Boyd's World-> The Old Dogs Report-> 2001 Year in Review Write the author, Boyd Nation

The Old Dogs Report -- 2001 Year in Review

Written October 23, 2001.

I have to admit, I was spoiled. The first year that I did one of these was 1999. That was the year that Rafael Palmeiro made a serious run at the AL MVP and Adam Piatt won the Texas League Triple Crown and a couple of Minor League Player of the Year awards. Based on a sample size of one year, I figured it would always be like that.

With more realistic expectations, I think the Old Dogs had a pretty good year. A couple who had been written off rose up from the ashes; Travis Chapman and Mark Freed continued to advance; the group as a whole didn't do badly.

The usual disclaimer: These are all guys that I love and respect, but this is the extreme end of the talent curve we're talking about, and there's no shame in being one of the 3000 best in the world at something -- what it takes to make it to high A ball -- instead of being one of the few hundred best that it takes to get to the big leagues. This is as honest and accurate an assessment as I can make.

Brantley, Jeff      Texas             Texas           American          MLB
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Brantley    18   5.14 21.0   12   12   11   26   9    5    0    1    0

This season was sort of non-descript, which is kind of a shame, because it caused the end of a good career to go almost unnoticed. He was average this year, but he was expensive, so he was cut mid-year. That brought to an end (presumably, anyway) a 14-year career that included a multi-year stretch where you could reasonably ask if he was the best player in his league at his position -- I think you could make a reasonable case for it in 1995 and 1996, and I'd listen to an argument for 1990 -- and not many people can say that.

Ginter, Matt (1)    Charlotte         Chicago W Sox   International     AAA
Ginter, Matt (2)    Chicago W Sox     Chicago W Sox   American          MLB
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Ginter(1)   22   2.59 76.1   26   22   67   62   24   3    2    3    0
Ginter(2)   20   5.22 39.2   23   23   24   34   14   2    1    0    0

Nothing bad here, and nothing really good. He's young -- this is his 23-year-old season -- and he's on track to stay around for a while. He didn't do anything this year in the big leagues to distinguish himself, but he also pitched well enough in Charlotte that he'll get a chance to make the big league roster in middle relief with an outside shot at the rotation next spring, so you've got to consider the season a success. He's caught in a bit of a glut with young White Sox pitchers, but he's got a couple of years of development time left, and these things tend to work themselves out.

Loewer, Carlton(1)  San Diego         San Diego       National          MLB
Loewer, Carlton(2)  Lake Elsinore     San Diego       California        High A
Loewer, Carlton(3)* Portland          San Diego       Pacific Coast     AAA
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Loewer(1)   2    24.9 4.1    12   12   1    13   3    2    0    2    0
Loewer(2)   4    1.59 11.1   7    2    14   6    4    0    0    1    0
Loewer(3)   14   3.87 81.1   42   35   64   97   15   7    5    4    0

The bad news is that Loewer essentially lost another season to injury, and he doesn't have that much time left before he peaks -- this was his 27-year-old season. At this point, you've got to figure that he's not in the Padres' plans for the future, but they'll probably keep him around, and, if not, someone else will pick him up. All he has to do is stay healthy and prove that the last three years haven't cost him too much in effectiveness, but that's going to be a hard task.

Powell, Jay (1)     Houston           Houston         National          MLB
Powell, Jay (2)     Colorado          Colorado        National          MLB
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Powell      74   3.24 75.0   36   27   54   75   31   9    5    3    7

An interesting season, to say the least. Powell was relatively ineffective in Houston, but really seemed to finish well in Colorado -- he may be the first player whose ERA has dropped by almost a full run after moving to Denver. He's only 29, so he should have a few more years before age becomes a factor; hopefully, he'll find a comfortable spot next year, probably in Colorado, and turn in a good year.

Palmeiro, Rafael    Texas             Texas           American          MLB
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Palmeiro    160  .381 .563 .273 600  164  101  33   0    47   1    1    98

He was quiet about it, but Palmeiro just turned in another great season. By Clay Davenport's Equivalent Runs above Replacement Player measure, he was the fifth most valuable first baseman in baseball last year, behind only Giambi, Thome, Helton, and Delgado. That's heady company, placing him above John Olerud and Ryan Klesko, for example. Part of that is due to his remarkable durability -- he went over 700 plate appearances yet again -- but his raw numbers are nothing to sneeze at either. You have to discount slightly for the 46 games at DH, but that appears more an attempt to squeeze out, say, five more seasons from the knees rather than two, since his defense is still excellent.

