’11 40-Man Preview Extravaganza
It’s that time of the year again. Leaves are dropping, everything is pumpkin flavoured, Christmas music exists prematurely as something for people to either enjoy or loudly complain about, and I come back from the dead to tell you all about setting the 40-man (deadline: Nov. 18th) in advance of the Rule 5 draft. So! This year, we’re looking at ’07 HS draftees and int’l signings and ’08 college draftees. Thrilling, right? This is the last year we’re going to be dealing exclusively with Fontaine drafts and I’m curious to see how the new administration will prioritize their own picks, but for now, we have a large pile of players among whom there aren’t a whole lot of locks. I’ll note before we get into it that the contracts of some of the international players can get a little confusing in that it’s not always easy to tell if they’ve signed a 2007 contract or a 2008 contract. If guys like Francisco Martinez and Erasmo Ramirez are eligible (I’m at least pretty sure Erasmo isn’t), you can bet that they’ll be added, but I believe both would be due next year.
So let’s take a more exhaustive look than we need to at some names here:
CF Denny Almonte, S/R, 9/24/1988
2011 (A+): 128 G, 504 AB, 75, 135 H, 28 2B, 6 3B, 24 HR, 97 RBI, 18 SB, 12 CS, 161/22 K/BB, .268/.298/.490
Pros: One of the more physically talented players all around in the system. Dropped his K/PA % by 6.5% this year.
Cons: Repeated both the Midwest and California Leagues without showing much improvement.
Summary: A descriptor that I’ve seen follow Almonte around is that he’s a worse version of Greg Halman. Physical tools will bring up the name in discussions and skills will likely drop it.
LF/CF Daniel Carroll, R/R, 1/6/1989
2011 (A+): 131 G, 482 AB, 117 R, 144 H, 20 2B, 6 3B, 18 HR, 57 RBI, 62 SB, 14 CS, 157/88 K/BB, .299/.418/.477
Pros: High-motor player. Quite competent at drawing walks. Speed and some power.
Cons: Strikeout and injury prone. Waiting to see how power might translate outside of the Cal League.
Summary: Carroll, up until this season, had only played in 305 games over three and a half seasons because he has a bad tendency to lean into pitches and wreck himself. Consequently, he may have more room for skill growth than most players at the same age and stage, but the potential return may not be very high.
RF Chih-Hsien Chiang, L/R, 2/21/1988
2011 (BOS AA): 88 G, 321 AB, 68 R, 109, 37 2B, 4 3B, 18 HR, 76, 6 SB, 2 CS, 61/25 K/BB, .340/.402/.648
2011 (SEA AA): 32 G, 130 AB, 11 R, 27 H, 7 2B, 10 RBI, SB,2 CS, 30/6 K/BB, .208/.255/.262
Pros: Broke out for reasons that seem like they could be supported by the scientific method.
Cons: See those numbers with us? Also, he doesn’t walk much, so it’s going to be mostly average and power with him.
Summary: Chiang started well in the AFL but has since slowed down. I don’t know whether to look at that as a function of diet or slumps though, and therein lies an issue with him. Since the M’s made the point of trading for him, I would be surprised if he wasn’t added.
1B Jharmidy de Jesus, R/R, 8/30/1989
2011 (A-): 58 G, 201 AB, 31 R, 60 H, 8 2B, 3B, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 3 SB, 42/18 K/BB, .299/.374/.408
Pros: Physical abilities, specifically power, that once warranted throwing a lot of money at him.
Cons: Has done little since his debut season. Injuries and rumours of conditioning issues.
Summary: Eh. It would be one thing if he showed great power or plate discipline, but he’s another guy that will be brought up and quickly dropped if his name comes up at all.
1B/OF Joe Dunigan, L/L, 3/29/1986
2011 (A+): 33 G, 106 AB, 16 R, 25 H, 3 2B, 10 HR, 19 RBI, CS, 59/12 K/BB, .236/.314/.547
2011 (AA): 49 G, 172 AB, 23 R, 37 H, 11 2B, 3B, 7 HR, 30 RBI, 4 SB, 2 CS, 81/26 K/BB, .215/.317/.413
Pros: Posted a .925 OPS back in 2009. Is left-handed.
Cons: Hit the double-A wall, and hard. Missed a lot of time this year.
Summary: We have power on the 40-man already from guys that struggled less in double-A. I suppose Dunigan can walk a little, but really, no.
LHP Anthony Fernandez, 6/8/1990
2011 (A+): 1-1, 7 G, 7,39 ERA in 28.0 IP, 48 H (4 HR), 27 R (23 ER), 26/13 K/BB
2011 (A): 7-4, 21 G (19 GS), 2.80 ERA in 125.1 IP, 109 H (6 HR), 49 R (39 ER), 107/42 K/BB
Pros: Above-average velocity at times for a lefty. Has strikeouts.
Cons: Southpaws with not-great velocity can be exposed as they move up. Command isn’t where you want it to be.
Summary: I like Fernandez overall, but his command this year was the worst it’s been since he arrived in the states which makes me worry about the margin of error with him going forward.
