Posts Tagged ‘Adrian Beltre’

Food for thought? Will the Jays kick tires on acquiring Prince Fielder?

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I was reading a piece at Fangraphs regarding Prince Fielder and his imminent departure from the Milwaukee Brewers in the offseason given the impasse between management and Fielder’s agent, the vaunted Scott Boras.  Rumours peg the asking price for Fielder’s next contract between 120-150 million over 6-8 years and I am not going to argue that a defensively challenged overweight first basemen is worth that type of long term investment because very clearly he is not and even more clear is the Jays would never be able to sign a player to that type of contract.

My argument today is that Alex Anthopoulos and the Toronto Blue Jays should at the very least inquire into the asking price (from the Brewers) to bring in the powerful left handed hitting home run machine for the 2011 season.  I am not sure what the cost would be but one would have to assume it would likely be fairly high and it could ultimately cost the team their top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek.  Although everybody is extremely high on this kid I think this could be a move worth considering.

Consider me a contrarian in the valuation of Drabek but I am not a huge buyer of his stock and I think his value will never be higher coming off a successful (at first glance) minor league season.  The 23 year old posted a 2.94 ERA in 162 ‘AA’ innings in 2010 allowing 126 hits, walking 68 and striking out 132 while improving his ground ball tendencies slightly.  Like I said, at first glance it appears to be one heck of a season for a kid his age.

But glancing beyond the shiny ERA there are some red flags underneath the surface in terms of future success, at least for me.  Drabek posted a pedestrian 7.3 K/9 (for a top rated pitching prospect) while his BB/9 rose to nearly 4 walks per nine (3.78 BB/9) giving him a mediocre 1.9 K/BB.  Drabek was slightly aided by a low BABIP (.260) and his FIP was a more telling number of his actual season, coming in at a respectable but not spectacular 3.87. 

Now you would have to be a fool to think he is even close to a finished product and chances are he will improve, and could possibly improve a lot but at this point I don’t feel the peripherals match the expectations or scream ‘future star’.  Not that every pitcher requires a strikeout an inning to be successful (think Halladay, Roy) but the minor league strikeout numbers for a young pitcher are normally one of the indicators of future success in the big leagues and I think the jury is out on Drabek developing into a true number one or two starter.

Another reason I wouldn’t be too hesitant if Milwaukee were warm to this type of deal is the Jays would be dealing 100% from a point of strength as they are currently fairly loaded with a plethora of major league ready arms under the age of 28.  Their current rotation is among the best in the game with Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil and whoever they decide to slot in at the number five spot.  There is a chance Drabek never develops into the type of big league starter who is capable of usurping one of the top 4-5 starters the Jays currently possess and the more he is exposed at the big league level without a lot of success the more his overall value takes a dive.

Another motivation for a move like this is Prince Fielder would instantly give the Jays there first legit power threat at 1B since Carlos Delgado left town, no offense to Lyle Overbay but he is barely a league average bat at this point in his career.  Fielder will be entering his 27 year old season (historically one of a hitter’s best overall years career wise) and even with a slightly off year (for his standards) Prince has still been a beast in 2010.  Currently slashing 267/403/486 with 32 HRs, 80 RBI and a cool 106 BBs, Fielder has still managed a .388 wOBA and .218 ISO.  For those curious Lyle Overbay in 2010 currently has a .335 wOBA.

Fielder’s career slash line is impressive to say the least at 281/385/538, to go with a career .258 ISO and .389 wOBA.  Fielder has patience (career 12.9 BB %), power and could help energize a city that is slowly starting to come around on the young and promising Blue Jays.  I liken this situation to what Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s did when they traded for outfielder Matt Holliday at the beginning of 2009. 

The A’s hoped Holliday would be the answer for a moribund offense and place them squarely in contention in the AL West, however when it didn’t quite work that way, they flipped him again to St. Louis to recoup some of their losses in prospects (unfortunately they dealt Carlos Gonzalez to acquire him) though they could have just let Holliday (like the Jays could with Fielder) play out the season and leave in the winter and receive two highly valuable compensation draft picks for the next Amateur draft.

