Some News

 

SPANdemonium will start back up once the season starts. For now, you can find me at Penn League Report and Beyond the Box Score

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Mets agree to Minor League Deal with LHP Taylor Tankersley

According to a source, the New York Mets have agreed to a minor league deal with Taylor Tankersley. The deal includes a Spring Training invite and is not yet official but was agreed upon on Friday.

Interview with Royals Prospect Will Smith

Do you have a putaway pitch that you like throwing especially to get out of a jam or strike a good batter out? if so, what?
well they say the hardest pitch to hit in baseball fastball down and away so when i’m in a jam and need that groundball pitch i would probably go there.

 

In all honesty, you started pitching much better and you looked like a much better pitcher after the trade. Did anything happen that made you pitch a lot better?

Well when i got traded i felt like i had something to prove to everyone on the team an organaztion so i guess it was just always in the back of my mind to do everything i could to win and it helps to be a little lucky too

 

What can you tell us about the importance of a simple easy delivery?

When you have a simple easy delivery you don’t have very many chances of something going wrong. All your really worried about is just break your hands on time and get our front. With it being simple you can last longer in the game which is always a good thing

 

What are your thoughts on Wil Myers as a catcher and a hitter? And was he an integral part in your Wilmington success?

Myers can hit like no other. He really has some serious talent in that deparment, and his catching skills arent the same as his hitting skills but he still knows what he is doing back there and can call a great game.

 

What was it like to have a guy like Christian Colon behind you and what are your thoughts on him as a 2B?

CC is solid with out a doubt. He can flat out play and i have complete confidence in him out there to make the play, and if you stick him at 2B i’m sure he will be there same there, he is just a great baseball player

 

What was it like to be part of the Magical Northwest Arkansas Naturals season?

Well i was only apart of it for 2 weeks and it was awesome to be in the clubhouse with that team and the kinda of attitude that said were going to win today no matter what, and i cant complain about coming from the last place team in the Texas league to the first place team and get a ring!

 

What are your expectations for the upcoming season Will?

To win with out a doubt, and where ever i start next year the goal will be to win another ring, and to just keep working hard to get to the big leagues

 

Were there any fans that you made a relationship with on the Travelers that came to see you on the Nats? If not, can you talk about a few fun stories from the 2010 season?

The most fun i had was on the Willmington team from all the mario cart battles to all the intese card games between myers and joey lewis, and being able to talk crap the rest of the day on them!

 

What will the scouting report be on Will Smith in 5 years?

well i would hope to be in the major leagues and one of my favorite pitcher is Bob Gibson and i try to take his mentality with never backing down and that its MY plate to every batter that steps in.
 
Last one. A fun question. Was Rocky Bluewinkle ever really annoying? Did you have any fun moments with him?
He really wasnt that bad. he did his crazy things everynight at the park but he was pretty cool but he wasn’t as bad as the rally celery or whatever that thing was!

Appreciating Brian McCann, Mr. Underappreciated

It’s funny how the most underrated player in the game comes from one of the best organizations in the game. Yes, the Braves. Brian McCann to me, gets overshadowed when discussing the games elite catchers because if some guy named Joe Mauer. Now, that is just talking about catchers. Brian McCann has a bat and glove as good as any catcher in recent history. Not only that, but certain saber metrical stats compare him with some of the greats, such as Yogi Berra.

River Avenue Blues’ writer Mike Axisa, who is a great writer and writes for MLBTradeRumors as well, made a statement the other day by comparing Brian McCann and Yogi Berra in a WARGraph. Mike was also the one who started the whole “Brian McCann is underrated thing.” What is a WARGraph you ask? Only one of the coolest things around. WARGraphs let you compare up to 4 players whether they are active or retired and shows the cumulative WAR (Wins Above Replacement) over time. Mike compared Yogi Berra to Brian McCann and the graph came out like this:


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 So that inspired me to expand the search. I added Mickey Cochrane and Bill Dickey to the list. Both of whom are Hall of Fame catchers, such as the likes of Yogi Berra and possibly in the future, Brian McCann. As you can see, their cumulative WAR by age is nearly identical all the way through to the end of their careers.

 


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Tell me that isn’t awesome? Mike’s point was that McCann through his 1st six seasons was better than Berra. Well I just kept it going by proving that McCann has been better than two other Hall of Famers through his first six seasons.

