Results tagged ‘ jason hagerty ’

Cut from the team, but not really

One of the toughest things to understand about baseball is how roster maneuvering works, mostly because there’s no good place to find explanations of everything. The 40-man roster, the active 25-man roster, service time/arbitration concerns… the casual fan doesn’t have time to care about this stuff. Which is one of the benefits of reading this, I suppose.

So yesterday, the Padres “reassigned” five players from big-league camp, four of them former TinCaps. Some outlets call it being “cut” from camp. In reality, these guys were never really ON the big-league roster, so it’s impossible to be cut.

Here’s the explanation that doesn’t come out nearly enough to help newcomers learn the game: Big-league camp starts a few weeks before the minor-leaguers show up. If you’re an upper-level prospect who isn’t on the major-league team, you might get an invitation to big-league camp. When that happens, you get to get into camp early, get some work in and show the big-league coaches what you’re working with. It’s basically the equivalent of the better JV players getting to practice with the varsity team. After minor-league camp starts, you eventually get sent back to practice with the JV peons, pretty much regardless of how well you’re playing. And even after a player gets sent back to minor-league camp, he can still play in the big-league Spring Training games – in fact, former TinCaps RHPs Brad Brach and Alexi Lara are both pitching in the big-league game today despite getting reassigned to minor-league camp yesterday.

Why invite the minor-leaguers to big-league camp? Well, there’s the tryout-type reasons I listed above, but also because SOMEBODY has to play in the latter innings of those early-spring games. The big-league position players start out playing 4-5 innings per day at the beginning of camp (pitchers going 1-2 innings) and often don’t travel to road games. They’re working their way into shape for the season. So somebody has to fill the spots in the lineup after the big-leaguers are finished getting their work in for the day. That’s when it turns into a showcase game for younger players trying to make an impression.

Questions? Leave ‘em in the comments or drop an e-mail… dan.watson@tincaps.com.

Random thoughts:

  • Brad Hawpe homered and Mike Adams had a rough inning for the Padres yesterday. Fort Wayne alums of note in box score: OF Will Venable caught stealing twice; OF Cedric Hunter went 1-for-2; LHP Rob Musgrave allowed an unearned run in one inning; C Jason Hagerty, INFs Chase Headley, Andy Parrino, Jeudy Valdez and OF Luis Durango all went hitless.
  • Veteran C Gregg Zaun retiring means former Fort Wayne C Nick Hundley has one less mentor.
  • Padres LHP Clayton Richard threw live batting practice yesterday as he recovers from shoulder soreness.
  • A potentially great moment for Greeks in baseball was thwarted last night when Padres RHP George Kontos didn’t face Royals 3B prospect Mike Moustakas. Mostly because it wasn’t Kontos’ day to throw. In reality, neither of them have ever lived in Greece, but they have Greek grandparents or something. So this is something of a non-story. But it could have really been something.
  • Apparently there are people who take satisfaction in heckling teenage multi-millionaires at afternoon exhibition baseball games. In other news, this guy is evidently based on a real person.
  • Get used to hearing this: Michael Pineda is good.
  • Ask BA ranks the last 12 prospects who were taken No. 1 overall in the MLB draft. Which isn’t completely the same as “Rank the hype around the top overall pick.” Also, they figured out that more 20 HR-20 SB seasons have come from high-school draftees than college products. Which, if you think teams should draft for high upside, means teams should probably draft high school guys more often. But rigidly sticking to any one draft philosophy (i.e. drafting all high-school guys, go for position scarcity) gets you in trouble.
  • Interesting stuff in Fangraphs’ report from the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which is the Mecca of stat geeks the world over: They’re getting close to being able to track how much a catcher moves his mitt, which theoretically should tell us how well a pitcher is hitting his spots (but what about when a pitcher is trying to bury a breaking ball in the dirt?); defensive metrics are advancing; balancing statistical analysis with traditional scouting; and projecting minor-league stats to big-league performance is still tricky.
  • MLB is (naturally) involved with the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
  • Some people call today Mardi Gras, which is French Freedom for Fat Tuesday. Others just call it Tuesday.
  • Dave Hutte Status Update: “Gotta figure out what to give up for Lent.” Let’s hope it’s not status updates. Also, I’ve decided I want to dress up like Dave Hutte for his costume party/wedding reception. After the obligatory creepy dyed-black goatee, I could go with any of several outfits: the 1997 crew-neck Packers sweatshirt/pajama pants/slippers combo, the generic basketball uniform (for pickup basketball games)/calf-length socks/white sneakers ensemble… and that’s just off the top of my head.

