Results tagged ‘ Houston ’
Dear National Baseball Media ~
With all due respect, Astros fans and bloggers would like for you to shut up about the Astros. Quit writing, quit opining and quit tweeting. In particular, please shut up about the Astros payroll and how it’s supposedly a slap in the face to The Integrity of the Game™.
Believe me when I tell you that Astros fans are well aware that the team lost 213 games over the last two seasons. We are painfully aware of that fact. We are also aware that the Astros will have the lowest payroll in, gasp, all of Major League Baseball. And you have done an admirable job hammering home ad naseum the fact that Alex Rodriguez will make more in 2013 than the entire Astros 25-man roster. Got it. At least I haven’t seen the hackneyed, tired and cliché ”Houston, We’ve Got a Problem” headlines yet. (Seriously, it’s time to retire that one and come up with something a tad bit more original.)
For those of us in Houston, those of us who follow the team re-build closely, this year’s payroll is a non-issue. But for a few casual fans who don’t understand the whole concept of a major re-build, no one has really even been talking about it. Until now. Now that national baseball pundits have started claiming that the Astros payroll will somehow compromise The Integrity of the Game™.
The most prominent naysayer was Peter Gammons who tweeted out that it is “Houston’s plan to have no payroll, lose, get the 1-2 pick 4 years in a row and still steal revenue-sharing $.” Buster Olney also piled on implying that the Astros were not even trying to win and comparing the team to Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose in how the team was damaging The Integrity of the Game™.
Anyone who believes that the Astros are planning to lose and not even trying to win has not met this man.
Bo Porter, the new manager of the Astros, is an intense, driven man. He is a charismatic leader. He is a demanding task-master. He is an excellent teacher. In short, he is the perfect manager to inspire, motivate and get the absolute maximum effort from this team. Plain and simple, he will tolerate nothing less. I think this team will end up surprising a few people with their aggressive, hard-nosed style of play.
As to the payroll, are the Astros supposed to spend money just to spend money? That’s exactly how you end up paying Carlos Lee almost $19,000,000 to hit a grand total of nine home runs while blocking the ability to fairly evaluate whether or not Brett Wallace will be a part of the team going forward. At this point in the re-building process, it is more important to evaluate prospects than it is to sign free agents to long-term, high dollar contracts. The vast majority of Astros fans understand that and agree with General Manager Jeff Luhnow’s strategy of signing low-risk, high-reward one-year free agents. Until the team figures out what holes need to be filled from outside the organization in order to complement the talent coming up through the ranks, signing long-term (expensive) free agents could very well prove to be counter-productive, resulting in blocking prospects and tying up resources that would be better utilized in further building up the minor league system.
Let’s look at a few of the free agent signings from the winter and why I’m glad they didn’t sign with the Astros:
- Houston could have signed Shane Victorino to $13,000,000 a year for three years or Michael Bourn to an average of $12,000,000 over four years (and that’s without even getting into the Josh Hamilton’s and B.J. Upton’s of the world). Instead they are signing Rick Ankiel to a modest, incentive-based one-year deal while they wait for George Springer and Domingo Santana to get more experience.
- Houston could have signed 32-year old Jeff Keppinger to an average of $4,000,000 a year for three years or could have given 37-year old Marco Scutaro $20,000,000 over three years. Instead they signed Ronny Cedeno to a one-year contract while Marwin Gonzales and Jonathan Villar get more experience, and are giving 23-year old Matt Dominguez the chance to be an everyday third baseman for the team. Dominguez has already shown Gold Glove caliber defense and appears to be on the cusp of breaking out with the bat as well.
- Houston could have signed Lance Berkman to DH for one year for $10,000,000. Or they could do what they’re doing – add Carlos Pena at less than a third of that to establish a veteran presence and give Brett Wallace the opportunity to share the first base/DH duties with Pena. If Wallace can establish himself as a DH, he will be able to stick with the team when top prospect Jon Singleton joins the team later in the season.
- Houston could have signed 33-year old Jeremy Affeldt to $18,000,000 over three years. Instead they are signing 34-year old Erik Bedard to a fraction of that, hoping to catch lightening in a bottle while minor league lefties Dallas Keuchel, Brett Oberholtzer and Rudy Owens gain more experience.
- There were a number of huge free-agent contracts for right-handed pitching this year. Jeff Luhnow instead opted to go the low-risk, high-reward direction with Brad Peacock, Alex White and Phil Humber while we wait for Jordan Lyles, Jarred Cosart, Paul Clemens, Jose Cisnero and others to get more experience.
