Friday, November 19, 2010

Objects in Mirror May Be Closer: the A.L. Central

You remember how we found a bunch of minors league third basemen in the Eastern Divisions?

Yeah, that's not gonna happen here.

There are a variety of reasons for this: some guys that started in the minors already arrived.  Some guys are pretty much untouchable.  Some systems are laughably void.  But the fact is, if you want to find a third baseman from another team in the A.L. Central, you're better off just opening up the major-league rosters.


Consider the White Sox.  They have not one, not two, but THREE young candidates.  One of them is Gord Beckham, who played 2B in 2009 then 3B in 2010.  The other two spent a significant amount of time in the minors because ... well ... if you have a chance to let Mark Teahen inspire this graphic, you have to do that, right?  More seriously, Brett Morel started at AA before holding his own in Chicago by the end of the year, and Dayan Viciendo hit .308 and slugged .521 in 104 AB, but still posted a subpar .321 OBP because he walked TWICE.  Yes, two times.  (He struck out 25 times.)

(By the way, when I say Morel "held his own" I mean "he hit like Jayson Nix, but that's impressive for a guy who started the year in AA.")

Now, I've read any number of blurblets around the Interwebs that suggest that friends of neighbors of dentists of third cousins of Kenny Williams have heard that Gord Beckham is available.  I asked Jim of the Sox Machine (see the Teahen graphic) about this:

Well, I think the phrase was, "believe the White Sox will listen to offers," which is just about meaningless in his world. Kenny has said many a time that he'll listen to offers for any player, and nobody is untouchable. But I think Beckham is still locked in as the future of the offense.

For Cleveland, it would take a guy like Santana. Not saying that'd be a smart trade for you guys, but but he'd have to be bowled over to make it happen, like Kenny was when Texas offered Danks for McCarthy. I don't think anybody's going to be able to serve as a pawn shop for him.
Frankly, this makes a lot of sense to me.  For the record, I originally asked Jim about trading Chris Perez for Gord Beckham, because the ChiSox need a closer and I think an awful lot of Beckham.  Jim figuratively laughed in my face.  So he thinks even more of Beckham than I do, which probably jibes with how Kenny Williams feels, too.

If anything, I think Viciendo is the odd man out: he has Mad Panda Disease in that he is both roly and poly, and the little amount I've seen of his defense at third is ... well, t'isn't good.  He might get a shot at 1B with Tyler Flowers, who is nominally a catcher of some sort, but the point is, Beckham is pretty much the guy you actually want, and he's probably not available.  Viciendo would make a good DH option.  Morel probably isn't much of an upgrade on Nix for 2011: he might blossom, but by then, Chisenhall should be ready.


Okay, here's the state of the Detroit right side of the infield: they re-signed BOTH Brandon Inge AND Jhonny Peralta ... because they want Peralta to play shortstop.  Why did they do this?  Because the backup is Don Kelly, a 30-year-old left fielder, and the minor-leagues feature ... nothing.  Go look up the Toledo Mud Hens stat sheet on  They have ONE third baseman listed.  He got THREE AB.  Obviously there's something else going on there, like one of the guys listed at 2B is really a 3B or something, but you are probably not going to find a gem on the 2010 Toledo Mud Hens roster is my point.  Also, Brandon Inge and Jhonny Peralta were re-signed.  Oh, my.

In AA, they have a guy named Brian Pounds who hit .281/.359/.438 with 9 errors in 53 games.  Believe it or not, my excitement is contained.


I put them out of (alphabetical) order because it's short.  Danny Valencia is the gem, and he got called up, and he'll be playing 3B in Minnesota for the foreseeable future.  Nick Punto will not.  Many twins fans consider this a net plus, but only if they have cortical wrinkles.  At AAA, the Twins sported Brendan Harris and D'Angelo Jimenez.  Remember D'Angelo Jimienez?  With the Reds and such?  Yeah, same guy.  Still not good.  Matt Macri hit .251/.322/.405 in AAA.  Every third baseman in AA is roughly as desirable as a brussels sprout merengue pie.

Kansas City:

So now we have plenty of room to talk about the Royals.  The king of all third base prospects is Mike Moustakas, just today ranked the #1 overall prospect in the #1 farm system by Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein.  You are not going to get Mike Moustakas, who got the bulk of the plate appearances in the minors.

However ...

Wilson Betemit played a bunch of third last season, and hit surprisingly well.  Is he "really" a .297/.378/.511 hitter?  Probably not.  But he probably earned the Opening Day job with his 2010 performance (and, really, Betemit has always had talent: maybe not .900 OPS talent, but talent nonetheless).  His backup was discouraging enough with the glove as to be moved to left field, where he is no sure thing.

Alex Gordon.

