Results tagged ‘ prospect rankings ’

Spring Training story time

It seems like there’s something of a split when it comes to the value of Spring Training. Do the stats matter? Do wins and losses matter? Well, take this Spring Training story into account when you think about it.

This weekend I talked to a well-placed source about minor-league Spring Training games. There was a minor-league game in Florida. Team A, the visitors, had a big lead the whole game, but their pitchers were using a lot of pitches and not lasting very long. Team B was coming back in the bottom of the ninth, two outs and bases loaded. Team A Manager calls time and tells the umpire his pitcher has reached his pitch limit and he’s the last guy who needed to get his work in that day. The umpire tells Team B Manager that the game is over because Team A is out of pitchers.

Then something happened that is completely unheard of in Spring Training baseball:

Team B Manager flips out. Completely loses it.

Says Team A is chicken, doesn’t want to lose the game. He’s furious and isn’t going anywhere.

Team A Manager calls his farm director. Tells him this other manager is a whack-job. This is a Spring Training game, right? Who cares?

So Team A Farm Director calls Team B Farm Director, who is at the complex where the game is being played. Would you please remind your manager that this isn’t the World Series?

Team B Farm Director walks over to the field, tells his manager to relax and that the game is, in fact, over.

The moral of the story is this: Stats mean virtually nothing. If you’re on the bubble of getting released or not making the big-league team, it’s more about how you look. How’s your bat speed? Do you have command of the strike zone? Are you throwing harder than 82 mph on your fastball?

And wins and losses mean nothing.

And so ends today’s Spring Training story time.

Random thoughts:

  • Just heard former TinCaps RHP Anthony Bass is starting today’s big league game.
  • TinCaps manager Shawn Wooten gets some pub in a New York Times blog about disciples of Mike Scioscia. Padres manager Bud Black, Rays manager Joe Maddon and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke were on Scioscia’s staff when the Angels won the World Series. And Wooten played on that team.
  • Usually needles are discouraged around baseball, but Stitch N’ Pitch is an exception.
  • LHP Clayton Richard struggled against the Angels yesterday. Fort Wayne alums OFs Will Venable, Blake Tekotte and Daniel Robertson and INFs Andy Parrino and James Darnell got playing time.
  • On Saturday, former TinCaps RHP Brad Brach was in the middle as the Padres and Dodgers “got spirited” with some beanballs. Mat Latos stopped in the middle of an autograph session and jogged to the field, just in case the jaw-jackers started to get a little more heated.
  • Latos was supposed to start that game, but he skipped it with shoulder soreness and now might be headed to the DL.
  • SS Everth Cabrera is going to make San Diego’s Opening Day roster. When the Padres released Kevin Frandsen on Friday, this looked likely. Also, OF Cameron Maybin is expected to return to the lineup today after a bout with quad stiffness.
  • Former TinCaps RHP Dexter Carter was released by the Padres. I’ve heard he’s already been picked up by the White Sox, the organization that drafted him.
  • The San Diego U-T‘s Padres preview asks if the Padres can catch lightning in a bottle again.
  • The U-T also has profiles of the 2011 Padres.
  • Tony Gwynn is cancer-free.
  • Here’s the 819th prospect ranking list of the year, this one by FanGraphs.
  • The Royals’ loaded farm system is like a really good garage band: They might hit it big as Royals, they might end up with other successful teams, they might flame out completely. You just never know. Just ask the Diamondbacks, circa 2005. They had OF Carlos Gonzalez, SS Stephen Drew, LHP Brett Anderson, OF Justin Upton, etc.
  • Mariners RHP Michael Pineda… He’s good.
  • Mariners LHP Erik Bedard is still alive, and he’s having a good spring.
  • Remember when the Cardinals were toast because they lost Adam Wainwright? Well, since then, Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum have had injuries for the Brewers, half the Reds rotation (Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey) has health problems and Carlos Silva, who was kind of good for the Cubs last year, is gone. And that’s just the NL Central… The Phillies are just as depleted with Chase Utley out, Brad Lidge hurt and Jayson Werth gone to Washington.
  • The Red Sox got slammed by injuries last year, but they’re investing big in injury prevention.
  • Well what happened was, Buck Showalter was all like, “Derek Jeter’s a baby and Theo Epstein’s overrated,” and now Terry Francona’s getting all like, “Yo, why you hatin’?”
  • The Indians’ payroll is down for the third straight year.
  • The Cubs hired their new PA announcer after holding a giant PR campaign/dog-and-pony-show/employee search.
  • Did you know there have been 90 space shuttle missions since the Pirates’ last winning season? NINETY!
  • Reds LHP Aroldis Chapman’s translator was the trainer at Triple-A Louisville, but now the trainer got the call to the big leagues. Also in that notebook, Hal McCoy makes an exquisite point: When you’re flying, why is it that the people who play by the rules and check luggage at the airport counter are charged a decent chunk of money, but the people who act completely shocked when their their gigantic bags don’t fit into the overhead bins get to pay nothing? The luggage ends up in the same place, under the plane.
  • Apparently the Canseco brothers are kind of like those wrestlers who dressed exactly the same, right down to their masks, then when one of them got wailed on, they’d both go under the ring. When they came out, nobody knew who the legal man was, so the fresh guy would get back in the ring. You know what I’m talking about, right?
  • Buster Olney told the story of his dogs. When the TinCaps go to Lake County in mid-May, I’m going to hang out with my dogs so much they’re going to get sick of me.
  • America’s Next Great Restaurant” is a decent idea for a show, but it’s almost like they ran out of good contestants. I can’t believe some of the ideas ever made it to the show. A restaurant totally based on meatballs? A fast-casual grilled cheese sandwich restaurant? These must be the William Hungs of the restaurant reality show business.
  • I’m also proud to announce that I made my first omelet yesterday. And it was delicious. My breakfast arsenal is expanding pretty quickly.
  • I picked up a cold and my voice is almost completely gone. This is the radio guy’s equivalent to a pitcher having shoulder soreness two weeks before Opening Day: Better now than during the season.
  • Even though my post from Friday got deleted with the changes to MLBlogs, I do like the new format. It’s MUCH easier to use on my end and I don’t think you have to be registered to comment anymore. So comment away!