It’s funny that, in looking at all the angst over payroll, it is the the Astros that are taking heat for ruining The Integrity of the Game™ by re-building the team efficiently, while the Yankees are given a free pass in the comparisons as if paying A-Rod $114,000,000 over the next five seasons is good for The Integrity of the Game™.
I truly believe that the Houston team will surprise a few people with their play this season. And while it looks to be another tough season for the team, it will be a valuable season in terms of evaluating and developing prospects. In any event, when all is said and done, the Astros and their fans will have the last laugh. With players like Jon Singleton, Delino DeShields, Carlos Correa, Domingo Santana, George Springer, Lance McCullers, Rio Ruiz, Mike Foltynewicz, Jarred Cosart, Nick Tropeano and Jonathan Villar on their way, Houston is poised to field a strong team of home-grown prospects for many years to come. And that, my friends, is very good for The Integrity of the Game™.
Just a few numbers of note from the Astros 2012 minor league season.
.536 – Slugging percentage for RF Domingo Santana (Hi-A Lancaster)
.464 – On-base percentage for SS Nolan Fontana (Lo-A Lexington)
65 – Number of walks drawn by SS Nolan Fontana in 49 games
.358 – Batting average for New York-Penn League batting champ C Tyler Heineman (SSA Tri-City)
161 – Number of hits by IF/OF Jimmy Paredes (AAA Oklahoma City)
39 – Number of doubles hit by OF Brandon Barnes before his major league call-up (AA-Corpus Christi & AAA-Oklahoma City)
10 – Number of triples hit by OF George Springer (Lancaster/Corpus Christi)
108 – RBI by 1B Erik Castro (Lancaster) and by 1B Zach Johnson (Lexington)
113 – Runs scored by 2B Delino DeShields (Lexington/Lancaster)
101 – Bases stolen by 2B Delino DeShields (Lexington/Lancaster)
88 – Walks taken by 1B Jon Singleton (Corpus Christi)
35 – Home runs hit by 1B Mike Hessman (Oklahoma City)
29 – Home runs hit by OF/DH Telvin Nash (Lancaster)
198 – Strikeouts by OF/DH Telvin Nash (Lancaster)
41 – Number of times 3B Matt Duffy (Lexington) was hit by pitches
2.75 – Team ERA from the Tri-City Short Season A staff
1.170 – Team WHIP from the Tri-City staff
14 – Wins by RHP Mike Foltynewicz (Lexington)
5 – Wins in 2011 by RHP Mike Foltynewicz
14 – Wins by RHP Bobby Doran (Lancaster/Corpus Christi)
1 – Wins in 2011 by RHP Bobby Doran
166 – Number of batters struck out by RHP Nick Tropeano (Lexington/Lancaster)
719 – Number of batters faced by RHP Ross Seaton (Corpus Christi/Oklahoma City) and by LHP Brett Oberholtzer (Corpus Christi/Oklahoma City)
0.627 – WHIP by LHP Kenny Long (Tri-City/Lancaster) in 29 relief appearances
15.3 – Strikeouts per nine innings by LHP Kenny Long (Tri-City/Lancaster)
6.56 – Strikeout-to-walk rate by RHP Aaron West (Tri-City)
0.957 – WHIP by RHP Aaron West (Tri-City) in 12 starts
0.960 – WHIP by West’s teammate LHP Brian Holmes (Tri-City) in 13 appearances/12 starts
0.2 – Home runs allowed per nine innings by RHP Jarred Cosart (Corpus Christi/Oklahoma City)
27 – Saves by RHP Jason Stoffel (Corpus Christi)
0.983 – WHIP by RHP Jason Stoffel (Corpus Christi) in 56 appearances
1 – Complete game no-hitter by RHP Chris Devenski (Lexington)
41 – Number of Houston draft picks
31 – Number of draft picks signed
19 – Number out of the top 20 of draft picks signed
6 – Number of prior year first round draft picks obtained by Houston in trades
+1022 – The swing in cumulative run differential for all teams from 2011 (-761) to 2012 (+261)
102 – The increase in cumulative wins from 2011 to 2012 (from .408 to .527 win percentage)
+264 – The swing in run differential for the Corpus Christi AA team from 2011 (-156) to 2012 (+108)
31 – The increase in wins for the Corpus Christi team from 2011 to 2012 (from .357 to .579 win percentage)
.671 – Win percentage for the Tri-City team
4 – Houston’s rank in cumulative win percentage among 30 minor league systems in 2012
30 – Houston’s rank in cumulative win percentage among 30 minor league systems in 2011
8 – Number of Astros minor league affiliates
0 – Number of Astros minor league affiliates with .500 or better records in 2011
6 – Number of Astros minor league affiliates with .500 or better records in 2012
