According to a source, the New York Mets have agreed to a minor league deal with Taylor Tankersley. The deal includes a Spring Training invite and is not yet official but was agreed upon on Friday.
It’s funny how the most underrated player in the game comes from one of the best organizations in the game. Yes, the Braves. Brian McCann to me, gets overshadowed when discussing the games elite catchers because if some guy named Joe Mauer. Now, that is just talking about catchers. Brian McCann has a bat and glove as good as any catcher in recent history. Not only that, but certain saber metrical stats compare him with some of the greats, such as Yogi Berra.
River Avenue Blues’ writer Mike Axisa, who is a great writer and writes for MLBTradeRumors as well, made a statement the other day by comparing Brian McCann and Yogi Berra in a WARGraph. Mike was also the one who started the whole “Brian McCann is underrated thing.” What is a WARGraph you ask? Only one of the coolest things around. WARGraphs let you compare up to 4 players whether they are active or retired and shows the cumulative WAR (Wins Above Replacement) over time. Mike compared Yogi Berra to Brian McCann and the graph came out like this:
So that inspired me to expand the search. I added Mickey Cochrane and Bill Dickey to the list. Both of whom are Hall of Fame catchers, such as the likes of Yogi Berra and possibly in the future, Brian McCann. As you can see, their cumulative WAR by age is nearly identical all the way through to the end of their careers.
Tell me that isn’t awesome? Mike’s point was that McCann through his 1st six seasons was better than Berra. Well I just kept it going by proving that McCann has been better than two other Hall of Famers through his first six seasons.
Back to Brian, imagine where the Bravos team would be without him. We’re talking about a guy who hits for average and power, plays very good defense behind the plate, and even posted a 5.3 WAR in ’10. All of those are obvious when talking about McCann, except possibly the WAR, but the homegrown catcher still gets overlooked among players in the game, not just catchers. So the point I’m trying to make is, can Brian McCann be viewed as the #1 most underrated player in Major League Baseball? Shin Soo Choo might have something to say about that, but how often has Choo had his knees crushed behind the plate 130-150 times per year? How many catchers post a career OBP of .360 while catching a tremendous young pitching staff?
I’m looking for McCann to continue his great career in a Braves uniform and if history repeats himself as seen with three other comparable catchers who wound up in Cooperstown, McCann will have a tremendous career even if he remains one of the more underappreciated players in Major League Baseball.
When you stumble upon a chance to acquire a possible #2 or #3 pitcher with some upside and a young, raw, and smart strikeout arm, chances are you shouldn’t pass it up. Well Dayton Moore didn’t pass it up when he had the opportunity to acquire RHP Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks in exchange for one year of David DeJesus.
I’ll tell you what; I like this deal for the Royals a lot. Of course you can look at Mazzaro’s season stats and criticize him for his 4.25 ERA or his low amount of strikeouts, but this is a durable young starter with potential to be a Chad Billingsley type of starter with a much more effortless delievery to go along with a 3 pitch mix including a fastball that ranges from 90-93 touching 94 and a slider that ranges from 82-85 and a decent change up.
Bottom line, these are the type of pitchers the Royals need to take a chance on. I mean, if he ends up sporting an 8.50 ERA and a WHIP over 1.40 in ’11, then it’s okay to criticize the move. But what happens if he breaks out (which I think he will) and puts up a 3.50 ERA to go along with 7 K/9?
Mazzaro is also a very good guy from my neck of the woods (New York/New Jersey). His simple delivery makes him even more fun to watch not to mention his often used fastball that sometimes has a bit of cut to it.
What do you think of this deal for the Royals? Will Mazzaro pan out? Will this deal favor the Royals in the future? Will Justin Marks be something special?
Doesn’t it seem peculiar that two of the three most significant reasons that the 2007 Rockies were victorious and World Series bound have seen their careers completely fall off all of the sudden? Well Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe, who both dealt with dreadful 2010 seasons, have recently just signed in a more comfortable place. Atkins has reunited with former skipper Clint Hurdle in Pittsburgh and Brad Hawpe has signed with the San Diego Padres, a great city, organization, and has some great new teammates.
Not too long ago, after all-star Matt Holliday was traded to the A’s for Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith, Dan O’Dowd compared Atkins and Hawpe to Holliday stating that if the underachieving Rockies (at the time) were to trade the duo, they’d want a “Holliday like package” in return.
Well to me, it’s quite interesting how the careers of the duo have completely tailed off, both players earning a non-tender and release respectively. After Atkins got non-tendered, he signed with the Orioles which didn’t go well at all. The former all-star was possibly one of the worst players in Baseball. This was two seasons after Atkins put up four straight seasons of 25+ home runs and 95+ RBI’s.
