19 July 2007

Defense Defense Defense

Every so often the UZR updates gets posted . . . of course on tangotiger.

How have the O's done?

1B Huff - his defense costs his team 25 runs a year . . . which is dreadful. Basically, his defense alone hurts the Orioles for 2.5 losses. Do the other O's balance him out?
2B Roberts - he saves 4 runs . . . down to a net -21 now.
3B Mora - dead even . . . he increases his range by cheating back, but in the grand scheme of things he is not hurting the team, yet. Still at -21.
SS Tejada - He saves 3 runs a year compared to the average SS. He has done well to keep himself there. People, including me, knock him for a loss of range, but he is making adjustments. Cal had no range, too. -18.
LF Payton - He saves 9 runs, which is actually 50% worse than last year. He should still be above average next year. His hitting is another story. -9.
CF Patterson - He saves 3 runs. Hopefully he continues to hit. -6.
RF Markakis - He saves 4 runs. This brings us down to -2.

We have a slightly below average defensive team. Though, I'd say dead average and give it a C. If Millar started at first we would be at +26. Yeah, putting Huff at DH would be worth 2 more wins over the course of the entire year.

How about the rest of the AL East?
BoSox . . . -52 . . . Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell, and JD Drew are killing them defensively.
Yanks . . . -3 . . . Jeter is what negates the others.
Jays . . . +36 . . . their defense should give them 3 wins.
D-Rays . . . -123 . . . wow . . . just wow. That does explain their tanking even with the pitching and hitting they have.

Below the Surface: Minor League Spotlight

Brandon Erbe, P
Frederick Keys

One may remember my column on Pedro Beato. I mentioned how he was no Brandon Erbe. I still believe this to be true, even though Erbe has looked dreadful this year.

Some background . . . Erbe is a Baltimore boy. He pitched for McDonough and I was fortunate enough to work in an office building right on the other side of the school. I am not a scout, but he looked good. His mechanics were a little off, but he looked good to me. This means little as I have little understanding of biomechanics.

Anyway, we drafted him and threw him into Bluefield. At age 17, he averaged more than 2 K's per inning. After 23 innings of him blowing away dreadful and overmatched players, he recieved a call up to Aberdeen. He proceeded to get wailed on in three appearances, but kept his K rate up at about 11 per 9 inn. The following season, at age 18, he pitched the whole season for Delmarva in the Salley League. The O's kept him to a low inning total (116) which was within the realm of reason for an 18 year old. He kept a high K rate (10.4 per 9 inn), a somewhat low walk rate (3.7 BB/9), and an amazingly low HR rate (0.16 HR/9). This was done against talent about a year or two older than him. Quite a good season.

His K rate has dropped to 8.0K/9, which is troubling. His BB rate has risen to 5.0BB/9. His HR rate has increased to 0.94HR/9. Now, he is just 19 and playing against competition slightly older than him. These hitters are also light years above Rookie and low A ball, but he sure has been hit. May 16th he was tagged for 12 runs in 3 innings. Two days ago, he was cranked for 8 runs in 2 and a 1/3. Now, he has mixed in a gem or two (i.e., June 5th, 8 innings, 0 ER, 11 Ks, 1BB). Though he has really ranged between above average and awful more so than brilliant. He also seems to fall apart on the road.

Am I worried?
No, not at all. He is 19. This is not a 21 year old Mark Prior flying through the minors. It is also not a Matt Riley rush job. Erbe seems to be a good kid, but he is going through a rough patch. He should right himself up and the O's should keep him in Frederick for the rest of the year. He should only start about 7 more times before shutting him down for the year. They may have had some AZL dreams this offseason, but it looks like he should develop more and end this season on a high note.

He is still the Orioles best prospect.

16 July 2007

Oh, OK, 2B Free Agents

Rob writes:

Hey Crawdaddy, I know Brian Roberts is going to stay for the next few years, but what is your take on the 2B market after this year? Do you think there is anyone there to replace our Gomez-Bynum-Fahey beast?