3 – Number of Astros minor league affiliates advancing to the playoffs (Corpus Christi, Lancaster, Tri-City)
2 – Number of Astros minor league affiliates advancing to the finals (Lancaster, Tri-City)
1 – Number of Astros minor league affiliates winning a League Championship Series (Lancaster)
1 – Number of very, very happy Astros minor league bloggers
When the Astros drafted Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa first overall, they picked the player with the most potential for impact – and most potential to become a complete bust – in the draft. A tremendous athlete, Correa has been lauded for his quick hands and potential at the plate, his grace and strong arm in the field, and his speed, Correa is a 6’3” shortstop approaching 200 pounds at age 17. Much of the commentary has focused on Correa’s potential and his age – Correa won’t turn 18 until September 22 (the same day as Tommy Lasorda will turn 85), which further underscores his potential for improvement, especially given the results of a groundbreaking study published by Rany Jazayerli at Baseball Prospectus.
After Correa signed quickly – and for under slot - there was a lot of buzz around whether the Astros picked the best available player, a player who would sign quickly for less than the maximum, or had hastily gone Matt Bush on the organization. Personally, I think it’s a great move. The Astros got a top flight talent at a premium position and saved some money to spread to other picks.
But I began to wonder out of the shortstops drafted out of high school in the first round of the major league draft:
- How many made it to the major leagues;
- Were successful major leaguers; and
- How many remained shortstops?
In order to answer these questions, I used MLB draft data from Baseball-Reference.com to pull all of the draft picks from 1990-2007 for the first two rounds. Here is the full data set via Google Docs (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjuFn-ctXd3VdF9jQkVtMC03dE9TeENMYVg2SHZJOFE).
I filtered for:
- Listed position when being drafted, assuming the likelihood of a player moving TO shortstop was exceedingly low;
- Filtered for shortstop (as opposed to college players);
- Filtered for players drafted out of short stop; and
- Looked into only the first round (as second round picks would rarely be a prospect of the level of Correa).
Here’s what I found:
38 players fit the requirements, including:
- Successful picks (WAR over 15): Chipper Jones (1/1 Braves, 1990), Derek Jeter (1/6 Yankees, 1992), and Alex Rodriguez (1/1 Mariners, 1993);
- Good picks (WAR over 5): Pokey Reese (1/20 Reds, 1991), Michael Cuddyer (1/9 Twins, 1997), and Felipe Lopez (1/8, Blue Jays 1998);
- Interesting picks (for various reasons): Josh Booty (1/5 Marlins 1994) and Sergio Santos (1/27 Diamondbacks, 2002);
- Colossal flops: Brandon Wood (1/23 Angels, 2003) and Matt Bush (1/1 Padres, 2004); and
- Players whose places have yet to be determined: BJ Upton (1/2 Rays, 2002), Justin Upton (1/1 Diamondbacks, 2005), and Mike Moustakas (1/2 Royals, 2007) – though both Upton Brothers are already successful with WAR over 11.
As you may notice, the success rate is exceedingly low, with only a few players who are even potential hall of famers and almost as many players are colossal flops as good players. A total of 13 never made it to the major leagues in any capacity and five appearing in under 100 games.
- Chipper Jones: Basically a third baseman from the start of his major league, though he played a little time in left field and even less at short stop. What’s most amazing is was not even supposed to be the #1 pick – more on that here.
- Derek Jeter: A short stop from day one and has not played another defensive position in the major leagues (unless you count his games at DH). Not the greatest range but sure hands and makes it look good.
- Alex Rodriguez: Historic talent and historic centaur.
- Pokey Reese: Basically a defense-only player but, wow, could he pick it.
- Michael Cuddyer: According to Baseball-Reference.com, he has never played short stop in the major leagues, primarily a right fielder (731 games), first baseman (214 games), and a third baseman (214 games). Stopped playing shortstop after making 61(!) errors while playing for the Fort Wayne Wizards of the Midwest League at the age of 19.
