Tag Archives: Jack Cust

Season Preview: AL West


Time to move to my own team’s division, as I take a look at the AL West. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East and AL Central.

Last Year’s Records
Texas – 90-72
Oakland – 81-81
Los Angeles – 80-82
Seattle – 61-101

Notable Additions

Los Angeles – Vernon Wells, Hisanori Takahashi

Oakland – Hideki Matsui, David DeJesus, Brian Fuentes, Grant Balfour, Josh Willingham, Rich Harden, Brandon McCarthy

Seattle – Miguel Olivo, Jack Cust

Texas – Adrian Beltre, Arthur Rhodes, Mike Napoli, Brandon Webb

Notable Losses

Los Angeles – Mike Napoli, Juan Rivera, Hideki Matsui, Scot Shields

Oakland – Rajai Davis, Vin Mazzaro

Seattle – Russell Branyan, Jose Lopez

Texas – Cliff Lee, Vladimir Guerrero, Frank Francisco

Continue reading

Original Draft Series: #2 – Arizona Diamondbacks


For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.

Team #2: Arizona Diamondbacks

General Managers(since 1998)

Joe Garagiola Jr (1998-2005): 652-644
Josh Byrnes (2006-2010): 318-330
Jerry DiPoto (Current)

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Last
1 1 4 4 2 2 1 3

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Miguel Montero Int’l FA – 2001 9 364 gm, .270/.335/.446, 40 HR, 160 RBI Currently with Org.
1B Lyle Overbay 1999 – 18th Rd 5 98 gm, .271/.357/.391, 4 HR, 29 RBI Traded to MIL – 12/1/03
2B Dan Uggla
2001 – 11th Rd 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Rule 5 Draft – FLA – 12/8/05
3B Mark Reynolds 2004 – 16th Rd 6 554 gm, .244/.335/.489, 121 HR, 345 RBI, 42 SB Currently with Org.
SS Stephen Drew
2004 – 1st Rd (15) 6 634 gm, .272/.331/.446, 62 HR, 269 RBI, 25 SB Currently with Org.
LF Carlos Quentin 2003 – 1st Rd (29) 4 138 gm, .230/.316/.425, 14 HR, 63 RBI, 3 SB Traded to CHW – 12/3/07
CF Carlos Gonzalez Int’l FA – 2002 5 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to OAK – 12/14/07
RF Justin Upton
2005 – 1st Rd (1) 5 1 All Star Appearance
421 gm, .272/.352/.471, 70 HR, 208 RBI, 40 SB
Currently with Org.
DH Conor Jackson 2003 – 1st Rd (19) 7 526 gm, .277/.358/.423, 46 HR, 247 RBI, 22 SB Traded to OAK – 6/15/10
SP Brandon Webb 2000 – 8th Rd 10 2006 NL Cy Young, 3 All Star Appearances
87-62, 3.27 ERA, 1319.2 IP, 1065 K, 435 BB
Currently with Org.
SP Brett Anderson
2006 – 2nd Rd 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to OAK – 12/14/07
SP Max Scherzer 2006 – 1st Rd (11) 3 9-15, 3.86 ERA, 226.1 IP, 240 K, 84 BB Traded to DET – 12/8/09
SP Jorge de la Rosa
Int’l FA – 1998 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Purchased by Mexican League – 4/2/00
SP Brad Penny
1996 – 5th Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to FLA – 7/8/99
RP Micah Owings
2005 – 3rd Rd 3 14-17, 4.97 ERA, 257.1 IP, 193 K, 91 BB Traded to CIN – 9/12/08
RP Javier Lopez 1998 – 4th Rd 4+1 1-1,9.42 ERA, 14.1 IP, 11 K, 11 BB Rule 5 Draft – BOS – 12/16/02
RP Lance Cormier 2002 – 4th Rd 3 8-7, 6.21 ERA, 124.2 IP,87 K, 68 BB Traded to ATL – 12/7/05
RP Brian Bruney 2000 – 12th Rd 5 4-7, 6.17 ERA, 12 SV, 77.1 IP, 85 K, 62 BB Released – 5/20/06
RP Tony Pena Int’l FA – 2002 7 16-13, 4.08 ERA, 7 SV, 222.2 IP, 162 K, 67 BB Traded to CHW – 7/7/09
CL Jose Valverde Int’l FA – 1997 10 9-14, 3.29 ERA, 98 SV, 260 IP, 331 K, 111 BB Traded to HOU – 12/14/07
BN Jack Cust
1997 – 1st Rd (30) 4 3 gm, 1-2 Traded to COL – 1/7/02
BN Scott Hairston 2001 – 3rd Rd 6 201 gm, .238/.293/.407, 16 HR, 47 RBI, 5 SB Traded to SD – 7/27/07
BN Rod Barajas Int’l FA – 1996 7 211 gm, .212/.257/.334, 11 HR, 66 RBI Left via Free Agency – 12/21/03
BN Chad Tracy 2001 – 7th Rd 8 704 gm, .280/.339/.453, 78 HR, 318 RBI, 11 SB Left via Free Agency – 11/5/09
BN Rusty Ryal
2005 – 14th Rd 5 129 gm, .265/.322/.407, 6 HR, 20 RBI Currently with Org.

