Friday, February 29, 2008
Chris Carlson: Those who don't look at position and age relative to level, Chris Carlson is a star. Once you realize he's 24 and has yet to graduate to full season ball, he's filler. I'd say 1B at West Michigan is likely.
Wade Lamont: Truly a nepotism pick, but there's nothing wrong with that. There will, however, be something wrong if he starts getting playing time over real prospects.
Ryan Roberson: Performed reasonably well in his role as Lakeland's firstbaseman last year. Barring problems this Spring, I could see him reprising that role in Erie. The end of the road is near though.
Ryan Strieby: A disappointment since being taken in the fourth round in 2006, Strieby should be in Lakeland this year, where he will get a final shot to prove his prospect status.
Henry Mateo: Primarily a secondbaseman, I see him returning to Toledo as another multi-utility man, playing second on days when Michael Hollimon is playing elsewhere. The three man bench in the top two levels makes Mateo an asset.
Justin Henry: Last year's ninth round pick was a surprise, and will probably be West Michigan's 2B. I'd bet on a disappointment. His 57% groundball rate and .372 batting average on balls in play tells me he was slapping the ball around the field and taking advantage of Low A ball infielders. If the Tigers need to give up a lower prospect in a deal to fill a hole, they would be wise to cash in on Henry's .340 batting average. It's not going to last.
William Rhymes: Promoted to Erie last year, Rhymes is a pretty nondescript 2B. I've got him penciled in at Erie, but that's probably as far as he'll get without some serious progression.
Shawn Roof: Can play both up the middle positions well, but his bat is not going to carry him. A possible backup infielder in Lakeland or West Michigan is likely if he makes it out of Spring Training on a team.
Jorge Patino: He has bounced all over the place the past couple of years wherever the Tigers need an infielder. A candidate to get released or backup as needed.
Caonabo Cosme: With Joe Nuxhall passing away this offseason, it's really a shame Caonabo Cosme didn't get a cup of coffee with the Reds last year so Nuxhall could pronounce this great name. Cosme is a utility man probably headed for Erie if there is room on the roster.
Joe Tucker and Mark Haske: Another run of the mill utility man, it's hard to say what separates Tucker from Patino, Roof, and Haske. Some of these guys are going to play in A Ball this year. Does it really matter who?
Derek Wathan: A minor league veteran probably brought in as insurance. I don't see much room for him at all at this point.
Erick Almonte: Once the guy who started at shortstop for the Yankees during a Derek Jeter injury, Almonte did very well splitting his time between Erie and Toledo. I could see him playing short at both places this year.
Brent Dlugach: Labrum surgery last year will leave Dlugach off the rosters for time being.
Roger Tomas and Eric Harryman: GCL Roster filler from last season. While Tomas may have impressed enough to stick around, I'd bet they are both gone.
Cale Iorg: I've got him pegged for Lakeland, based simply on the hype surrounding him. Frankly, both he and Audy Ciriaco probably belong in West Michigan, but there simply isn't room for both of them.
Audy Ciriaco: Struggled in West Michigan last year, and I've got him repeating.
Miguel Linares: Overexposed in Lakeland last year, I'd bet Linares isn't long for free agency.
Mike Bertram: Stuck at third without much in the way of offensive talent. He'll need to pick up a few more positions to stick around.
Ron Bourquin: I remember being lambasted on draft day for suggesting that Ron Bourquin was a poor man's Jack Hannahan. Now that Hannahan is essentially a starter in the big leagues and Bourquin has almost flamed out, it just goes to show that the value of draft picks will almost always peak on the day they are drafted. Bourquin is set to head to Lakeland or West Michigan at third base.
Kody Kirkland: He'll probably be back to Erie again for more swinging and missing.
Max Leon: One of the few pleasant surprises in Lakeland last season, Leon played most of '06 at second base and most of '07 at third base. He could be anywhere when camp breaks.
Nick McIntyre: As a Purdue graduate, it will pain me to say this, but Nick McIntyre's time has probably run out. His ability to play all over the field is nice, but he can't hit and there are better players in camp.
Carlos Ramirez: Played mostly at the infield corners last season in the GCL, and may be headed to West Michigan. I doubt it though.
Hayden Parrott: Struggled after moving from second base to third base last season. I don't think he's done enough to warrant a promotion to West Michigan.
Santo De Leon: A .344 slugging percentage from a corner position is not going to cut it. Playing in West Michigan's pitcher's haven or not, I'll bet De Leon is released.
Chris Maples: After a terrible season last year, Maples is probably done.
Ryan Seawell: Posted a .400 OBP in Oneonta last year. That may get him a spot in West Michigan.
Marc McBratney: Also put up solid numbers in the GCL. He was a college senior playing amongst a bunch of recent high school graduates though.
Cory Middleton: Whatever shine existed after his first two professional seasons is now gone. It will take a strong spring for Middleton to stay in the system.
Deik Scram: A .400+ BABIP in West Michigan is cause for skepticism. It will be interesting to see if the Tigers move Scram to center field this year, especially after Gorkys Hernandez was traded. I've got him in repeating Lakeland as a result of the upper level log jam.
Mike Sullivan: A possible fourth outfielder in West Michigan this year.
Brandon Timm: Once a ninth round pick, Timm is now questionable to stick in the organization this year after failing to seize opportunities in West Michigan and Oneonta.
Pedro Cotto: A fan favorite in 2006 with West Michigan, but he cannot hit. May find a spot somewhere, but I find it hard to believe his performance warrants it.
D'Andrea Vaughn and Londell Taylor: Toolsy draft picks from last year, neither guy should be in West Michigan this year.
Kody Kaiser: Performed admirably last year in Oneonta. He's earned a spot with the Caps.
