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Tim Stauffer – Way back when, Tim Stauffer was a stand-out hurler for the Richmond Spiders, sort of in my backyard. He was so good, the Padres made him the fourth pick of the 2003 draft.

Stauffer started out well, dominating A+, AA and AAA (168 IPs, 2.89 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9 and 6.1 K/9). While the strikeout totals were a bit low, there was definitely promise there.

Sure enough, next year, entirely at AAA, the Ks came back in a big way. He posted a 7.6 K/9 rate to match a darn impressive walk rate (2 BB/9). Unfortunately, that sterling performance didn’t translate well to the “important” columns as Stauffer posted a 5.14 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. Still, he got the call in the summer of 2005, though he pitched poorly in 81 MLB innings.

The next season (2006) Stauffer was stationed mostly in AAA, where he saw his strikeouts dwindle and his walks increase. He battled injuries and ineffectiveness throughout most of the season and get just one start in the majors.

Then he lost the entire 2008 season to injury.

He returned to AAA in 2009 and fared pretty well in a small amount of innings (42). His walk rate was below two and he posted a 3.5 K:BB rate, which would play anywhere. The Padres recognized this and recalled him to San Diego, giving him his first real taste of the big leagues since 2005. Unfortunately, he was unable to replicate his AAA success over 14 starts for the parent club. While the ERA was shiny (3.58), his 1.44 WHIP, 4.2 BB/9 rate and 1.56 K:BB rate were horrid.

Still, he got another opportunity in 2010, albeit mostly in relief. He excelled, tempting the Padres to make him a full-time starter, which they did in 2011.

So far, he is making management look good, posting a 2.97 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 7.15 K/9 rate and 2.09 BB/9 rate. There isn’t a ton of flukiness in his numbers either. The strand rate is a little on the high side and the home run rate is a little below 10% (just the benefits of playing in Petco). He is giving up a lot more line drives than last year, but he’s also pitching more and getting more swinging strikes.

There’s no real mirage here. Stauffer is a solid pitcher, capable of maintaining his K-rate and most of his peripherals. I don’t see him finishing with a sub-3.00 ERA, but it won’t be above 3.40. If you scooped him up when your leaguemate dropped him after initial struggles, feel free to send a taunting email, text Facebook poke, tweet, or DM.

Melky Cabrera – I can’t find the link, so I might be wrong, but the great (and I’m not being sarcastic) Rob Neyer once included Melky as one of the best building blocks in all of the majors. It wasn’t without reason.

Melk Man or Leche got off to a strong start in his career. He was signed at 17 and debuted in A- ball at 18. He went .283/.345/.355. While his power was lacking, there was no ignoring his ability to get on base.

While he didn’t raise his walk rate the following season at A+ and A-, he did post an impressive .304/.355/.446 line at only 19 – numbers that would play for most centerfielders.

Just three years after signing, and only 20 years old, Melky got his first taste of AAA. He didn’t fare so well (.248/.309/.366) but that didn’t dissuade the Yankees from bringing him up. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well in his initial MLB experience (.211/.211/.211).

So, he was returned to AAA in 2006, though for only a short stay (31 games). After torching the ball (.385/.430/.566), the 21-year-old got the call and it looked like he’d never ride a bus in the minors again. In the majors, Melky posted a .280/.360/.391 line in 524 plate appearances.

In 2007, he hit a lot of ground balls, and his numbers dipped accordingly (.273/.327/.391).  Still though, there was plenty of promise surrounding this 22-year-old centerfielder.

Unfortunately, Melky hit even more ground balls in 2007 and his numbers dipped considerably: .249/.301/.341.

Melky was briefly demoted to the minors that year, where he performed incredibly well. But there was no doubt about it, the Leche was tainted.

Still, he bounced back to play pretty well in 2009 (.274/.336/.416), but Brett Gardner made him expendable and the Yankees shipped him to Atlanta for that Javy Vazquez guy. Talk about everyone losing a trade.

He performed poorly for the Braves and was released. But since he was once a Brave and once good (hello Jeff Francoeur), the Royals decided to sign him. It made no sense at the time. Of course we forgot that you can be crazy like a fox instead of just plain ol’ crazy. The Melk Man has been fantastic this year (.286/.323/.451) with 2.7 WAR (that’s astounding). He is already in double digits for both homers and steals. The only real bizarre thing he is doing is hitting the ball with authority. He’s posting a 10.7% HR/FB rate, which is somewhat out of whack with his career (although he did post a similar rate in 2009).

