WASHINGTON (AP) The Roger Clemens trial could be losing another juror.
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PITTSBURGH (AP) Veteran outfielder Nate McLouth signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the offseason in hopes of finishing the rebuilding project he helped start when he made the All-Star team with the club back in 2008.
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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) Dominican relief pitcher Juan Carlos Oviedo says he has his U.S. visa and will be returning to the Miami Marlins.
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Though there were bigger names in the Rice rotation this season, it was the grandson of T.K. Reckling (aka the guy Rice's stadium is named after), who stole the show and became the staff ace.
Reckling flashed stuff all season, with his fastball velocity going anywhere from 86-93 MPH. He threw both a four-seam and a two-seam fastball with a good curveball and a new changeup he's using more and more. Four pitches make a pretty solid starter and Reckling showed that this season.
In 79 innings over 13 starts, Reckling has struck out 92 batters and given up 32 walks. He's got a .178 batting average against with just eight extra-base hits and just one home run. He has two shutouts on the season and has an 8-2 record.
That's quite a drop in walks for Reckling, who had 48 in 78 innings last season with a comparable number of strikeouts. The drop in his senior season is a big reason why he's going to go much higher than the 22nd round he got tabbed in last season.
Consistency has been a problem for Reckling, as he's struggled with both fastball velocity and control of the pitch at times this season. There are some reports of him flashing great stuff with that knockout curve complemented by his emerging changeup. With those pitches and a good two-seamer, he's got pretty good upside.
The good news with Reckling is his floor as a reliever is pretty good. He's got both a great breaking ball and a good change to support a move to the bullpen if needed. Plus, pitching out of the 'pen may let his fastball velocity rise a tick. Still, his age means he's going to have to move quickly if he wants his floor to be higher.
Look for him to be a decent back of the rotation starter in the majors. His strikeout rate is legitimate, but his lack of control could lead to high pitch counts and low inning totals. He might have a good career as a lockdown closer if things break right, too, but I'd think his biggest upside is as a starter.
Neither Keith Law nor Baseball America has Reckling in their respective Top 100 lists. He is listed at No. 179 for BA, which means they expect him to be drafted around Round 6. That's about where I have Reckling pegged, going somewhere in the Top 10 rounds and maybe sneaking into the Top 5. With a developing change and good velocity, he's a big school version of a guy like Nick Tropeano.
The fourth-year senior is guaranteed to sign if he intends to play professionally.
In his first two dominating outings this season, Reckling threw harder than he did Saturday night, when his fastball ranged from 86-91 mph. But of course, Reckling had struggled even when he had good velocity in years past because his command of his fastball was inconsistent. It was a more effective pitch Saturday, even without its best velocity.
The velocity on the fastball is practically the same, and that curveball remains as devastating as ever. Rice senior right-hander Matthew Reckling has integrated a change-up into his arsenal, but the significant difference between Reckling now and the Reckling of old has more to do with what is between his ears as opposed to his repertoire.
Rice JR RHP Matthew Reckling: 90-93 FB at start, velocity dips to 86-89 quickly; good 79-81 CB, loses effectiveness when it dips to mid-70s
As a sophomore last season, Reckling made just 10 appearances and started one game and had a 6.32 ERA in 15 2/3 innings. Opponents hit him at a .241 clip. Two seasons ago, opponents only hit the righty at a .252 clip but he had an unimpressive 5.84 ERA.
Last season, Reckling had issues developing an effective fastball. He also only threw in the upper 80s and occasionally broke into the 90s. Against Stanford to begin this season, his velocity and stuff were on a different level.
Reckling was consistently 88-92 and touched 93 MPH on occasion. Rice coach Wayne Graham added that the right-hander even touched 94 MPH during fall workouts, leading him to believe he was ready for a breakout season.
The Pirates have designated 30-year old lefty swinging outfielder Nate McLouth for assignment. McLouth played in 34 games for the Pirates this year and he was 8 for 57 (.140 avg, .385 OPS) with 4 runs scored, 0 homers, 2 RBIs and an amazingly bad 18 whiffs. McLouth has played in 515 games [...]
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ST. LOUIS (AP) St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman is expected to miss eight to 10 weeks following surgery Friday on his injured right knee.
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CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago White Sox have placed starting pitcher John Danks on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left shoulder and recalled left-hander Jose Quintana from Triple-A Charlotte.
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Unsatisfied with Rex Brothers' performance, the team chose to let him spend some time at AAA rather than let him work himself out at the MLB level. Brothers was optioned down for the first time in his career, so once the assignment reaches 20 days, he will have two remaining for future seasons. Adam Ottavino was recalled from the Sky Sox for the second time this season to take his place.
Chris Nelson, who is recovering from an injured wrist, was assigned to the Sky Sox on a rehab assignment. Jonathan Herrera joined Nelson on the 15 Day Disabled List with hamstring issues. DJ LeMahieu was recalled from the Sky Sox for the first time this season to fill the roster spot.
With the starting rotation full at AAA once again with Carlos Torres rejoining the rotation last week, the Sky Sox sent Brandon Hynick to Modesto, now the team most in need of starting pitching in the system. Dallas Tarleton rejoined the Sky Sox from the Nuts for the second time in 2012, again bolstering the catching depth with the team behind Wil Nieves, giving the team opportunities to play Matt McBride and Wilkin Castillo elsewhere. Also for the second time this year, Jimmy Cesario was promoted to AAA to fill the spot of LeMahieu when he was recalled.
Ben Paulsen was activated from the 7 Day Disabled List to fill Cesario's roster spot.
