After two weeks of conflicts on Wednesdays at this time, I'm back to answer your questions. We have the last week of pennant races, the Alvarez situation and our minor league Top 20 rankings to discuss, and anything else that might excite you. On to your questions . . .
Great job on all the league Top 20s so far. One question I still have for the Midwest League list was how come guys like Craig Italiano, Juan Ramirez, and Danny Gutierrez ranked ahead of Blake Beavan. Beavan was a first-rounder last year and was very highly-regarded coming into this season. Is he still a factor in that deep Texas system? Thanks.
I wrote the MWL myself, so I'll tackle this one. Beavan's stuff wasn't nearly as electric as it was in high school. His fastball mostly sat at 86-90 mph and his breaking ball wasn't as dominating either. That said, high school pitchers often lose some stuff temporarily as they transition to pro ball, and he pitched very well off his sinker and command. If his stuff bounces back, he'll be very, very good. He's still a prospect, just couldn't quite make a Top 20 in a 14-team league.
Neftali Soto only the 10th ranked prospect in the MWL? Seems kind of low for a 19 year old who put up comparable numbers to Jay Bruce at the same level at the same age.
I like Soto's bat but I wouldn't say it's as good as Bruce's yet. Bruce had better grasp of the strike zone, and he was a center fielder, while Soto is a slow-footed third baseman who might have to move to a lesser position down the road.
By the way, BA subscribers can check out a slew of MWL Top 20-related questions in my chat from yesterday at http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/prospects/rankings/league-top-20-prospects/2008/266911.html
I often see experts talk about low-K rates as a reason that some pitcher's will never be as good as others. (Prime example: Carmona's low K-rate despite his dominate GB rate). In the same breath, many of these experts say that a hitter's strikeout total doesn't really matter because "an out is an out" (Example: Who cares if Sizmore strikes out 150 times if his OBP is still close to .400). Isn't this a contradiction?
No, it's not a contradiction. The ability to miss bats usually correlates directly to a pitcher's dominance. There are exceptions, such as Chien-Ming Wang, but pitchers who don't strike out many batters usually don't have as much success as those who do.
What do you think of Bumgarner ranking above Heyward in the SAL Top 20?
I think you could make a strong case for either guy. It's hard to argue with what Bumgarner did this year, as his secondary stuff and polish were more than I expected. With Kershaw and Price now in the majors, Bumgarner is the best lefty in the minors. Heyward is going to be a beast, but his power hasn't developed yet.
Surprised the Red Sox are sending Buccholz to the AFL?
Not really. He could use some more work to try to refine his fastball command. He should excel in the AFL, which can only help his confidence after he looked shaken in the majors in the second half.
Does Pedro Alvarez have as good a chance as any prospect to be an absolutely elite hitter in the majors? If becomes anything less than a consistent .300/30hr hitter, should we be *somewhat* dissapointed?
I think that's fair to say that he has as good a chance as anyone. If he doesn't, I think he, the Pirates, you and me all will be at least somewhat disappointed. And if he hits as expected, Pirates fans aren't going to care about his negotiations in the future.
Hey Jim, do you see ANY possibility that Andrew Brackman gets a call up by late next season as he did sign a pro contract? Also, what are the chances of Jair Heredia and/or Dellin Betances reaching at least Scranton by next season, if not the big league club? and where do you see Humberto Sanchez starting off the year?
Extreme longshot, and I would be shocked if we saw Brackman in the majors at any point in 2009. He hasn't pitched in a pro game yet, and pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery often need time to regain their command and secondary pitches. Not sure why the Yankees would rush promising arms from low Class A to Triple-A or the majors, either. Sanchez does have a chance to factor into the big league bullpen next year, though.
I am the biggest Ben Revere fan. I was wondering what you thought about his chances to move quickly through the minors next year and debut for the Twins. I really love his bat and I am stoked about him !
I think that's rushing him too much. Revere does a great job of handling the bat, but he's still working on honing his instincts on the bases and in center field. If Gomez or Span is in center, Revere's lack of power (he's not a slap hitter but he's not a big HR threat either) would stick out on the corner, too. Give him another couple of years to develop.
If Jesus Montero grows out of the catcher position, will he have enough stick to be an above average hitting 1st base?
Yes. I'm still not sold that he's going to be a catcher, but it's hard not to believe in that bat.
Is it time to try Will Middlebrooks on the mound?
Wow, you Red Sox fans are tough. Middlebrooks made his pro debut as a 19-year-old against older competition in the New York-Penn League. Under those circumstances, his .254/.298/.368 line isn't terrible at all. He struggled early but was much better late.
Who are the front runners for organization of the year for 2008 ? The Red sox minor league system seems to be stocked with talent and with the big team back in contention again dont they have to be your early favorite ?
To me, the two obvious candidates are the Rays and the Red Sox. The Rays rise has been more dramatic, while the Red Sox are sustaining excellence at both the major and minor league levels. Both are compelling stories.
