June 2006

D-Rays Shopping Crawford

Back on December 5th, a source close to Tampa Bay’s scouting department threw out the idea that Carl Crawford could be dealt.  In particular, the Devil Rays had interest in 23 year-old righthander Ervin Santana.  Despite new management since then, the rumor has picked up steam.

My source tells me that talks have resumed between the Devil Rays and Angels and the Halos may even consider adding a second prospect with Santana to acquire Crawford.  Brandon Wood is a possibility. 

The Rays would like to deal an outfielder now with a Delmon Young callup in the cards for September or Opening Day 2007.

In his sophomore season, Santana has sharpened his control and lessened his home run rate to become a solid #3 starter behind Kelvim Escobar and John Lackey.  Component ERA says Santana’s 4.32 ERA should actually be closer to 3.29 based on his peripherals.

Crawford is at .303/.349/.454 after 56 games, well ahead of PECOTA’s .287/.321/.426 projection.  He’s signed for 2007-09 for a total of $17.5MM, while PECOTA puts his worth at about $21MM over those three seasons.  The Rays know they can leverage their outfield surplus to add a solid young starter behind Scott Kazmir

Kaz Matsui Sent To Rockies

The Mets finally decided to bite the bullet and eat Kaz Matsui‘s awful contract, sending him to the Rockies.  The best they could do for him was Eli Marrero, a 32 year-old journeyman who plays catcher, first base, and outfield.

In searching for positives about bringing in Marrero, I must note his solid .467 slugging percentage in 60 at-bats this year.  Marrero once hit 18 HR in less than 400 at-bats (2002 Cardinals) so he does provide a little right-handed pop off the bench.

Matsui has agreed to the deal and will report to Triple A for a little while.  The Rockies probably want him to prepare as a shortstop, a position he hasn’t played since 2004.  Matsui posted a woeful .504 OPS in 130 at-bats this year, which is actually worse than Clint Barmes‘s .558 mark.  There’s at least some hope that the 27 year-old Barmes can snap out of it and at least hit like a league average shortstop.  Still, this isn’t a gamble for Colorado since the Mets are paying Matsui’s $8MM salary. 

Five More Jason Grimsley Facts

I thought I would play my part in the Jason Grimsley extravaganza by digging up some useful, exclusive info.  Sadly, that didn’t happen.  Instead, I found the following innocuous facts:

1.  One of Grimsley’s best friends is former Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti.  Tremonti created the band Alter Bridge after Creed’s singer left.  There’s a funny story about Grimsley when he was a Yankee where Joe Torre yelled at Grimsley for throwing batting practice to Tremonti and other band members even though he was still on the DL.  Tremonti’s agent denied an interview request; Alter Bridge is currently on tour in Europe.

2. A Cessna airplane once crashed into Grimsley’s home in Overland Park, a Kansas City suburb.  Five were killed in the crash but Grimsley’s wife and kids were unharmed.

3. Grimsley only has nine toes because of a motorcycle accident from his youth.

4. He was a player’s union representative back in 2003, and some of his comments drew the ire of fans.

5. A couple of his friends in baseball besides Chuck Knoblauch include current D-Rays reliever Shawn Camp and retired reliever Curt Leskanic.  Leskanic may be named in the document; he has admitted to employing at least one unfair advantage.  For what it’s worth, one blogger thought Leskanic resembled a steroid user as a Red Sox back in 2004.

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Deadspin: Affidavit Names?

Deadspin, which accurately broke the Matt Lawton steroid story, has a reliable source with some exclusive info about Jason Grimsley’s affidavit.  Basically, Albert Pujols‘s trainer is mentioned as a referrer for amphetamines.  May mean nothing, but it would certainly result in a ton of scrutiny for Pujols.  Read up at Deadspin.

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Thursday Morning Reading

A few months ago, I joined SportsBlah’s fantasy baseball league.  It’s generally been good times, though it could use more trash talk.  I figured I was pretty much playing against people I didn’t know, aside from exchanging the occasional email with CubDumb or the Blah or GameFour.  Then yesterday I came to realize that one of the league members I hadn’t talked to before, Baseball Mike, works at the same company as me in Chicago.  Not only that, but on the same floor as me.  Not only that, but on the same side of said floor, like thirty feet away.  I find this to be a bizarre coincidence.  Anyway, check out Mike’s site.

