Kevin talks about his Top 11 Braves prospects and the minor league system. And Spring Training story lines.[...]
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The Mariners Practice Fields will open daily at 9:15 am from February 12 through April 2 at the[...]
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We are a little less than a week from Spring Training down in Sarasota and I'm excited. With football over, fans can look forward to seeing what the Orioles can do down in Florida. Most of us think that the 2012 campaign for the team may turn out like previous 14; however, the organization is under a new regime now and I'm intrigued to see the results over the next eight or so months.
Will the additions that Dan Duquette made to the roster make any difference? How will Buck Showalter and the front office go about deciding who makes the 25-man roster.
The biggest storyline down in Florida will undoubtedly be focused on the starting pitching. With the trade of Jeremy Guthrie to Colorado, who is in the rotation? I guess you can plug in Jason Hammel, the Asian additions, and that is it.
It will be a wide open competition for spots and who knows what will happen to the young arms. Will we see Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, Brian Matsuz & Zach Britton on the roster? Has Chris Tillman run out of chances with the Orioles? What about the bullpen? Will Jim Johnson close, or Kevin Gregg - who was a lightning rod of frustration amongst fans.
As well, who plays second base? Will Brian Roberts return? Is he healthy? Can he even play right now? If not, do we see Robert Andino man second, or Ryan Adams?
That's right ladies and gentlemen, Mike Napoli has avoided arbitration. The Rangers signed Mike to a one year contract at about 9 million dollars. Great move by JD, extending the arbitration hearing-less streak (Lee Stevens)
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It is this time of the year, when up north the winds are still blowing cold and the temperatures are still frigid, but the first signs of the spring are very obvious: crocuses and daffodils are pocking their heads off the ground, days are getting longer,[...]
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Yesterday, Peter Botte reported that Burnett wasn't upset about the rumors:
?He is getting ready to go to spring training, whether it?s with the Yankees, Pittsburgh or anyone else,? Darek Braunecker said in a brief phone interview. ?A.J. understands this is a business and will do what he has to do. He?s healthy and he?s looking forward to pitching for somebody.?Well, it appears that he'll be doing that pitching it Pittsburgh. Stay tuned....
From Jeff Bradley:
?Just to be able to go and put on the pinstripes,? Branyan said, sounding more like a teenager on draft day than a 36-year-old veteran. ?I don?t know if it?s really sunk in yet.?So I guess it's Junior that we have to blame for all those moon-shots Branyan has been hitting in the Bronx. I wouldn't put too much faith in either Branyan or Bill Hall since they're careers are both headed in the same (wrong) direction. But at the same time we've all seen Cashman do a great job shopping at the Dollar Store so maybe he and the Yanks will get lucky again.
?My whole career has been a challenge,? Branyan said. ?Like a lot of guys in the game, nothing?s been handed to me. No one said it was going to be easy, so you have to embrace it all. I?ve enjoyed the ups and I?ve enjoyed the downs. Going into camp with no guarantee is challenging, but I accept that and embrace that, too.?
?I?ve enjoyed playing in New York,? Branyan said. ?Junior Griffey used to tell me all the time when we played together with Seattle, ?Man, you?d love playing in Yankee Stadium. I think you?ve got the swing for it. And I think you?d handle it.?
?That comment always stuck. I have always thought, if I get the opportunity to play there, I want to take it. I?m ready to roll. I think I can do this.?
In reading all of the prospect lists and reviews last week one particular statement caught my eye, and hasn't escaped my mind since then. Interestingly, this statement wasn't about an Atlanta Braves prospect, it was about Brandon Beachy. Strangely, this curmudgeonly view of a young Braves player didn't come from Keith Law, it came from Kevin Goldstein's post. Here was his line about Beachy, found in the Top-10 Talents 25 and Under section of his Braves prospect post (sub. req.):
The general industry thought on Beachy is that he's good but not as good as his 2011 season, and regression is a good assumption.
My gut told me not to agree with that, and my memory told me that the opposite seemed to be true. So I thought I'd poke around my memory and Baseball Reference and see what I could find that would support the opposite of that statement.
Brandon Beachy faced the Phillies in his first big league start in 2010. He faced them again in his third big league start. Then again in his fifth big league start in 2011, and three other times last year. In 28 big league starts, Beachy has faced the Phillies six times. If that above statement about regression carried any weight, then the Phillies should be getting the better of Brandon since they've seen him more than any other team. But his starts against them tell a different story.
It's hard to analyze his 2010 starts, since they were emergency starts at the end of the year, after Beachy had pretty much been shut down for the season. Still, he improved from his Major League debut to his third game. He faced more batters, lowered his walks, raised his strikeout total, improved his Game Score from 45 to 47, and seemed a better pitcher. At the very least he didn't regress while facing the same team twice in a span of two weeks (in the pressure cooker of a pennant race).
