Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sifting through the long list of minor league free agents: NL East Edition (Part 2)

Here is part 2 of my minor league free agent post (part 1 here). The basics: Baseball America has published their annual list of minor league free agents. Looking through all of these guys is obviously a long process, so I will post these guys in chunks by their 2010 teams. Once I get through everyone, I will reorganize them by position in one big post. This is going to take a long time to complete. My goal is to have things done so by the time New Year's rolls around and players latch onto new teams in full force, fans will be able to come here for a one-stop shop on their new spring training invites and minor leaguers.

Note: Ages as of Opening Day 2011.
Florida Marlins (31)
SS Emilio Ontiveros (26 years old, no ML experience)
Ontiveros hit .193/.271/.233 in 80 games in high A ball this year as a 25 year old. With little speed, no power and average fielding at best, he'll be lucky to find a spot next year. His only saving grace could be his ability to play both middle infield positions, but that's about it.

SS Tim Torres (27 years old, no ML experience)
I'm a little more intrigued in Torres than I probably should be. He's a switch-hitting infielder with a little bit of pop and speed and can take a walk. Either he's a late bloomer or he was just a 26 year old beating up on AA competition this year, but I wouldn't count out Torres' chances at showing up on a ML roster at some point in his future (although it would still probably be a few years away).

OF Chris Aguila (32 years old, 149 games of ML experience)
Aguila bounced around in 2010, ending up with the organization that drafted him in the 3rd round in 1997 and allowed him 141 games in the majors at 0.6 wins below replacement (-0.6 WAR). His power, speed, BB and K rates were all pretty poor in 2010, and at 32 in February, his ML future is in doubt unless his minor league numbers improve. That being said, he'd still be a decent guy to have around in AAA as a 4th outfielder.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

OF Brett Carroll (28 years old, 173 games of ML experience)
Carroll isn't much with the bat (.255/.323/.463 in his minor league career and .205/.284/.325 in the Majors). He's got enough power and speed to homer twice in batting practice and steal on Matt LeCroy, but not much beyond that. His defense, on the other hand, is what keeps him around. In his short ML career, Carroll is 15.4 runs below replacement with his bat, but 17.1 runs above replacement with his glove. I'd like to see more CF experience, but whatever he's got is fine with Dayton Moore; Carroll has already signed with Kansas City, so cross him off your lists.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

OF Jason Delaney (28 years old, no ML experience)
It's hard out there for corner outfielders/1B types that show little power in the minors. Delaney can get on base (.369 career minor league OBP), but has sub-.400 SLG's over his career at the AA and AAA levels. He probably has one more year to try and prove himself; otherwise, he'll probably end up in an independent league or abroad.

OF Jose Duarte (26 years old, no ML experience)
With 31 minor league free agents, the Marlins were bound to have a few interesting players. Duarte falls under the same category as Torres did; both have showed nice power and speed in the minors at levels they were old for. Duarte is a centerfielder, so he'll continue to get chances. If he can keep his BB rates in the 8-9 range, he should be able to keep moving up, but his time is running out.

OF Vinny Rottino (30 years old, 18 games of ML experience)
Listing Rottino as an outfielder is a bit misleading; he has extensive minor league experience at catcher, 1B and 3B in addition to working in the outfield. He amazingly put up his highest SB total of his career in 2010, stealing 23 bases in 25 tries. Rottino has decent all-around talent, with nice speed and doubles power, good on-base skills and the ability to play multiple positions, but he doesn't do anything all that well and has put up these numbers as a 30 year old in AAA. I'd sure rather have him than Wil Nieves, though.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

OF Lorenzo Scott (29 years old, no ML experience)
Scott is a decent base-stealer with a nice walk rate, but he has a career K% right around 30%. If speed is your game, I'd say it's pretty important to have the ability to put the ball in play more than 70% of the time. You can do a lot worse with a roster spot for your AA or AAA team, though, so Scott shouldn't have a huge problem finding a team.