The A’s got unlucky that they dealt a big package of Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street and Greg Smith and Holliday’s value took a hit (only due to playing in one of the worse offensive environment’s in baseball) but I have no doubt that Fielder would flourish at the Roger’s Centre in an improving and powerful Jays line-up.   I am not sure what the price would be but if it is only the cost of a player who is not a guarantee (say a Kyle Drabek) and a couple additional fringe prospects I might be intrigued.

Worst case scenario Fielder doesn’t put the Jays over the top in the AL East in 2011 and Kyle Drabek develops into an ace starter, seems unlikely but nothing in baseball is guaranteed.  However, the Jays would at least be able to start over with the two strong draft picks or attempt to flip Fielder to a contending team looking for a 2 month rental and regaining some of the lost youth and prospects it took to acquire the Prince.

On the flip side the potential upside to having one of the top young 1B/DH in your line-up for 162 games and rolling into Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park with another powerful left handed slugger is truly appealing.  Renting Prince Fielder for 2011 could be a win-win for the Toronto Blue Jays and I wonder if it has sparked any curiosity or interest within the Blue Jays brain trust and the wonder kid Alex Anthopoulos?

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The Jays would still need to address a longer term solution at third base (preferably not E5) although it doesn’t appear they have any real in-house candidates (Jose Bautista should remain in the outfield) and as much as I would love to see Adrian Beltre bring his magic glove and trusty bat (and strange quirk of killing any man who dares touch the top of his head!) the competition for his services will likely be fierce and I see the Boston Red Sox doing everything in their power to retain him.

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Here is the introduction to the DMB (Diamond Mind Baseball) Trade Value series.

2010 DMB Trade Value: #50 -#41

2010 DMB Trade Value: #40 – #31

30) 3B Adrian Beltre (R) – Age:  31

Quick Take:  A defensive wizard at 3B and a power bat to boot, Beltre gives you everything you want in a corner infielder.  Since leaving the hitter’s hell that is SafeCo Beltre has absolutely killed the ball (.228 ISO) and though the BABIP (.340) is helping his average his overall .390 wOBA combined with a 9.2 UZR has valued him at a 5.7 WAR thus far in 2010.  Beltre will never be confused as a patient hitter but should be productive for the next 5-6 seasons and with pending free agency, again keep an eye on what park he lands in.

DMB PRO: awesome defender, great power

DMB CON: does not walk (5.5 BB %) and this affects his overall DMB value

29) SP Felix Hernandez (R) – Age: 24

Quick Take:  Seemingly been in the league forever, Hernandez is just entering his prime and his resume is impressive.  Has been a workhorse since 2006 (191, 190, 200, 238 and 204 IPs so far in 2010) and has been a solid groundball/strikeout guy since making his debut in 2005.  While not the K-machine I think some had envisioned there is not much to dislike about a 24 year old with the body of work that Felix possesses and no reason not to invest heavily over the next 5-6 seasons.  My only concerns would be workload on his young arm, his home park is extremely pitcher friendly and he plays in front of one of the better defences, sometimes affecting his DMB value depending on chosen ballpark and defense.

DMB PRO: solid ground ball rate, good control, consistent

DMB CON:  extreme pitchers park

28) RF Justin Upton (R) – Age:  23

Quick Take:  A fulltime player holding his own at age 21 is a rare breed and Upton is truly a rare talent.  Upton possesses huge power potential (career .200 ISO) to go along with his solid defense, arm and speed.  If he could only improve his lacking plate discipline we could be looking at one of the best overall players in baseball.  His ‘off’ year so far in 2010 has still produced a .350 wOBA and 3.3 WAR, not bad for a 23 year old.  Upton is still a talent on the rise who at worst will provide a low average power bat with amazing right field defense, but his upside is that of top player in the game and definitely an intriguing talent.