June Amateur Draft

For a team who has only been drafting for less than 15 years, they have done very well in the draft, especially in the first round. Justin Upton, Stephen Drew, and Conor Jackson have all been cornerstones of the team at one point during the career, and they have clearly gotten solid Major League talent out of other picks, with Scherzer used to acquire Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy. There are a lot of players that were drafted by the organization who were turned into other players, with Brett Anderson probably providing the highest value (used to acquire Dan Haren). But they have also had some late round values as well, with Brandon Webb and Mark Reynolds being the best examples from that group. Overall, they have drafted very well.

International Free Agency

The Diamondbacks have also done very well int the international free agent market, signing future closer Jose Valverde and MVP candidate Carlos Gonzalez. But they have also had solid players, especially in catchers Rod Barajas and Miguel Montero. There were also a lot of other middling relievers that were originally signed by the Diamondbacks, but I felt weren’t as high of a quality as the ones I chose above.

Overall Grade

A. The Diamondbacks had one of the largest amounts of Major Leaguers who started in their system in all of baseball, and I was able to put together a very good roster of players who could compete with nearly anyone. There were at least another 15 players who I could have included on their roster that made the Majors and were productive for at least some length of time. They have also done well with trading a lot of these players (not all of them, clearly), as they were able to acquire the players they needed to make productive playoff pushes. I will be interested to see whether or not they retain interim GM Jerry DiPoto, or if they go get a more recognized GM to run their organization going forward.

Trade Deadline Thoughts


With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, I put out a call to some of the team-centric bloggers from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance with 3 questions each, dependent on whether or not they considered their team to be a contender or not. Below are the questions, along with each of the responses.

Note that most of these responses were received over the last week, so some may be a bit out of date with the information now known, but that has more with my inability to sit down and write it all down and not with the respondents themselves.

The Respondents

Bill Ivie from I-70 Baseball (Responses are for the Cardinals)
Daniel Shoptaw from C70 at the Bat (Cardinals)
Bee Hylinski from Contract Year (Athletics)

For Contending Teams:

1.  What would you say is your team’s most pressing need to help them get to (or stay in) the playoffs?

Ivie: I will take the opinion side of this.  I have said it for months now.  The Cardinals need some strong help in the middle infield.  When they get production and table setting from the 2b/SS position, they produce and win.  When those positions are quiet, the team loses.

Shoptaw: There are two glaring holes on this team–middle infield, most especially shortstop, and the back of the rotation.  With the hopeful emergence of Tyler Greene to replace Brendan Ryan‘s woeful production, getting another starter would seem to be the most pressing need.  The team can not continue to run out Jeff Suppan and Blake Hawksworth on a regular basis and expect to play in October.

Interesting to me is the fact that both writers agree that the Cardinals’ middle infield is pretty much a black hole in terms of offense. I’m also inclined to agree with Daniel about the fact that the Cardinals need something in their rotation, but I think they are going to have to either make a small acquisition or wait to find out if and when injured pitchers Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse will be able to return to the rotation.

2. What player(s) do you think would most effectively fit that need? Generally, these would only be players that actually have a decent chance of being traded, so no offers for Albert Pujols :)

Ivie: What if I want to offer for Albert…oh, wait…we got ‘em.  Dan Uggla is always and intriguing name.  I also like the discussions that are suggesting Stephen Drew at SS.  Other than that, I think the market is kind of small for help, but hopefully they can find something out there.

Shoptaw: While the Cardinals would be well-suited to a Dan Haren or a Roy Oswalt, their contract situation most likely leaves them out of the crosshairs of GM John Mozeliak.  All moves must be filtered through the prism of the potential Albert Pujols extension.  Therefore, they’d much rather have someone that was a free agent after this season rather than someone taking up space in the next year or two.  You would think, in that case, they’d look for someone like a Jake Westbrook or perhaps a Kevin Millwood.

