Newberg Minor League Report
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| By buzz on Tuesday, January 15, 2002 - 03:08 pm:|
There are some very interesting takes on yesterday's deal from Jamey Newberg who has a website dedicated to the Texas Rangers' farm system. He also proposes many scenarios for how the A's would go after Cust. He's a Rangers fan but his analysis of the deal is fairly balanced and objective. It's clear he really does his homework.
| By diamond_lil on Tuesday, January 15, 2002 - 03:40 pm:|
buzz, thanks for posting that. Excellent stuff and as you well stated, very objective and unbiased analysis.
"Grady Fuson -- Here's his first real test. Has he correctly evaluated the true worth of four guys he was responsible for developing the last several years, not to mention the blue-chip first baseman he had inherited with Texas? "
I had thought exactly the same about the test and
difficult challenge for Beane and his staff...
He not only lost Fuson, but Ricciardi and that
must not be easy for him. Beane last year mentioned that what he considered his biggest challenge was losing his scouting staff. He said that replacing good players is so much easier than replacing the men he knew were leaving. Especially because they built the A's present farm together and now they're looking at opposing interests and goals.
| By buzz on Tuesday, January 15, 2002 - 04:14 pm:|
I agree that it will be hard to replace Fuson and Ricciardi. Fuson in particular, as he has been a major part of the scouting department since the 1980's. However, I also believe that the two deals which will ensure that the A's are extremely competitve in 2002 -- the acqusitions of Koch and Pena -- would not have been made had those two guys not left the organization. Does Beane make the Pena deal if Fuson doesn't go to Texas? No way. Or the Koch deal with Gord Ash instead of Ricciardi? Not very likely. The disappointment in losing those two terrific executives has been tempered by the deals their departures have facilitated for the A's. Now if DePodesta can just land the Royals GM job, he can trade us Sweeney. Ha Ha!
I'm extremely high on Pena and I think the day will come when we recall yesterday's deal as a significant event for the franchise. I was very envious of Texas when I saw him during his September call-up. The first thing that came to my mind when I saw him swing the bat was, "Here's another Carlos Delgado." We're going to love this guy.
| By jenmed on Tuesday, January 15, 2002 - 04:30 pm:|
Wow, I was really impressed by Newberg's report. Does anyone have a site even remotely like that for the A's? I'm wondering if there are other good A's-related sites out there I may be missing.
| By diamond_lil on Tuesday, January 15, 2002 - 05:22 pm:|
Buzz, very good points you made about the trades Billy made with the indirect help of his two main men. Of course trading with Toronto is much easier because it doesn't involve a division rival. But you're right in saying that Fuson was able to evaluate the trade from his aspect enough to give and take a chance of both teams' top prospects involved.
Beane's relationship and good interaction with
the Mets GM in the past has also helped the A's a great deal in trades. Although in that case I think Beane must have some very compromising pictures of the guy from their wild days :')
Gosh, if DePodesta goes to the Royals, then you might as well merge the two teams forever...as long as they stay in Oakland of course.
So I guess there is always a good side to things huh?
You mentioned DePodesta. That guy is really very competent and he got his experience from when the Indians were building their team from the farm. I think he helps Beane a great deal. His calm temperament is perfect for Billy's
headstrong and emotional character. They really complete eachother it seems.
Jen, the only place you can read stuff like that is in the Prospectus. But they don't just focus on the A's of course. Gary Huckabay is one guy who you can count on giving very objective and consciencious analysis of things. And he is a huge A's fan.
| By kbailey3131 on Tuesday, January 15, 2002 - 06:32 pm:|
I'm still holding out for the Angels A's merger (which also would stay in Oakland and the Disney cragmire would sit in the Jagged Edge). I like the double barreled closer action of Koch and Percival (for some reason I haven't gotten over my lust for that guy as a closer)
Although, were we to include the Kaufman stadium fountain in the Jagged Edge then I might be inclined to favor such a merger with our midwestern friends....... ;>
| By rocket on Tuesday, January 15, 2002 - 08:49 pm:|
Thanks for posting that link. The newberg
report really gave a lot of good information
with out a lot of superlatives/hype about
any of the players involved.