Musical guest… Milli Vanilli!

Take care!

DW

Joe Maddon: Pickup artist

By all accounts, Rays manager Joe Maddon is a pretty hip dude. He’s an avid cyclist, taking a collapsible bike with him on road trips. His musical taste ranges from Pavarotti to Bruce Springsteen. He’s a connoisseur of fine wines. His glasses are a fashion statement. It was Maddon’s idea for the Rays to wear crazy costumes on road trips. He’s on record as saying he probably won’t cut his hair all season. He even does commercials for vitamins as if he were some kind of modern-day Hulk Hogan.

What I’m trying to say is, Joe Maddon may, in fact, be the most interesting man in the world. Or at least Major League Baseball.

So when I found a story where Maddon gave advice to all the single guys, you’d better believe I was listening. Here’s what he said:

“I think you kind of need to have that blessing when you walk into a
new place, before everybody feels comfortable with you,” Maddon says.
“You know what I liken it to? It’s almost like the
best-looking-girl-in-the-bar theory. Everybody’s afraid to talk to her
because she’s the best-looking girl in the bar. Well, Manny is one of
the best hitters since — I don’t know — Babe Ruth? So somebody’s
afraid to talk to him about hitting. And if they do, they’re going to be
less than forceful in their opinions because, after all, he’s Manny
Ramirez.

“So it’s no different,” Maddon philosophizes. “For those
who are single, always approach that best-looking girl in the bar [and
say], ‘Excuse me.’
And for managers and coaches, always approach that
potential Hall of Fame player. He might want to hear what you have to
say.”

So there you have it. When in doubt, do what Joe Maddon would do: Suck it up, have some confidence and talk to good-looking ladies.

Now you know. And knowing’s half the battle.

Random thoughts:

  • Before you do anything else, take a moment to bask in the genius of TinCaps head groundskeeper Keith Winter, the Most Interesting Groundskeeper in the World. Aside from Joe Maddon, he may be the top philosopher in all of baseball right now.
  • The Padres got beat by the Brewers by a touchdown (with a former Michigan football player on the mound… surprise), but Fort Wayne alums Will Venable, Jedd Gyorko, Blake Tekotte, Daniel Robertson, Sawyer Carroll and Rymer Liriano all got into the game for San Diego.
  • Sidearming RHP Pat Neshek made his Padres debut and has a decent shot to make the big-league roster.
  • Padres RHP Aaron Harang has been doing a lot of video work, trying to get back to what made him successful with the Reds.
  • Baseball America updates their organizational rankings to reflect some of the trades since the Prospect Handbook came out. The Padres moved up to No. 8 after the Cubs traded some of their top prospects to the Rays for Matt Garza.
  • Padres GM Jed Hoyer is on record saying Spring Training stats mean virtually nothing. Others think they mean something… unless they don’t. As usual, I’m in the Hoyer camp on this one.
  • Former Fort Wayne RHP Jake Peavy played catch and will get the rehab process restarted soon.
  • Midwest League alum LHP Clayton Kershaw is maturing as the ace of the Dodgers.
  • There’s a preview out there for the Giants’ reality show on Showtime. It looks almost exactly like HBO’s 24/7 series, which isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it may be the first reason ever to actually subscribe to Showtime.
  • Orioles LHP Zach Britton is having a nice spring. I’m very skeptical of AL East pitching prospects… they get thrown into the meat grinder like nobody else in baseball.
  • Angels 1B Kendrys Morales has some foot soreness. He’s the guy who broke his leg celebrating after a game-winning home run. Apparently the foot issue is a separate problem from the broken leg.
  • The Phillies signed Luis Castillo right after he got released by the Mets, but now nobody can figure out why he was slow to report to Phillies camp. Sigh. Wasting talent is lame.
  • Opening Day in Japan has been pushed back, not surprisingly.
  • The Twins had a couple of beer vendors caught up in a “check-ID” sting.
  • Will Rhymes will be the Tigers’ starting second baseman. They haven’t found a good alternative since Placido Polanco left.
  • Yankees C Jesus Montero will probably start the season in Triple-A. Which is good, actually… Better than sitting on the bench in the big leagues.
  • A Josh Hamilton-like story is unfolding at Marlins camp.
  • The Cubs are getting a look at a former college football star whom they paid good money. And I’m not talking about RHP Jeff Samardzija. Who, by the way, is out of options this spring. If they don’t keep him in the big leagues, the Cubs would have to put Samardzija through waivers to send him to the minors. That whole situation stinks. They overpaid to get him to pass up football, he was rushed through the minors (at least partially because of the money) and now (surprise!) he’s not ready to be who they thought he’d be. Ugh.
  • Don Zimmer is starting his 63rd season in baseball. The stories he could tell…
  • I’m kind of mad that I missed the Supermoon the other night.
  • Last night I got invited to crash a wedding reception. If you’re invited by someone other than the bride or groom, is it still considered crashing? Quasi-crashing?
  • I can’t get enough of this: Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki is asking fans to pick his new walk-up song, replacing “Party in the USA.” If it was me, I’d take the top five suggestions and pick it myself. Right now if I had to pick a walkup song, I’d go with an edited version of “The W.A.N.D.” by The Flaming Lips, “Your Touch” by The Black Keys, “Motown Philly” by Boyz II Men, “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, “2 Legit 2 Quit” by M.C. Hammer or the chorus of “Ice Ice Baby.” And I’d force Tony DesPlaines to alternate songs every single at-bat, and he’d hate every sec
    ond of it, but the crowd would go bananas.

Musical guest, with perhaps the greatest walkup song ever… Ted Nugent!

Take care!

DW

James Darnell – so hot right now

Former TinCaps 3B James Darnell was kind of the man yesterday. You may remember him from such classics as the first home run ever hit at Parkview Field (which I completely botched on the radio – it was our first game at the new park so it was a new angle, plus it was such a low liner that I thought it was going to end up taking the left fielder’s glove off… next thing I knew, it was flying onto the Home Run Porch. Literally thousands dozens of listeners around the world thought to themselves, “This new radio guy is garbage!” Lesson learned, I guess).

Anyway, James (who is a VERY nice guy) was featured in a Padres.com article yesterday afternoon. Key points: He struggled with a cyst-like growth on his hand last year (he eventually had it removed, then “rehabbed” with the TinCaps for a few games), and he will probably be the starting third baseman at Triple-A Tucson to open the year. You know, I think I read something about Tucson playing a series at Parkview Field this summer. Maybe you’ll want to come out and see good ol’ JD again. Right? Right.

Also yesterday, Darnell singled in his only at-bat in the Padres’ Spring Training game. He’s 4-for-8 for the spring.

So, you know… James Darnell: so hot right now. And chances are good that he’ll be back in Fort Wayne this summer for the Triple-A series. Maybe he’ll hit another laser-beam home run and maybe I won’t screw it up this time.

