CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
The Week in Quotes: Fe... (02/18)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Friday,... (02/15)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Tuesday... (02/19)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Painting the Black: Ma... (02/18)

February 18, 2013

Rumor Roundup

Monday, February 18

by Daniel Rathman

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

The Reds invested $8.5 million in Ryan Madson last offseason, only to watch the former Phillie go down with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and miss the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on April 11. Madson declined the mutual option included in his contract to hit the market for the second time in his career, and quickly drew a $3.5 million gamble from the Angels, who hoped to buy low on the recovering right-hander and thereby address their late-inning relief struggles.

Now, as most Americans enjoy their Presidents Day off, Madson will come to the Angels facility in Tempe facing a big day at the office. Today’s Roundup begins there…

Madson could start throwing again today
The Halos and their fans got a minor scare last week, when the team’s beat writers, including MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, reported that Madson was dealing with soreness in his surgically repaired elbow and had been shut down since February 1. The 32-year-old righty called the lingering ailment “a little discouraging,” but fortunately, a subsequent MRI revealed no further damage, putting him on track to resume his throwing program after a bit more rest. According to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register—who spoke with Pete Barrett on The Squeeze, as part of the Effectively Wild preview of the 2013 Angels season—Madson might now be ready to kick it back into gear.

If Madson is able to endure a throwing session on Monday and stay pain-free for the rest of spring training, then he might be able to make his Angels debut within the first couple of weeks of the regular season. As the northpaw himself told Fletcher, his desire to accelerate his rehabilitation and strength-rebuilding process in an effort to be ready for Opening Day may have contributed to the recent setback. And, with that in mind, it seems fair to assume that when the Angels begin their campaign at Great American Ball Park on April 1, in the new scheduling format’s first interleague series, they will do so without their marquee bullpen addition.

General manager Jerry Dipoto did not stop looking for relief upgrades after adding Madson, though; he also picked up ex-National Sean Burnett on a two-year, $8 million deal, to serve as the primary left-handed setup man to Madson, who at that point was still on track to be the closer at the beginning of the season. Burnett is likely to stay in that role, which means that Ernesto Frieri, who came over from the Padres last May 3, will retain the ninth-inning reins for at least the first half of April.

Frieri faded in the second half after a dazzling start, in which he pitched 13 consecutive hitless innings following the trade, but he still amassed a 35-to-9 K:BB over 28 innings after the All-Star break. The 28-year-old was felled by the gopher ball down the stretch, as he served up seven of them in the 28-inning span, but his track record of success against both righty and lefty batters should enable him to continue handling the closer role with aplomb.

A heavily fastball-oriented pitcher, Frieri used his mid-90s heater on 85 percent of the pitches that he threw in 2012, per his Brooks Baseball player card, and with good reason: Hitters swung-and-missed at a tick more than 17 percent of them. The fastball was effective essentially regardless of location, so even though Frieri’s curveball and slider control remains spotty—more than half of the benders were taken for balls last year—he is a formidable one-trick pony.

For the Angels, that ought to inspire confidence in the bullpen’s ability to hold leads in the late innings, whether Madson’s timetable is stretched only to April 15 or into May. For fantasy players, that makes Frieri a critical handcuff to Madson in the early going. Jason Collette pointed out in his annual Closer Matrix column that Madson’s particular skills portend better results, but Frieri’s strikeout volume and virtually guaranteed role on Opening Day are likely to make him one of the first non-full-time closers off the board in drafts this spring.

Athletics exploring options at first base
Meanwhile, the Angels’ rivals up the California coast are looking for ways to ensure that their stunning, 94-win, American League West title campaign from 2012 won’t be a fluke. According to San Francisco Chronicle beat writer Susan Slusser, that effort is currently focused on first base, where the Chris Carter-for-Jed Lowrie trade left incumbent Brandon Moss without an obvious platoon partner. The 29-year-old Moss’ breakout season, marked by a .291/.358/.596 triple-slash line and 21 home runs in just 296 plate appearances, was a key component of the Athletics’ Cinderella run, but banking on an encore without developing a fallback plan would almost certainly contribute to the team’s widely expected regression.

That’s why, as Slusser wrote on Friday, manager Bob Melvin and his assistants are holding tryouts at the position. Seth Smith, who has made all 483 of his major-league appearances at a corner-outfield spot, is open to turning back the clock to his days as a ninth grader at Hillcrest Christian High School in Mississippi, in order to garner playing time on a crowded roster. Former blue-chipper Michael Taylor— whose stock has dimmed considerably since three years ago, when Kevin Goldstein ranked him as the 20th-best prospect in all of baseball—is hoping to regain some of his lost luster by showing added versatility, too. And, as Slusser mentioned in the afore-linked column, the A’s are well equipped to help interested outfielders to learn the nuances of first base, with Scott Hatteberg and Phil Garner on the coaching staff and Daric Barton just three years removed from a 4.4 WARP (+3.6 FRAA) campaign as the team’s everyday first baseman.

