Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Where do Dodgers Relievers Rank? According to ARP...

According to one of my favorite metrics regarding relievers, ARP...

ARP -- Adjusted Runs Prevented.

The number of runs that the reliever prevented over an average pitcher, given the bases/outs situation when he entered and left each game, adjusted for league and park. The exact formula for a reliever's ARP for a game is
(ER(sS,P) - ER(sF,P) + IF*ER(s0,P) - R) / pe(P)
* ER(s,P) is the expected number of runs that will score in the remainder of an inning starting in bases/outs state s in park P,
* sS is the bases/outs state when the reliever entered the game,
* sF is the bases/outs state when the reliever left the game,
* IF is the number of innings the reliever finished,
* s0 is a special state for the beginning of an inning (distinct from the state for no outs, none on),
* R is the number of runs that scored while the reliever was in the game, and
* pe(P) is the park effect for park P.

Here is where the Dodgers relievers ranked in 2005

64. Duaner SanchezLANNL7982. 11.45.8
93. Kelly WunschLANNL4423.
101 Franquelis OsoriaLANNL2429.
127. Wilson Alvarez LANNL1916.0-
153. Scott EricksonLANNL1116.7-
170. Eric Gagne LANNL1413.3-0.60.02703.082.82.5-0.3

Meaning these relievers listed below were better than any Dodger reliever last year:

Huston Street, Cliff Politte, Scott Eyre, Mariano Rivera, Billy Wagner, Scott Linebrink, Todd Jones, Roberto Hernandez, Jason Frasor, Al Reyes, Bobby Howry, Aaron Heilman, Derrick Turnbow, Danny Baez, Dan Wheeler, Joaquin Benoit, Justin Speier, Jose Valverde, Scot Shields, Juan Rincon, Todd Williams, Joe Nathan, Julio Mateo, B.J. Ryan, Jesse Crain, Mike Gonzalez, Chad Qualls, Mike Timlin, Hector Carrasco, David Riske, Juan Padilla, Dustin Hermanson, Jason Isringhausen, Rudy Seanez, Luis Ayala, Chris Spurling, Brad Lidge, Chad Cordero, Aaron Fultz, Clayton Hensley, Kiko Calero, Brian Fuentes, Ryan Dempster, Rafael Betancourt, Bob Wickman, Neal Cotts, Justin Duchscherer, Matt Miller, Francisco Rodriguez, Ambiorix Burgos, Kyle Farnsworth, Francisco Cordero, Andrew Sisco, Luis Vizcaino, Vinny Chulk, Pete Walker, Gary Majewski, Ron Villone, Fernando Rodney, Salomon Torres, Arthur Rhodes, Matt Wise, Mike Myers

Glossary of Terms:
ARP -- Adjusted Runs Prevented.
The number of runs that the reliever prevented over an average pitcher, given the bases/outs situation when he entered and left each game, adjusted for league and park. The exact formula for a reliever's ARP for a game is
(ER(sS,P) - ER(sF,P) + IF*ER(s0,P) - R) / pe(P)
* ER(s,P) is the expected number of runs that will score in the remainder of an inning starting in bases/outs state s in park P,
* sS is the bases/outs state when the reliever entered the game,
* sF is the bases/outs state when the reliever left the game,
* IF is the number of innings the reliever finished,
* s0 is a special state for the beginning of an inning (distinct from the state for no outs, none on),
* R is the number of runs that scored while the reliever was in the game, and
* pe(P) is the park effect for park P.

APR -- Adjusted Pitching Runs.
Pete Palmer's method for calculating a pitcher's value in runs above average. Included for comparison with ARP. The exact formula we use differs in a few ways from the one used in Total Baseball. Our version:
APR = L * IP - R/pf(P)
where L is the average number of runs per inning pitched in the league, and pf(P) is the park factor for the player's home park P.

FRA - "Fair" RA -- includes inherited/bequeathed runs prevented

DIFF - how much a pitcher is underrated by Adjusted Pitching Runs (DIFF=ARP-APR)

GR - games in relief

INR - inherited runs prevented

BQR - bequeathed runs prevented (by subsequent relief pitchers -- i.e. bullpen support)

Monday, January 02, 2006

More Evidence That Tracyball is Shaping the Pirates Roster

- Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dec 11th 2005

"Signs of Jim Tracy's influence on shaping the team in his mold have been evident with many of management's recent comments, and even some of the moves executed this past week at the winter meetings.

