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The Old Dogs Report -- 2004 Year in Review
Written October 4, 2004.
It was kind of a blah year, to be honest. Jon Knott continued to soar, but stayed stuck in Portland most of the year. A lot of the young talent had injury problems, as Travis Chapman spent the year recovering from surgery for the most part, Brandon Medders suffered a serious shoulder problem, and Paul Maholm lost most of the year. Rafael Palmeiro's decline hastened. There are still sparks of life, but it's all out there in the future for now.
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.
(*) Currently injured and/or on the disabled list.
(+) Last team, as far as I know.
(-) Released or voluntarily retired.
Dubose, Eric * Baltimore Baltimore American MLB G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Dubose 14 6.39 74.2 55 48 76 44 12 4 6 0
These numbers end up looking much worse than they should have; Dubose was clearly hurting his last few starts and was just out there because the Orioles really didn't have any other options. His ERA rose steadily from an early-season 3.06 to giving up a total of 15 runs in his last two starts. The surgery -- to remain bone chips from his elbow -- is considered fairly routine; his lack of a return this year was more due to roster shenanigans than continuing physical problems.
Ginter, Matt (1) Norfolk NY Mets International AAA Ginter, Matt (2*) New York Mets NY Mets National MLB G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Ginter(1) 11 2.95 64.0 26 21 49 55 8 4 1 5 0 Ginter(2) 15 4.54 69.1 41 38 82 20 8 1 3 0
This is a nice progression from last year, I think. Ginter got to leave Chicago's Parade of Failed Prospects and work with Rick Peterson in New York for a good chunk of the year. He didn't turn in anything overwhelming, but he got in 14 starts at just over league average ERA, and doing that at age 26 will keep you in peanut money for a few years. The surgery that ended his season a couple of weeks early was to remove bone chips after a severe sprained ankle; he should be back at full strength for spring training.
Powell, Jay * Texas Texas American MLB G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Powell 23 3.38 24.0 11 17 24 11 3 1 1 0
Before he got hurt, this was actually Powell's lowest ERA since his great season in Colorado in 2001. He's still worth something but not worth his contract, which will continue to vex the Rangers.
Knott, Jon (1+) Portland San Diego Pacific Coast AAA Knott, Jon (2) San Diego San Diego National MLB G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Knott(1) 113 .376 .533 .290 435 126 58 22 3 26 5 3 79 Knott(2) 9 .267 .357 .214 14 3 1 2 0 0 0 0 1
There's a fundamental problem facing players waiting to be drafted: You're much more likely to develop fully in a good organization, and a good organization is much more likely to have players blocking you once you reach the upper levels. This was a great season for Knott, but he's going to have a tough time displacing Brian Giles or Ryan Klesko from a corner outfield spot or Phil Nevin from first. Even Terrence Long showed signs of life this year. He's old for a prospect, which means that a year as a fifth outfielder doesn't look like a great idea. His best option is probably as trade bait, although a trade of Long might suit the Padres well, since Knott would produce about the same or better next year much more cheaply, and the two corner starters are old and brittle enough that he could get enough at bats to make it worth a year.
Palmeiro, Rafael Baltimore Baltimore American MLB G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Palmeiro 153 .362 .440 .260 546 142 86 29 0 23 2 1 68
The batting eye is still there, but his power has gone to the point where he's probably not worth a roster spot even with his defense. That's a tough thing to say, and I'll hope for a bounceback next year, but even understanding the drive behind it doesn't make it easy watching a Hall of Famer playing out the string.
Blakeney, Jacob(1) Rome Atlanta South Atlantic Low A Blakeney, Jacob(2+) Myrtle Beach Atlanta Carolina High A G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Blakeney(1) 17 2.35 23.0 8 6 18 16 5 1 0 2 5 Blakeney(2) 22 5.51 32.2 22 20 18 36 21 4 1 1 1
That's a great half-season in Rome. Unfortunately, minor league relievers can't really afford stretches like his in Myrtle Beach.
Freed, Mark Tucson Arizona Pacific Coast AAA G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Freed 57 4.35 70.1 37 34 45 74 35 4 3 2 2
The move to the bullpen continues to frustrate; the Diamondbacks might be better served moving him back to the bullpen and seeing what develops.
Lacher, Jeff Jamestown Florida New York-Penn SS A G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Lacher 16 5.88 41.1 35 27 29 54 9 8 0 3 0
Well, he didn't walk many people. There's nothing here to suggest that Lacher will get another shot next year.
Larson, Adam (1) Kannapolis Chicago W Sox South Atlantic Low A Larson, Adam (2) Winston-Salem Chicago W Sox Carolina High A Larson, Adam (3+) Charlotte Chicago W Sox International AAA G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Larson(1) 18 4.20 30.0 17 14 23 35 8 3 3 1 1 Larson(2) 11 8.82 16.1 16 16 12 25 8 3 1 1 1 Larson(3) 6 7.36 14.2 12 12 6 18 5 3 0 2 0
He's an organizational arm at this point, although those flashes of talent still show up every once in a while and get people's attention.
Maholm, Paul (1) Lynchburg Pittsburgh Carolina High A Maholm, Paul (2) GCL Pirates Pittsburgh Gulf Coast Rookie Maholm, Paul (3+) Hickory Pittsburgh South Atlantic Low A G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Maholm(1) 8 1.84 44.0 11 9 28 39 15 2 1 3 0 Maholm(2) 1 2.25 4.0 1 1 2 5 1 0 0 0 0 Maholm(3) 3 9.49 12.1 14 13 12 17 10 2 0 2 0
Maholm was off to a start that would have easily had him in AA by the All-Star Break and possibly in Pittsburgh by September when he took a line drive to the face. Recovery from something like that is completely unpredictable, so we'll have to see what next year brings.
