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Baseball Told the Right WayIn-depth Baseball analysis on various topics regarding the sport we all love!
Khalil Greene, SS SD:….266 ABs, 4 HRs, 2 SBs, .263/.351/.395
Greene started off hot but has cooled somewhat to .240/.318/.349 over the last two months. That's fine, theres going to be an adjustment for any rookie, and he's hitting pretty much what you would expect given his minor league numbers. From what I can tell his defense at short has been better than advertised, making him a success so far. I would guess there is just enough hype, especially if the Padres make a pennant push, to make Khalil the NL Rookie of the Year. Look for him to improve in the coming years and be a solid big league SS for many years to come.
Kaz Matsui, SS NYM:….324 ABs, 7 HRs, 12 SBs, .259/.331/.398
Little Matsui has been declared a bust by just about everybody, but he really hasn’t been that bad. The problem is that the New York hype machine was expecting Miguel Tejada, and instead they got Christian Guzman for the reasonable price of a 3 yr/$21M contract. There's still is time for him to go on a hot streak and make his numbers look respectable. In that case he'd make a decent investment. If he can have a second year improvement like his unrelated countryman Hideki Matsui he'll give the Mets at least an even return on their investment.
Akinori Otsuka, RP SD:….39 G, 39.3 IP, 43/12 K/BB, 2.29 ERA, 1.07 WHIP
Another Japanese relief pitcher making an immediate impact. If you haven't seen this guy pitch its worth it, he's got this strange delivery where he double pumps his pitching arm out of the stretch. Hey, the novelty worked for Nomo, and judging by the success, its working for Otsuka. Considering the success of Otsuka, Takatsu, in addition to Hasegawa and Sasaki in Seattle, expect teams to continue to bring in polished Japanese relief pitchers.
Chad Tracy, 3B ARI:….232 ABs, 4 HRs, .284/.337/.427
Arizona has started more rookies than they would probablly like to admit, but at least two of them have real potential to turn into excellent ballplayers. Tracy, once ridiculously blocked by Shea "it ain't so" Hillenbrand, now has a chance and he's hit pretty well. He'll only get better and should be a very good third baseman for the D-Backs rebuilding project.
Scott Hairston, 2B ARI:….148 ABs, 4 HRs, .277/.323/.486
What is it with the Diamondbacks and blocking good young prospects? Tracy might have got his chance, but Hairston is still ridiculously blocked by Roberto Alomar. I would have thought Hairston was still a little ways away from being ready for the majors, but he's hit well in his limited time filling in for the injured Alomar. Now that Alomar is back, the D-Backs claim to be committed to playing Hairston, sparking the always pleasant Alomar to demand a trade. Don't worry Robbie, I'm sure that's exactly what they have in mind for you. Hairston likely will outhit Alomar, yet their new manager has been playing Alomar. This is just dumb, the only reason I can conjure up is that they are showcasing Alomar for a trade. In that case I can save you the effort, every GM already knows what Robbie Alomar has left, and its somewhere in between nothing and not much.
Chase Utley, 2B PHI:….125 ABs, 6 HRs, .256/.290/.472
If I keep repeating it, does it make it more likely that someone will listen? I just don’t understand why teams call up their top prospects, start their arbitration clock ticking, only to watch them rot on the bench. Chase Utley is probablly the Phillies second best prospect (after SP Cole Hamels). After making the jump from A to AAA in 2002, Utley tore up AAA in 2003. Most people thought he was ready, but it wasn’t until Placido Polanco went down with an injury that Chase got his chance. He hit well and it makes you wonder if Larry Bowa isn't just a hot-headed version of Dusty Baker. Let's be realistic, Polanco is really just a suped-up utility player and Bowa would have one of the better benches in baseball with Polanco instead of Doug Glanville or Tomas Perez sucking up outs.
Jason Bay, OF PIT:….136 ABs, 10 HRs, 2 SBs, .301/.374/.618
Jason Bay can hit. Let's just get that out of the way. The kid has hit everywhere he's gone, and his first tour of the majors has been no exception. His 10 HRs is the equivalent of roughly 40-45 over a full season. If he can get enough at-bats to qualify, he has a chance to beat the rookie slugging record of .630 set in 1930 by the immortal but 30 year old George Watkins. The big thing for Bay will be to stay healthy, which he has had trouble over his brief pro career, and again is experiencing pain in the shoulder he had offseason surgery on. Bay was acquired by Pittsburgh with second year pitcher Oliver Perez for Brian Giles in 2003, the success of Bay and Perez is making the trade look better and better for the Pirates.
Chad Cordero, RP MON:….37 G, 44 IP, 39/27 K/BB, 3.07 ERA, 1.43 WHIP
Ryan Wagner, RP CIN:....19 G, 16.6 IP, 10/11 K/BB, 5.94 ERA, 2.22 WHIP
I grouped these two together because they were part of the same experiment. Both were first round picks in 2003, and during the pre-season, a lot of people were talking about how the "success" of these two would instigate a new "Moneyball" type strategy: drafting college closers. The idea was that college fireballers like Cordero and Wagner would be ready for the bigs after only a short season at AA, and therefore more valuable on draft day. It looks like it might be a 50/50 shot, so maybe this idea won't catch on as some people suggested.