Consider that Tracy is no fan of players who strike out too often, then take note that the Pirates acquired excellent contact hitter Sean Casey (1.2 strikeouts per 10 at-bats in his career), dealt Rob Mackowiak (2.5) and are shopping Craig Wilson (3.1) for a possible trade.

Consider that Tracy stresses situational hitting, then take note of Brad Eldred (1 for 15 with 10 strikeouts with a runner on third and less than two outs) already finding out in December he will start next season in Class AAA.

Consider that Tracy prefers to have a divergent relief corps that shows opponents different pitches, styles and arm angles, then take note of sinkerballer Rick White getting dropped and hard-throwing Roberto Hernandez getting signed.

Consider that Tracy places a premium on defense, then take note that just about every new piece acquired or discussed is a glove man.

Consider that, no matter what subject is raised with Tracy in conversation, he somehow ends up talking about the importance of Chris Duffy, the Pirates' projected leadoff man, hitting the ball on the ground much more than in the air.

"Have you seen this kid run from home to first? Is there anyone faster?" Tracy asked again this week. "Well, that doesn't matter if you pop up."

Personable as Tracy is, he makes plenty clear it will be his way or no way at all on all of the above matters and more. That does not mean, he stresses, he will try to make players something they are not. Rather, it appears he will simply seek out players capable of doing what he wants. "

Consider the Pirates just inked Joe Randa, who only strikesout 1.36 times every 10 ABs , who won't swing for the fences, who will hit in the heart of the Pirates' Tracyball batting order.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Keep Bill James' 1st Axiom in Mind

Here's a helpful reminder to those who are all in favor of giving away the Dodgers top prospects for David Wells because "Prospects = Unreliable "or not "Major League Proven" enough.
The first rule from Bill James' 15 Basic Principles:
Minor league batting statistics will predict major league batting performance with essentially the same reliability as previous major league statistics

- This does not mean that a player will hit the same in the majors as they did as a minor leaguer.
-You must downgrade their numbers from the minor leagues, but this downgrade can be determined and is fairly consistent. Going from AA to the majors or from AAA to the majors.
-Major league teams that don't know how to do this may overvalue young players or undervalue young players.
- James attempted to quantify this difference using major league equivalencies.

In the man's own words...

James -
"Point 1: When there is a disconnect between a player's major league and minor league records, some people want to ascribe this to some mystical difference between major league baseball and minor league baseball. Unless you can say specifically what that difference is, this is akin to magical thinking—asserting that there is some magical "major league ability," which is distinct from the ability to play baseball. The same sorts of disconnects happen routinely in the middle of major league careers—not often as a percentage, but they happen. there are some players whose level of skill changes—drops—between two adjacent seasons or between two seasons separated by two or three years, usually because of an injury but sometimes because of some other factor. Frank Thomas is not the same hitter now that he was a few years ago; Tino Martinez isn't; Mo Vaughn isn't. When those "disconnects" happen between major league seasons, we ascribe them to sensible causes—aging, injury, conditioning, motivation, luck, etc. Comparing major league seasons to minor league seasons, occasionally you get the same disconnect. Sometimes a guy simply loses it before he establishes himself in the major leagues. Everybody who plays rotisserie baseball knows that some guys you paid big money for because they were good last year will stink this year. It is not necessary or helpful to create some magical "major league ability" to explain those occasional disconnects between major league and minor league seasons.

Second point ... the creation of new knowledge or new understanding does not make the people who possess that new knowledge invulnerable to old failings. I can't predict reliably who is going to be successful in the major leagues in 2004, even if we stick with the field of players who have been in the major leagues since 2000. I can't do that, because there are limits to my knowledge, and there are flaws in my implementation of what I know. The principle that minor league hitting stats predict major league hitting stats as well as major league hitting stats predict major league hitting stats can be perfectly true—and yet still not enable me or you to reliably predict who will be successful in the major leagues in 2004, because I still have limits to my knowledge and flaws in the way I try to implement that knowledge."