All in all, I think the last three seasons have moved Palmeiro from "some chance at the Hall of Fame, but still needs to pile up some numbers," to a point where I think he's more likely to get in than not. It remains to be seen how the voters will deal with the offensive explosion of the late '90's and early '00's, but his raw totals are exciting to date -- 2485 hits and 447 home runs puts him on pace for a reasonable chance of 3000 hits and an almost sure shot at 500 home runs. If he were to become injured or ineffective next year, he might still miss out, but a normal decline from this point gets him in.

Piatt, Adam (1) *   Oakland           Oakland         American          MLB
Piatt, Adam (2)     Sacramento        Oakland         Pacific Coast     AAA
Piatt, Adam (3)     Modesto           Oakland         California        High A
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Piatt(1)    36   .300 .284 .211 95   20   13   5    1    0    0    0    9
Piatt(2)    35   .339 .367 .257 109  28   11   9    0    1    2    0    14
Piatt(3)    4    .529 .800 .467 15   7    1    2    0    1    0    0    4

Sometimes, life throws you a detour. Adam Piatt played poorly out of the gates and was finally diagnosed with viral meningitis. He's only 25 and has plenty of time to come back, but the A's didn't sit still while he was out, so we'll have to see if they have a spot for him next year. He'll play somewhere, but he's going to have to do some work to get his promising career back on track.

Freed, Mark         Daytona           Chicago Cubs    Florida State     High A
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Freed       23   3.12 130.   54   45   90   120  51   7    6    8    0

This was an outstanding season, which puts Freed right on track to move on up the ladder. He was third in the league in ERA, putting up a 3.12 against the league average of 3.71. The Cubs don't have the greatest record for taking care of pitchers' arms, but most of the damage has been done at the MLB level, so he's got a couple of years to grow before he should have to worry too much about that.

Hooten, David (1)   Edmonton          Minnesota       Pacific Coast     AAA
Hooten, David (2)   Akron             Cleveland       Eastern           AA
Hooten, David (3)   Buffalo           Cleveland       International     AAA
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Hooten(1)   7    9.00 10.0   10   10   4    17   4    1    1    1    0
Hooten(2)   17   1.37 46.0   7    7    31   43   12   3    4    0    4
Hooten(3)   1    1.80 5.0    1    1    2    5    1    1    1    0    0

Hey, look who's still here. David Hooten looked done at the end of last season, but managed to catch on with the Twins and then was impressive enough in spring training to get a chance in AAA. He didn't perform well there, but managed to hook on with the Indians and turned in quite a good account. I can't find an age for him anywhere, but his years in college should put him somewhere around 26, so he's still got a chance to make the big leagues, especially in pitching-poor Cleveland.

Medders, Brandon    Lancaster         Arizona         California        High A
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Medders     31   1.32 41.0   8    6    53   26   15   1    1    2    3

This is an outstanding start to his professional career -- starting way up in High A ball and holding his own quite well. We'll see how they decide to use him next year, whether trying to groom him as a closer or give him a few starts, but this is encouraging.

Polk, Scott         St. Lucie         New York Mets   Florida State     High A
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Polk        6    7.04 7.2    6    6    4    9    10   1    1    0    0

Polk performed poorly early this season, was injured, and then retired at mid-season.

Reinike, Chris (1)* Akron             Cleveland       Eastern           AA
Reinike, Chris (2)  Buffalo           Cleveland       International     AAA
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Reinike(1)  27   5.33 52.1   34   31   40   55   18   5    1    3    5
Reinike(2)  1    9.00 1.0    1    1    1    0    3    0    0    0    0

These are not great numbers, but the team apparently thought enough of him to give him a shot in the Arizona Fall League. Unfortunately, he was scrubbed from that due to tenderness in his shoulder. Teams tend to be ultra-cautious with players in the fall due to the potential for overwork, but on the heels of Reinike's injury problems the last couple of years, it can't be good news. He'll probably get another shot in AA next year.