 

Back to Brian, imagine where the Bravos team would be without him. We’re talking about a guy who hits for average and power, plays very good defense behind the plate, and even posted a 5.3 WAR in ’10. All of those are obvious when talking about McCann, except possibly the WAR, but the homegrown catcher still gets overlooked among players in the game, not just catchers. So the point I’m trying to make is, can Brian McCann be viewed as the #1 most underrated player in Major League Baseball? Shin Soo Choo might have something to say about that, but how often has Choo had his knees crushed behind the plate 130-150 times per year? How many catchers post a career OBP of .360 while catching a tremendous young pitching staff?


mlb_g_mccann_275.jpgI’m looking for McCann to continue his great career in a Braves uniform and if history repeats himself as seen with three other comparable catchers who wound up in Cooperstown, McCann will have a tremendous career even if he remains one of the more underappreciated players in Major League Baseball.

Whats Going to Happen with Vin Mazzaro?

When you stumble upon a chance to acquire a possible #2 or #3 pitcher with some upside and a young, raw, and smart strikeout arm, chances are you shouldn’t pass it up. Well Dayton Moore didn’t pass it up when he had the opportunity to acquire RHP Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks in exchange for one year of David DeJesus.


vmazzaro.jpgI’ll tell you what; I like this deal for the Royals a lot. Of course you can look at Mazzaro’s season stats and criticize him for his 4.25 ERA or his low amount of strikeouts, but this is a durable young starter with potential to be a Chad Billingsley type of starter with a much more effortless delievery to go along with a 3 pitch mix including a fastball that ranges from 90-93 touching 94 and a slider that ranges from 82-85 and a decent change up.

Bottom line, these are the type of pitchers the Royals need to take a chance on. I mean, if he ends up sporting an 8.50 ERA and a WHIP over 1.40 in ’11, then it’s okay to criticize the move. But what happens if he breaks out (which I think he will) and puts up a 3.50 ERA to go along with 7 K/9?

Mazzaro is also a very good guy from my neck of the woods (New York/New Jersey). His simple delivery makes him even more fun to watch not to mention his often used fastball that sometimes has a bit of cut to it.


 
vmazzaro-dejesus-307ml111010.jpgWhat do you think of this deal for the Royals? Will Mazzaro pan out? Will this deal favor the Royals in the future? Will Justin Marks be something special?

 

Two former All-Stars who’s Career’s have fallen off.

Doesn’t it seem peculiar that two of the three most significant reasons that the 2007 Rockies were victorious and World Series bound have seen their careers completely fall off all of the sudden? Well Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe, who both dealt with dreadful 2010 seasons, have recently just signed in a more comfortable place. Atkins has reunited with former skipper Clint Hurdle in Pittsburgh and Brad Hawpe has signed with the San Diego Padres, a great city, organization, and has some great new teammates.


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Not too long ago, after all-star Matt Holliday was traded to the A’s for Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith, Dan O’Dowd compared Atkins and Hawpe to Holliday stating that if the underachieving Rockies (at the time) were to trade the duo, they’d want a “Holliday like package” in return.

          Well to me, it’s quite interesting how the careers of the duo have completely tailed off, both players earning a non-tender and release respectively. After Atkins got non-tendered, he signed with the Orioles which didn’t go well at all. The former all-star was possibly one of the worst players in Baseball. This was two seasons after Atkins put up four straight seasons of 25+ home runs and 95+ RBI’s.

          Hawpe on the other hand, struggled with in my opinion, were mechanical issues. You see, Hawpe’s unique batting stance enables him to generate his power by lifting his whole knee up to a horizontal plain, causing him to have all of his power come down on that knee, but this only works when your knee is lifted as far as it can, which in most cases is that same horizontal plain. Well, in ’10, he lifted it almost halfway up which prevented him from generating his hips in to the ball, which prevented him from using or even getting any bat speed.

 


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Now, both of whom, are now going to enjoy a fresh start in a pressureless organization and city, where they have a chance to regain their value and redeem their respective careers. Both of the Pirates and Padres have good hitting coaches and most importantly, good managers, which may be a reason why the two can enjoy their ’11’s while playing well at the same time. Hec, we all saw how Aubrey Huff and Adrian Beltre had huge comeback seasons. Who’s to say that Hawpe and Atkins can not?

Interview With Pirates Prospect Corey Wimberly

This is an interview with a great guy and a fantastic player by the name of Corey Wimberly. You can find him on twitter @Wimboslice3. He did a great job with this interview and was very explanitory. I hope you enjoy it!

Me: You’re arguably one of the top 5 fastest players in professional Baseball. Talk to me about whats it like to have speed as an integral part of your game rather than power for instance.