- Felipe Lopez: One good offensive year (291/352/486 in 2005), but appeared in 1185 games across 11 major league seasons. He was a better hitter – and a worse fielder – than I realized.
- Josh Booty: After signing a contract reported to be worth $1.2 million, Booty struck out a lot and hit for some power. Gave up baseball after 1998 and went to LSU to be their starting quarterback before being drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 6th round… and never appear in the NFL.
- Sergio Santos: Santos was a good prospect who never hit enough and made a lot of errors; then he became a relief pitcher and is laughing at all of us.
Players Whose Places Have Yet to be Determined:
- BJ Upton: Doesn’t walk, power is streaky, good center fielder. Looks like he will stall out in the “Good Pick” category.
- Justin Upton: The better of the Upton brothers (so far), could be a perennial MVP candidate and on pace to join the “Successful Pick” category.
- Mike Moustakas: Too little time to judge, but hitting 278/346/480 is a very good start.
So what does this mean?
Out of the 38, 13 (34%) never made it to the major leagues, 17 made it and had WAR below 5 (45%), for a total of 30/38 (79%). Of the successful ones, only Derek Jeter (98.6%), Felipe Lopez (53.5%), and Alex Rodriguez (51.5%) have primarily been shortstops. Pokey Reese primarily played second base with a fair amount of time at shortstop, Chipper Jones only appeared at shortstop more than six times once (38 in 1996), and Michael Cuddyer is the definition of a defensive tweener.
In short (pun intended), Carlos Correa is probably not going to reach his potential, but then again, neither are the rest of the first round picks, so the Astros made a great pick by grabbing for the stars because, frankly, you seem to have about as good of a chance of drafting Matt Bush with the #1 overall pick as picking Alex Rodriguez.
Also, because someone actually asked, here’s WAR for #1 overall picks that were drafted out of High School:
Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.
I’m not one for putting together a mock draft, the time and effort it takes to legitmately watch video of over 100 potential first or second round picks is plain and simple a luxury I do not have. That said, however, I do follow the amateur game as closely as anyone else, but the process of knowing where and when a player fits into a particular organization is daunting enough. Combine those factors with the draft changes initiated by the new CBA and the task becomes almost life altering, albeit temporarily.
Putting the draft changes aside, this year’s event will be different than in recent years in the sense there is no consensus number one choice. Even Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow shares that opinion, stating on Friday the team has not reached a final decision on who they will select, and likely won’t until they’re on the clock.
In looking through a mock draft database, Stanford righthander Mark Appel is the odds on favorite to go number one overall, with 39 of 55 guesses. Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton comes in a distant second with 14 votes.
Other consensus top five choices are LSU righthander Kevin Gausman, University of San Francisco righty Kyle Zimmer, University of Florida catcher Mike Zunino and high school shortstop Carlos Correa.
The Astros, obviously, are a team with needs across the diamond, last year’s trading of All Star Hunter Pence has left them without a marquee player and middle of the order presence. Drafting a close to ML ready pitcher like Appel, Gausman or Zimmer would give them a boost at the box office, but there wouldn’t necessarily be an immediate reflection in the standings.
One consideration for Houston in this draft which I think is being drastically underplayed is they must approach the process with the mindset this is their first major undertaking as an American League team. Going from the National League Central to the American League West is such a monumental change it’s hard to quantify in words. Personally, and this is my belief for every team, you can be somewhat competitive with a patchwork pitching rotation acquired through free agency, waivers and two or three player trades. I’m not talking Cliff Lee or CC Sabathia here, more like R.A. Dickey.
So, considering everything, if I’m the guy in charge for Houston, we’re taking Byron Buxton. I could be convinced to take Correa as well, but a potential middle of the order, Gold Glove caliber centerfielder is a safer bet than a top of the order, Gold Glove caliber shortstop with question marks on his bat. Don’t get me wrong, there’s question marks with Buxton’s offense too, but if Correa has to move off short at some point, his hit tool becomes more of an issue, and with sticking to a budget more of a concern nowadays, it’s not a risk worth taking.
For me, anyway.
In advance of next Monday’s draft, which will once again be televised live on MLBNetwork (6pm EST), one should remember some of the changes initiated during the negotiations for the new Collective Bargaining Agreement take place starting this year.
