Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yu Darvish

The next CJ Wilson.


Patrick Newman on Darvish:

This season he was a lot better. The most obvious difference was his fastball velocity, which was more consistently around 94 and touched 97 on his best days. His cutter seemed to take a step forward this year, giving him three pitches above 90 mph with movement (2-seamer, 4-seamer, cutter). I think the velocity gains are real, as he added 10 kg of strength to his frame last offseason. I didn’t really see the same mistakes with his slider this year, he actually looked like he was using all his stuff effectively. There would be times when decent hitters would start to catch up and foul off his harder stuff, and he’d come right back with a slow curve or softer slider, and the hitter would be helpless. So he looked better overall this year, and my concerns about his mistake pitches and velocity are mostly gone. He’ll certainly still make the odd mistake, as he’s not a robot, but I’m more optimistic about him than I have been of anyone in the past.

Most of these are eyeball-level observations, drawn from memory of the games I watched during the season. So grains of salt apply. Here’s some data for reference and additional context: http://npbtracker.com/data/player.php?p_id=242
This doesn’t mean that Darvish is without question marks. All the usual stuff applies — five-day rotation, different ball, different mound, facing batters that can actually hit home runs, being prepared mentally, coping with travel, etc. I have the impression that Nippon Ham has really let Darvish do his own thing — he tends to tweak his delivery a lot, more than any other pitcher I can think of offhand. Who knows if an MLB pitching coach is going to be cool with that? Also keep in mind that Darvish is going to have more pressure and attention than possibly any player that has preceded him. Ichiro was stalked relentlessly by the Japanese media when he joined the Mariners, but I don’t think the Americans necessarily expected much from him. American fans have been anticipating Darvish for years, so he’ll have the Japanese insanity and the American expectations to live up to. I think he will be successful though, and I hope he is.




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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yu Darvish Countdown: minus 24 hours

So the bidding for Yu Darvish ends tomorrow afternoon. I'm going to say that the rumored cash flow issues are bogus and that Texas puts in the high bid at 50million and pays him 50million over 5 for a 100million$ deal.

If Texas scouts think Yu Darvish has the stuff an Ace and they like his makeup then I don't see that as an unreasonable deal. The going rate for an ace is 20per so all you have to do is commit the money. No trades. No development time. Cup 'O Ace - just add millions.

If Texas scouts are conflicted about his ceiling then I don't know what they do. He surely has the stuff of a #1 but is a #1 worth 20per? He'd have to be a 5-7WAR guy for 5 years. How confident is Texas that Yu can be that guy? I have no idea. But if they think he has a legit shot at turning into an ace then i hope they get 'em. It would be a huge coup for the org.





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Friday, December 9, 2011

Minor Notes

Texas signed 29yo utility man Alberto Gonzalez to a minor league deal today. He has a woeful 595 career OPS in the NL but still managed to get in on 300 games at the big league level over the last 3 years with about 200 starts. Hardly seems possible but there it is. For Texas, he would mark a downgrade from Andres Blanco in that role and is likely tabbed for AAA to provide depth to the club in case of an injury to the real utility infielder who will emerge by the end of ST. Or, if his D is good enough, he just might be the guy.



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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Angels Payroll 2016

Pujols, age 36: 25m
Wilson, age 35: 20m
Weaver, age 33.5: 20m

65 million$$ for 3 players. Wow.

Vernon Wells is making 24m from 2012-2014; Santana and Haren make 11m and 13m respectively (both with a club option for 2013); and Tori Hunter is bringing down 18.5m. What a payroll clusterfuck!

So for these 7 players, they are on the hook for 92min 2012! Throw in Bobby Abreu and there you have it, an 8-man roster with a 101 million dollar payroll. Just wow!



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Rule 5

Texas neither took or lost anyone in the ML portion of the Rule 5 today. However they did complete the Teagarden trade (Randy Henry, ptbnl) by selecting 24.8yo SH 2b/SS Greg Miclat (SH) from the Orioles, from a list of rule 5 eligible players, so his selection couldn't come until after the Rule 5 draft. Per TRS, Miclat has beeen added to the Frisco roster but he can be expect to compete for a spot on the AAA club and offer depth as a possible utility infielder during the season in case of injuries (or he could just be depth). Baltimore didn't lose anyone in the ML phase so Miclat was likely their top choice from the list.

In the minor league phase Texas selected three players (ages as of 4/1/12): 23.6yo LHP Fabian Williamson (6.2/175); 22.1yo SH OF Efrain Nunez (6.3/190); 24.5 2b Alex Buchholz (6.0/182). Williamson has been unimpressive during his career, with fringy command, and was demoted from AA back to highA after a particularly brutal 2011. Texas might see him as a loogy based on his work in 2010. Efrain Nunez likely profiles as a salvage project, another OF turned pitcher, as he has never made it out of short season ball during his career with particularly unimpressive #s in 2009 and 2010 though he did have some success in the AAPY league in 2011. Alex Buchholz is likely depth for the HighA or AA squad at 2b.

So Texas goes out with a wimper at this year's Winter Meetings.

