Some serious star power winds up on the DL for the Yankees, Braves, and Rockies.
Philip Hughes (60 DXL/$2.31 million)
At this time yesterday, there was a lot of question about the validity of Hughes' injury. The odd timing-he's fine, and then suddenly he's not?-led many to wonder, including me. The problem is this is my area and I'm supposed to know, and Hughes wasn't faking anything and the Yankees weren't playing a roster shell game. Instead, he's got a stress fracture of his ninth rib on his right (pitching) side. Wonder how something like this gets missed? Check out this MRI and see if you see it. Here's an X-ray, which is usually clearer; while this is at the fifth, not the ninth you can see that even something easy like a traumatic fracture isn't clear. Hughes' injury was a stress fracture, a small break that results from the strains of activity rather than an incident, and it's very painful. Hughes is likely to miss at least two months with recovery and then rebuilding his stamina. The pain that he played through would explain his poor start, but he'll have to come back and pitch well for it to be that simple. So, Mr. Hughes, my apologies and best wishes in your recovery.
Thank goodness for Stan Conte, the Braves deal with aches and pains, and Jorge Posada's shoulder is worse than initially thought.
Chipper Jones (3 DXL) John Smoltz (7 DXL)
The Braves understand that one of the risks involved with older, injury-prone players is that they're going to need to go to their backups. The team has them in place, but they'd hoped they wouldn't have to use them quite yet; it's one thing to have Plan B in place, and quite another to put Plan B in the rotation or in place of your hottest hitter. Smoltz is no stranger to shoulder problems, but normally they've been coming towards the end of seasons, which would make fatigue a contributing factor. With these latest problems coming so early in the season, we have to hope that fatigue isn't the issue, but at this stage, it doesn't seem like the Braves really know what's involved. Sources tell me that the soreness is in a "lower area" than what had him on the DL at the start of the year. They'll wait for the shoulder to calm down before further examination, an indication that there's an inflammatory process going on. He'll miss a start and could hit the DL after a scheduled examination on Tuesday. The Braves will also be without Jones until at least Tuesday; he described the back spasms he experienced over the weekend as a "sledgehammer in the back." That doesn't sound good, but Jones tends to heal quickly and come back at normal capacity. His small injuries-quad, back, foot-are already adding up, but Jones is hitting through all of them, so assess your level of risk tolerance. Bobby Cox is used to this.
The pressing questions facing each NL squad this spring are revealed, while Nolan Ryan rejoins the Rangers, and the Mets show their humility.
Spring Training is nigh, as pitchers and catchers start reporting on Wednesday, and keep trickling into camp throughout Florida and Arizona as the week progresses. Last week, we took a look at the key question facing each American League team in spring training. This week, let's take a look at the key question each National League team faces:
Which systems are making progress, and which are sliding? At the midway mark, Kevin has updates on what's going on down on the farm.
As we approach the All-Star break, now is a good time to assess where each team's minor league system stands. With the shorter season, we're a little bit past the halfway mark. Here's who is moving up, moving down, and maybe moving into the No. 1 position when I compile each team's Top 10 Prospects in the offseason. Today, we start with the American League.
The latest on Reggie Willits, Rich Harden, Randy Johnson, Tom Gordon, Reed Johnson, and Yovani Gallardo.
As we near the midpoint of both the year and the season, we get to that stage where the numbers become a little more meaningful. In this niche of the baseball world, we're hard at work poring over the DL data that's collected behind the scenes, looking for patterns and explanations. We'll have much more on this as we head into the All-Star Break, but what's clear is that there are no easy answers here. There's no one thing, like the weather, the new stretching program, or whatever snowclone of "the oblique strain is the new black" is in play for 2007. We aren't yet to the stage in medhead-style performance analysis to where we even have rules or phrases like "OBP is life." We just have piles of data, collected by hand and swimming in a database. There's gold in there somewhere.
Keith checks in with all kinds of fun facts from the completed season.
\nMathematically, leverage is based on the win expectancy work done by Keith Woolner in BP 2005, and is defined as the change in the probability of winning the game from scoring (or allowing) one additional run in the current game situation divided by the change in probability from scoring\n(or allowing) one run at the start of the game.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_18 = 'Adjusted Pitcher Wins. Thorn and Palmers method for calculating a starters value in wins. Included for comparison with SNVA. APW values here calculated using runs instead of earned runs.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_20 = 'The number of double play opportunities (defined as less than two outs with runner(s) on first, first and second, or first second and third).';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_22 = 'Winning percentage. For teams, Win% is determined by dividing wins by games played. For pitchers, Win% is determined by dividing wins by total decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_23 = 'Expected winning percentage for the pitcher, based on how often\na pitcher with the same innings pitched and runs allowed in each individual\ngame earned a win or loss historically in the modern era (1972-present).';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_24 = 'Attrition Rate is the percent chance that a hitters plate appearances or a pitchers opposing batters faced will decrease by at least 50% relative to his Baseline playing time forecast. Although it is generally a good indicator of the risk of injury, Attrition Rate will also capture seasons in which his playing time decreases due to poor performance or managerial decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_31 = 'The Baseline forecast, although it does not appear here, is a crucial intermediate step in creating a players forecast. The Baseline developed based on the players previous three seasons of performance. Both major league and (translated) minor league performances are considered.
The Baseline forecast is also significant in that it attempts to remove luck from a forecast line. For example, a player who hit .310, but with a poor batting eye and unimpressive speed indicators, is probably not really a .310 hitter. Its more likely that hes a .290 hitter who had a few balls bounce his way, and the Baseline attempts to correct for this.
\nSimilarly, a pitcher with an unusually low EqHR9 rate, but a high flyball rate, is likely to have achieved the low EqHR9 partly as a result of luck. In addition, the Baseline corrects for large disparities between a pitchers ERA and his PERA, and an unusually high or low hit rate on balls in play, which are highly subject to luck. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_32 = 'Approximate number of batting outs made while playing this position.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_33 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats. In PECOTA, Batting Average is one of five primary production metrics used in identifying a hitters comparables. It is defined as H/AB. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_34 = 'Bases on Balls, or bases on balls allowed.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_35 = 'Bases on balls allowed per 9 innings pitched.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_36 = 'Batters faced pitching.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_37 = 'Balks. Not recorded 1876-1880.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_38 = 'Batting Runs Above Replacement. The number of runs better than a hitter with a .230 EQA and the same number of outs; EQR - 5 * OUT * .230^2.5.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_39 = 'Batting runs above a replacement at the same position. A replacement position player is one with an EQA equal to (230/260) times the average EqA for that position.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_40 = 'Breakout Rate is the percent chance that a hitters EqR/27 or a pitchers EqERA will improve by at least 20% relative to the weighted average of his EqR/27 in his three previous seasons of performance. High breakout rates are indicative of upside risk.
The minor league season is half over, and Kevin runs through the American League with an eye on the end-of-the-year rankings.
The minor league regular season is over at the end of
August, which means we've reached the halfway mark. Let's take a look at whose
stock has risen and fallen, who the candidates are to be each team's top prospect
in my postseason rankings, and what unresolved questions need to be answered as
we officially move into summer.