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My life is rookies and closers. Well not completely, I sunbath and drink too much vodka on the weekend, but you get the point. In today's mailbag column I'll answer all your questions like what is Polanco worth, how excited should you be about the Rockies call up of Butler and what's up with the Tigers and Rays bullpens?
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– Is Eddie Butler a must add in a 12 team mixed league? Player Profile coming?
I have rookie overload going right now since seemingly 50 percent of all questions I'm getting are about guys who have never been in the majors, or guys that have been around for a week. Why so many folks will drop established major leaguers for totally unknown players totally befuddles me. This will serve as my Butler profile.
Eddie Butler will be promoted to start Friday against the Dodgers for the Rockies (he will take the spot of Franklin Morales). Ranked inside the top-25 prospects in baseball before the season according to Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus had him at #26, Butler is obviously an elite prospect. Problem #1. He will be pitching in Colorado, a terrible place to pitch. Problem #2. He hasn't thrown a pitch above Double-A. Problem #3. OK, now I'm making up problems, but there might be something here, at least in the fantasy game. Butler is a great talent. His heater can tough 98-99, he's still working a bit on his secondary pitches, but most scouts feel he's a long term #2 SP in major league baseball. You can see the fact that he's working on things still by the fact that over his 17 starts at Double-A, this year and last, that his K/9 mark is only 6.1 per. That's a poor number for the majors, and for someone with his stuff. He's also posted a mere 2.11 K/BB ratio over 11 starts this season, another far from interesting number. In fact, it's below the big league average. He's done an excellent job limiting homers with his sinking fastball, he's allowed just three homers over his last 17 starts, and that trait will obviously be a key to his success or lack thereof in Colorado.
Butler is an elite talent that can be added based on that fact alone. However, note that he has no upper level experience, is currently struggling to put batters away, and he will be pitching in Colorado.
Here we go again... another question on two guys who have yet to appear in the bigs. Both players are elite talents. Walker has the potential to be an SP1 in the big leagues. Polanco has a shot to be an OF1 in the big leagues. On the surface a swap landing you either side seems fair.
Walker has been injured for months. He's currently gaining traction for a return to the bigs, his shoulder seems to be back in shape, but his performance has been far from impressive. Tuesday night he needed 56 pitches to get through two innings at Triple-A as he walked four batters. Through two starts he's got an 9.00 ERA. "Taijuan didn't throw very well," manager Lloyd McClendon said. He also answered, when queried about will he need another minor league start, with an “or more” statement.
Polanco on the other hand is killing it at Triple-A. Through 57 games he's hit .351 with six homers, 14 steals, 47 RBIs and 42 runs scored. His OBP is .410 and his OPS is .956. He's done everything possible to prove he is ready, and he'll likely be called up and put into the daily lineup by the Pirates within two weeks (still trying to avoid Super 2 status).
You want Polanco, there's no question about that. In fact, I would go further and say that Polanco has a better shot of being a significant fantasy factor the rest of the way than Oscar Taveres (Player Profile) and Jon Singleton (Player Profile), two other highly regarded prospects that were recently called up.
I just spoke glowingly about Polanco, but this question is an example of the absurdity that surrounds prospects.
When he came up, the hype around Jason Heyward was the equal of Polanco. Heyward has a 20/20 season already in the books, and his May showed promising signs including a .284 batting average and .373 OBP. Rendon was also a first round selection, and his call up to the big leagues was as anticipated as Polanco's as well. Rendon is currently on pace to hit 20 homers with about 80 RBIs and 105 runs scored. Oh, and he should hit better than his current .262 mark given his game, and he also qualifies at two spots defensively (2B and 3B).
I don't know the keeper rules of this league, but on this surface this looks like an awful deal to me.
When not talking rookies, all I do is talk closers. So here's a closer question.
Joe Nathan has allowed eight runs over his last three starts, and that's scary. He's also got 354 saves and it sounds like his manager is still behind him. "Joe’s been very good for a very long time, and I expect him to be very good for the Tigers. And he expects himself to be very good. But even the best have rough times," said manager Brad Ausmus.
Grant Balfour has a 5.23 ERA, has walked 18 batters in 20.2 innings and his K-rate has plummeted to 7.40 per nine. But it's been 20.2 innings. He's also still gone 9-for-11 on save chances, and over his last three outings he hasn't walked a batter. He's also held the opposition scoreless in five of his last six outings.
The Rays aren't likely to make a chance in the 9th, but even if they did I can't seem them turning to McGee. He's got a tremendous arm, love his arm actually, but they've just never viewed him as a 9th inning option. If they make am move I would bet that either Juan Oviedo or Joel Peralta would get first crack.
The Tigers though are more likely to make a move, even if it's short-term. Clearly Nathan is jacked up right now and another rough outing would likely necessitate a change. Therefore, if I was going to pick up one of the two guys mentioned it would be Chamberlain who has pitched very well this season (2.59 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 10.73 K/9, 4.14 K/BB, 2.07 GB/FB).
– Believe in Henderson Alvarez?
What does the word “believe” mean? Alvarez has tossed a shutout in three of his 12 starts this year and he's thrown a remarkable four shutouts in his last seven home starts. Do I “believe” he will finish the year with a 2.62 ERA? No. Do I “believe” he will finish the year with a 1.28. I can buy that. Do I “believe” he will be mixed league asset? Maybe, maybe not. The guy has won three games this season and is 18-26 for his career. He's currently sporting a three year high in his K-rate that is, get this, two batters below the league average. It's 5.35. His career best for Ks is 79 --- in 187.1 innings in 2012. Do you really want a starting pitcher who will be lucky to reach 100 Ks? To me, he's a streaming option or injury fill-in for mixed leagues.
Carlos Gonzalez might be headed to the DL and Nolan Arenado is already there leaving the Rockies scrambling a bit. But let's be clear here. Cuddyer is likely to be a liability at third base. He also hasn't played the position since 2010. It's also not a permanent move. "It's something I'll mess around with a little bit; I'll mix and match," manager Walt Weiss said. "'Cuddy' will get some time at third. It's not going to be every day but that will still be one of the options moving forward."
Could Dickerson play 4-5 games a week? That is certainly possible, but it likely depends on the health of CarGo. An intriguing talent, Dickerson is batting .345 with seven homer and two steals in just 98 plate appearances. Through 281 big league at-bats he's hit .288 with 12 homers and four steals and certainly profiles like a player who would be of significant interest if he were to see an uptick in his playing time.