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AaRr Transactions – Week 3, Starting 4/11/06

No great moves this week.  I sent Victor Diaz down, as he’s only getting the occasional pinch hitting appearances until Xavier Nady settles down to his May-September normal self.  In his place I brought up Jeff DaVanon, as he is actually playing (like now, for instance, in place of Eric Byrnes).  He’s also gotten the nod for Shawn Green twice, as he’s slumping a bit, so perhaps he’ll be helpful.  What would be nice is if Rich Aurilia would play a game in the outfield – two HR in my minors already, though at this point I’m not hurting for power from my middle infielders – Khalil Greene (4), J.J. Hardy (2), Jose Reyes (1) – oh, and Jeff Kent (0).

I did put in a $0 bid on Jason Smith, 2B for Colorado hitting lights-out while the “lesser” Luis Gonzalez is day-to-day, but was outbid by Maxell 10-Pack ($3) and the eventual winner, Get Off Kong! ($8).  Smith would have been reserved, and Shane Victorino would have been cut.  It’s no offense to Victorino, as his situation was supposed to be more like DaVanons, and now is the 5th outfielder behind Dellucchi, and three iron men outfielders (Abreu, Burrell, and Rowand).

Taylor Buchholz was supposed to start tonight in San Francisco, but the game was rained out, and he’ll get his first major league start on Thursday instead.  I didn’t bring him up – he could get torched.  And now, if he truly has put it all together and he’s an “ace”, I’ll only miss one outing of his.

Lastly, Armando Benitez is due off the DL on April 17th, so we’ll see how that goes.  I’d like to get a look at his simulated game just to make sure he’s not going to get lit up, or at least lit up all the time.

Buster Blogs Adrian

ESPN’s Buster Olney had some kudos on Adrian Gonzalez in today’s blog entry:

Looks like Adrian Gonzalez is entrenched as the Padres first baseman for good. Ryan Klesko, battling a bad shoulder, is going to Arizona this week to try to play in some extended spring games, and if he cannot bounce back, Klesko may have surgery that could sideline him for at least half of the season.

The Padres are undoubtedly a better team with Gonzalez in the lineup, because of his defense and his ability to put the ball in play. What makes the National League so interesting this year is that with such a collection of mediocrity, the sudden rise of one or two players could lift a team into position to challenge for the league title.

Maybe Gonzalez will be that kind of player for the Padres, who already are improved defensively and may be vastly improved once Mike Cameron returns to the lineup.

Also, Rich Aurilia had a good game at first base today – on the RoadRunner reserve squad.

Aurilia had a big day in his first career start at first base, going 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI as the Reds beat the Cubs 8-6. Aurilia will play all over the infield this year, including at first, where he had played just three innings in his whole career before Wednesday’s start. Aurilia hit cleanup today against left-handed Glendon Rusch. He should play over Scott Hatteberg against all lefties, and he might also prove to be the superior option against right-handers.  (from Rotoworld and Rotowire)

What’s nice is that both Adrian Gonzalez and Rich Aurilia were acquired in the draft for a total of $6 ($5 for Gonzalez, $1 for Aurilia).  Their purchases were really targeted as being players that would be worthwhile subs, as they were originally going to sit with the expected promotions of Prince Fielder for Gonzalez, and Ryan Zimmerman for Aurilia.  While Adam Dunn‘s move back to the outfield gives one of them an everyday roster spot, I must say that I’m pleased with these two acquisitions thus far (as of Day 3).

RotoAuthority’s Busts

RotoAuthority’s Tim Dierkes has his Top Busts list, which was generated prior to the season. While hopefully Benitez can be explained away by injury, an ERA over 4.00 doesn’t bother me so much as not getting at least 30 saves. Also, with Mark Mulder making his first start tonight on the road against Philadelphia, here’s hoping Dierkes is wrong, as a good portion of the AaRr hopes rely on the contract-year performance of Mulder.