Hawpe on the other hand, struggled with in my opinion, were mechanical issues. You see, Hawpe’s unique batting stance enables him to generate his power by lifting his whole knee up to a horizontal plain, causing him to have all of his power come down on that knee, but this only works when your knee is lifted as far as it can, which in most cases is that same horizontal plain. Well, in ’10, he lifted it almost halfway up which prevented him from generating his hips in to the ball, which prevented him from using or even getting any bat speed.
Now, both of whom, are now going to enjoy a fresh start in a pressureless organization and city, where they have a chance to regain their value and redeem their respective careers. Both of the Pirates and Padres have good hitting coaches and most importantly, good managers, which may be a reason why the two can enjoy their ’11’s while playing well at the same time. Hec, we all saw how Aubrey Huff and Adrian Beltre had huge comeback seasons. Who’s to say that Hawpe and Atkins can not?
Albert Cartwright is one of my favorite prospects in Baseball and he is one of the best prospects in a much improved Houston Astros farm system. The speedy and versatile 5 tool player did a great job with this interview and I hope you enjoy it.
Me: Talk to me about the transition from Lancaster to Corpus Christi and what adjustments you had to make.
Albert: Lancaster was a good league with alot of good pitchers but i thought when i got to Corpus the pitcher had a better plan and didnt stray away from it until you made the adjust
Me: Describe what you think is the biggest part of your game and how you can improve upon it.
Albert: biggest part of my game is my speed so i try to work it into my game the best that i can meaning; taking the extra base, bunting ,tagging up when necessary anyway i can make the defense uncomfortable that’s how i try to play this game of baseball
Me: You set the Cal League record for most triples in a game. Whats a record you’d like to break at the Major League level?
Albert: setting a cali league record is a big accomplishment that i cherish dearly and my biggest concern is to help a team win at the major league level but if any record stands out at me is the stolen base record
Me: What are some of the highlights of the ’10 season for you?
Albert: two highlights that stand out to me from 2010 is the game i set the record for most triples and the game i hit my first career walk off base hit.
i can remember coming to the plate my third at bat thinking if im going to get anything to hit and after i hit another tripple hearing the cheers from the crowd and my biggest accomplishment of 2010 is hitting a walk off to win the game bottom of the 9th at home. walking to the plate telling myself just get a good pitch over the plate and sure enough i got a curveball down the middle
Me: What are some things you’re doing this off-season and how can that prepare you for Spring Training and the upcoming season?
Albert: preparing my self mental and physically to endure the the long brutal season ahead of me. pushing yourself in the gym and putting time on the field and in the batting cages. putting in time gets me ready for the season
Me: You were drafted in the 36th round and are now one of the Astros better prospects. Describe the journey it’s been all the way from Polk College to where you are now and did you have to turn many heads after getting drafted much later than most?
Albert: getting drafted in later rounds is definitely harder . you dont get the chance or opportunities a early round pick would get so it puts more pressure on you to perform but i would say once you go out and do what you got to do on and off the field your chance will come where you can show your talent now once you get ya chance to show what you can do you have to run with it and i think with the opportunities i got i turn a few heads. polk community college baseball program led by former head coach Joe Arnold and assissant coach Brian Kraft got me prepare and help shape my overall game to take it to the next level and by listen to the Houston Astros coaching staff and putting everything together help mold my game to what it is now.
Me: Who are some of your biggest idols and do you ever seek help from current Astros?
Albert: My biggest idols i would say is my mother Patricia Cartwright and my father Albert Cartwright. I learned early in my life just by watching them go out and handle there business waking up early in the morning before the sunrise in the morning just to provide for me and my brother Cyril and sister Amanda. my parents did what it takes just to make sure that we had anything they didn’t had as a child and i commend them for that. past two season i had the the opportunity to have the same manager Tom Lawless who i look up to and who helps me out with my overall game from hitting to defense
Me: Toughest pitcher you’ve faced in college and in the minors?
Albert: toughest pitcher i faced in my short career i would say is Matt Latos when i was as at Polk and he was at Broward community college
Me: When going through the draft process, which team were you hoping would draft you, and was the signing process somewhat hard or lengthy?