Jeramy Laster: Finally should be off to Lakeland after three years in West Michigan.
Kyle Peter: He was drafted by the Red Sox in 2004 and the Tigers in 2005, 2006, and 2007. It's almost like he's related to David Chadd or something (He is). He played mostly centerfield last season and didn't embarrass himself. He could find a spot on West Michigan's team, especially with his exceptional speed.
Chris White: Another speedy center fielder. It's hard to tell a lot of these guys apart. He was actually drafted higher than Londell Taylor, who gets a lot more publicity because he is good at football. White's likely headed to Extended Spring Training.
Brennan Boesch: The 3rd rounder from 2006 took a big step back last season. There is room for him in Lakeland though, even though he didn't deserve the promotion.
Justin Justice: He's always struck out a lot and his name is going to lead to him sticking in a casual observer's memory. He's not much of a prospect and is probably going to repeat Lakeland or be cut loose.
Jason Perry: There may not be room for him in Toledo. It may be between Perry and Jackson Melian in the battle for Erie's Kurt Airoso Honorary Veteran DH Award. It's a very prestigious position.
Casper Wells: Last year, stories circulated about his attitude problems in years past. It explains why he was held back. The guy can hit, though. If there is room and he has shaped up, he could be in West Michigan.
Orlando Rodriguez: He can't hit. I don't see him making West Michigan.
Luis Arlet: He'll be overrated because of his age and luck with balls in play the past two years. He may crack West Michigan's outfield.
That should be everybody. Now to set a record for world's longest blog post, I'll make the final projections for the positions players on minor league rosters.
3B-Santo De Leon
Overall, things are pretty thin down on the farm. You may notice that the comments above may not match the projections. That is because I did the projections after brainstorming all of the comments. I'll update the projections throughout the Spring as events unfold. Certainly, there is a chain reaction that occurs with each roster decision made at the Major League level. It will be fun to track that as Spring Training progresses.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
And that's enough alliteration for one day.
Now to wrap up the minor league roster projections, it's onto the position players. Unlike the catchers, where there are likely to be two at each level, it is very hard to divide players up by position at each level. A lot of times the lines are blurred and players are tried at different positions. This especially happens at Toledo and Erie, where the mid-summer 23 man roster limits necessitate playing multiple positions. Yes, the old temporarily inactive list is used frequently to keep guys playing, but the point is that it is difficult to assign roles, such as starting firstbaseman or fourth outfielder to minor league position players. Like the pitchers, I'll start by listing the players in Major League camp who I project to miss the roster. I was going to start out by prioritizing based on prospect status, but it turns out most of the Tigers top prospects are in camp.
Mike Hessman: He must clear waivers, but I think he will. Underrated at third base because of his build. Tall players are often typecast as thirdbasemen even if they are great defensive 3B. This happened to my brother in high school, and in my opinion cost him a shot to play in college. Hessman will probably be the starting thirdbaseman at Toledo with plenty of opportunities to play corner outfield and first to boost his value as a bench player.
Brent Clevlen: The guy absolutely impressed in his time up with the big club in 2006. That has proven to be a mirage and a well-timed hot streak. Could Clevlen be the guy crowded out of a Toledo outfield spot?
Freddy Guzman: Dan Fox at Baseball Propsectus ranked Guzman as one of the best defensive outfielders in minor league baseball last season (Gorkys Hernandez was the best). This doesn't excuse the fact that he can't hit. While he is okay against left-handed pitching, using him as a defensive replacement for Curtis Granderson or Jacque Jones doesn't really make any sense. I have a feeling he'll be traded, but this projection will assume he is in Toledo.
Mike Hollimon: Billfer wants him to be the utility infielder. While he would be a better player than Ramon Santiago this year, I can't help but wonder if a full season at Toledo playing all over the place while getting regular at bats may be better suited towards being a possible replacement for our aging middle infield.
Jeff Larish: Will be the primary firstbaseman at Toledo this year. Like Hollimon, he could pull a Raburn and force his way onto the roster if he puts up a great season this year. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Larish gets some time in the outfield, again to improve his bench value.
Scott Sizemore: Came on strong in the second half last season at West Michigan, but the stats won't show it because of that horendous hitters park. I've got Sizemore penciled in at 2B in Lakeland, but I would imagine a strong spring would push him up to Erie.
Danny Worth: Just making it to Erie a couple months after being drafted was impressive, but succeeding there (Sample Size Alert!) should give him the nod as the AA shortstop this season. If he can show he was for real last season, he has the potential of making the Tigers think twice about picking up Edgar Renteria's option.
Matt Joyce: There are some who are completely sold on him being a future Tigers corner outfielder, but I'm not convinced he can hit enough. That said, I have a feeling the Tigers will find room for him in Toledo despite all of the veterans there.
Timo Perez: It's refreshing to see the Tigers realize that his late season run was likely a fluke. That kind of performance will get you $10 million per year from Randy Smith. He'll be in Toledo this year, and could get a shot at the roster if he proves he can actually hit now.
Wilkin Ramirez: All tools, no performance to date. I've got him staying in the outfield in Erie.
Clete Thomas: Took a nice step forward last season, but the crowded outfield in Toledo could force him to start out repeating in Erie. If that's the case, he'll get a midseason promotion if he warrants it.
I'll divide this portion into two parts as well. There are a lot of players I will cover tomorrow while trying to fill out these rosters. I want everybody to bear in mind that these are simply educated guesses. I'm not down in Spring Training, and I'm not communicating with the front office trying to get information. Tommorow, I'll finish up the position players and possibly update everything to include the Fernando Rodney and Francisco Cruceta situations.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The Cardinals released Scott Spiezio today after an arrest warrant was issued for his actions involving a DUI, hit-and-run incident in December. Spiezio took some time off last year to enter rehab, so he's clearly been having issues for a while. The question I have is this: when does Tony LaRussa get some of this blame?