OF Brandon Tripp (25 years old, no ML experience)
I am very interested in Brandon Tripp. He's one of the younger guys we've seen on the list so far that still has a chance to be a ML contributor in my opinion. He's got average or better tools across the board but struggles with strikeouts. His K% has dropped from the 30-33% range down to the 25-28% range since he switched from the Orioles organization to the Marlins, but I'd like to see it drop further than that still.

OF Greg Burns (24 years old, no ML experience)
Young and toolsy outfielders leaving the Marlins organization seems to be a trend this offseason, and Burns is no exception. He's got speed and can field fairly well, but the dude just can't hit well enough to keep moving up. At a young 24, Burns has room for improvement, but he has a ton to improve on. I'm not going to hold my breath for this one.

OF Jeff Corsaletti (28 years old, no ML experience)
Need a decent 4th outfielder? Look no further. Corsaletti walks about as much as he strikes out, puts the ball in play and has a little speed and gap power. He can play all 3 OF positions, although his experience in CF and RF are a little limited compared to what you'd like to see. I would be very happy to see the Nats shoot Mr. Corsaletti an offer with a Spring Training invite and some playing time in September. He's not ever going to be a full-time starter, but Matt Murton-types have value, too*.
*but apparently not according to ML GM's

New York Mets (24)
RHP Yhency Brazoban (30 years old, 115 innings of ML experience)
Remember when Yhency Brazoban used to be good? Yeah, he was never really that good. In his "good" seasons, he was lucky with a very low BABIP and HR/FB rate as well as a very high LOB rate. He always had too many walks and not enough strikeouts to make up for them. He threw fairly well in AAA for the Mets and in Mexico in 2010, but his walk rate still lies pretty close to 4, even against inferior competitions. He'll keep getting ST invites based on name value and his number of strikeouts, but I doubt we'll be seeing much more of Yhency Brazoban in the Majors in the near or far future.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

RHP Brian Bruney (29 years old, 239 innings of ML experience)
I can't think of many players I enjoyed watching less than Bruney. He pitches slowly (24.3 seconds/pitch this year, close to the 5 slowest with the league average around 21.5 seconds/pitch). He walks a lot of batters, often in situations where you don't want to walk a lot of batters. His 2010 season was brutal, but he'll continue to get shots at the Majors, or at least ST invites. During this Thanksgiving, I am thankful that Bruney won't be a National in 2011.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

RHP Chad Cordero (29 years old, 330 and 1/3 innings of ML experience)
I'm torn about Cordero's 2010 season. His ML numbers weren't great (although it was a very small sample size). His minor league numbers, on the other hand, were pretty good (3.03 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, 9.1 K/9). I'm not sure if it's the fact that Cordero was my favorite National, but I think he might be mostly recovered from his shoulder issues. I'd love for the Nats to bring him back with a ST invite since Bowden is gone, but I would understand if he wants to move along due to his harsh exit.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

RHP Jack Egbert (27 years old, 2 and 2/3 innings of ML experience)
From what I've read (nothing official), Egbert had Tommy John surgery in April, which explains why he did not pitch in 2010. He tore through the lower levels of the White Sox organization, never posting an ERA higher than 3.38 in AA and below. His 2008 rate stats in AAA were decent, but they dropped off a lot in 2009. I'm wondering if it had to do with an arm injury, but that's something we'll see when he returns at whatever capacity in 2011-12.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

RHP Johan Figuereo (25 years old, no ML experience)
I'm not sure why the Nats dropped Figuereo after his 2009 season (2.92 ERA, 3.3 BB/9, 8.4 K/9). I'm not sure why the Mets dropped him after his 2010 season (2.84 ERA, 4.5 BB/9, 10.2 K/9). Sure, his walk rates suck, but he's only been a pitcher since 2008. If I were either team, I would have kept him around for at least another year just to see if he would progress any more. His chance at bottoming out are much, much higher than his chances of getting somewhere, but when you have a guy with a live arm and not a whole lot of pitching experience, you never really know what you're gonna get.

