The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Three Quick Strikes, Again

Meticulously not fixing what ain't broke, I'll revisit this format again...

• Kevin Goldstein's Top 100 Prospects list is out at Baseball Prospectus. It's Goldstein's first one for BP, and it comes on the heels of his Organizational Rankings and team-by-team Top 10 Prospect lists (indexed on the aforementioned rankings). Goldstein's writeups for each of these prospecs are in Baseball Prospectus 2007, which may be shipping from Amazon by the end of next week.

Yankee fans will be delighted to see Philip Hughes ranked #2, just behind Kansas City's Alex Gordon. He's one of five righthanded pitchers the Bombers placed in the Top 100 or among the honorable mentions; the others are Joba Chamberlain (56), Humberto Sanchez (65), Dellin Betances (92), and Tyler Clippard (HM). The team's only positional prospect, outfielder Jose Tabata, ranked 22nd. Overall, the Yanks rank fourth out of the 30 teams, an excellent turnaround from what was a rather dire state of affairs a few years ago.

Meanwhile the Dodgers placed four prospects: lefty pitcher Clayton Kershaw (16), third baseman Andy LaRoche (20), lefty Scott Elbert (32), and first baseman James Loney (54). That may seem like a relatively small group, but remember that the Dodgers graduated many of their top prospects to the majors last year: Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Russell Martin, Jonathan Broxton, Chad Billingsley... Overall, the Dodgers rank fifth by Goldstein's methodology, with a monster list of under-25 talent.

The Devil Rays placed the most prospects on the list, with seven, from #3 Delmon Young to #100 Elijah Dukes, with a lot less attitude in between those two. On the other side of the coin, the Nationals placed just one prospect on the list -- Mumbly Joe Somethingorother -- at #93 to boot.

Adding Goldstein to the team might rate as BP's best move since the advent of PECOTA. Aside from the high-quality content he produces, he's a fantastic resource behind the scenes, quick with great anecdotes or off-the-record scouting scuttlebutt, and able to dig up hard-to-find stats, whether they're from the New England League circa 1947 or the Dominican Summer League circa 1995. He's certainly helped me through many a pinch, so a tip of the cap to him here.

• Speaking of the Nats, Joe Sheehan gets off some good lines at their expense today in an article about Non-Roster Invitations:
Just this week, the Nats snapped up the last reasonable free agent by inviting Ron Belliard to camp. Belliard becomes the team’s best second-base option, allowing them to keep Felipe Lopez at shortstop and turn Cristian Guzman into a conversation piece for the living room, or lawn furniture, or a slightly uncomfortable beanbag chair.

Alas, the more likely scenario is that Guzman keeps his job—the contract must play, you know—and Belliard gets time platooning with Lopez or pinch-hitting a lot. This scenario, where a team has multiple options and lands on the least-productive one, is common enough to warrant a piece of its own.

The Nats, who right now have two Senate pages and an extra from “D.C. Cab” in the rotation, have invited a whole bunch of pitchers to camp. Of particular note are Brandon Claussen, who isn’t that far removed from being on the road to what Chris Capuano actually turned into. Claussen had his left shoulder scoped last year, and isn’t likely to make an impact before the second half. Remember the name, though.
As if Yankee fans could ever forget Claussen...

• Mussina versus Pavano. A-Rod versus Jeter. Bernie versus Father Time. Mariano versus Cashman. Sheffield versus Torre. Good Lord, I'm already sick to death of every single Yankee storyline coming out of Tampa, but then I'm an idiot for paying too close attention in the first place. As my friend Nick says, "Reading spring training clubhouse articles by beat writers is like making a dinner out of Cheetos and broken glass." Not healthy at all.

All of which serves to highlight the wisdom of Earl Weaver, as passed on today by Alex Belth at Bronx Banter. Weaver used springtime to get his cliches into shape; "The hitters are ahead of the pitchers," "The Second-Time-Out Theory," and "The Lee May Syndrome" are all classics worth rehearsing while ignoring the faux-controversy rites of spring.

Oh, and speaking of Weaver, here's video of one of his great tirades. Most definitely not safe for work, just as it should be.

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