Saturday, May 25, 2013

Padres Mock 1.0 (2013)

I have had a lot of success mock drafting in the past, with picks like George Springer, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Matt Purke, so I decided to do a new one for the draft that is coming up in about two weeks. Of course, there is no guarantee that the player I am predicting falls to that pick, as in 2011, in one of my mocks, I had Trevor Bauer falling to 25. Needless to say, that didn't happen.

2013 is a very weak draft, headlined by flamethrower Jonathan Gray and last year's 8th overall selection Mark Appel who did not sign due to Scott Boras using Appel to make a point...

Earlier in the season, in an interview, Josh Byrnes was asked about the quality (or lack thereof) of the draft. He said he really liked the high school bats early in the draft, so I considered guys like Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows for my selection at number 13.

#13 Overall: CF/LF Austin Meadows, Grayson HS, Georgia
I think at this point, if Meadows is available, you take him. He plays center, but he profiles as a good defensive left fielder. He has slightly above average speed, and some nice pop in his bat. Most mock drafts I have seen have him going at #12 to the Mariners, but you never really know...

Meadows is pretty much slightly above average all around, almost like an Adam Jones type player. He doesn't have many flaws, and he could easily develop a lot more power. He would be an excellent piece to snag at 13, but it is probable that he doesn't fall.

The other guys I like at this spot are Clint Frazier (goes to San Diego in ESPN's MD) and JP Crawford. I don't think Frazier will fall, but stranger things have happened.

MLB Comparison: OF Adam Jones

#50 Overall: LHP Stephen Gonsalves, Cathedral Catholic High School (San Diego)
Gonsalves goes to high school in San Diego, and throws a smooth 90-92. He was very high on draft rankings early, but has fallen for no particular reason. He comes right from San Diego's backyard, so why not take a chance and add another young prep arm to the likes of Max Fried, Walker Weickel, and Joe Ross?

MLB Comparison: a poor man's Cole Hamels

#69 Overall (Competitive Balance Lottery): RHP Trevor Williams, ASU 
Trevor Williams is another guy who was slated to go in the first earlier this year, that has fallen. Williams has a low 90's fastball, and despite not being very overpowering strikeout wise in college, knows how to pitch. He is the type of player that will shoot up a system and potentially fill out the #4 or #5 spot in a rotation. With many high risk, high reward guys, the system needs one or two guys that can be consistent innings eaters like Clayton Richard. If something like 2012 happens again (15 different starting pitchers), a guy like Trevor Williams is an excellent piece to have.

MLB Comparison: Jon Garland

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Know The Minors - Fantasy Success


  It's easy to look at fantasy sports and say it's merely a lucky roll of the dice that brings success.  After all, most draft their ball club based on rankings drawn up by ESPN or Yahoo.  However, if you take a closer look, the usual perennial winners in fantasy baseball leagues are the ones who've done their research.  While getting Miguel Cabrera or Justin Verlander in their prime seasons in the first round with give you a slight boost up on the competition's top players, the real game changes are the role players.

  Where do those role players come from?  The minor leagues.  And if you're dedicated enough, you might just be able to find the next MVP before he's elevated to top round status.

Obviously here, the prime example is Mike Trout of last season.  Trout got the call up early in the year and never looked back.  He finished second in the MVP voting, won AL rookie of the year, was put on the All-star team, and won a Silver Slugger award all in the first season.  You could make a case that he would have won MVP any other year had it not been for Miguel Cabrera getting the triple crown in who knows how long.  Trout hit .326, slugged 30 HR's and 83 RBI's, stole 49 bases, and crossed home plate 129 times, all in his first major league season.

  Many asked who was Mike Trout when he first burst onto the scene last year.  How could someone so unknown be this good?  The fact was, and is, though, he wasn't unknown to baseball, just to the fans.  Trout had been at the top of prospect lists for a few years, and his talents were apparent to many who avidly follow the minor leagues.  So, instead of passing on Trout early on the waiver wire because he'd only been hot for less then 10 games, the minor league junkies were falling over each other to pick him up before he was a popular pick-up.

  Was this a one time occurrence?  Certainly not.  Of the top 20 in batting average at this early part of the season, four of these players were top prospects just last season.  Jean Segura, Starling Marte, Manny Machado, and Jose Altuve.  Further down the list are names like Bryce Harper, Lorenzo Cain, Paul Goldschmidt, and Jed Lowrie.

  And it doesn't just stop on the offense.  In the top 12 for ERA, Matt Harvey, Shelby Miller, Pat Corbin, and Matt Moore were all elite prospects heading into this season.

Harvey has dominated hitters this season.
  So do you want to get ahead in your fantasy league?  Here's a few names to consider adding before they're gone.

