Thursday, March 08, 2007

The value of prospects

I have to be honest and say that while I love baseball, and spend far, far... far too much time obsessing about the game, I really don't follow prospects in any depth - even in the Sox system I just read what I read, and then throw in a healthy sprinkle of salt - who knows how many of these guys will ever make a valuable contribution? Seriously, how many of them will even ever pull on the laundry in the first place?

However, Neil and I are in the middle of the minor league section of our fantasy league draft - you know that people are taking the 'keeper' element of the league seriously when they are drafting guys that are still playing in college ball, and are likely 3 or 4 years away from contributing anything significant at the major league level - and in the same way that fantasy baseball makes you take a far greater interest in a wider universe of players than just the home town team, having minor league keepers increases your interest in that level of talent as well!

Over on ESPN Insider today Jim Callis of Baseball America takes a good number of questions, and as usual there are a range of Sox and Yankee questions:
Keith (East Brunswick, NJ): D-Mat is numero uno on the prospects list for 2007, yet there isn't a single mention of his Japanese counterpart, Kei Igawa. What gives?

SportsNation Jim Callis: Matsuzaka is going to be a No. 1 or 2 starter. Igawa is going to be a No. 4 or 5. He'll win some games on the Yankees, but he's more of a back-of-the-rotation guy.

Mark (CT): Are you surprised that Bryce Cox was not invited to Spring Training

SportsNation Jim Callis: Not really. I think the Red Sox are going out of their way not to rush him. But they may not be able to resist if he continues to dominate like he did last summer.

Stephen (NY): Why no love for Tyler Clippard? He had a great second half last year and he looked sharp in his first action of the spring.

SportsNation Jim Callis: The Tyler Clippard questions never end . . . We don't not love Clippard. But as I've said many times, his stuff isn't as good as his stats, so Yankees fans need to adjust their expectations accordingly. He'll pitch in the majors, probably as a No. 4 or 5 starter, maybe a No. 3. And while most Yankees fans probably think that's an insult, that's a compliment.

Stephen (NY): Melky Cabrera or Jacob Ellsbury?

SportsNation Jim Callis: Ellsbury. No comparison as center fielders.

nick (boston): ellsbury- more johnny damon or juan pierre?

SportsNation Jim Callis: Closer to Damon.
The Ellsbury questions are interesting - the first few games of ST have been my first chance to see him, and while sample size, quality of opposition etc, etc need to be taken into account, he really has looked good.

Then there was a very interesting Hughes question, with a follow up to explain:
Joe (NY): If you're Cashman, who do you trade Phil Hughes for? Santana? Dontrelle?

SportsNation Jim Callis: If I'm Cashman, no way do I trade Hughes.

John (Portland, ME): I can understand not trading Hughes for Willis, but you wouldn't trade him for Santana?

SportsNation Jim Callis: Well, the Yankees do have seemingly unlimited money, so they could afford to pay Santana $20 million a year. But on a production to dollars ratio, I think Hughes would be the far, far better buy. I think he'll be one of the top 10 pitchers in the AL within the next couple of years.
I appreciate that it is a value driven answer - 20 wins from Santana, at $1m per win, is clearly less "valuable" than say, 10 wins from Hughes at $35,000 each, but that is still leaving you looking for 10 other wins from your 4 other starters...

Regardless, Yankee fans clearly aren't alone in thinking that Hughes is going to be something special when he arrives!

1 threw a strike:

At 3:36 pm, Anonymous Greg said...

Yes, Jacoby Ellsbury is a top prospect, and he has shown some flashes in Spring Training (from what I hear), but he's still a kid. I had the pleasure of meeting him briefly at the Boston Baseball Writers dinner in January. He's short, has a baby face and I doubt he even shaves more than once a week.

The key to prospects, from a management perspective, is their value. These guys are commodities to the management, not people. I somehow doubt that Ellsbury is part of the master plan in Boston, but he may be getting all this exposure simply because they are pumping up his value and will flip him in a trade.

Look for the Sox to ride Coco as long as they can and make a push for an Andruw Jones type rather that wait for Ellsbury.

They are much more likely to move young players in at the value-driven positions (Youk would have been at 3B if they didn't get Lowell and Pedroia this year) rather than key areas which demand production (like 1B which is why they explored Todd Helton more than they ever should have)


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