RHP Carlos Muniz (30 years old, 25 and 2/3 innings of ML experience)
Muniz has really fallen apart the last 2 years in the minors. With rising BB rates and falling K rates, Muniz probably has one more year in AAA to make a statement if he wants a return trip to the Majors.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sifting through the long list of minor league free agents: NL East Edition (Part 1)

It is Christmas morning/week/month here in Blacksburg: Baseball America has published their annual list of minor league free agents! There are 533 players listed this year and I can promise you that I will look at each and every one of their Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference pages. Looking through all of these guys is obviously a long process, so I will post these guys in chunks by their 2010 teams. Once I get through everyone, I will reorganize them by position in one big post.

Notes: Ages as of Opening Day 2011.

P.S. This is going to take a long time to complete. My goal is to have things done so by the time New Year's rolls around and players latch onto new teams in full force, fans will be able to come here for a one-stop shop on their new spring training invites and minor leaguers.

Atlanta Braves (10)
RHP James Parr (25 years old, 36 and 1/3 IP of ML experience)
Parr, a Braves 4th rounder back in 2004, has had two cup-of-coffee ML stints in 2008 and '09. He threw 6 shutout innings against the Nationals in his ML debut, but had little success after that, with a 5.20 ERA and 4.71 FIP in his short career. He's a decent strikeout guy (7.0 K/9 in his minor league career and 6.4 in the majors) but he needs to keep his walk totals down if he wants to get back to the majors. He's still young enough to get back to the majors, but 2011 will be a bounceback year, as he only had 9 starts in AAA due to injury.

LHP Mariano Gomez (28 years old, no ML experience)
While Gomez has put up pretty good conventional numbers over the last 3 years in AAA with ERA's of 2.76, 1.99 and 2.89, respectively, his peripherals likely are the reason he has not reached the bigs. His FIP's have ranged from 3.43 to 4.11 to 3.78 over the last 3 years, and his career K:BB ratio is 1.95 (and 1.58 in 3 seasons of AAA). Gomez is a big guy at 6'6", 240 lbs, but his hope of being the second Honduran to pitch in the major leagues continues to fade.

C Orlando Mercado (26 years old, no ML experience)
Orlando Mercado had an illustrious career as a backup catcher from 1982-1990, hitting .199/.259/.281 over about 600 at-bats. His son Orlando, a 2003 6th round pick, has not made it to the majors yet. He still looks to be better than pops, though, with solid defense and on-base skills. The younger Merdado could be a useful piece with the ability to fill in at the ML level, but he needs to prove he can handle AAA first.

C Clint Sammons (27 years old, 31 games of ML experience)
Sammons hasn't done much in the minors (.243/.314/.347) or the majors (.176/.243/.235) and isn't getting any younger. He'll sign with a team to be their AAA backup or platoon guy, but barring a major improvement this year, his 3 ML stints are all he's going to get.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

2B Joe Thurston (31 years old, 183 games of ML experience)
Joe Thurston is not a good Major League player. He's got speed, but doesn't steal bases well. He can play a lot of positions at or below average. For a lefthanded batter, he hits righthanded pitchers very poorly. He draws a fair number of walks, but strikes out way too much. That being said, Joe Thurston is a good minor league player. With a .293/.355/.420 career minor league triple slash and the ability to play pretty much anywhere on the field, he is the perfect utility guy to have on your AAA team. He won't embarrass you if you call him up to your ML squad, but he won't exactly help you win games, either.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

3B Christian Colonel (29 years old, no ML experience)
At different points of his career, Colonel has put up numbers that suggest he has a broad range of skills; he stole 35 bases in 2004, put up 64 extra base hits in 2007 and has hit over .300 three different times in his career. Colonel's problem is that his speed and power have diminished greatly over the years without any other tools getting much better. His ability to play the infield and outfield corners can be useful for a AA or AAA squad, but Colonel's chances of playing Major League Baseball are looking slim at this point.