This may admittedly be a slope slippier than a wheelchair ramp in an ice storm, but now that two Cardinals have had substance abuse problems since Tony LaRussa passed out at a red light, he has to eventually take responsibility. Having gotten a slap on the wrist and a vote of confidence from his bosses after the incident, LaRussa now lacks the ability and credibility to confront players when serious issues arise. Whether it's Josh Hancock or Scott Spiezio, it's LaRussa's job to keep them in line, and how can he do that when he himself made and stands by the poor choices of last Spring. If the Cardinals want to restore any dignity at all, they need to show Tony LaRussa the door. The man has always been a jerk, a fraud, a horrible husband, and a guy who gets the "intellectual" label because of a vision problem. On top of that, he lacks the ability to keep control of serious matters that crop up in his clubhouse. He's not fit to manage the St. Louis Cardinals anymore.
Now, let's compare the incidents of Scott Spiezio, Jim Leyritz, Josh Hancock, and Tony LaRussa to Jose Canseco's 1998 party and whether or not Roger Clemens made an appearance. Which one is setting a worse example for the kids in this country? That's what I thought. It's too bad Henry Waxman didn't get the memo.
The fellas who put together The Book did a great job at really drilling into the readers head how statistics can randomly fluctuate in small sample sizes. They cite the example of a player with a skill of a .330 OBP. They calculated that in 95% of players in 100 plate appearances whose true OBP skill is .330 will be between .236 and .424. For 50 plate appearances, the limits become .197 and .463. Intuitively, we know this. Every opening day there are jokes about how the player who hit a grand slam is on pace for a record 648 RBI's on the year. The case they bring up in the book frequently is that of a coin flip, an event which should be 50/50. If you flip a coin 4 times and land on tails 3 times, it's not a 75% chance that the coin will land tails. What the heck does this have to do with baseball? There is a ton of randomness, especially with balls in play. The one play I heard in the seventh inning that sticks out was Wilkin Ramirez's seeing-eye, groundball, two-RBI single. A lot beyond the skill of Wilkin Ramirez went into those two RBI's, but it is going to show up in the stat sheet as a two-RBI single. When players are only getting a small amount of at bats, lucky breaks like the one that Ramirez got today are weighed heavily and don't get to balance out. Just bear in mind when somebody screams "Sample Size!" it's a legitimate argument, especially in Spring Training. Just don't get me started on the NFL Combine.
The other huge problem with Spring Training statistics is the varied range of opponent strength. There are so many types of pitchers in Spring training. Aces, stud relievers, minor league journeymen, prospects, injured retirees on a comeback, minor league fodder, LOOGY's, ROOGY's, and so on. The Tigers' four run inning came against Willie Collazo, a guy who walked seven without striking anybody out in his time in the Big Leagues last year. The players, such as Brandon Inge and Wilkin Ramirez who batted in the seventh inning had a distinct advantage over players who may have gotten to face Johan Santana, for example. Imagine if Brandon Inge were in competition with Curtis Granderson, and Brandon Inge got to pad his stats against Collazo. It's not quite a fair playing field and needs to be factored in.
That said, it may be wise to stack Inge's at bats against weaker competition this Spring if the goal is to boost his trading value. Batting him against the scrubs and almost exclusively against lefties once the season starts could get his offensive rate stats around his career .277/.347/.459 mark against lefties should make him more attractive to some teams out there. It's only a matter of time before the Dodgers bring in somebody else to block Andy LaRoche.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
- Miguel Cabrera homered in his first at bat.
- Jeff Larish went 2/2 with two walks. Unfortunately, he also committed an error.
- Michael Hollimon, a man more deserving of a major league bench spot than Ramon Santiago, went 2/4 with a three-run homer. He too committed an error.
- Freddy Guzman went 3/4 with a triple. I'm not too excited about this, though. I worry when inferior players do well in Spring Training. Despite his speed and defense, Freddy Guzman would be a detriment to this team if he makes it over Ryan Raburn. I know it's probably not right to root against players, but in Spring Training, when things don't count and decisions are often made over too little information, I'd prefer it if players don't give the wrong impression.
- The same can go for Jordan Tata, who is a long shot for the team anyways. He got rocked in his inning and two-thirds of work.
Monday, February 25, 2008
This question is highly dependent on the Major League bench. I'm going to go with the notion that Vance Wilson will not be fully recovered at the start of the season and Brandon Inge has yet to be traded. That leaves this bench:
I know some have suggested that Raburn will be an options victim, but I would hope the Tigers take the best players they can. You could argue Raburn should be the team's starting leftfielder this season, but that's a whole other story. I've got Brandon Inge earmarked as the backup catcher, something that seems likely in the scenarios I've laid forth.
For the minor leagues, I am assigning two catchers to each team. Determining a starting catcher in the minors is a bit misleading. Often times, catching tandems are utilized to keep catchers fresh. The DH is frequently used to get the second catcher an extra start. This has been especially true in the short-season leagues, where the Tigers often assign four catchers. I'll give the run-down of players who could be catching in full season leagues this year before assigning them teams.
Dane Sardinha: At one point, he was a sure thing in the Reds system. Of course at that point, they couldn't look past the defense and see that the guy couldn't hit. Sardinha appears likely to return as the emergency catcher, getting a lion's share of the playing time just an hour's drive away in Toledo.
Max St. Pierre: Yes, he's still a catcher. The pitching experiment is over. St. Pierre has a great arm, but isn't much of a hitter. Are you sensing a trend yet? I'd have to imagine he's in Toledo this year, but you can never be too sure.
