It’s the last day before the trading deadline, when teams can tilt the world if they’re willing to pay the price, affecting their fortunes for years to come, and no one’s paying attention. My hometown team just lost its brittle shortstop to injury again, and Billy Beane just pulled out a deal to help his team bridge the three-game gap to the division lead. Boston and New York are fighting out a close race in the AL East. In the Central, the White Sox have armed themselves to try and catch the Twins. The National League has a three-way contest in the Central and a secondary race for the wild card spot that includes the Florida Freaking Marlins and a Diamondbacks team that managed to stay in the race while coping with varied injuries and juggling lineups. There are a hundred trade rumors I hear about every day, some of them brilliant and with the potential to change the face of the stretch run. And the front page of the sports section is stuffed with football training camps. Oooh, the Seahawks have a lot of talent on the field right now. Bill Parcells has brought some new…uh…thing…to the Cowboys camp.
What Cole Hamels accomplished in his first 13 trips to the mound as a professional ballplayer is simply astounding.
Starts Innings Hits Home Runs Walks Strikeouts ERA
13 74 2/3 32 0 25 115 0.84
He faced 268 batters and retired all but 60 of them. No less than 43% of the plate appearances by opposing hitters ended with the umpire yelling strike three. His rate of 13.86 strikeouts-per-nine-innings is a remarkable 95% above the league average and the best of any full-season starter in the game. There’s no question that Hamels earned his promotion to the Florida State League.
Troy Glaus may need a Fame Audit. The Cubs teeter between contention and wait ’til next year. The Tigers haven’t turned it around in the second half. These and other news and notes out of Anaheim, Chicago, and Detroit in today’s Prospectus Triple Play.
There’s quite a bit of variance among organizations with regard to how much they value and instill patience in hitters, how much they prioritize a high on-base percentage, how open they are to drafting undersized right-handed pitchers or whether they prefer skills to tools. But every organization, regardless of their prevailing philosophical stripe, covets hitters with power. It’s easy to identify power hitters at the major league level, irrespective of what measure you’re using. The traditional counting stats are grossly overvalued and rife with weaknesses, but it’s rather difficult to, say, hit 45 homers and somehow suck.
Tabbing power hitters in the early gestation periods is a bit more difficult. On the one hand, there was little doubt that Vladimir Guerrero and Alex Rodriguez, even as minor-leaguers, would one day be knocking the ever-loving crap out of the ball at the highest level. But what about Magglio Ordonez or Sammy Sosa, whose minor-league numbers hardly inspired hopes of greatness to come? What can we learn from today’s generation of power hitters?
To begin answering this question, I’ve taken the top 25 active leaders in slugging percentage (as of the end of the 2002 season) and analyzed their minor league power indicators.
I think I’m out of cell minutes. Most of my day today was spent on the phone, talking to people who were in the process of making deals. Just as in last year’s Winter Meetings, some teams came in with a plan, adding another piece to what they’ve been trying to do this season. Others are running around like baseball teams with their heads cut off. The UTK angle on all this is that some of the teams have their medical staffs involved, asking smart questions like, “Is this guy healthy?” which just seem basic, but really are a big step in the right direction. The difference between the smart teams and the others is just getting wider.
Jim Edmonds had a cortisone shot in his troublesome shoulder Monday, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This puts him on track–assuming the shot helps reduce the inflammation–for a return no earlier than Thursday. The Cards are desperate to get him back in the lineup as they continue to shop J.D. Drew. Drew was held out of Wednesday’s game at Montreal. Initial reports were that a deal was imminent, but the move was precautionary–no reason to risk a possible deal by letting Montreal’s rock-hard turf claim another victim. And yes, the Cardinals will be on the phone with Kevin Appier on Thursday, whether or not they land another pitcher.