Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Possible Jews to Watch: B.J. Rosenberg, Robert Roth

Thirteenth-round pick B.J. Rosenberg out of the University of Louisville has quickly put himself on the Phillies' prospect map with a dominating first professional performance.
The 22-year-old 6'2" righty has a microscopic 1.06 ERA in his first 17 innings with Williamsport of the New York-Penn League, striking out 29 and walking 8. He has allowed just one home run, and has six saves.
As for Robert Roth, the 2006 19th round pick by the Phillies, the recovery from labrum surgery that cost him all of 2007 appears to be coming along nicely. Now 19 years old, Roth has pitched to a 1.59 ERA in 45 2/3 innings over 7 starts, also for Williamsport. He's allowed just 12 walks, though the strikeout rate is not overwhelming- just 18. Still, the year after such surgery, health, rather than performance, is the primary concern, and he's answered the bell all year so far. A 1.59 ERA is just a bonus.
I will try to see them both in the coming weeks- unfortunately, he makes only one trip to Staten Island, and it isn't clear whether I'll be able to get there.
But to get a clear look at Rosenberg and Roth, let's vote him into the New York-Penn League All Star Game!
More on them both as I hear more-I currently have an e-mail into the Crosscutters. If I can get them, I will be posting interviews in the coming weeks.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I Just Can't Quit You, Scott Feldman!

The Texas Rangers, who have developed more pitchers over the past 10 years than virtually anyone, not including all other major league teams, converted Scott Feldman to a reliever at the All Star Break in order to reduce his innings total in 2008. He'd never thrown more than about 70 innings, and was at 100 innings this season, so already, there was a danger in pitching him beyond where he is.
Then an injury occured, and Feldman filled in on July 21, going six innings against the White Sox. And when Kevin Millwood came out of Wednesday's game, guess who was tabbed to take his next start? That's right: Scott Feldman.
Makes sense, doesn't it? The Rangers are now just 10.5 games out of first place- ruining a middling arm that represents one of the few current Texas properties that could provide innings in 2009 and beyond to chase a highly improbaqble playoff berth- sign me up!
It's still not clear what Feldman will be. In his first season as a starter, his control has been decent- 39 walks in 93 2/3 innings- but the strikeout rate does not befit his 6'5", 210 lb. frame- 42 Ks. He's never been much of a strikeout pitcher, even as a reliever, so it's hard to say that will improve all that much.
Essentially, my guess is he can be a league-average innings eater. That certainly has value. Of course, that is if Texas doesn't run him into the ground, first.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Kevin Youkilis: The Greek God of Production

So Kevin Youkilis homered again last night. It's getting to the point where you'd have to say Youkilis has made a real jump in his performance. Considering that prior to 2008, he was still a very valuable offensive player, this represents a jump into baseball's elite. A 144 OPS+ and top-flight defense at first base is quite impressive.
Compare this to Hank Greenberg, and it still falls short, of course. Greenberg put up full-season OPS+ of 156, 169, 172, 169, 156, 163, and in his final year, 132 at first base. Now, his defensive reputation seems to indicate he wasn't in Youkilis' class as a fielder, which narrows the gap somewhat.
But to fall a bit short of Greenberg, whose production makes him an inner-circle Hall of Famer, even as the war kept his career totals from the lofty ones put up by, for instance, Lou Gehrig (who was so reluctant to fight in the war that he contracted his own disease back in 1939) is impressive.
The problem Youkilis has with Hall of Fame possibilities are two-fold- one, he doesn't seem like he'll put up the kind of 40-home run seasons that draw the attention of Hall voters for first basemen. Two, his late-career start-he didn't debut until age 25, and didn't start until age 27-makes it very difficult to pile up the kind of career stats looked for in lieu of a sustained period of absolute dominance.
If Youkilis has made the leap from 110 OPS+ player to 140 OPS+ player, he'll need to sustain that performance until roughly age-36 to merit Hall consideration. That would put him in the neighborhood of 2100 hits- figure a normal decline from there gets him to about 2500. Averaging 25-30 home runs from age 30-36, assuming 30 this year, gets him to between 220-250 home runs. But he'd end up with an OPS+ in the 125-130 range. Tony Perez is at 122. Eddie Murray was at 129. Add a run of gold gloves into the mix, and Youkilis is certainly in the discussion.
Clearly, this is a long shot. But for a player who looked to be a poor man's Dave Magadan, it's astounding how far he's come.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ian Kinsler: Second to None

Mike Pindelski has a great piece establishing just how dominant Ian Kinsler has been this season.


Just a brief, Jewish lens addition- Kinsler currently has na OPS+ of 152 in 2008. Buddy Myer, the best Jewish second baseman ever, had a season-high OPS+ of 138 in his career. So he's in pretty uncharted territory here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tonight: Ryan Braun in Home Run Derby

Get ready, Jewish baseball lovers! A prospective minyan member will be part of the minions aiming to win the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium tonight. Ryan Braun, the Jewish people wish you luck.
There has been a fair amount of complaining on the absence of big names in this year's derby, but between Braun, Evan Longoria, Grady Sizemore, Chase Utley, Josh Hamilton, etc., some of baseball's elite sluggers are participating in the event. In fact, in a relatively short time, these guys may be viewed as huge names- particularly Sizemore, who is leading the AL in homers, and Utley, who seems to be having the best year in the National League, period.
Braun can compete with any of them, though. He's having another monster year, and his career line, to date? .307/.349/.595. A .944 OPS, and he doesn't turn 25 until November 17! Ridiculous.