Biggest impact in the big show in 2009: Weiters, LaPorta, or Maybin?
What are your thoughts on Michael Taylor from the Phillies organization. Is he for real?
I always thought he was overrated in high school and at Stanford, but I have to tip my cap to him for a tremendous year. I don't think he's going to duplicate those .346/.412/.557 numbers in the majors, but he's for real.
Hey Jim. Should A's fans be excited about Aaron Cunningham? I've read "right-handed Travis Buck" but that's sort of an odd comparison at this point. What's Cunningham's ceiling? Jason Bay?
Yeah, I think Bay is fair as his ceiling. Cunningham has a chance to be a good regular. I understand why the Diamondbacks gave him up to get Dan Haren, but why the White Sox originally dealt him for Danny Richar (!) is beyond me.
There has been some rumors flying around about a Prince for Cain swap. Maybe I don't have good perspective on this, but isn't Prince worth more than that?
It's hard to find young pitching of Cain's caliber, but I can't see a 1-for-1 swap unless the Brewers would have to dump Fielder's salary, which won't be the case.
Where do you see Robinson Cano going from this horrible season? Does he still have a chance to be great or did we over-estimate his ability?
It's funny, getting this question after getting asked for years why BA didn't "respect" Cano enough. I don't know if Cano ever was going to be great. More like very good, and he still can. He's going to have to work harder, and I never bought that he'd stay at second base in the long term. I still think he's going to be a LF down the road.
Why aren't the Nationals trying to use the Alvarez situation to re-open the negotiations with Detweiler. If my understanding is correct, the league gave the extension because the Pirates asked for it, and Alvarez backed out because he said the agreement was invalid because it came after the deadline. Why are the Pirates getting a special exception and the Nat's not...this seems to be making a joke of the whole 8/15 deadline, don't you think you should have a deadline enforced, or not have it at all?
Yes, I agree, the deadline became a joke this year. MLB and the MLBPA agreed to give the Pirates and Alvarez a new window to negotiate, apparently because MLB and the Pirates wanted the grievance to go away. I think Boras and the MLBPA believed they would win the grievance though not achieve a significant remedy, so Alvarez took a major league contract. And yes, if I ran the Nationals, I'd want to know why I could have some extra time to sign Crow at this point too. If I were the Overlord of Baseball, and this case was brought to me and there was proof (as there seemed to be) that Alvarez didn't agree to terms until after the deadline, I would have said no deal and sent him back into the 2009 draft. Which, incidentally, I don't think Boras would have broken up about.
LIGHTNING ROUND: Taylor Teagarden, Jarod Saltiamaccia or Max Ramirez as starting Catcher for the Rangers opening day 2009?
Only I can open the lightning round! But to answer your question, Teagarden.
Between Posey, Gillaspie, Villalona, and Sandoval, the Giants have 4 guys that project to play c, 1b, or 3b. Which guy is most likely to be moved to a corner outfield spot?
Interesting. I'll say Sandoval, though I'm not sure he'd be real great out there. Gillaspie is the only true 3B of that bunch, and he's not stellar at the hot corner. Posey will definitely C and there's no way you'd want Villalona lumbering around the outfield.
Would a package of F-Mart, Heilman, and a mid level prospect entice the Giants to trade Matt Cain?
I wouldn't do that if I were the Giants.
Are teh yakness in rebuilding mode?
Nope. They're moving into a new ballpark and charging fans their first-born for season tickets . . . they're going to try to win it all in 2009 rather than take a step back and rebuild.
Your 2009 ROY are? AL_______ and NL_____
Matt Wieters and Colby Rasmus.
Of the last draft class, who makes the majors first?
Conor Gillaspie already has come up for the Giants, who apparently wanted to see if he could possibly handle their open 3B job next year. They've only given him three at-bats, though, so I'm not sure what the point of the callup was.
What do you think of Bryan Anderson, C, STL? Not a lot of power in that bat, but good average and good eye from the couple of times I've seen him. How does his defense look?
I'm not a huge Bryan Anderson fan. I think he can hit for average and I've heard good things about his leadership skills, but the rest of his tools look pretty fringy to me.
Is there a more qualified NL MVP candidate from the 5 potential NL playoff teams (Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies, Mets and Brewers) than David Wright?
Perhaps not. But I'll throw two questions back at you. Where does it say the MVP has to come from a playoff team? Isn't Albert Pujols the best player in the NL?
Best chance to stick in a major league rotation: Sowers, Laffey, Huff, Jackson, Scott Lewis?
David Huff. I think he's sort of underrated, really like his changeup.
Have any jobs over there?
You should be set for life after all the money you stole from the Lions. Though I'm actually looking forward to your return to the broadcast booth, where you excel.
Another side note on the Alvarez deal ... why wouldn't Boras try to renegotiate the Hosmer deal now too since it is pretty much agreed it was after the deadline too?
