Boyd's World-> The Old Dogs Report -- 2006 Year in Review-> Current Report Write the author, Boyd Nation

The Old Dogs Report -- 2006 Year in Review

Written November 21, 2006.

Nobody exploded on the scene this year -- Todd Doolittle probably made the best move into contention -- but Jon Papelbon went from major leaguer to star this year, and Paul Maholm did what was hoped for from him and has a bright future. The only bad spots were the unfortunate end of Raphael Palmeiro's career and another injury to Travis Chapman.

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.

Dubose, Eric        Baltimore         Baltimore       American          MLB
Dubose, Eric        Ottawa            Baltimore       International     AAA
Dubose, Eric        Bowie             Baltimore       Eastern           AA

            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Dubose      2    9.64 4.2    5    5    2    10   3    2    0    0    0
Dubose      8    5.54 39.0   26   24   30   44   23   3    3    4    0
Dubose      17   2.64 81.2   28   24   65   65   32   7    7    1    0

In some ways, in most of these cases what we're actually talking about are career considerations. Now, it's a fun career (you get to play a fun game some of the time, and nobody would track the careers of, say, civil engineers in their early 30's), but there's still the planning aspect of the whole thing to consider. When you're Eric Dubose, even if you have a degree (I don't know that he does), you haven't used it in the decade or so since you left school, so your future probably lies in baseball unless you've saved up enough from playing to retire. Dubose's career earnings are under a million, as far as I can tell, and he's awfully young in an overall sense, so I doubt he's retiring. One of the major factors in the game of baseball, which makes a lot of things make sense even if you discount the love of the game, is that, while the minor leagues don't pay very well (unless you're on a major league contract while you're there, as Dubose was this year), most of the other job options in the game, such as coaching or scouting, pay even worse.

All of this is a very long-winded way to say that, even though there was no evidence in his performance this year to suggest that he's going to be an effective big league pitcher at any point in the future, Dubose will probably stick around as long as someone is willing to let him, and he's left-handed, so the odds are pretty good that someone will give him another chance. He did improve as the year went on, but it's hard to tell whether that was actual improvement or just moving down until he found a level he could handle.

Maholm, Paul        Pittsburgh        Pittsburgh      National          MLB

            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Maholm      30   4.76 176.   98   93   117  202  81   19   8    10   0

In this case, the improvement during the season was real. Three of Maholm's first four starts were fairly bad, totaling 15 runs over 21 innings; his April ERA was 5.86. May was 3.88, September was 4.00, and the rest varied in between. He'll be 25 next year, so his injury risk should begin to lessen, and the missing 2005 season may help out some there as well. He didn't make a run at Rookie of the Year or anything, but it's a solid opening session, and his top end is huge.

Medders, Brandon    Arizona           Arizona         National          MLB

            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Medders     60   3.64 71.2   37   29   47   76   28   5    5    3    0

Middle relief for a lower division team is a lonely place to be, but it's a whole lot less lonely in Phoenix than in Tucson. His best hope right now is to get some of that Magic Closer Pixie Dust sprinkled over him at some point. The walk and unearned runs rates are worrisomely high, but his overall performance was solid, so he's setting up for a decent run through the league.

Papelbon, Jonathan  Boston            Boston          American          MLB

            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Papelbon    59   0.92 68.1   8    7    75   40   13   3    4    2    35

Many years, this is your American League Rookie of the Year. Closer usage patterns are goofy, but given the hat he was given to wear, this is a heck of a year. The arm problems at the end of the year appeared to be fatigue-related, so he should be OK going forward. The only real question now is whether he moves into the rotation.

Buckley, Allen      Arkansas          Anaheim         Texas             AA

            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Buckley     10   4.84 22.1   12   12   19   25   13   5    1    2    0

Remember what I said about Phoenix and Tucson? Try it in Little Rock. I suspect that he's done, although that career thing could keep him around, either here or in the independent leagues, for another couple of years.

Doolittle, Todd     Greensboro        Florida         South Atlantic    Low A
Doolittle, Todd     Jupiter           Florida         Florida State     High A

            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Doolittle   30   1.37 59.0   11   9    79   36   21   1    4    1    2
Doolittle   16   0.84 21.1   2    2    26   12   7    0    3    1    0

Now, this is a surprise. All of the scouting reports on Doolittle begin with a description of his lack of stuff, but his performance this year was good enough that those reports made it into the press in the first place. One of the dirty secrets of the industry is that most of that stuff is spoonfed by the teams behind the scenes, so it's a pretty good guess that the Marlins are high on him.

Dunn, Brooks        Eugene            San Diego       Northwest         SS A

            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Dunn        16   3.19 59.1   32   21   34   57   16   0    3    6    1

This is a good, solid performance -- holding the walks to one a game was a big move for him. The NWL isn't quite the pitcher's paradise that the NYP is, but the batters are still getting used to the wood bats, so it's good rather than great, but it'll be good to see how he handles A ball next year.

Gant, Jamie         Lexington         Houston         South Atlantic    Low A

            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Gant        29   5.58 50.0   39   31   46   47   29   6    2    4    1

This was not a particularly great year. I think he'll get another chance, and I think he may be set up to take advantage of it, since some of the peripheral numbers are better than the ERA shows.

Ginter, Matt        Pawtucket         Boston          International     AAA
Ginter, Matt        Indianapolis      Pittsburgh      International     AAA

            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Ginter      15   3.64 89.0   43   36   49   88   18   5    3    9    0
Ginter      8    5.32 47.1   33   28   31   53   6    10   2    4    1

Overall, he was a bit better than average for the International League. However, he's a known quantity, so this isn't going to get him to a point where he's anything more than emergency roster filler. There's value to that, though, and he's shown signs that he could hit a hot streak during a brief callup and stick for a while.