Andrew Graham: It's been five years since Graham was drafted, and he hasn't exactly stepped forward. As a backup in several locations the past couple years, Graham has not hit well at any stop. I'd expect Graham to be gone at the end of camp, unless there is room in Erie for him.
Nick Trzesniak: The only catcher the Tigers have who was once drafted in the first round. Okay, it was the supplemental round, and it was nine years ago. I see Trzesniak settling back into the role of AA caddie this season.
Dusty Ryan: His breakout season in 2004 was merely a mirage, the result of a .383 BABIP and the small sample size that accompanies short season leagues. Be weary of putting too much stock in the Oneonta's statistics. He'll need a strong Spring to move up to Erie, and there may not be room for him in Lakeland.
James Skelton: Did you know he was skinny? Anyways, barring an amazing spring, he's probably moving up to Lakeland after the fine season on the other side of the palm.
Joe Bowen: Sometimes, you can get a good idea of a player's skill from a small sample. In 25 plate appearances after his promotion to Oneonta last season, Bowen went 1/25 with 12 strikeouts. Yes, it is a small sample, but that is pretty horrible, and it's hard to believe bad fortune caused the performance. Bowen is an overrated prospect. The NRI could mean that he has the inside track on a job at West Michigan. If so, it will make the Caps fans long for the days of Joel Roa.
Jeff Kunkel: Kunkel seems like a guy who is going to be around the system as long as he wants. He may never sniff a day in the Majors, but the Tigers seem to love his leadership and defensive skills. He spent much of last season in West Michigan and Lakeland. It's hard to say where he ends up this year, but I'd have to imagine Lakeland or Erie.
Adrian Casanova: Started last year in Lakeland, only to mysteriously sit out several games before heading back to Oneonta. I have a feeling he's gone at the end of Spring.
Kris Rochelle: Drafted last year, but only got to play a couple games before breaking his finger. If he shows he's healthy, he could be in West Michigan at the start of the season. Otherwise, it's back to Oneonta to try again this summer.
Devin Thomas: The seventh round pick last year and favorite to get most of the playing time at West Michigan.
Derek Lehrman, Brandon Harrigan, Craig Maddox: It's hard to tell these guys apart. Harrigan was drafted last year, while the others were picked up to take some of the playing time in the GCL. None of them jump out at me as guys likely to be playing this year.
Jordan Newton: A disappointment after being drafted in 2006's sixth round. There had been reports of a possible outfield move, but he appears to be staying at catcher. I'd bet he gets one more shot at Lakeland or West Michigan in what will be a big year.
Angel Flores: A possibility to get some time at West Michigan, but nothing special.
Finally, I'll post the projections. I'll change these as things change or more information comes out over the course of the spring.
Max St. Pierre
Sunday, February 24, 2008
For a three game series, I estimated the likelihood of three games being played, two games being played, one game being played, and no games. I did the same for four and three game series. In the scenario of a game being rained out before the end of the series, I assume it to be made up as a doubleheader unless that doubleheader is rained out. This was pretty simple to do in Excel.
I went all the way out to the All Star break this time. I assumed that despite the fact that the rotation will be shaken up, this will be accounted for in the randomness after mid May. For example, the probability of the rotation spots pitching in the late June Colorado series is:
Rather than assume 10% of games being rained out, I went through and calculated the percentages of games rained out in a month in the ball parks since 2002. For Comerica in April, this is 8.2%, but just 1.2% in June. Fenway (14.3% in April) and Progressive Field (15.5% in April) are by far the highest postponement risks. In the event that no rainouts occured in an outdoor park since 2002 (Comerica in July plus all of the California parks in June), I assigned a low value <0.5% to the rain-out risk, since there is still some possibility.
The results this time were a bit different. Below I list the sum of the (LOPS-ROPS)*P, where P is the probability of pitching in a series against the team.
It appears as if the best places to throw the right-handed pitchers are the #1 and #5 spots. This creates a bit of a problem because one of the constraints we had was the fact that Leyland rightfully likes to separate Bonderman and Verlander. Using purely this chart, Verlander would probably be the #1 starter with Bonderman at #5. I would throw Rogers #2, since he is more likely than the other two lefties to miss time and be replaced by a right-handed alternative. Now, where should we place Willis and Robertson? Because Dontrelle Willis is a strong hitting pitcher, it would make sense to place him in the rotation spot where he is most likely to get to bat in an NL Park. Here's the average games started in an NL Park by rotation spot:
Using this model, it appears as if Willis would be best utilized as the #4 starter. So, the optimized rotation is now:
1. Justin Verlander
2. Kenny Rogers
3. Nate Robertson
4. Dontrelle Willis
5. Jeremy Bonderman
One big caveat with this analysis: one shift in the rotation can throw everything off. For example, if the #3 starter wakes up feeling sick and switches spots with the #4 starter in the middle of April, we get this rotation:
1. Justin Verlander
2. Kenny Rogers
3. Dontrelle Willis
4. Nate Robertson
5. Jeremy Bonderman
It makes sense that #3 and #4 would simply switch. Now, what happens if Jeremy Bonderman feels sick one day in mid April and is skipped, moving everybody in the rotation up one spot? I don't have a way to simply model this happening, but you have to imagine that the imperfections of a starting rotation perhaps make this exercise irrelevant.
Friday, February 22, 2008
- Rick Porcello: Apparently this kid is pretty good. I've heard conflicting reports as to whether he ends up in Lakeland or West Michigan. The polish that scouts see and the Tigers' tendency to keep their stud pitchers in the warm weather tells me Porcello will be in Lakeland's rotation.
- Josh Rainwater: A meddling A-ball swing man, I probably should have included Rainwater yesterday as a long shot for Erie's staff. He may need a strong spring to stay in the organization.
- Matt Righter: Went back and forth between Erie and Lakeland last year in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. Not much of a prospect, but could find him self as a swing man in Lakeland.