It’s going to be interesting to see how teams adjust to the new rules, especially with some more restrictive penalties coming in 2013. It’s almost like this year is a dress rehearsal for the big show coming later on. Among the changes on tap for 2013 and beyond is a reduced number of compensation picks for free agents and a “competitive-balance” lottery which provides additional choices for disadvantaged teams, which, for the first time, can be traded.
Some of the changes which start this year are the banning of major league contracts to draftees, the adding of compensation picks from one round to three for the failure to sign a pick, and a mandatory forty percent offer to a player who fails a physical. Additionally the draft length will be reduced from fifty rounds to forty and a further shortening of the post-draft signing period, from August 15th to six weeks after the draft, which this year is July 13th.
In an attempt to control bonuses, teams are assigned “bonus pools”, which is based loosely on the sum of values of each team’s picks in the first ten rounds, which are assigned jointly by MLB and the MLBPA. With a more punitive luxury tax and the possibility of losing picks in upcoming drafts, even the big-money teams are expected to hold firm to their pool allotment.
Obviously, this system favors the teams picking at the top of the draft, the first pick of the round (Houston) is valued at $5.625 million more than Boston’s thirty-first and final pick of the first round. As it stands now, the cumulative dollar value on a per pick basis is roughly $27 million less this year than last.
The Twins have the largest bonus pool at just over twelve and a quarter million, covering thirteen picks, the Angels have the smallest, with just over one and a half million to spread amongst eight picks.
Teams have the flexibility to spend their pool in any way they choose, as long as they remain under their pool budget. If a team signs a player for less than the slot amount, they in turn could use that money on another pick, however, if they fail to sign a pick, the dollar value is subtracted from their total. Additionally, while the budget amount doesn’t cover rounds eleven through forty, penalties will still be assessed if the player signs for an amount $100,000 or more over the assigned slot amount.
Under the old CBA, the only enforceable penalty would be a fine for not having a player’s contract offer approved by MLB prior to the signing deadline. Now, the penalties begin at one dollar over each team’s respective bonus total and escalates for each additional five percent up to fifteen.
Exceeding the bonus pool by up to 5 percent results in a 75 percent penalty tax on the overage, from 5 to 10 percent results in the same 75 percent penalty and the loss of a first round pick, from 10 to 15 percent the penalty is 100% of the overage and the loss of a first and second rounder, and after 15 percent it’s a 100 percent penalty and the loss of two first rounders.
The best part of the penalties, IMO, is the fact the money isn’t paid directly to MLB, it’s disbursed (along with the forfeited picks) to those teams which didn’t exceed their budget. So, in effect, the Yankees could essentially pay for Tampa to sign additional picks and give another team and extra selection in an upcoming draft.
When the Angels placed Bobby Abreu on waivers on April 27, I wondered if this would be the end of the line for one the most successful players in baseball history. Fortunately, or unfortunately if you watched Abreu leave three runners on base in two at bats on May 4, the Dodgers picked him up and immediately placed him on their major league roster.
In the interest of full disclosure, Bobby Abreu has always fascinated me. He never really looked like a great athlete (though he clearly is in great shape), he never looked like he was trying, and he never put up monster numbers, but at the end of nearly every season for 13 years he ended up with at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. He drove in at least 100 eight times, scored 100 another eight, and went 30/30 twice. He was a great right fielder, but was notoriously allergic to walls, and stole bases whenever the pitcher was not paying enough attention. In the end, Bobby Abreu was a truly singular baseball player whose talents were never fully appreciated – unless you were playing fantasy baseball.
Bob Kelly Abreu was signed by the Houston Astros as an international free agent out of Venezuela in August 1990, just months after his 16th birthday. Assigned to the GCL Astros of the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League, Abreu put up an amazing 301/358/372 line. While that line may not look amazing at first blush, had Abreu been born in the U.S., Puerto Rico, or Canada, Abreu would be about to start his senior year of High School, not playing professional baseball. In 1992, Abreu was assigned to the Astros’ full season A Level Southern Atlantic League affiliate, the Asheville Tourists. Abreu more than held his own, putting up a 292/375/402 line as the third youngest player in the Southern Atlantic League. Tough Abreu only hit eight home runs in 549 plate appearances, he displayed a mature approach by walking 63 times and hit 21 doubles. Baseball America took notice after the season, ranking Abreu the #95 prospect in all of baseball despite being 18 and having just completed his first full season of professional baseball.