3B Eric Duncan (26 years old, no ML experience)
The 2003 first round pick hasn't figured out AAA yet. He's still young enough to keep getting chances thanks to his 1st round pick tag, but corner infielders who can't hit AAA pitching (and can barely hit AA pitching) aren't too valuable.

3B Wes Timmons (31 years old, no ML experience)
Poor Wes Timmons. With decent speed and great on-base skills, you think the guy would have gotten a shot by now. His problem to this point is that he has very little power and was previously limited to 1B/3B action. He plays a little bit of 2B; playing it well could be his ticket to a successful career in Japan. He's not quite a Rick Short-type of player, but he has a few valuable skills that could help an AAA team or an ML one in a call-up stint.

SS Luis Bolivar (30 years old, no ML experience)
Bolivar is your prototypical AAAA shortstop. He's quick, can play multiple positions and can't hit worth a dime. He'll sign to someone's AAA team and serve as a utility guy, but I doubt we'll be seeing him in the Majors unless he makes some big strides this year. He threw a scoreless inning with a strikeout in 2009, so maybe he should try pitching. It's never too late to do that, right Matt Bush?

OF Mike Daniel (26 years old, no ML experience)
Daniel showed a little bit of speed and power in 2007 with a fancy-looking .294/.362/.458 triple slash in A and high A ball. I was instantly a fan and though he would make a nice 4th outfielder for the Nats. Unfortunately, his career never progressed much past 2007 and he's stuck between being a good AA player and a mediocre AAA player. Daniel is still young and toolsy enough to keep getting calls, but he needs to improve his hitting if he wants to reach the majors as a 4th/5th OF, pinch-runner type.

Florida Marlins (31)
RHP Natividad Dilone (28 years old, no ML experience)
Natividad has a cool name and a 3.80 career ERA, but that's about it. He's a 28 year old who has never graduated high A ball. He can strike guys out, but only when he can figure out where the ball is going (and with a career BB/9 just under 5, we can tell that it doesn't happen too much). Keep moving, folks.

RHP Jon Fulton (27 years old, no ML experience)
Fulton was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2003 draft out of high school as an infielder. He couldn't hack it as a hitter and switched to pitching in 2008. His first two seasons as a pitcher went well, posting ERA's of 3.04 and 2.42 and FIP's of 2.65 and 2.71 with tons of strikeouts and tons of walks. His third year, 2010, did not go so well, with a declining K rate and poor overall numbers. 2011 is a very important year if Fulton wants to make it; while he has the ability to get guys out, he needs to transform it into a habit of getting guys out, as he can only be a "project" player for so long.

RHP Brian Lawrence (34 years old, 963 IP of ML experience)
I got really excited when the Nats traded Vinny Castilla for Lawrence after the 2005 season. Finally, a starter who can eat innings without getting bombed! Turns out he had a torn labrum and rotator cuff, so his stint in DC effectively never happened. Lawrence is finally looking like the pitcher he was before his injury; his innings total is building back up, his walks are staying down and his strikeouts are starting to rise back into the 6-7 range rather than the 4-5 range. Lawrence could be a real steal out of these minor league free agents; I wouldn't be surprised to see him make a team out of Spring Training.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

RHP Tom Mastny (30 years old, 94 IP of ML experience)
If Mastny never pitches another inning in the Majors, he'll still be in the record books; Mastny is the first Indonesian-born player in ML history. I'm sure he'd much rather be in the record books for being an awesome pitcher, but I guess you take what you can get. Mastny's career ML ERA is 6.13, and although his FIP at 4.91 suggests he was unlucky, he still wasn't that good. He pitched decently in AAA this year and will surely keep getting AAA opportunities, but his chances of being a significant ML contributor are pretty low at this point.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