Bryan -------

Well . . . I decided to finally answer an email, which is not really all that impressive as I receive few of them and rarely do anything with them. But, Rob is correct and I should have addressed that. Also, being refered to as Crawdaddy is weird.

Anyway, free agent 2B:

Guys who'll demand to start-

Luis Castillo, Twins . . . average defensive second baseman with the same offensive skills he has had. He is one of the most consistent ball players around primarily because he can only do two things: 1) hit for contact and 2) walk. He used to have more speed, but was never that adept a baserunner . . . he sure tried though. He will hit a pretty dry market and he should fetch a four year deal for about 6MM a year.

Jeff Kent, Dodgers . . . weird career path. He was pretty average until age 30 and he just continues to clean up. He has regressed from his peak, but still puts up above average offensive numbers to go along with below average defense. He'll see a 2 year deal at 9 or 10MM. He'll be a better deal than Castillo, but is riskier for an immediate decline. Particularly if a truck needs cleaning.


Taduhitu Iguchi, White Sox . . . for those who cannot afford Luis . . . Tad is your man. He is a marginal starter. Since his first year, he has regressed each season. He can pass as a low end starter next year, but will probably be relegated to a backup role in '09 for certain. I can see him lasting long in free agency unless he quickly realizes no one really wants him to start. Then again, Ned Colletti is crazy. 3MM as a backup or 5MM as a starter. I could see him destroying his own value and going as low as 2MM.

Mark Loretta, Astros . . . probably the best utility man to be had this off season, but with another plus offensive season, someone might want to make him a starter. He could probably be had for a 1 year deal at 4MM.

Mark Grudzeilanek, Royals . . . he should also be a utility guy. Some crazy team could give him 4MM to start or some savvy team could pay him 2MM to backup a couple positions. Though, he has a player option for 4MM . . . he'll probably stay.

Marcus Giles, Padres . . . the team has an option on him for 4MM. They won't pick it up. Giles doesnt have the defensive skill or offensive talent to be worth that anymore. I don't think anyone would be willing to pay it. I could see him dumped and waiting long into the offseason to backup a club in the playoff hunt. To think, if he went to arbitration the Braves would have had to hand him 6MM. He is a 2MM guy.

Ronnie Belliard, Nats . . . how did he find a place to start? Well, he is doing quite well and can probably trick a team like the Royals or Dodgers into giving him a 3 year deal around 5MM or so.

The rest?
Chris Gomez, Jerry Hairston Jr, Miguel Cairo, Damion Easley, Chris Woodward.

Not much.

15 July 2007

Breaking Down the Orioles 40 man roster - 2B

Brians Roberts

Brian Roberts - Roberts was the last and final 1st round pick of the Orioles infamous 1999 7 man 1st round. He is the only one to amount to anything, but he sure has amounted to quite a lot. His minor league track record suggested he would never amount to much. He always had a great eye, but had issues with contact rate and power. It was originally thought he would make a decent double play team with Jerry Hairston, Jr who had held his own against minor league pitching. Hairston's injuries and a resigned Mike Bordick dictated the Roberts try his hand at second. So began the Orioles 2B battle, which lasted for two years and an uncomfortable lame duck third season. During those years, Roberts bat emerged to go along with his plate patience. Handed the starting job in 2004, his power potential also arose as he hit 50 doubles. For a young player an upswing in secondary power suggests more power to come. His 2005 campaign saw him triple his HR career high mark. He also smacked 45 doubles. Unfortunately, late that season against the Yanks, Roberts suffered a horrible broken arm at first base. This injury carried over into the next season and resulted in a severe dropped in power as his power fly rate was cut in half and his groundball percentage rose about 15%. In other words, with his arms failing him, he turned to his legs. So far in 2007, his batting eye is just fine. He still has yet to regained his secondary power. One has to wonder if it will ever come back. He has remained rather productive with doubles, but everything tends to indicate they are weak gappers. This would suggest that in another three or four years, those gappers may drop a bit sooner and become only singles. Three or four years and that speed will begin to whittle away. Three or four years and that strong to average defense will begin to lose its range. Now, he is a very good ball player and will continue to be for five or six more years.

