Tag Archive | "Top Notch"

Revisiting the Cardinals Top 20 Prospects

Entering the season, the St. Louis Cardinals wealth of top notch prospects was the spotlight of all organizations in baseball. But the season has proven that depth, not names, is truly the strength of the system. Over the course of the season, the youth has been heavily leaned on at a record clip to help the team have the strong start it has enjoyed. Over the course of only half of the season, 13 rookies have made an appearance with the club, including six current pitchers on the St. Louis staff.

Taveras

All of this is considered, there is still plenty of talent yet to peak into the Major League level. Four of the top 100 prospects in all of baseball, as well as two of the premier rookies in the National League are among the ranks of the team. But there is also a replenishment of talent at the lower levels as well, to renew the process of creating new high tier prospects in the place of those getting to the ranks the Cardinals, and sticking.

With that said, here is an updated look at the youth of the Cardinal system, with both rookies and prospects combined to give a complete look at the emergence of the organization’s touted prospects, and the realities of them as players.

 

  1. Oscar Taveras (OF, Memphis): It says a lot about what Taveras’ ceiling is that he lands in front of the potential National League Rookie of the Year here still. It hasn’t been the smoothest of seasons for everybody’s top prospect. He’s missed 38 games with a bad ankle that hasn’t quite been able to heal itself. Yet, when he’s played, he’s taken to Triple-A with the same ease of attack that he did the rest of the minor leagues. He will make his second appearance in the MLB Futures Game during All-Star weekend, where he’ll headline the International team. He’s put up a .306/.341/.462 split performance thus far, with five home runs and 31 RBI. (ETA 2013)
  2. Shelby Miller (RHP, St. Louis): The aforementioned potential Rookie of the Year has delivered on promise, plus some. In his debut half as a starting pitcher, Miller has been the second best pitcher on the NL’s best staff. He’s won eight games, with an impressive 2.98 ERA. His power approach has carried over, has his 101 strikeouts have him in the top 10 in the league. He’s stayed consistently impactful, but he will likely be managed a bit more carefully in the second half, but a rookie wall doesn’t seem exactly eminent, but has hit an adjustment period as of late.
  3. Trevor Rosenthal (RHP, St. Louis): His loss in the race for the rotation out of the spring has been the bullpen’s gain all season. Rosenthal has been one of the best relievers in baseball early on, (stats). While his pedigree seems to be pushing him quicker towards the end of games than back towards the beginning, the organization’s preeminent power arm has as high of a roof as any rookie hurler in the NL.
  4. Kolten Wong (Second Base, Memphis): Wong will return to the Futures Game along with Tavares, and has continued to be the steady leadoff hitter that he’s projected to be for the big league club for years to come. He’s hit .316, and stolen 11 bases as well, along with six triples as well. The emergence of Matt Carpenter has complicated his assent some, but talent finds a way, and he remains the most natural middle infielder on at any level of the organization. (ETA 2014)
  5. Michael Wacha (RHP, Memphis): Wacha is the best prospect to have a cup of tea, followed by a return this season. He struggled some with location at the big league level, and needs to continue honing his breaking ball. But he is not far away at all, as his Triple A performance indicates. In 10 starts at Memphis, he is 4-1, with a 2.34 ERA.  (ETA, a 2013 return)
  6. Carlos Martinez (RHP, Memphis): Martinez got a late start, but has shown flashes of dominance in his quick season that has seen him go from Springfield rotation, to the St. Louis bullpen and back to the Memphis rotation. Overall, the 21-year-old has notched 52 strikeouts in 55 innings across the three levels. (ETA 2013 return)
  7. Tyrell Jenkins (RHP, Palm Beach): The rawest of the high ceiling prospect arms, the 20-year-old righty is continuing to round out his arsenal at the high-A level, and through two starts has retained his electric fastball while rebounding from season-ending shoulder surgery in 2012. (ETA, 2015)
