Monday, November 24, 2008

Giants Sign Renteria?

According to mlbtraderumors, it appears as if that is the case. The Tigers get a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds, and one of the Giants draft picks. It will likely be the second round pick (sixth in the round), unless the Giants sign a second (and higher ranked) Type A free agent.

Update: It looks like it's not quite official, and potentially not imminent. Let's not count our draft picks until they hatch.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why Marte Wasn't Eligible

It turns out it's not the age on signing day, it's the age on June 5 on the signing year. This would mean Marte counted as an 18 year old signee and has an extra year before he can be taken in the Rule 5 draft. My apologies for having this wrong on the list. It will be corrected next year.

Still no word on why James Skelton was left unprotected.

Tigers Foolishly Leave Skelton Unprotected

The Tigers' catching at the upper levels is thin right now. How thin? Dusty Ryan is the only player in the organization capable of performing well in Toledo or Detroit this year. That is, if they get their way and James Skelton becomes somebody else's problem.

I'm not saying that James Skelton is a guarantee to step in and become the Tigers' everyday catcher, but when you have one capable upper level catcher and a weak free agent class, it makes no sense to expose a player -- one who has succeeded at every step of the minors -- to the Rule 5 draft. In this situation, the Tigers should be looking anywhere and everywhere for possible catchers next year. Whether it is for insurance for Dusty Ryan and his eventual backup, or to fill the holes left in Toledo (No, Andrew Graham and Max St. Pierre are not valid third catcher options). Risking losing a potential late season option is not the answer. Risking losing somebody who could be a viable catching option long term is worse.

My biggest fear is that the Tigers neglected Skelton for the wrong reasons. Not because Alex Avila and Dusty Ryan may project as better prospects than him. Not because of the lack of power. No, my fear is that he was left off the 40 man roster because he doesn't look like a catcher. While I've gone into the fallacies of that argument before, we can hopefully rest assured that if this move blows up in the Tigers' face, they will have learned their lesson. Unfortunately, by that time it would be too late.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Setting the 40-Man Roster

Tomorrow is the deadline for teams to submit their final reserve lists. These lists are in place to protect people from the Rule 5 draft in December. Players who signed at 18 or younger are eligible to be selected on their fifth draft since signing while others are eligible to be drafted in their fourth. The most notable reserve list is the team's 40-man roster, which protects players from the Major League draft. Meanwhile, there are are also reserve lists set for every level, protecting players from the minor league phases of the draft. These lists, however, are not made available to the public, so speculating on them would prove to be fruitless.

In trying to predict the Tigers' 40 man roster, the desire to protect young players with potential needs to be balanced with the needs of the Major League roster. While it would make sense to fill up all seven available spots with prospects, what happens when the team starts filling its needs and those same prospects are the ones exposed to waivers before their first spring training? For that reason, the first step I am going to take is to subjectively rank the players based on their likelihood of being removed from the 40 man roster.

The first group of players are those signed to big deals. These are the guys who have contracts or the service time to make it unlikely the Tigers will push them from the 40-man roster.
  1. Miguel Cabrera
  2. Curtis Granderson
  3. Magglio Ordonez
  4. Rick Porcello
  5. Placido Polanco
  6. Carlos Guillen
  7. Jeremy Bonderman
  8. Brandon inge
  9. Gary Sheffield
  10. Nate Robertson
  11. Dontrelle Willis
I am going to assume that all of these players will stay on the 40 man roster -- unless traded-- this offseason. Will it's not inconcievable to see Dontrelle Willis passed through waivers, he has the right to refuse an assignment and the Tigers would be out the $22 million in the process.