Corey: Thanks dave, well speed is something that i think i have always had but it began to develop more so in high school playing football and i realize that i was faster than most other guys but honestly my game speed is so much different than everyone else i think because my competitive nature and the will i have to succeed in this game.


 
corey1.jpgMe:
Talk to me about what it was like playing for the River Cats in ’10, a great team that had a great season.

Corey: The 2010 River cats was quite an experience i think at one point during the season we were actually 15 or more games behind fresno and we ended up winning the divisions we had a great second half and its always awesome to play for a winning franchise and try to meet up to the expectations of the fans and guys who played there before you!

Me: You’ve player for the Ghosts, the Nuts, the Drillers, and the River Cats; talk to me about some of your favorite moments and games as a professional.

Corey: Well playing with the drillers in 2008 was one of the best times i have had in baseball simply because i was able to play with two of my best friends in the game Eric Young Jr and Dexter Fowler but a funny story is when i was drafted to the rockies in 2005, coming out of Alcorn State we wore white cleats and so when i made it to casper thats the only color cleats i had and they did not have my size so the clubhouse manger Dennis had to spray paint my cleats and still to this day When I talk to Dexter he still jokes with me about those cleats (lol) but there have been many awesome moments thats just one of the many stories i have.


corey2.jpgMe:
We can all agree that you are obviously able to contribute at the Major League level and for the past 5 years, you’ve done nothing but hit the cover off of the ball and steal every base imaginable. How does it feel to be in the position you’re in, Major League ready but haven’t been given the chance yet.

Corey: Well when it comes to that subject i am very optimistic that something will happen for me soon. I am a very big believer in God and i believe what he has in store for me is for me and my father still to this day tells me a little phrase that helps me get through the day, (if its to be then its up to me) so with that being said all i can do is work harder and keep my faith in the man up stairs. Men lie and women lie but the numbers don’t!

Me: You played with him in the 2010 season and parts of the ’09 season. What are your thoughts on your buddy Chris Carter? What do you think his potential in the Majors is?

Corey: Chris Carter is a great guy and we got a chance to know each other pretty good the last two years we had been playing against each other for quite some time dating back to when he was with the whitesox and i was with the rockies i think his potential at the next level has no limits he has the most raw power i’ve ever seen and i think he is a right handed Ryan Howard and i was Glad to see him get a chance to play in the Bigs this year he deserved it.


 
corey3.jpgMe:
Talk to me about what it was like playing for Alcorn State University.

Corey: Alcorn was a great experience for me, the people there were awesome the schools atmosphere was impeccable just the whole environment it taught me a new rural side of life because at the time leaving jacksonville, florida to go to a agricultural school i didn’t really know what i was getting myself in to but i adjusted well and enjoyed every second there at Alcorn it was the perfect school for me to attend.

Me: What was your favorite team growing up and being drafted in the 6th round, were you hoping a certain team would take you?

Corey: Growing up i liked the cardinals just because of ozzie smith but i also was a braves fan because thats the team i was able to see the most my grandmother always watched TBS i wasn’t watching the draft when i was picked i did not know much about the draft and how it worked i was just shocked that the rockies took a chance on me that was one of the teams i did not talk to so it shocked me but i was soooooo excited.

Me: I imagine one of your dreams is to have your kids see you play at the Major League level (which I think will definetly happen as early as ’11), what can you do, if anything, to prove to the Pirates organization during Spring Training that you are able to contribute in the Majors?

Corey: I think at this point i need to find out from the team what i need to do and just keep working hard and believing that things will work out because i think they know what i can do.

Me: Describe the difference between playing in the Mexican and other winter leagues and playing in professionally in America. What’s the atmosphere, fans, and players like?

Corey: Mexico has been a great experience for me just to see the style of baseball that they play over there it so much different from the way we play in the states but i enjoy the atmosphere and the challenge you are presented with, the different arm angles and the off-speed pitches at any point during at bats you have to prepare yourself for a different style of baseball and i loved it

Me: Last one. A little bit of a different question. You have an empty california roll, and you can put 5 different types of sushi in. What would you put in and would it even taste good?

Corey: I don’t know maybe garlic grab and shrimp with butter sauce over it haha sounds like i should try that.

Interview with Astros Prospect Albert Cartwright

Albert Cartwright is one of my favorite prospects in Baseball and he is one of the best prospects in a much improved Houston Astros farm system. The speedy and versatile 5 tool player did a great job with this interview and I hope you enjoy it.

Me: Talk to me about the transition from Lancaster to Corpus Christi and what adjustments you had to make.

