Thursday, March 17, 2011

Who is Wily Peralta? - Potential Greinke Fill-in

Wily Peralta Minor League Statistics & History - Baseball-Reference.com

Peralta is a stocky 21-year-old Dominican righty in camp with the Brew Crew after splitting last season between high-A and Double-A ball. He joined the Brew Crew as a 17 year old and will be 22 in May. Peralta hasn't spent a lot of time as a full-time starter, mainly being used swinging from the rotation all the way to the back inning chores probably due to his two-pitch repertoire (fastball-slider, his change-up has gotten decidedly mixed reviews). Some are saying that Peralta is the Brewers top pitching prospect but it's hard to see that. His performance tumbled on promotion to high-A last season and he was simply not good in double-A in just over 40 innings. His walk rates are too high and his K rate crumbled as he advanced and that's a poor signal for major league success at this time. Was he instructed to go with his change-up to learn it in 2010? If that's the case no one is saying it. But it is a long way from a K an inning in the Midwest league to success in Miller Valley, particularly with this bump in the middle. He's obviously well thought of by the organization and he has a live, if not overpowering arm. He'll need to be able to use that change to succeed at all, but it'd be best to stay away from him at this point.

Friday, March 4, 2011

What's Your Take on the State of the Industry?

RYANHOUSTON.com » Blog Archive » Fantasy Sports is Played Out!

Ryan has some great figures that give us a snapshot of the Fantasy sports industry. There are some quibbles that one could make and Ryan is upfront about the swishiness of the data. You wouldn't want to formally present these specific numbers, but they do show a really interesting health report for the industry, or at least a portion of it.

There's a couple of quick caveats I would make. Some of these numbers, though red, are really tiny downturns given the state of the economy. Secondly although the quality of all of these sites is unquestionable, some of them are fresher than others and some of them have changed in a material way. There's little question that as the big game providers expand their tools and options, it will be very difficult for secondary game providers to stay in business. It isn't necessarily a reflection on the industry as a whole. Finally I would add that some of the losses are counter-balanced by some of the gainers (Ryan provides an abbreviated list) and there are content-based reasons for it. Freshness, different approach, acquisitions and so on. It's fair to say some of them are simply doing a better job.

In light of all the recent closings which you and I are familiar with, the overall portrait is one where the larger problem is how to draw readership and revenue in a fantasy market where the basic commodities, the game software and the numbers, are online and free and in multiple locations.

What do you think are the principle problems and available solutions? Let me throw out a few ideas.

1. The Fantasy audience has aged and evolved and this portion of the industry hasn't changed with it.
When the game first came online, the mere fact that you could get stats on a daily basis, and not wait for the Sunday paper (or The National, or the Baseball Weekly, or the right day's edition of the USA Today or...). The game became accessible to a vast audience who had never really played it before. That audience has now played for 20 years or more but the analysis part of the industry is still producing more or less the same columns - albeit with xFIP instead of BA. A large portion of our subscribing audience can go out and fish themselves, they no longer need the same old fish.

2. The proliferation of unpaid writing brings down the overall quality.
Chicken meet egg. I am not a great writer by any means, but I could certainly do better if I could carve more time out of my busy schedule to do so. The editorial process doesn't generate revenue so it is neglected, or slow. Without funds, it is hard to fill a site with consistently good content. Without consistently good content it is hard to get funds. This is not about bad writing and analysis because throwing money at this will not fix it.

3. We don't embrace the different aspects and levels of the game fully as entertainment.
We all know colleagues whose Fantasy work we despise for being overly simplistic, rudimentary and obvious. But these colleagues appeal to, and have a niche for the younger and/or less experienced audience. There's no shame in providing information to entry-level players and every reason as an industry to do so. Likewise I read brilliant advanced analysis that comes off as a recitation of numbers or a stale five-players-of-the-week list with no hook to bring the experienced player into the content - no practical way to use this for the 6th player.

4. The industry is fragmented, the pieces for a compelling, really compelling Fantasy source are sitting here, but they haven't been put together.
Face it, we all want our brand and while there are exceptions to the rule, most of us haven't found the right way to create synergistic combinations that are mutually beneficial (it is state law to use the term "Synergy" in this type of column). There are exciting combinations of media, original reporting and analysis that are being done right now - by people who are reading this. How do we get them, scratch that, us together?