Johnson, Alan       Asheville         Colorado        South Atlantic    Low A

            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Johnson     25   4.08 152.   78   69   116  163  38   10   12   5    0

This is better than league average by about half a run, and the Rockies aren't exactly loaded with options in the system, so he'll get to move up to High A and see how that goes.

Young, Chris        Albuquerque       Florida         Pacific Coast     AAA
Young, Chris        Jupiter           Florida         Florida State     High A
Young, Chris        Carolina          Florida         Southern          AA

            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Young       3    12.0 6.0    10   8    2    12   5    1    1    0    0
Young       2    3.00 3.0    1    1    2    4    0    0    0    1    0
Young       42   2.48 65.1   23   18   55   56   17   1    4    3    10

Ignoring the trivial amounts of stuff at other levels, the performance at Carolina won't get him out of the pen, but it'll get him another chance to show what he's got, and I didn't expect that from him going into the year. Young is one great pitch away from breaking out, but so are lots of other guys.

Berkery, Thomas     Spokane           Texas           Northwest         SS A

            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Berkery     54   .345 .362 .251 199  50   23   11   1    3    7    2    24

These numbers are skewed a bit by the fact that plate discipline is often the one piece that survives the early transition to wood. On the other hand, that means he did have plate discipline in the first place. Berkery's defense is well-regarded, so we'll see if the bat can stick around enough to keep him moving. Most of the Rangers' system parks are high-offense, so it may work for him.

Chapman, Travis     Altoona           Pittsburgh      Eastern           AA
Chapman, Travis     GCL Pirates       Pittsburgh      Gulf Coast        Rookie

            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Chapman     11   .333 .425 .275 40   11   4    3    0    1    0    0    4
Chapman     7    .280 .190 .143 21   3    3    1    0    0    0    0    1

This is the down side to the whole baseball-as-career discussion -- it's manual labor when you get right down to it, and good work isn't always rewarded. Chapman's career has been hurt by bad management decisions and by an ever-worsening series of injuries, and I think this is it. The next career may be interesting; he could end up in some other field, but all accounts are that he would make a great coach.

Corley, Brad        Hickory           Pittsburgh      South Atlantic    Low A

            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Corley      126  .324 .440 .284 504  143  16   30   2    15   9    3    79

Hit OK, played average defense, didn't walk enough. He'll move up one level and move on.

Gendron, Steve      Jupiter           Florida         Florida State     High A
Gendron, Steve      Carolina          Florida         Southern          AA

            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Gendron     79   .263 .247 .215 251  54   14   6    1    0    6    4    16
Gendron     2    .500 .500 .500 2    1    0    0    0    0    0    1    0

He's still hanging in there, so anything is possible.

Hunter, Joseph      Great Falls       Chicago W Sox   Pioneer           Rookie

            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Hunter      25   .392 .489 .295 88   26   7    3    1    4    8    5    16

Great numbers, but college hitters are supposed to do this to the Pioneer League, so next year will be the big test.

Knott, Jon          San Diego         San Diego       National          MLB
Knott, Jon          Portland          San Diego       Pacific Coast     AAA

            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Knott       3    .000 .000 .000 3    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0
Knott       124  .338 .533 .267 435  116  46   29   6    25   3    2    67

It's a weird thing. It would make a lot more sense if Knott's career were being handled by one of the dumb clubs, but his performances, other than the declining walk rate this year, are right in line with what the Padres are built around. And he's still in Portland as his peak passes. I honestly don't know what the deal is.

Maniscalco, Matt    Montgomery        Tampa Bay       Southern          AA
Maniscalco, Matt    Durham            Tampa Bay       International     AAA

            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Maniscalco  103  .328 .289 .235 332  78   42   10   4    0    9    6    27
Maniscalco  16   .244 .209 .209 43   9    2    0    0    0    0    0    4

Maniscalco's callup was based more on other moves above him than on his own performance. His defense does give him a shot at a backup role, but the Devil Rays' current lineup needs a bit more punch off the bench, so he's not a great fit there.

Tatum, Craig        Dayton            Cincinnati      Midwest           Low A

            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Tatum       87   .350 .422 .278 306  85   31   20   0    8    3    1    38

He stayed on track this year, neither surging ahead nor lagging behind.

Tucker, J. B.       Wisconsin         Seattle         Midwest           Low A
Tucker, J. B.       Inland Empire     Seattle         California        High A

            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Tucker      39   .372 .438 .250 128  32   19   8    2    4    3    0    24
Tucker      43   .290 .308 .208 130  27   13   3    2    2    2    1    17

He kind of tailed off some this year, although he built up enough good will in 2005 to get to keep trying -- the midseason promotion is encouraging.

Signed and released before assignment:

Brett Cleveland, Indians

Players in the independent leagues in 2006:

Ebers, Eric         Kansas City                       Northern          Indy
Freed, Mark -       Long Island                       Atlantic          Indy
Larson, Adam        Somerset                          Atlantic          Indy

Butts, Jeff         Calgary                           Northern          Indy
Curry, Chris        Gary                              Northern          Indy
Mungle, Jon -       Calgary                           Northern          Indy

Players who played or were on a roster in 2005 and not in 2006:

Powell, Jay         Atlanta           Atlanta         National          MLB
Palmeiro, Rafael    Baltimore         Baltimore       American          MLB
Blakeney, Jacob     Jackson                           Central           Indy
Obradovich, Mark    Lake County       Cleveland       South Atlantic    Low A

Boyd's World-> The Old Dogs Report -- 2006 Year in Review-> Current Report Write the author, Boyd Nation