In 1993, Abreu was sent to the High A Osceola Astros of the Florida State League where he put up a 283/352/430 line across 530 plate appearances. Abreu’s line for 1993 is, to say the least, fascinating. He hit 21 doubles, 17 triples (which lead the FSL, but the home park may have been a factor, as Abreu was one of six Oscola Astros who had at least six triples), and five home runs (down from eight in 1992). Abreu stole 10 bases, but was thrown out 14 times. Abreu walked 51 times (17th in the FSL out of 100 players with at least 149 PA), but struck out 90 times (tied for 9th most). Abreu was still viewed as a top prospect, but was not ranked by Baseball America in their top 100.
In 1994, Abreu broke out – putting up a great 303/368/530 line across 451 plate appearances for the Jackson Generals of the AA Texas League. Though his walks further decreased to 42, Abreu hit 25 doubles, 9 triples, and 16 home runs – finally appearing to realize his power potential. Abreu’s stock as a prospect was spiking, as Baseball America rated him the #52 prospect in baseball.
In 1995, Abreu spent the entire year playing for the Tucson Toros of the AAA Pacific Coast League, putting up a solid, if not spectacular, 304/395/516 line while hitting 24 doubles, 17 triples, and 10 home runs. He still got caught stealing too much (14 in 30 attempts), but there was significant offensive growth and actualization. Baseball America rated Abreu the #29 prospect in all of baseball (and immediately ahead of Jermaine Dye) with many prospect prognosticators praising his plate approach and defense, along with his power potential.
Despite the Astros’ mediocre outfield in 1996 (Brian Hunter, Derek Bell, and James Mouton had the most plate appearances, with significant playing time from Derrick May and John Cangelosi), Abreu returned to Tucson for another season in AAA. Abreu put up a 283/389/459 line, showing improved plate discipline (83 walks in 573 plate appearances) and a better approach to base running (24 stolen bases in 42 attempts), with 14 doubles, 16 triples, and 13 home runs. Abreu was called up to the Astros in September, putting up a 227/292/273 line across 24 PA. While the overall line does not look good, it is important to note that, at 22 years old, Abreu was one of the youngest players in the major leagues and, more importantly, 24 PA is such a tiny sample size that it is statistically insignificant. Unconcerned with the poor big league showing, Baseball America rated Abreu the #38 prospect in all of baseball after 1996, behind Eli Marrero.
In 1997, Abreu began the season with the Astros, appearing in 20 out of the Astros’ first 26 games, putting up a 271/386/457 line while primarily playing right field. Abreu struggled in May, and went on the disabled list on May 25 with a fractured right hand. Abreu was on the disabled list until July 3, when he returned to the Astros for almost two weeks, putting just seven plate appearances across five games. Abreu was sent down to the minors, where he put up a combined 262/329/379 in AA and AAA (the AA portion appears to be part of his rehab, but I cannot find game logs to confirm this). Abreu returned to the Astros on September 1, putting up a 294/333/471 line over 14 games to close out the season to finish with a 250/329/372 line at the major league level. All told, 1997 was not a successful year for Abreu. Despite spending most of the 1997 season with the Astros, he had not performed particularly well and missed significant time with an injury.
On November 18, 1997, Major League Baseball held an expansion draft in order to put major league players on the rosters of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Each team was allowed to protect a number of players, and the Astros decided to protect Richard Hidalgo instead of Abreu. With the 6th overall pick, the Devil Rays selected Abreu and, immediately after the draft, traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies for Kevin Stocker. The Devil Rays GM, Chuck LaMar, wanted Stocker, who was known for his strong defense and complete lack of offensive ability, and was willing to give up the soon-to-be 24 year old Abreu for the soon-to-be 28 year old Stocker. The Phillies’ GM, Ed Wade, should be commended for this move. Though the 1998 Phillies would have to use Desi Relaford as their shortstop, Abreu would hit from day one (literally, he went 2/6 on Opening Day against the Mets) for the Phillies.
In 1998, Abreu put up an impressive 312/409/497 line (with 14 intentional walks), beginning his long and successful career. Abreu has put up an OPS+ of at least 104 in every season from 1998 through 2011, but has struggled so far in 2012. Playing without a position for the Angels, Abreu put up a 208/259/333 line in eight games before being released. The Dodgers picked up Abreu, with formerly-mustachioed Manager Don Mattingly stating that Abreu “gives [the Dodgers] a chance to be a little bit better.”
