Tag: David DeJesus

Rays Spring Training Report: Full Update of Surprises, Busts and Injuries

The Tampa Bay Rays are two weeks away from the start of the 2014 season.

They entered spring training looking for a fifth starter, final reliever and final bench player to fill their Opening Day roster.

Even though the roster was essentially set before Grapefruit League began, there is still a lot of incentive for players to put forward great effort in the exhibition games.

The primary reason is that you never know when a need will arise that will require a minor league player to move up to the majors. Jeremy Hellickson’s surgery is a perfect example of a position that was filled that turns into an immediate priority need to fill.

Players not on the 40-man roster or in the organization’s farm system utilize spring training to try to earn a job. It is a job interview for many players with only few openings available annually.

Spring training also marks the highest level of optimism for franchises and fan bases.

For the Rays, there are high expectations set for new acquisitions including catcher Ryan Hanigan and relievers Grant Balfour and Heath Bell. There are even higher expectations for returning players to improve from the previous season, such as pitchers Chris Archer and Matt Moore.

On the other hand, there are lesser known prospects that have low levels of expectation that put together great performances in the spring. Stephen Vogt was one of those players for the years a few years ago in spring training and earned himself a spot on the Opening Day roster after an injury to Luke Scott.

Based on the level of expectation comes the titles of surprise players and busts in spring training.

Here is an update of the surprises, busts and injuries so far this spring for the Rays.

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Why Rays Acquiring Delmon Young, David DeJesus Should Scare AL Contending Teams

Those sneaky Tampa Bay Rays have been anything but complacent this week as they aim for their fourth playoff berth in six seasons.

They signed former farmhand Delmon Young to a minor league deal. On Friday, they completed a trade for outfielder David DeJesus after claiming him off waivers the day before, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Although neither addition is particularly sexy, they cumulatively have the potential to help the Rays distance themselves from other contending teams in the American League.

He’s been notorious for years now, so it may come as a shock to you that Young hasn’t yet reached his 28th birthday. The designated hitter still possesses the bat speed and power to help Tampa Bay score even more runs.

He’ll presumably spend the rest of August taking cuts for the Double-A squad before rejoining the Rays when rosters expand. The team recently placed Luke Scott on the disabled list with back spasms, so Young can take some of his at-bats in the meantime.

It’s not far-fetched to believe that he can make a positive impact in a platoon role. Although Young is three years removed from his only “great” season, he has posted at least a .750 OPS against left-handed pitching every summer since then.

Wearing a fielder’s mitt makes him a sabermetric disaster, but Tampa Bay isn’t relying on him to do that.

DeJesus, of course, is the more significant member of this newly acquired pair. Topkin tweets that the Washington Nationals will choose a player from the Rays farm system as compensation for his services.

There’s no doubt that the 33-year-old is a greater offensive threat than Sam Fuld.

Skeptical of his declining range? Don’t be, courtesy of MLB.com.

DeJesus’ stats have never looked particularly impressive. He seldom homers or steal bases, and his batting average has slipped in the past several summers.

He’s guaranteed to improve the Rays, however, with his knack for getting on base—.346 OBP since 2010—and steady glove work.

During a trading season in which there wasn’t a whole lot available for contenders, Tampa Bay quietly added legitimate depth.


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Chicago Cubs: Who Has Been the MVP for the Chicago Cubs This Season?

As insufferable as the 2012 season has been, one could argue that this past season has not been a total washout.

In a season where the organization was transitioning not only in front office management, but also strategy, team philosophy and playing style, the Cubs have done as well as expected.

The new front office was able to get a full view of where the organization stands in regards to the immediate and long-term futures of the club, and those players pertinent to those futures received some much needed MLB playing time. 

If the “P” in MVP stood for “person” rather than “player”, then I would have to consider one from the four personnel featured in my previous article.  But it does not, and I would not.

There have been players who have performed well throughout the year. However, lacking superstar talent and utilizing a mishmash of players throughout 2012, the results were as expected.

So, who should be considered the Cubs’ 2012 MVP?  The resurgent Alfonso Soriano?  David DeJesus? Darwin Barney?  Jeff Samardzija?  Or Ryan Dempster?

A case could be made for any and all of these players, even Ryan Dempster – and he isn’t even with the team.  In 2012 with the Cubs, Dempster went 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA.

