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Entries in Jed Hoyer (2)

Tuesday
Jun252013

Peter Gammons: MLB Sources Say...

The Future of Nolasco and Garza

The Giants have been in on Rickey Nolasco and Matt Garza. The Padres, have, as well, and one National League official thinks the Giants will act quickly with Miami and that the Padres will on Garza, as well. The Cubs, of course, know the Padres farm system well, since Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod turned that organization around. One chip might be former Boston number one pick Reymond Fuentes, a center fielder/leadoff hitter who is hitting .332 with a .419 on base percentage and .891 OPS with 23 stolen bases in Double-A San Antonio.

Wanted: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

There were more than 50 major league scouts and personnel people at Cuban refugee Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez’s start in Tijuana last Thursday, and he impressed. “The Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers may have seen every one of his workouts or outings,” says one GM. He has been cleared by MLB, but still has immigration paperwork to sift through, but something could happen quickly since most of the teams think he could pitch in the majors this season. The favorites? The Dodgers, of course. It was suggested to an official of one interested team that he should get his team to buy Key West and head off the Dodgers. His reply? “It might not be enough to beat L.A.”

Back in the Game

There is considerable speculation throughout the game that Andy MacPhail is willing to come back in a baseball operations role after a year-and-a-half out of the game. MacPhail’s tenure in Baltimore is a major reason for their rebirth. He got Adam Jones and Chris Tillman for Eric Bedard. Koji Uehara got Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter. He got J.J. Hardy for nothing, drafted Manny Machado and has two World Series rings from his Minnesota days.

The Mets Next Step

The injury to Lucas Duda and the recall of Ike Davis will just add to what will be a fascinating decision for the end of the Mets season. They know Duda can hit, but he is far more comfortable at first base than in the outfield, so if Davis doesn’t hit this time around, his tenure at Citi Field could be closed out. The Matt Harvey-Zack Wheeler leap has changed the franchise perception, but clubs that watch Noah Syndergaard in Port St, Lucie think he’ll be ready at this time next year, same for 22-year Rafael Montero, now in Las Vegas and joined by 22-year old power lefthanded reliever Jack Leathersich in Triple-A with 66 strikeouts in 35.2 minor league innings he may be on track for this season. With some of the vulnerabilities in the National League East, the Mets can get back into contention on power pitching, and rather than trade that young power pitching,  find a shortstop and a couple of outfielders on the free agent market.

Assets Secured in Philly

Granted, Jonathan Papelbon has blown four of his last five save opportunities, but Phillies GM Ruben Amaro continues to insist he’s not trading his closer, or Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels, not with an impending television deal. While the Tigers, Red Sox and Dodgers continue to look in the closer market, they have had no luck. The Twins have gotten a lot of calls on Glen Perkins, who has blossomed into an elite closer, but as one GM points out, “he’s from Minnesota and with the best farm system in the game, the Twins are going to turn it around quickly and Terry Ryan wants Perkins there when it happens.” Teams have called the Marlins about Steve Cishek, but they have him at the minimum for another season and need to hold leads for Jose Fernandez, Nate Eovaldi and Jacob Turner. The White Sox will move Jesse Crain in his walk year, and while Crain hadn’t allowed an earned run since April 12 (he allowed two unearned runs on June 23 when he picked up a blown save) the fact remains that he has four saves in ten major league seasons and clubs don’t have a history with him at the back end.

Boston almost at the mid-point

Andrew Bailey (Red Sox)“The problem with giving up a lot for a closer is that you don’t know how he fits in another team’s role, or that city,” says one GM. The Red Sox, of course, know all too well with the struggles of Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey. The latter simply hasn’t had the same stuff since returning from a disabled list stint due to a forearm strain and is back pitching earlier in games to try to regain velocity, movement and confidence. Franklin Morales’ velocity and stuff are down considerably from last year; he may never recover from his usage last season. So if they can’t find anyone on the market, they could turn to some of their young starters in the minors and give Brandon Workman (who some feel is a closer in waiting), Ruby De La Rosa and lefthander Drake Britton (95 MPH) hots in the ensuing weeks.