With much of the same team returning for Philly in 2011, the experienced Phillies lineup should have been familiar with Beachy, and if he were to regress after big league batters see him for the second or third time, then the Phillies would be the first team to break through against him, and find the chinks in his armor.
Beachy's second start of his 2011 campaign came against, who else, the Phillies. In many ways it was one of Beachy's most efficient starts, as he needed only 78 pitchers to get through six innings. But a leadoff double in the seventh chased Beachy, and the bullpen couldn't keep the game close. His game score was only 42, as the Phillies were able to touch him up for a key fourth inning 2-run home run.
The next time Beachy faced the Phillies in mid-May was Beachy's shortest outing of his career, just two innings, but we're not going to consider this game because Beachy suffered a strained left oblique muscle, was forced to exit in the third inning, and spent the next five weeks on the disabled list. The Phillies did get to Beachy early in the first inning, and he was again victimized by the home run, so it certainly seemed like the Phillies were catching up to Beachy, and proving that he was poised for regression once a team seems him several times.
A healthy Beachy would face the Phillies twice more down the stretch in 2011, and each time was better than the last. His fourth start back from the DL saw him in Philly where he posted a game score of 54, and was again economical with his pitches through six innings. In his first start against the Phillies in 2011, Beachy had gotten 14 strikes looking and 8 swings and misses. In this his third start against the Phillies in 2011, Beachy increased those numbers to 18 strikes looking and 10 swings and misses.
In Beachy's final start of the year against the Phillies, and already the sixth of his young career, Beachy posted his highest game score against Philadelphia, a 67. He struck out more Phillies (7) than he ever had in any start against them, and got 7 swings and misses and 25 strikes looking -- his highest total at that point in his Major League career.
His game scores in starts against Philly go like this: 45-47-42-32(injured)-54-67.
His strikes looking in each start go like this: 15-17-14-9(injured)-18-25.
Those last two starts against Philadelphia were by far his best against them, and they tell the story of a pitcher who gets better against a team the more he faces them. Those numbers don't support the narrative of a pitcher who will regress as the league sees more and more of him.
He improved against Washington last year, facing them twice and going from a 40 to a 51 game score.
He improved against Florida, posting games scores of 38, 77, 67, and 43, though still striking out 10 batters in each of his last two starts against them.
Like most of the 2011 Braves, Beachy faded some down the stretch last year. But that was his first full year as a starting pitcher, and it was more innings than he had thrown the year before. He's a young pitcher who only has 50 professional starts under his belt (Majors and minors), and is someone who is still learning on the mound, and still learning how good his raw ability is.
If his six career starts against the Phillies are any indication, then Beachy will have a better 2012 as he sees hitters multiple times and is able to strike them out with more frequency. The "general industry thought" hasn't looked deep enough into Beachy's starts, and hasn't seen his improvement against a team he's already seen. Not to mention that the Phillies are one of the best hitting teams in baseball. Therefore, my thought is that regression is a poor assumption for Brandon Beachy in 2012. The "industry" needs to catch up.
With Yankees right-hander A.J. Burnett on the trade market, and presumably headed to Pittsburgh soon, the question has been posed. Burnett will earn $35M over the next two seasons. In a trade, New York will inevitably have to eat a lot of the cost.[...]
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Late last week the Royals and Alex Gordon agreed to a one-year $4.775 million dollar contract, essentially splitting the difference between what both sides had wanted this winter. Although discussions of a long-term contract with Gordon came to a head this month, there is not immediate urgency here: Gordon is still under team control through the 2013 season.
Gordon's at an interesting point in his career. He's not quite the second coming of Jose Bautista, but he fact remains he hit .244/.328/.405 in his first 1641 PAs, then hit .303/.376/.502 in 688 last season. He has the pedigree and a number of plausible explanations for his previous struggles, but you have to look at all the data.
Feb 10, 1984
I'm a Gordon believer and a Gordon defender, and it's a rare opportunity for me to feel right about something. Nevertheless, no matte what you think the ultimate cause was, Gordon has had an up-and-down career, with some definite downs. Heading into his age 28 season, Gordon could take another step forward and develop into a real offensive force. He might also see his batting average drop down closer to his career levels, which might offset continued gains in other areas.
Just under $5 million is still a very good price for Gordon. Jeff Francoeur, mind you, is getting paid $6 million for 2012 and $7.5 M for 2013. If Gordon reproduces his 2011 in 2012, the Royals will have one of those good problems teams face, with a valuable player heading towards a nice 3-arb payday. Having good players is a good thing. Of course, they also risk Gordon deciding he'll want to hit the free agent market.
On the other hand, the Royals hold some flexibility at the moment, which is apparently what they value more. If Gordon struggles again, they might be able to secure him for a lower price.