RHP Jarrett Grube, 11/5/1981
2011 (AA): 5-2, 14 GS, 3.11 ERA in 84.0 IP, 79 H (4 HR), 35 R (29 ER), 69/20 K/BB
2011 (AA): 4-4, 14 G (7 GS), 4.95 ERA in 60.0 IP, 51 H (10 HR), 34 R (33 ER), 51/ 18 K/BB
Pros: One of the most consistent starters for the teams he’s been on in the past two years.
Cons: Just turned thirty. Limited exposure in triple-A.
Summary: If you happen to need a live arm around to fill a role, one could probably do worse than Grube. Still, his age makes me think that he’s more likely to get a spring training invite for February than a 40-man spot in November.
RHP Steve Hensley, 12/27/1986
2011 (AA): 4-8, 19 G (18 GS), 4.61 ERA in 95.2 IP, 112 H (10 HR), 57 R (49 ER), 65/38 K/BB
Pros: Live stuff that could play well in relief. Good slider.
Cons: Balky elbow. Walks have gone up since 2009 while strikeouts have been down a bit.
Summary: Hensley hasn’t done much to impress in the AFL thus far, and he’s not as interesting as a reliever unless he manages to get some consistency down. Still, 40-man spots have been handed out for less.
RHP Kenn Kasparek, 9/23/1985
2011 (AA): 5-5, 12 GS, 4.50 ERA in 62.0 IP, 69 H (6 HR), 39 R (31 ER), 40/26 K/BB
Pros: Really tall. Has shown good stuff in the past when healthy.
Cons: Strikeouts have tailed off since 2009. Probably not entirely healthy.
Summary: Another starter who may be more suited to relief long-term, and it’s hard to argue that he’s as or more deserving than some of the other representatives.
LHP Bobby LaFromboise, 6/25/1986
2011 (AA): 3-4, 49 G, 3.10 ERA in 61.0 IP, 62 (6 HR), 23 R( 21 ER), 53/24 K/BB
Pros: Another left-hander who pitches decently.
Cons: Stuff unexceptional. Solely a relief arm this year. tRA is unimpressed.
Summary: LaFromboise relieving was one of the bigger mysteries of the year, and it didn’t help that his walk rate rose while he was in the ‘pen. At the very least, he’s pretty good at getting left-handers out, but I don’t know that this all justifies protecting him.
1B/LF Johan Limonta, L/L, 8/4/1983
2011 (AAA): 108 G, 407 AB, 58 R, 130 H, 20 2B, 3B, 14 HR, 84 RBI, 3 SB, 3 CS, 75/44 K/BB, .319/.382/.477
Pros: Hit competently at the highest level in the minors after getting his first shot there.
Cons: Who didn’t hit in the PCL this year? Also, he’s not exactly young and his power is somewhat erratic.
Summary: Limonta does bring something to the table, but for what that is, I can imagine that there are a few 1B/DH types floating around as free agents that would get picked up instead. The defensive versatility isn’t super exciting or anything. Most would prefer better power numbers.
3B/1B Mario Martinez, R/R, 11/13/1989
2011 (A+): 109 G, 432 AB, 64 R, 120 H, 22 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 56 RBI, 2 SB, CS, 137/19 K/BB, .278/.313/.419
Pros: Like de Jesus, his abilities once warranted a large amount of money being thrown at him.
Cons: His 2011 “breakout” is nearly identical to his 2010, just scale up the hits. Road stats were what his regular seasons stats look like in any other year.
Summary: Moving on.
1B/DH Dennis Raben, L/L, 7/31/1987
2011 (A+): 76 G, 309 AB, 61 R, 102 H, 23 2B, 3 3B, 18 HR, 75 RBI, 2 SB, CS, 76/28 K/BB, .330/.387/.599
Pros: Great power. Did some work to allay concerns that he couldn’t hit left-handed pitching. Strikeouts not-horrific.
Cons: Knee issues have meant he’s rarely been healthy and he’s topped out at 82 games a season so far. Probably 1B/DH for the future.
Summary: Raben is a guy that you’re pretty much rolling the dice on. If he were demonstrably healthy, I would absolutely believe that he was worth holding on to for that power. Since he isn’t to my eyes, I don’t know.
RHP Angel Raga, 7/25/1989
2011 (R): 2-3, 17 G (6 GS), 4.09 ERA in 44.0 IP, 40 H (4 HR), 21 R (2 ER), 47/8 K/BB
Pros: Put up some fine numbers this season and has decent stuff. Room left for growth.
Cons: Really inexperienced, since Tommy John surgery wiped out most of his first two years.
Summary: It seems like someone with Raga’s profile gets selected each year, which is reason enough to protect him if you believe in him, but even if you do believe in him, he’s a good bet to burn through every option before you can expect him to really contribute.
IF Scott Savastano, R/R, 6/12/1986
2011 (AA): 104 G, 368 AB, 54 R, 104 H, 28 2B, 3B, 10 HR, 49 RBI, 3 SB, 2 CS, 62/45 K/BB, .283/.362/.446
Pros: Decent plate discipline. Added slugging percentage points in double-A this year.
Cons: No true position. Could use more raw power.
