Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gary Matthews Jr. Wins the Free Agent Lottery

posted by Unknown
A ton of moves over the last few days, some silly and some intriguing. Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Los Angeles Angels have signed Gary Matthews Jr. to a five year $50,000,000 deal. This is sheer insanity in my opinion. I have nothing against signing Matthews as your center fielder. He can play defense and has shown some batting ability the last couple of years but to give him this much based on one year as a fulltime player is too large a chance in my opinion. Especially for the Angels who have the arms to deal and acquire a Carl Crawford or Rocco Baldelli as I will discuss in some detail below. This is just crazy, sign Kenny Lofton or someone like that for a season and put this cash towards Vernon Wells or Andruw Jones.

The Moves Made

I'll be skipping most of the additions to the 40-man roster type moves unless I see a name I want to discuss or that merits fantasy consideration. For instance the Rangers added lefty A.J. Murray to the 40-man roster but that doesn't interest me. But the Tampa Bay Devil Rays adding outfielder Elijah Dukes gives me an opportunity to share what I think of him. Get it?

Hey look at that! First up is Elijah Dukes. The Rays are one of the more difficult teams to read in baseball. They are constantly talking about the trade of their best players, role players and prospects alike but they seldom pull off the deals that you expect them to or the ones most commonly rumored. Dukes was given a few at-bats at first base in the Arizona Fall League but contrary to common belief it does not appear that the Rays have any intention of changing his position.

If I have any sense of the Rays' intentions they will trade an outfielder before Spring Training begins for either an established major league starter or an advanced kick-ass prospect. Which gives Dukes (as either the traded or the beneficiary of the trade) a chance at starting in the majors out of Spring Training. In my opinion he is not only ready for the majors but could excel right off the bat especially for fantasy purposes. Dukes has the power to hit 20-25 homeruns right now and will probably develop into an annual 30 homer guy. He has the speed to steal 30 bases but isn't all that great a base runner, that will not matter in most leagues. He already has some skill at getting on base which should only get better with experience. He makes decent contact and has hit for good to great averages at every level. Given a shot to start the season i think something in the territory of .275/.340/.420 with say 18 homers and 15 stolen bases in 400 at-bats. I think the attitude problems are a little overblown. He seems to be fine when he gets to just play.

How likely are the Rays to actually make a trade that makes this happen? On a scale of one to ten I'd give it a six or seven, so pretty good. The Angels seem out at first glance after the signing of Gary Matthews Jr. to play center field but not necessarily. The Angels could simply make Garrett Anderson their regular designated hitter which frankly at this point would probably be better for his arthritic body. Let Chone Figgins play third and put their outfield acquisition in left field. The Phillies are a serious candidate as are the Marlins and Rangers. In fact any team that can use a very affordable outfielder that has a young starter of quality to spare has a chance and should be interested.

The Seattle Mariners added shortstop Michael Garciaparra to their roster. Nomar's little brother looked like a dud and still could be but he has a few useful skills that might be useful on a major league roster. He can play defense at any position, he makes decent contact, can draw a walk (from lesser pitchers anyway) and has the speed to steal a few bases. You wouldn't go into your draft with him in the back of your mind but if you left the auction and Garciaparra at a buck was your worst pick-up I wouldn't be too upset.

The New York Mets signed Moises Alou to a one year contract to man left field. Alou is old but as long as he stays healthy this should be a solid signing. The Mets have Ben Johnson, Lastings Milledge and Endy Chavez in reserve to cover any short term injury issues. Alou is in the same fantasy class as someone like Ray Durham who is consistently undervalued in a lot of leagues. Discounting players based purely on age is a mistake even veteran fantasy players often make.

The more interesting move the Mets made this week was trading RHP Henry Owens and RHP Matt Lindstrom to the Florida Marlins for LHP Jason Vargas and LHP Adam Bostick. Henry Owens is a minor league reliever who is already 27 years-old. But while the Mets don't really have a place for Owens in the majors the Florida Marlins probably do. In double-A for the Mets in 2006 Owens pitched 40 innings and earned 20 saves in 37 appearances with a 4.28 H9, 0.23 HR9, 2.25 BB9 and 16.65 K9. Guys like Owens are exactly what I mean when I say there isn't really any need to spend twenty million on Justin Speier. Apparently only the Yankees, Padres and Marlins have figured that out. Owens could be a decent one dollar save speculation.

Matt Lindstrom is an okay minor league reliever but he doesn't project to be worth much to fantasy players. He did have a decent year in double-A for the Mets in 2006, 9.30 H9, 0.44 HR9, 3.10 BB9 and 11.95 K9. Adam Bostick is basically the left handed starting version of Lindstrom in that he doesn't project to be worth anything to fantasy players. In 115 double-A innings (22 starts) Bostick was 8-7 with a 7.83 H9, 0.55 HR9, 5.24 BB9 and 8.53 K9. In triple-A he made five starts and went 1-2 in 27 innings with a 13.00 H9, 1.33 HR9, 4.33 BB9 and 10.00 K9.

The most interesting player to me is Jason Vargas. This lefty starter spent a good chunk of time in the majors the last two seasons and is still just 23 years old. He has the stuff but not the control or command thus far. He was impressive coming up through the minors and was solid in his major league debut. In the majors in 2005 Vargas pitched 73.2 innings with a 8.67 H9, 0.49 HR9, 3.79 BB9 and 7.21 K9. This isn't star stuff but as a rotation guy not too bad. He completely fell apart in 2006 the numbers were ugly, trust me. But he still has that stuff and he now has that change of scenary which often leads to good things for guys on the verge. If you are in a league with deep benches a late pick on Vargas could work out for you.

The Royals traded a player to be named to the Cincinnati Reds for catcher Jason LaRue who was injured in 2006 and lost his job to David Ross. I like LaRue for the Royals. Their young pitchers could use a more veteran presence behind the plate. LaRue also hits okay for a catcher. In 2005 LaRue batted .260/.355/.452 with 14 homeruns in 361 at-bats. I think this unofficially ends the John Buck tragedy, officially Buck will stick around for a few years as a reserve catcher.

The White Sox added Dewon Day to the 40-man roster. Day was a Rule V pick (the minor league portion) from the Toronto Blue Jays. He had a very good year for the White Sox pitching in high-A Winstom-Salem (at age 25). He delievered 47.2 innings woth a 7.55 H9, 0.57 HR9, 3.97 BB9 and 11.90 K9. You may see him make an appearance in the White Sox bullpen in 2007. Older guys who have good numbers at the lower levels are often either pushed up quickly or forgotten about. I get the impression that White Sox GM Kenny Williams is a fan.

Okay that's that for today. Have a Great and Happy Thanks Giving.

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Anonymous Fake Teams said...

Nice piece on a traditionally slow day for blogging.

Dukes power could be much better than his AAA numbers show.

His manager said the 30 ft wall in LF prevented HRs.

rotisserie baseball musing

His ability to draw walks is also very impressive.

If only he didn't have other issues - exacerbated by being 6'3 240 lbs.

Thursday, November 23, 2006 at 10:57:00 AM EST  

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