Albert: during the draft process it was more of a wait to see who will take me more than i hope a certain team. the signing process was a bit lengthy but nothing to bad i was leaning more on going back to school and signing in 07 so after a week or two after being selected by the Astros i had a conversation with my dad Albert Cartwright and after that i decided ill sign with the Houston Astros
Me: Talk to me about your teammate, J.D. Martinez
Albert: J.D is a good friend of mine with a good work ethic and talent. the times he spend studying pitching and hitting in the cage is amazing to be on a team with him and to workout with him in off season is a privilege just to be able to learn and to know what he is thinking at times although he is still you young and has alot more baseball to play and much more to learn he is an amazing talent
Billy Beane has done his best to add power to an A’s lineup that was nearly worst in the American League each of the past three seasons. And today, he not only acquired a power hitter in Josh Willingham, but an on-base machine as well. As we’ve witnessed nearly every off-season when it comes to the A’s, it’s been a huge struggle attracting big name free agents to the Bay Area, or at least one side of the Bay Area. And as Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post tweeted today, a contract extension may very well be possible. Thus, my question is, can the A’s lock up Josh Wilingham after acquiring him in the same off-season a la Dan Uggla? If so, what will it cost the A’s?
Willingham has made nearly $10MM in his Major League career. The most he was paid in a season was obviously in ’10, $4.6MM. The career .265 hitter has a .378 on base percentage over the past two seasons, his two years on the Washington Nationals and although his UZR is -10.0 over the last two seasons, he can boast about a 5.2 WAR over his aforementioned cup of tea with the Nats.
There’s one close to perfect comparison for Willingham. That would be Corey Hart.
Corey is perhaps the best comparable for Willingham. Both are very similar players and Hart is being paid $6.5MM in ’11, $9MM in ’12, and $10MM in ’13. That’s exactly what I would pay Josh Willingham over the next 3 years. Willingham gets on base more than Hart, but both have very similar power and are both equally not so spectacular defenders, as their respective UZR’s over the past two years would suggest. Josh Willingham has hit .264 over the past two years while Hart has hit a very similar .262. With all of that said, Willingham has a higher runs created and weighted on base average during his Nationals stint, something that Billy Beane surely has in mind. Both strike out the same amount (JW 23% and CH 22.9%) and are equally slow, hence their lousy play in the outfield.
Here’s a WAR Graph comparing the duo’s cumulative WAR by age, courtesy of Fangraphs.
Furthermore, what will an extension for the A’s newly acquired left fielder cost? He is three years older than Hart, but continues to outplay the Brewers slugger.
Personally, I think a 3 year deal worth $28MM would be fair. Being paid $6MM in ’11, $9MM in ’12, and $13MM in ’13. Willingham has shown tremendous improvement since being traded from the Marlins along with Scott Olsen in exchange for Emilio Bonifacio and two minor leaguers. Even if an extension doesn’t go through or get decided upon, the A’s have a much improved lineup for the 2011 season headlined by new acquisitions David DeJesus and Hideki Matsui. Not to mention another year of experience for Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Braden to go along with a fantastic bullpen which is highlighted by Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow, and Brad Ziegler. Continuing, I really like the A’s chances in 2011 and most of my confidence in their chances to win the division come from the new acquisition and this entry’s centric, Josh Willingham.
If anybody has heard yet, that Cliff Lee guy signed with the Phillies. The Rangers, who had hoped the ace left hander would stay in the Lone Star State, chose otherwise, leaving a big hole in the Texas rotation. So there has been plenty of talk about signing Rafael Soriano and pitching him in the 9th thus sending Neftali Feliz to the rotation. Like Rich Harden, who is the centric of this entry, Feliz has tremendous stuff. Would it really make sense to put a closer who was dominant through 70-80 innings in a rotation where he would pitch 200 innings and have all of the opposing hitters get used to his fastball and curve? Or does it make sense to keep him in the closer role where he can empty everything out in one inning?
Well Rich Harden is apparently in talks with his former team, the Swingin’ A’s on what would most likely be a one year deal with plenty of incentives. The real question is, will he be starting or relieving?
Personally, Rich Harden is one of my favorite pitchers. He can’t stay healthy, but when he is healthy, he’s sometimes unhitable. Other times, he doesn’t miss bats and gets in to lots of trouble with opposing hitters. So like someone like Clay Hensley for example, does moving to the pen take pressure off of not only you, but your manager, and your teamates. I could see Harden succeeding in the 5th spot in the A’s rotation, but there are definetly some pros about possibly setting up for Andrew Bailey. In fact, say the aformentioned Feliz pitched in the rotation this year and pitches quite well, can Harden join a teams rotation in ’12 after expierence in the pen and pitch a decent 180 innings? I’m not sure, but the problem again for Harden has not been the fact that he can’t pitch well, it’s about staying healthy. In 2008, he was dominant. It would be great to see him get back to that form, but for now, I think a place like Oakland, even though things didn’t end well, would be a fine fit for him unlike Colorado or any other team in the west. I thought a la Clay Hensley, the Marlins would be a great fit on a minor league deal and a chance to make the rotation, but it looks like he’s close to a deal with the A’s. Let’s just hope that Rich Harden can be Rich Harden again.