The next group of players are those who are not signed or are signed to very cheap deals for just the 2009 season, ranked again in a subjective manner estimating their approximate value to the Tigers on the 40 man roster this offseason. The players at the top of this list are safe from being outrighted, while the ones at the bottom are likely to be on the chopping block.
  1. Justin Verlander
  2. Joel Zumaya
  3. Matt Joyce
  4. Armando Galarraga
  5. Jeff Larish
  6. Dusty Ryan
  7. Bobby Seay
  8. Zach Miner
  9. Clete Thomas
  10. Michael Hollimon
  11. Ramon Santiago
  12. Marcus Thames
  13. Ryan Raburn
  14. Freddy Dolsi
  15. Clay Rapada
  16. Macay McBride
  17. Brent Clevlen
  18. Chris Lambert
  19. Fernando Rodney
  20. Aquilino Lopez
  21. Mike Hessman
  22. Eddie Bonine
Bonine is clearly the most expendable of the players on the 40-man now. Because of an ambiguously worded provision in the CBA, could be protected from removal from the roster between tomorrow and March 15 on account of his ending the season on the disabled list. For that reason, I'd expect him to be passed through waivers this week. Hessman, a minor league veteran, seems to be pretty expendable. Rodney and Lopez are eligible for arbitration and could be non-tender candidates. Chris Lambert was pretty awful in his cup of coffee and doesn't have the type of stuff that would justify keeping him on the roster in leu of some harder throwers. Brent Clevlen would be the last player whose spot is in jeopardy, as he is out of options and didn't even earn the call up in September.

Now, before I get into the players who need to be protected, I want to account for five roster spots that the Tigers could be using on free agents this offseason. One starting pitcher, two relievers, a catcher, and a shortstop are all likely to be acquired in some way or another. Will they all be free agents? Will some come via trades for other players on the 40 man roster, thereby not requiring a roster spot? For the purposes of this, I'll assume all five players will require a roster spot.

In order to figure out whether or not these players will need to be protected, we will need to place them in the list above and see if they still project to be in the top 40 at the end of the offseason. Some of the top players who need to be protected include:

Wilkin Ramirez-
The pros: Impressed in spring training last year, coming off a breakthrough season, scouts love his tools, almost certainly will be drafted if left unprotected.
The cons: Plate discipline is still lacking, could this season have been a fluke?
The verdict: One of the top prospects in the system, I would slot him between Larish and Galarraga on the list. He's a no-brainer to protect.

James Skelton-
The pros: Great OBP skills and contact ability. Has now sustained his performance in Erie and the Hawaii winter league.
The cons: The durability concerns, which are largely bogus, are likely to turn opposing scouts off of him, the lack of power could bring the OBP down later on.
The verdict: I ranked him just below Ryan on my prospect list, but there's a better chance he makes it through the draft. Because the Tigers don't have an incumbant at catcher, it makes sense to protect him. I'll slide him right between Dolsi and Rapada.

Luis Marte-
The pros: Dominated Lakeland, big arm, came on strong in the AFL.
The cons: The elbow questions still linger.
The verdict: As a possible bullpen contributer with injury concerns, it makes sense to rank him right above Macay McBride.

Casper Wells-
The pros: The power has shown at Erie and now in the AFL.
The cons: Scouts aren't convinced, and he could slip through the Rule 5 draft. Outfield depth is a strength of the Tigers, so he may not be missed if taken in the draft.
The verdict: We'll slot him right above Aquilino Lopez.

Zach Simons-
The pros: Big fastball, wowed scouts in Lakeland.
The cons: May not be MLB ready, struggled in the AFL.
The verdict: Worth protecting, but could be squeezed. I'll put him right below Wells, above Lopez.

Guillermo Moscoso-
The pros: Blew through Erie and Lakeland this year.
The cons: A bit old for those levels, doesn't have overpowering stuff, struggling in Venezuelan winter leagues.
The verdict: A notch below Simons, but still more appealing than Lopez.

Jay Sborz-
The pros: Big arm, succeeded in Lakeland.
The cons: Injury history, not MLB ready.
The verdict: Just between Hessman and Lopez.