Musical guest… Weezer!

Take care!

DW

Book review: BA Prospect Handbook

It’s probably not a good idea to review a book without reading it cover-to-cover, but I’m so jacked up about the Baseball America Prospect Handbook being here that I’m about to lose control and I think I like it. If you’re new to keeping track of minor-leaguers, checking out the handbook is the best way to get up to speed and stay there throughout the season. It has scouting reports on each organization’s best 30 prospects, ranks the top 50 prospects in the game, the top organizations, breaks down each team’s draft from the previous years, etc. No single prospect guide is perfect, but this one is probably the best there is.

So far, here are some things that have stood out:

  • The biggest addition for 2011 is including the scouting grades for each team’s No. 1 prospect. Scouts rate players on a 20-80 scale on a variety of tools and the book includes those for the first time. Example: the Padres’ top prospect (RHP Casey Kelly) received a 60 rating for all three of his pitches and 65s for his command/control and delivery. I like it because it allows readers to compare top prospects organization-to-organization. If you want to know how the Astros’ top prospect compares to the Royals’ top prospect, you can do that. You know, if you’re into being depressed.
  • The Indians “may have had baseball’s best draft” in 2010. Thank goodness.
  • Seems like the biggest issue for the Padres’ younger prospects has been staying healthy. OF Donovan Tate’s problems have been well-documented, RHP Keyvius Sampson had a tear in his labrum which led to changed mechanics which led to elbow trouble. Both were allegedly healthy as they left the fall instructional league.
  • Jeudy Valdez looked good in the few games he played at shortstop last year; according to the book, that’s where the Padres see him long-term.
  • RHP Brad Brach finally made the Padres’ top 30… barely. He’s ranked 30th. Apparently people don’t believe in his off-speed stuff or his ability to continue dominating at the higher levels. The numbers so far are insane: 140 career appearances, 9-6, 1.90 ERA, 78-for-83 in save chances, 189 K in 151.2 IP, .196 average against. Is that good?
  • Top 30 players listed as potential TinCaps in 2011: Tate, OFs Everett Williams and Rymer Liriano (again), Sampson, RHP Zach Cates and maybe RHP Adys Portillo. All very young/inexperienced. Of course, everything could change during spring training.
  • Mets RHP Jenrry Mejia didn’t play baseball until he was 15, and he only started because he saw how much money Dominican prospects could make. He had been making $8 a day shining shoes until he got $16,500 to sign with the Mets.

Random thoughts:

  • Former TinCaps swept the Padres’ minor-league awards for 2010. Geoff from Ducksnorts was at the awards dinner and reports that Jeudy Valdez made “the shortest acceptance speech ever” after winning the Baserunner of the Year award. Without hearing any more, my guess is he said, “Thank you,” and walked away. He’s a quiet guy when he’s speaking Spanish, let alone English.
  • Padres GM Jed Hoyer says the roster is more balanced in 2011 than it was last year. He’s concerned about the bullpen, but I think most GMs are. It’s the toughest area to predict from year to year.
  • Uni Watch hammers the Padres’ logo/uniform decisions. I think the unis look decent.
  • A Midwest League alum is spending his off-season making artificial limbs for amputees. In his debut with Bowling Green (at Parkview Field), he went 4-for-5, hit two homers and doubled.
  • The Indians aren’t looking to trade Grady Sizemore. Good thing, because it doesn’t make sense to trade one of your few trade-worthy players when his value is at its lowest point ever.
  • A book examines home-field advantage and why it exists. The main reason might surprise you.
  • Here’s analysis of which teams are the best at winning arbitration cases. The Rays are undefeated (5-0). Also, I’m a little surprised there have only been about 13 cases per year.
  • The Rays are installing new turf at their dome. It doesn’t seem like anybody actually knows how it’s different from the old stuff (aside from being “the most advanced” and able to “remain upright longer” which sounds it’s taken straight from a Jimmy Johnson commercial), which seems like lame reporting.
  • The Marlins are getting hosed out of a home series by U2. One of the downfalls of not owning their own park. Also, they’re changing their name to Miami Marlins next year? Who knew? Now they just need to change the mascot to Gators, move to the American League and lose to the Cubs in the 2015 World Series and the “Back to the Future II” writers will look like geniuses.
  • The prospect handbook’s arrival pushes back my reading of Ghost Wars, which is about Afghanistan, the CIA, terrorism, etc., from a historical perspective. So far, it’s been excellent.
  • Aaron Rodgers is officially my favorite quarterback in the NFL. First the championship belt celebration when he scores touchdowns, now this.
  • I recently went shopping for clothes, trying to use some of the gift cards I got for Christmas. Maybe I’m only noticing this because I go shopping for clothes about twice a year, but when you’re in any store (with few exceptions such as the sporting goods store), women are clearly dominant, regardless of what part of the store you’re in. I was trying to look at some shirts and about three women came rolling in (to the men’s section, mind you), getting all up in my personal space, pulling hangers off the racks, showing their control over the clearance rack. It was like one of those nature shows where lions protect their territory from a marauding band of slightly-hesitant hyenas. It was like they could sense I had no idea what I was doing. Utterly intimidated, I still escaped with three shirts.

Musical guest…Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood!

Have a great wee
kend!

DW

Watching the watchers

ESPN’s Keith Law published his Top 100 prospects list today… The Padres on the list are:

19. RHP Casey Kelly
38. 1B Anthony Rizzo
46. OF Jaff Decker (TinCaps ’09)
64. RHP Simon Castro (TinCaps ’09)

Along with all the player-specific prospect rankings that have been trickling out this week, several outlets are ranking how the 30 MLB organizations stack up against each other. The Padres haven’t gotten a lot of love lately. Their year-by-year rankings according to Baseball America are…

2008: 12th
2009: 29th
2010: 20th
2011: 9th

In fairness, Keith Law has the Padres ranked 16th, but it seems like they’re going in the right direction. The question is, what do these rankings really mean? Tough to say, especially since the rankings are based on subjective evaluations, but it’s the best system we have.

Prospect ranking tends to be a top-heavy venture and for good reason. The goal isn’t to develop a bunch of big-league utility players who can win Midwest League titles; it’s producing good everyday major leaguers, whether that’s in the form of trading prospects for proven MLB players or letting the prospects graduate to the big leagues. Let’s take a look at which organizations have been ranked highly recently and the bigger-name players they’ve produced.

2008
1. Rays (Longoria, Price, Wade Davis, Jeremy Hellickson)
2. Red Sox (Buchholz, Ellsbury, two pitchers traded for Victor Martinez)
3. Reds (Bruce, Bailey, Votto, Cueto, Stubbs)
4. Rangers (Andrus, Feliz)
5. Yankees (J. Chamberlain, A. Jackson, J. Tabata, I. Kennedy, J. Montero, B. Gardner)

2009
1. Rangers (Feliz, D. Holland, Andrus, two players traded for Cliff Lee)
2. Marlins (Maybin, Stanton, L. Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, Chris Coghlan)
3. A’s (Brett Anderson, Cahill, Gio Gonzalez)
4. Rays (Price, Wade Davis, Hellickson, Jeff Niemann)
5. Giants (Bumgarner, Posey, Sergio Romo)

2010
1. Rays (Hellickson, Wade Davis)
2. Rangers (Feliz, two Cliff Lee trade pieces)
3. Indians (Carlos Santana)
4. Giants (Posey, Bumgarner)
5. Phillies (Domonic Brown, three Roy Halladay trade pieces)

Notice who’s in there most often: Rays, Rangers, Giants. All playoff teams last year. The Reds and Phillies made the most of their farm systems in different ways (Reds used their own players; Phillies used theirs to trade for Roy Halladay).