Factoid alert!
Ken Gurnick, Dodgers.com
Did you know? The Dodgers totaled 1,177 days on the disabled list in 2005, more than any Dodger team in the last 20 years. That led to the use of 20 rookies, the most in baseball, and 130 different lineups.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Lost Segment of Weisman's chapter in The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2006 - "The DePo Era"

DePodesta Transaction Summary

Before 2004 Season


Jose Flores^-0.1-0.1

Jason Grabowski^-1.3-1.3
3/30/2004Jason Frasor6.1Jayson Werth8.82.7
4/1/2004Steve Colyer-1.3Cody Ross-1.00.3
4/3/2004Jason Romano0.4Antonio Perez4.84.4
4/3/2004Jolbert Cabrera1.0Aaron Looper0.0-1.0

Ryan Ketchner0.0
4/4/2004Franklin Gutierrez0.0Milton Bradley10.610.6

Andrew Brown0.0

WSAB-AT = Win Shares Above Bench Player - After Transaction
^traded for cash considerations

During 2004 Season

4/25/2004Rick White0.8Trey Dyson0.0-0.8
5/15/2004Tanyon Sturtze-0.1Brian Myrow0.00.1

Giovannni Carrara7.77.7
7/30/2004Paul LoDuca4.0Brad Penny5.7-4.9

Juan Encarnacion4.9Hee-Seop Choi-0.5

Guillermo Mota1.2Bill Murphy0.0
7/31/2004Koyie Hill0.3Steve Finley4.31.7

Reggie Abercrombie0.0Brent Mayne-2.3

Bill Murphy0.0

7/31/2004Tom Martin-0.9Matt Merricks0.00.9
7/31/2004Dave Roberts6.2Henri Stanley0.0-6.2
8/10/2004Elvin Nina0.0Mike Venafro-0.4-0.4

Scott Stewart^-0.5-0.5

Jereme Milons0.0Elmer Dessens2.32.3
9/1/2004Masao Kida**-0.4


WSAB-AT = Win Shares Above Bench Player - After Transaction
*signed as a free agent
**let go as a free agent or on waivers
^traded for cash considerations

Between 2004 and 2005 Seasons


Tony Schrager*0.00.0

Mike Rose*-1.0-1.0

Mike Edwards*-3.0-3.0

Buddy Carlyle*-2.0-2.0

Ricky Ledee*2.02.0

Jeff Kent*18.018.0
12/10/2004Steve Finley**-2.0


Kelly Wunsch*0.00.0

D.J. Houlton***-2.0-2.0
12/13/2004Jose Hernandez**-3.0

12/16/2004Adrian Beltre**3.0


Wilson Alvarez*-1.0-1.0

Jose Valentin*-1.0-1.0

Olmedo Saenz*6.96.9

J.D. Drew*7.07.0
12/25/2004Jose Lima**-8.0


Odalis Perez*0.00.0

Derek Lowe*5.05.0
1/11/2005Shawn Green6.0Dioner Navarro0.0-6.0

William Juarez0.0

Dan Muegge0.0

Beltran Perez0.0

Paul Bako*0.00.0
1/18/2005Brian Falkenborg**-1.0

1/18/2005Alex Cora**-1.0


Scott Erickson*-2.0-2.0
1/27/2005Hideo Nomo**-4.0


Norihiro Nakamura-2.0-2.0
3/20/2005Kazuhisa Ishii-2.0Jason Phillips0.02.0
3/30/2005Dave Ross^2.0


WSAB-AT = Win Shares Above Bench Player - After Transaction
*signed as a free agent
**let go as a free agent or on waivers
***selected in the Rule 5 draft
^traded for cash considerations

During 2005 Season


Oscar Robles^1.01.0
8/9/2005Tony Schrager0.0Jose Cruz, Jr.5.05.0

WSAB-AT = Win Shares Above Bench Player - After Transaction
^traded for cash considerations

Brazoban's Gold! Gold, I Tells Ya

Yhency Brazoban - Dominican Winter League Pitcher of the Year
3-2 1.64ERA, .250 OBA, 22G, 14SV, 22.0 IP, 21H, 7R, 4ER, 6BB and 21K (8.59 K/9 and a 1.23WHIP)

I think the Dodgers 'pen will be just fine...

Dodgers Prospect Chat With Alan Matthews (Baseball America)

Q: Ben from Connecticut asks:
Where do you see Justin Orenduff as far as ranking in the Dodgers loaded system. It seems he has good pottential and a similair build to Broxton. What are your thoughts on him?

Alan Matthews: Orenduff finished outside the top 10, between 11-15 and drew consideration for a spot in the top 10. He had a nice year, proving his poor pro debut summer of 2004 was mostly the residual effects of a long college season. He has a good mix of pitches and commands them well. His slider is his bread and butter. He tends to overuse it, as he throws it for strikes more consistently than his other pitches, but it has sharp bite at 82-84 mph when he stays on top of it. His fastball sits near 91-92 mph with boring action. He's not as big as Broxton and needs to improve his stamina, as he tired down the stretch once again this past summer.

