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Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Look of the Face

In a word, grim. Very grim.

A combination of expired contracts and failed prospects has left the Face with a badly depleted lineup and a virtually nonexistent pitching rotation. Going into free agency:
- David Eckstein's B contract has expired, making him a URFA. Ben Zobrist was released, so the closest thing to a replacement is AM Brent Lillibridge, who has yet to play in the majors.
- Once-promising second baseman Jorge Cantu has fizzled, and Ryan Freel lost much of the year to injuries and ineffectiveness (plus he's an RFA).
- In the outfield, Luis Gonzalez went URFA, Freel and Milton Bradley are RFAs, and Mark Kotsay was even more injured and ineffective than Freel. Former prospects Laynce Nix and John Rodriguez were released, leaving nothing in the pipeline.
- Worst of all is the rotation. Doug Davis, Jarrod Washburn and Kenny Rogers all finished out their contracts, and prospects like J.P. Howell and Seth McClung took steps backwards. Ubaldo Jimenez and Edgar Gonzalez will pick up a little of the slack, but they and (God help us) Tomo Ohka are the only starters we have at this point. That's 240 innings total, scarcely more than you normally expect from your #1 starter alone.

Not much waits in the wings, either. Adam Jones is a coming star, but Alberto Callaspo's upside is a middle-of-the-pack second baseman, Scott Moore's is a mediocrity at third, and Guillermo Quiroz will get about 400 at-bats in a 5-year career as a third-string catcher if he's very, very lucky. Dioner Navarro is expected to break out; if he does, and Mike Napoli takes charge in Anaheim, one of them can be traded. That's about it.

I should be able to repair some of the damage with free agents, as I lead the league in both bank balance and margin. But to actually put together a winning team that way, I'd need four regulars and four rotation starters, half of them stars and the other half at least league average. A couple of relievers wouldn't hurt either; I haven't mentioned my bullpen, but suffice it to say that Joe Borowski is my closer. It's possible to get all that from free agency, but you need a much bigger budget than mine. (A team called the Iowa Roscoes went Steinbrenner on the league and bought an All-Star squad a few years ago, but they had over $90M to work with.) No, I'm going to have to just hope for enough warm bodies to field a team and allow me to go for prospects with upside in the rookie draft.

3 Swings of the bat:

ByVia said...

What do you mean Scott Moores mediocrity at third? Who have you been watching?? Get a grip. Or eyeglasses. Read the stats for gosh sakes!

Other Side said...

Mr. Byvia, you are obviously not familiar with Strat-o-matic baseball leagues. Mr. Little's assessment of Scott Moore is based on last year's statistics in which Moore hit an abysmal .231 with a horrid .236 OBA.

Additionally, if you are going to rely on spring training stats to make a comment about a player's greatness, I would suggest getting a grip yourself.

Steve Klein said...

My assessment of Moore isn't based so much on last year's BA or OBP (the sample size isn't large enough to be really significant) as on the fact that at age 24 he has accumulated less than 100 PA in the majors. Most future stars have at least a season as regulars under their belts by that age.

Baseball Prospectus's view: "He's not going to beat out any of the players ahead of him, but some combination of injuries and trades could open up a spot."

I'm glad to hear he's doing well in spring training (I haven't been following the stats myself), but it's about as meaningful as if he was hitting .500 in an Earl Weaver Baseball video game.