Alfredo Figaro-
The pros: Hard thrower, good movement on his fastball, dominated in West Michigan.
The cons: Only success was in the biggest pitchers' park in organized baseball against players two years younger than him. Struggled in Lakeland, not MLB ready.
The verdict: Below Bonine.

Everybody else, including Williams Rhymes, Max Leon, and Josh Rainwater slots behind Alfredo Figaro.

So, wrapping this up, we have:
  1. Miguel Cabrera
  2. Curtis Granderson
  3. Magglio Ordonez
  4. Rick Porcello
  5. Placido Polanco
  6. Carlos Guillen
  7. Jeremy Bonderman
  8. Brandon Inge
  9. FA SS
  10. FA C
  11. FA SP
  12. FA RP
  13. FA/Rule 5 RP
  14. Gary Sheffield
  15. Nate Robertson
  16. Dontrelle Willis
  17. Justin Verlander
  18. Joel Zumaya
  19. Matt Joyce
  20. Armando Galarraga
  21. Wilkin Ramirez
  22. Jeff Larish
  23. Dusty Ryan
  24. Bobby Seay
  25. Zach Miner
  26. Clete Thomas
  27. Michael Hollimon
  28. Ramon Santiago
  29. Marcus Thames
  30. Ryan Raburn
  31. Freddy Dolsi
  32. James Skelton
  33. Clay Rapada
  34. Luis Marte
  35. Macay McBride
  36. Brent Clevlen
  37. Chris Lambert
  38. Fernando Rodney
  39. Casper Wells
  40. Zach Simons
  41. Guillermo Moscoso
  42. Aquilino Lopez
  43. Jay Sborz
  44. Mike Hessman
  45. Eddie Bonine
  46. Alfredo Figaro
  47. William Rhymes
According to this excercise, Guillermo Moscoso may be the odd man out if the team needs five roster spots this offseason. You may get a good idea of how close the Tigers are to making a trade if more than five players are added. As it stands, while Lopez, Hessman, and Bonine fall outside of the top 40, there is no reason to cut them loose quite yet. They can each be outrighted or non-tendered as the need for roster space requires. For now, I'll make the following transaction projection for tomorrow:

Purchased the contracts of P's Luis Marte and Zach Simons, C James Skelton, and OF's Wilkin Ramirez and Casper Wells.

Monday, November 17, 2008

IC Rankings - Week 13

  1. Alabama (1 Last Week)
  2. Texas Tech (2)
  3. Texas (3)
  4. Florida (4)
  5. Utah (5)
  6. Oklahoma (6)
  7. Ball State (7)
  8. Boise State (8)
  9. Penn State (9)
  10. Ohio State (10)
  11. Michigan State (12)
  12. USC (13)
  13. Oklahoma State (14)
  14. BYU (16)
  15. Cincinnati (17)
  16. Georgia (18)
  17. TCU (19)
  18. LSU (20)
  19. Pittsburgh (21)
  20. Missouri (23)
  21. Northwestern (22)
  22. North Carolina (15)
  23. Georgia Tech (NR)
  24. Oregon State (NR)
  25. Tulsa (11)
Also Receiving Votes: Western Michigan, Boston College, West Virginia, Maryland, Miami, Minnesota, Air Force, Oregon, Florida State.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Free Agent Catchers

For the Tigers, catcher is a position that is in a different situation than in the recent past. For the past five years, Ivan Rodriguez has had a hold on the position and there was very little in the way of prospects pushing him out the door. With Rodriguez gone, his replacement Brandon Inge back to third base, possible backup Vance Wilson gone via free agency, there is very little in the way of veteran incumbency. Looking down on the farm, Dusty Ryan had a breakout year, James Skelton continued to impress with his on base skills, and Alex Avila turned some heads in Instructional League after being drafted in the fifth round this year.

While a catcher in the short term is needed to split the time with Dusty Ryan and ensure that the position is covered if he isn't ready, with three pretty good catching prospects on the horizon, the Tigers probably won't feel like committing themselves to a catcher on a long term contract. As it stands right now, here is a really quick projection of the opening day catchers on each full season roster.