Again, the takeaway from this exercise is this: The true measure of a club’s minor-league system isn’t how many games the Fort Wayne TinCaps or Lake Elsinore Storm win (although, obviously, teams with good players do tend to win). It’s how many individual players would be regulars on a playoff-type MLB team. Any good organizational rankings should try to reflect that.

Random thoughts:

  • The Padres handed out their organizational awards yesterday… Former TinCaps were all over it. C Jason Hagerty (’10) was the Offensive Player of the Year, C Luis Martinez (’07-08) was Defensive Player of the Year, RHP Brad Brach (’09) was Pitcher of the Year and INF Jeudy Valdez (’09-10) was named Baserunner of the Year. Former Fort Wayne manager Gary Jones (’03) was named minor-league Coach of the Year. Maybe this is what it’ll take for Brach to get some headlines. You’d think going 78-for-83 with a 1.90 ERA, more strikeouts than innings pitched and an opponent batting average under .200 for his career would do it, but what do I know?
  • Jorge Cantu’s signing with the Padres is a done deal. By the numbers, Cantu looks like a league-average hitter who has versatility and he’s coming cheap as a backup. Another solid move by the Padres.
  • Padres GM Jed Hoyer did a radio interview in San Diego and discussed a cornucopia of baseball-related subjects.
  • Will Venable models the Padres’ new road jerseys, now with no sand color!
  • The Reds locked up another homegrown player in RHP Johnny Cueto and their GM reiterated the importance of player development.
  • Folks in Dodgertown aren’t too pleased with the production of their minor-league system since the big crop of 2006. Help should be on the way, as long as they don’t make any more Casey Blake-for-Carlos Santana kind of deals. We’ve seen SS Dee Gordon, OF Jerry Sands, LHP Aaron Miller and RHP Ethan Martin in the MWL over the last few years.
  • Big Fat Bartolo Colon signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees. I get that it’s a tiny investment on their part, but doesn’t this make their hesitation on Carl Pavano look really bad? They have one guy in their rotation who I’d feel completely comfortable with (Sabathia), then a bunch of question marks in Phil Hughes (inexperienced), A.J. Burnett (head case) and whoever else they’re running out there… Ivan Nova? Sergio Mitre? Bartolo Colon? Apparently they’re still looking at Justin Duchscherer and Jeremy Bonderman, but those don’t sound much better. If I were a Yankee fan, I’d be freaking out and praying Andy Pettitte stops Brett Favre-ing them.
  • Derek Jeter has been spotted in the batting cage. And there was much rejoicing.
  • The Blue Jays have been the talk of January so far as they rebuild. I’m pretty sure their GM has Jedi mind powers, because that’s the only way anyone can explain how he found somebody to take Vernon Wells’s contract in a trade.
  • Peter Gammons says the Rays have had a nice off-season as they move on from losing several key pieces.
  • MLB players get a smaller percentage of their teams’ revenue than players of any other major sport. Which could change with the collective bargaining agreement expiring after this season.
  • Baseball America has the pre-season college Top 25 rankings. From what I’ve been told by experts on the subject, this year’s draft class has the typical high-school talent, but it’s the college talent that makes it deeper than most drafts. Also, how about Oregon? They just restarted their baseball program a few years ago and they’re already in the Top 15. Also, Cal at No. 17 is interesting… the school could cut the baseball program following the season due to budget concerns. St. John’s and UConn are the only two teams on the list from what I’d consider “northern” schools.
  • Most of the SportScience piec
    es have been decent, but this one is hilariously bad. And I love bears. Not the Chicago Bears, though.
  • I saw this commercial in passing last night, but wasn’t really watching it. I can’t decide if it’s funny or creepy.

Musical guest, as a tribute to the Fort Wayne winter weather… Dave Matthews Band!

Take care!

DW

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