True life story, I was asked to write for a site and asked what the plan was - nothing detailed, just what might constitute an executive summary of a business plan. It was obvious that the person I was speaking with (a respected industry veteran and one of the best minds I know) wasn't exactly sure what a business plan was and the best he could manage was "put together a really good draft kit and then in a couple of years add a premium side." Well...OK. I asked another well known person what it was he thought the good player would like to see and the best he could come up with seemed to be "whatever seems relevant." That may have been the product of our interaction, but the point remains the same - many people in this industry just want to re-package what is being done, do it "better," and sell it. That's not a business model.

5. We need to bring creative solutions to the problems of revenue.
This means figuring out how to drive traffic, enhance stickiness. Unique approaches to advertising. "micro-subscriptions." Multi-site subscriptions, cross licensing, something.

The problem is not that the industry is shrinking. Despite yearly ups and downs, millions of people play fantasy sports religiously...actually more often than they practice religion. And the problem is not content because as you all know there are fine writers out there producing excellent work. The problem is how do we put them together? How do we provide enough value-added to get our readers to generate enough income so that we can generate content for them to enjoy this game we all love?

What do you think?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Who is this Rob Delaney Dude?

Rob Delaney Minor League Statistics & History - Baseball-Reference.com

Glad you asked, the Rays just grabbed Delaney who is a 26-year-old sometime closer from the Twins organization. He's been pitching professionally since 2006 with his first major league cuppa this past season (one appearance). He was moved off of the Twins 40-man roster to make room for left-handed specialist Dusty Hughes. Delaney is a better pitcher than Hughes almost certainly but pitches with the wrong hand as Hughes is slated to be a lefty guy in the crowded Minnesota pen.

The shine came off his resume when he hit triple-A where in his 97 appearances over a season and a half, he posted a 4.65/1.28, having previously had a career ERA under 2.00. He's not overpowering, with a low 90's fastball but has excellent command, posting just under two walks a game. He was used regularly as a closer in 2007 between two single-A levels and was dominant, posting 35 saves and a 1.03/0.86 line and was equally good in 2008 sharing closer duties between high-A and double-A (1.23/0.83). The following season he was, for organizational reasons removed from the closing rotation, and eventually was called up to triple-A where he was less effective, mainly due to a bout of long balls.

The Rays bullpen obviously has some possibilities, and Delaney throws strikes. Managers like that in their set-up guys. It's not impossible that at some point Delaney could be give a closing shot given how good he was in the role over a couple of seasons.

He's not actually fantasy relevant at this point, but not a bad idea, should he make the major league roster, to keep an eye on his performance because if he is solid, the Rays bullpen is a good candidate to change closers at some point.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Two revised capsules from MLB top 50

Breaking down MLB.com's 2011 Top 50 Prospects list | MLB.com: News

Martin Perez TEX
Perez was listed as the #23 MLB prospect. He's a smallish lefty who reached double-A Frisco at age 18, repeating that level in 2010 with decidedly mixed results. Perez was reportedly adding a pitch and as a result his control numbers, home runs, basically everything went south leading to a disastrous 5.96/1.68 line. He was named their minor league pitcher of the year the previous season and has drawn comparisons to Johan Santana. Not yet. He managed just over four innings per start in his 23 attempts in 2010. It's a healthy arm but he'll have to put the wheels back on.

Wil Myers KC
Myers is a 20-year-old catcher in the Royals stacked minor league system. He's a bit tall and there's some question as to whether he'll stay behind the plate. He's reached as far as high-A Wilmington where he put up 14 home runs and an eye-catching .346 albeit in 46 games. He's an on-base machine, drawing 85 walks over 126 games last season en route to a .429 OBP. He looks a bit too much like Daric Barton at that age (Barton hit .317 with a .426 OBP and 13 home runs). Barton got injured of course and moved off the plate. You'll want to see ho his power develops and whether he stays at catch, but obviously he's of interest in formats with minor league slots.

**UPDATE** Kansas City has announced they are moving Myers to OF...the day after I post this. Let's see, pretend omniscience, or admit lucky timing? I knew this was going to happen!!!!