  Nolan Arenado - 3B - COL
  Jedd Gyorko - 3B - SD
  Anthony Rendon - 3B - WAS
  Oswaldo Arcia - OF - MIN
  Trevor Bauer - SP - CLE
  Julio Teheran - SP - ATL
  Wily Peralta - SP - MIL
  Jose Fernandez - SP - MIA
  Tony Cingrani - SP - CIN

Don't wait for the ESPN column to add the newest hot pickups.  Get them early, and enjoy the benefits.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Go-Go: The Other Cargo

  Only a month into the 2013 regular season for Major League Baseball and quite a few players are turning heads with their eye-popping play.  Clay Buchholz, Matt Harvey (who shouldn't be a surprise... read up on your prospect rankings in years prior), Coco Crisp, Chris Davis, Shin-Soo Choo, Justin Upton, etc.  However, none of them compare to the success of a certain outfielder in Milwaukee.  No, it's not Ryan Braun (who does have a solid line so far this year: .314, 7, 24).  It's Cargo... wait, I thought he was in Colorado.  The other one: Carlos Gomez, ladies and gentlemen.

  The rise of Go-Go as a not only solid, but now top-of-the-line hitter (so far) this season should be getting much more attention out of cheese country.  Not because he's playing better than Upton, Choo, or even Davis, but because of how much he has ameliorated his play to get to where he is today. Gomez is hitting .364 this season with 6 bombs, 14 RBI's, 22 runs scored, and 7 bases swiped.  A few of his rankings so far this season in the National League:

AVG: 1st
HR: 20th
R: 10th
SLG: 1st
OBP: 4th
SB: 5th
3B: 1st

  That's one heck of an all around performance to start a season.  You also have to take into account that he's grown into an elite defender in center field.  Will he continue on this pace?  Who knows?  But there isn't a team in baseball that wouldn't want this guy right now, something that hasn't always been the case...

The New York Mets took a shot on a fast kid from the DR in 2002 and brought Gomez to the United States to play ball as a 16 year old.  He didn't start playing until he turned 18 in 2004 where he joined the Kingsport Mets in the Appalachian League.  Gomez would soon be promoted to the GCL Mets in the Gulf Coast League.  He finished the season with a .281 average and stole 17 bases in 57 games.  Certainly not the Bryce Harper instant success story, but promising for an 18 year-old.  In the following season, the young outfielder was placed on the roster for the Hagerstown Suns (A ball) in the South Atlantic League.  His speed once again showed as this time around he swiped 64 bases in 120 games while hitting .275.  After the 2005 season, Gomez was beginning to become a name in the Mets farm system.  John Sickles of said of Gomez prior to the 2006 season, "Gomez has very good tools, particularly speed, but is raw enough that I can't rate him higher."  Higher, in Sickles' case, was higher than 5th in the organization, where he had Gomez ranked going into the 2006 season.

  Gomez didn't disappoint his penultimate season in the minors with the Binghamton Mets (AA ball) in the Eastern League in 2006.  He upped his average to .281 and still stole 41 bases in 120 despite moving up another level.  Sickles once again promoted Gomez in his rankings to 4th in the Mets' organization and once again restated the "great tools" he possessed.  In his last stint in the minors, Carlos played with the New Orleans Zephyrs (AAA ball) in the Pacific Coast League.  Through 36 games, Carlos was hitting .286 with 17 bases stolen and 24 runs scored.  He was currently at the top of the PCL in stolen bases and was ranked third on Sickels' list.

  Then came the call up to the majors on May 13th.  A 21 year-old, Gomez was the youngest player in the National League at the time of his promotion.  Playing alongside Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran, he was nicknamed "Little Carlos" during his 2007 time with the Mets, something that wouldn't stick with him.  However, things didn't start off for a bang as many in the Mets organization would have hoped.  He hit only .232 in 58 games.

  As the season came to a close, a lot of questions swirled around whether or not the Mets would continue the Carlos Gomez experiment and give him a starting job in 2008.  The Mets had already acquired Ryan Church, and the demand for the young speedster wasn't as high as it had once been.  Would he stay in the majors or be back down in AAA?  They never got that far.  In the blockbuster deal of the off-season.  The Mets shipped Gomez, along with pitchers Phillip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and Deolis Guerra, to the Minnesota Twins for the southpaw Cy Young winner Johan Santana.

Gomez was renowned for smelling his bat.
  Now suiting up with a new team, Gomez was given a shot he probably wouldn't have had while in New York: playing for a contending team while starting.  Gomez played 153 games for Minnesota in a season that came down to the last game to decide their fate in which the team lost the Chicago White Sox.  Gomez hit .258 with 33 stolen bases, an improvement over his first season with New York and was given the nickname Go-Go by Twins manager Ron Gardenhire; this time it would stick.  He also became the 3rd youngest player to hit for the cycle in a mid-season game verses the White Sox and led the league in bunt hits with 30.