Thoms, Hank (1)     Columbus          Cleveland       South Atlantic    Low A
Thoms, Hank (2)     Kinston           Cleveland       Carolina          High A
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Thoms(1)    19   2.98 45.1   20   15   51   40   15   3    3    1    1
Thoms(2)    14   2.26 79.2   26   20   74   70   20   2    7    2    0

After toiling in the independent leagues for a couple of years after being drafted lower than he expected, Thoms comes back to affiliated ball and really shines. Given his age, I'd expect them to try to move him on up to AA next year to see what he can do; either way, it's nice to see him get this chance.

Chapman, Travis (1) Clearwater        Philadelphia    Florida State     High A
Chapman, Travis (2) Reading           Philadelphia    Eastern           AA
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Chapman(1)  96   .400 .410 .307 329  101  44   22   0    4    3    1    39
Chapman(2)  7    .250 .318 .182 22   4    0    0    0    1    0    0    3

Chapman had probably the best season of any of the Bulldog minor leaguers. He was third in the FSL in batting average and fourth in OBP and has probably cemented himself a spot at third base in Reading for 2002, which puts him in line for a potential callup some time during the year for a spot start or two. He needs to develop more power to be a great prospect, but skipping a level to High A gets him back on track after playing four years at MSU, and all he has to do now is stay on track.

Curry, Chris (1)    Lansing           Chicago Cubs    Midwest           Low A
Curry, Chris (2)    West Tennessee    Chicago Cubs    Southern          AA
Curry, Chris (3)    Daytona           Chicago Cubs    Florida State     High A
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Curry(1)    29   .202 .158 .116 95   11   9    4    0    0    0    0    7
Curry(2)    42   .289 .269 .213 108  23   12   3    0    1    0    0    9
Curry(3)    12   .333 .368 .263 38   10   4    4    0    0    0    0    2

Well, it's a living, and a fun one at that. Curry served as the organization's fillin catcher in the lower levels and got to see much of the eastern half of America while playing baseball. Perspective is everything in life.

Martin, Ty (1)      Savannah          Texas           South Atlantic    Low A
Martin, Ty (2)      Charlotte         Texas           Florida State     High A
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Martin(1)   35   .254 .178 .150 107  16   13   1    1    0    1    2    7
Martin(2)   47   .306 .367 .218 147  32   20   6    2    4    0    1    24

There's nothing much in the raw numbers here to excite anyone, but there was a period of about a month in the mid-season when Martin hit the ball really well, which earned him the promotion to Port Charlotte. His future will depend to a large extent on his performance in spring training.

Obradovich, Mark(1) Pittsfield        Houston         New York-Penn     SS A
Obradovich, Mark(2) Michigan          Houston         Midwest           Low A
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Obradovich1 42   .343 .376 .248 141  35   21   10   1    2    7    5    21
Obradovich2 8    .241 .286 .214 28   6    0    2    0    0    0    0    1

The first promotion is the hardest one, and he's gotten that. He'll get another chance next year.

Rock, Jamie *       Asheville         Colorado        South Atlantic    Low A
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Rock        30   .223 .283 .198 106  21   3    6    0    1    1    1    8

Rock didn't do anything impressive this year, he lost the last half of the season to injury, and the team doesn't have much invested in him. I'm not optimistic.

Shave, Jon (1) *    Pawtucket         Boston          International     AAA
Shave, Jon (2)      Boston            Boston          American          MLB
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Shave(1)    84   .322 .347 .256 308  79   22   10   0    6    3    3    35

Shave spent a few days on the big league roster this year, but never got into a game (Dan Duquette tends to outthink himself some times). That was pretty much the highlight of the year, although I suppose that moving to the International League after all those years in the PCL was probably nice.

Wren, Cliff         Canton                            Frontier          Indy
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Wren        25   .269 .327 .250 104  26   2    8    0    0    1    0    11

Wren was cut in spring training and decided to play the year in a low-level independent league. This will probably be it for him.

Boyd's World-> The Old Dogs Report-> 2001 Year in Review Write the author, Boyd Nation