Q: Hugh from Los Angeles,Ca asks:
How is Edwin Jackson presently rated?

A: Alan Matthews: Edwin did not qualify for the Top 30 Prospects list because of the number of major league innings he threw between 2003 and 2005. He has really struggled to rediscover his form that allowed him to shoot through the Dodgers system at an incredible rate. But he's still just 22, and has only pitched full-time since 2001, so don't give up on him becoming a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter in the future.

Q: Bill Dictus from Madison, WI asks:
Thanks for the chat Alan, my question is do you really think Scott Elbert would be a bullpen pitcher? He was the #1 prospect in the Sally and he seems to have very good stuff. What do you think?

A: Alan Matthews: I think that Elbert gets profiled as a reliever because he's good two power pitches in his breaking ball and fastball. We see a guy with that mix, to go along with a fearless demanor on the mound, and peg him as a potential closer. But that's not to say he can't develop into a durable starter, and that will continue to be his role as he makes his way through the minors.

Q: Bill Dictus from Madison, WI asks:
Do you see Chad Billingsley getting a rotation spot out of spring training?

A: Alan Matthews: There's a very good chance. The Dodgers have some holes in their rotation and Billingsley, with a strong spring training, could allow them to fill one of them without having to drop a ton of cash on a mediocre free agent signing.

Q: Bill Dictus from Madison, WI asks:
How much does the Furcal deal impact Joel Guzman's immediate future?

A: Alan Matthews: Not at all, really. Guzman's not going to spend much--if any-- time in the middle of a major league diamond. If the Dodgers believed he could handle the position, they probably would not have thrown that kin of cash at Furcal, and allowed Guzman to play shortstop until Izturis was healthy. Guzman's best tool is his bat, and it plays everywhere on the diamond, so he'll find his spot eventually, it just won't be at shortstop.

Q: Alec from Phoenix, AZ asks:
Could you give me an idea of which teams have the best overall farm systems, and where the Dodgers rank amongst the Angels, Braves, Brewers, Diamondbacks, and Twins?

A: Alan Matthews: We rank the Dodgers at the top of the list--this one and any other. The Angels, Braves and Diamondbacks are also loaded with talent, with the Angels and Arizona being more top-heavy and the Braves and Dodgers featuring impact guys at the top of their systems, as well as impressive depth down the line. The Brewers and Twins might be a notch below that group, but they, too have very deep systems.

Q: Alec from Phoenix, AZ asks:
Does Greg Miller still have a chance to have a successful major league career, or are the injuries just to much to overcome?

A: Alan Matthews: I have my doubts whether Miller will ever be an impact pitcher again. He's really struggled to recover from his shoulder impingement and was shut down--again--in the Arizona Fall League earlier this fall. This guy has nasty stuff, a great feel for pitching and good character, giving him all the ingredients to be a great starter, but not unless he can find a way to pitch without pain consistently, and he has not been able to do that in more than two years.

Q: Nick Kelman from Palo Alto, CA asks:
What do you see the Dodgers doing with their overflow of talent? They've got two catchers (Martin, Navarro), a first baseman (Loney), three second basemen (Young, Abreu, Denker), three third basemen (Aybar, LaRoche, DeWitt), two shortstops (Guzman, Hu), along with an abundance of pitchers (won't even bother to list). Obviously, some of these people will change position. Others will be traded. Who do you think should be moved -- to another position or another team -- and at what timescale? Do you trade people now, before their value drops, or wait until there's a blockade, figuring the higher they get in the organization, the more trade value they have?

A: Alan Matthews: It's really a case by case basis, treating each player diffrently depending on how highly the organization thinks of them, but a lot of times certain executives have their own unique opinion and projection of each player. That said, the prudent call is to wait until they are ready to play in the big leagues and you are confident you have an everyday prospect before you deal the player that might not be able to play a different position. We've already touched on Guzman, I believe he'll wind up in right field, but he has substantial value in the market, so he'd be my first choice to trade. Hu is the best defensive player in the system, period. So he's staying at short for me. LaRoche has a higher ceiling than Aybar, so he's my third baseman and Aybar is likely a utility guy. DeWitt might fit well at second base, or maybe he or Tony Abreu moves to the outfield somewhere down the line? They both have impact bats, so it's a good problem to have and there is no immediate need to move either one of them. Denker, I believe, will wind up in left field, because his glove and defensive skills are behind those of DeWitt and, especially, Abreu's.