In the end, Bobby Abreu pretty much turned out to be the player he was projected to become, with a career 293/396/480 slash line (129 OPS+), with 284 home runs, 393 stolen bases, 2390 hits, 1414 runs, and 1330 RBI. Abreu’s ability to hit line drives and patience at the plate have been his calling card, racking up 558 doubles in his career, good for 25th all time and 2nd amongst active players (only 3 behind Todd Helton).
So is this the end for Abreu? At this point, Abreu has become a “lefty bat off the bench” who can occasionally play the outfield. While he has put up great career numbers, he lacks the “wow” factor that voters often require when voting someone into the Hall of Fame, and he was only elected to two All Star Games, awarded one Silver Slugger, and awarded one Gold Glove. This lack of awards, despite winning the 2005 Home Run Derby, will doom Abreu to being part of the Hall of Very Good – which is quite an accomplishment. Abreu is currently 98th with 9,703 career plate appearances – a place surrounded by Hall of Famers and legends, such as Ted Simmons (100), Willie McCovey (99), Julio Franco (97), and Richie Ashburn (96).
How will Abreu be remembered? As a very good player who put together a long, successful career in baseball and the fact that he has made in excess of $115 million in his career while flying under the radar.
Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.
The Astros minor league affiliate getting off to the best start, by far, is the Oklahoma City Redhawks. After winning the last four games in a row and sweeping Nashville, they find themselves in sole possession of first place (at least for today).
What is the key to this strong start? One needn’t look much farther than the current Pacific Coast League pitching stats leader page on MiLB.com. Here is how the Oklahoma City starting pitchers are doing through 16 games:
Dallas Keuchel - Drafted in the seventh round in 2009
- Tied for first in wins with three wins in three starts
- WHIP of 0.70 is second in league
- ERA of 0.90 is third in league
- Sixth in innings pitched
Jordan Lyles – Drafted in the first round in 2008
- Tied for first in wins with three wins in three starts
- Tied for sixth in strikeouts with 18 in 18.2 innings pitched
- WHIP of 1.07 is 15th in league
*Paul Clemens – Obtained from Atlanta in the Michael Bourn trade in 2011
- ERA of 1.59 is eighth in the league
- WHIP of 1.06 is 13th in the league
*Currently on the seven-day DL with back spasms
Henry Sosa – Obtained from San Francisco in the Jeff Keppinger trade in 2011
- ERA of 1.69 is tenth in the league
- Tied for 18th in strikeouts with 15 in 16 innings pitched
Aneury Rodriguez – Rule 5 pick in 2010
- Second in the league in strikeouts with 21 over 14.2 innings pitched
And it’s not just the starting staff that is doing well. The team ERA of 2.65 and team WHIP of 1.19 rank second in the PCL. Their 125 strikeouts tie for third and they have the fewest walks allowed in the league with only 36 walks allowed in 139 innings.
You’re doin’ fine Oklahoma. Oklahoma OK!
The 1992 Major League Baseball Rule IV draft was an amazing draft. A number of notable players were taken in the first two rounds: Derek Jeter (Yankees, 1st round/6th overall pick), Jason Kendall (Pirates, 1/23), Johnny Damon (Royals, 1s/35), Todd Helton (Padres, 2/55– though he didn’t sign), Jason Giambi (A’s, 2/58), and John Lynch (Marlins, 2/66 – you know him better as the hard-hitting safety for the Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
As you may have noticed, the #1 overall pick was not mentioned (in fact, none of the top five picks were mentioned), as he did not live up to the lofty expectations placed upon him. Phil Nevin was the #1 overall pick in 1992.
After graduating from El Dorado High School in Placetina, California, Nevin was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 82nd overall (3rd round) pick of the 1989 draft and offered $100,000 to play baseball professionally. Nevin chose to attend college at Cal State Fullerton. In 1992, Nevin was awarded the NCAA Division I Golden Spikes Award as the nation’s best amateur baseball player and earned the MVP of the 1992 College World Series. The Houston Astros selected Nevin with the first overall pick of the 1992 draft. This pick was not without controversy, even within the Astros organization. Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser, a scout within the Astros organization, was so upset that the Astros did not pick Derek Jeter that he quit the organization and retired from baseball for good.
Nevin did not sign immediately, as he had more important things on his mind – he was the starting third baseman for Team USA at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.
Nevin immediately showed his talent in 1993. After being ranked the #30 prospect by Baseball America, Nevin put up a 286/359/413 line for the Tuscon Toros, the Astros’ AAA affiliate in the Pacific Coast League. In 1994, Nevin again returned to the Toros, as the Astros still had Ken Caminiti as their starting third baseman. Ranked #24 by Baseball America, Nevin seemed to stagnate in Tuscon, putting up a 263/343/393 line.
