Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hot Stove Update: John Buck, Clint Barmes and Rajai Davis

posted by Unknown
I am a baseball fan. I live for baseball news during the Fall and Winter months. But I also love football. I was stunned by Michael Vick's performance last week (especially since it cost me two wins) and I can't wait to see what he does against the best defense in the NFL this weekend. However, what is most on my mind this morning is a question. Why are Matt Kemp and Justin Upton so clearly on the trade market and where will they land?

So far, the Boston Red Sox seem like the most aggressive suitor of Upton. Our friend DJ from Fire Brand of the American League believes the Red Sox should have been in on Dan Uggla as a left fielder or even a third baseman. I disagree, but then we also disagree about how much Red Sox fans want Adrian Beltre back (I think a lot, he says they don't care).The Red Sox definitely have the major league ready prospects the Arizona Diamondbacks are looking for, but are they willing to satisfy the quantity that general manager Kevin Towers is demanding, three major league ready prospects and two other prospects. But Upton's shoulder problems may force him to lessen his demands or take Upton off the market.

There are a few teams interested in Kemp as well. The Washington Nationals seem like a long shot, they have a few nice prospects but they don't seem deep enough to get the job done. But that is without actually hearing what it is the Dodgers want. I'd think a lot but you never know... The Los Angeles Dodgers have plenty of prospects anyway, but I think they want players to help their major league team right now.

The Phillies are definitely interested. Bradley Schlegel of thinks the Phillies should send stud second baseman, Chase Utley, to Los Angeles for Kemp. I think that's a very interesting idea. Schlegel is even prepared to add Dominic brown to the deal as a sweetener. That may be a little much in my opinion. Brown or Utley I can see doing either but both doesn't make much sense in the long term.

Meanwhile, teams like the Oakland Athletics and Minnesota Twins are investigating the talent available from Japan. The Athletics have already won the bidding for Hisashi Iwakuma, thought to be the second best pitcher in Japan last season. They have thirty days from the date they won the bidding to sign him. The Twins are interested in infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who can play either second base or shortstop. The Twins apparently want to add his speed to their lineup which Nishioka can do, even if he isn't a great base-stealer.

Major Free Agent Signings

Florida Marlins signed free agent C John Buck to a three-year $18 million contract.

This transaction has been slammed, almost universally. John Buck has some power (for a catcher) but he is a terrible hitter. He is severely lacking in patience and discipline at the plate. He also isn't so great a defensive catcher that he warrants the huge contract the Marlins are giving him. To boot, his fantasy value will take a hit moving from the homer haven of the Rogers Centre to the pitcher's dream that is Sun Life Stadium. Don't be as excited about him as the Marlins seem to be and consider him as a second catcher at best.


The Houston Astros sent right-handed starter Felipe Paulino to the Colorado Rockies for middle infielder Clint Barmes.

On the surface perhaps you can understand what Ed Wade, the general manager of the Houston Astros is trying to do. His team lacks power and is especially poor in the middle infield. Adding Clint Barmes who has had some successful seasons for the Colorado Rockies might ring as a good idea. But that depends on what you're giving up and what you can reasonably expect Barmes to produce outside of Coors Field which significantly boosts offensive statistics.

Barmes is a very good defensive infielder at both second base and shortstop. He is a very poor hitter. He lacks plate discipline, swings at far more pitches out of the strike one than most batters. He does not draw walks, although he did reach a career high in walk rate in 2010. But he does have decent power, and hits a lot of flyballs. Unfortunately, Barmes is moving from one of the best parks for hitters in 2010 to one of the worst, Minute Maid Park.

In exchange for good defense (which they already had) they sent the Rockies 27-year old right-handed power pitcher, Felipe Paulino. Paulino has some potential thanks to nice stuff but has lost a ton of time to injuries in his career thus far. Paulino's largest failings are mediocre control and the lack of durability. He has a nice strikeout rate and has gotten better at keeping the ball in the park and draws a decent number of groundballs. tERA liked his performance a lot in 2010. Still, the results have not been there so you can understand why the Astros would be willing to trade him.

The problem is the Rockies had no further use for Barmes with Eric Young, and Chris Nelson ready to battle for the second base position and the rest of the infield in good hands. There is a very good chance that Barmes would have been non-tendered and the Astros could have had him for just money. For fantasy purposes both players are less desirable than they were before. I might make a low dollar bid on Felipe Paulino in my NL-only leagues but I'd pass on Barmes unless I were truly desperate.

The Oakland Athletics traded outfielder Rajai Davis to the Toronto Blue Jays for two prospects : RHP Danny Farquhar and RHP Trystan Magnuson.

The Blue Jays have not made it clear what their plans for Rajai Davis are. He could become their new center fielder with Vernon Wells moving to either left or right field (Jose Bautista would move to third base in that scenario). They could also use him a fourth outfielder if the rumors of a Manny Ramirez signing have some truth to them. Manny would become the designated hitter and push Adam Lind to first base.

Either way, you can be certain that Davis is in town to add speed and defense to the Blue Jays powerful lineup. He should continue to provide bunches of steals but it is difficult to say how many until we know what role he will fill. As a full time player he could easily steal 50-plus base or provide 20 or so coming off the bench. We'll have to wait and see.

The Blue Jays parted with a pair of decent prospects who both project to be decent major league middle relievers. It may be a bit much for a player like Davis but the Blue Jays are swimming in pitching prospects and middle relievers are easy to find.
The Prospects:

Danny Farquhar was the 2008 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Pitcher of the Year. He was selected by the Blue Jays with the 309th overall selection. A relief pitcher, he employs a deceptive delivery to induce strikeouts, but control problems have limited his effectiveness. The Blue Jays thought enough of him to send him to the Arizona Fall League.

Trystan Magnuson was the 56th overall pick by the Blue Jays in 2007. Because of a sore elbow Magnuson did not make his pro debut until 2008. After struggling as a starter he was moved to the bullpen in 2009. In 2009 he had a 2.39 ERA in 71.2 innings for High-A Dundein and Double-A New Hampshire. Magnuson continued to make strides with New Hampshire in 2010. His strike-out rate rose from 6.50 K/9 to 7.73 K/9 and his walk rate improved from 3.80 BB/9 to 1.23 BB/9. He was an Eastern League All-Star and a member of the World Team in the 2010 Futures Game.
Other Transactions

Minnesota Twins signed free agent LHP Phil Dumatrait.

Seattle Mariners signed free agent RHP Justin Miller.

Seattle Mariners signed free agent SS Sean Kazmar.

Chicago Cubs released 1B Micah Hoffpauir.

Colorado Rockies released RHP Manuel Corpas.

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