Now, I may be a sucker at this point.  Alex Gordon might be Nebraskan for "Andy Marte," a guy who punishes AAA pitching (.315/.442/.577 this season) but has exploitable holes against major-league pitching (.215/.315/.355 this season).  I get that.  Also, he's not a particularly good third baseman, or at least not the last couple of seasons.  And he's starting to get into that arbitration/expensive area.  But I really like the idea of getting Alex Gordon for less than he's worth and having him bloom away from the hometown pressure (he grew up a Royals fan).  Would it be guaranteed to work, or even LIKELY to work?  I'll have to stop short of "likely."  I'd consider it a better bet than Jayson Nix, though.  Problem: Gordon is left-handed with a pretty pronounced platoon split, so plunking him into a lineup with Sizemore, Brantley, Choo, and Hafner might be awkward.

My original idea a while back was to offer Dayton Moore, who seems to like veterans very much until he knows the yoot is really ready, Grady Sizemore for Gordon and Kila Ka'aihue.  (I would find a place for Ka'aihue ... trading Sizemore could put LaPorta back in LF if it came to that.)  However, I doubt you could REALLY trade Grady Sizemore at this point.  In the past it was:

Cleveland Fans: You CAN'T trade Grady Sizemore!

Now it is:

Opposing GMs: Um ... you CAN'T trade Grady Sizemore (until he shows he can play).

But it doesn't have to be THAT deal.  Maybe a couple of arms.  Depends on how sour the Royals really are on Gordon.

Interestingly enough, though, there might be another guy in the system work a look: Ed Lucas has been passed by at this point (Moose will block him forever now).  He is 28 (29 in May), but hit .307/.398/.480 this past season, with 13 homers and 12 errors in 99 games (352 AB).  He also sported a nice 52:68 BB:K ratio, suggesting good strike zone control.  In 2009, he hit .290/.388/.448 with 10 homers in 355 AB in AA and .304/.372/.415 in AA the year before, so the strike zone judgement appears real.  Now, every system needs SOMEONE to play and to have "just in case" (of injury or bombing out or what have you), so Lucas may not be exactly a throwaway.  But according to the artificial standards I set out last week, the plate discipline numbers to me make him a very reasonable bet to be better than Nix in 2011.

KC also has a guy in AA named Jamie Romak who hit .278/.389/.459, but that's in 45 games: he spent the first 82 in single-A.  Not as advanced as Chisenhall, in other words.

Summing up:

Major-league guy you probably can't get: Gord Beckham
Major-league guy who is worth inquiring about: Alex Gordon
Major-league guys with warts probably not a real upgrade: Brett Morel, Dayan Viciendo
Minor-league guy who is probably inexpensive and reasonably likely to outperform Nix: Ed Lucas
Major-league franchise that deserves your pity with respect to third basemen: Detroit


  1. Steve you're a bit confused, Beckham played 2nd in 2010, 3rd in 2009.I do agree that Beckham won't be traded.If anyone's got a few old bats, that's all it would take to get Teahen and his salary.The Royals had it right, Teahen is a sub that can play multiple positions, but a starting 3rd baseman he's not !

  2. Also, it's Brent Morel and Dayan Viciedo. Somehow the 'n' from Brent migrated into Viciedo's last name.

    And you're crazy to offer Sizemore for Gordon and Ka'aihue, no matter how injured Grady be. Trading a 6-win CF (when healthy) for old, underperforming and potentially expensive "prospects" is a sure way to cripple the franchise.

  3. Double whiff! And not even a real deadline, just a self-imposed one (had to get to a parent-teacher conference). Yes, Beckham played 3B in 2009, and let Teahen hack away in 2010. (I think he's a better 2B than 3B, FWIW.) And Morel and Viciedo are the correct spellings per Michael, whom I owe a cookie.

    As for trading Sizemore, though, I have to admit that I don't see him returning to be a 6-win CF. Heck, I don't see him returning to CF. He was so, so, so, so awful this year ... and has been declining for two ... I just think people remember a player who no longer exists. I would LOVE to be wrong about this one, but I expect (perhaps with Cleveland Fan Pessimism) that we've seen the last of Grady Sizemore as an above-average everyday baseball player.

    And he STILL can't hit lefties.

  4. If your Cleveland; The free agent market sucks for 3B, and trades are more of the tribes language anyway, luckily for them, because that seems to be the best route for best talent/value.

    I believe it was Ed Lucas? He looks promising, reminds me of a contender for a 3B "Ryan howard type late bloomer story"

    i would do that deal, we dont even know how sizemore will return to action from such surgery/injury? def Left Field anyhow...and gordon and kahooey are guys that upgrade clevelands roster.

    have a great thanksgiving steve

  5. I think we should roll the dice with LHP Zack Duke, now that the pirates designated him. Cleveland work your magic on him; bring the arm back from the dead. The Pirates tried to work on a new deal with Duke and also explored trade possibilities before finally designating the LEFTY. Starting now, "It's say things you don't mean day". Cleveland has no need for a LEFTY.

  6. I thought I read something online that Antonetti said something along the lines of "5 RHP in a rotation makes no difference". I usually agree with management's decisions, if that is how he looks at it, I honestly have to raise a "Rock" like eyebrow at it.

  7. What about Jared Goedert? He may not be ready for the big leagues yet but he did hit 20 HR and .261/.345/.528 in 81 AAA games. Might the Tribe just go with bad players in hopes that Goedert will get better at the plate and with the glove?