Trimming the fat

Via Pete Abraham, the following prospects were cut and sent across the street to minor league camp:

Eric Duncan: 1 for 10, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Brett Gardner: 1 for 9, 2 R, 0 XBH (surprised?), 1 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 SB
Alberto Gonzalez: 5 for 15, 1 R, 0 XBH, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Juan Miranda: 2 for 5, 0 R, 0 XBH, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K – all or nothing baby, every out he made was a K…
Jose Tabata: 6 for 13, 4 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K
Steven Jackson: 3.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 2 K
Jeff Kennard: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
Kevin Whelan: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K

Gotta love the numbers Tabata put up, but you do have to take them with a grain of salt: most of the games he played in were as a late inning replacement with young minor leaguers like himself on the mound. He wasn’t out there mashing against the Brad Lidges and Joe Nathans, heck even the Craig Hansens and Ryan Wagners of the world most of the time. Glad to see the hand isn’t an issue.

Phil Hughes will be hittin’ the bricks later today after throwing a bullpen session. I’m guessin the same is true of Mr. Clippard.

Bronson Sardinha (10 for 24, 4 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0 BB, 2K) and Mighty Matt DeSalvo (6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 1 K) are the biggest prospects still with the big league club, not counting Hughes and Clippard.

Update: I overlooked Darrell Rasner (7.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) and Jeff Karstens (5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K) as prospects still with the big boys. I forgot about them because of their ML experience, plus the fact that I just can’t see either in the minors for very long in 2007.

Review of MLB 07: The Show for PS2

Once EA lost it’s license to produce MLB games, my interest in them basically disappeared. MLB 2005 (predecessor to The Show) was good, but it tended to freeze. And freeze. And freeze. And freeze some more. MVP 05 was great in every possible way, especially since it included the..ahem…likenesses of Phil Hughes, Eric Duncan and Marcos Vechionacci. However, that franchise went kaput once MLB sold out for exclusive licensing.

EA came out with MVP 06 NCAA baseball about a year ago, and I was instantly hooked. The gameplay was phenomenal as always, and the excitement of the college atmosphere was as good as it gets. I started a Dynasty with my Nittany Lions, and played over 4 seasons without so much as getting bored. However, do to a freak PS3 accident, my saved data was corrupted, and my team was lost forever (I was on pace for my first trip to Omaha, go figure).

But last weekend I was home watching my fiancee’s younger brother, who just so happened to have a copy of The Show 07. I checked it out, played a game or two, and was sold. I stole his copy bought a copy of my own and started a Franchise with the Pirates (I hate the DH, and I love that ballpark). Instead of sticking with the default rosters, I went for a good ol’ fantasy draft, where I picked exactly 1 player over 26 years of age (Oswalt).

The Franchise mode is very deep, but to a fault: I’m not really interested in changing ticket prices or managing my advertisements, I just want to play baseball. The controls are good, though the push button batting is…how do you say…outdated. The pitching is the same old meter, which leaves something to be desired. The fielding is decent, though sometimes flyballs can be an adventure. There’s tons of custom animations, if you want to see the Broxton pirouette, it’s there. The Matt Morris bobblehead, it’s there. The Joe Morgan chickenwing, it’s there. Heck, Jeter even holds out his right arm before taking his stance, basically telling the ump “slow down bitch, I ain’t ready yet.”

Some of the player ratings are straight up wrong. Kei Igawa is not better than Dice-K, David Ross is not the best player on the Reds, nor is Anibal Sanchez the Marlins’ best player. Little things like that take away for the game. Oh, and none of the player contracts are correct, they’re basically pulled out of mid air. The minor league stuff is okay, the biggest drawback is the lack of a Single-A level (there’s only AA and AAA).

I’d give it a solid B, there’s a lot of little things that take away from what should be a great game overall. I say wait until you can pick up a used copy for $15.

Steve Phillips still doesn’t get it

There’s a reason why the Mets fired Steve Phillips. It’s the same reason why he hasn’t been offered a position since, and why he always comes off on ESPN as knowing nothing: he hasn’t a clue how to construct a roster.

I don’t think I’m no to anything groundbreaking here, but I felt it an appropriate lead-in to his recent article on ESPN.com about Josh Hamilton. In it, he opines that the Reds are sending the wrong message by drafting Hamilton in the Rule V draft, thereby either giving him a major league roster spot or returning him to Tampa Bay. His reasoning:

The decision to acquire Hamilton and give him a chance to be a major league player without doing anything to earn it over the past four seasons makes a statement to current Reds major leaguers and especially to the organization’s minor league players. This one decision contradicts everything the organization claims is important…It sends the wrong message to all of the hardworking, dedicated young men who are paying the price to get to the major leagues.

I know their situations aren’t quite similar, but did the Blue Jays send the wrong message to its minor leaguers when it placed John Olerud directly in the majors following the 1989 draft? You could argue, I suppose, that they did, but then I must ask: did it really matter? They won the AL East in ’89 and ’91, and finished two games behind the Red Sox in ’90…and that’s before they rattled off two straight World Series victories.

In making this statement, Phillips once again makes no confusion over why MLB teams continually pass him over for GM openings. I’m not saying that he would be necessarily wrong for passing on Hamilton. But to criticize another team for taking that risk is unwarranted.

Finding viable major league players is no simple task. By selecting Josh Hamilton in the Rule IV draft, the Reds were attempting to fill a valuable roster spot with a potentially underpriced player. If it doesn’t work out, they’re out a net $25,000. If it does work, they have a cheap player (he’ll make around $400,000 for the next three years) under their control for six full seasons.

That, my friends, is more valuable than any message Steve Phillips thinks is being sent to the club’s minor leaguers. In truth, his entire view of the messsage being sent may be flawed:

Their [the ballplayers] take will be that if you have talent, it doesn’t really matter what you do or how you behave — there is a place for you at the top.

I’m pretty sure that’s not the message. Yes, Hamilton is insanely talented, but that alone won’t keep him on the Reds roster. If he was to hit .180 through March, I’m sure the Devil Rays would be welcoming him back to its system. Such is the nature of Rule V picks.

Phillips’s article cleary illustrates why he serves no purpose in the baseball analysis community. We’re talking about players and production, and he’s talking about hypothetical messages.

Photo courtsey Al Behrman/AP

The proof is in the pickups

A comment over at YF vs SF got me thinking, how much of the Yanks projected 25-man roster is homegrown, and ditto the Sawx. Based on a quick glance at their respective sites, I came up with the following:

Yanks
7
homegrown (Jeter, Mo, Cano, Wang, Posada, Phillips, Melky)
5 traded for
12 free agent signings
1 misc (Josh Phelps, Rule V draft)

Sux
5
homegrown (Hansen, Delcarmen, Pedroia, Papelbon, Lester)
10 traded for
9 free agent signings
1 misc (Kyle Snyder, waiver pickup)

Any Japanese imports were considered free agent signings, not homegrown players (each team had 2 apiece). I had to make some assumptions about the last pieces of the bullpen, so I figured that Villone and Britton would make it for the Yanks, and Delcarmen and Hansen would round out the Sox ‘pen, which increased the amount of homegrown Sox players by 66.7%. I also gave the Sox credit for John Lester, which I consider pretty generous.

I’m a bit shocked that only 5 current Yanks were traded for (Britton, Abreu, A-Rod, Nieves, and Proctor), but the 12 FAs doesn’t strike me as unusual.

So what does this tell me? The Yanks produce stars, the Sox produce mostly borderline major leaguers. There, my logic is flawless.