1. Alfonso Soriano
2. Miguel Tejada
3. Armando Benitez
4. Bobby Jenks
5. A.J. Burnett
6. Tim Hudson
7. Mark Mulder
8. Robinson Cano
9. Josh Beckett
10. Mike Lowell

Baseball Analysts – Notes and the future of Carlos Quentin

Bryan Smith at Baseball Analysts has a great column today:

We knew this was coming, didn’t we Prince Fielder fantasy owners? As I mentioned during Fielder’s slow Spring Training, the big guy has a history of slow Aprils. So while 7 strikeouts in eight at-bats would be scary to any sane baseball fan, don’t lose confidence and start yearning for Lyle Overbay or … worse … Jeff Cirillo. Expect a gradual decrease in strikeouts as the year progresses, as well as an increase in home runs. Still a future star, as is Edwin Encarnacion, another highly touted young player with a bad debut. Patience is a virtue with phenoms.

I have began to think Chris Denorfia is the right third outfielder for [the Reds], if only because Adam Dunn‘s Opening Day performance might be the worst OF defense in the history of baseball … seriously.

I made a mistake. In picking preseason breakout candidates — and looking mighty deep for sleepers — I chose Ben Johnson. Johnson is currently being inexplicably blocked by the likes of Eric Young and Terrmel Sledge.

Khalil Greene continued from impressing me in spring to doing so in his first game; while many predicted Bobby Crosby to win AL MVP, it’s not a stretch to say former first-round mate Greene could be a better player in the end.

And an interesting take on Carlos Quentin‘s future with the Diamondbacks:

With the announcement that Justin Upton will begin the season two weeks late, in the Midwest League, playing centerfield, I won’t leave you with nothing. A rough senior year in the field provided evidence that Upton’s infield career was headed down the same path as his brother’s. His arm was so erratic in high school, but at the very least, it never lacked power.

If Carlos Gonzales breaks out to the degree that Jim Callis and Kevin Goldstein have predicted — and it’s tough to get two better backers — then we can say that Arizona now has four of the game’s best outfield prospects: Upton, Gonzales, Chris Young and Carlos Quentin. In the end, only three can fit into the long-term plans, so, who doesn’t fit?

Upton is obviously in the team’s future plans, and my guess is that he will stay in centerfield for quite some time – no better D-Back prospect has better speed. Besides, while Young’s range is fantastic, a move to left field could help minimize his one defensive weakness: a lack of arm strength. Young is in the team’s future, too, they chose to trade for him just a few months ago. These players are locks.

So it’s down to Quentin and Gonzales for the final spot, in right field. And simply put, I think the Diamondbacks have put a good majority of their chips behind the latter’s corner. Quentin has not been shown a lot of confidence from the organization that drafted him, as the club barely pursued the idea of trading Shawn Green to make room for him. Instead, it was Quentin’s name that was brought up in trade rumors, namely to the outfield starved St. Louis Cardinals.

When July rolls around, expect Arizona to really re-evaluate their outfield situation. If Gonzales hits the California League in a big way — and that is no bold prediction — then Quentin could be moving teams by August 1. Not often are top 20 prospects blocked in from above and behind, so some Major League organization must step up and take advantage. Any takers?

Given the RoadRunners’ outfield, I’d welcome a trade (with value) to get Quentin at bats, and the D’backs some good pitching prospects.  I bet Quentin would be a stellar OF alongside Hermida in Florida.  I don’t think St. Louis has anything that can match – maybe Anthony Reyes straight-up, or possibly Marquis with the cash to cover his salary – not likely.

AaRr Transactions – Week 2, starting 4/4/06

Added Juan Cruz (P-Diamondbacks) for $5, sent Armando Benitez down, cut Ryan Franklin.  No other bidders.

Juan has some potential, the same potential that caused him to be traded from the Cubs to the Braves to the A’s, and now the Diamondbacks.  Acquired from the A’s for Brad Halsey on March 26th, he’ll be primarily used as a swingman at the beginning of the season, but his stuff is good enough to warrant a starting slot, or possibly an emergency closer.  For the RoadRunners?  I’m banking that he’ll get his head clear, find consistency, and will supplant Russ Ortiz come May.  Ryan Franklin wowed them in Clearwater, but that’s a different ballpark than Citizens.  Plus he didn’t make the rotation, so he would have been the first cut regardless of who was acquired.

Added Taylor Buchholz (P-Astros) to reserves for $5, cut Clay Hensley. Pi Train bidded $0.