Medders, Brandon * Tucson Arizona Pacific Coast AAA G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Medders 11 4.26 12.2 7 6 17 15 4 3 0 0 0
Medders would have probably made it to Phoenix this year (how much worse could he have been than the non-Randy Johnson portion of the rotation), but the diagnosis was a torn labrum, which is as close to a death sentence as a pitcher can get these days. They're currently projecting mid-2005 as a return date, but that's optimistic.
Papelbon, Jonathan Sarasota Boston Florida State High A G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Papelbon 24 2.64 129. 43 38 153 97 43 6 12 7 0
Now here's a good sign, probably the best we've got this year. The FSL is a pitcher's league, so take the raw numbers with some salt, but he was second in the league in both ERA and strikeouts, and Baseball America calls him one of the league's top 20 prospects. He's still probably two years from Boston, but he's on track.
Young, Chris Visalia Colorado California High A G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Young 52 3.60 85.0 38 34 77 95 15 6 8 3 2
This is my sixth year of these reports. Read any of them, and you'll find comments on the value of being a minor league reliever (not much) and the value of keeping a job (quite a lot). Mix them appropriately here.
Brown, Michael (1) Gary Northern Indy Brown, Michael (2+) Kansas City Northern Indy G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Brown(1) 35 .277 .369 .230 122 28 2 3 1 4 3 2 18 Brown(2) 47 .407 .519 .322 183 59 25 15 0 7 9 4 27
Good league. Bad numbers. Trade. Good numbers. I dunno, probably just sample size issues, but it's impossible to tell which performance is more reflective of his actual abilities at this point. He'll get another year in the Northern League to find out if he wants it, anyway. Wouldn't you love to play for a team named the T-Bones?
Chapman, Travis(1) AZL Royals Kansas City Arizona Rookie Chapman, Travis(2+) Wilmington Kansas City Carolina High A G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Chapman(1) 17 .449 .436 .309 55 17 8 2 1 1 1 0 12 Chapman(2) 27 .321 .436 .234 94 22 7 4 0 5 0 0 12
Unfortunately, most of the important news for Chapman took place off the field this year. He was cut by the Phillies during the offseason, had shoulder surgery in December, was picked up by the Royals, and spent most of the season in rehab. He seems to be well-regarded by the organization, and Heaven knows they've got openings, so next year could be a breakout chance.
Curry, Chris Norwich San Francisco Eastern AA G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Curry 88 .303 .401 .254 299 76 16 18 1 8 0 0 32
Signed by a different organization, he finally got to spend the whole year in one place. He responded well, but backup catchers in AA don't usually have a lot of future. Still, he's already had a fun career even if he never makes the show.
Gendron, Steve (1) Jamestown Florida New York-Penn SS A Gendron, Steve (2+) Greensboro Florida South Atlantic Low A G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Gendron(1) 17 .292 .319 .261 69 18 3 2 1 0 1 0 8 Gendron(2) 52 .263 .198 .187 187 35 18 2 0 0 4 0 20
Gendron got promoted over his head in a hurry without actually hitting all that well; we'll see how next year plays out, probably in Greensboro again.
Maniscalco, Matthew Bakersfield Tampa Bay California High A G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Maniscalco 124 .329 .307 .253 463 117 52 23 1 0 22 10 56
Even good defensive shortstops have to hit better than this these days to advance. Having a guy four years younger establish himself firmly with the big league club doesn't help the forecast, either.
Obradovich, Mark1 Salem Houston Carolina High A Obradovich, Mark2+ Round Rock Houston Texas AA G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Obradovich1 51 .301 .222 .176 153 27 27 4 0 1 0 0 19 Obradovich2 11 .341 .303 .182 33 6 8 1 0 1 1 0 8
Beautiful walk rates, but not enough of anything else to help out much. He and Curry are riding the same career path at this point.
Tatum, Craig Billings Cincinnati Pioneer Rookie G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Tatum 42 .322 .356 .221 149 33 21 8 3 2 2 0 19
He didn't hit much, and college guys in the Pioneer League are supposed to hit, but he's highly regarded enough to make BA's top 20 prospect list for the league.
Rath, Gary Doosan Bears Korean Baseball League
As a few oddly-translated articles findable through Google will tell you, Rath was at least leading the league in wins late in the year and made the All-Star team. The level of play is uncertain because so few players have made it to other leagues but it's probably around A ball but with more variation in talent.
Players who played or were on a roster in 2003 and not in 2004:
Loewer, Carlton San Diego San Diego National MLB Piatt, Adam Tampa Bay Tampa Bay American MLB Carroll, Ryan Jackson Central Indy Hooten, David Midland Oakland Texas AA Thoms, Hank Fargo-Moorhead Northern Indy Brinson, Matt Tri-City Colorado Northwest SS A Henry, Chad Joliet Northern Indy Martin, Tyler Frisco Texas Texas AA Willingham, Phil Richmond Frontier Indy Wren, Cliff Baton Rouge Southeastern Indy
This is a rather long list, as a bunch of guys who had been hanging on in the independent leagues gave it up. There are a couple of surprises, as both Loewer and Piatt walk away with potential remaining. Brinson was injured and then cut, Martin didn't finish last season, and Hooten finally couldn't find someone to take him.
|Boyd's World-> The Old Dogs Report -- 2004 Year in Review-> Current Report||Write the author, Boyd Nation|