Another one to check out is BookWorm Baseball.  Run by a 23 year-old stathead?  Hmmm, sounds vaguely familiar.  Actually I turned 24 recently.

I know Braves fans are desperate for an encouraging trade rumor, so here’s one that landed in my inbox.  You be the judge.

Does anyone know what the deal is with Kyle Drabek?  Seems like everyone knows about his big, bad "makeup issues" besides me.  Does this kid have the Mark of the Beast or something?  I tried asking Jeeves what Drabek did but all I got was a bunch of scouting reports. 

The Baseball Card Blog is counting down the best sets ever in their usual amusing style.  I’d like to throw my vote in for Pinnacle’s Cards in a Can.  A truly odd innovation.  What’s this?  Andy?  Hideo?  MO???  They’re all here!  For only 99 cents! 

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Carlos Lee: Best Available Slugger?

Carlos Lee is still The Man, one of the biggest names likely to switch teams this season.  This could be a massive development for AL-only fantasy players, but that’s a post for a different blog.  What we’re trying to figure out here is where Mr. Lee might end up.

Back in early February, this topic was the talk of the town.  The Carlos Lee trade thread got 100 comments (of course, no log in was required back then.)  That thread is not to be confused with my ever popular April Fool’s joke about Lee.

I listed four reasons the Brewers are likely to deal Lee: his salary and impending free agency, the savvy of Doug Melvin, the readiness of Corey Hart, and Lee’s overrated RBI totals.  This year, Lee is again looking to drive in over 110 runs with a mediocre OBP.  However, he’s already got 19 home runs so he could top his career high of 32.  I don’t want to get too hung up on OBP – .340 isn’t Soriano territory and 40 home runs is 40 home runs.  Lee has tons of valuable for any contender.

Here is an updated list of the possible suitors.  Remember, Lee pretty much needs to play left field or DH.

Angels – If the Halos are looking for a more reasonable power source than Manny, Lee makes some sense.  They’ve got the top flight prospects to do it, and Lee would go a long way towards fixing the third worst slugging percentage in the league.

Yankees – Two big names are now residing on the DL, so everyone expects the Yankees to make some kind of move.  Even if Melky Cabrera continues to exceed expectations, the Yanks would probably feel better adding a true slugger.  The prime need continues to be pitching, but Cashman/Steinbrenner may choose to just build upon the team’s strength and try to outslug opponents.  I can’t see how a deal gets made without Philip Hughes and one of the team’s younger highly rated prospects.  Even then, it seems like the Brewers could find a better deal. 

Braves – I had the Braves on here last time, mentioning their trades for J.D. Drew, Gary Sheffield, and Fred McGriff as precedent.  Atlanta is six games back in third place, but hitting for power hasn’t been an issue with Brian McCann, Andruw Jones, Adam LaRoche, and others.  More likely the team deals to try to improve its 12th ranked 4.58 team ERA in both the rotation and the ‘pen.

Cardinals –  You’ve still got that same division thing, so it seems less than likely.  You have to think Anthony Reyes is starting in 2006 for a team other than the Cardinals.  Looking further into my crystal ball, I can see that Reyes, a Devil Ray, will come highly touted by RotoAuthority for 2007 and will promptly pull a Ryan Madson.

Tigers – Yes, the Tigers are looking for a left-handed hitter and Lee does not fit that profile.  But if Detroit can keep the Thames/Monroe platoon in left and use Lee at DH, that would be a formidable addition.  The Tigers have all sorts of young arms ripe for the tradin’.

Dodgers – Looks like the Dodgers are going the rookie route, with Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Joel Guzman seeing time in left field.  This is not a team lacking options in the outfield.  Problem is, most of those options are rookies or injury-prone.  The Dodgers are just a game back right now.

Those are the main candidates in my eyes.  But here’s a more basic way to look at it.  What does Carlos Lee provide?  Slugging.  Who needs slugging and is at least pretending to contend?  Padres, Cubs, Angels, Astros, Mariners, A’s.

In the end, I like the Cards and Halos in this race if Doug Melvin decides to sell.

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Grimsley Mania!