FInal installment 41-50 of MLB.com's Prospect List

Breaking down MLB.com's 2011 Top 50 Prospects list | MLB.com: News

Jose Iglesias BOS
Dee Gordon LAD
J.P. Arenciba TOR
Yonder Alonso CIN
St. Louis reporter Matthew Leach said watching Iglesias was like "baseball crack" which he didn't exactly mean as a compliment, instead questioning his showboating of his obvious skills. Iglesias will obviously get a shot at some time, but he hasn't hitherto shown sufficient power or speed to be a fantasy factor. Dee Gordon is the smurfy, Punch-and-Judy hitter who stole 73 in 2009 and followed that up with 53 in 2010. This will be his age 23 seasons and the speed is real but.it.is.just.about.all.he.does. And he gets caught a lot. You'll have to explain to me why he is not Everth Cabrera. Arenciba lost his lock....regained his lock on the catching job for the Jays. Mammoth power, questionable contact. Yonder Alonso has no obvious place to play on the Reds since they have a first baseman and his outfield credential are hardly those to push anyone off the line-up. Alonso was the seventh overall pick in 2008, but he really doesn't do enough of anything as yet to excite fantasy owners with 24 home runs and 14 steals in 821 minor league at-bats while posting a .291 batting average and he'll be 24 in April. We'd pass.

Wilin Rosario COL
Tanner Scheppers TEX
Chris Archer TB
Rosario hit 19 home runs in 73 games in Tulsa, which is not a home run paradise. He could be the rockies starting catcher by the end of the season. He doesn't walk much, but neither does he strikeout much. Scheppers turned 24 last week and the big righty progressed as far as triple-A in his limited professional career after being selected as a sandwich pick in 2009. Good stuff, very iffy control and has so far given up way too many hits working as a swingman and sometimes closers. He's one of the candidates to be groomed as a closer should Neftali Feliz be moved back to the rotation, now that Frank Francisco has been traded. His current skill set would be better in that role than in the rotation. Chris Archer was a part of the Garza deal, Archer has been pitching professionally since 2006, just now rising to double-A but he's not old, turning 23 at the end of the coming season. His control has improved the past couple of stops, but is still well north of four. He succeeds by not giving up hits, just 272 over his last three minor league seasons comprising 366.2 innings. Since the vast majority of that has been against A ball hitters, you'll want to see a full season of double-A before investing.

Devin Mesoraco CIN
Brett Jackson CHC
Christian Friedrich COL

31-40 of MLB.com's propsect list

Breaking down MLB.com's 2011 Top 50 Prospects list | MLB.com: News

Knowns
Lonnie Chisenhall CLE
Kyle Gibson MIN
Chisenhall is a left-handed hitting third-base prospect for the Indians. Hit hit 17 long balls in his second time through double-A Akron. He doesn't strikeout too much and he takes a walk. But his minor league SLG is .456, only .439 on the double-A level and he doesn't hit doubles and isn;t a big guy so it is really hard to see much power developing here. He was drafted as a shortstop but has played third since low-A so maybe Casey Blake is his upside? Kyle Gibson is a 23-year-old, 6'6 right handed pitcher who was talked about, before the Carl Pavano signing, as being a possible part of the 2011 rotation. He's going to be a control-type seven K/9 guy on the major league level unless something changes. Pitchers like this get followings before they arrive and then produce more or less what they did, which is mediocrity.

Ought to knows:
Jordan Lyles HOU
Jake Odorizzi KC
Lyles has posted a pretty uninspiring 17-26 record in the Astro's system but that shouldn't deter you from looking at him as he has an opportunity to make the Astros rotation this season. He's a strikeout an inning guy with a walk rate of about three (as are most of the guys on this list) but who has improved as he has risen through the system, including a tough transition to double-A Corpus Christi as a 19-year-old. He should be on your prospect list. Jake Odorizzi, although the major league ready guys were the most lauded in the Greinke trade, was the keystone. He is seriously good, surrendering just 99 hits in 120.2 2010 innings while striking out 135. Granted as a 20-year-old in the Midwest league, but he could be a front of the rotation start and serious fantasy pitcher.


Gary Sanchez NYY
Tyler Matzek COL
John Lamb KC
Manny Banuelos NYY
Nick Franklin SEA
Aaron Hicks MIN
Gary Sanchez is an 18-year-old back stop who batted .329 in rookie and low-A ball as a 17 year old. Banuelos will turn 20 in March and has made it as far as the double-A Eastern league. Sanchez is currently projected by some to stay behind the plate and despite his age, seems primed to rise through the Yankees organization. (thus the willingness of the Yankees to offer Jesus Montero?) . Banuelos hasn't missed a beat on any level also starting as a 17-year-old in the rookie Gulf Coast League. Yankees prospects are routinely dismissed as being oversold. But these guys appear to be the goods. Banuelos struck-out 62 on 44.1 innings over 10 starts in Tampa, earning a brief look in Trenton. He'll obviously have to be stretched out after missing time due to injury, but all the parts are there.