- Santo Franco: The Dominican reliever put up nice K rates in rookie ball last year. He may make a push for West Michigan's bullpen.
- Jay Sborz: It's been five years since he and Sleeth were taken 1-2 in the draft, a draft that is now truly a disaster. Needs a strong Spring to remain in the organization.
- Orlando Perdomo: West Michigan's closer in 2006, had a set back from his Tommy John Surgery. I'm not going to pencil him into any full season staff just yet.
- Ramon Garcia: Broke down after 75 strong innings in West Michigan two years ago. He was unable to return to form last year. As with Perdomo, until healthy, I'm going to assume Extended Spring Training.
- Justin Miller: A local boy picked up as an extra lefthanded arm down the stretch last year. I'll assume EST unless there is a need for a lefty reliever in Lakeland.
- Chris Homer: The one time Erie closer spent his time in rookie ball last season rehabbing from shoulder surgery. He seems likely to be cut.
- Collin Mahoney: There was a time when Mahoney was a hard throwing "Closer of the future." When he was unable to throw strikes in A ball, that label died. I'm guessing he is shown the door unless he can instill hope he can walk less than 12 guys per nine innings.
- Santo Mieses: Held his own in the GCL bullpen. Could be a candidate for West Michigan.
- Dario Carvajal: Pitched well in a duel role in the GCL last season. Could join West Michigan's staff.
- Wilton Garcia: As with the previous two guys, pitched well in his first season stateside last year. If the late season promotion to Oneonta is any clue, Garcia seems destined for West Michigan's bullpen.
- Adriano Santos: This will be his fifth season stateside, and he has yet to make much of a mark. May need a strong spring to keep his career alive.
- Luis Gil: The one time middle infielder's transformation to pitching got off to a great start three years ago, but injuries proved it was too much. He could crack a staff if he's healthy this Spring, but it doesn't seem like a guarantee.
- Phil Napolitan: Now 26, and yet to graduate past Grand Rapids. As an organizational favorite, he could stick around, but I doubt it.
- Zach Piccola: Fell out of favor after being taken in the 9th round in 2006. He had problems throwing strikes. I'm not sure where he'll be or if he'll break camp with the organization.
- Kelvin Cedano: His first season stateside was a successful one that saw him crack West Michigan's bullpen. I'm going to assume he starts there this year.
- Mark Brackman: The latest in the workhorse groundball types. I see him in West Michigan's rotation this year.
- Jon Kibler: Kibler impressed some folks last year in the summer leagues and performed well in his professional debut. I've got him pegged for West Michgian's rotation.
- Sean Finefrock: May crack West Michigan's rotation if there is room.
- Brandon Johnson: Also may make it to Grand Rapids if roster space allows.
- Manny Miguelez: Drafted as a raw lefty, seems to be a good choice for West Michigan's rotation.
- Noah Krol: Probably West Michigan's closer, but could be the beneficiary if Jensen is pushed to Erie.
- Erik Chricton: Another solid reliever from last year's Oneonta squad. I see him in West Michigan this year.
- Paul Hammond: A lefty organizational soldier. It's hard to tell if he will be anywhere.
- Rudy Darrow: Seems to have a shot at West Michigan's pen.
- Richard Zumaya: Has impressed some folks, and could start off in West Michigan.
- Aaron Fuhrman: Probably needs a year in Oneonta before reaching West Michigan.
- Brandon Hamilton: Should crack West Michigan with a strong Spring.
- Luke Putkonen: Out for the first part of the year, will start in extended Spring Training.
The Cut list is pretty generous. As soon as injuries and other unforeseen circumstances strike, there will be room for guys like Connolly, Johnson, and Martinez in Erie and Toledo. I'll look through the catchers next, while updating the pitching projections over the course of the preseason.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
- No players will be lost on waivers. While, this is not an entirely accurate assumption, roughly 90% of players placed on waivers in spring training clear. These players will qualify for the minor league rosters. If time goes on and somebody gets claimed on waivers, I will adjust the projections accordingly
- No injuries will occur aside from the ones already reported. We know, for example, that Luke Potkonen had minor shoulder surgery and won't be pitching until mid-summer. Brent Dlugach's shoulder is still recovering from labrum surgery, and prized draft pick Casey Crosby would have to recover about a year ahead of schedule from Tommy John to even think about starting the season on an active roster. Joel Zumaya won't be back until summer, and Vance Wilson is still doubtful to be ready in time on opening day. There are a few other injuries out there, but I'm not going to assume, for example, that Fernando Rodney will start on the disabled list because he felt a little pain this morning. I'll adjust the rosters later on as injuries are reported.
- No external moves will occur. Yes, it is very possible a team becomes desperate for a thirdbaseman and picks up Brandon Inge. It is also possible the Tigers claim a player off of waivers, make a trade, or pick up a minor league free agent. I will not incorporate those moves into these projections until made official.
Jason Grilli, Zach Miner, Yorman Bazardo, Denny Bautista, and Francisco Cruceta will be fighting for the last three spots. It is very difficult to say who gets those spots. Zach Miner is the only one with options, but he is the one who Leyland has hyped this most this spring. Cruceta and Bautista are wildcards. Based on the fact that they are unknown and have the most downside, I am going to leave them as the odd men out for now, leaving Grilli, Miner, and Bazardo in the pen.
There are several candidates for Toledo's pitching staff this year. Here's how Toledo's opening day pitching staff has broken down the past few season:
- Virgil Vasquez: Probably a lock for the Toledo rotation.
- Jordan Tata: Also a virtual lock for the Toledo rotation.
- Armando Galarraga: Just acquired from Texas, and will probably join Toledo's rotation.