  8. Matt Adams (1B, St. Louis): “Big City” has shown he’s got the stroke to make a big impact at the Major League level, hitting .320 with six home runs and seven doubles on the young season. Finding at-bats could continue to be an issue, but for now, he’s a crucial part of the St. Louis depth and attack.
  9. Seth Maness (RHP, St. Louis): The organization’s Pitcher of the Year from 2012 has become perhaps its most essential relief find of the season. His timely impact as a fireman to pitch the club out of tough spots has notched him four wins in a bit over a month. The double play machine (9 in 25 innings) has quickly become a key part of the bullpen mix.
  10. Marco Gonzales (LHP, First Round pick): The first of the two left handers the club took in the first round profiles similar to Wacha a year ago: polished college arm, which has a plus changeup and should be a fast riser. (ETA 2015)
  11. John Gast (LHP, St. Louis): Gast is currently on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, but was the first arm called up to replace the injured Jaime Garcia. Before his promotion, he posted a 1.17 ERA in seven starts at Memphis.
  12. James Ramsey (OF, Palm Beach): One of the more MLB-ready bats in the system, Ramsey is the most developed of a very good center field group the club is holding. After hitting .361 Palm Beach, he moved up to take over the Springfield centerfield, where he has increased his power output as well. (ETA 2014)
  13. Kevin Siegrist (LHP, St. Louis): One of the biggest revelations of the depth of the Cardinal system has been Siegrist, and his jump from Double A to the Cardinal pen. Since coming up, the hard throwing lefty has struck out nine, while surrendering only three hits in five games.
  14. Michael Blazek (RHP, St. Louis): Another quick riser, Blazek has been to St. Louis twice this summer; due to the 1.44 ERA he posted between Springfield and Memphis in 31 innings. He struck out 44 and surrendered only five runs as well.
  15. Jordan Swagerty (RHP, GCL Cardinals): The club’s second-round pick in 2011 missed all of last year with an elbow injury, but the returns have looked encouraging in his rehab returns at the rookie level in the Gulf Coast League. He’ll likely move up the ladder as high as Springfield before the end of the season. (ETA 2014)
  16. Carson Kelly (Third Baseman, Batavia): After hitting nine home runs as a 17-year-old first second round pick, Kelly has emerged as the club’s long-term project at third base. He has split his season between Peoria and low-A Batavia, but shows plenty of promise in his skill set still. (ETA 2016)
  17. Rob Kaminsky (LHP, First Round Pick): Small in stature (5’11), but big in results. The club’s second first round pick, and reward for Kyle Lohse’s departure posted an 8-0 record as a senior, with a 0.14 ERA. (ETA 2017)
  18. Tyler Lyons (LHP, Memphis): Lyons was surprisingly efficient in his chance in the rotation in St. Louis, during injuries to Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia opened up an opportunity. He struggled in his last few starts, and was returned to Memphis, where he promptly started a joint shutout in his return start. (ETA 2014)
  19. Seth Blair (RHP, Springfield): Blair hasn’t had great numbers this season (3-6, 5.01 ERA), but it’s more of a case of working through adjustments than not having what it takes. The 2010 first-round pick has what it takes to be mentioned among the other proven and more hyped names, he just has to miss more bats (.304 opponent batting average). (ETA 2015)
  20. Ryan Jackson (Shortstop, Memphis): Jackson continues to be a strong Triple A hitter, hitting a career-best .311 this season while contributing all around the infield. Yet, the consistent play of Pete Kozma has kept him sequestered in Memphis, yet he will likely get a chance to prove if his bat can carry over to Major again this summer. (ETA 2013)

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What Allen Craig’s new deal really means

The St. Louis Cardinals completed an agreement to keep first baseman Allen Craig in tow last week, but very well may have done much more than just that. The deal is a study in the obscure: both completely team and player friendly contract that helps both parties roughly equally. But to understand this, a grasp on the first base market, the financial position of the Cardinals and the club’s future forecast must be fully considered.