RHP Matt Peterson (29 years old, no ML experience)
As another former high draft pick (2nd round-2000 by NYM), Matt Peterson saw his numbers plummet from pretty good with the Mets to awful with the Pirates after his mid-season 2004 trade. He proceeded to move to the bullpen, where he consistently put up decent (albeit generally overachieving) numbers. Peterson has never been much of a strikeout pitcher and his walk totals are pretty lackluster. Generally, I see guys get converted to relief work, put up nice ERA's in AAA and see bright futures for them. Peterson still has a chance to break out at an ML level, but I don't expect it to happen based on his peripherals.

RHP Nic Ungs (31 years old, no ML experience)
Question: If a guy who is great in AAA but can't quite hack the Majors is called an "AAAA" player, what do you call a guy who is great in AA but can't quite hack AAA? Answer: Nic Ungs. Ungs has pretty good career numbers as a whole, generally keeping his BB/9 close to 2 and his K/9 over 6...that is, until he pitches in AAA, where they are closer to 3 and 5, respectively. His chances at ML success are slim unless the Marlins, who he has spent all but one year of career with, decide to throw him a bone with a September call-up. Ungs, if nothing else, has a pretty cool name.

RHP Tim Wood (28 years old, 50 IP of ML experience)
Wood was decent in 2009, posting a 2.95 FIP in AAA and 4.31 in the majors. He regressed in 2010, though, to a 6.06 FIP in AAA and 4.92 in the bigs. He doesn't strike out nearly enough guys (7.4 K/9 in his minors career, 4.7 in ML) to justify his high walk rates (3.8 BB/9 in his minors career, 4.5 in ML). He might get some more ML opportunities, but I wouldn't go expecting another 2.82 ERA like he had in 22 and 1/3 innings in 2009.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

LHP Jeff Gogal (28 years old, no ML experience)
Gogal might have turned a corner in 2010. He finally kept his walks low (2.4 BB/9) and strikeouts high (8.3 K/9). Whether or not he keeps it up in 2011 is a different story, but he still needs to show he can handle AAA before he sniffs the Majors.

LHP James Houser (26 years old, 1.1 innings of ML experience)
I really hope Houser gets another shot at the majors; a 20.25 career ERA is just sad. The former 2nd round pick (TB, 2003) has put up decent numbers in AA and below but lackluster ones in AAA. He's still young enough (and a lefty), so he'll get plenty of opportunities, but he still is a while away from being a ML contributor.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

LHP Wes Whisler (27 years old, 1.1 innings of ML experience)
Whisler did a little bit better in his 1.1 ML innings, with a 13.50 ERA. Okay, not really. The White Sox' 2004 second round pick has never been a control guy or a strikeout guy, and I don't expect him to be an ML contributor unless he becomes one or the other.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

C John Otness (29 years old, no ML experience)
Otness has decent on-base numbers in his minor league career, but has only played 8 games in AAA. Looks like an organizational depth guy at this point, but with 1B/3B/OF experience, he could be a nice AA/AAA piece for a team looking for a vet.

C Neil Wilson (27 years old, no ML experience)
Poor defensive catcher with poor on-base skills and a little pop. Wilson will likely serve as a backup catcher for somebody's AAA squad.

1B Mark Saccomanno (30 years old, 10 games of ML experience)
Saccomanno is an AAAA slugger who can routinely put up 20 homers with a below average eye and a bunch of K's. He had a down year in 2010 but will likely be back to portraying the AAA version of Adam Dunn next year.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

2B Wes Long (28 years old, no ML experience)
Long spent three years in the A's organization, never progressing above A ball. After three more years in independent leagues, he resurfaced in 2010 only to fail to progress above A ball again (at the age of 28, no less). He's got speed and the ability to play a handful of positions to his credit, but not a whole lot else.