Buchholz finally put the pieces together in Spring Training, claiming the Astros’ 5th starter position, something that no one else wanted, apparently.  With Brandon Backe hurting, Wandy Rodriguez sucking, Fernando Nieve to the pen, and Ezekiel Astacio sent down, Buchholz could be the nominal #3 behind Oswalt and Petitte.  We’ll see how he does first time out, but there’s plenty of upside here.  Buchholz spent 2-1/2 seasons in AAA, so he may have a short leash – but Roger Clemens isn’t walking through that door – yet.  Clay Hensley had an outstanding season last year in relief, and was thought that he could be a quality swingman, possibly starting this season.  But a relatively poor spring, and the emergence (as it were) of Dewon Brazelton scuttled his value.  He’s one to keep an eye on, and he pitched a shutout inning yesterday.  He may be back, once the outfield situation is sorted through.

Added Matt Herges (P-Marlins) for $3, cut Matt LeCroy. No other bidders.

Matt Herges is a known quantity in an unknown situation – namely, the Marlins’ bullpen.  He was a good pickup in 2004, and ended up with 21 saves before Dustin Hermanson took over.  Last year he was flammable.  But Borowski was shaky yesterday, and Joe Girardi is unpredictable.  So he’s a potential closer, who will stay in my minors until that happens.  Meanwhile, Matt LeCroy is a known quantity (backup 1B, emergency catcher), who’s contributions depend on the occasional pinch hitting appearance and Nick Johnson injury.  Although the later may be a distinct possibility, until the OF is sorted, he’s 6th on the corner man depth chart, and we need saves.

Notes for Opening Day

While the White Sox and Indians are formally kicking off the season tonight, all sixteen NL teams are in action tomorrow. Some notes:

Once again, the schedule makers baffle me. My opinion is that all the games should be in warm-weather climates, or domes. But Arizona (where it will be 77 degrees Monday, and a retractable roof) is at Colorado, where it will be (in all fairness) 62 degrees, with a chance of rain. That’s an April heat wave, as snow has been seen in Colorado as late as June.

The Cubs are at Cincinnati, where it will be 60 and heavy rains are expected. St. Louis is at Philadelphia, where it will be 52 with wind and showers. And Washington is at New York, where it will be 49 with wind and showers.

Meanwhile, warm weather team Florida is at the domed stadium in Houston, while warm-ish Atlanta travels to Los Angeles, and San Francisco (where it is a bit chilly and wet tomorrow) is at San Diego.

Can’t Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Washington and New York all play at Arizona, Florida, Atlanta, LA, Houston, and even Colorado. At least Milwaukee (dome) is hosting a game.

On the field, a few RoadRunners should see action:

Doug Davis gets the opening day assignment for Milwaukee against Pittsburgh.

Brandon Webb gets the opening day assignment for Arizona at Colorado. Thank goodness for ground balls.

The only active RoadRunner that likely won’t see action is Victor Diaz, for the Mets, as Xavier Nady will get the start in RF.

Dave Roberts will move to CF for the Padres for most of April, due to Mike Cameron’s left oblique injury. This gives reserve Ben Johnson a chance, though Terrmel Sledge gets first dibs. However, with Softball also on the DL, Adrian Gonzalez should start at first at least through April 9th, the first day Klesko can come back.

Now is also the time to figure out who to watch and whom to skip. There’s always a team that I just end up with no players on. I tried to spread it around more this season, but as I glance at the rosters with the start of the season tomorrow I find that I won’t be terribly concerned with:

Pittsburgh – no hitters, only AAA pitching prospect Tom Gorzelanny
Chicago – only DL’d Kerry Wood
St. Louis – no hitters, Mark Mulder is going on Wednesday, probably
Colorado – no hitters, no pitchers
Atlanta – I only have 4th OF Matt Diaz

And yet I have 5 Padres, in addition to my 5 D’backs, and 4 Nationals, surprisingly.

Victorino Slides into Fifth

Well, that sucks.

Tonight the Phillies traded another marginal starter to Texas – this time it was Robinson Tejeda, who did well in a limited role as a starter when Randy Wolf went down last year.  Also traded to Texas was Jake Blalock, younger brother of Texas slugger Hank.

How does this affect the RoadRunners?  The return was David Delucchi – a former Dback – and now the definite 4th OF for Philadelphia, which all but relegates Shane Victorino to 5th OF status, though he’s the only backup for center field.