PECOTA believes that some of the prodigious power that Moss flashed last year is legitimate, projecting him for 20 more long balls in 535 plate appearances, but his lack of secondary skills dampens his projection to 0.6 WARP. If the A’s could overcome some of that lost value with enhanced versatility, as a result of spring-training work and the Lowrie acquisition, then they will be poised to clear one of the most significant hurdles in their attempt to avoid a slide down the standings.

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

10 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

John Carter

So, when are the Yankees and Mariners going to undo their Montero/Pineda trade? Of course, they'll not do that, but it seems like a good fit, doesn't it?

Feb 18, 2013 07:43 AM
rating: -2
 
BarryR

Isn't Jed Lowrie the obvious platoon partner for Moss?

Feb 18, 2013 15:09 PM
rating: 0
 
doublesteel

In response to BarryR's question about Lowrie being an obvious platoon partner for Moss ... my guess is that even if Lowrie could handle 1b responsibilities, he has too much value as a middle infielder on a team where 2d base is a big uncertain right now and where Nakajima at SS is nice to think about, but isn't written in stone.

Feb 18, 2013 15:34 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Daniel Rathman
BP staff

Thanks for reading, guys, and I think doublesteel hit the nail on the head here. The A's may need Lowrie's bat at 2B and SS, and they'd be better off finding a different platoon option for the corners. The other element, as I mentioned, is that the outfield is very crowded, and they need to find playing time for guys like Smith, who are currently limited defensively and won't play over regulars like Cespedes or Reddick.

Feb 18, 2013 16:58 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Remember, the A's went into last year with Josh Donaldson moving from catcher to 3B and he didn't hit a lick early on, hence the Inge experiment. The A's will probably do some other kind of stopgap and, if it doesn't work, troll the waiver wire.

Feb 18, 2013 20:21 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Daniel Rathman
BP staff

I certainly wouldn't put it past Billy Beane to go hunting for in-season help again, though the Josh Donaldson transition was forced by Scott Sizemore's late-February knee injury. It'll be interesting to see if Donaldson can sustain his late-season improvements.

Feb 18, 2013 20:58 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Right, but finding or making a first baseman should be easier than finding a third baseman. Case-in-point Scott Hatteberg.

Feb 18, 2013 21:14 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Daniel Rathman
BP staff

Definitely, in theory, but tell that to the Brewers... More on that situation in tomorrow's Roundup.

Feb 18, 2013 21:25 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

On that note, Gamel (as well as Braun) were third basemen.

Feb 20, 2013 12:03 PM
rating: 0
 
BarryR

Well, the A's have plans. Who am I to argue with Billy Beane over the likelihood of Nakajima being their every day SS? Beane clearly went after him with that intent. Donaldson had a fine second half at 3B last year, and their plan is for Sizemore (also a 3B) to return to 2B, with Weeks and Green lurking. If Weeks remembers how to hit, or if Green demonstrates an ability to play 2B, that gives them multiple options at 2B and 3B (Donaldson, Sizemore, Weeks/Green), meaning they don't need Lowrie there.
Frankly, Lowrie has one offensive strength - he hits LHP, with power. His real calling is to platoon with a LH hitting IF. Unfortunately, Donaldson, Sizemore, and Nakajima bat righty. Which, if things go well for the A's, leaves him to platoon at 1B.
Personally, I think he's going to be their regular SS until he breaks down, or they realize it's a bad idea, whichever comes first. Until I see a Japanese League SS become an effective ML SS, I'll believe it ain't happening. But who am I to disagree with Billy Beane?

Feb 19, 2013 13:19 PM
rating: 0
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
The Week in Quotes: Fe... (02/18)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Friday,... (02/15)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Tuesday... (02/19)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Painting the Black: Ma... (02/18)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Thursday, May ...
Premium Article What You Need to Know: Bummed!
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Friday, May 22
West Coast By Us: Day 1: In The Land Where E...
Premium Article Rubbing Mud: The Quarter-Season Odds Report
West Coast By Us: Taco the Town
Going Yard: The Near Perfection of Pederson

MORE FROM FEBRUARY 18, 2013
Premium Article Overthinking It: Why There Probably Are No N...
Baseball Therapy: What Really Predicts Pitch...
Baseball Prospectus News: The New Reality fo...
Premium Article Painting the Black: Martin Maldonado and Lea...
The Week in Quotes: February 11-17
Fantasy Article Fantasy Auction Values: First Edition, Febru...
Fantasy Article Pre-Season Positional Rankings: Top 15 Fanta...

MORE BY DANIEL RATHMAN
2013-02-21 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: A Rocky Rotation
2013-02-20 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Fishing for Carp
2013-02-19 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Tuesday, February 19
2013-02-18 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Monday, February 18
2013-02-15 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Friday, February 15
2013-02-14 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Thursday, February 14
2013-02-13 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Wednesday, February 13
More...

MORE RUMOR ROUNDUP
2013-02-21 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: A Rocky Rotation
2013-02-20 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Fishing for Carp
2013-02-19 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Tuesday, February 19
2013-02-18 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Monday, February 18
2013-02-15 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Friday, February 15
2013-02-14 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Thursday, February 14
2013-02-13 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Wednesday, February 13
More...