Archive for April 24th, 2008

Now Pitching, For The Boston Red Sox…

Question: How do you turn Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Jon Lester into David Pauley, Jon Lester, and Justin Masterson?

Answer: Influenza

With a flu mini-epidemic tearing through the Red Sox clubhouse, the team turned today to yet another youngster, 23-year-old righthander Justin Masterson.  Boston’s second-round pick in the 2006 amateur draft, Masterson was brought up from AA Portland to make the start originally scheduled for Lester, who had actually pitched the night before on three days rest when Matsuzaka was too sick to go.

Masterson made his major league debut this afternoon, limiting the Los Angeles Angels to one run on two hits in six innings.  He struggled with his control a bit, walking four, but also struck out four.  The only run came on a fifth inning homerun by catcher Mike Napoli. 

He departed with a 3-1 lead and was in line to pick up the win before the bullpen trio of Javier Lopez, Manny Delcarmen, and Hideki Okajima combined to allow four runs in the seventh (somehow, Okajima’s ERA emerged from the mess unscathed).

If I’m not mistaken, this means that every player the Red Sox offered to Minnesota in exchange for Johan Santana has seen action at Fenway Park this season (with the possible exception of Michael Bowden – I don’t remember if his name came up in the trade talks).  Masterson, Ellsbury, Lowrie, Lester, Crisp, Buchholz – am I leaving anyone out?  More importantly, all of those players have shown at least flashes of brilliance, helping Sox fans to understand why, exactly, Theo Epstein was so reluctant to part with them, even for a talent as transcendent as Santana’s.

(Thanks to YFSF for the tip on Masterson’s start)

The Z-Meter – 4/24/2008

The Z-meter tracks the story arcs of 25 top prospects (or players we just like) on their way to the bigs. It is named after current Washington Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman, who made the transition from anchoring the University of Virginia to starring in MLB in one year.


Evan Longoria, 3B, Durham (AAA) to Tampa Bay Rays (MLB)
Luke Hochevar, RHP, Omaha (AAA) to Kansas City Royals (MLB)

Travis Snider, OF, Dunedin (A-Advanced) to New Hampshire (AA)

Josh Vitters, 3B, Boise (Short A) to Peoria (A)

Last week, I added Max Scherzer and Luke Hochevar to get a little more pitching representation on the Z-meter. Hochevar was promptly called up, and I’m going to try to maintain the balance we’ve established by turning to our search terms. WordPress provides many little gadgets to help writers figure out what readers are reading most, and one of those is a rundown of search terms that bring readers to specific posts. Well, one of our three most popular search terms is “Eric Niesen“, a pitcher I wrote about briefly because his A-Advanced start was put on hold so El Duque could make a rehab start at St. Lucie (Mets). Well, the Wake Forest product seems to be drawing interest for other reasons, and that’s enough for me to put him in my rotation. Welcome, Eric!

I also added Luke Montz of Harrisburg after reading about his stellar play behind the plate for the Harrisburg Senators. Welcome, Luke!

Let’s see who’s hot this week:

The top level. These prospects are in AAA in the prime of their youth, and ready for the call that will change their lives.

Jay Bruce, CF – Louisville Bats (Reds): .319 – 10R – 3HR – 12RBI – 4SB – .536 SLG – .879 OPS

Homer Bailey, RHP – Louisville Bats (Reds): 4GS – 3W – 1L – 1.03 ERA – 4BB – 16K

Andrew McCutchen, CF – Indianapolis Indians (Pirates): .282 – 15R – 4HR – 10RBI – 4SB – .549 SLG – .927 OPS

Carlos Gonzalez, RF – Sacramento River Cats (Athletics): .348 – 11R – 3HR – 9RBI – 0SB – .522 SLG – .930 OPS

Ian Stewart, 3B – Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Rockies): .323 – 17R – 5HR – 20RBI – 2SB – .662 SLG – 1.062 OPS

Joe Koshansky, 1B – Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Rockies): .322 – 15R – 4HR – 12RBI – 0SB – .661 SLG – 1.113 OPS

Colby Rasmus, OF – Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals): .222 – 12R – 3HR – 10RBI – 2SB – .358 SLG – .5677 OPS

Max Scherzer, RHP – Tucson Sidewinders (Diamondbacks): 4GS – 0W – 0L – 1.17 ERA – 3BB – 38K

These guys also have the potential to skip straight to the majors, but are more likely to get promoted to the top of this meter first.