Didn't know that the Rockies wanted
Venafro. Cust could end up with the A's
or be dealt to Billy's other buddy
| By shawry on Tuesday, January 15, 2002 - 09:12 pm:|
Sensational link. Very glad i read that. We need A's writers like that.
| By diamond_lil on Tuesday, January 15, 2002 - 09:43 pm:|
Rocket and Chris,
I just posted this link over at the gate a little while ago. Maybe you missed it because of the ongoing discussion over there over the comparisons of the Giants vs A's.
I thought it was excellent and very thought provoking, especially with buzz's insightful remarks in regards to Billy vis a vis Fuson and Ricciardi.
Thanks for the kind words. My site is obviously Ranger-driven but our message board attracts regular visits from fans of plenty other teams (especially Seattle and the Yanks), and there were Oakland fans that made their presence felt on my message board on the heels of the Pena trade. I encourage you to stop by and toss in an Oakland perspective on the deal -- there is a pretty good split among my readers on the merits of the deal from the Texas standpoint.
There is a lot more to check out besides the message board at www.newbergreport.com, and I invite you to stop by.
I write my reports every day during the season, and two or three times a week in the off-season. If there are other A's-related stories you would like for me to share here, let me know (maybe my assessment a year ago of the Velarde-Harang/Cullen deal?)
Thanks again. Enjoy Pena for a long, long time.
By the way, I guess I ought to add the following: if anyone wants to be on the mailing list to get my reports by e-mail (it's free), shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The mailing list has over 1200 people on it right now -- including three players in the Oakland organization -- and plenty more people you know of.
Think of any ten prominent national baseball writers, and I can virtually assure you that more than half of them are on my mailing list. It's not just a bundle of Ranger fans.
| By diamond_lil on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 09:57 am:|
Jamey, as you have noticed, we greatly appreciated your very objective and excellent analysis of the trade.
I wish and hope some of our local sports writers would subscribe to your mailing list.
To answer your question about you sharing your A's related reports...by all means, I am sure we would all love to get your input and views, not only on the A's but the AL West.
Thanks for your response. I'll be looking forward to reading more of your reports and analysis.
| By rocket on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 07:18 pm:|
Your analysis of the minor leaguers in the
trade was the BEST, bar none. The big sports online sites, did not even come close
to doing the detailed analysis you did.
Keep up the good work, I hope one day you
will get some $$$ for your efforts. A lot
of poor writers are being paid to put out
Thanks for all the kind words. In a few minutes I will post an excerpt of the report I wrote on the Velarde trade a year ago.
Randy Velarde for Aaron Harang and Ryan Cullen. I love the deal for Oakland. They move a 38-year-old for two pitching prospects and have two kids ready to step in at second base. But you know what? I like it a lot for Texas as well.
Letís first look at it from Oaklandís perspective. The Aís cannot afford the kind of payroll that Texas and others can, and they are prepared to go with Frank Menechino at second base as they ease bluechipper Jose Ortiz into the lineup. They get Harang and Cullen, neither of whom they need to protect on the 40 for another year. They get cheaper and younger, and while they lose a good bit defensively, Ortiz in particular projects as a plus player with the bat. Velardeís leadership will be missed on the young Aís club, but with Giambi around, that was understandably not a primary concern.
OK. How about Texas? Consider the following:
1. The Rangers have a staff that strikes out very few batters. Middle infield defense is critical, especially where double plays are concerned. When you donít punch 'em out, you need your share of twin-killings to shorten innings. Last year, no AL team had more errors at second base than Texas (21), and despite all the balls put in play relative to other teams, Ranger second basemen were involved in fewer double plays (108) than all but four AL clubs. Had to change. And it will. Velarde has excellent range, is as good as it gets at turning two, and despite being 38 years old, no regular second baseman in baseball averaged more chances per nine innings last year. The Dallas Morning News has the eye-opening note that Velarde had 66 more chances than Luis Alicea last year Ė even though he played eight fewer games at second than Alicea did. Those of you who focus on errors miss the point Ė our second base defense was bad last year, and a big part of that was the inability to get to balls and to execute the double play. Velarde, whose fielding percentage was fourth-best in the AL last year, is a significant upgrade in both areas.
