While reading spring-training stats can be like reading tea leaves, it's worth noting the March performances that could resonate in April and beyond.
Remember, though, that spring training numbers are mostly a whole lot of nothing. A few of these players are set to break out, or are hiding an injury; the rest just had an interesting couple of weeks. That uncertainty is why it's so much safer to take a late-round or $1 flyer on a player based on a hot spring, rather than spending $10 above his projected value because it looks like this is the year Andruw Jones is finally going to bust out for 50 home runs.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Puzzled by some of the contracts being handed out to free agents, Jim offers a different way to think about the players who go onto the market.
What if we were to treat the first segment of a player's major-league career as another step up the minor-league ladder? We could call it "Quadruple-A," but that phrase has a negative connotation because it is used to describe ballplayers who can't quite make it in the majors but who manage to excel at Triple-A. Instead, let's call it the "IS" level, IS standing for indentured servitude. Why so? Because these are the years a player owes an organization for signing him and developing him through the minors. (Yes, indentured servitude is meant to be ironic given the money involved.)
Baseball, like every other field of athletics, is better today than it was in the past. Derek Zumsteg explains why.
In 1936, Babe Ruth was out of baseball. Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics. He ran the 100-meter dash in 10.3 seconds to tie the world record. He set Olympic record in the long jump at 26'5" and a quarter, and in the 200-meter dash at 20.7 seconds. Owens' leg of the 400m relay set records as well.
As the trading deadline approaches and the hype surrounding a potential Randy Johnson deal reaches a deafening crescendo, I decided to take a look at how well the Yankees have done in dealing young players. I'm not concerned with who they get in return except as a footnote, nor do I care whether they "won" a particular trade according to a value measure. Those scales can wait to be balanced for another day. The question is whether the Yanks have let another Buhner, another unproven product of the Yankee system, slip out the door. How well did the players they traded turn out?
Last summer's trade of pitcher Brandon Claussen to the Cincinnati Reds for third baseman Aaron Boone was a rare exception, for Claussen had recently tantalized Yankee fans with a stellar nationally-televised debut. The confident young lefty looked like the ideal antidote to the struggling, enigmatic Jeff Weaver, but the Yankees sent Claussen to the Reds in favor of upgrading their offense. The outcry among Yankee fans was vociferous, if more symbolic than anything else. Since the deluge of homegrown talent which fueled their championship run--Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Ramiro Mendoza--the Yankee farm system has produced very little, so the idea that a product of the Columbus Clippers might be worthy of joining that esteemed bunch was an attractive one.
Was the Claussen trade a good one for the Yankees? Boone cemented his spot in pinstriped lore with one October swing, though he spent the rest of his time confounding the Yanks and their fans. But the real answer to that question will take several years to unearth, as Claussen does or does not develop into a major-league caliber pitcher. After much delay, he's finally off and running, winning his first start as a Red on July 20.
The Braves get Marcus Giles back, and not a moment too soon. The O's, meanwhile, get Melvin Mora back, in their grasp for third place. The White Sox re-aquire Carl Everett. The Reds get one step closer to giving Brandon Claussen a shot in the rotation. Justin Morneau gets another chance to take Doug Mientkiewicz's job. Mike Mussina hits the DL for the Yanks, causing them to rely on the stylings of Alex Graman. And the Mariners continue to execute Operation Clean Sweep. All this and much more news from around the league in your Wednesday edition of Transaction Analysis.
The Greek God of Walks has been a boon for the Red Sox. Scott Stewart gets a well-deserved demotion by the Indians. The Mets could be in decent shape if they can get all hands on deck. John Mabry makes it back to the bigs with Cardinals. Alexis Rios gets a taste of the majors with the Blue Jays. These and other happenings in today's Transaction Analysis.
One of the other cool things about having a knuckleballer--because, let's face it, we all think knuckleball pitchers are cool--is that you can slate them for relief between turns, and then can usually roll with it when you do what the Sox just did in activating Kim and re-shuffling their rotation. It covered them through the doubleheader against Tampa, and their rotation is prepped to run in turn from Saturday on, after getting Arroyo one last start before he heads back to the pen. Add in that Kim's a pretty good pitcher, and you've got the first of what ought to be a trio of important reactivations in the weeks to come that ought to help the Red Sox make tracks in the AL East. Plus, Kim gets his first two turns against the D-Rays and the Tribe, and past transgressions might even be forgotten. Well, you can always hope. I don't think New Englanders have learned to turn the other cheek since Cotton Mather started wondering whether that whole innocence-guilt thing was crimping the justice of good ol'fashioned witch-burnings. Not that that stopped people where Dan Duquette was concerned.
John Maine has the right STUFF for the Orioles. The Rockies experiment with Wilson and Walker on the shelf. The Mets shuffle through the bottom of their rotation. These and other news and notes out of Baltimore, Colorado, and New York in today's Prospectus Triple Play.
#@#%$!: Go figure. In 1973, the American League makes a position perfectly suited for a guy like Jack Cust, and 31 years later, the Orioles still don't realize that, preferring to focus on what Cust can't do, rather than on what he can.