Clayton Kershaw, LHP – Jacksonville Suns (Dodgers): 4GS – 0W – 3L – 1.83 ERA – 8BB – 23K

Fernando Martinez, CF – Binghamton Mets (Mets): .262 – 12R – 1HR – 6RBI – 1SB – .381 SLG – .678 OPS

Jacob McGee, LHP – Montgomery Biscuits (Rays): 3GS – 1W – 1L – 2.77 ERA – 7BB – 16K

Cameron Maybin, CF – Carolina Mudcats (Marlins): .286 – 11R – 3HR – 7RBI – 3SB – .492 SLG – .908 OPS

Lars Anderson, 1B – Lancaster JetHawks (Red Sox): .265 – 16R – 3HR – 9RBI – 0SB – .471 SLG – .838 OPS

Wade Davis, RHP – Montgomery Biscuits (Rays): 4GS – 2W – 1L – 4.09 ERA – 8BB – 11K

Elvis Andrus, SS – Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers): .286 – 8R – 0HR – 9RBI – 3BB – 5SB – .325 SLG – .654 OPS

Jeff Samardzija, P – Tennessee Smokies (Cubs): 4GS – 2W – 1L – 2.35 ERA – 6BB – 11K

Luke Montz, C – Harrisburg Senators (Nationals): .400 – 5R – 3HR – 13RBI – 4BB – 0SB – .675 SLG – 1.130 OPS

Travis Snider, RF – Dunedin Blue Jays (Blue Jays): .125 – 1R – 0HR – 5RBI – 0SB – .125 SLG – .347 OPS

These guys have vast potential but need to work out some kinks in A-ball before they can advance.

David Price, LHP – (Rays): No 2008 Stats

Rick Porcello, RHP – Lakeland Tigers (Detroit): 4GS – 1W – 3L – 1.35 ERA – 5BB – 16K

Josh Vitters, 3B – Peoria Chiefs (Cubs): .214 – 1R – 0HR – 1RBI – 0BB – 0SB – .429 SLG – .643 OPS

Matt Wieters, C – Frederick Keys (Orioles): .400 – 11R – 4HR – 13RBI – 10BB – 1SB – .700 SLG – 1.5184 OPS

Mike Moustakas, SS – Burlington Bees (Royals): .204 – 3R – 0HR – 1RBI – 1SB – .204 SLG – .475 OPS

Eric Niesen, P – St. Lucie Mets (Mets): 3GS – 0W – 1L – 4.50 ERA – 9BB – 12K

Prospects chosen from Diamond Cutter’s Top 25, Baseball America, and my own irrational sense of whimsy.

“I now have a favorite Tiger”

When I was in junior high school, the coolest speaker we ever had was a guy who had either climbed or attempted to climb either Mount Kilimanjaro or K2 a few years before. I think there was a movie based on his adventures – possibly “K2” – but can’t be sure. As you can tell, it wasn’t the most memorable experience of my life.

I hope the kids at Riverside Middle School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, were a bit more inspired by the special guest speaker they were surprised with on Tuesday: Detroit Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson.

Granderson was in the area for a rehab stint with the local minor league club, the West Michigan Whitecaps, and apparently chose to make himself available to any public schools that were interested in having him speak for a few minutes on Tuesday afternoon. His Riverside talk centered around the importance of teachers, education, and teamwork. Granderson’s parents and sister are teachers.

I like what Dave Murray, the writer of the story for The Grand Rapids Press, had to say on his personal blog, Mets Guy in Michigan: “I now have a favorite Tiger.” This wasn’t something Granderson HAD to do with his free time, but it’s great that he chose to utilize his fame to touch a number of young lives.

Let This Be A Lesson, Mr. Kazmir

Interesting story out of Vero Beach today, where Rays lefthander Scott Kazmir made a rehab start for the team’s Class A affiliate.  Thanks to a mixup between himself and the coaching staff regarding the length of the outing (Kazmir was planning on 70-75 pitches, the coaches wanted him to finish his work in the bullpen after he finished the fourth inning with a count of 54), Kazmir ended up on a short leash when he took the mound for the fifth:

“They said if I threw seven pitches, they were taking me out. I was just throwing fastballs down the middle, saying, ‘Please, just get yourself out.’ The only thing that was going through my head that last inning was, ‘How can I get out of this inning in three pitches?’

“It’s frustrating because I wanted to get back out there and throw all my pitches. I thought I set myself up to do that, but the way it ended was unnecessary.”

I appreciate that this was a rehab start and Kazmir wanted to get in an appropriate amount of work on all his pitches, but it reads as though his frustration at the situation might have caused him to miss a valuable lesson.  Instead of throwing fastballs down the middle and hoping for the best, might it have been better for him to try using his few pitches wisely and pitching to the weaknesses of the opposing hitters? 

There are going to be times in Kazmir’s career that he’s coming up on a certain pitch count, be it 100 or 110 or 120, but his bullpen is overworked and he needs to get through just one more inning to help them out.  It’s part of his role as the staff ace.  When that day comes, is he going to go out there and throw heat, or is he going to use his knowledge of the hitters to work through that inning without torching his pitch count?