2. Does this signal to Alex Rodriguez that we are serious about winning right now? On the other hand, does it signal to him that we are no longer interested in him since the Velarde signing leaves no room at second base for Royce Clayton? Doug Melvin told the Dallas Morning News that A-Rod is still in the blueprint for the Rangers, and if signed we will "deal accordingly" with the surplus of veteran middle infielders. I suspect the effort to move Royce Clayton would go into full gear Ė with all the teams that lost out on A-Rod on the primary target list. They key is that the Rangers know that Alex Rodriguez is not going to make a decision anytime soon, and second base was too critical a spot to leave hanging in the balance while the Rangers waited on A-Rod.
3. The two most important things about Velarde, next to his defense, are his ability to get on base and his contract status. Between 1995 and 1999, he posted on-base percentages between .372 and .390 each season, before falling to .354 last year. In 1996, he hit .285/14/54 in 520 at-bats; he missed most of the 1997 season and much of 1998 due to injury; in 1999, he hit .317/16/76 in 631 at-bats; and in 2000, he hit .278/12/41 in 485 at-bats. He gives Texas an additional leadoff alternative, although he is probably more suited to the two spot. As for his contract situation, he is signed for the 2001 season (at $3.4 million, $3.15 million, or $3.05 million, depending on whose newspaper account you believe this morning) with a club option for 2002 (at $2.5 million). Perfect. This is where Bret Boone did not fit. If Jason Romano or Mike Young convinces the organization that he is ready to break into the starting lineup in 2002, you can decline the Velarde option. On the other hand, if neither is considered ready to start, Velarde is under Ranger control. Canít draw it up any better than that. Plus, Velarde can play shortstop or third (and even some outfield) in a pinch, although he has been strictly a second baseman for four years.
4. Frank Catalanotto was not adequate defensively at second base, particularly turning two. He is a plus player with the bat, and his versatility helps as well. By acquiring Velarde, then, the Rangers have improved both their defense at second base and their bench. Cat can DH from the left side (at least given the current makeup of the roster, unless you DH Greer), can play second or first on occasion, and can pinch-hit.
5. Do not discount the clubhouse impact Velarde will have. This team had a problem in that area last year. Iíve said it many times: Johnny Oates is not a leader type Ė and he does not necessarily want to be. The Rangers need leaders in the clubhouse, and last year the fit was not good.
6. Letís turn to the cost. Aaron Harang did nothing but win since Texas took him in the sixth round of the 1999 draft. He has led his league in victories in both of his seasons in the pros, going 9-2, 2.30 in 1999 and earning Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year honors, and posting a 13-5, 3.32 mark for Charlotte this season. Harang is the type of pitcher it takes to make deals like this one (a high-ceiling guy who is either ready or within a couple years of being ready), but at the same time there are several pitching prospects that I think the Rangers evaluate ahead of Harang, making him tradeable. In eras past, Texas had to trade its top pitching prospects to get veteran help. Now, the Rangers have enough depth to be able to trade pitchers that other teams want without piercing the top ranks of the system. I suspect the Rangers had Harang behind names like Jovanny Cedeno, Colby Lewis, Joaquin Benoit, Andy Pratt, and Ryan Dittfurth. I am sure they are very encouraged by the starts Chad Hawkins and Chris Russ had. Nick Regilio, David Mead, Domingo Valdez . . . there is depth among the pitching ranks in the system, and Harang was accordingly available. He does not really project as a top-of-the-rotation type, sporting just an average fastball despite his 6í7Ē frame. Getting AA and AAA hitters out with his offspeed stuff will be the key to whether he makes it.
