Holiday Mailbag: Dean Anna

Cafardo: Austin Romine is "very much available"
Must Click Link: The Randy Levine-Alex Rodriguez emails
(San Diego Union-Tribune)
(San Diego Union-Tribune)

Jag asks: Is Dean Anna any good? I know he’s been a career minor leaguer, but his stats seem to be solid. Why didn’t the Padres hold onto him?

The Yankees acquired Anna from the Padres for Single-A reliever RHP Ben Paullus last month. San Diego had no room for Anna on their 40-man roster, so rather than potentially lose him for nothing in the Rule 5 Draft, they flipped him for a low level minor leaguer. The Yankees needed the infield depth, so here we are. The obligatory stats:

2008 21 2 Teams A–Rk 181 30 35 3 0 5 24 11 1 21 31 .232 .341 .351 .692 5
2009 22 2 Teams A–A 239 31 56 15 1 5 31 7 6 30 41 .280 .380 .440 .820 4
2010 23 Fort Wayne A 272 42 61 14 2 6 32 5 1 39 40 .271 .381 .431 .813 3
2011 24 2 Teams AA-A+ 423 70 96 28 3 5 41 5 0 60 41 .277 .391 .419 .810 8
2012 25 San Antonio AA 510 75 115 16 3 10 47 6 4 66 76 .271 .377 .393 .770 11
2013 26 Tucson AAA 583 90 165 38 5 9 73 3 7 61 65 .331 .410 .482 .892 11
6 Seasons 2208 338 528 114 14 40 248 37 19 277 294 .286 .386 .428 .815 42
AA (2 seasons) AA 756 120 165 34 4 12 70 9 4 107 95 .265 .380 .390 .770 14
AAA (1 season) AAA 583 90 165 38 5 9 73 3 7 61 65 .331 .410 .482 .892 11
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/28/2013.

Anna, who turned 27 a few days after the trade, was the Padres’ 28th round pick in the 2008 draft out of Ball State, which isn’t exactly a baseball powerhouse. He hit .319/.464/.628 with 17 doubles, 11 homers, 46 walks, and 17 strikeouts in 52 games as a junior but was only ranked as the 14th best prospect in Indiana prior to the draft by Baseball America (subs. req’d). Anna was never a highly regarded prospect and he’s had to earn his way up to Triple-A and onto the 40-man roster. Here’s a recent (as in right after the trade) scouting report from Baseball America (no subs. req’d):

Anna, drafted out of Ball State, is coming off his best pro season, winning the Pacific Coast League batting title while playing for Triple-A Tucson. He hit .331/.410/.482 and walked (61) almost as much as he struck out (65), a career-long trend. Anna lacks physicality and pop at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds and fits the utility profile as a lefthanded hitter. He’s played second base, shortstop and third base as well as the outfield corners, with a fringe-average arm and solid infield actions. He’s a reliable defender who made just 23 errors the last two seasons. He’s a below-average runner, the biggest hole in his utility profile. Anna has earned high marks in his career as a grinder and good teammate. He spent two weeks playing for Estrellas in the Dominican League but returned home after going 8-for-34 (.235) with four walks in nine games.

So what the Yankees have is an undersized 27-year-old middle infielder who has little power, doesn’t steal a ton of bases, isn’t a standout defender, and, until this past season in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, hasn’t hit for a high average in pro ball. That’s … not much of a prospect at all. That’s a spare part. An up-and-down bench player. The 25th man on the roster. Sure, the K/BB ratio(s) is sexy but there is more to life than walks and strikeouts.

Now, that said, Anna is certaintly a useful piece to have lying around, especially for a team with a thin big league infield like the Yankees. He’s something like the 38th or 39th man on the 40-man roster and will open the year with Triple-A Scranton awaiting the call when someone inevitably gets hurt or plays themselves off the team. The various projection systems are quite bullish about Anna — Oliver (2.0 WAR), ZiPS (1.6 WAR), Steamer (0.4 WAR) — but that is always the case with high-walk, low-strikeout players. You could make a case that playing him at second over the old and so very injury prone Brian Roberts make sense.

The Yankees were going to fill their 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 Draft deadline one way or the other — either with one of their minor league relievers or someone like Anna. They opted for Anna, who was easily available and filled a very obvious need (they had not yet signed Kelly Johnson at the time of the trade). Since only one (Tommy Kahnle) of their many relievers was taken in the Rule 5 Draft, it’s tough to argue with the decision. Anna is an interesting enough player but the odds of him contributing in a meaningful way at the MLB level are small. In fact, if he’s starting for the team at some point next year, it likely means something went very wrong.