Final Note:
I have to say that Texas' reported interest in Garza is puzzling as he was a back end #3 in 08 and 09, was a back end #4 in 2010. His terrific 2011 has to be viewed with some suspicion as it occurred after switching to a new home park in the NL. Maybe Texas scouts believe that Garza finally has harnessed his inconsistent stuff to realize his potential as a top roto arm and that the improvement after the move to the NL was just a coincidence? Taking a quick look at his stats, his GB rate improved dramatically (as well as his HR rate but park factor is relevant here), which is a park-independent stat, so maybe he added a 2S or cutter to his repertoire that accounts for the improvement. Just trying to play devil's advocate here as Texas must view him as a top roto arm going forward for their reported interest to make sense as bringing in another inconsistent #3 doesn't improve the club at all.



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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Minor Notes

Haven't been keeping tabs on the rule 5 but some guy over at Bucs Dugout has an amazingly thorough writeup so check it out if that crapshoot interests you. Mayo should be coming out with his list soon if he hasn't already.

Texas has a few relievers that might be of interest to some teams (Ortiz, Yan, Kelly, Tufts) while the only hitter that teams might have interest in is Joey Butler (with Chad Tracy a longshot). Nothing exciting to see here.

Daniels was quoted recently about something that we are all finally on board with: Scheppers is a bullpen arm. Right now, his below average command limits his ceiling to something other than a late inning arm. This is a critical year for the Schepp, though relievers often get it together later rather than sooner, as his command issues completely mitigate the quality of his FB and CB, which some rate as 70 pitches when they are on. If he can't put it together by mid-season one would think that a complete mechanical overhaul might be on the horizon. If his command projects no better than average at best, one has to wonder what his ceiling can be. Closer, no. Setup, big maybe. 7th inning arm, yes. Scheppers has been a real disappointment and is rated way to highly by some even after his chronic injury issues, below average command, and failure to develop a third pitch.


I've updated the ages for the 2012 roster in the sidebar and made a rough projection for each level.

UPDATE:
Ming over at Newberg came across a MiL signing on 12/2: ~26yo MiL FA, Loogy and sidearmer, Kyle Fernandes from the Boston system. STrictly a loogy, vs LHH: 22/18/0/5/26/.217. A depth signing with the potential to help the big club a few weeks in that role in case of injury.



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Friday, December 2, 2011

Randy Henry Notes

A blurb from BA from the 2009 Draft, signed at 4th rd pick for 365K:

Hailing from Arnett, Okla., Henry was slated to attend Texas Tech after high school. But he blew out his elbow, missed his senior season after having Tommy John surgery and ended up at South Mountain CC. He's played second base for the Cougars this year, but his future is likely on the mound. At 6-foot-3, Henry has clean mechanics from a three-quarter arm slot. Just 18 months removed from surgery, head coach Todd Eastin gave Henry a very soft landing this year, allowing him to pitch out of the bullpen. Over nine games, Henry pitched just 11 innings this season. Because of his limited time on the mound this year, Henry has been tough to see, but those that have seen him walked away impressed. His fastball has shown good life, sitting at 90 mph every time out and even touching 94-96 late in the year. While Henry threw mostly fastballs and changeups this year, when he regained the confidence to throw a breaking ball, scouts said it was an above-average pitch with great tilt and snap.


Video from MLB.com draft profiles


Brief 2010 interview Orioles Nation


Orioles Nation Profile


BA updated profile:

Henry is an athletic righthander whose best offering is a plus slider that features sharp, late break and tops out at 87 mph. His fast arm produces 91-94 mph fastball velocity with good arm-side run, but he's still developing a below-average changeup. A 2009 draft pick, Henry spent the majority of the 2011 season in low Class A and injury concerns have been an issue in the past. He endured two separate disabled list stints in 2010 for right elbow inflammation. Though the Rangers will try out Henry as a starter, the combination of his aggressive approach and two above-average pitches profile well as a potential seventh- or eighth-inning reliever.


UPDATE:
Henry missed the first 6-7 weeks of the season so one has to assume that his elbow was still bothering him this spring. Given his health issues the last 2 years I'm not sure why the word from Texas is that they like him as a starter (I think that came from Daniels via TRS).

UPDATE DEUX:
Digging around a little I found out that Henry had surgery again on August 11 2010 after his two DL stints. It was supposed to be a second TJ surgery but the docs only found broken up scar tissue rather than any damage to the ligament replacement. So this likely explains why he missed the beginning of the year; he was still rehabbing from the surgery rather than dealing with a new setback, so that is good news, news Texas already knew of course, which gives credence to their willingness to look at him in the roto for 2012. I also found a note that he was working on a cut fastball in 2011.

Henry's timeline is something like this:
TJ before Senior Year (fall o7 or Spring 08); missed SR year 08; pitched 11ip out of the pen for a JC in 2009 but mostly played 2nd base; drafted by baltimore in the 4th round in 2009, but didn't pitch in the minors; pitched 23 innings out of the pen for Delmarva, Low A, in 2010, punctuated by two stays on the DL, and an exploratory surgery on his TJ elbow on August 11; Rehabbed from surgery the first 6-7 weeks of 2011 season; Pitched 53 innings (LowA June/July; HighA August) out of the pen in 2011 after being activated without a DL stay and finished the year healthy.





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