However, he fell victim to five no-decisions and one loss before his ERA eclipsed the 2.00 mark.   He also had five straight outings from June 5 to July 14 where he did not surrender a single run—earned or unearned—lowering his ERA from 2.59 down to 1.86.

If Dempster would have remained with the Cubs through this season, or agreed to the Atlanta trade that would have netted the Cubs top pitching prospect Randall Delgado in return, he could very well have been named MVP for both his on field contributions and what he brought in trade.  But he didn’t, so he’s 0-for-2 and no dice.

One could argue that Jeff Samardzija has been the Cubs’ MVP of 2012, being the best of the Cubs’ current starting pitchers this season and a light in the murky Cubs’ pitching staff.  But he has not done enough to be considered the team’s MVP.

Alfonso Soriano is another candidate.  He would most definitely win the Cubs’ Comeback Player of the Year award, but MVP?  He is a close third.

So, who is the runner-up, and who is the MVP?

This is microscopically close.  So close, the Cubs might have two co-MVPs in 2012.

Darwin Barney has done one heck of a job this season.  While his BA and OPS are nothing spectacular, he has one error in 700 chances at second and a dWAR of 3.3.  His oWAR is 1.6, for an overall WAR of 4.7.

Barney’s performance this season has been the most consistent in every facet of the game.  Among position players who have played in 100+ games for the Cubs this season, he has the fewest strikeouts with 51. 

Joe Mather has played in 99 games this season for the Cubs and has only 44 strikeouts.  But he has played in 49 fewer games than Barney, and has 325 fewer plate appearances than the standout second baseman.

David DeJesus has performed admirably throughout the season as well.  His OPS is .757, and he is ranked eighth in the league in pitches seen per plate appearance, seeing 4.08.  He has also drawn a total of 58 walks this season as well—the most of any member of the team.

He has only two errors in 266 chances, an oWAR of 1.6 and an overall WAR of 1.4, but he has a dWAR of -0.6—which is more noteworthy than important.

You could look at the WAR related numbers and decide it’s a no-brainer and declare Darwin Barney the MVP.

Or, you could look at their OPS numbers and plate discipline and decide the vote should easily be cast for David DeJesus.

Their hits and runs totals are too close to be deciding factors.

So, who is the Cubs’ 2012 MVP?

It’s a coin toss, really.  And in this case, a Two-Face style coin is used.

Deciding which of these two is the Cubs’ MVP is a difficult task.

DeJesus wins it for his plate discipline, and being on a team that cannot seem to grasp the concept his skill is invaluable.

Barney wins it for his defensive ability, along with plate discipline and importance to the team.

So, those are my MVPs.  Who are yours?

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MLB’s Tale of Two Cities: Can the 2011 A’s Repeat the Giants’ Season of 2010?

A vaunted homegrown pitching staff. A very strong bullpen led by an All-Star closer.

A franchise player behind the plate. A balanced mix of young guys and veterans.

Low expectations. A mild-mannered, baseball-minded manager in the dugout. 

A weak, very winnable division where the other teams made negligible offseason improvements.

Last year was a good year for the Giants. And by good year, I mean they won the World Series. Yes, THAT good. And the above statements pretty accurately describe the team at the start of the 2010 season. 

And if that’s the recipe for success, it looks like the Oakland Athletics are using the same cookbook for 2011. 

Now I’m not going to take that extreme leap of faith and call the A’s the “soon-to-be 2011 World Champions,” but I will say that there are a lot of similarities, both on the team and in the division, that make the comparisons very valid. 

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MLB Trades: 15 Important Minor Trades You May Have Missed This Offseason

Blockbuster trades, like the one that sent slugger Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox, get all of the attention from fans and analysts. But they are no more or less important than any other trade a general manager might make this offseason.

These under-the-radar trades are a valuable way to fill up a final roster spot, or to acquire some depth for the big league team or to bring in prospects as part of a rebuilding effort. No team can be built entirely from major trades and big free agent signings, and these deals show that winning in baseball is harder than it looks.

This offseason has been one of the busiest in recent memory, and dozens of players are now with new teams. Here is a look at the 15 most important minor trades made so far.

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AL West: With a Weaker West, DeJesus & Matsui, Can We Just Give The A’s The Division Now?