Lower minor leagues after the jump.A+:
The Nuts' roster continues to be a game of bizarre musical chairs. Josh Slaats was sent out to Extended Spring Training via the Dust Devils for the second time in a week, after being re-activated to make a start last week. Joining him was Michael Wolford, who had spent the past few days in the Nuts' bullpen. Outfielder Chandler Laurent was returned to Modesto from EST after a week there to replace Tarleton's spot. Leuris Gomez was sent out to EST as well to make room for first baseman Mark Tracy, making his seasonal debut after spending the first quarter of the season in EST. Gomez, however, returned to the team yesterday along with catching depth in the form of Michael Ramirez. I do not yet have the corresponding moves for either player (no press release was given).
David Kandilas was activated from the 7 Day Disabled List at the expense of Jordan Ribera. I am uncertain if Ribera was placed on the DL, a separate list, or reassigned. More detail may come when Matt Eddy releases his minor league transactions, which are late this week.
A couple of days ago, the Miami Marlins announced that Emilio Bonifacio was likely to miss four to six weeks following surgery on his thumb (scheduled to occur today). This dealt a blow to the Marlins' outfield depth, especially when combined with Austin Kearns's disabled list stint with a hamstring issue. Marlins fans were immediately concerned because Bonifacio had played well thus far this season, batting .268/.351/.315 with 20 steals in 21 attempts. Those numbers were good for a .329 wOBA, which is about five percent better than the league average.
Of course, there was more to Bonifacio's performance than just his offensive game, and no matter which system you ask, it seems Bonifacio has been a pretty solid negative out in center field defensively. Most systems have him between one and five runs below average thus far, which would amount t an astronomical loss in value by the end of the season. Even if you did not buy that, however, Bonifacio still contributed about 0.6 to 0.8 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) so far this season.
Now that he is out of the game, how can the Marlins replace him? Well, the truth is that the Fish may have an easier time than initially thought.Projections Versus Past
Sure, Bonifacio hit this well so far, in part because he heated up a bit before the injury (he hit .408/.448/.630 in the week before the injury, including all three of his triples). But it does not necessarily mean that he was going to continue hitting that way going forward. Here is what ZiPS projected for the rest of the season.
Do not mind that the numbers are lower in the projection, but take a good look at them. Are they not a completely realistic projection of how good Bonifacio should be going forward? His projected walk rate in this case is at 9.0 percent, which reflects his improvement at the plate without taking his 2012 performance at face value. His BABIP in the projection is .334, which is a slight drop from his career .340 mark due again to regression. Given that he is currently hitting .268, projecting a .263 batting average does not seem absurd. This projection is about as reasonable as one could make for Bonifacio going forward.
With that sort of batting line, ZiPS projects Bonifacio as a 1.0 WAR player through the rest of the season. Now, that also includes some poor defensive projections for Bonifacio, but even if you thought he would only cost the Marlins another run or two in the outfield, you would at best be looking at only a 1.5-win player for the rest of the season. This is decent, and it shows that Bonifacio is indeed growing as a player, but consider the alternatives.
Petey Better Than You Think
Compare Bonifacio's projection with that of fellow center fielder Bryan Petersen.
Petersen is not as fast or dynamic on the bases as Bonifacio, but even when you credit both players for their basestealing, Bonifacio still is not a whole lot better at the plate than Petersen. Their wOBA projections are basically even, and in total you can maybe give Bonifacio a two- to four-run advantage on the bases when it comes to non-steals. That is not a large edge on offense, and that is due in large part to the fact that Petersen has always been the guy into which Bonifacio has just now developed. Petersen's career walk rates in the minors (2074 PA in parts of six seasons) and in the majors (298 PA) are almost identical at around 10.1 percent, and his strikeout rate in the majors thus far more or less matches that of Bonifacio's. While the favored speedster has only recently become this player, it seems that Petersen's modus operandi has always been one of patience to make up for a lack of power.
Their difference on offense is also mitigated by their difference on defense. In center field, it is generally accepted that Petersen is the superior defender, if only because he has had greater experience in the field. If you give him a two-run advantage in the outfield (and that is just a conservative guess) going forward for the rest of the year, then we are basically talking about a difference between the two players of about two runs in 400 or more PA. Indeed, ZiPS projects Petersen to also be a 1.0 WAR player in 346 PA, very similar to what they showed for Bonifacio.
Now, Bonifacio is out for a maximum of six weeks, during which the Marlins would play 38 games. In that time, Petersen could get an estimated 165 PA worth of playing time, presuming he spent every day in center field. If the difference between these two players was about four runs in 360 PA, then the difference in 165 PA is almost two runs. Now yes, the Marlins could use every run possible in a potentially tight playoff race, but since this is not necessarily a fixable or preventable circumstance, there is no need to nitpick small amounts runs. This is especially true since we were being mostly generous about the difference between them, as the actual difference could be even lower. If the Marlins give Petersen the opportunity to play, it is very likely that the team would not even significantly feel the difference between these two very similar players.
The Backup's Backup
The problems of depth in the Marlins bench are another concern. While I generally do not worry about bench depth, it can have a significant effect if other players go down with injury and further backups like Triple-A callups Chris Coghlan and Kevin Mattison need to play consistently. Coghlan is in a rut, but he is likely better than this. Nevertheless, he is not a good defender and likely would cost the Marlins a few more runs from Bonifacio and Petersen's level. Mattison is not a real prospect and is really organizational filler, so his presence in the majors is a problem if he has to play consistently.
In other words, the Marlins will not feel a drop-off from Bonifacio to Petersen. They would, however, feel a drop-off if significant time has to be given to the backup's backups, as neither Coghlan nor Mattison can be counted on for significant playing time. The Marlins can live with their current situation, but any further injuries may make life and contention a little more difficult going forward.