Raul Mondesi resurfaces in Anaheim. Rey Ordonez finds a home in the Windy City. The Ryan Wagner for Rookie of the Year bandwagon is officially derailed. Andy Pettitte hits the DL again for the Astros. Joe Mauer returns, with Justin Morneau being sent down…again. The sun rises in the west and Nick Johnson comes off the DL. And the Devil Rays indulge Fred McGriff in his ”drunker sailor tumble towards 500 home runs.” All this and much more news from around the league in your Friday edition of Transaction Analysis.
I am puzzled by your suggestion that Steve Finley is now a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder. The defensive metrics were unanimous about his 2003 defensive year. He was the worst everyday center fielder in the league, not that this is really surprising because he is the oldest. Is there something I’ve missed? Finley’s defensive decline is very important when combined with his offensive decline. He really doesn’t deserve an everyday job now. His hitting is not good enough to carry his D. Terrero deserves the job.
Thanks for the feedback. In point of fact, I didn’t say Finley was a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder. I did say that he has a “good glove.” That, in my mind, isn’t tantamount to being the best. Finley’s last three seasonal Prospectus Fielding Runs ratings go -3, 5, 3. While he did have a sub-par year in the field last season, I’m not ready to call him Lonnie Smith just yet. Yes, he’s old, but there’s still only one year of data to support the idea that he’s not longer a capable glove man. According to Finley’s Davenport Translations, he’s 11 runs above average for his career as a center fielder.
As for the assertion that Finley was the worst defensive center fielder in the league last season, it simply doesn’t square with statistical realities. For instance, in the NL alone, Preston Wilson, Marlon Byrd, Juan Pierre, Craig Biggio, Scott Podsednik and Marquis Grissom all fared worse than Finley in terms of Fielding Runs. Additionally, non-qualifiers like Reggie Taylor and Ken Griffey Jr. also graded out below Finley with the glove.
And Finley doesn’t deserve an everyday job? I know quite a few teams that would go a week in burlap underwear for a shot at a center fielder who’s hitting .291/.359/.551 and in the final year of his contract. Sure he’s old and helped notably by his home park, but Finley remains a quality player, and it won’t surprise me if a contender scoops him up this summer.
BEST MATCHUP (Best combined records with both teams
being over .500): Texas Rangers @ New York Yankees (62-41)
Here’s a round-up of Wednesday’s 6-5 victory over the
Orioles in which the Yankees only had three hits, as
brought to you by PESN (Pidgin English Sports
Yanqui gat stick. Nogat paitim. Paitim kam tripela
taim. Wokabaut sikis taim. Gat plet sikis taim. Pisin
losim sikis – faipela.
Taking an all-time great from a team is no guarantee
of immediate success against that team in the ensuing
season. The Yankees lost two of three in their first
meeting with Texas this year in the wake of getting
Alex Rodriguez from the Rangers.
On Wednesday I dicussed the prospects of some future stars. I also, inadvertedly, spent some time discussing the answers to some future trivia questions. I have no idea which ones are which, and–to be honest–neither does anyone else. One way or the other, though, it’s highly unlikely that any of them will have an effect on any of the 2004, 2005, or 2006 major league seasons. For the slightly shorter of attention out there, we’ll look at some guys today who are more likely to be in the majors in the near future.
It used to be that college relievers were valued on approximately the same level as minor league relievers, which is to say that they weren’t valued at all. Somewhere along the way, though, it was decided that it should be possible to take a good college reliever and go to the extreme end of the Earl Weaver Pitcher Development Method with him, tossing him into the big league bullpen after only a very short time in the minors. The three players from the 2003 draft who have seen action in the majors so far–Chad Cordero of the Expos, Ryan Wagner of the Reds, and David Aardsma of the Giants–have all been college-turned-pro closers. It’s worth noting that none of these clubs are particularly analytically-minded, and the results have been mixed, so it’ll be interesting to see how this trend plays out.
Where on Wednesday I tried to stick to guys likely to be drafted early, this is just a list of the best relievers available (with one or two oddball possibilities thrown in); with the possible exception of Huston Street, none of these guys are likely to pull in huge signing bonuses, so they may be signability picks at any point in the draft, or may fall to a later round. The odds are good that only one or two of these guys will see significant time in the next year with the big club, but the odds are also pretty good that the first guy to make it to the Show from the 2004 draft will be on this list.
With luck, Raul Mondesi is a temporary condition, like a heat rash. Jeff DaVanon has mashed righties, with a .451 OBP/.533 SLG against mundane-handers, so you really don’t want to see him sit until he proves he can’t keep it up. Vladimir Guerrero and Jose Guillen have made like Wonder Twins whose super power is the ability to channel Al Simmons from beyond the grave. Tim Salmon is rehabbing. Garret Anderson will be back soon. That makes five players for four spots, the outfield and DH, all of whom have a better claim to playing time than the deserter Mondesi. That’s not even counting Chone Figgins, who has apparently settled in at third, or the return of Darin Erstad. Make that “revival” instead of “return.” To return you had to have been here in the first place. Now, if only they could get one of those outfielders to slide over to first. Casey Kotchman may be the future, but he’s not getting it done now. GRADE: B-
All along, I knew something wasn’t adding up. I only hope I made it clear that I was confused. The case of Joe Mauer finally has a solution. Why did it take him significantly longer than expected to return from knee surgery? Because the knee surgery was significantly more involved, and had a more negative outcome. Instead of shaving the tears of the meniscus, Mauer had the medial meniscus removed. I’ll emphasize this: The Twins’ young catcher and top prospect now has no medial meniscus in his left knee. Even with new technology like Synvisc, a young catcher is going to take a lot of stress on that knee. I would be stunned if Mauer can stay at catcher for the next six years. I’m not sure where he might move or how this affects his value, but it certainly reduces it. Kudos to the Twins medical staff for keeping this one under wraps.
Roy Halladay heads to the DL in order to give his inflamed shoulder time to heal. Clearly, this injury is pitching-related and points to an impingement. I haven’t seen Halladay enough to notice any change in his mechanics, but the Blue Jays watch this type of thing extremely closely. If the problem is impingement, it’s easily corrected, first by treating the symptoms, then by treating the cause. Halladay has been one of the best cases of someone who has remade his mechanics at the professional level, so expecting him to adjust isn’t a stretch. Many others would be unlikely to change and remain successful while doing it.