I don’t know if you noticed two things, but the Oakland A’s with their ragtag, no-name pitching staff and always-youthful roster somehow stumbled their way to an 81-81 (.500) record last season in the suddenly wide-open American League West.

Keep in mind it’s probably only going to take 85 wins to take this division anyway and the A’s are the most improved. Also, keep in mind that every year there is a small market club that seemingly comes out of nowhere. Last year the Reds, my pre-season Wild Card pick, exceeded even my expectations by winning the NL Central. Consider the A’s this year’s Reds.


Series of small, under-the-radar calculated moves

While I can’t name five members of their 2010 roster, 2011 is shaping up very nicely with a series of under-the-radar, well calculated moves. First, the team stole David DeJesus from the perpetually inept Kansas City Royals in a move that got zero publicity. This despite the fact that before his injury, DeJesus was not just a hot trading-deadline name that ultimately didn’t get moved, but one with a solid on base percentage, adequate defense and a .309 batting average.

If you’re thinking its simply a “meh” move, one where the small-market A’s always hope to be finding treasure in someone else’s trash, this move allowed them to swing speedster Rajai Davis to the Toronto Blue Jays so early in the off season (about three days after the World Series it seemed). I wonder how many of you caught that?

While that is a tremendous move, adding much needed speed to the power-hitting Jays lineup, this article is about the A’s and the smart moves they are making, so we’ll stick to that.

Next, they extended starting pitcher Trevor Cahill and cherry-picked Hideki Matsui from the division rival (and fading) Los Angeles Angels in a shrewd move that directly makes them weaker and gives Matsui a 1 year, $4.25M deal.

The move reminded me of the Florida Marlins’ “special money.” They seem to come up with that one big player every few offseasons, one big score they think will make all the difference. In the past, it’s been Ivan Rodriguez, Carlos Delgado, and this year, Javier Vazquez, using money saved from the Dan Uggla trade.

Not only is Matsui still productive (21 HRS, 84 RBI last year), but he fits perfectly in a lineup that’s lost only Jack Cust to the irrelevant Seattle Mariners and to which Matsui is an obvious upgrade.

The move was also reminiscent of a typical Tampa Bay Rays “budget” move, like when they brought in Jose Canseco for that one stellar year or Pat Burrell, who blew up in their faces. These were veterans looking for maybe one more paycheck, only I think Matsui will be around for a couple more years, albeit on one-year deals, hopefully with Oakland.

In similar action that would make the witness-protection program envious, the team quietly rolled the dice on struggling starter Rich Harden, reuniting the once promising player with his original organization, where he made his name and had success. While it’s eerily similar to the 2009 Ben Sheets signing fiasco, it’s got to cost less than the $10M bust Sheets turned out to be.

Then the A’s filled another hole with a recognizable name, obtaining the highly coveted and versatile Josh Willingham from the Nationals in a curious move, considering Washington’s insistence to move a solid player.

2011 moves in sum, to date

In sum, the thrifty and calculating A’s have added the following in patch-work (budget) fashion:

One starting pitcher (Harden) that one might say replaces the Sheets experiment

One DH to Matsui to replace Cust (net gain)

Two outfielders in DeJesus and Willingham to replace one in Davis (thereby adding depth)

All that’s missing, one might suggest, is bullpen arms, but they seemed to do fine (ERA) last year

Here is their starting lineup (I had to look up their 1B, SS, and CF, which demonstrates how anonymous they were last year)

1B Daric Barton

2B Mark Ellis

SS Cliff Pennington

3B Kevin Kouzmanoff

DH Matsui

LF Josh Willingham

RF David DeJesus

CF Coco Crisp

Their rotation is: (didn’t know starters 2-4) 

SP Trevor Cahill (ace 18-8 last year)

SP Gio Gonzalez (15-9 last year)

SP Dallas Braden (11-14)

SP Brett Anderson (7-6 last year)

SP Harden

Divisional rivals Angels, Rangers fading, leaving it open for A’s to take

While the Red Sox and the Phillies have stolen all the headlines for their flashy moves, others like the Yankee$ and Angels have for their lack of moves.