-Dusty Ryan

-Max St. Pierre
-Andrew Graham

-James Skelton
-Adrian Casanova

-Alex Avila
-Devin Thomas

West Michigan
-Joe Bowen
-Angel Flores

Other candidates
-Jeff Kunkel
-Charlie Lisk
-Tyler Weber

As it stands, a second major league catcher is an absolute must. It also appears as if a starter at Toledo is necessary as a third catcher. This means the Tigers have two holes to fill. For the purposes of this post, we'll say they will be filled through free agency.

What I have done is gone through each catcher I could find on the free agent market, either from the Major League front or the Minor League front, and categorized them based on a projected role that they would be capable of filling.

Possible MLB Starters/Backups
  1. Josh Bard: Billfer has already given him the endorsement, but he has emerged as my top target. Yes, he was downright brutal in '08, but he did put up very good offensive seasons for the Padres in 2006 and 2007. You can chalk it up to an injury, bad luck, or possibly a decline in skills. Throw in the fact that he'll be a one year commitment and his offensive skills match up with a platoon with Dusty Ryan, and it makes too much sense. Buy low.
  2. Ivan Rodriguez: Still is a capable player and is still healthy. The problem is that he wants a lot of money and a lot of years. If it gets to February and the Tigers need a catcher and Pudge needs a home, this could make some sense. In fact, that sounds somewhat familiar.
Possible MLB Backups
  1. David Ross: This is kind of a darkhorse. He's been cut free by the Reds and Red Sox in the past couple of months. I still see him as a guy who can hit some, and he has some success gunning down runners in the past couple of years.
  2. Gregg Zaun: Probably can't be counted on for an every day role. If the goal is to find somebody who can catch 100+ games and still be productive, another direction would probably be preferred. Zaun's skills are declining quickly.
  3. Henry Blanco: Still can cut down baserunners, but has never been that great of a hitter. At 37, this would be a backup at best.
  4. Jason Varitek: Will be too pricy. I've already addressed him.
  5. Javier Valentin: I wanted to mention him, but he didn't catch much this year. Can still hit some, but probably can't handle much more than 30 or 40 games behind the plate.
The following players are guys who would be suitable third catchers or Toledo starters. While the previous lists are in order of preference, this one is in no particular order.
  • Eliezar Alfonzo
  • Brad Ausmus
  • Paul Bako
  • Michael Barrett
  • Gary Bennett
  • Luke Carlin
  • Johnny Estrada
  • Sal Fasano
  • Toby Hall
  • Paul Hoover
  • J.R. House
  • Mark Johnson
  • Erik Kratz
  • Paul Lo Duca
  • Carlos Maldanado
  • Luis Oliveros
  • Guillermo Rodriguez
  • Chris Stewart
  • Justin Knoedler
One more guy I wanted to address is Vance Wilson. He evidently wants to return, and it could make some sense to let him rehab in the minors as an emergency option.

Offseason Transaction Tracker

I've updated the Offseason Eligibilities page to follow the offseason transactions. You can find that here. The next notable deadline in next Thursday, November 20. That is the day the reserve lists must be filed to protect players from the Rule 5 draft. How many spots the Tigers will fill depends on how active they are in free agency and trades before this deadline. Next week, I'll post some projections on who gets protected, but I want to see some things shake out first.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

IC Rankings - Week 12

Not much change this week, but here goes:

  1. Alabama (1 Last Week)
  2. Texas Tech (2)
  3. Texas (4)
  4. Florida (5)
  5. Utah (6)
  6. Oklahoma (9)
  7. Ball State (8)
  8. Boise State (10)
  9. Penn State (3)
  10. Ohio State (13)
  11. Tulsa (11)
  12. Michigan State (12)
  13. USC (17)
  14. Oklahoma State (7)
  15. North Carolina (19)
  16. BYU (20)
  17. Cincinnati (21)
  18. Georgia (22)
  19. TCU (15)
  20. LSU (18)
  21. Pittsburgh (NR)
  22. Northwestern (14)
  23. Missouri (NR)
  24. Minnesota (16)
  25. Air Force (NR)
Also Recieving Votes, California, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Western Michigan, West Virginia, Arizona, Oregon State, Boston College

Saturday, November 08, 2008

IC Rankings - Week 11

Just realized I didn't post last week's rankings... hope it's not too late. Things have stabilized and look remarkably similar to the real rankings.
  1. Alabama (3 Last Week)
  2. Texas Tech (7)
  3. Penn State (4)
  4. Texas (1)
  5. Florida (10)
  6. Utah (5)
  7. Oklahoma State (9)
  8. Ball State (8)
  9. Oklahoma (12)
  10. Boise State (11)
  11. Tulsa (2)
  12. Michigan State (15)
  13. Ohio State (14)
  14. Northwestern (18)
  15. TCU (19)
  16. Minnesota (6)
  17. USC (20)
  18. LSU (22)
  19. North Carolina (23)
  20. BYU (25)
  21. Cincinnati (NR)
  22. Georgia (13)
  23. Georgia Tech (NR)
  24. West Virginia (NR)
  25. California (NR)
Also Recieving Votes: Pittsburgh, Missouri, Notre Dame, Air Force, South Florida, Florida State, Western Michigan

Friday, November 07, 2008

Free Agents!

The list of minor league free agents is official: .

Certainly, there are some diamonds in the rough in there. I hope to have more on that next week.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Quick Plug

I'm going to be doing some guest spots over at The first one is a roundtable posted today.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Found 'em!

I've already gone through the AL Catchers. The players are correct, but there are some errors.

I've found three errors already.
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia's name is too long and caused some import problems that I didn't catch. He was, therefore, way too low in the projected rankings.
  • It appears as if suspension time doesn't count in the DL adjustment. John Buck, Miguel Olivo, and Ivan Rodriguez were all too high.
  • Even after adjusting, it appears as if they are still too high. When I take everybody's score and multiply it by 31*7/100, here is the error I'm getting for each player.
Joe Mauer -1.0
Victor Martinez 1.0
Jorge Posada -3.0
A.J. Pierzynski 2.0
Jason Varitek 0.0
Ivan Rodriguez 6.0
Ramon Hernandez -4.0
Dioner Navarro 0.0
Mike Napoli -2.0
Kurt Suzuki -2.0
Kenji Johjima -1.0
Miguel Olivo 3.0
Gregg Zaun -3.0
Kelly Shoppach 0.0
Gerald Laird 2.0
Mike Redmond 1.0
Rod Barajas -2.0
John Buck 0.0
Dave Ross 3.0
Jamie Burke 1.0
Jose Molina 0.0
Jeff Mathis 1.0
Jarrod Saltalamacchia -0.5
Jeff Clement -7.0
Rob Bowen 2.0
Kevin Cash 3.5
Toby Hall 1.0
Shawn Riggans 1.0
Guillermo Quiroz 1.0
Sal Fasano -3.0
Dane Sardinha -0.5
Vance Wilson 0.5

A positive value means I overestimated their ranking, a negative value means I underestimated. What do some of the bigger numbers have in common? Frankly, I'm not sure.

Also, Vance Wilson finished with zero. What is this a big deal? Well, he tied with Dane Sardinha with zero home runs. How could Sardinha have been ranked above Wilson? That makes no sense to me, and I'm at a loss to explain it.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Looking For a Complete List of Elias Rankings

I am trying to figure out some of the areas where my projections deviate from the actual results to refine them for next year. The problem is that I cannot do it with the bits and pieces of the rankings that are making it into some press releases. If anybody has the complete rankings, please shoot me an email. Thanks.