David's Blog

On this page, I'll share my thoughts, and any articles or information I think are of interest.  Feel free to use the comments section to join in the discussion!

"But make no mistake. That is the real job of the farm system, to help the major league club."


Trader Dan: Duquette discusses dealing prospects for major league talent

February 25, 2015 by Steve Melewski


Since Dan Duquette took over as Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations on Nov. 8, 2011, we have seen the team make several trades involving minor league prospects.

There was a time when the Orioles were on the other end, trading established big league talent for prospects. The Erik Bedard deal is an example of this, but now the contending Orioles have a different approach.

Looking to make any and every move to improve the team, they've made several of these deals where they have acquired help now for a player or players with little or no big league experience.

Here are some of these deals since Duquette joined the Orioles:

* July 23, 2013: Infielder Nick Delmonico to Milwaukee for pitcher Francisco Rodriguez.

* July 31, 2013: Outfielder L.J. Hoes, pitcher Josh Hader and a competitive balance draft pick to Houston for pitcher Bud Norris and international signing bonus slot No. 91.

* Aug. 30, 2013: Outfielder Xavier Avery to Seattle for outfielder Mike Morse.

* Nov. 25, 2013: Pitcher Devin Jones to San Diego for pitcher Brad Brach.

* July 31, 2014: Pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to Boston for pitcher Andrew Miller.

* Aug. 30, 2014: Pitchers Miguel Chalas and Mark Blackmar to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Alejandro De Aza.

* Jan. 27, 2015: Pitchers Stephen Tarpley and Steven Brault to Pittsburgh for outfielder Travis Snider.

"I've always said the farm system can help you in two ways," Duquette said this week from spring training in Sarasota, Fla. "You can bring players to help your major league team like we've done with (Matt) Wieters, Manny Machado and Kevin Gausman. Or you can utilize the system to trade prospects that are not ready to help in the big leagues for players that can help you.

"Fortunately we have some depth to our farm system which allows us to maintain a competitive big league club. That is a good reflection on our player development operation and that is good for our fans and the players on the current team."

Sometimes these deals involve acquiring players like Miller or Francisco Rodriguez that may only be with your team for the rest of that one season. They turn into so-called rentals. Yet, the Orioles gave up a prospect that could help the team that added them years later.

"That is always a tough call, but the fans and the team, they would like to pursue the pennant. And sometimes you have to trade young players to help your major league team," Duquette said.

Since he joined the Orioles, Duquette has traded four players that were ranked among the club's top 10 prospects at the time of the deal. Eduardo Rodriguez was No. 3, Delmonico No. 4, Hoes No. 6 and Avery No. 7 when they were dealt.

Delmonico was the Orioles' sixth-round pick in 2011 and was signed to an overslot bonus of $1.525 million. He was considered one of the club's top minor league batting prospects. But he was dealt for a reliever to try and help the Orioles make the playoffs for the second year in a row in 2013.

As it turns out, Delmonico was recently released by Milwaukee. The 22-year-old batted just .262/.300/.404 over 37 games at the high Single-A level in 2014 before being suspended 50 games for testing positive for an amphetamine. He was recently signed by the White Sox.

"We were looking for some help in our bullpen and K-Rod has over 300 saves," Duquette said of that deal. "Rodriguez didn't pitch as well for us as he did in some other places, but his experience did help us win a couple of games. Would have been nice to get closer to 90 wins in '13, but we didn't. But again, the farm system can help keep your major league team competitive."

Duquette feels that trade and some of these other deals provides proof that the Orioles have a solid process in place to make such trades.

"The process is that our scouts identify young talent," he said. "We sign them to an appropriate contract and then help the player develop their skills. It is a team effort. Good scouting, good negotiation and good player development. It is also good player evaluation to know which players are ready to help you and where you may have a surplus and you can trade."

Eduardo Rodriguez was the highest-ranked O's minor league player that Duquette traded. He was No. 65 on Baseball America's top 100 list at the time of the deal and was also in the publication's latest top 100 released last week. Now a Red Sox prospect, Rodriguez was ranked No. 59.

"We didn't want to do that, but it was required to acquire that pitcher," Duquette said. "And Andrew Miller helped the Orioles get to the playoffs. I could argue he was the difference in the first playoff series with the Tigers. What if he was on the other side of the field in the Detroit dugout? What if we didn't have him to get key outs in that series?

"There is a case of yes, we gave up a really good prospect, but it was required for us to take a shot at the pennant. At that point of the season, I think you have to roll the dice and see if you can help your team advance."

Duquette addressed the risk teams take in trading prospects, like the risk that a player dealt away will turn into an All-Star caliber player or better down the road.

"That is always the risk that you take," he said. "But again, if you are going to try for a pennant you have to do what you have to do. You have to take the shot.