Boston is now home for 10 games with Colorado, Toronto and San Diego after a May 31-June 23 run in which they played 23 games against contenders (OK, the Angels are underachieving contenders) and went 12-11 with their bullpen strung out. Their starters went 9-7, 4.08 with 11 quality starts, and Alfredo Aceves, Clay Buchholz and Ryan Dempster were the only starters to win two games. Buchholz hasn’t pitched since June 8, Jon Lester has hit a patch and while they remain confident that Allen Webster will be a top-of-the-rotation starter, his two outings have not gone well. Thursday is the midpoint of the 2013 season, and, closer or no closer, if Buchholz and Lester don’t pitch as they have and can, they aren’t going to win the division.

Sunday
Dec112011

Can Stewart, Colvin Solve Soft Stuff?

The Cubs and Rockies completed a four-player challenge trade this past Thursday, as Chicago picked up third baseman Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers while Colorado acquired outfielder Tyler Colvin and infielder DJ LeMahieu.

Weathers, the eighth overall pick in the '07 draft, has walked over seven batters per nine innings in the minors and walked over a batter per inning in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. LeMahieu has good contact ability, if little power, and can man second or third base. But this move may ultimately boil down to a challenge trade of failed first-round position player prospects who haven't been able to solve soft stuff -- curveballs, sliders and changeups -- at the major league level.

Stewart (taken 10th overall in 2003) peaked at #4 on Baseball America's top 100 list prior to the 2005 season, ranked in the top 50 each of the next three years and performed decently with the Rockies as a rookie in 2008. He never built upon that decent start, though, and now holds a .236/.323/.428 career line in over 1,400 plate appearances. Adjusting for Coors, his on-base plus slugging percentage is 11 percent below average (89 OPS+). Colvin, meanwhile, was considered an overdraft at #13 in 2006 as the Cubs wanted to save cash to persuade Jeff Samardzija to give up football. Colvin did rate as high as #75 on BA's prospect list before 2008 and ran into 20 balls in 2010 before a bat impaled his chest, but he also bombed in 2011 and has a .215/.274/.422 triple-slash and an 84 OPS+ in 600+ PA.

In both cases, these prospects-turned-suspects haven't been able to handle breaking and off-speed stuff. Despite taking lots of cuts at Coors, Stewart's .211/.266/.371 performance against curveballs, sliders and changeups is worse than the .235/.278/.371 MLB average for non-pitchers since 2008. Colvin has been downright awful against soft stuff, with a .189/.218/.375 line.

Stewart hasn't been a total hacker against soft stuff, with a 35 percent chase rate that's pretty close to the 33 percent MLB average, but contact has been a problem. He has swung and missed 35 percent of the time against sliders, curves and a changeups, compared to the 28-29% average. Check out his contact rate by pitch location versus soft stuff, compared to the league average. Unless the pitch is right down Broadway, he's whiffing often:

Stewart's contact rate vs. soft stuff by pitch location, 2008-2011

Average contact rate vs. soft stuff by pitch location, 2008-2011

Colvin has whiffed even more against soft pitches -- 37 percent from 2009 to 2011. While Stewart at least shows about average strike zone discipline against breaking and offspeed pitches, Colvin is like a sugar-crazed kid trying to crack open a piñata. Here's his swing rate by pitch location vs. soft stuff, and then the league average:

Colvin's swing rate vs. soft stuff by pitch location, 2009-2011Average swing rate vs. soft stuff by pitch location, 2009-2011Colivn has chased 49 percent of soft pitches thrown outside of the strike zone. The only hitters to go fishing more often since 2009 are Humberto Quintero, Pablo Sandoval, Vladimir Guerrero and Dewayne Wise.  Wisely, pitchers rarely throw Colvin soft stuff over the plate: opponents have tossed a slider, curve or changeup in the zone just 39 percent of the time, way below the 45 percent average.

Stewart, 27 in April, seems to have a clearer path to playing time and possible redemption than Colvin. He'll likely get the 2012 season to show he can improve his performance against slower offerings and offer enough bat to complement his quality defense at third base. Aramis Ramirez is gone, and prospect Josh Vitters has his own strike-zone issues to hash out before he's ready for the show. Colvin, also 27, gets to swing a mile above sea level, but the Rockies have Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Seth Smith, non-tender candidate Ryan Spilborghs and prospects Charlie Blackmon and Tim Wheeler in the mix as well. If either player is to make good on his former promise, he'll have to make huge strides against the soft stuff.