I actually really like the idea of the Cardinals acquiring Dan Uggla for a playoff run. While he is a bit expensive at $7.8 million for this season, he is under team control for next season as well, and could conceivably be moved during the offseason if they feel he will be too expensive. I actually really like the Stephen Drew thought as well, but he has more seasons under team control and would realistically cost more to acquire than Uggla. The Cardinals also seem like they would be a good team to take a risk on a Jake Westbrook/Kevin Millwood/Jeremy Guthrie type, and pair them up with Dave Duncan and let him do his magic.

3. What player(s) in your system are most likely to net you the player(s) for those needs?

Ivie: This probably is the biggest obstacle for the Cardinals.  I would say that Bryan Anderson (AAA Catcher), Mitchell Boggs (ML Reliever), and Brendan Ryan (ML Shorstop).  Brendan may be thrown in for a change of scenery and take a team that feels that is what he needs, but it will be hard to tell.

Shoptaw: What they can give up is another story.  Since they used a lot of their chips last year acquiring Mark DeRosa and then Matt Holliday, there’s not a lot on the farm.  There are potentially useful players such as Mark Hamilton and Joe Mather, along with current big leaguers Jon Jay and Allen Craig, that could be used as parts of a deal.  Most likely, St. Louis would have to take on payroll, something that ownership has said there is flexibility to do, and give away lesser quality prospects.  Expect that Brendan Ryan could be a part of a deal as well, especially if they do make a deal for a shortstop.

After looking at the Cardinals system myself, it’s pretty empty at the higher levels. The biggest name that I have heard for them is pitcher Shelby Miller, who I would assume would have to be included in a trade if they were to get themselves someone like Roy Oswalt or Dan Haren. The other thing to remember at this point is that if they acquire a player who has a longer term contract, they may start running into a problem with their payroll limits after 2011 when they will need to resign Albert Pujols.

For Non-Contenders:

1. Which player(s) on your team do you think are most likely to get moved before the deadline?

Hylinski: Pitcher Ben Sheets, notwithstanding Billy Beane’s comments that he doesn’t plan on moving anyone.  Sheets has pitched better with every start recently.  His fastball is up to the mid nineties and all his other pitchers are working more accurately.  He’s a veteran presence and great with the young pitchers.  Speaking of the latter,  if a team would give up a great player and need more than Sheets, the A’s have a plethora of young pitchers in the minors to sweeten the pot.

I really thought that they were going to move him, and that despite his veteran presence he could bring back a fair amount in return. Unfortunately, he was placed on the disabled list on Saturday, and could potentially miss the rest of the season.

2. What would you like to see the organization get in return (ie, a 3B prospect, starting pitching prospects, salary relief, etc)? Specific players aren’t necessarily a requirement, unless you see a specific good match.

Hylinski: A slugger, a 3 or 4 hole hitter who can also play in the field (not another Jack Cust, please)  Someone like Hanley Ramirez would be terrific: a young major league hitter (or major-league ready hitter) with substantial pop in his bat.

I agree that this is definitely what the Athletics need, because the lineup just isn’t good enough in terms of power. Even when Sheets was healthy, I’m not sure I saw a player on the A’s current roster that could have brought that in return. Maybe catcher Kurt Suzuki, but with him now signed to a contract extension, I don’t think he’s going anywhere for at least a couple of seasons.

3. Do you see a good fit for these players that you think could get a deal done?

Hylinski: I am not convinced that Billy Beane and the ownership will pay top dollar for a hot bat.  But that’s what the team needs.  The only 2 bats at top of the A’s minor league system (Sacramento River Cats) are Chris Carter who can only play 1st base, so unless something happens to Daric Barton who has been a hitting and field machine, he’s not coming up; and  Michael Taylor who is at least a year off.

Another possibility might be 2nd-baseman Mark Ellis (though I’d really hate to see him go).  I understand the Phillies and maybe the Red Sox are looking for a 2nd baseman.  Probably Kevin Kouzmanoff will not be traded unless the other end of the deal is too good to pass up.

I’m inclined to agree with these points also, unfortunately. With the stadium situation continuing to drag on in Oakland, and with the team possibly moving to parts unknown, San Jose, or half a dozen other places, they just seem extremely unlikely to pay to get someone like that. The two prospects Bee mentioned have unfortunately been disappointments at AAA to this point, and signs are pointing that they may actually have to repeat the level again next season.

