Here are the highlights from Wahoo’s on First this week:
Myers is not a bad pitcher and the cost was probably in line with what he can be expected to contribute, but in a good rotation he would be no better than a fourth starter, and the Indians have six other guys who look like fourth starters. Given the makeup of the roster, if I were going to allocate $20 million between a pitcher and an outfielder, I would have invested more in than the the outfielder instead of the other way around.
Hitting Reynolds seventh in the lineup would maximize his power, and looking at the rest of the roster it would increase his chances of hitting with men on base while minimizing his double-play tendencies with a faster runner hitting ahead of him in Brantley. Hitting lower in the order should also take the pressure of Reynolds and allow him to try to maximize his power potential rather than try to become a more contact conscious hitter.
In this week’s Wroundtable, we debated who the most likely candidate to win the final rotation spot is:
Nick Houghtaling: While I think it should be Scott Kazmir—I like his potential based on how he looked in the past, and he’s only 29—it will probably end up being Daisuke Matsuzaka. His past relationship with Francona is the main thing that makes me believe we’ll see Dice-K win that spot. It’s not difficult to imagine a healthy Matsuzaka as a fifth starter in the league if he can perform like he did during his pre-injury years in Boston. It’s a wide-open race at this point and I think Kazmir, Matsuzaka, Carrasco and Bauer all have a good chance at making the rotation.
Merritt offered an optimistic diagnosis for Scott Kazmir:
Through all this, we forget, Scott Kazmir is only 28 years old. We talk like he’s this old, washed up veteran trying for one last shot at glory, but he’s still in the years many consider the prime of a career. Shoot, I’m 26, and I haven’t accomplished anything except college and moving out of my parents’ house. I’m still not sure if I put that apostrophe in the right place in “parent’s house.” See? What I’m saying is, unless a guy’s arm is about to fall off like Sandy Koufax, there’s no reason someone a former phenom who once nearly caused riots in Queens when he was traded for Victor Zambrano should just be finished.
Meanwhile, Nick looked at what each rotation candidate has to prove in Spring Training:
Scott Kazmir and Daisuke Matsuzaka, both signed to minor-league deals, look to prove they can replicate past performances after injuries and downward spikes in production. After two years out of baseball, Kazmir reportedly has his fastball up to a consistent 94-95 mph after it had fallen to around 90 previously. Francona has praised his performance in training camp thus far. Kazmir has pitched well in the past (239 strikeouts in 206.2 innings in 2007) but missed the entire 2012 season after a collapse with the Angels in 2011. Kazmir is only 29, which means he should be able to get his physical skills back to where they were previously.
Evan continued his look around the AL Central by previewing the 2013 White Sox:
If the starting rotation stays healthy and the consistent veterans stay consistent veterans, the White Sox will be right back at the top of the division. However, there are a lot of question marks: Can Peavy stay healthy? Can Sale’s elbow hold up after a huge workload in 2012? How is Danks’ shoulder? Can the White Sox offense overcome the swings and misses by Dunn, Rios, Ramirez, and Viciedo? The chances of the White Sox finishing anything south of second in the AL Central is slim-to-none, even with those doubts.
Geordy continued counting down the Tribe’s best prospects with No. 13 D’Vone McClure:
McClure defines the word “athlete” in terms of baseball prospects. Tools are there—speed, size, projectable power—but it will take good coaching for him to effectively use those to be a blue chip player in the farm system.
And No. 12 Jesus Aguilar:
The reason Aguilar is so low on this list and my view of him so harsh is because of his defense, both in his position and the quality of his play there. Aguilar is a below-average defensive first baseman who doesn’t show much promise of becoming even league-average with his glove by the time he reaches Cleveland. And while yes, his numbers the past two years have looked impressive, they really aren’t when you take into account that he’s a first baseman.
Brian continued his Fantasy Forecast series with a look at Michael Bourn:
There is no beating around the bush when it comes to Michael Bourn’s value in the fantasy world. It all comes down to stolen bases, stolen bases, and more stolen bases. Face it, this is not the mid-1980’s and Ricky Henderson, Vince Coleman, and Tim Raines are not walking through the door anytime soon. In a world where power has usurped speed andMoneyball has diminished the value of the stolen base—“we pay you to get onto first base, not get thrown out at second”—Bourn possess a skill set that is hard to come by.
Key factor: Comfort. With the possible exception of his pre-injury rookie stint in 2010, after three seasons in the big leagues Indians fans still have yet to see Santana at ease. A nagging injury, a loss of confidence, pressing too much in the middle of a slump—these have been constant distractions for Santana throughout his brief MLB career, and without them he might very well have an MVP trophy by now. If he’s feeling good and everything finally clicks together this’ll be a fun season.
Michael Brantley holds little to no fantasy value. This is a blatantly honest fact. As much as it pains me to say it and for as much promise as Brantley showed us in 2012, he just hasn’t put up the numbers over the course of his career to justify selecting him in any league with 10 or fewer teams. There are better options available, and until he proves otherwise Brantley’s fantasy stock will continue to hover somewhere around “I’m desperate” or “I’m hoping for a miracle.”
What to expect: In case I haven’t hammered this point home enough, Swisher is Mr. Consistency. (Attention comic book writers: Please make a new series about a superhero named “Mr. Consistency.” You can have that idea for free as long as you credit me in print.) Just look at what he’s done in years past and you’ll be pretty close to what he’ll do in 2013.
Key factor: Power. Dreamed though we might have it was unreasonable to expect Jason Kipnis to slug over .500 again in 2012, but no one expected regression this drastic. With his plate discipline and speed he doesn’t need much pop to be an above-average middle infielder, but there’s an enormous difference between a solid guy to keep towards the bottom of the order and the kind of core player you build a team around—as Kipnis could be if he regains some power.
Key factor: Defense. There are those who see Asdrubal Cabrera as one of the best fielders in baseball and there are those who see him as a veritable sieve at shortstop. A year ago one could have characterized the debate as scouts vs. stats, but now the sides are less clear-cut—scouting-based opinions of Cabrera’s fielding seemed less effusive in 2012 than they had in the past, and while some defensive metrics were still quite critical of him (UZR put him at 9.0 runs below a league-average shortstop) others thought he’d turned over a new leaf (Total Zone had him at +10 for 2012).
It’s possible to cut it as a good MLB hitter without having much patience at the plate, but only if you have elite ability in another category. Ichiro had no problem getting on base despite his not walking much and Vladimir Guerrero‘s power more than made up for his impatience. The problem is, Lonnie Chisenhall doesn’t have such a standout tool, so he’ll need to start finding his way on base more if he wants to be an effective middle-of-the-order hitter.
But Drew, there’s something very important that has come to pass with your arrival in Cleveland, and it’s very personal to me. You see, my girlfriend’s last name is Stubbs as well. This essentially means you two are connected in my mind. You two are family, even if you’ve never met and are from different parts of the country altogether. That’s just how names work. So when I told her the Tribe had acquired your services, she was ecstatic without knowing anything about you. Though not a baseball fan herself, she’s spent enough time around me that osmosis has kicked in where she’s looking forward to summertime for days at the park. She even bought me a Drew Stubbs sherzy for Valentine’s Day! It’s my first piece of non-hat Indians gear I’ve owned since I was a young boy.