- Macay McBride: As reported earlier in the week, the Tigers plan on stretching McBride out and making him a starter. Whether this leaves him as part of a starting tandem, in the rotation on his own, or as a long man will remain to be seen. I'm going to include him as a Toledo starter.
- Clay Rapada: The backup LOOGY with two options left, Rapada will be in Toledo's bullpen to start the season.
- Denny Bautista: A one time starter, Bautista worked entirely out of relief last year. If he is in Toledo, it would likely be as a reliever and spot starter. I'll start him in Toledo's bullpen.
- Francisco Cruceta: It's very likely Cruceta will be with the big club, but due to the roster crunch, I am going to start him in Toledo's bullpen as an arm in waiting.
- Francis Beltran will probably be in Toledo's bullpen. Still under two years removed from Tommy John Surgery, he should put up a strong year this year.
- Freddy Dolsi spent last season in Lakeland, and is doubtful to start the year above Erie.
- Jeff Gerbe spent most of last season in West Michigan, and I would be surprised to see him start above Erie.
- Chris Lambert will probably be the fifth member of Toledo's rotation.
- Preston Larrison regained some velocity last season and will probably be in Toledo's bullpen this year.
- Aquilino Lopez went back and forth between Toledo and Detroit last season, and will probably return as Toledo's closer this season.
- Matt Mantei's comeback has gotten off to a fine start. While Troy Percival's comeback last season helps to maintain the hope that he will return, it is still a long shot. I don't know the specifics of his out clauses, but for the moment I will pencil Mantei in as a the Hens' twelfth reliever.
Here's a quick list of players who spent a portion of last season in AA or AAA. While I don't have room for them on Toledo's roster, don't rule them out especially if a player is claimed off waivers or an injury occurs.
- Eddie Bonine: Spent much of last season in Erie's rotation and probably deserves a spot in Toledo's rotation.
- Juan Cedeno: One time top Red Sox prospect brought over in the Rule 5 draft. Probably could be a starter or reliever.
- Danny Christensen: Acquired from Kansas City for Roman Colon, Christensen could be a starter or reliever at Erie or Toledo.
- Jon Connolly: A great minor league innings eater, I'd expect him in Erie's rotation so long as there is space.
- P.J. Finigan: Recovering from Tommy John surgery last summer.
- Ben Fritz: Another Rule 5 pickup and a candidate for Toledo's rotation.
- Jeremy Johnson: Split last season as a reliever between Erie and Toledo.
- Andrew Kown: A starter in Erie last season.
- Anastacio Martinez: A reliever in Toledo last season.
- Orber Moreno: One time top relieving prospect, attempting a comeback from injuries.
- Ian Ostlund: Lefty reliever who has spent time at Erie and Toledo the past couple of seasons.
- Marcelo Perez: Minor league pickup from the Mets.
- Matt Rusch: Put up fine numbers last season despite skipping a level.
- Anthony Tomey: Got to know the Ohio turnpike pretty well last year going between Toledo and Erie.
- Danny Zell: Another solid season put up by an Erie reliever. As with Rusch and Tomey, he move up to Toledo if there is room.
- Luke French: Lakeland's best pitcher last season will likely get a promotion to Erie.
- Alfredo Figaro: Scouts love his stuff, and he bounced around the lower levels last season. I doubt he crack's Erie's staff.
- Matt O'Brien has always been a bit old for his levels. Now pushing 26, he will need to put up a good spring to stay in the system.
- Eleazar Aponte: A bit disappointing in his second season stateside last year, Aponte bounced around and was hit hard in Lakeland. I doubt he makes it to Erie.
- Sendy Vasquez: Nobody took a bigger step backwards than Vasquez, who went from a great season in West Michigan to bombing in Lakeland amidst a steroid suspension.
- Kyle Sleeth: Now almost three years removed from Tommy John surgery, it can no longer be used as an excuse. Sleeth will need to show something this spring to avoid being cut.
- Guillermo Moscoso: Now 24, will have to rocket through the system this year to become an impact player. I'd expect him in Lakeland or West Michigan to start the season.
- Gabriel Benitez: A great arm that struggled last year in Lakeland. I doubt he is promoted.
- Brendan Wise: The Aussie had a great breakout season last year, and I expect him to crack Erie's bullpen. If there is veteran backlog, he could return to Lakeland to be promoted later in the season.
- Derek Witt: Your typical run of the mill low level reliever. I don't think he crack's Erie's staff.
- Angel Castro: Promoted mid-season from West Michigan to Lakeland last year. Drafted in 2006 and now 25, he will need to move fast. If he has a strong spring, there's not much standing in his way to make Erie's rotation.
- Erik Averill: Had Tommy John surgery last season and probably won't be ready until this summer.
- Duane Below: Made a strong case to skip Erie. It's mostly fodder in the rotation now, so he can push his way into Erie with a strong spring.
- Charlie Furbush: Pitched very well last season, but I expect him to be in Lakeland or West Michigan's rotation.
- Lauren Gagnier: A bit of a disappointment last season. Could be in Lakeland or West Michigan as a reliever or starter, or could be let go.
- Luis Marte: The short Dominican reliever did well in the GCL last season, but didn't dominate A ball. I'd expect him back in West Michigan.
- Jonah Nickerson: Really came on strong towards the end of last season. A strong possibility for Lakeland's rotation.
- Brett Jensen and Casey Fien: Both had great season's last year. There doesn't appear to be room in Erie's bullpen, so I will have them anchoring Lakeland's pen to start this year.
That's a lot of information for one post. I'll come back tomorrow with a rundown of the rest of the candidates, a projection for Lakeland and West Michigan's staffs, and a summary of who is leftover perhaps revising the rosters. I will say this: Glenn Ezell and company have their work cut out for them this spring, as there don't appear to be clear cut spots for a lot of the pitchers.