Some early musings from around the Net (the trade was only two hours ago):

Phillies acquired OF David Dellucci from the Rangers for RHP Robinson Tejeda and OF Jake Blalock.  OK, we take back the whole punchless bench remark. Dellucci is a huge upgrade as the Phillies’ fourth outfielder, so much so that it’s going to be a shame how few at-bats he’ll get. This obviously makes Shane Victorino much less of a sleeper, as Victorino is only the backup at one spot — center field — now. Since Dellucci may struggle to reach 250-300 at-bats, he’s not going to have a lot of value in NL-only leagues. He should do enough in limited action to be worth owning, though. (Rotoworld) 

Dellucci was traded to the Phillies for pitcher Robinson Tejeda and minor leaguer Jake Blalock, the Associated Press reports. Dellucci’s value takes a pretty big hit here, as he’ll presumably serve as the fourth outfielder behind Bobby Abreu, Aaron Rowand and Pat Burrell. (Rotowire) 

Dellucci played in 235 games over the past two seasons in Texas, and had quickly become a fan favorite. He hit .251 with a career-high 29 homers and 65 RBIs last season, when he also drew a career-best 76 walks as the primary leadoff hitter.  The acquisition of Dellucci gives the Phillies five outfielders and completes their 25-man roster. Philadelphia was going to enter the season with only Shane Victorino behind starters Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand and Bobby Abreu. (Yahoo!/Associated Press

Czar of the fourth outfielder

Well, first things first – I updated the AaRr post-draft rosters with internal moves. These moves have to be in by Monday at Noon Eastern, but I’ve already massaged them twice.

First, I brought up minor league studs Prince Fielder and Ryan Zimmerman, to 1B and 3B, respectively. Due to the Wily Mo Pena trade, Adam Dunn is going to be an outfielder all season, so four months of penciling him in as a 1B since the Sean Casey trade were for naught. Which is fine, actually, as I had strength at the corners and a weak OF. So Dunn moves to OF, and I have a choice on who to send down from that stellar group.

It’s been an odd mix in the OF this spring training, as I essentially cornered the market in 4th OF’s:

  • Victor Diaz (acquired in a trade from X-Men), loses his starting RF slot to Xavier Nady*
  • Brandon Watson is an OF that might be helpful**
  • Shane Victorino has 20/20 potential, if he could play every day.

That’s not to mention the other fouth outfielders grabbed in the minor league rounds:

  • Jeff DaVanon, Diamondbacks
  • Matt Diaz, Braves
  • Ben Johnson, Padres***

* – but, as predicted, Nady starts off fast, and then cools down. Last year, he grabbed the starting spot at 1B out of spring training (with an injured Nevin) and cooled off after May. This year, he was red-hot, but is since 1-for-28. Victor Diaz has shown more consistency – I’m not worried yet.

** – Brandon Watson has since been installed as the starting CF and leadoff hitter by that kooky Odd Couple that is Jim Bowden and Frank Robinson. Hey, I’m all for my guys playing, but sending down Ryan Church, while keeping Michael Tucker, Marlon Byrd, and six other re-treads just isn’t right. (Re-treads: Robert Fick, Marlon Anderson, Damian Jackson, Matt LeCroy, Daryle Ward, and a better-than-Christian-Guzman-but-otherwise-still-sucks- Royce Clayton).

*** – Okay, he’s a 5th OF, but he’s “got upside” and the Angels were interested in trading for him as recently as a few days ago.

So right now it looks like either Victorino or V. Diaz will be sent down for opening day – we’ll have to monitor lineups and injuries over the next few days.

The other maneuver is to determine who will be the CM. I drafted Rich Aurilia (who will likely be able to fill in at all MI and CM spots at some point) for $1, and a future-watch pick of the Padres’ Adrian Gonzalez, the former #1 overall pick in 2000 by the Marlins. Gonzalez was originally supposed to be sent down to Portland (AAA) to start the season, but with Softball’s balky shoulder, and a Gonzalez hot streak, it looks like Adrian might get the call.

And of course Kerry Wood was placed on the 15-Day DL due to his knee surgery from early March, and is expected back by May 1. I don’t like my options for a Wood replacement so far, so we’ll see what the FAAB fairy brings us.