Keep in mind, this division includes the Mariners, whom everyone is going to beat up on to the tune of 90+ losses for them again. Then there’s the fading Angels, who lost Matsui and for whom free agents apparently no longer want to sign with, leaving them a team of Kendry Morales and Torii Hunter and a bunch of nobodies. Lastly, there’s the Texas Rangers, who not only lost Cliff Lee, but even if they were to replace him with Carl Pavano, it’s a net loss overall, leaving the division wide-open for the A’s to take because they earned it with these good moves.

The Angels lost out on Carl Crawford, the #1 player they coveted. With the weather Southern California provides, the solid management of Mike Scoscia, deep-pocketed ownership of well-respected Arte Moreno and the friendship of Torii Hunter, the Angels likely would have had enough to land him in seasons past.

Not this time.

Not in a crazy offseason where we see the Nationals, Orioles, and Brewers actively pursuing big name free agents or players via trade, adding payroll to the point where they are doing more than the Yankee$, Angel$, Cardinals, Mets, or Cubs to date.

This has a hint of the 1980’s all over again, when the Brewers, A’s, and Orioles were good and the Yankees? Not so much.


Just sayin’…..

One final thought: if the Yankees somehow manage to steal the Wild card after praying that Andy Pettite comes back so they can have 3/5 of a dependable rotation (CC, Hughes, and him) minus the enigma Burnett, we are going to need the tiny A’s to have a solid season and represent the underdog small markets in the playoffs. That is, if the Chicago White Sox actually win the Central, which I have doubts about.

Information from ESPN and ESPN.com directly contributed to the content of this article.

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Kansas City Royals: Should KC Take a Chance on Jeff Francoeur?

Free agent outfield Jeff Francoeur cleared waivers last earlier this off-season and is expected to get a solid look from multiple teams who could be interested in him.

Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore has reportedly been among the GMs who have expressed interest in the former 2002 first-round pick.

Moore also has a past with Francoeur, as they both came from the Braves organization where Francoeur got his start in the big leagues in 2005 and where Moore used to be a scout and the assistant general manager.

Moore also has a history of overpaying free agents who have a lot of talent but have not lived up to their potential in their time in the majors.

The recent trade of veteran David DeJesus also seems to have opened up the door for a potential Francoeur signing as there seems to be a vacancy on the right side of the Royals’ outfield.

Taking a look at Francoeur’s stats from ’10, he hit .249 with 13 homers and drove in 65 runs runs in a combined 139 games with the Mets and the Rangers.

A further analysis of his stats indicates that he didn’t draw many walks or get on base that much, as he only drew 30 walks in 503 plate appearances and had a remarkably low on-base percentage of .300.

If you compare these numbers to his career numbers, you are looking at a guy with a lifetime average of .268 and a lifetime on-base percentage of .310 to go along with an average of about 17 homers and 78 RBIs a season.

This kind of offensive production would be a major upgrade over anyone else that the Royals currently have on their roster to play this position.

However, these numbers might be somewhat inflated depending on how you look at it, as many believe that Francoeur has his best years behind him already.

“Frenchy,” as many call him, is an above-average outfielder with a .984 career fielding percentage and a Gold Glove for his defensive efforts during the ’07 season.

But is the risk of offering him a solid contract worth the return that you will get from his play?

I would say that it is, considering the Royals’ team needs at this time. They desperately need a new right fielder, which Francoeur could come in and provide from day one.

What is yet to be seen is if Dayton Moore agrees with this assumption as well. Stay tuned.

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MLB Rumors: Breaking Down Each Big Early Offseason Move

With football, basketball, and hockey going on at the same time, it is easy to overlook the MLB offseason headlines. So here I am to keep the baseball fans up to speed. Of course the MLB offseason is the most interesting offseason in sports because a lot of stuff goes down in one winter. You can catch Tony Capobianco every Thursday on “The Cap” on kamp.arizona.edu

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David DeJesus Traded To A’s: Fantasy Baseball Transaction Fallout

Wednesday marked one of the first strikes of what should amount to an intriguing offseason as multiple sources reported that the Kansas City Royals have traded outfielder David DeJesus to the Oakland A’s for pitchers Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks.

Having won the rights to Japanese right-hander Hisahi Iwakumi (assuming they can reach a contract agreement with him) to go along with Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden, the A’s had excessive starting pitching. 

The Royals, who are a team rebuilding with their future coming up through the minor leagues, really had no need for the 30-year-old DeJesus (he’ll turn 31 in December).