Overall, I thought it was interesting to get the perspective of some writers who are clearly very knowledgeable about their teams, and see if their observations about their teams were similar to mine as someone who sees it a little more at arm’s length. Thanks to everyone who responded to my questions, and you should check out their blogs at the links above as well.

Also, Allen Teruel over at Prorumors.Com had a series of writeups regarding potential trade targets for each team and certain types of players as well. You can find these stories here:
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/national-league-west-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/american-league-west-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/nationals-league-central-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/american-league-central-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/national-league-east-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/american-league-east-buyers-and-sellers/

Here are a few Top 10 lists that can help you out too:
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/top-10-mlb-power-hitters-that-could-be-traded-by-july-31/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/top-10-mlb-starting-pitchers-that-could-be-traded-by-july-31/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/top-ten-prospects-that-could-get-traded-by-july-31/

The Week in Review: May 10th – May 18th


A little bit longer of a week for review this time around, as I’m a bit behind what with some travel and such.

If the Playoffs Started Today

Texas (22-18) vs. Tampa Bay (28-11)
New York A (25-14) vs. Minnesota (24-15)

San Francisco (22-16) vs. Philadelphia (24-14)
Cincinnati (23-16) vs. San Diego (23-16)

Current Statistical Leaders:

Batting Average: Andre Ethier – .392
On Base Percentage: Justin Morneau – .482
Slugging Percentage: Andre Ethier – .744
Homeruns: Paul Konerko – 13
RBI: Andre Ethier – 38
Stolen Bases: Juan Pierre – 18
Runs: Matt Kemp – 34

Wins: Ubaldo Jimenez and Tyler Clippard – 7
ERA: Ubaldo Jimenez – 1.12
Strikeouts: Tim Lincecum – 69
WHIP: Doug Fister and Tim Lincecum – 0.94
Saves: Matt Capps – 14

Roster Movement and Job Changes

Disabled List Movement:

Call Ups and Demotions:

Job Changes:

Top Stories and Weekly Links


Statistical Analysis: The Three True Outcomes


The hardest part of trying to evaluate players statistically is to discern what is in their control, and what is beyond their control. A pitcher has essentially no control over what happens to a ball once the hitter put the ball in play. He is at the mercy of his fielders, their positioning, their throwing strength, their abilities, et cetera. A hitter is at these same mercies when the ball is hit as well. So how do you judge what a player can do independent of the situation?

The Three True Outcomes help to explain what is independent and what is not. The Three True Outcomes are a strikeout, a walk, or a homerun. But why are these considered independent?

For pitchers:

Strikeout – For a strikeout, a pitcher is essentially reliant on himself only. He doesn’t require any fielders to make the out (other than the catcher to catch the ball), no throws are required, and are not affected by the positioning of the fielders.

Walk – For a pitcher, the same logic holds for a walk that would for a strikeout. The fielders have no affect on a walk, and only whether the pitcher can locate his pitches will cause or avoid a walk.

Homerun – This one is slightly less independent, as it is reliant upon the hitter to cause the outcome. Again, no fielders are generally able to make plays on homeruns (most of them anyway), and as a result, the outcome is viewed as a direct result of the pitcher’s ability to locate his pitches properly.

For hitters:

Strikeout – For hitters, the logic is essentially the same. A hitter has the option of whether or not to swing the bat, and as such is in direct control of his ability to avoid a strikeout.

Walk – For hitters, their ability to discern balls and strikes is directly related to his own skills. If he can effectively judge the strike zone so that he can swing at good pitches and take poor ones, it also stands to reason that he is in direct control of his ability to draw a walk.

Homerun – This rule applies for homeruns which clear the fence (as opposed to inside-the-park homeruns). Because any ball hit over the fence cannot be affected by any of the fielders, the home run is also considered to be a direct result of the hitter.

What do the Three True Outcomes Tell Us?

Generally, most players do not fall directly into the Three True Outcomes. Players tend to hit a lot of balls into the field, whether they be ground balls, fly balls, or line drives. That said, you can discern a lot about a player based on their results within those three categories. The players who are generally considered to be the most valuable can (for hitters) compile walks and homeruns, while avoid strikeouts. For pitchers, they generally can compile strikeouts and avoid walks and homeruns.

What can we use to look at players regarding the Three True Outcomes?