Melky should wind up with at least 17 homers and steals, with an easy outside shot at 20+ in each category. I’m more inclined to bet on the 20+ steals, but who knows if the power will continue. He’s a better real life value, but if you’re rolling him out there, no reason his current pace can’t continue. I’m shocked.

By the way, Melky is the 38th ranked player in 5×5 roto. Wowsers.

Asdrubal Cabrera – What a whackadoodle career Cabrera has had so far. He is the first person named Asdrubal to appear in the ALCS and was the 14th player to turn an unassisted triple play.

In 2002, at 17, Cabrera was signed by the Mariners. About two years later, he debuted and played pretty well in low ball. In 2005, he played quite well at A and A+ ball, though he didn’t thrive in 25 PAs in AAA.

He struggled the following season for Tacoma (the Mariners’ AAA affiliate) and was traded to the Indians for Eduardo Perez. He didn’t play much better at Buffalo, but there was promise in the .263/.295/.337 line.

Still, the Indians decided to start the 21-year-old at AA the following year. He played exceptional: .310/.383/.454 and earned a promotion to AAA. This time he maintained his pace and earned a quick call to the majors. He looked like a star in the making in his initial major league stint, going .283/.354/.421 in 186 plate appearances.

However, he stumbled the following season, going just .259/.346/.366 – still impressive numbers from a 22-year-old middle infielder.

Finally, in 2009, at just 23, it looked like he put it all together: spinning a .308/.361/.438 masterpiece.

2010 appeared to be a breakout season for Cabrera; unfortunately, he was unhealthy throughout the season and not as effective as 2009. Going into 2011, Cabrera was largely an afterthought, yet he is by far the best healthy shortstop out there. At the break, he has 14 bombs, 12 steals and a .293/.347/.489 line.

He isn’t much different from the 2008-2009 versions. The line drive, fly ball and ground ball rates are right in line. Of course, his HR/FB rate is 13.7%, almost double his previous career high (6.7% in 2008). A 20/20 season is a foregone conclusion at this point. I do think we’ve seen the best half of his career for maybe a year or so. However, 7-9 more HRs and 10 more SBs seem certainly possible.

Unless Tulo gets hot, Cabrera could end up the #1 SS in all of the land.

25 Responses

  1. Black Beard says:
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    Need a fill-in for A-Rod in a six cat. that counts OPS:

    Bonifacio, Headley, Valencia, or Moustakas?

  2. Pistol Pete says:
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    Just giving you a heads up on your next post. Two words – Felipe Paulino.

  3. Hey Black Beard- its kind of a needs thing.

    Bonifacio for speed (but no OPS) and this is very short term.

    Headley for a little bit of everything (stress little).

    Mous for power/OPS (has most upside/downside)

    I’d probaly go headley but the other two are decent choices

  4. Hey Black Beard- its kind of a needs thing.

    Bonifacio for speed (but no OPS) and this is very short term.

    Headley for a little bit of everything (stress little).

    Mous for power/OPS (has most upside/downside)

    I’d probaly go headley but the other two are decent choices

  5. Thanks, Pistol Pete. He’s an intriguing pitcher—thought he had a chance to be reverse Jorge de la Rosa.

    Going to Spain on Saturday. But I’ll be sure to feature him in the future.

    The Ks are intoxicating, but so far he hasn’t comne close to putting ut together

  6. Mike of Swartz Creek, Mi says:
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    Mous is not seeing the ball very good, Bonifacio and Valencia have looked good in the last 3 weeks. I would take Bonifacio over Valencia

  7. @Mike of Swartz Creek, Mi:

    Not sure why you would take a 3-week sample really, i mean you’re likely to jump on the bandwagon just as it’s slowing.

    Mous will struggle at the plate, but he’s the only one with real power-again-a needs thing.

    Valencia will hit for a similar average and less pop which makes him a nonentity here.

    Bonifacio does not get on base like this and has no pop (hurts OPS). But he has some speed.

    Headley has the 13th best OPS among 3bs…

  8. John says:
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    Should i accept a trade for B.J. Upton and 10 roster moves for my Hunter Pence. My league is a 12 team h2h format and has a max of 55 roster moves. I have about 20 moves left.

    My roster is as follows

    C
    Mike Napoli
    1B
    Prince Fielder
    2B
    Danny Espinosa
    3B
    Mark Reynolds
    SS
    Elvis Andrus
    (Tex – SS)
    OF
    Jacoby Ellsbury
    OF
    Hunter Pence
    OF
    Alex Gordon
    Util
    Carlos Pena
    BN
    Justin Upton
    DL
    David Wright

    Thanks

  9. Jake says:
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    Good article, I like getting these histories of breakout “lesser known” players. I had no idea Stauffer was a 4th overall pick.