Random thoughts:

  • Another Fort Wayne alum, INF/OF Mike Baxter, is having a nice spring so far. He had a huge year last year with Triple-A Portland. Padre fans should be clamoring for his quick arrival in San Diego, if only for the Anchorman/Baxter/San Diego references.
  • MLB.com’s Jonathan (don’t call me Joe) Mayo has his Top 10 Padres prospects. Six Fort Wayne alums in the top ten. Possible future TinCaps OF Donovan Tate is No. 10. Lots of other TinCaps-related stuff in there, too.
  • If Padres LHP Randy Flores is healthy, he’d be a nice addition to the bullpen.
  • Do you realize Padres RHP Mike Adams has a career ERA of 2.31? And the peripheral stats show it’s not smoke and mirrors? And that despite being 32 years old he still has THREE arbitration years left including this one? AND that the Indians claimed him off waivers, sent him to Triple-A, then turned around and traded him to the Padres less than two months later for some guy named Brian Sikorski, who they released within a year? AND that the tone of my voice has gone up an octave, Tim Kurkjian-style, since I started this rant?
  • Legendary author Ben Hill asks the question, “What’s the deal with baseball in Tucson?
  • Former Padres GM Kevin Towers cleaned house in Arizona this winter after seeing the clubhouse atmosphere a little too loose.
  • Indians 3B prospect Lonnie Chisenhall is having a good spring.
  • At least one team has learned not to sign aging relievers to long-term contracts.
  • The Royals are getting sued because a guy got hit in the eye by a flying hot dog during one of their promotions. I should probably be more of an expert on this, but wouldn’t this be covered by the disclaimer about flying objects from the field on the back of every ticket?
  • Giants RHP Jeff Suppan used to work for a newspaper company. He lasted three days, but still.
  • Fort Wayne alum RHP Dirk Hayhurst writes books and blogs… Marlins RHP Burke Badenhop is writing a screenplay for a comedy.
  • Yes, I will be reading this book after reading the excerpt.
  • I can’t get enough of this video. Because I’m still bitter and because LeBron is an out-of-touch baby. I know it’s irrelevant as long as they make the playoffs, but did you know the Heat would have to win every game for the rest of the season just to equal the Cavaliers’ win total from last year?
  • Book update: Just finished Ghost Wars, which is about the CIA’s history in Afghanistan from the Cold War through 2001. It’s almost 600 pages long and has an enormous cast of characters, but I thought it was outstanding. Then I found out the author did over 200 interviews to track down info and was also serving as the managing editor of The Washington Post while writing the book. Incredible stuff. It’s not the type of book you sit down and read 100 pages of at a time, but if you want to learn about why things are the way they are in Afghanistan (and some other countries in the region, too), this is a good start.
  • In a scene sure to be included in “The Wedding Singer II: The Search for More Money,” Cyndi Lauper cheered up delayed travelers in Argentina by singing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” over the airport sound system. Everything about this story sounds made up.
  • This weekend I’m finally going to a “Learn to Curl” session hosted by the Fort Wayne Curling Club. This is probably my last chance at Olympic glory, so I’m a little nervous.
  • Finally, while watching NFL Network last night, I noticed analyst Charlie Casserly looks suspiciously similar to The Muppet Newsman. Am I right or am I right?

casserl<br />
y-muppet.jpg” src=”http://mlblogstincaps.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/casserly-muppet-thumb-400×210-27258811.jpg” class=”mt-image-none” width=”400″ height=”210″ /></a></span><br /><i>(left-to-right: Newsman, Casserly)</i></p>
<p>Musical guest… The Beach Boys!</p>
<span class='embed-youtube' style='text-align:center; display: block;'><iframe class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='555' height='343' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/09dQmeB_NgU?version=3&rel=0&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent' frameborder='0'></iframe></span>
<p>Take care!</p>
<p>DW</p>
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  • Posted on March 9, 2011 at 10:22 am
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  • Just call them Casey Kasem

    “And now… on with the countdown.”

    Right around noon yesterday, Baseball America released their Top 100 prospect list for 2011. I didn’t really get time to look at it all that closely until this morning, so here are initial thoughts:

    1. The only former TinCap on the list is RHP Simon Castro at No. 58. He was 57th last year. BA says he’ll get to the big leagues this year. From a selfish standpoint, hopefully he doesn’t get there before mid-July when the Tucson Padres come to Fort Wayne. Simon was one of my favorite pitchers I’ve covered. The others, if you’re wondering, were Matt Lollis and Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann.
    2. Any list like this is really more about generalities than “Player X is one spot higher than Player Y, so Player X is going to be the better player.” Historically, if you’re in the top five, you’re probably going to have a good-to-great major-league career. Beyond that, it’s a mix of guys who have shown some kind of weakness, some bigger than others. The ones who make it big are the ones who shore up the weaknesses and turn themselves into elite players. That’s why it’s an educated guess after you get past the first handful of players.
    3. Royals fans have to be happy with three prospects in the top 10.
    4. Just because a player isn’t ranked high, don’t write him off. Anybody considered to be in the top 100 of what they do is pretty good. Examples: Mike Trout went from No. 85 last year to No. 2 this year, Rockies RHP Jhoulys Chacin was No. 71 last year and he had a really nice MLB debut last year. So did Mets 1B Ike Davis (62).
    5. These are all just for fun. Everything figures itself out once the games start. Which is not far off, by the way.