The most common statistics to help measure the Three True Outcomes are:

  • Strikeouts-to-Walks (ratio, pitchers)
  • Walks-to-Strikeouts (ratio, hitters)
  • Strikeouts per 9 innings pitched (ratio, pitchers only)
  • Walks per 9 innings pitched (ratio, pitchers only)
  • Home Runs Allowed per 9 innings pitched (ratio, pitchers only)

There are some other statistics that can be used to help discern other information regarding this specific stats, which we will go into another time.

Strikeouts-to-Walks: This is simply comparing the strikeouts a player has versus the amount of walks they have. Having a high strikeout-to-walk ratio can illustrate one of three things: Either the pitcher strikeouts a lot of batters, he doesn’t walk very many batters, or both. Ideally, this is a number that pitchers want to be higher.

2009’s League Leaders in Strikeout to Walk Ratio, along with their Cy Young voting finish:

  • National League: Dan Haren (5.868) – 5th place
  • National League Cy Young Winner: Tim Lincecum (3.838) – 7th place in NL
  • American League: Roy Halladay (5.943) – 5th place
  • American League Cy Young Winner: Zack Greinke (4.745) – 2nd place in AL

While not a perfect judge of pitching success, it can help to tell you a lot about the quality of a pitcher and his ability to control his pitches. The better the pitcher’s control, the more likely he is to get good outcomes when pitching.

Walks-to-Strikeouts: The reverse of strikeouts-to-walks, the more walks a hitter draws, the more chances he has to score a run. Strikeouts have the opposite effect, so they are to be avoided as much as possible. A higher walk to strikeout rate generally bodes well for a hitter. This is essentially a judgment on a hitter’s ability to judge the strike zone.

2009’s League Leaders, along with the MVPs finish in the category:

  • National League Leader (and MVP as well): Albert Pujols – 1.80 walks per strikeout
  • American League Leader – Dustin Pedroia – 1.64 walks per strikeout
  • American League MVP – Joe Mauer – 1.21 walks per strikeout – 2nd in AL.

Generally, players who draw walks and avoid strikeouts are going to show more success than the average player who does not.

Strikeouts per 9 innings and Walks per 9 innings pitched: These both help to tell the story of the strikeout-to-walk ratio. Take these two examples:

Pitcher A: Strikeout to Walk Ratio of 4.0
Pitcher B: Strikeout to Walk Ratio of 4.0

They both seem to be equal, right? What happens when we add some more information to them?

Pitcher A:  Strikeout to Walk Ratio of 4.0, 9 IP, 4 K, 1 BB – Strikeouts per 9 Ratio of 4, Walks Per 9 Ratio of 1.
Pitcher B: Strikeout to Walk Ratio of 4.0, 9 IP, 12 K, 3 BB – Strikeouts per 9 Ratio of 12, Walks per 9 Ratio of 3.

These now tell us two very different stories. Pitcher A is much more reliant upon is fielders, as they were responsible for getting 8 more outs than for Pitcher B. Ideally, you want a strikeout/9 ratio that is higher, with a walk/9 ratio that is lower. They don’t tell the whole story by themselves either, but help to paint a broad picture when combined with strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Home Runs per 9 innings: This is simply a metric of how many home runs a pitcher allows. The reason it is important to look at how many innings pitched is to help judge a player against his counterparts. When taken in context with the amount of total homeruns, this can help to give an indication if a pitcher is unlucky in terms of home runs allowed, or if it is a trend to be monitored. The theory being that if the ball is kept in the park, there’s a better chance that a fielder will be able to make a play on it and potentially get an out.

2009 Leaders in HR/9:

  • Chris Carpenter – 0.33 (2nd in Cy Young voting)
  • Clayton Kershaw – 0.37
  • Tim Lincecum – 0.40 (NL Cy Young winner)
  • Zack Greinke – 0.43 (AL Cy Young winner)

Does this really tell us anything of use?

Alone, it does not necessarily help. But when looking at these statistics, they can help to give us a basic idea of whether or not a pitcher will have long term success or not. Players who are completely at the whim of the players in the field become more reliant on luck than players who are not.

So players who only do these three things should be the best automatically, right?

Unfortunately, no. There is clearly more to a baseball game than just strikeouts, walks, and home runs. What this gives us is a base to look at what skills a player has, and will help us to look at other things that the player has done to get a good idea of what they are capable of doing in the future. There are a few hitters who are known as “Three True Outcome Hitters”, as they tend to do these three things most often. Adam Dunn and Jack Cust are two players who are well known for being TTO hitters. But looking at their stats indicates that these players are clearly still different:

2009 stats for both players:

  • Adam Dunn: 17% walk rate, 32% strikeout rate, 0.66 K/BB ratio, .267 batting average, .398 on base %, 38 HR
  • Jack Cust: 15% walk rate, 36% strikeout rate, 0.50 K/BB ratio, .240 batting average, .356 on base %, 25 HR

Both players ended up with one of the Three True Outcomes in over half of their plate appearances in 2009, but clearly based on these numbers Adam Dunn had the better season overall. What the Three True Outcomes cannot tell us is anything involved with what happens in the field of play. All it can do is to give us a starting point for what is within that player’s control.