Cafardo: Austin Romine is "very much available"
Must Click Link: The Randy Levine-Alex Rodriguez emails
  • mike

    I agree with above – but to put any weight on his BB is faulty because a guy with no pop and no slugging %- and with no speed to threaten a bunt – is going to be challenged by ML pitchers a lot more than he has been in the minors, and he will be forced to swing the bat.

    • Chip

      I disagree completely with this statement. People made the same argument about Gardner (who struck out more in the minors than Anna) and should in theory be challenged even more than Anna due to his ability to steal bases. Despite that, Gardner has posted great walk rates for his entire career. Taking walks is still a vastly underrated skill that I think clearly translates well from the minors

      • Now Batting

        It’s easier to take walks against pitchers that have a harder time finding the strike zone.

        • RetroRob

          Yup, although I wouldn’t go quite as far as the first poster and say that it would be faulty to put any weight on his ability to take walks. We can put some weight on it since it’s a skill, and his career minor league slugging is .430, with a .480 line last year (granted PCL), with 38 doubles. He hit 28 doubles a couple years prior. That indicates he does have some power, even if it’s gap/double power. AAA pitchers also are much better control wise than the lower-level pitchers.

          Yet Mike summed it up well.

    • Wolfgang’s Fault

      “In fact, if he’s starting for the team at some point next year, it likely means something went very wrong.”

      Or very right, Ugarte, depending on perspective, of course!

      Make ’em change their plans, Mr. Anna, & do this ole’ bottom feeders increasingly congested heart some good.

  • Slugger27

    kudos for using “meanwhile”

  • The Great Gonzo

    Nothing to see here.

  • jpl

    Sign me up for 280/380/420.

  • Farewell Mo

    That scouting report by Mike sure threw some cold water on the “Dean Anna starting 2nd basemen” narrative that several have been promoting around here.

    • Slugger27

      dude theres posters on here that think jeff baker is a starting 3B. JEFF BAKER.

      its what the winter and offseason do.

      • Chip

        Fun fact: Jeff Baker has a career wRC+ of 128 against lefties. You could absolutely talk me into a platoon of Anna and Baker at third. In fact, if they don’t make any other moves for the infield, that platoon and starting Johnson at second is probably the best way forward unless they sign Drew

        • Farewell Mo

          If your goal is to have the worst infield in the AL, Anna/Baker at 3rd, Ryan at SS, Johnson at 2nd and Teix at 1st just might do it.

          • Slugger27

            you see! chip is living proof, and i swear thats not me posting under a different name.

            there are many like him, thinking jeff baker is a viable starting 3B on a contender (or anyone really). they walk among us everyday. you might even be real life friends with some of these people.

            its a big and scary world out there. never let your guard down.

            • Farewell Mo

              I don’t think you need an All Star at every position to win but let’s be reasonable.

              If you plan on giving extensive playing time to guys like Anna, Baker, Ryan, Johnson or Roberts, be prepared to sit home again next October.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              I think the platoon would work if you also didn’t have an equal problem at second base.

              You need folks that think outside the box sometimes. Don’t be afraid. Embrace the weird. They don’t even have to be right.

              • Slugger27

                a platoon of even semi useful players id be fine with. but like you say, if its only 1 position.

                the “semi useful” part is where jeff baker struggles. hes not a mlb calibur player, despite occasionally getting PT in the major leagues.

                • Jorge Steinbrenner

                  He’s very good at one thing, though and, put in a position where he does a whole lot of that, and whole little of other stuff, he could excel.

                  Marcus Thames was not a good baseball player. We made him look amazing in limited action.

                  • Chip

                    This is exactly what I was saying, Jeff Baker is really decent at hitting lefties. Platooned properly, he can be useful. That being said, there is no way I want Baker, Anna or Johnson in the starting lineup but I don’t see how that’s going to happen without a trade.

  • lightSABR

    Dean Anna in four words: “Better than David Adams.” And given our hideous infield performance last year (-2 fWAR over 2100 PA if you exclude Cano), better than David Adams is something I’m very happy to have on the team.

    Here’s hoping we never need him.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      MAYBE better than David Adams. MAYBE.

      • Chip

        I would argue that all he has to do is stand at the plate and watch pitches go by in order to be better than Adams. Even .220/.280/.290 would be an upgrade over Adams

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Let’s see how Mr. MLB Contract does over in Cleveland next season.