"You have to swallow hard to trade young prospects. But if you are in a pennant race, it is incumbent on the team to make those trades to keep that going during the season.

"You never know what can happen. Look at Kansas City. They got in on the second wild card, barely won an extra-inning game and ended up winning the pennant. That second wild card makes it more interesting. Once you get in the playoffs it's a bit of a crapshoot. Anything can happen."

Duquette believes the addition of the second wild card has put more teams in contention by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline each season. The competition to get established talent for a final playoff push is tougher than ever, making the price of prospects needed to complete some deals higher than ever.

"The wild card allows more teams to be competitive late in the season and it's a more competitive forum," Duquette said. "Consequently teams trying to acquire these players are competing against the other clubs' prospect inventory. It's more competitive now and teams that are trading players have more leverage with the extra wild card.

"But make no mistake. That is the real job of the farm system, to help the major league club."




“the results haven't matched the radar gun”


Rob Neyer

It's appropriate to assume the Yankees' fortunes this season hinge largely on, not their 40-year-old, part-time Designated Hitter, but rather their top three starting pitchers, all of whom were injured last season. But they could use some help from their No. 4 guy, too: Nathan Eovaldi, who throws nearly as hard as any starter in the majors. To this point, though, the results haven't matched the radar gun:

He pitched a career-high 199 ²/ innings last season, but gave up a league-high 223 hits and had a 4.37 ERA in the relatively pitcher-friendly NL East.

“I had ups and downs,” Eovaldi said Wednesday at the Yankees’ minor league complex when asked to evaluate his 2014 season. “I accomplished a lot that I wanted to. I stayed healthy and got a lot of innings under my belt. I controlled my walks, but my ERA was a lot higher than I’d like it to have been. And I gave up too many hits.”


His ERA was significantly higher at home last season than on the road (4.66 to 4.06), which is somewhat surprising considering Marlins Park is typically considered a pitcher’s park. And despite the fact he can flirt with 100 mph on the radar gun, he struck out just 142 batters.

The home/road numbers are probably irrelevant, just one of those SSS things. As for the hits and the strikeouts, well of course they're highly correlated. If you don't have a high strikeout rate, you're obviously more likely to give up a lot of hits.

But some of those hits should be attributed to poor luck, as Eovaldi gave up a .323 batting average on balls in play, and there's no obvious reason to think that's got anything to do with his actual skills. On the other hand, he gave up a low number of home runs, as a percentage of fly balls. Considering his low strikeout rate and perfectly normal ground-ball rate, there's no obvious reason to think he'll maintain that home-run rate, either. Especially while pitching half the time in Yankee Stadium.

Will the strikeouts come? Last year, Eovaldi was one of only four qualifying starters who averaged at least 95 miles an hour with their fastballs. At 95.5, he ranked behind Garrett Richards, Yordano Ventura, and Wily Peralta. 

But speed hardly guarantees strikeouts. Richards ranked 16th in the majors in strikeout percentage, Ventura 37th, Peralta 53rd ... and Eovaldi 70th. Among 88 qualifiers. There's more to strikeouts than speed, and the more is largely movement and a high-quality curveball or slider. For the last two years, Eovaldi's had just one good pitch. He's okay with just that, but the strikeout rate won't budge much until he refines one of his off-speed pitches. 

Which I suppose is probably the plan.



“it's the system that let Moncada cash in while amateurs from the United States and other countries can't “


Drew Smyly says he has no issue with Yoan Moncada, just the system

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays LHP Drew Smyly said he has no issue with Cuban free agent INF Yoan Moncada or the $31.5 million he reportedly got from the Red Sox.

But it's the system that let Moncada cash in while amateurs from the United States and other countries can't that Smyly criticized in a Twitter post that became a topic of considerable digital and actual discussion Tuesday.

In his original post, retweeted more than 1,000 times, Smyly said:

"It's not right that a Cuban 19yr old gets paid 30m and the best 19yr old in the entire USA gets prob 1/6th of that. Everyone should have to go through same process"

On Tuesday morning Smyly attempted to clarify, noting how the draft and other rules prohibit other players from getting open-market value.

"I think it's awesome that he got that, I'm all for any player making as much money as they can make in this game. So it's nothing against him or any Cuban player," Smyly said.

"I was only trying to say everyone else doesn't have those opportunities. So I think there should be some way where everyone, every amateur, has the same opportunity and guidelines. And that's not even America vs. Cuba; Dominican Republic and Venezuela players don't get that. They have never got close to that signing bonus.

"So I'm all for it. I'm sure Moncada is the real deal; it's nothing bad about him. I was only stating I think that it doesn't matter where you're from, I think everyone should have the same chance to make whatever your value is on the field."