Conclusions

Three True Outcomes is just a starting point. You can discern a lot about a player from their ability to either limit or achieve these outcomes in the game, but it’s not going to tell you the whole story. What they can help to tell you is how well a player can judge the strike zone, which is still a critical skill for both hitters and pitchers. They can help us to get context on what information that some of the other statistics may not necessarily show. As a general rule, the players who can perform best in these three categories will have continued success at the Major League level.

Weekly Links for Opening Day


Well, the first game is in the books now,

  • Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes about how the new owner of the Cubs is clearly different from previous owners: out in front of the team, and not in the background. I’ve written about how I think the Cubs will do this season, and I think that the new ownership group, led by Tom Ricketts, will be very good for the organization as a whole. So far, he seems to be doing and saying all the right things.
  • Back during my Prospect Review series, I wrote about Mets’ prospect Jenrry Mejia. I figured then, that he would probably not be up to the Majors until 2012 at the soonest. That assumed that they would keep him starting regardless of what the needs were at the Majors, and clearly, that was not the correct, as he’s made the Mets’ roster as a reliever. I’m not sold that this will be the best thing for his development, but  it could be an interesting one. The Mets’ closer, Francisco Rodriguez, is currently in the 2nd year of a 3 year contract with the Mets, and if Mejia thrives in a setup role, they could conceivably groom him to be the closer in waiting for when Rodriguez’s contract is up.
  • The Marlins’ owner is expecting that the team will make a playoff run this season, after the improvement they showed last year. To me, this seems a bit unrealistic. Spending money on 2 players is better than spending on zero, but the team still needs to grow some more.
  • Jack Cust apparently did not take it very well that he was designated for assignment by the Athletics. I’m guessing a reporter caught him at a bad time, but it was a bit of a surprise to nearly everyone that it happened. I have to imagine that he’s going to take the minor league assignment should he clear waivers, since he will still make his full salary of over $2 million even if he goes to the minors.

Well, there are 5 games on the television today, and I’m hoping to catch at least 1 or two of them. Opening Day is always a whole lot of energy, and hope too.

Team Preview – Oakland Athletics


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Kurt Suzuki SP 1 Ben Sheets
1B Daric Barton SP 2 Justin Duchscherer
2B Mark Ellis SP 3 Brett Anderson
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff SP 4 Trevor Cahill
SS Cliff Pennington SP 5 Dallas Braden
LF Rajai Davis Bullpen
CF Coco Crisp CL Andrew Bailey
RF Ryan Sweeney RP Brad Ziegler
DH Jack Cust RP Joey Devine
Bench RP Michael Wuertz
IF Jake Fox RP Craig Breslow
IF Eric Chavez RP Gio Gonzalez

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff Trade (SD) OF Aaron Cunningham Trade (SD)
SP Ben Sheets Free Agency OF Scott Hairston Trade (SD)
IF Jake Fox Trade (CHC)

Top Prospects: Chris Carter (1B), Michael Taylor (OF), Michael Ynoa (P), Grant Green (SS), Max Stassi (C)

2009 Review

The Athletics came into the 2009 season with the hopes that they would be able to compete in what appeared to be a weakened AL West. They had made the blockbuster trade to acquire OF Matt Holliday in the offseason, and had made some potentially excellent value signings in SS Orlando Cabrera and 1B Jason Giambi. However, the team was once again decimated by injuries, and quickly fell out of contention. By July, the discussion was when the A’s would trade free-agent-to-be Matt Holliday, not if. They were able to get some solid return on trades including Holliday and SS Orlando Cabrera also.

The A’s did have some bright spots during the season. SP Josh Outman pitched well (4-1, 3.48) prior to getting hurt. SP Brett Anderson (11-11, 4.06) and SP Trevor Cahill (10-13, 4.63) both pitched well in their first full season. The standout, to be sure, was AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey (6-3, 1.84, 26 sv). On the offense, OF Rajai Davis (.305, 41 SB) and C Kurt Suzuki (.274, 15 HR) were the shining stars.