Well the hot story right now is obviously Jason Grimsley‘s naming of names.  If you don’t feel like reading Grimsley’s entire affadavit, just check out page 13.  It’s one of the more interesting pages, wherein Grimsley states that a certain steroid user was "very obvious and had the worst back acne he’d ever seen."

I decided to do some detective work by Googling various players’ names in conjuction with "back acne."  (Can you tell I was bored?)  Anyway, yes, I did find many Sammy/Barry references, but I also ran into this.  It’s a surreal, fascinating story about Juan Gonzalez from Jeff Sullivan, and yes, back acne and baby oil make an appearance.

Given the success of that detective work, I proceeded to flip through all of Grimsley’s former teammates.  I then compiled a list of players who probably did not use steroids, because I figured that would be easier than picking out the ones who did.  Here you go:

Mike Maddux
Terry Mulholland
John Kruk
Mickey Morandini
Felix Fermin
Billy Ripken

Randy Velarde (wait, scratch that)
J.T. Snow
Gary DiSarcina
Jim Abbott

Chuck McElroy (the glasses gave him super powers anyway)
Chuck Knoblauch
Joe Girardi
Lance Johnson
Joe Randa
Neifi Perez
Calvin Pickering
(couldn’t possibly get any bigger) 

It’s safe to assume that anyone not on this list used steroids.

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Rowand for Garland Rumor

A lot of folks are wondering if there’s anything to the rumored swap of Jon Garland for Aaron Rowand.  Todd Zolecki from the Philadelphia Inquirer said it best:

1. Garland has a 6.04 ERA.

2. He just signed a three-year, $29 million contract in December. He makes $10 million in 2007 and $12 million in 2008. Phillies GM Pat Gillick has talked often about payroll flexibility. It’s doubtful he would take on such a contract, especially for a pitcher who is slumping. Garland’s contract also includes a no-trade clause.

3. Perhaps most important, the Phils love Rowand.

Everything Zolecki says here is spot on.  The proposed deal here would be a huge win for the White Sox but the Phils could do better if they wanted to unload Rowand and replace him with Shane Victorino.

Garland succeeded last year because he sliced his walk and home run rates from previous levels.  His sharp control and low strikeout rate has been on par with the rest of the White Sox pitching staff, but he’s got the worst home runs allowed rate in all of baseball (over 2 per nine innings).  Also not helping is a hit rate over 11, third worst in baseball.  Can’t blame it on BABIP, which sits at a reasonable .310.

One would expect Garland to keep his ERA under 5 for the life of his contract, but he doesn’t figure to be worth more than three wins a year from here on out. 

Aaron Rowand figures to be a bit more valuable, maybe 3.5 wins per season for a while.  His current .301/.345/.509 line resembles his breakthrough 2004.  Rowand also has highly-rated defense, but that depends on which metric you use.

If the White Sox are looking to bring in a center fielder, names like Eric Byrnes, Kenny Lofton, Ken Griffey Jr.Ryan Freel,Torii Hunter, Matt Lawton, Joey Gathright, and Juan Pierre might be available.  Pierre and Griffey are players to which the Sox have been linked in the past.  Another option would be to shift Scott Podsednik to center and bring in a left fielder like Alfonso Soriano, Carl Crawford, Pat Burrell, Raul Ibanez, Luis Gonzalez, Jose Cruz Jr., Cliff Floyd, or Shannon Stewart.   

Cliff Floyd To Tigers?

John Delcos, writer for The Journal News, has a Cliff Floyd rumor that’s been making the rounds.  The rumor seems more on the speculative side; I’m not sure that Delcos is suggesting that the Tigers have asked about Floyd specifically.

Instead, Delcos’s friend may have just been curious about the Mets’ interest, which apparently is slim.  But let’s see which Tiger arms could perhaps be enough to acquire Floyd, an impending free agent.  Floyd had a very rough start but has hit .267/.383/.489 in May – pretty close to career norms.

Humberto Sanchez and Jordan Tata come to mind as two very marketable commodities for GM Dave Dombrowski.  Both are close to Major League ready and bring low 90s heat.  Sanchez has a 1.84 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 10 Double A starts this season.  Tata handled himself capably in a brief Major League stint this season, and is back to starting games in Triple A.