Allen-Craig

Understanding the first base market is essential to knowing how much of an exception the deal truly is. Craig, who will turn 29 in July, signed a 5-year extension that will carry through his 33rd birthday. First base is regularly one of the most lucrative in baseball, and upper tier contracts at the position are second to only top notch starting pitchers. To sample this, here is a breakdown of what each National League first baseman will take home this year (age – 2013 salary):

The Penthouse:

1.       Adrian Gonzalez: 31 ($21M)
2.       Ryan Howard: 33 ($20M)
3.       Joey Votto: 29 ($17M)

Middle Class:

4.       Adam LaRoche: 33 ($10M)
5.       Corey Hart: 31 ($10M)
6.       Todd Helton: 39 ($5M)
7.       Garrett Jones: 32 ($4.5M)

Pre arbitration group (Based on 2012 figures):

8.       Ike Davis: 26 ($3.6M-Super Two)*
10.   Yonder Alonso: 26 ($1M)*
11.   Freddie Freeman: 23 ($535,000)*
12.   Anthony Rizzo: 23 ($498,000)*
13.   Paul Goldschmidt: 25 ($482,000)*
14.   Brandon Belt: 25 ($481,000)
15.   Logan Morrison: 25 ($434,000)

9. Allen Craig: 28 ($1.75M)

The unique property of Craig’s deal is it still behaves like an arbitration deal through what would have been his those seasons (2014-16). He is the lowest paid non-arbitration eligible first baseman in the National League. However, it has securities that are manageable for the club, and secure for the player. Craig’s deal is for a guaranteed total of $31 million through the first five guaranteed years, with a sixth as a team option at $13 million for 2018. By that time Craig would be 34 years old, and entering his decline regardless of what he has accomplished in between. His peak should be at the average MLB point, which is generally 28-33, which is the heart of what the deal covers. The average per season value of this deal would be $6.2 million person, which falls in the heart of the middle-class of current market first base deals.

With the majority of the current holders of the biggest deals seeing them expire during the life of Craig’s deal, while other up and comers (Rizzo, Goldschmidt, Belt, Freeman) due for major raises over the next five years, Craig’s deal will continue to be a bargain for years to come, even as it escalates on annual per year value each season. In 2014, the payout is $2.75M, in ’15 $2.74M, then $5.5 and $9M in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The final two years are potentially worth $24 million, if the option for the final season is activated. If the roof of the current middle class of National League first base deals is considered Hart and LaRoche’s $10 million mark, then Craig will remain a reasonable signing at a high pay position for 66% of the life of his contract. Not too bad.

It is the perfect deal for the place that the Cardinals find themselves in annually in the market. A small market team, which competes at a slightly above middle-class payroll, and is in the midst of controlled turnover. The 2013 Cardinals will be the most expensive collection the team has ever fielded, coming in at just over $115 million. In the next two years, contracts for Adam Wainwright, Carlos Beltran, Rafael Furcal and Jake Westbrook will all expire, while arbitration numbers for David Freese, Jon Jay, Lance Lynn, Mitchell Boggs and Matt Carpenter will all increase. While a potential extension for Wainwright, along with a rising rate for Jaime Garcia will eat up more of the team’s available dollars, the team is in a very envious position, with very manageable talent-to-dollar control returns.

And for the club to continue to compete at its current level, that’s what the Cardinals must always have; a certain amount of “bang for the buck” deals. Craig’s contract sets precedence for that. He is one of the most productive hitters on the team and at a similar age as the rest of the team’s late-blooming core. With Craig’s mark setting somewhere of the competitive medium for deals on the maturing team, there is an increased chance of keeping the current core together and reasonably priced, while the promise the Cardinals farm is showing grows and inhabits the low price, controlled years they are moving out of right now.

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Going To WAR On The Trades Of The GMDM Era- Part 1: 2006

By most accounts, “The Process”, as Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore has often referred to his vision for the Royals, can be broken down into 3 phases. Phase One would be the rebuilding of the farm system. There is no denying that phase is complete. The second phase is transitioning the talent in the farm system to the Big League roster. Most would agree that this phase is mostly complete as well. The third and final phase to “The Process”, would be to identify the missing pieces and fill those gaps via free agency and trade. The Royals are just beginning to enter this phase now. Since Dayton Moore took over his post as Royals GM in June 2006, the trades that he has pulled off have drawn mixed reviews. So as he and his staff embark on Phase Three of “The Process”, it is important that we review the history of the Royals trades in the Dayton Moore era, so as to help predict the success of the recent and future trades that will be made by this regime.