Team Outlook for 2010

As has been the problem in recent years, again coming into 2010 the A’s look strapped for offense. They are hopeful that IF Eric Chavez will be able to provide some production, whether it be at 3B or somewhere else on the diamond. They brought back OF/DH Jack Cust, who should continue to provide some solid power, even at the cost of a low batting average. A full season of SS Cliff Pennington and OF Rajai Davis will also be a welcome addition.

This really looks like a team that could compete, but only if everything falls their way. They need an All-Star caliber season out of free agent signee Ben Sheets, and improvements across the entirety of the pitching staff. They need 1B Daric Barton to return to the form that made him a top prospect. And they need pretty much everyone else in the lineup to improve again this season, whether it be through health or through better production. If this doesn’t happen, look for the A’s to deal Sheets, and potentially Justin Duchscherer as well at the trade deadline.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

The A’s are a bit shallow when it comes to fantasy talent. C Kurt Suzuki, OF Rajai Davis, SP Brett Anderson and CL Andrew Bailey are probably the top talents. SP Ben Sheets remains a very high-upside, high-risk player, but could definitely pay off for fantasy owners. In deeper leagues, 2B Mark Ellis and SS Cliff Pennington could potentially provide value, as well as SP Dallas Braden and Justin Duchscherer.

Prediction for 2010

The A’s simply haven’t gotten better by enough in my opinion to make a legitimate run at the division title. The rest of the division is simply too much better at this point. They will do well to continue letting their top prospects develop, and hopefully will compete in 2011.

79-83, 4th in the AL West

Prospect Review – Chris Carter – 1B – OAK


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The Basics
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
How Acquired: Via trade with the Diamondbacks (Dec. 2007) as a part of the Dan Haren trade.
Age: 23

Statistics

2008 – Stockton (California League – A’s High-A) – 137 games

  • .259/.361/.569
  • 39 HR, 104 RBI, 4 stolen bases
  • 77 walks, 156 strikeouts
  • .296 BABIP

2009 – Midland (Texas League – A’s AA) – 125 games

  • .337/.435/.576
  • 24 HR, 101 RBI, 13 stolen bases
  • 82 walks, 119 strikeouts
  • .406 BABIP

2009 – Sacramento (Pacific Coast League – A’s AA) – 13 games

  • .259/.293/.519
  • 4 HR, 14 RBI, 0 stolen bases
  • 3 walks, 14 strikeouts
  • .278 BABIP

2009 Totals (2 levels) – 138 games

  • .329/.422/570
  • 28 HR, 115 RBI, 13 stolen bases
  • 85 walks, 133 strikeouts

Rankings
Baseball America – #1 (OAK – 2010)
Baseball Prospectus – #1 (OAK – 2010) – 5 star
John Sickels – #1 (OAK – 2010) – A-

Analysis

Carter was acquired in the Dan Haren trade following the 2007 season, and has been nothing short of an amazing prospect since then. He spent 2008 in the hitter-friendly California League, posting a league-leading 39 homers and 104 RBI. 2009 was no different, posting 24 HR, 101 RBI and a .337 average on his way to winning the Texas League MVP.

Carter is known for his prodigious power, posting slugging percentages over .500 at each level. He also has solid plate discipline, and is able to draw a walk at a reasonable rate. I don’t foresee him hitting for the kind of average he did at AA again, as it was inflated by an extremely high .406 BABIP. I have to imagine that the real thing lies somewhere closer to his .259 average at AAA.

The main question with Carter seems to be where he can play in the field. The Athletics played him mostly at 1B last season, although he has also seen at least a little time at 3B, LF, and DH as well since entering the A’s system. His fielding would probably considered average at best there, and profiles to have him giving way at 1B to a better fielder at the Major League level.

Carter could really use a consolidation year at AAA, where he could work on cutting down his strikeout rate a little more. He has been striking out between 25 and 30% of all plate appearances in the last 2 seasons, and will probably want to cut that down to help improve his average slightly. The only concern I would have about that is that it may affect his power by being a bit more selective. As long as it doesn’t impact that too much, I could see him becoming a 30+ HR hitter on a yearly basis in the Majors.

Outlook

Carter will hopefully start the season back with AAA Sacramento, potentially leading to a mid-season callup. The A’s definitely have a use for his power bat at the Major League level, but they already have one player who really should only be used as a designated hitter (Jack Cust), and another prospect at first base (Daric Barton). If Barton struggles out of the gate again like he has in the past, I could definitely see Carter getting a much earlier callup. Regardless, I have to imagine he’s going to be playing in Oakland before 2010 is over.

