Wow, assembling this week’s list of players made me dizzy with enthusiasm. No. I’m lying. To help write this post, I have a hired a shadow writer sorta speak. Readership meet my shadow writer — Vodka. Vodka, meet readership. What did you say? Drink more? Silly you. You’re already empty! Let’s get this thing started before I get prescribed anti-depressants.
I’ve become abnormally scared of Astros’ hitters lately, since the entire lineup performed seppuku in front of Yu Darvish, and then, thinking that wasn’t enough, continued the trend for the rest of the week. But at-bats are at-bats. Right now sharing a platoon with
Adam Lind Jeff Francoeur Rick Ankiel from the left side, Brandon Barnes will be trying to prove that he is simply not a bench guy. He did dominate the Texas League last season with a .944 OPS. Promoted to AAA, he provided a slash of 323/383/477. Even with solid defense, he’s quite old for a prospect (26) and doesn’t have much of a ceiling. But the floor isn’t terrible, and if he continues to get starts, I think a 270/330/400 would be the high end. Worth a gamble if you are light in the outfield.
Well, looky what I did. The minute I mention Mark DeRosa as someone to not really pay attention to, what does he do? He gains my attention of course. Well, not too much attention, after all, he is hitting .154, which, yes I know, is in only 18 plate appearances. But let’s not forget that in 101 at-bats last year he managed to reach a lofty .188 BA. So yeah, he probably won’t help you there. But he is part of a platoon at third until Brett Lawrie comes off the DL. And though he most likely doesn’t throw helmets to the ground with as much style and grace, what he can do is provide spotty power, if you are desperate for such a thing. I know I am in a few leagues, which is why a new vodka bottle has been opened. He will most likely provide you with 10+ homeruns if he gets 150-300 PA’s, but his rate stats won’t be pretty. Then again, with that many PA’s, it might not hurt you anyhow if the power is there. Something to think about.
All clueless managers have ‘Inception’ like totems to keep their reality in line with their stupidity. Dusty Baker has his toothpicks, Jim Tracy has his line-up cards, and Jim Leyland has Don Kelly. And most likely a weak bladder. The guy doesn’t really do anything special, but I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this guy in the three-hole, or five-hole, when really he should just be in a hole. He doesn’t do anything particularly well, and in 365 career games, we know what he is. Basically a 230/280/340 guy, which is semi-acceptable… for a shortstop. But I mention him only because if Victor Martinez continues to struggle, using my wizardry powers, ah screw that. Just basing this on what I’ve seen Leyland do in the past, I’m pretty sure some at-bats will filter to Kelly. If he does start getting playing time, the rate stats, like DeRosa, will not help. But he could give you 10 homeruns and 5 stolen bases with whatever RBI’s and Runs go with that. I don’t know, maybe 40/40 if your lucky. I know it doesn’t show, but I love deep leagues. I swear.
A personal favorite of mine, Max Kepler stands at 6-4 and is a left-handed hitter and thrower that plays the corner outfield spots. Now 20 years old, the Minnesota prospect was signed out of Germany in 2009. So far, he is considered very athletic for his frame, but will most likely end up in left-field or first base. Kepler already has good control of the strike-zone and has good natural power that is getting more consistent. His European background will buy patience developmentally, and the best comp I can give you is Shawn Green if it all comes together.
Once holding tempered upside in the Colorado rotation, Esmil Rogers now finds himself in the Blue Jays’ bullpen. Back in 2010, you could pinpoint his troubles more with misfortune then anything else. In 2011, that simply was not the case. His inflated walk rate caught up to him, and while he’s always had pretty filthy stuff, MLB hitters just don’t care if you can’t throw it down the middle once and while. But this is a guy who has consistently thrown better than his ERA indicates, and he did a decent job after moving to bullpen last year. He put up a career high 9.50 K/9 and had a stable 3.25 BB/9, a career low. If he continues to harness his stuff in this role, there could be some strikeout potential here for you to bank on. His FIP was 3.48 in 2012, and if he can bring that down a little, 85+ strikeouts ain’t too shabby a thing to slot into your third or fourth reliever spot.
Most of the bullpen news in Cleveland usually goes to either Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano. It could be because Joe Smith has the whitest name ever, or perhaps he just does his job consistently well, but doesn’t do anything really special at the same time. He can be counted on for a 3.00 ERA, minus or plus a quarter of a run, and is capable of a good, but not great, 7.00 K/9. While he is unlikely to get you any saves, he could vulture some wins, and not hurt you in any particular way. In deep leagues, sometimes having a neutral player has value. And I give you a neutral player with a very neutral name.
Sounding like a character straight out of Game of Thrones, Storm Throne was drafted as a junior from Omaha. He stands at 6-7 and has a live fastball that clocks consistently in the mid-90′s. Projected as a reliever due to lack of good secondary pitches, right now, he is very much a project. Pitching for the White Sox Rookie League team, he’s shown iffy control, but has shown a little promise with keeping the ball in the park and the ability to strike hitters out. He’ll need to develop some kind of off-speed or breaking ball pitch to be relevant If he’s able to get one to average or plus, Throne could achieve elite reliever potential. Keep tabs on him, if only because his name sounds awesome. We should all root for guys in baseball with awesome names. In fact, I think next week I’ll talk about Zebulon Sneed. I’m not yanking your chain, that is a real baseball player. I’ll tell you about him next time!