Albert: Lancaster was a good league with alot of good pitchers but i thought when i got to Corpus the pitcher had a better plan and didnt stray away from it until you made the adjust

 
Me: Describe what you think is the biggest part of your game and how you can improve upon it.

Albert: biggest part of my game is my speed so i try to work it into my game the best that i can meaning; taking the extra base, bunting ,tagging up when necessary anyway i can make the defense uncomfortable that’s how i try  to play this game of baseball

 
Me: You set the Cal League record for most triples in a game. Whats a record you’d like to break at the Major League level?

Albert: setting a cali league record is a big accomplishment that i cherish dearly and my biggest concern is to help a team win at the major league level but if any record stands out at me is the stolen base record

 
Me: What are some of the highlights of the ’10 season for you?

Albert: two highlights that stand out to me from 2010 is the game i set the record for most triples and the game i hit my first career walk off base hit.
i can remember coming to the plate my third at bat thinking if im going to get anything to hit and after i hit another tripple hearing the cheers from the crowd and my biggest accomplishment of 2010 is hitting a walk off to win the game bottom of the 9th at home. walking to the plate telling myself just get a good pitch over the plate and sure enough i got a curveball down the middle

 
Me: What are some things you’re doing this off-season and how can that prepare you for Spring Training and the upcoming season?

Albert: preparing my self mental and physically to endure the the long brutal season ahead of me. pushing yourself in the gym and putting time on the field and in the batting cages. putting in time gets me ready for the season

Me: You were drafted in the 36th round and are now one of the Astros better prospects. Describe the journey it’s been all the way from Polk College to where you are now and did you have to turn many heads after getting drafted much later than most?

Albert: getting drafted in later rounds is definitely harder . you dont get the chance or opportunities a early round pick would get so it puts more pressure on you to perform but i would say once you go out and do what you got to do on and off the field your chance will come where you can show your talent now once you get ya chance to show what you can do you have to run with it and i think with the opportunities i got i turn a few heads. polk community college baseball program led by former head coach Joe Arnold and assissant coach Brian Kraft  got me prepare and help shape my overall game to take it to the next level and by listen to the Houston Astros coaching staff and putting everything together help mold my game to what it is now.

 
Me: Who are some of your biggest idols and do you ever seek help from current Astros?

Albert: My biggest idols i would say is my mother Patricia Cartwright and my father Albert Cartwright. I learned early in my life just by watching them go out and handle there business waking up early in the morning before the sunrise in the morning just to provide for me and my brother Cyril and sister Amanda. my parents did what it takes just to make sure that we had anything they didn’t had as a child and i commend them for that. past two season i had the the opportunity to have the same manager Tom Lawless who i look up to and who helps me out with my overall game from hitting to defense 

 
Me: Toughest pitcher you’ve faced in college and in the minors?

Albert: toughest pitcher i faced in my short career i would say is Matt Latos when i was as at Polk and he was at Broward community college

 
Me: When going through the draft process, which team were you hoping would draft you, and was the signing process somewhat hard or lengthy?

Albert: during the draft process it was more of a wait to see who will take me more than i hope a certain team. the signing process was a bit lengthy but nothing to bad i was leaning more on going back to school and signing in 07 so after a week or two after being selected by the Astros i had a conversation with my dad Albert Cartwright and after that i decided ill sign with the Houston Astros

Me: Talk to me about your teammate, J.D. Martinez

Albert: J.D is a good friend of mine with a good work ethic and talent. the times he spend studying pitching and hitting in the cage is amazing to be on a team with him and to workout with him in off season is a privilege just to be able to learn and to know what he is thinking at times although he is still you young and has alot more baseball to play and much more to learn he is an amazing talent

 

A Royals fan from NY

                First and foremost, as most of you can imagine, right about now is the perfect time to be a fan of the Kansas City Royals. The picturesque Royal blue and gold logo is starting to look much more blue and plenty golder. Obviously, so is the future of the Kansas City Royals.

                Being someone who can’t locally celebrate the debuts of Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Wil Myers (unless they are in debuting in NY), it’s just amazing to feel the fact that we are finally going to be relevant among those who only have bad things to say about the Royals who have obviously not been an exciting Major League team over the past 20 years. Now, can any of you think about 5 other Baseball topics that are more exciting than the Royals future?

                In my opinion, the big trade of Yuniesky Betancourt over the weekend (joking, we will miss you Zack) added to the future. I’m not going to say that the 4 newest Royals youngsters are better than the Royals top 5, because they are not, but we’re looking at 4 tremendously exciting young players who will certainly have an impact on the potential winning teams of the future Royals. Not only that, but we got 4 great guys.