Because he felt that deal was negotiated fairly and before the deadline, while he believed MLB took leverage from the Alvarez and gave it to the Pirates by extending the deadline without MLBPA approval. The way this whole thing has unfolded makes it look like something fishy was going on from the MLB/Pirates side.
Let's fire up the lightning round now!
Do you think LaPorta has a chance to make the big league club out of ST, or will he spend some time in Columbus?
He has a chance because the Indians could use a bat like his.
Tillman or Matusz?
Matusz, but I do like Tillman a lot.
Martin Perez or Michael Pineda?
U still think Ian Kennedy can be a 4 or 5 for the Yankees?
Yes, maybe even a No. 3.
First team to the playoffs and in what year: Royals, Pirates, Mariners, Orioles?
Wow. I'm not heartened by any of those clubs. The Orioles are making progress but they're in the wrong division. I'll take the Pirates in 2013 if I have to pick one.
I thought Boras might have really botched this one by bringing up the whole "after the deadline" thing, but once again I think he probably came out on top - at least from the sense that he got a bonus increase (albeit paid over 4 years instead of 2) and a major league contract. Genius?
I don't think coming out further ahead was the goal so much as to ensure that MLB didn't play games with the deadline again. The deal isn't that much better, but making the Pirates cough up more after Frank Coonelly blustered as much as he did was a bonus.
Over/Under David Price wins 14 games in 09?
I'll always bet the under on rookie pitchers winning a lot of games. So much has to go right and it usually takes some time.
Jon Niese or Ian Kennedy?
So as an Oriole, Royal, Mariner or Pirate fan should I just tune out for five years or so?
Yeah, if you're banking on going to the playoffs.
Better major league pitcher: Bumgarner/Alderson?
Bumgarner. Like them both, though.
Jon Niese or Carlos Carrasco?
What is Jeremy Hellickson's ceiling?
No. 3 starter.
Indians playoff team next year?
Austin Romine...Yanks' starting C in 2012 and beyond? T or F
True, if I'm limited to current in-house personnel.
Nats over/under on reaching the playoffs? 5 years.
Better farm system: Dodgers or Angels?
Trevor Cahill in the A's rotation next year?
No need to rush him, but maybe by the end of the year.
Daryl Jones or Dexter Fowler?
Fowler. Though I've always liked Jones and am glad to see him bounce back this year.
Is Robinson Cano a Yankee for the entire 09 season?
Yes. If they trade him now, they'd be selling him at his lowest value.
Jim, Fred Freeman or Justin Smoak? Thanks
Smoak. But Freeman is very good and flying under the radar a little.
Red Sox starting first baseman in 2010: Lars Anderson or Youkilis?
Anderson, with Youkilis at 3B.
Any word on me heading to AFL to build up additional innings this year?
There's been talk of that but I don't think any decisions have been finalized.
Pie starter or bust?
Tell me this talk of trading Kemp for Cano is madness? Terrible move for LA right?
I don't see that from LA's standpoint based on the seasons those two have had and Cano's contract.
Is it wrong of me to be conflicted about the Dodgers making the playoffs, since itll likely save NedCo his job, and possibly push Logan White into another GM job elsewhere?
If you're a Dodgers fan, you have to root for them to win, don't you?
Will i be in the rotation at the START of next year?
Would you trade Mauer for Pedroia straight up?
If I were the Twins? No way. As much as you have to respect how good Pedroia is, it's a lot harder to find a catcher like Mauer.
Aceves a legit rotation guy next year?
Not really, no.
Biggest stock drop this year ... Homer Bailey or Dow Jones?
Bailey. I'd still take a shot on him though if the Reds would sell low.
Lars ANderson or Austin Jackson
# of Orioles in top the 30 prospects: over/under 2.5
I'll say under, though it will be close. Wieters will definitely make it, and I'll guess that Tillman will but Matusz and Arrieta will be in the middle third of the Top 100.
Will I get in the rotation to START the year? and will i be effective?
Yes and yes.
Do YOU have any concerns over Porcello's K rate?
No. He was making his pro debut in high Class A as a teenager, he was focusing on throwing a lot of changeups rather than just dominating with his fastball and curveball, and he was on tight pitch counts and trying to be efficient.
What is my potential upside?
Will Snider be in Toronto or Las Vegas next year?
Toronto, and for a long time.
Darnell or Vitters?
Will Delmon Young ever be an all-star?
I hate to beg, but please find it in your heart to say something nice about the Nationals' farm system, organization or current major league roster?
I think Jordan Zimmermann is one of the better pitchers in the minors who doesn't get much hype.
Red Sox starting cather in 2010 is?
Not currently in the Red Sox organization.
Mike Fontenot....deserving of a starting spot, or solid bench player?
Better as a platoon player or off the bench but could start for some teams.
I say the Mets Win it all, sneak in and suprise everyone, What you think??
I'm taking the Red Sox over the Cubs to win the World Series. I don't think the Mets can overcome the Cubs, who they'll likely face in the first round, but they're better than the 2006 Cardinals.
See you guys next week.