  With a mild level of success, Gomez was given another shot in 2009 as the Twins lead off man and starting center fielder.  He didn't exactly deliver the goods to a team that was the best in years offensively.  However, Twins fans will most remember him for his game-winner run scored in game 163 against the Detroit Tigers as a pinch runner:

  Things ended for Gomez with Minnesota when he shipped out to Milwaukee prior to the 2010 season for shortstop J.J. Hardy.  After two seasons of sub-100 games played, sub-.250 AVG, and sub-20 stolen bases, things seemed to click for Gomez in Milwaukee in 2012.  Gomez hit .260, smashed 19 HR, stole 37 bases, and showed great improvement in his fielding and led the league in various categories from centerfield.  So coming into 2013, did we expect to see a better version of the Carlos Gomez?  Yes.  However, he's exceeded anyone's expectations: the Mets, the Twins, even the Brewers.  Can someone who's struggled so much in the past keep this kind of play up?  We'll have to use the wait-and-see approach to find out.

   So far, I think we can only describe this season as one of many surprises.  The Colorado Rockies leading the NL West.  The Royals are actually relavent.  Miguel Cabrera is playing well, wait... forget that one.  Carlos Gomez is only a part of a long list of stories from this season.  And unlike basketball where we watch teams like the Heat hand another playoff a 35+ point loss, or in tennis where we can nearly always predict the final four, this is one of the things I love about baseball.  It's unpredictable, as much as we'd like to think we can predict it.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Should the Padres Extend Chase Headley?

Ron Fowler, part of the Padres ownership group, recently went public and said that the Padres had given Josh Byrnes the OK to offer Chase Headley what would be the biggest contract in team history. This contract would have to exceed the 52 million dollar deal that was given to Jake Peavy in December of 2007. Headley then said that he hadn't heard anything about this and he said he will not negotiate in-season due to the distraction it might cause. This brings up two questions, should we extend Chase Headley and how much would we pay him?

Sign or Trade Headley?
Chase Headley has spent the last four seasons in the majors developing, playing excellent defense and providing limited offensive value, his main flaw having been a lack of power. He drew walks and stole some bases, but then, after the 2012 trade deadline, Chase Headley went on a home run spree. He finished the year at .286 with 31 home runs and a league leading 115 runs batted in. He quickly became the face of a franchise that has lost talented players such as Adrian Gonzalez, Mat Latos, and Jake Peavy. He is the type of homegrown talent that is rarely locked up in San Diego. The Padres fan base is used to losing this talent, and they tend to blame it on the fiscal owners. For a new ownership group, one that didn't make any big moves in the offseason, an extension of Headley could be one of the biggest PR moves the team could make. What happens to Chase Headley will be what the fans associate the owners with.

Headley will be a free agent after the 2014 season. He will make about 8.5 million dollars this season, and probably require a lot of money to lock up beyond this year. They have the money that they didn't spend this offseason. The one problem, is that Chase Headley doesn't want to discuss an extension during the season. We also must consider what he potentially would command in a trade. A trade comparison would be the Mat Latos trade, but there aren't many fits who make sense. The Yankees and Dodgers figure to have interest, but guys like Mason Williams or Joc Pederson won't be enough to be the centerpiece of a package. Headley is off to a good start, hitting .290 with 3 home runs (on pace for about 30 through 162 games) and 2 stolen bases, through sixteen games. He started the year on the DL (thumb) but made a quick recovery. If he can continue his hot start, his trade value will skyrocket, and he will be the subject of countless rumors. The Padres, who have won eight of their last eleven, are now only five games under .500 and in 19 games will get catcher Yasmani Grandal back into the offense. If Cory Luebke can get back onto the mound soon, the Padres might not be selling come this deadline, crazier things have happened. 

Overall, it would probably be the best move the Padres could make to drive fans into the ballpark. The lack of quality trade partners is just one more reason why it would be smart to hang on to him. 

How much would it cost?
The parameters given to us by Mr. Fowler are:
  • The deal would be the biggest in franchise history, therefore exceeding 52 million dollars.
  • The deal would be less than ten years.
If we assume the deal is 6 years, a fair number for each side, we can say the lowest possible AAV (Average Annual Value) would be 8.67 million dollars, or a 12k raise for Headley annually. Headley has provided immense value, but we forget that if he were to hit the open market, he would be on the wrong side of thirty. Chase Headley has said he doesn't like playing and not knowing his future. Headley has also said he is very happy in San Diego. A deal like this would probably work for both sides:

14: 13 million
15: 15 million
16: 15 million
17: 15 million
18: 15 million
19: 15 million CLUB OPTION with 3 million dollar buyout
20: 15 million CLUB OPTION with 3 million dollar buyout

The deal is a guaranteed 76 million dollars with potential to reach the 100 million dollar mark. This can make Chase Headley a wealthy man and allow the Padres to keep some flexibility.

Would you trade Chase Headley? Is this a realistic contract?