2B Danny Richar (27 years old, 79 games of ML experience)
It's refreshing to see a familiar face on the list every once in a while. Richar was involved in the Ken Griffey Jr. to the White Sox trade back in 2008 and hasn't done a whole lot since. Lefthanded-hitting middle infielders with a little power are definitely not in great abundance, making it impressive that Richar has kept himself out of the Majors like he has. His minor league numbers point to averageness, but he hasn't translated them to any ML mediocrity. Because of his handedness and tools, he'll keep getting calls, but he needs to make a move this year if he wants to even be a Miguel Cairo-type.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

2B Rigoberto Silverio (24 years old, no ML experience)
Silverio has yet to progress past A ball and his numbers don't suggest he has any special tools. Keep moving, nothing to see here.

3B Lee Mitchell (28 years old, no ML experience)
Mitchell has gotten a shot at AAA three years in a row and has failed to do anything with it. His average power and on-base abilities fail to make up for his massive strikeout totals. Mitchell is another one of those guys who can play well in AA but can't hack AAA.

SS Gookie Dawkins (31 years old, 55 games of ML experience)
Reds. Dodgers. Royals. Cubs. Tigers. Pirates. Mariners. Phillies. Royals (again). White Sox. Marlins. Dawkins has played for 1/3 of the organizations in the league and will likely continue to fight until he can make it back to the bigs, where he last played in 2003. The one-top prospect's 2010 numbers in AAA weren't bad at all (.268/.332/.479), but his chances of making it back to the Majors in any significant role are pretty slim.
FanGraphs, B-R (Majors), B-R (minors)

SS Javier Guzman (28 years old, no ML experience)
Guzman is lucky that we've already discussed Wes Long on this list; otherwise, his failure to figure out AA at the age of 28 would be even more embarrassing. Guzman can't hit for power, field, or get on base, and his speed and contact has faded since his first few years in the minors. The end of the road could be near for Javier.

SS Ryan Klosterman (28 years old, no ML experience)
Klosterman is yet another name on this list that has little success above AA. He used to have decent power and speed, but it looks like those tools have faded. His ability to play 2B, 3B and SS combined with a decent batters eye will keep getting him opportunities, but even utility guys that can get on base have an expiration date.

Monday, November 8, 2010

We all need to step it up

Our offseason grade so far is F; we have lost two huge pieces to retirement. As you might remember, Brian from NFA retired from blogging back in September and yesterday Steven from FJB hung up his keys, retiring from the blogging world. I am as guilty (actually, more guilty) as anyone in a lack of posting, with only 43 posts this year and none since August. What I will pledge to do, though, is step up my game in the future.

I'm never going to be an every-day blogger. I don't really have the desire to do so. There are rah-rah blogs for every team out there, and the Nats don't need another (although they do need something to cheer for!). What we need to do is strive, across the board, for more in-depth posting. Some of you are already doing your part, and I'm not saying regular posters are slacking off, but rather that we need to pick up the slack from NFA and FJB. The Natmosphere has light years ahead of the Nats in performance, and we need to keep our standards high as the team improves.

I'm excited to write my first substantial post this week as soon as the minor league free agent list is published (Matt Eddy from Baseball America said it would be posted as soon as MLB provides it to them). My challenge to the rest of the Natmosphere, even if you have been inactive like me, is to come up with a strong and informative post by the end of the month.

We've heard the same thing a million time from all perspectives concerning Adam Dunn's pending free agency. Let Dunn walk-ers, explore scenarios where the Nats offense could improve even with losing Adam Dunn. Keep Dunn at all cost-ers, try to find comparisons to Dunn that have aged well or prove to us that there is no other option on the market anywhere near his value. People bored with the Dunn story, try to play matchmaker with guys rumored to be on the trading block or write a heartfelt letter begging Cliff Lee (or whoever you want the Nats to sign) to come to Washington. Just write something original. We've lost two awesome bloggers in just over 2 months, Nats bloggers. We need to step things up.