06 July 2007

Breaking Down the Orioles 40 man roster - 1B

Aubrey Huff
Kevin Millar

Aubrey Huff - Huff was almost a can't miss prospect. Not much defense, but a pure hitter. He rolled out of Miami putting up big numbers in the Salley League in 1998. Plate discipline was something to desire. That tightened up as he spent a full year AA in Orlando in 99, again displaying power. The following year was more improvement at AAA and a call up to the big league club. He showed glipses of power and was considered the new wave of Devil Rays. In 2001, he saw his first full year and he was dreadful. His batting eye evaporated and he couldn't lift the ball. He was still young at 24 though. The following season begun three straight 120+ OPS seasons and a plethora of trade rumors as the Devil Rays flopped. Unfortuately for the Rays, they kept him. One and a half average seasons later and he left to the Astros. Not much happened for him on the free agent market, so we picked him up with hopes he would become dominant again. April and May of this year, he was awful as a first baseman. In June, he was good with a 120 OPS. What happened? Well, he didn't get any better. He still is not showing any power. Rather, hits are just falling in. He is just not displaying the power he used to. This is the third year in a row and it looks like we'll have to suffer because this is what the guy is. No contact, no plate discipline, and no power. Maybe he'll get hot, but I don't see much here.

4MM this year
8MM in '08 and 8MM in '09.

Prediction: He should experience more of an upturn in his production, but it would be hard to see him exceed 850 OPS. He'll give you the same production as Millar, but at 3 times the cost over the term of the contract. He is not a trading piece until his last year unless we ate a large portion of the deal. Another possibility is that he may be switched back to 3B if we do get a legit 1B on the team.

Kevin Millar (aka Mike Butcher) - The Rodney Dangerfield of the Orioles, Millar has been solid. He is the most successful scab to play the game. Undrafted out of college, he raked it in the independent leagues. The Marlins picked him up and he proceeded to fare well against minor league pitching until he reached AA at age 25 and killed them. The Marlins then brought him up. He immediately hit and never looked back. He has never had a below average offensive season. His almost defection to Japan seems bizarre. No one was going after him even though he hit a 130+ the previous year. Anyway, his power has begun to evaporate, but the wily veteran is figuring out how to be more selective and is increasing his obp%. He is good. This year, he is the Orioles second best hitter (Roberts being the best). Many fans still don't understand his value. He looks bad doing it, but he does it well. He would fit well on a team that is poised to go all the way, but needs a 1B.

Millar is signed for 2.75MM with up to ~1.8MM in bonus
2.75 team option in '08

Prediction: He is valuable. If Gibbons was not on this team, Millar would exist peacefully with the rest of the lineup. Honestly, I'd like to keep him for that second year and deal him then. Then again, this is his best year in 4 years . . . so maybe now is the time to sell. Especially when we have such redundancy on the active roster. He should keep it up. He is walking like mad and his BA/BIP is in line with his other peripherals. He should finish the year in the 800-850 OPS ranged and it will be OBP heavy, where Huff is SLG heavy. I think we will trade him at the break this year. Gibbons is just too impossible to move.

Other Options:

Mike Cervenak: 1B at AAA. Fodder. He has never sniffed the majors. Poor plate discipline. Is just in the past couple years coming through and producing . . . though doing well in AA at age 28 is not much of an accomplishment. Next.

Luis Jimenez: 1B at AA. Fodder with low probability upside. Power guy with awful discipline. 6th organization. 25 years old. Not much here.

Brandon Sing : 1B at AA. Signed from the Cubs as a minor league free agent. Has shown power and was dominant at A+ and AA . . . his second time through. He has been owned last year and this year by AA pitchers. Not sure if he has gotten injured or something, but he looks done.

Mark Fleisher: 1B at Frederick. Drafted in '05 out of Radford. He showed good power there, but questions about plate discipline, contact rate, and defense arose . . . which dropped him down to the 14th round. At Low A, he showed glimpses of power, but was easily handled. In Mid A, he again showed glimpses of power, but was easily handled. This year, is the same at Hi A. He does not project well as he is basically amounting to a mid 700 OPS type of guy. Maybe he will get it one of these days, but at best he may be a guy he sits on the bench for a couple years for a few cups of coffee and nothing more.

Chris Vinyard: Was selected in the 2005 draft as a "draft and follow" guy. He went to community college and then accepted a deal, playing in Aberdeen last year. He showed glimpses of power with a homerun every 30 at bats and a solid double rate of 1 every ten, but he also struck out 1 in 5. Still, an 855 OPS is respectable for a 20 year old. Not mindblowing, but respectable. This year he K rate is the same as is his homerun rate. His double rate actually dropped slightly. Unfortunately his BB rate also dropped a bit. He'll not be able to bypass HiA with these rates. He still has a few years to hit his stride and can be quite capable. His ceiling might be Carlos Pena, but it is still quite early. He could also be Jim Traber. Or worse.

Brandon Snyder: Well, he isn't much of a catcher anymore with his labrum injury. He is toiling in Delmarva as a 1B. He is still young and shows lots of promise. His pro debut was made as he tore apart Bluefield and Aberdeen as few 18 year olds do. 19 was a rough year for him as both Aberdeen and Delmarva spit him up. His season was ended with surgery. This year he is recovering playing 1B and will likely stay there with the assumed emergence of Mark Weiters. Snyder strikes out about a third of the time. He walks about ten percent of the time. He gets a homerun every forty at bats and a double every 15. He will need a lot of seasoning, but it looks like he can hit . . . he just . . . doesn't. He'll stay with us for two more years and then we'll have to reassess. He is nowhere near the majors, but a good growth and mental spurt in his early 20s would help. He'll never have good plate discipline though.

Free Agency
Sean Casey . . . he gets on base, but has only 1 HR in over 250AB this year. No thanks.
Tony Clark . . . maybe if it was 9 years ago.
Jeff Conine . . . two times was good enough.
Julio Franco . . . again, we need to get younger.
Mike Lamb . . . gives Millar numbers, but a few years younger . . . and platoons. Millar is more valuable and would be cheaper.
Doug Mientkiewicz . . . good glove, decent obp usually, nothing else. Not worth it.
Dmitri Young . . . poor plate discipline and old. Someone will pay him 6 or 7 though. He is playing too well this year.

Conclusion: We have nothing in the pipeline to get here soon. We are keeping Huff and betting he can be what he once was . . . he isn't though. If we can jettison Gibbons, then we'll keep Millar. If not, then Millar goes. Our closest 1B will be ready for a September callup in '10. Teixeira might be the way to go if we can.

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