                Again, as Greg pointed out on his radio show earlier, in which he did a great job doing, me being in NY I could obviously choose to like the Yankees who exemplify winning (not in the prettiest of ways) or even the Washington Nationals who showed some promise by signing a big time free agent this off-season. I could even like the Braves, Phillies, Red Sox, Tigers, or Mets; 5 teams with exciting players and are much more “local” than my favorite team of them all, the Kansas City Royals. And for that exact reason; It’s the love and hope of what will eventually come to be winning Baseball and much more than that at the very least.

                Of course I get made fun and viewed strangely when stating my opinion on my favorite team, but to encourage and promise everyone that the Royals are and will be relevant is something I love to do! I was in school today, and my science class was watching Chicken Run. So while they were focused on that, I was putting together my Royals top 40 prospect list. When I came to 40, I said to myself: “wait a second, that can’t be right? I left off so many prospects. So then I expanded it to a top 50 and after that, I still forgot Elisaul Pimentel and other exciting young Royals who may definitely have a major impact on the Kansas City Royals future.

                And even with the top 10 prospects. You hear everyone saying “oh well the Royals 2011 season is for not they aren’t going to do anything.” Well theres a chance the season doesn’t finish with the Royals over .500, but how great and exciting will it be to see the debuts of Mike Moustakas, Tim Collins, Danny Duffy, and possibly Eric Hosmer! It’s going to be amazing and I certainly can not wait!

My top 10:

Eric Hosmer

Mike Moustakas

Wil Myers

Mike Montgomery

John Lamb

Jeremy Jeffress

Chris Dwyer

Christian Colon

Danny Duffy

Jake Odorizzi

               

Should the A’s try to lock up Josh Willingham? What will it cost?

Billy Beane has done his best to add power to an A’s lineup that was nearly worst in the American League each of the past three seasons. And today, he not only acquired a power hitter in Josh Willingham, but an on-base machine as well. As we’ve witnessed nearly every off-season when it comes to the A’s, it’s been a huge struggle attracting big name free agents to the Bay Area, or at least one side of the Bay Area. And as Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post tweeted today, a contract extension may very well be possible. Thus, my question is, can the A’s lock up Josh Wilingham after acquiring him in the same off-season a la Dan Uggla? If so, what will it cost the A’s?

Willingham has made nearly $10MM in his Major League career. The most he was paid in a season was obviously in ’10, $4.6MM. The career .265 hitter has a .378 on base percentage over the past two seasons, his two years on the Washington Nationals and although his UZR is -10.0 over the last two seasons, he can boast about a 5.2 WAR over his aforementioned cup of tea with the Nats. 

There’s one close to perfect comparison for Willingham. That would be Corey Hart.

Corey is perhaps the best comparable for Willingham. Both are very similar players and Hart is being paid $6.5MM in ’11, $9MM in ’12, and $10MM in ’13. That’s exactly what I would pay Josh Willingham over the next 3 years. Willingham gets on base more than Hart, but both have very similar power and are both equally not so spectacular defenders, as their respective UZR’s over the past two years would suggest. Josh Willingham has hit .264 over the past two years while Hart has hit a very similar .262. With all of that said, Willingham has a higher runs created and weighted on base average during his Nationals stint, something that Billy Beane surely has in mind. Both strike out the same amount (JW 23% and CH 22.9%) and are equally slow, hence their lousy play in the outfield.

Here’s a WAR Graph comparing the duo’s cumulative WAR by age, courtesy of Fangraphs.

 

 


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Furthermore, what will an extension for the A’s newly acquired left fielder cost? He is three years older than Hart, but continues to outplay the Brewers slugger.

 


Marlins_Josh_Willingham463.JPGPersonally, I think a 3 year deal worth $28MM would be fair. Being paid $6MM in ’11, $9MM in ’12, and $13MM in ’13. Willingham has shown tremendous improvement since being traded from the Marlins along with Scott Olsen in exchange for Emilio Bonifacio and two minor leaguers. Even if an extension doesn’t go through or get decided upon, the A’s have a much improved lineup for the 2011 season headlined by new acquisitions David DeJesus and Hideki Matsui. Not to mention another year of experience for Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Braden to go along with a fantastic bullpen which is highlighted by Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow, and Brad Ziegler. Continuing, I really like the A’s chances in 2011 and most of my confidence in their chances to win the division come from the new acquisition and this entry’s centric, Josh Willingham.

 

 

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