Right-hander Fernando Rodney, counted on for a crucial role in the Tigers' bullpen, has had pain in his throwing shoulder this week.For a bullpen with a lot of question marks, this is definitely bad news. I worry about lingering shoulder problems in any player. Pain is the body's way of telling us something isn't right. While this could be tendonitis again, the fact that it hasn't gone a way is troubling. This just goes to show why it helps to have depth in the bullpen in the spring.
Is this ominous news for the regular season? Or is it a minor spring-training health issue that will be forgotten by Opening Day?
That will be impossible to say until Rodney shows whether he can pitch without any problems in the upcoming monthlong exhibition season.
Rodney said Wednesday the shoulder pain is similar to the pain he had last season that forced him onto the disabled list.
Instead of trying to pitch through the pain, as he did last season, he is being cautious and has ceased pitching, at least for a few days.
Update: It looks like he's fine.
There's some concern here about Fernando Rodney, who complained of some soreness in his right shoulder. But Rodney played catch for eight minutes this morning, and said later that he felt good.
"It's nothing bad,'' Rodney said.Tiger officials suspect that Rodney is simply going through normal early-spring soreness, but because he's had injury trouble in the past, they want to make absolutely sure that he's all right.
Certainly problems like this that keep cropping up without going away are a cause for worry. The big problem is that it is difficult to separate normal soreness from pain and injury. Obviously, the hope is everything is okay. Without Fernando Rodney in the bullpen, crucial innings will likely go to an unknown. While a Bautista or Cruceta could break through, we all remember what happened when Jason Grilli and Zach Miner got eighth inning work during Rodney's injuries last year. It wasn't pretty.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
The plan on McBride is to stretch him out this spring as a starter and try to recapture some of the success he had in that role earlier in his career. Plus, Seay and Byrdak appear set as the left-handed options for the bullpen.
That seems interesting and certainly gives the Tigers another option as a long man. McBride still has an option left, so the stretching out can take place in Toledo. In 2002, he put up a 2.12 ERA with 7.9 k/9 in A ball and followed that up in High A with a 2.95 ERA and 102 k/9. Also looking at the numbers, McBride seemed to have his walks under control as a starter. This looks like a worthwhile experiment.
Monday, February 18, 2008
A lot of the rotation talk will focus on the order of the rotation, and who deserves to go in which spot. The best way to tackle the rotation is to look at the match-ups of the opponents. Below are the OPS vs. LHP - OPS vs. RHP for each American League team in 2007.
Tampa Bay 0.065
Kansas City 0.028
Los Angeles Angels -0.002
New York -0.055
If we assume the tendencies stay the same (an assumption that may not hold for overhauled lineups like Minnesota, Chicago, and Oakland), this table shows that you want your right-handed pitchers facing teams like Toronto and Tampa Bay, while saving the lefties for Boston, Minnesota, and New York.
Looking at the Tigers first 20 opponents, the starters would face the following teams:
Next I averaged the OPS differences for each opponent, putting Kenny Rogers between Jeremy Bonderman and Justin Verlander, and assigning remaining highest split to Dontrelle Willis, who has a bigger split for his career than Nate Robertson. The result was:
Can you imagine the outcry if Justin Verlander was not the opening day starter? Indeed, this seems to make the most sense. The opening day starter will appear to miss the right-handed heavy Blue Jays. It would be best if that pitcher is left handed. Surely, there must be a way to justify the decision to make Justin Verlander the Opening Day starting pitcher.
The above analysis ignores an all too common phenomenon that occurs in April: postponements. When looking through parks where the Tigers play outdoor games, I found roughly 10% of games April 20 or sooner are rained out. I made some quick assumptions to make the calculations a bit easier:
- Only the last game of a series getting rained out affects the rotation. I am assuming that games earlier in the series will be made up the next day.
- Only one game can be lost per series. This one is a bit precarious, especially after the blizzard in Cleveland last year. This cuts down scenarios significantly leaving only six games to worry about.
- The Tigers five starters will stay healthy and pitch their turn throughout the course of the first 20 games.
- Only one or two of these games will be postponed. Scenarios of three or more were deemed unlikely, and their probability was close to zero.
According to this, the right-handed pitchers should go 1-2, with the lefties going 3-5. 1,3, and 4 are interchangeable. I am going to move one of the right-handers from 1 to 4 to split them up, and put Rogers in between. Bonderman has a higher platoon split than Verlander, so he will go in the #2 spot. Dontrelle Willis's platoon split will put him into the #5 spot, leaving the rotation as:
1. Nate Robertson
2. Jeremy Bonderman
3. Kenny Rogers
4. Justin Verlander
5. Dontrelle Willis
I don't think that rotation would be too popular, even if this study shows it to be the most effective. There were so many assumptions and shortcuts made here, that this rotation may not even be the best. Jim Leyland will still have to consider home/away splits, and other factors that come up. Still, while it is a nice reward for your ace, it is not always the best strategy to pitch your best pitcher on opening day.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
|Jack Cust||San Diego||3/17/2007||Cleared|
|Sean Tracey||Chicago White Sox||3/23/2007|| Baltimore |
|Chris Narveson||St. Louis||3/24/2007||Cleared|
|Jermaine Van Buren||Washington||3/25/2007||Cleared|
|Adam Donachie||Kansas City||3/26/2007||Cleared|
|Luis Terrero||Chicago White Sox||3/27/2007||Cleared|
|Scott Dohmann||Tampa Bay||3/28/2007||Cleared|
|Kenny Ray||Kansas City||3/28/2007||Cleared|
|Andy Phillips||New York Yankees||3/30/2007||Cleared|
|Jon Adkins||New York Mets||3/30/2007||Cleared|
|Merkin Valdez||San Francisco||3/30/2007||Cleared|
|Andrew Brown||San Diego||3/31/2007||Cleared|
|Justin Germano||San Diego||3/31/2007||Cleared|
That's 47 players placed on outright waivers last spring training, with 41 clearing. That's 87.2% of players who could not make the roster making it through waivers without a problem. On top of that, what has happened to those players who were claimed?