DMB PRO: big power, solid defender, speed

DMB CON: lack of patience and high strikeouts, hitter’s park

27) SP Cliff Lee (L) – Age:  32

Quick Take:  Normally a pitch to contact left hander is bad news in the world of DMB but Lee is a rare talent which his unreal control (.60 BB/9!), decent K rate (7.8 K/9) and normally solid numbers versus right handed hitters that he was another must addition to this list.  Doesn’t appear to be slowing down any as he has entered his 30s and is one of the top lefties in the game, keep an eye on what team he signs with in the off-season.  If he signs with the Yankees, expect a drop in his overall numbers playing in that ballpark and division.

DMB PRO: impeccable control, solid K rate, good numbers vs. Righties

DMB CON: is still a lefty and susceptible to a righty heavy lefty crushing line-up, can give up a lot of hits.

26) LF Matt Holliday (R) – Age:  30

Quick Take:  Basically given up for dead while with Oakland in 2009, Holliday was supposedly only a product of his environment (Coors Field) but people failed to realize his environment in Oakland was extremely chilly to hitters.  Holliday has proven to be one of the most consistent and feared right handed hitting outfielders in the game (.390 and .384 wOBA in 2009 and 2010) Holliday provides great defense (7.1 UZR) and great power (.221 ISO in 2010) and is equally effective versus righties or lefties.  A guy you can just book for 300/390/500 with 40 2Bs/25 HRs, a solid rating in LF and a 5.0-5.5 WAR each season.  In a DMB keeper world, that is as good as gold.

DMB PRO: consistently solid with the bat and glove, good splits vs. L and R

DMB CON: low-ish walk rate (career 8.9 BB %)

25) SP Zack Greinke (R) – Age:  27

Quick Take:  If anybody is holding Greinke to his unbelievable 2009 season to say he is having a bad year in 2010, you are crazy.  He was never going to repeat that season, which was one of the best over the past 10 years however Greinke is still among the game’s best starting pitchers and is only just entering his prime seasons.  His K-rate is down (9.5 K/9 in 2009, 7.5 in 2010) however his control is still great (2.0 BB/9) and his 3.31 FIP suggests he is still an ace in the making.  I am still buying the hype.

DMB PRO: solid control pitcher, improving GB rate

DMB CON: pitcher’s park, declining K rate.

24) 1B Kevin Youkilis (R) – Age:  31

Quick Take:  The Greek God of Walks as once dubbed by Billy Beane “Youk” is an on-base machine (13.3 BB %, .411 OBP) who hits both lefties and righties well and gains an extra little bit of positional value by also being rated at 3B (for most seasons).  If he ever lost his 3B eligibility permanently it would put a serious hit on his overall value.

DMB PRO: hits both lefties and righties, OBP machine

DMB CON: Fenway is a good hitters park for righties, potentially only a 1B one day.

23) CF Carlos Gonzalez (L) – Age:  25

Quick Take: “CarGo” is another intriguing talent who has shown absolutely massive power this season (.271 ISO, .596 SLG%) but is not without a few warts.  Questions still abound whether he will be able to play CF going forward and his walk rate has been abysmal (5.3 BB %) which will hurt him immensely in DMB but that power stroke cannot be denied, even accounting for the effect his home ballpark will have.  If he can show improved plate discipline, he could be a major force.

DMB PRO: huge power, rated at CF

DMB CON: poor walk rate and the “Coors” effect could seriously affect his value in DMB.

22) C Carlos Santana (S) – Age:  24

Quick Take:  The leg injury was scary but it appears the Santana avoided a potentially career debilitating injury and is an exciting catching prospect with some very strong upside.  A switch-hitter who plays catcher has the potential to give a lot of value and Santana’s numbers while coming up through the minor leagues are nothing short of brilliant and he should be a top five catcher for the next 8-10 years.

DMB PRO: position, upside

DMB CON: will injury affect his long term value?

21) C Brian McCann (L) – Age:  26

Quick Take:  It seems like McCann should be nearly 40 but in reality he is only now hitting his prime hitting seasons and in 2010 has been a beast (.380 wOBA) and his improving patience (13.4 BB %) is a bonus.  One of the top hitting catchers in baseball and should be counted upon to put up consistently strong numbers for the next 5 seasons minimum.

DMB PRO: a strong hitting catcher, improved patience and BB rate

DMB CON: not as strong versus lefties, but that is nitpicking.