When you look at it in that perspective the trade makes sense for both teams.  However, let’s take a look at the fantasy fallout of the move and who is ultimately affected.

Mazzaro has the talent to be a middle-to-back of the rotation pitcher, despite his 4.27 ERA in 122.1 innings for the A’s in 2010 (based on a realistic BABIP of .289 and strand rate of 71.9 percent).  The 2005 third round pick posted a career minor league ERA of 3.98 and WHIP of 1.37.  The biggest negative is that his strikeout rate was a meager 6.8 and walk rate was 3.2.

The strikeouts are concerning because it gives us reason to believe that his K/9 of 5.8 in 2010 is realistic, but there is upside with a fastball that tops out in the mid-90s. It’s hard to project until we see it. 

That certainly hurts his value, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to be a good value pick in Kansas City.  He’s not likely to get many victories, and without strikeouts it’s going to take a lot of luck to make him usable.  He’s still better left for the waiver wire.

Marks split time between two levels of the Minor Leagues, going 6-13 with a 4.87 ERA and 136 K over 129.1 innings.  At this point he’s a non-factor.

The deal from Oakland’s side is a little more interesting.  They certainly weren’t in need of an outfielder, with Rajai Davis, Coco Crisp, Ryan Sweeney, Conor Jackson and Jack Cust already in the mix.  Granted, Jackson and Cust both could be cut loose, but where are the A’s getting power out of the outfield?

With Daric Barton at first base and no power option in the outfield, they certainly appear to be a team built around small ball.  The move also tells us that the A’s do not believe Chris Carter is ready for regular playing time, unless he is going to be the full-time DH (though there has been talk of them signing a veteran to fill that role). 

He is the potential power bat that the team desperately needs, so that wouldn’t be a huge surprise but we’ll need to wait until the rest of the offseason plays out.

As for DeJesus himself, he was a low-end fantasy option prior to the trade.  Yes, he hit .318 in 2010, but that came courtesy of a .355 BABIP so it’s hard to imagine him being able to replicate it.  He had little power, with a career high of 13 HR, and now he’s moving to a cavernous ballpark.  He also brings little speed to the table, with a career high of 11 SB.

In other words, if you are lucky, you are getting an outfielder who is 10/10 with a moderate average.  What’s to like about that?

What are your thoughts on the deal?  Who is the big winner?  Who is the big loser?

Make sure to check out some of our 2011 Projections:


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Kansas City Royals Trade David DeJesus: A Look Back at His Time in KC

The Kansas City Royals traded veteran outfielder David DeJesus earlier on Wednesday night, and they lost more than a great player from this move.

Dejesus was one of the better outfielders that KC has had in recent years, both on and off the field.

His journey to Kansas City began in 2000, when the club drafted him in the fourth round of the first-year players draft.

DeJesus then rapidly moved his way up to the minors and eventually had his big league debut on Sept. 2, 2003.

His break came the following year when star center-fielder Carlos Beltran was traded to the Houston Astros in a three-way trade, thus leaving the door wide open for DeJesus to take over for the departed Beltran as the everyday starter in center.

DDJ (as many fans called him) would make the most of his time in center, as he ended up making 519 starts there over the next seven seasons.

He finished his eight-year career in Kansas City with 61 homers and drove in 390 runs in 876 games. He also hit an impressive .289 and had a solid OBP of .360 in his time wearing the blue and white.

David was also an accomplished outfielder defensively. He committed only 16 errors in 862 games of outfield duty, and his .992 career fielding percentage ranks among the all-time best for anyone that has donned a Royals uniform.

Arguably the most overlooked part of David DeJesus was the fact that he was an incredible person in the clubhouse.

He always got along with everyone and always had the respect of fellow teammates due to his toughness from hardly missing any games and his upbeat personality. This says a lot about him, as he played for some of the worst teams in Royals, and even MLB history in his time with the franchise.

He wasn’t the strongest, fastest or biggest outfielder in the majors today, but he might be one of the smoothest and most fundamentally sound at his position.

With the Royals looking ahead, DeJesus became expandable as he was obviously not seen as a part of KC’s future.

I hope that the A’s realize what they are getting with a guy like DeJesus, and are able to get the most out of a good player who was simply stuck in a bad situation in his year with the Royals.

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