    Secondly, another story I didn’t get to expand on yesterday… the Padres are holding a prospect minicamp in Peoria to give some of their top minor-leaguers an early start. The list of players is here. If they haven’t played in Fort Wayne yet, I’d say chances are good they’ll be here soon. But then again, speculating on an Opening Day roster before minor-league spring training even starts is a good way to guess wrong.

    Random thoughts:

    • If you haven’t been keeping up with the Facebook, you can check out the TinCaps’ lineup of theme nights for 2011 at TinCaps.com. The photo attached to the story might be my favorite article photo in our site’s history.
    • You can audition to sing the national anthem before a TinCaps game. But I’m warning you now: if you drag the song out and make it too long, I will zipline down from the press box to the field and sweep you out of here like it’s amateur night at the Apollo.
    • Fort Wayne alum LHP Cory Luebke will pitch in the Padres’ Spring Training opener Sunday(!) against the Mariners. Also in that article: Heath Bell won’t be available for the weekend and former TinCaps LHP Juan Oramas strained his throwing shoulder last week and hasn’t thrown since.
    • SPRING TRAINING GAMES START ON SUNDAY!
    • Padres SS Jason Bartlett and 2B Orlando Hudson are learning to play together.
    • This isn’t the first story like this I’ve seen about Hudson having a Type-A personality (I also saw an MLB Productions piece about him last year). He has to be the early favorite for 2011 clubhouse leader.
    • The Padres think they got lucky with their catchers last year and are hoping for better depth this year.
    • Fort Wayne alum RHP Jake Peavy threw live batting practice yesterday. So far, so good in his rehab from a freak injury.
    • Yankees C Russell Martin’s knee still isn’t quite right. As a fantasy baseball owner of Jesus Montero, I hope Martin sits long enough to let Montero play his way into the starting job.
    • Rays GM Andrew Friedman looks kind of like a certain mid-major basketball star. Friedman may play better defense than Jimmer, and I’m only half-kidding.
    • Brewers RHP Zack Grienke doesn’t really do
      the whole cliche thing. Example: “…every day I come to the park and
      want to get focused on my start, and then random people come and waste
      my time talking every day. It takes eight minutes to get a real question because they’re, like, buttering me up. Then they get to the question and it’s a stupid question. So it’s a waste of ten minutes, and in that ten minute time, I don’t get to do what I needed to do.” If reporters are allowed to critique a player’s performance, it’s only fair that the player can return the favor.
    • From Buster Olney: The three pitchers who used their curveball the most last season were Brett Myers, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. Carpenter already had Tommy John surgery and it looks like Wainwright is on his way there.
    • The Mariners have a lot of tall pitchers. Same goes for their minor-league system.
    • Indians closer (and former MWLer) Chris Perez is adding a changeup. He was pretty good without one last year.
    • The Rockies think Vegas is underestimating them this year. But, as Padres GM Jed Hoyer told me last year when we talked about San Diego beating expectations, they don’t build those casinos by losing money. Meaning the handicappers are usually right.
    • Three MLB umpires are retiring. Maybe MLB already had replacements lined up, but it seems like four days before Spring Training is awfully late to announce something like this.
    • Which is better: preventing runs or scoring runs? Research shows preventing runs has the slight edge. Key word: slight.
    • What does a college that produced 31 Nobel Prize winners lack? A basketball win… until the other night.
    • The NBA is no longer fan-tastic. In other news, we landed on the moon.
    • Our rec league volleyball team played like champions last night. Last time I saw volleyball that good, it was at the Malibu Sands Beach Club.
    • If you’re looking to adopt a pet, PLEASE go to Animal Care & Control. It’s your tax dollars at work anyway, so make them count. I hung out with three dogs there yesterday and they were awesome. But I’m still partial to this one.

    Musical guest… the group that sang the first No. 1 Casey Kasem ever counted to… Three Dog Night!

    Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!

    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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