In 1995, the Astros dealt Caminiti with a number of other players (including Steve Finley) to the San Diego Padres for a number of players (including Derek Bell, Doug Brocail, and Phil Plantier). Despite third base opening up and being ranked #59 by Baseball America, Nevin began the year back with the Toros. After putting up a 291/367/463 line in AAA, Nevin was promoted to the Astros. Appearing in 18 games, Nevin put up a 117/221/133 line that would even embarrass Mario Mendoza. Nevin got into a shouting match with Manager Terry Collins and, on August 15, the Astros dealt Nevin to the Detroit Tigers to complete a previous trade for Mike Henneman (who was a pretty decent closer for the Tigers at the time, finishing his career with 193 saves and a 3.21 ERA).
Nevin was assigned to the Toledo Mun Hens of the International League, the Tigers’ AAA affiliate. Nevin was brought up when rosters expanded in September, and put up a 219/318/33 line, primarily playing left field. With Travis Fryman firmly ensconced at third base, Nevin, no longer considered a rookie and therefore ineligible for prospect ranking, was sent to the Jacksonville Suns, the Tigers’ AA affiliate in the Southern League. Nevin finally put up big numbers, putting up a robust 294/397/561 for the Suns. Though primarily a third baseman who played some left field and first base, spent 62 of his 98 games playing catcher, a position entirely foreign to him. In August, Nevin made his first big league appearance of the year for the Tigers. Primarily playing third base, Nevin put up a solid 292/338/533 line in 130 plate appearances.
In November 1997, Nevin was dealt to the Anaheim Angels with Matt Walbeck for Nick Skuse. In 75 games for the Angels, Nevin hit an unimpressive 228/291/371. Traded on the eve of the regular season, Nevin was dealt again, this time to the San Diego Padres with Keith Volkman for Gus Kennedy and Andy Sheets. Nevin seemed to bloom in San Diego, putting up a 269/352/527 line across 441 plate appearances while playing third base and catching. As San Diego’s starting third baseman, Nevin put up a 303/374/543 line in 2000 and 306/388/588 line in 2001 while making his first All Star Game. In 2002, Nevin strained his arm in May, just three days after his return, Nevin fractured his humerus, missing the next six weeks of the season. Nevin put up a 285/344/413 line in 2002, followed by a 279/339/487 2003 campaign where he missed four months of the season after dislocating his left shoulder in Spring Training. Nevin was healthy again in 2004, primarily playing first base and putting up a 289/368/492 line, Nevin’s last big season. In May, Nevin was accused of spewing a string of vulgarities in front of young fans, including the man’s 8-year-old daughter in Philadelphia. After taking a called third strike, Nevin was heckled by the historically foul-mouthed Philadelphians and responded in a manner he later conceded to be “unprofessional.”
In 2005, at the age of 34, Nevin began to decline. After putting up a 256/301/399 line in 73 games for the Padres, Nevin was dealt to the Texas Rangers for Chan Ho Park and cash, where he put up a 182/250/323 line in 29 games. In 2006, Nevin hit 216/301/415 for the Rangers, then was dealt to the Chicago Cubs for Jerry Hairston, Jr., where he seemed to rebound, putting up a 274/335/497 line over 67 games. At the trading deadline, Nevin was dealt with cash to the Minnesota Twins for Adam Harben. Nevin finished the season with a 190/340/286 line in 16 games for the Twins.
After that inauspicious ending to the season, Nevin never played another inning of professional baseball. Formally announcing his retirement in May 2007, Nevin began working pre-game shows for the Padres, then worked for ESPN as a college baseball analyst in 2008. In 2009, Nevin was the manager of the Orange County Flyers of the independent Golden Baseball League. In 2010, Nevin managed the Erie SeaWolves, the AA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. In 2011, Nevin managed the Toledo Mud Hens, the Tigers’ AAA affiliate, where he still manages today.
So what happened to Nevin? He never came close to the lofty expectations placed on a first overall draft pick, but he had a solid career, putting up a 270/343/472 career line (career 114 OPS+) across 1217 games and turning into a top managerial prospect. Of course, the real vindication was for Hal Newhouser, as the best player in the 1992 draft was, by nearly 20 career WAR, Derek Jeter.