For example, Smyly brought up Nationals star Bryce Harper, who was also considered a phenom coming into pro ball but got only a $6.25 million bonus in a $9.9 million, five-year deal.

Reaction to Smyly's comments was mixed. Spokesman Greg Bouris said the union agrees with Smyly, noting the draft limits what players can earn: "As has been the mantra for this union since Day 1, it's not the players' responsibility to prevent owners from writing checks.''



Draft Bonus Pools Reflect 8.77 Percent Increase

Draft Bonus Pools Reflect 8.77 Percent Increase

February 26, 2015 by John Manuel

Bonus pools for the 2015 draft have increased significantly, according to information obtained by Baseball America.

Major League Baseball has sent clubs the memo outlining the domestic and international bonus pools, which several club officials have confirmed. Industry revenue growth of 8.77 percent is reflected in the increased pools. Last year’s pools were an increase of just 1.7 percent over 2013.

While the memo doesn’t display individual slots, it does reflect a total of $223,834,500, which would be the largest outlay in the four-year history of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. Teams spent just over $223 million last season, with the record coming in 2011, the final year before the current CBA went into effect. That year, teams spent $236,059,050 including bonuses and guarantees, with more than $228 million in straight signing bonuses.


Click on the link for the entire story

"If we can find guys who throw hard, throw strikes and get outs, then we've found something really solid," 

Angels want steady approach to set bullpen pace

Relievers focused on throwing strikes, rather than high velocity

By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com | @Alden_Gonzalez 

TEMPE, Ariz. -- It took Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto a lot of years, a lot of trades and a lot of names to finally find a bullpen group he's content with, and he got there in a rather unconventional way:

Without velocity.

Huston StreetJoe SmithMike MorinFernando Salas and Cesar Ramosare locks to crack the Opening Day 'pen, with Vinnie Pestano also a strong candidate. All of them throw fastballs at an average speed of less than 92 mph, which means the Angels are basically ignoring baseball's dogma about power arms in the bullpen.

"If we can find guys who throw hard, throw strikes and get outs, then we've found something really solid," Dipoto, a former power reliever, said. "But I've learned over time that strikes, command and just general presence, not letting innings spiral on you, are so important."

Projecting success in the big leagues is hard, but scouting velocity is easy. You can sell it on paper, and you can't teach it. So the big fastball will always be given preference, especially in the late-inning situations that allow pitchers to throw max effort.

But recently the Angels have placed more of a premium on strike-throwing ability than radar-gun readings. A prime example was Michael Kohn, who can throw his fastball in the triple digits, but he couldn't make his way to the Majors last year because his walk rate was too high.

In 2013, Kohn was one of six relievers -- along with Ernesto Frieri, Dane De La Rosa, Garrett Richards, Juan Gutierrez and Kevin Jepsen -- who logged at least 25 innings out of the Angels' bullpen and threw at least 94 mph. Frieri was dealt for Jason Grilli, who was allowed to leave via free agency, just like De La Rosa and Gutierrez before him. Jepsen was traded for Matt Joyce.

"We're not afraid of velocity," Dipoto said. "I love guys who throw hard."

But he prefers pitchability, location and varying looks.

As Smith said, "outs are outs."

"What is the average starter velocity?" Street asked, estimating something in the high 80s or low 90s. "Those guys throw the bulk of the innings throughout the Major League season. They get more outs than we get. So, clearly, pitching is what matters and what gets guys out. Who makes the most money in the game? Starting pitchers. I guess it's just the idea that for one inning it's hard to hit 95 or 97 [mph], but at the end of the day, my belief is that every inning is one inning."

Street (a closer with a funky delivery) and Smith (a setup man who throws sidearm) have combined to post a 2.36 ERA in 510 appearances over the last four years, and both throw their fastballs mostly 89 mph. Morin, who features a plus changeup, posted a 2.90 ERA in 60 appearances as a rookie in 2014. Ramos, a lefty, has a 3.90 ERA in 150 innings the last two years. Salas, who generates a lot of strikeouts despite a 91 mph fastball, posted a 3.38 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP last year. And Pestano, another sidearmer, has limited right-handed hitters to a .511 OPS in his career.

"I love it," Smith said of a bullpen made up of relatively slow throwers, "and I love it that we all have the opportunity to do it here."

Street, who threw his two-seam fastball at an average speed of 89.2 mph last year, brought up an interesting point about pitchers who succeed without velocity: You don't have to worry about how they'll fare if they suddenly can't throw hard anymore.

"It's a pretty proven fact that you can get outs just by making pitches," Street said. "I think the move to velocity is in a lot of ways just because you feel like you can take somebody with velocity and teach him. You can't teach velocity. It's like speed. But at the end of the day, speed has to get on base. Velocity, at this level, has to be located."



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