Sean Tracey is best known as the pitcher who Ozzie Guillen called out for not throwing at a hitter. He wasn't even out of options last spring, so the White Sox were simply trying to clear room on the 40 man roster for somebody. He was then claimed by Baltimore, who eventually removed him after getting injured and struggling in the minors.
Texas claimed Ezequiel Astacio off waivers from Houston. Out of options, the Rangers also had to send him through waivers, where he cleared and put up a 5.5 ERA in AAA Oklahoma over the course of the season.
Jeff Salazar still had an option remaining, so he was claimed when he didn't have to be sent through waivers. Still, as a fourth outfielder at best, the Rockies didn't miss much from losing him.
J.D. Durbin is the most interesting of all of these guys. Ranked as the Twins' #10 prospect last year, injuries forced Durbin into running out of options in the spring. Not making the Twins roster, he was claimed off waivers by Arizona (8th priority). Arizona then tried to slip him through waivers, where he was claimed by Boston (20th priority). Boston, also without room on the roster for Durbin, put him on waivers, where he was claimed by Philadelphia (18th priority). Philadelphia, in what must have been a tumultuous few weeks for Durbin, pushed him through waivers, this time clearing. You could make the case that Durbin was lost as a result of being out of options, but the the Twins were truly serious about wanting him, they could have claimed him when Philadelphia put him out there. Durbin eventually put up an ERA north of 6 with meddling ratios in 65 innings of work as a swing man. This is not a move the Twins will end up regretting.
Michael Garciaparra was claimed by Philadelphia. In addition to being the latest to come down with Billy Ripken Syndrome, Garciaparra still had three option years remaining, and put up pathetic numbers across three levels last year before being moved off the roster.
In conclusion, two players who were out of options were claimed off waivers last Spring. Both cleared waivers within a month after being claimed. The amount of options a player has left should not be considered in whether or not he makes a roster.
The Minor League section:
Every player in the organization is listed there with their career statistics. While most players are known and their stats are available online, some transactions go unreported, such as the late January signing of minor league utility man Derek Wathan. Also, this is the closest thing we have to an up-to-date list of recent Domincan and Venezuelan signings. Many of these have been reported, but I wanted to give a list of all the players who have been signed that did not play last year:
|Gino||Aguirre||RP||R||R||6.20||155||9/12/1990||Nueva Esparta, VZ|
|Alexander||Nunez||SS||R||R||5.11||172||5/4/1990||La Vega, DR|
|Josue||Carreno||RP||R||R||6.01||170||6/26/1991||Edo Nueva Esparta, VZ|
|Raynolds||Guzman||C||R||R||6.00||185||9/16/1990||Santo Domingo, DR|
|Yinio||Calderon||SP||R||R||6.04||170||11/16/1990||La Vega, DR|
|Emmanuel||Del Orbe||SP||R||R||6.03||188||12/20/1990||Santo Domingo, DR|
These signings happen throughout the year, and more guys will be brought in between the printing of this guide and the start of the summer leagues.
One other name you may not recognize is Darwin DeLeon, previously known as Edward Reynoso. Will he come state-side this year after dominating the Dominican Summer League last year? I know the answer, but can't tell. Check out Tigstown.com to get the list of those coming to the states this year.
The list of major league players in the media guide is pretty useful:
Most of the information is available online through MLB.com. There is one bit of information, though, that isn't. That's the service time. It may be a bit confusing when seeing it the first time around. It may seem like a pretty big coincidence that no players have fractional service time that exceeds X.2. This is because service time is not represented in a decimal form. For example, Tim Byrdak's Major League Service is listed as 2.161. This is not 2 years plus another 161/1000 of a year. It's actually 2 years and 161 days in a year, where 172 days counts as a full season. There is no rounding in service time. If you are at 5.171, you have to wait a whole season to become free agent eligible.
Pitchers and catchers officially report tomorrow, but if it makes anybody feel better, most players have already reported to Spring Training. The greatest time of year is almost here. I can't wait.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Tony Giarratano Released
A setback in his rehab was reported last month, and the feable Tony Giarratano era came to a screaching halt with his release last week. It became clear that he was never going to be able to stay healthy enough to play shortstop for the Tigers. The ultimate result of this transaction is a free roster spot, and the team's medical resources are able to be focused on players who have played since 2006.
Curtis Granderson Signs Extension
5 years/30.25 Million with an option year is an absolute steal. I had Granderson making 26 million through arbitration leading up to free agency. Yes, this deal only buys out one or two free agency years, but somebody of Granderson's on and off-field value is worth much more than this.
Acquired Armando Galarraga from Texas for Mike Hernandez
Undoubtedly, this will be bemoaned by minor league hounds, who grow attached and overrate anybody in the Tigers minor league system (see Bierd, Randor). This is still a solid trade. Galarraga had been designated for assigment by Texas last week, similar to Yorman Bazardo last year. Already 26, Galarraga missed much of 2002 and 2003 recovering from Tommy John Surgery and had further elbow problems in 2006, delaying his arrival. With one option year left, Galarraga will probably be in Toledo's rotation this year. I think this is a fine pickup, given his career strikeout rates.
Mike Hernandez is a fine story, picked out of a tryout camp a year after finishing college, he got off to a great start in both 2006 and 2007, but cooled off significantly. We are still talking about a 24-year old restricted to first-base with a career .320 minor league OBP. This is not a big loss.