We will use the WAR (Wins Above Replacement) statistic to determine the positive or negative impact of each trade. For those unfamiliar with this statistic, it is defined as: A single number that presents the number of wins the player added to the team above what a replacement player (think AAA or AAAA) would add. In fairness, we will only take into consideration the production that each player the Royals traded FOR had with the Royals, and each player the Royals traded had with the team they traded that player to. So while this study does have some flaws, it will provide a pretty good snapshot as to how Dayton has fared in the trade department.

In the first of this multi-part column, we examine the trades that took place in 2006:

June 20, 2006: The Tampa Bay Devil Rays traded Fernando Cortez and Joey Gathright to the Kansas City Royals for J.P. Howell.

Before Dayton even had time to pick out the furniture in his new office, he decided to go shopping for a=n athletic, speedy center-fielder. Enter Joey Gathright and somebody named Fernando Cortez, and exit J.P. Howell.

Howell: 3.2 WAR since Trade with Rays(06-11)

Gathright: 0.9 WAR with Royals(06-08)

Cortez: 0.1 WAR with Royals (2007)

Rays win trade by 2.2 WAR

July 19, 2006: The New York Mets traded Jeff Keppinger to the Kansas City Royals for Ruben Gotay.

Keppinger has been a useful starting major leaguer for a number of years, and it is easy to forget that he was even a Royal. And there surely have been plenty of times since July 19,2006 that Royals fans would have much rather seen him patrolling 2nd base rather than whoever they had out there. Unfortunately, for the 3 months he was a Royal, he did prety much nothing

Gotay: 0.2 WAR with Mets (2007)

Keppinger: -0.1 WAR with Royals (2006)

Mets win trade by 0.3 WAR

July 24, 2006: The Kansas City Royals traded Mike MacDougal to the Chicago White Sox for Tyler Lumsden (minors) and Dan Cortes.

Mac the 9th didn’t really do much after leaving the Royals. But at least he actually played for the team that traded for him, unlike the 2 gentlemen the Royals got in return.

MacDougal: 0.4 WAR with White Sox (2006-2009)

Lumsden: 0.0 WAR (never made majors)

Cortes: 0.0 WAR (never made majors with Royals before being shipped to Mariners for Yuniesky Betancourt)

White Sox win trade by 0.4 WAR

July 25, 2006: The Los Angeles Dodgers traded Blake Johnson (minors), Julio Pimentel (minors), Odalis Perez and cash to the Kansas City Royals for Elmer Dessens.

Dessens had been a mediocre at best reliever for the Royals for the first part of 2006, so the fact that they were able to flip him prior to the deadline for a serviceable former all-star starting pitcher like Perez, makes this the first decent trade of the DMGM era.

Dessens: 0.1 WAR with Dodgers (2006)

Johnson: 0.0 WAR (never made majors)

Pimentel: 0.0 WAR (never made majors)

Perez: 1.0 WAR with Royals (2006-2007)

Royals win trade by 0.9 WAR

July 25, 2006: The Kansas City Royals traded Tony Graffanino to the Milwaukee Brewers for Jorge De La Rosa.

This is an interesting one. Because if you consider what De La Rosa has been able, when healthy, to do since leaving the Royals then this one without question swings in the Royals favor. However, during De La Rosa’s tenure wiht the Royals, he was one of the most frustrating to watch and at times ineffective pitchers to wear a Royals uniform.

Graffanino: 1.9 WAR with Brewers (2006-2007)

De La Rosa: 0.8 WAR with Royals (2006-2007)

Brewers win trade by 1.1 WAR

July 31, 2006: The Kansas City Royals traded Matt Stairs to the Texas Rangers for Jose Diaz.