    Thanks.

  10. Black Beard says:
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    Please rank:

    Colon with 3 starts (@TOR, @TB, OAK)
    Liriano with 3 starts (KC, CLE, DET)
    Carp with 2 starts (@CIN, @PIT)
    Norris with 2 starts (PIT, @CHC)

    Thanks.

  11. @John:

    are roster moves really that important? Not sure you need what BJ brings. I prefer Pence a decent bit.

  12. @Jake:

    Thanks, really appreciate the feedback. Yeah Stauffer was a highly touted guy who just couldnt get it together. Sometimes it just takes time….*cough* Vogelsong!

  13. @Black Beard:

    Is it 5×5? h2h?

    That’s my assumption, so:

    liriano, colon, norris, carp.

  14. Black Beard says:
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    @Albert Lang: Good assumption. Thanks man!

  15. @Black Beard:

    yeah in h2h, i always go bulk, hard to give up the norris two-starts, but liriano/colon should out K him and that’s the only thing that’s easy to project.

  16. thorbs says:
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    Albert — great article.

    What are your thoughts on A-Cab for next year and beyond? I’ve got him in a dynasty league and am debating moving him for Ellsbury ATM.

  17. @thorbs:

    I like A Cab, but i love Ellsbury. Honestly think Ells, when healthy, is a top 20 player whereas A Cab is more like a 70-100 type guy.

    I make that move in a heartbeat.

    The only caveat is if you are close to winning this year and dont have a ready replacement at SS.

    Still, i think this is a huge win for you.

  18. Tony says:
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    nice article, love that asdrubal has come into his own this year, if he ever does it again who knows, but im an ohio guy and i love seeing my tribe competing again, especially when preseason they were picked to finish dead last in their division if not the entire MLB….

    I dont know about the Asdrubal for Ellsbury deal. AC at SS is much more valuable than ells, i will say like you already said, ells healthy is a stud…. i’d just be worried about him pulling a hammy or injuring a leg and all his value is zapped. Again asdrubal might be having his career year though, at least when healthy, ells is a more proven commodity. Tough to part with a guy who’s having such a good year, is it sell high or sell yourself short in the long run!?

    GO TRIBE

    and in lieu of Roger Clemens being dismissed, greys already posted my site, and I made a trophy for the RCL WINNER, but here’s an oldie but still a goodie, roger clemens misremembers trophy, probably one of my best pieces….. check it out guys if you have a minute.

    http://www.claytrophies.com

  19. Tony says:
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    @ grey: banana republic and Express ads now grey? are we going big time? are you getting free metro clothes? i can see grey now, plaid shorts, v-neck, daquiri in hand, umbrella in daquiri….. mustache blowing in the wind……

  20. @Tony:

    I love Cleveland – went there twice while visiting colleges. Love the Indians baseball diamond and always liked the squad until tony Fernandez-Armando Benitez….but that’s taking me down a sad path.

    Well, Ells has been healthy, his one major injury was a collision, so nothing like what a Jose Reyes has experienced. I actually believe Ellsbury is everything people thought/wished/hoped Carl Crawford would be. a .300 or so hitter, with 20 HR power and 50+ sb. In that line-up he’ll also score 100 runs without batting an eye-lash (I mean Jeter does it).

    Love the trophy, great work!

  21. thorbs says:
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    @Tony/Albert

    I have Tulo starting at SS and A-Cab at my UTIL ATM, but unfortunately am running Bobby Abreu out every day at my LF slot and Ellsbury would replace him. Ells won’t be eligible at LF next year, but I’ve got a good chance at taking down the league this year and have Belt/Leonys Martin on my minors roster for next year.

    I also have Utley/Kinsler at 2B/MI, so it’s a bit of a dice-roll with Utley/Kinsler both being injury risks.

    Trying to finagle Ells/Helton from a team dealing for next year in exchange for A-Cab/Matt Dominguez (FLA’s top 3B prospect).

  22. @thorbs:

    Ellsbury is greater than A-Cab, especially if we’re talking about a needed position. Having Tulo makes A-Cab expendable, and you dont really need to worry about down the line, since you have one of the premiere SS.

    I make that deal and get Ellsbury, he’ll be A-Cab in most stats.

    I have no problem trading Dominguez, not sure if he’ll ever hit in the bigs. Slick fielder, sure, but i wouldnt wait on him finding his bat.

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