Boyd's World-> The Old Dogs Report -- 2004 Year in Review-> Current Report Write the author, Boyd Nation

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