Summary: If you don’t like him, he’s an org player. If you do like him, he’s a bat-first utility infielder who could still use more HR power than we’ve seen from him to date.
OF Jake Shaffer, L/L, 8/16/1987
2011 (AA): 120 G, 442 AB, 57 R, 127 H, 22 2B, 7 3B, 11 HR, 47 RBI, 8 SB, 8 CS, 83/30 K/BB, .287/.333/.443
Pros: Hit .306/.347/.493 in the first half. No real issues batting against left-handers.
Cons: Hit .256/.309/.360 in the second half. Could stand to walk more given that his power isn’t great.
Summary: Some people may not be satisfied with this response, but given the bad numbers he put up in the last two-and-a-half months of the year, I can’t avoid thinking of him topping out as a fourth or fifth outfielder.
3B/LF Nate Tenbrink, L/R, 12/21/1986
2011 (AA): 64 G, 211 AB, 30 R, 46 H, 9 2B, 6 3B, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 11 SB, 3 CS, 60/34 K/BB, .218/.337/.403
Pros: Has improved most years he’s played. Hit .318/.409/.521 between Jackson and High Desert last year.
Cons: Injured for much of this year. Still working on trying to find a position for him.
Summary: There’s an urge to be positive about him because unlike a lot of toolsy players, his performances have improved from one year to the next. On the other hand, if this year’s slump was a lingering effect from last year’s concussion, he could be in trouble.
SS Carlos Triunfel, R/R, 2/27/1990
2011 (AA): 105 G, 395 AB, 45 R, 111 H, 22 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 45 RBI, 6 SB, 7 CS, 88/27 K/BB, .281/.332/.383
2011 (AAA): 27 G, 111 AB, 7 R, 31 H, 6 2B, 3B, 10 RBI, SB, 17/2 K/BB, .279/.302/.351
Pros: Unlike the other players who had money thrown at them, Triunfel has made it to and beyond double-A. Youth suggests development time remaining. May actually be a shortstop. Healthy at present.
Cons: That power we were looking for from him? It’s never come, and this season provided a new high in Ks.
Summary: All things considered, Triunfel probably has more value to the M’s than he would to other teams, considering the money we’ve spent on him and how the M’s FO would have more reason to believe he could improve than those less close to the situation. At the same time, I don’t see any reason for them to chance it, so they’ll probably put him on.
LHP Philippe Valiquette, 2/14/1987
2011 (N/A): Did not play
Pros: Rumored to be hitting mid-to-high 90s on the radar gun, which for a southpaw, is silly.
Cons: Injured all this year. Has been a reliever since 2007, which incidentally was the first and only time he walked fewer than 3.9 per nine over the course of a season.
Summary: Valiquette signed with us as a minor league free agent late in the season. He’s the biggest enigma in a pile of question marks, but if other teams see that he’s throwing that hard and is healthy, they won’t care how bad his command is.
There are plenty of other players that I could be talking about. Examples include Jonathan Arias, Dwight Britton, Tony Butler, Luke French, Nick Hill, Jose Jimenez, Stephen Kahn, Kuo-hui Lo, Fray Martinez, James McOwen, Ramon Morla, Jesse Nava, Gabriel Noriega, Edward Paredes, Kyle Parker, Stephen Penney, Chaz Roe, Reynaldo Sabala, Edlando Seco, Taylor Stanton, and others I’ve omitted, but in general those guys all have a few glaring flaws that make it hard to even include them in passing. There’s also Efrain Nunez if he’s eligible, but again, I don’t think he is based off of what I see in the media guide. But as thorough [read as: “crazy”] as I am, I even have to draw the line somewhere.
Now, at this stage of things, we can’t really say “if you were to pick x guys from this group, who would they be?” because rosters are still being manipulated and the team will also theoretically want to leave room for free agent signings or their own weird Rule 5 picks that will not likely make it out of spring training. Any stabs I make at this are educated guesses. If I were to pick some “locks”, I would say that Triunfel and Chiang would be it, in addition to whoever is actually eligible of Erasmo and Francisco Martinez. Assuming the rumours about Valiquette are true, he could also be in there seeing as how we’ve protected guys like that in the past.
In the second tier there, the “maybe” guys, I’d put Raben and Carroll near the top and continue with pitchers like Fernandez and Hensley. Almonte could also be selected depending on if the M’s fit Halman into a trade somewhere, but otherwise, I’m less confident on him. On numbers, Grube deserves consideration, but age may play into it as he’s not likely to be part of the long-term reckoning. Tenbrink’s hitting in recent years has earned him a spot in the discussion, certainly, though the recent injuries cast a cloud over his future. It’s a question of whether you want to protect him while hoping for a rebound or if you think that because of said injuries, you can chance not having him on there.
To an extent, this group will resemble the groups of the past two years or so, sans Pineda of course. We’re investing spots in these guys on the chance that one of them becomes at least a contributor and hopefully more than that. Future years may feature more “prospects”, but given the quick rises of Seager and Ackley, they might also not. The point, after all, is to have good young players, not to make mid-November more interesting [to me] than other times of the year.