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2010 Protected List – The Fringe

Today we have the fourth installment in the my series of 2010 Protected List columns – The Fringe. These guys could go either way, with a lot of factors ultimately determining whether they make the cut. Of last year’s Fringe (Blake DeWitt, Jody Gerut, Chris Dickerson), two were protected, while hindsight said that I was 0-for-3 on that score. So, lesson learned, here goes this year’s attempt, in which I try to be more discerning:

John Baker
2 Years – $5
.271 Average, 59 Runs, 9 HR, 50 RBI, and 0 steals
Baker was selected in the 2009 auction, and didn’t seem to have that great a season. In fact, it often seemed that he was slumping and losing playing time to platoon partner Ronny Paulino, but his totals actually made his $5 salary worthwhile. Due to the Roadrunner roster crunch, it’s between Baker and Buster Posey, who is cheaper and has more upside.

Verdict: Release

Matt Diaz
2 Years – $5
.313 Average, 56 Runs, 13 HR, 58 RBI, and 12 steals
Seemingly as usual, Diaz was an early-season pickup and produced some decent numbers in a platoon in the Braves outfield, shared with Garrett Anderson. Normally a .280 hitter, the 2009 average was a surprise, as were the 12 steals. Most projection systems have him earning between $9-14 for 2010, so likely to be protected this year, unless the Braves sign Johnny Damon or Jermaine Dye in the next few days before the deadline.

Verdict: Probable Protection – Game Day Decision

[Update: Protected]

Mat Gamel
2 Years – $5
.242 Average, 11 Runs, 5 HR, 20 RBI, and 1 steal
Gamel was protected as a minor leaguer and was one of Milwaukee’s top prospects coming into 2010. He was called up in May, but languished on the bench, as the hot hand of Casey McGehee manned third base. A defensive liability, he has lost most of his luster as a hitter, his strong 2008 may now be an outlier.

Verdict: Release

Ryan Hanigan
2 Years – $5
.263 Average, 22 Runs, 3 HR, 11 RBI, and 0 steals
Hanigan took over from Ramon Hernandez in July, and at a glance, seemed to do a good job, especially when it came to batting average. However, reviewing his stats, there’s just nothing there. The re-signing of Hernandez by the Reds relegated Hanigan to backup duty again, and most agree that will be his role for the next decade.

Verdict: Release

Chase Headley
1 Year – $5
.262 Average, 62 Runs, 12 HR, 64 RBI, and 10 steals
Headley has been on the RoadRunners since midway through the 2007 season, when he was gunning for the Texas League MVP. Stuck in left field due to the arrival of Kevin Kouzmanoff the past two seasons, Headley should be the starter at the hot corner in 2010 with the Crushin’ Russian’s departure to Oakland. Headley’s numbers should look better at 3B, and those steals are a bit of a surprise.

Verdict: Protect

Angel Pagan
2 Years – $5
.306 Average, 54 Runs, 6 HR, 32 RBI, and 14 steals
Pagan was a great pickup mid-season, as he became a starter due to the injuries to Carlos Beltran and Ryan Church, who was later traded to Atlanta. .300 average and 14 steals should play everyday, but this is the Mets, who brought in Jason Bay this offseason. But then Carlos Beltran underwent knee surgery a few weeks ago, and may miss the first month or two of the season. To counter, the Mets took Lil’ Sarge, Gary Mathews, Jr. off the Angels’ hands, so now Pagan has to compete for the CF job, and eventual 4th OF slot. Too much risk for what would be my 4th OF slot. No thanks.

Verdict: Release

Brendan Ryan
2 Years – $5
.292 Average, 55 Runs, 3 HR, 37 RBI, and 14 steals
Another sneaky fast performer that was picked up mid-season, this time to replace the injured Jose Reyes on the roster. As a starting shortstop, Ryan will have to fend off prospect Travis Greene, as well as middle infield re-tread Julio Lugo, and may find himself batting ninth behind the pitcher due to manager Tony LaRussa’s whims. That said, you pretty much know what you get with him, though the average and steals are probably high-water marks. We’ll look for him as a pick-up or even minor league pick, but the roster spot is too valuable.

Verdict: Release

Edinson Volquez
1 Year – $2
4 Wins, 4.35 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 47 K’s (in 49 innings)
Volquez was the injury-challenge player acquired from Get Off Kong! in June (Jose Reyes went the other way, neither played again in 2009 – a wash). After several false-starts in rehab, Volquez underwent Tommy John surgery in August, and will likely miss most of the 2010 season, though he is targeting a mid-season return. The protected list isn’t a good place for rehab.

Verdict: Release

Sean West
2 Years – $5
8 Wins, 4.79 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, and 70 K’s (in 103 MLB innings)
West was called up from AA to fill in for the injured Andrew Miller in May, and he did alright the first time through the league. He had some great outings, and some rather pedestrian ones as well. He could likely use more seasoning, but would be a decent 5th starter type. But not worth a protected slot.

Verdict: Release