This turned out to be pretty equal trade in terms of Suck for Suck.

Stairs: -0.3 WAR with Rangers (88 plate appearances in 2006 before being shipped off to Detroit for the remainder of the season)

Diaz: -0.2 WAR with Royals (6.2 innings in 2006)

Royals win trade by 0.1 WAR

July 31, 2006: The Colorado Rockies traded Scott Dohmann and Ryan Shealy to the Kansas City Royals for Jeremy Affeldt and Denny Bautista.

Royals fans should remember this one quite well. Affeldt was a maddening pitcher for the Royals. I will never be able to hear about a pitcher having blisters on his throwing hand again without thinking of Jeremy Affeldt. Affeldt has since put it together to become a very effective left-handed reliever, but it didn’t happen with the Rockies. Bautista was supposed to have this “electric stuff” that he just needed to harness. Well, it never happened with the Royals, or anywhere else for that matter. And in Shealy, the word was that the Royals had finally found their 1B of the future and could begin taking the pressure off of Mike Sweeney. And…who is Scott Dohmann again? Whoops…

Affeldt: -0.3 with Rockies (2006-2007)

Bautista: -1.1 with Rockies (2006-2007)

Shealy: 0.2 WAR with Royals (2006-2008)

Dohmann: -0.6 WAR with Royals (2006)

In aggregate, both teams essentially added less than replacement talent with this trade,but in this study, the Royals came out on top.

Royals win trade by 1.0 WAR

December 6, 2006: The New York Mets traded Brian Bannister to the Kansas City Royals for Ambiorix Burgos.

For awhile, this trade was the crown jewel trade of the Dayton Moore era. Bannister immediately arrived in Kansas City and settled in as a steady starting pitcher and finishing 3rd in the Rookie of the Year balloting, while Burgos soon encountered legal issues in his native Dominican Republic and never played again.

Burgos: 0.1 WAR with Mets (2007)

Bannister: 2.8 WAR with Royals (2007-2010)

Royals win trade by 2.7 WAR

December 16, 2006: The Kansas City Royals traded Andy Sisco to the Chicago White Sox for Ross Gload.

It is hard to imagine why Kenny Williams was so interested in taking all of the ineffective relievers off of the Royals’ hands. This should have been a good trade. And for one year it was. But when “Gloady” as Buddy Bell liked to call him, is getting 418 plate appearances in a season and starting 95 games at 1st Base, that says a lot more about your team than it does about a steady utility player like Ross Gload.

Sisco: -0.3 WAR with White Sox (2007)

Gload: -1.4 WAR with Royals (2007-2008)

White Sox win trade by 1.3 WAR

So what does this tell us? Other than the fact that the Royals did quite a bit of exchanging of “junk” with other teams in 2006, Dayton Moore came out slightly on the short end of his trades in by -0.6 WAR, based on this study. The big ones were the J.P. Howell trade, which he lost, and the Brian Bannister trade, which he won.

Next week, we analyze the trades made in 2007…

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Macworld App Hall Of Fame Includes MLB

INAUGURAL MACWORLD HALL OF FAME CLASS FEATURES MLB.COM AT BAT

AtBat

NEW YORK, December 15, 2011 – MLB.com At Bat, the top-ranked sports app in the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPad over the past three years, was honored as part of the inaugural class of mobile apps inducted into the Macworld App Hall of Fame, as unveiled in its third annual App Gem Awards. At Bat, along with its four fellow inductees 1Password Pro, Instagram, Flipboard and Instapaper, was chosen from among the more than 500,000 mobile applications available since the Apple App Store debuted in July 2008.

Macworld recognized its “inaugural class of perpetually top-notch apps” that “embody the best of what the iOS platform has to offer and continually introduce improvements and enhancements that make them the class of the App Store.” A complete recap of the 2011 Macworld App Gem Awards can be found at Macworld.com.

During the off-season, MLB.com At Bat is available for a one-time fee of $0.99 from the App Store on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad or at www.itunes.com/appstore/. For more information, please visit MLB.com.

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