4.2MM this year
6.3MM '08 and 8MM in '09

Thoughts: This is an amazing deal. A 800+ OPS 2B is worth more than 18.5MM over the next three years. He is getting the same as Huff while playing a far more difficult position. Crazy. He is our 2B for the next two and a half years and he'll get a huge payday from someone for 2010.

No one else to speak of on the Major League roster. You could argue Bynum, but he is an outfielder. You could argue Gomez, but he is a strict utility guy. Brandon Fahey is just such a horrible hitter. I cannot see him being considered. The same goes to Luis Hernandez.

Cesar Crespo. Filler. Decent eye and can provide backup on the bench, but will never translate well to the majors as shown by his two stints with the Padres and one with the Bosox. He has always be a somewhat patient mistake hitter in the minors. That rarely translates well in the majors. If he hones himself and finds an opening, he could become a poor man's Chris Gomez.

Paco Figueroa. Interesting player. He won't be a star, but he could be a pretty good backup. He was an old collegiate player at Miami and his first pro year was 2006 in HiA Frederick at the age of 23. He displayed a good eye and absolutely no power. He has speed, but is horrible on the basepaths. This year at Bowie . . . really good eye and nothing else. His double rate has bounced up 30%. He is still older than his competition, but he looks like a solid bench player in the majors. In all honesty, I think he should be in AAA next year. I could see him hitting about 780-820 OPS there. He'll be a better option than Fahey as a backup come '09. An organization needs guys like this.

Gera Alvarez. Showed early displays on on base prowess, but had some rough skills. He always performed average against younger competition and fell apart in AA last year as a 26 year old. He won't ever get to AAA. He seems like a nice guy though and should probably start thinking about managing.

Jonathan Tucker. Interesting. Really interesting. He is another guy like Crespo who is a little too old for his league, but is displaying similar skills. Last year he played some outfield, but has been seeing more time this year again at 2B. He has no future in the OF with his vapid power. He has a good eye. A really good eye. 42 walks to 29 strikouts this year. That is awfully nice. Though he is a 24 year old in HiA ball. Backup material. He should make it to AAA, but may be 27 when he does.

Mid A
Miguel Abreu. Well, he has some power. Playing against slightly younger competition, he has shown he can hit the ball deep, but he has absolutely no ability to walk. His power should get even better, but if he is having difficulty taking a pitch in the Salley league . . . he is going to be stymied in AA and AAA ball when guys can actually pitch.

Low A
Ryan Adams. He is still young, but he has never given much of an indication he can hit the ball. Very good defense for a guy his age. He may be Brandon Fahey part duex, but younger. He was average offensively at Bluefield. With the Ironbirds, he is struggling something awful. Not Jay Gibbons circa 2007 awful, but not good. He looks like a backup as well.

Rookie Ball
Wow, are our Bluefield teams always this old? They are all in their 20s. Are we now using it to weed out college signings who play with poor competition? Anyway, here we have mercy draftee Eric Perlozzo and Pedro Silveren. Perlozzo is Sammy P's son, who is a nice kid from what I remember. A friend of mine dated Perlozzo's daughter in college . . . hmm, maybe they are married now. Anyway, he is from Shippensburg and is overmatched at the moment. Silveren? He was an international signee at age 21. Not good. He is repeating Bluefield. Not good. Perlozzo is getting most of the at bats. Not good. Anyway, I think Silveren will be going away after the year. Eric Perlozzo will probably not get the promotion to Aberdeen, but may repeat Bluefield and see it next year. I would be shocked if we ever see him in Bowie though.

Free Agency
No point, we have Roberts through '09.

Conclusion: We have nothing in the pipeline, but we don't need anything. Crespo or Tucker could be a patch job in '10. It won't be good, but it could do. If they trot back out in '11, we could be in trouble. Or . . . they could transform like Roberts and get dedicated to the gym.