Q: Bill from Tempe, AZ asks:
Alan, thanks for the chat. Was James Loney's power surge in the AFL more of a fluke or is it starting to come together for him? Does he have a shot at starting in LA next season?

A: Alan Matthews: I might speak for myself, and not the rest of the BA staff on this one, but I am optimistic it was a sign of things to come. It was a bad league in terms of pitching, so keep that in mind, but Loney has potential to be a 20-25 homer-per-year player in the majors. He's not ready, though, and should spend most of 2006 in Las Vegas in Triple-A.

Q: ScottLindsey from Phoenix, AZ asks:
When will Cory Dunlap start showing the power befitting a 6'2", 230 pounder? Is his power shortage the only thing keeping him from being an elite 1b prospect?

A: Alan Matthews: Despite his size, Dunlap doesn't project to be an above-average power hitter. His efficient approach and modest power remind scouts of Tony Gwynn. Unfortunately, Dunlap's body also has been compared to Gwynn's—when Gwynn was at the end of his career. Dunlap's hands work well at the plate and he has good plate discipline. His weight limits his mobility, but if he's aggressive with his conditioning, he could become a high-average hitter with fringe-average power.

Q: Joshua from Tallahassee Florida asks:
How good is Justin Ruggiano? Prospect or Suspect?

A: Alan Matthews: 'Always welcome inquiries from Tallahassee, just please find Jeff Bowden another job . . . Ruggiano had a nice year, and he projects as a fifth outfielder, as a valuable bat off the bench. He has some bat speed and he's an above-average runner and probably slides into the top 30 for less talented organizations. He has worked hard to change his aluminum bat approach and made strides in shortening his swing.

Q: Matt from Windsor, Canada asks:
Where does Billingsley fit in with the group of young power pitchers F.Hernandez, F.Liriano, M.Cain?

A: Alan Matthews: I'm not sure he would rank ahead of any of them, but he's in the conversation with Cain and Liriano. Cain, the top prospect in the Giants system, has superior command and an easier delivery. Liriano has better command and comparable stuff. Prospects like Felix are hard to find. He's the best pitching prospect in the game.

Q: Steve from Las Vegas asks:
As good as MArtin is, is it really enough to write off Navarro? I thought Navarro projected to be an excellent player...He's always been rated highly.

A: Alan Matthews: A year ago when both players qualified for the Dodgers list, Navarro ranked No. 14 and Martin ranked sixth. Although Navarro is farther along in his development and made his debut this season, Martin remains the better prospect because he's a steadier defensive catcher.

Q: Steve from Las Vegas asks:
Why no love you Aybar or Young? Etanislao Abreu is really rated ahead of both of them?

A: Alan Matthews: Abreu is a better defensive player than Young and comparable to Aybar presently, and probably will be better than Willy down the line. Aybar's debut was not only impressive, it was very surprising. I don't think he will be able to maintain a high average and hit for power over the course of a full major league season. Abreu has outstanding bat control, a live body and 70 speed. Young is going to have to play left field, so his value decreases exponentially.

Q: omar guerra from los angeles asks:
Hi, do you think Billinsley, laroche, guzman, Broxton,martin are better or in the same category as the angels woods, santana, weaver,howie, and mathis.

A: Alan Matthews: The fight for So Cal supremecy extends far beyond team names, clearly, and quite honestly both organization's farm sysytems are in the top five in baseball. Ervin Santana doesn't qualify for our lists this year, but he established himself in the big leagues with the Angels in 2005, although Billingsley's ceiling is higher. I'd take Elbert over Weaver but Broxton's tough to compare with a future starter. The Angels have Nick Adenhart, too, who might be better than Elbert and Weaver when it's all said and done. It's a great debate, and one that probably went into the wee hours of more than one morning this week at the Winter Meetings with executives and scouts across baseball.

Q: Bob from Lakeland, FL asks:
Hello, if you had to put your life on it. Will Billingsley become a star in the bigs?

A: Alan Matthews: If you don't mind, I'd prefer not to put my life on anything, but I'll gladly bet your life, Bob, that Billingsley develops into a No. 2 starter in the majors. He's durable, has great makeup and is steadily making improvements, so there's nothing that indicates his progress would not lend stardom.