Projection for 2010

.265/.350/.520, 10 HR, 52 RBI (AAA)
.255/.340/.500, 10 HR, 40 RBI (Majors)

Expected ETA

2010. No later than July or August.

Tomorrow’s Prospect for Review – Jaff Decker (OF) of the San Diego Padres

Prospect Review – Mike Stanton – OF – FLA


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The Basics
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
How Acquired: Drafted out of Notre Dame HS (Sherman Oaks, CA) by the Marlins in the 2nd round (76th overall)
Age: 20

Statistics
2008 – Greensboro (Sally League – Marlins A) – 125 games

  • .293/.381/.611
  • 39 hr, 97 rbi
  • 58 bb, 153 k

2009 – Jupiter (Florida State League – Marlins High-A) – 50 games

  • .294/.390/.578
  • 12 hr, 39 rbi
  • 28 bb, 45 k

2009 – Jacksonville (Southern League – Marlins AA) – 79 games

  • .231/.311/.455
  • 16 hr, 53 rbi
  • 31 bb, 99 k

2009 Totals

  • .255/.341/.501
  • 28 hr, 92 rbi
  • 59 bb, 144 k

2009 – Mesa Solar Sox (Arizona Fall League – not counted towards totals) – 6 games

  • .478/.538/.609
  • 1 hr, 2 rbi
  • 3 bb, 8 k

Prospect Rankings
Baseball America – #1 (FLA – 2010), #2 (FLA – 2009)
Project Prospect – #2 (Corner OF – 11/2009), #9 (Position Players – 9/2009)
Baseball Prospectus – #2 (FLA – 11/2008)
John Sickels – #4 (FLA – 3/2009)

Anaylsis

In 2008, Stanton truly announced his presence, pounding home runs at a prodigious rate for Single-A Greensboro. He finished the season with 39 of them, along with a .293/.381/.611 line, albeit with a slightly elevated BABIP of .355. And all of this while he is still only 18 years old. Needless to say, expectations of a continuance of this power was expected out of Stanton for 2009. And while he did not hit for quite the same amount of power (28 homers between 2 levels), he still maintained quite a power clip, posting a .501 slugging percentage between the two levels.

Now, I’ve mentioned previously that I think that the ability to draw a walk is critical to long-term success in the Majors. I think that players who draw at least a similar amount of walks to the amount of strikeouts they have will generally be more successful. That said, I believe that as long as a player can at least draw some walks, they should be alright. Stanton posted walk rates of 9% (2007), 11% (2008), and 10% (2009), which are all definitely respectable numbers for many a hitter.

Obviously, the amount of strikeouts he is having each year is of some concern. In 2008, he struck out in 32% of his at bats, and slightly decreased that number in 2009, bringing it to 30%. So I wondered how a couple of high power, high strikeout hitters looked in comparison.

Ryan Howard – Career: 13% walk rate, 33% strikeout rate
Adam Dunn – Career: 17% walk rate, 32% strikeout rate
Jack Cust – Career: 18% walk rate, 40% strikeout rate

All 3 players have had varying levels of success in the Majors, with Howard and Dunn clearly ahead of Cust. While I think it is definitely premature to include Stanton in the same group, I think that they make good comps. I think that Stanton’s walk rate of around 10% in the minors would translate reasonably well to the Major Leagues, and that he needs to try to cut down his strikeout rates ever so slightly. He is probably always going to be a power hitter, and not ever really hit for average in the majors. Not that everyone needs to be a hitter for average.

Stanton was drafted as a first baseman out of high school, but has since been converted to a right fielder. He played there almost exclusively in 2009, and had 10 assists out there during the season. He posted a Total Zone rating of 5 in RF in 2009, which would make him a slightly above-average fielder at the position as well.

Outlook

The future is really bright for Stanton, as he has shown huge flashes of power, and at least a reasonable ability to hit in general. And all of this prior to the age of 20. While I think he is probably a couple of years away still, he should start next season back at AA Jacksonville, and hopefully will spend a majority of the season there. The Marlins are not necessarily known for rushing some of the prospects, and with the Major League outfield having reigning Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan, Cody Ross, and up-and-comer Cameron Maybin penciled in for next season, they won’t really need his bat in Miami for at least another season. I am really looking forward to seeing what Stanton does next year.

Prediction for 2010

.265/.355/.500, 27 hr, 90 rbi (AA)

Expected ETA

Mid-Season 2011, most likely 2012.