Tyler Matzek was the 11th overall pick in 2009 and walked 62 in 89.1ip in sallie league ball at age 19. That will have to change. We like Lamb better, reaching double-A ball as a 19-year-old lefty and posting a 10-7 with a 2.38/1.13 over three levels in 2010. He's only pitched 33 innings in double-A (and not well) so he's at least a year away, probably a year and a half. Nick Franklin turns 20 in March and is a switch-hitting middle infielder having played second and short. What puts him on this list is that he hit 23 home runs and nabbed 25 bases in 516 at-bats, all but three at single-A. He's a terrible fielder, but with those numbers as long as he finds a spot on the line-up card he'll be a fantasy prospect. He's been striking out once every four at-bats which is also a concern. Aaron Hicks is mainly a center-fielder but can play right as well (and presumably left). He doesn't have much power but has 20 steal speed. He gets on base, but doesn't hit for much average. His main asset is his ability to get on base, which he did at a .401 clip in his second time through single-A Beloit as a 20-year-old. He switch hits so he'll be moved up until he has no excuse to do so. This doesn't make him an ideal fantasy source for anything except a potentially good amount of runs if he found his way to the top of an order. He's a tall kid, and slender, so perhaps more power could develop, but at the expense of speed? If he falters, and most players do, he's looking at fourth outfielder heaven.

looking at 21-30 of MLB.com's top 50 prospects

Breaking down MLB.com's 2011 Top 50 Prospects list | MLB.com: News

Knowns
Mike Minor ATL
Chris Sale CHW
Minor wasn't very consistent on the Major League level, but he wasn't over-matched, even into September when he was wearing down. He managed 43 strikeouts in just over 40 innings including the big 12 strikeout game in Wrigley Field. Sale was the 13th pick of the 2010 draft, yet was dominant in his 21 major league appearances in the same season. Sale might be the White Sox closer despite the usual prejudice against lefties in that role. And if not he ought to work his way into the rotation, where he should also be successful.

Ought to know
Casey Kelly ARI
Brandon Belt SFG
Brett Lawrie TOR
Jarrod Parker ARI
Casey Kelly was a first round draft choice of the Red Sox as a shortstop where he had no success to speak of and was converted to pitching where he has enjoyed some success in A ball. The arm is unquestionably there, but he's not ready for 2011 as his 5.31 ERA at double-A last season suggests. Brandon Belt on the other hand batted .352 on three levels in 2010 and even his .229 in 61 triple-A at-bats masks a .383 OBP and four home runs. He's pretty clearly ready, but the Giants have a warehouse of committed veterans who are either first basemen or ought to be, so Giants fans may have to wait for Belt to lose a year of arbitration before he is called up. You definitely want him, probably also in redraft leagues if you can stash. Brett Lawrie has no immediate path to play in 2011 after coming over in the Shawn Marcum deal, and good numbers in double-A Huntsville have failed in the past (see Escobar, Alcides) but he hit 60 extra base hits in 135 games to go along with 30 steals. Some of that is speed, but for a middle-infielder that looks like future fantasy gold. Lawrie just truned 21 last week. Jarrod Parker has now missed a full season and enters 2011 with all the questions marks one would assume. His minor league numbers have been good but not spectacular, giving up nearly a hit an inning while walking three. You shouldn't count on him this season.

Matt Moore TB
Manny Machado BAL
Martin Perez TEX
Jonathan Singleton PHI
We discussed Moore in our first of this series (link coming). His spectacular strike-out numbers have grabbed everyone's attention in the Rays system although he is probably at least a year away. Machado was the third overall pick of the 2010 draft and played a little in rookie leagues and in the low-A New York Penn League. He's a big kid but may be able to stay at Shortstop. He's a ways away, won't turn 19 until July. Jonathan Singleton is a 19 year old left-handed first baseman in the Phillies organization. The 8th rounder for 2009 hasn't made it past Sallie ball as yet but shows good contact (74 strikeouts in 376 at-bats) to go along with 62 walks. He's likely to start 2011 in high-A or double-A and is a ways away from having fantasy impact.

Next 31-40