Q: Nick Kelman from Palo Alto, CA asks:
Is there ANY chance Hochevar will still sign with the Dodgers? This hardly seems like the most hostile environment Boras has ever created, and, even if Logan White is still in town, there is a new GM, which could spell a (somewhat) fresh start. If he did sign, where would he rank? Also, do you expect any changes in drafting style with Colletti as the GM, or will Colletti be smart enough to stay hands-off and let Logan White keep doing his thing?

A: Alan Matthews: It's very unlikely. While I don't believe that White and the Dodgers will turn a deaf ear to Hochevar's requests, the damage has been done. There were some unethical, unfair personal attacks made and, above that, Hochevar's unwillingness to take control of the situation doesn't speak well of his own makeup. White's done a terrific job in his tenure with the Dodgers and I would imagine Colletti will do anything possible to facilitate him in all efforts moving forward.

Q: George Washington from Wash, DC asks:
After a solid year at Vero Beach, does Anthony Raglani look like he'll make the big league club in '07? Does he have the power to play a corner, or is he a 4th OF type?

A: Alan Matthews: Former GM Paul DePodesta had an influence in Raglani's selection the fifth round of the 2004 draft out of George Washington. He's going to have to play a corner outfield position, probably left field, but he has some upside with a good bat, average- to slightly-above power and a good feel for the strike zone.

Q: Dean from MN asks:
Is Joel Hanrahan still a prospect? He was thought of pretty highly a year ago, wasn't he?

A: Alan Matthews: Hanrahan's stock has slowly slipped. When he lost his release point and his mechanics were thrown out of sort this spring, he took a step back and had to make adjustments. He was back throwing in the low-90s by July. He was working on his conditioning this offseason.

Q: Mark R. from Delray Beach, FL asks:
Matthew Kemp, future perennial all star slugger? I don’t think it is out of the question to call him the next great power hitter in the N.L.

A: Alan Matthews: Kemp was pegged as a potential break-out slugger before the 2005 season and he did just that, jumping into the Dodgers' mix of high-ceiling prospects. His swing has some holes and his splits draw some concern (he hit 22 of his 27 home runs at home, where Vero Beach's home field is one of the best hitters' parks in the FSL) but his raw power ranks near 70. His ability to make adjustments and improve his pitch recognition against better pitching will be an important factor in his development.

Q: Richard from British Columbia asks:
In an April 2004 "Ask BA," Jim Callis described Julio Pimentel's change-up as "coming along," which is usually a kind way of saying a pitch leaves a lot to be desired. Now, less than two years later, Pimentel has the BEST change-up in a system that is loaded with high-ceiling pitching prospects? How'd that happen? With a bad ERA in Vero Beach this year, does Pimentel start 2006 back in high A, or are the Dodgers sending him straight to Double A, 5.08 ERA be damned?

A: Alan Matthews: Keep in mind that the "Best Tools" categories are not reserved for the best players with the best tools, but the best tool, regardless of any other factor, of any player in the system that qualifies for the list. If you look down the Dodgers' list of pitching prospects, only Chuck Tiffany has a polished changeup. Pimentel's 80-mph changeup has potential to be an above-average offering, with good sink and he throws it with good deception. This season, Pimentel developed the bad habit of overthrowing and flying open with his front side in his delivery. Without staying closed in his delivery, he lost deception and command, leaving his pitches up in the zone. When he got hit hard, he lost confidence and regressed mechanically. He needs to improve his strength and mental approach, and he has the makeup and work ethic to do it. He likely will return to high Class A to begin 2006.

Q: Richard from British Columbia asks:
Xavier Paul, on whom BA showered praises before this year, had a bad season in Vero Beach (.247.328.392). Was he hampered by injury, or did he just crash and burn, as often happens with prospects who tackle a new level? Will he repeat the season in high A and hope to rebound, like Brent Cleven and Scott Moore did after bad first seasons in the FSL?

A: Alan Matthews: No one has written off Paul, but he's changed his approach at the plate and he's lost some bat speed in the process. He missed most of April with a leg injury, then got off to a 2-for-24 start and never got untracked, making for his second straight lackluster season. Paul's pitch recognition is poor and he presses at the plate. He also struggled mightily against lefthanders, going 9-for-67 (.134), prompting him to experiment with switch-hitting in instructional league.

Q: Joe Falls from Bradenton Florida asks:
For the last yr. almost every prediction about Guzman has him moving to another position. I can understand the Rays playing Upton at SS, but why not move Guzman to RF or somewhere else now? The pat answer is you keep him there as long as possible, is this because ALL SS's can easily change positions? Seems odd to me. Thanks.

