTA in this specific area. The odds were low, to say the least, with Feliz having just a 2.4 percent chance of hovering around .360 over a 52-game stretch while having a paltry .292 career rate. Though past performance is not always a concrete indicator of what will happen in the future, the number of people in the the camp optimistic that Feliz's rate can remain as high for the remainder of the season has to be fewer in population than the number of fans inspired by Nickelback lyrics. But what if it does remain in the same vicinity, and Feliz finishes the season with an on-base percentage higher than .340? How often do rate shifts in this department occur? Have those with similarly large OBP spikes been able to maintain the rates as new skills? Or can they be chalked up as extreme outliers?
The impossible dreams some might hold for Pedro Feliz aren't really all that impossible after all.
Despite playing alongside Barry Bonds for several seasons, Pedro Feliz never learned to discipline his bat, entering this season with an abysmal .292 career on-base percentage. Given his antipathy toward taking free passes, it stands to reason that what transpired in a May 12 matchup between the Phillies and Dodgers could induce double-takes from even the most seasoned baseball people. In the bottom of the third, Clayton Kershaw issued a four-pitch walk to Feliz to begin the frame. The very next inning, with nobody out and a runner on second, Pedro held up on a 3-2 offering and earned his second straight base on balls. If Feliz had stopped here, his two-walk performance would still have been a relatively monumental feat for him, as he had batted in 983 games from 2001-08, and walked at least twice in a game on just 14 different occasions. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, with a runner on first, nobody out, and James McDonald in from the bullpen, Feliz took four pitches out of the zone, and trotted down to first for a third consecutive time. An inning later, Feliz stepped up with the bases loaded, and after Jayson Werth opened up a spot on the basepaths with a steal of home plate, Ronald Belisario threw two more balls, giving Pedro his fourth walk of the game.
Brian Sabean has brought a fair amount of criticism on himself with his low-key approach to this off-season, creating the world's largest chapter of the lunatic fringe in the process. So it's no surprise that he faced his share of skeptical questions from Giants fans during his live chat on mlb.com earlier this week. But it was his answer to a fairly innocuous question that raised the most eyebrows among the "fringers":
Q: Did you ever make an offer for Vladimir Guerrero?
Sabean: In a word: No. If we had signed Guerrero or [Gary] Sheffield, we would have been without [Jim] Brower, [Scott] Eyre, [Matt] Herges, [Dustin] Hermanson, [Brett] Tomko, [A.J.] Pierzynski, [Pedro] Feliz, [J.T.] Snow, [Jeffrey] Hammonds, [Dustan] Mohr and [Michael] Tucker--obviously not being able to field a competitive team, especially from an experience standpoint, given our level of spending.