7. Ryan Cullen? I will clue you in on a secret: I am working on the final edit of the Bound Edition right now, and in my ranking of the six "Top Secrets" in the Ranger organization, I ranked Cullen number one. Drafted in the 33rd round in 1998 out of a Florida high school, the southpaw did not sign, enrolling instead at Indian River Community College. He pitched there in the spring of 1999 before signing with Texas as a draft-and-follow a few weeks before the 1999 draft. He had a 3.54 ERA with a 1-2 record and six saves in 40.2 relief innings for Pulaski in 1999, holding the Appalachian League to a .220 average, including just one home run, while punching out 47 batters and issuing 17 walks. At Savannah in 2000, Cullen notched nine saves and racked up a 6-6, 3.04 mark, again striking out more hitters (103) than innings pitched (94.2). The South Atlantic League hit just .229 off him, drew only 35 walks, and took him deep three times. He is just 20 years old, and with the lack of lefthanded relief pitching in the Ranger system, I wonder if the loss of Cullen may end up being more significant in the long run than the loss of Harang. Of course, both Harang and Cullen have yet to see Class AA, so itís premature to say that either will pitch in the major leagues, but both have gotten off to good pro starts.
8. Doug Melvin told the Hardline in an afternoon radio interview that he could have traded a lefthander in the deal instead of Harang. While he did not identify the southpaw, it almost has to be Andy Pratt. The only other conceivable lefthanders whom another club could have interest in via trade would be Corey Lee, Alan Webb, and Trey Poland, and surely the Rangers would have opted to move one of those three instead of Harang if they could have.
9. You know what trade this reminds me of? In 1991, Texas was out of the race in August and sent Steve Buechele to Pittsburgh for pitchers Kurt Miller and Hector Fajardo, and for those of you who donít remember, I cannot overstate what a prospect haul that was considered to be at the time. In that winterís Top 100 Prospect list, Baseball America included both righthanders, with Miller at #14 in all of baseball (Fajardo was #81). Both were far more heralded prospects than Harang or Cullen are today. You know what happened with those two. Not much. Both reached the bigs, but never made an impact. That is not to say that Harang and Cullen cannot become dependable major league pitchers, but instead just to point out that sometimes you need to capitalize on prospectsí value when they are still prospects, and many times that means trading them. The purpose of a farm system, of course, is not solely to groom players for your big club. It is also to develop talent that is attractive enough to other organizations to use in trades for major league players, and that is exactly what Texas did with Harang and Cullen. They took a sixth-round pick and a 33rd-round pick, developed them into legitimate prospects, and, even though each was two or three years away from the major leagues, the Rangers were able to turn them into a guy who will start for the big club for one or two seasons in a prominent role. Chalk one up for Chuck McMichael and Reid Nichols.
Another thing to consider regarding pitching prospects: You canít hold every one of them, for a lot of reasons. One of those is that you can obviously only protect a limited number of minor leaguers every year on your 40-man roster, and so it makes sense to move some of them before getting to that point so you donít end up losing them for a mere $50,000 when some other team decides to Rule 5 them. Harang and Cullen wonít need to be protected until next year at this time, but you can be sure that Doug Melvin had that in mind when deciding whether or not to agree to move them to Oakland.
| By doc on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 09:13 pm:|
great reports !!! BEST I have ever seen and I've been a constant internet newshound... Our site is one of the best around.. Jamey your reporting is great...how about writing on the A's minor league talent?????
| By diamond_lil on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 09:15 pm:|
Thanks Jamey, I suppose the A's are also looking for Velarde to give his veteran leadership, perhaps help keep Tejada focused and maturing, like he did the last time he was in Oakland. At the same time he will offer dependable depth to the infield, what with the possible starting of German at 2B and Menechino's problems with endurance and injury due to his style of play, they would both benefit from a platoon at 2B until or if German shows enough progress at AAA.
Am I being realistic and fair of what to expect from Velarde this year? Or am I underestimating his contribution?
I also wonder if he would leadoff for the team. I have the feeling he has a high OB% and could leadoff, but doesn't feel very comfortable with that and prefers to bat second. I would be surprised if he would put in more than his 400 at bats this year. He has such great conditioning but has been plagued by injuries so often just the same.
| By jeffreyb on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 09:37 pm:|
how did Aaron Harang and Ryan Cullen do this past year?
| By eyleenn on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 10:17 pm:|
My question, exactly.