A: Alan Matthews: There's some merit to your point, as it would be helpful to get Guzman some innings in the outfield so he's closer to being able to play the position when the time comes for him to move. That said, one reason he shouldn't have trouble adjusting is because he's an excellent athlete, as most shortstops who play the middle infield well into their minor league careers usually are.

Q: Richard from Bristish Columbia asks:
The Dodgers' director of international scouting, Rene Francisco, quit a few weeks ago, and I understand that the reason is that the Dodgers have dramatically reduced their financial commitment to international scouting and player recruitment. Do the Dodgers think that with Logan White's magic touch in the domestic draft, they just don't have to try very hard in the international sphere any more?

A: Alan Matthews: We understand that the Dodgers have reduced their budget for all international signings. It is more likely a product of the franchise operating on a less substantial budget overall, than a reflection of where it believes the value in scouting amateur players lies.

Q: John from Baton Rouge asks:
How close was Blake Johnson to getting in the top ten and will Josh Wall make it in the top 30 handbook.Both of these guys were phenominal 2 way high school players here in Baton Rouge.

A: Alan Matthews: They were both in the 15-25 range. Johnson has a plus breaking ball and Wall has a nice one, as well. Wall has more arm strength and a more physical frame, while Johnson has a better feel for pitching.

Q: Richard from British Columbia asks:
What can you tell us about catcher Juan Apodaca and LHP Marlon Arias? They seemed to do some good work in Ogden this year.

A: Alan Matthews: Both players are interesting prospects. Apodaca is a good defensive catcher, who is undersized at 5-foot-10 but the Venezuelan has a good aptitude and promising catch and throw skills. Arias is one a handful of arms, along with lefties Ramon Parades, Carlos Alvarez and Miguel Sanfler who are worth keeping an eye on in the lower levels of the Dodgers system.

Q: Richard from Bristish Columbia asks:
Thirdbaseman Russell Mitchell had a good season in Ogden (.289.358.511) and at age 20 wasn't old enough for us to totally discount his performance in the Pioneer League. With DeWitt slated to play 3B in Vero Beach, and I assume Josh Bell doing the same in Columbus, does Mitchell move to another position? Warm the bench?

A: Alan Matthews: That's a good question, as the Dodgers like Mitchell's bat and would prefer to find a spot where he can play everyday. Bell has plenty of holes, although he has some legitimate raw power and also is a switch-hitter. Bell might be a candidate for extended spring training before heading to the Pioneer League and perhaps that leaves a spot for Mitchell in Columbus. Mitchell is a below-average defensive third baseman, so a move is not out of the question for him.

Q: Mike from Virginia asks:
Where's James Loney? I know he's had his share of injuries, but he seemed to have put everything back togther towards the end of last season and appears to be back on track.

A: Alan Matthews: One of the best aspects of compiling these lists here at BA, is the debates which spawn from the process. Scouts don't grade Loney's offense highly when you consider he is a first baseman who hasnn't consistently shown a lot of home run power in games. That said, he makes solid contact and has a balanced swing at the plate, so the power could be on the way. He ranked No. 11 on the top 30 list, so for his complete write-up, you'll have to check out the Prospect Handbook.

Q: Morgan from Tampa, FL asks:
Wow so many prospects in the Dodgers organization! Chuck Tiffany must have just missed the top 10, is he more of a bullpen candidate rather than a starter? (he gets compared to Mike Stanton a lot) He had comparable numbers to Elbert, although he's a level ahead and only 4 months older...

A: Alan Matthews: Tiffany was in 12-15 range. Tiffany features a fastball, curveball and changeup that are average to slightly above-average, and they all play up because of his command. His fastball ranges from 85-93 mph. His breaking ball ranges from 74-78 mph with tumbling break. He also has good feel for his changeup, which he'll throw in any count. Most scouts believe Tiffany's ceiling is as a No. 4 or 5 starter, and give him a high probability of attaining it.

Q: J.P. from Illinois asks:
Did Trayvon Robinson and Justin Orenduff make it into the 30 this year?

A: Alan Matthews: We've already discussed Orenduff and from one end of the spectrum to the other, Robinson is a raw athlete with plus-plus speed and a lot of room for improvement. He just missed making the top 30 this year.

Q: Jim from Coral Gables asks:
I know the Dodgers were high on Javy Guerra but now that he had TJ surgery what is the outlook. Is he projected to pitch at all this coming year?