          • The Great Gonzo

            Cleveland also gave Shelly Duncan a Major League Contract. So… yeah.

        • nsalem

          Is your opinion on Adams based in the 100 or so MLB plate appearances? If not that then what? Would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

      • lightSABR

        Hmm. Looks like y’all are right – their minor-league numbers are more similar than I thought, with Adams winning at the lower levels but Anna putting up better numbers in AAA as well as generally better walk and strikeout numbers. So I guess my opinion is based mostly on Adams’ 152 big-league PA. Which isn’t fair, of course, because Anna’s never had so much as a cup of coffee and we don’t have any evidence how his Pacific League 140 wRC+ will play in the AL East.

        That said, Adams’ 152 big-league PA were really, really awful. 28.3% strikeouts, with 55.7% grounders on the balls he actually did put into play? Yuck. And Anna’s more versatile defensively, so I guess at the very worst, he can be a crappy batter at more positions than Adams could.

        • nsalem

          Adams did not draw a walk in his first 86 PA’s as a Yankee. He was swinging at anythinig and everything that was off speed and off the outside corner. He started showing some discipline in his last 38 PA’s and though he continued striking out he did draw 9 walks in those last 38 PA’s (of his 1st stint) and seemed to be moving in the right direction. Who knoiws if this would have kept up but I think it is highly unfair to judge him offensively on what you saw from him last year, Defensively he seemed fundamentally sound at 3rd base which is a position he had little experience at. I seem to remember 1 game where he made two terrible mental errors, I don’t know what the future holds for him, but I wish him the best with the Indians. I think he was the victim of some terrible luck with his ankle injury and wish he would have gotten a longer look from the Yankees.

          • lightSABR

            Oh, I don’t hate the guy. I was surprised when he performed as badly as he did, and of course I wish him well with the Indians.

            But he was a disaster for us last year, and that we had to use him as long as he did is just one of the many scandalous embarrassments we suffered last year because of our lack of depth.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Maybe he’s something, but he’s no Plan A. I’d wager to say he shouldn’t even be Plan B.

    Yes, I am fully aware that, at this point, I’m praying for a robot infielder to be constructed before Opening Day. Mechanical parts do not count against the luxury tax.

    • Havok9120

      Yeah. You’ve had…somewhat unrealistic expectations when it comes to the infield this offseason.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        I’m still going to get the Panda out of SF somehow. What do pandas like to eat?

        *gathers bamboo*

        • sevrox

          I’ve got a bamboo grove in my yard he’d be welcome to.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Do you live near the Bronx?

  • Robert

    Jose Pirela this is his year,but lets face it if Anna and Pirela get to the Bronx than how many guys have to go down.AROD,Jeter,K. Johnson Nunez and Brenden Ryan seem to have 2B SS 3B locked up.

  • Greg C

    I lived through the 80s/early 90s. I have a hard time saying anything bad about this group of infielders. Sure, they shouldn’t be starting on an all-All-star team, but when I see a guy with .380+ minor league OBP, I tend to think “Hey, he might be useful.”

    Do you know what it’s like to go into a season expecting to compete AND just accepting that someone like Wayne Tolleson is going to be a starting player? Bobby Meacham? Rafael Santana? Alvaro Espinoza?

    Or to be super excited about someone like Randy Velarde? And the emergence of Pat Kelly?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      …and it wasn’t even the saddest part of the team at the time. At least those of us who grew up in the 80’s as Yankee fans had no idea what an actual everyday shortstop looked like.

      I was crying much more over the pitching staff. That Dave Eiland became our pitching coach afterwards is proof God has a sick fucking sense of humor.

      • vicki

        those who can’t do.

  • TheNextEdison

    I say rehire Billy Connors, and have him crap a 2nd baseman from that golf cart of his. Just sayin…

  • Mickey Scheister

    I’d prefer the likes of Anna over Nunez. Nuney is the better baserunning and has more speed but Anna seems to be more versatile and has a better glove, by a long shot. Keep em both but I’d rather see Anna, if it should come to that.

  • vicki

    ball state. hehe.

  • Wayne

    We protect deán Anna but not tommy kahnle. That dude has the potential to be a dominant closer and is young . Especially this year with our bullpen situation to just give up on a guy like that makes no sense to me. Mariano was 27 when he became the closer. This guy is just 24. He could have put it together this year or soon after.

    • JMK

      Sounds like you’re still a bit upset, Mrs. Kahnle.