A: Alan Matthews: Guerra and Jesus Castillo both went down and needed Tommy John surgery after pitching well early in the season at low Class A. They should both be back on a mound by midseason 2006 and we have not forgotten about either of them.

Q: Jim from Coral Gables asks:
I know he got lit up in the GCL but Steven Johnson had a really nice curve and some pedigree (AFLAC appearance). DO you think he will start of in extended spring this year and go back to GCL or Pioneer league and what type of pitcher do you think he can be? Thanks

A: Alan Matthews: Dodgers area scout Clair Reirson did a nice job evaluating Stephen Johnson and his signability. He has some polish and is a grounded, poised pitcher, especially for a high school draft. He should pitch in the Pioneer League in 2006, and could even make an appearnace in the low Class A Sally League.

Q: Larry from Los Angeles asks:
I have heard various accounts of Travis Denker of late. In some circles, he is talked up as a terrific looking hitting prospect who may well be the Dodgers' second baseman of the future. In other circles, I hear sincere doubts about whether he will ever be able to play second base at the big league level. Where do you fall in this range of opinion, and if he cannot play 2B, do you think he still has the tools to play another position on an everyday basis?

A: Alan Matthews: Denker generates good bat speed, drives the ball to all fields and could be a perennial 20-homer player in the big leagues. Where he will play when he gets there is the problem. Denker has poor range, stiff actions and a fringe-average arm. He catches what's hit to him and was showing gradual improvement last season. He's not very athletic, so a switch to the outfield could present problems, as he is also a below-average runner.

Q: Albert from Port Chester, NY asks:
Seems like Russell Martin's profile is very similar to that of San Diego prospect George Kottaras. Both have very good plate discipline and project to hit for more power down the road. Defensively, they are both pretty solid as well. Who's the better catching prospect at this stage?

A: Alan Matthews: There are not very comparable. Martin is more athletic and superior in all phases of catching. Kottaras has more pop in the bat, but hasn't caught above Class A, so there's more projection involved with Kottaras, while Martin is close to being a finished project.

Q: Brett Z. from Washington, DC asks:
Are the Dodgers considering Broxton for anything but a relief role? He still pitched pretty effectively as a starter...

A: Alan Matthews: He could likely handle the role and develop into a servicable, innings-eating middle-of-the-rotation starter. But his velocity jumped from the low- to mid-90s when he was starting to the mid- to high-90s as a reliever. He's got the mentality needed to close, as well, so all signs point toward him remaining a reliever.

Q: Wallace Morris from San Diego, CA asks:
Alan, I am kind of surprised that Delwyn Young did not make the Top 10. Where does he fall in the rankings? What are your thoughts about him, he seems like a nice offensive second baseman?

A: Alan Matthews: He's in the mix in the 15-20 range, but his poor defensive skills don't help his profile. He's going to be a good hitter as he matures, but he's going to have to play a corner outfield spot and he's heavy-footed.

Q: Molokai from LA asks:
Does Kuo rank higher then Tiffany and Orenduff? From what I've seen his stuff is nasty. Do you think that now that he's healthy they will move him back into the rotation?

A: Alan Matthews: Lefthander Hong-Chih Kuo made a remarkable comeback this season, but he's going to have to perform over a more extended period of time before we run him into the top 10 ahead of those guys you mentioned. If he can stay haelthy, he could be a valuable lefty out of the bullpen and a return to the starting rotatoin in not out of the question.

Q: Molokai from LA asks:
Carlos Alveraz dominated low A as a 20 year old with numbers like these. 38 innings, 24 hits, 12 walks, & 63 k's. Then he skipped high A and went straight to AA where he didn't dominate but he did okay for a 20 year old. Does he have a future? The Dodgers did not include him on the 40 man roster and he wasn't picked in the rule 5 so I'm just curious about him.

A: Alan Matthews: Alvarez owns a devastating changeup, a high-80s fastball and can spin a breaking ball. His overall command and feel for pitching are rudimentary.

Q: molokai from LA asks:
What can you tell me about Orland Rodriguez and Jose Diaz?

A: Alan Matthews: They both have live arms and suspect injury histories. Rodriguez, a lefty, has good bite on his slider but is undersized and has had elbow and shoulder trouble. Diaz has one of the best fastballs in the Dodgers system, but has already had TJ surgery and with his max-effort delivery, might not maintain his health.


Friday, December 30, 2005

Choi's latest on Yardwork


Hee's so damn eloquent ...

..... and anguished