You may of heard of this fella called Dallas Braden. A left-handed pitcher for the Oakland Athletics, he rocks a high 80s fastball, and an assortment of off-speed junk. Two toes of his are permanently numb, and sometimes he can’t judge stepping backwards that well because of it. Also, he apparently isn’t best of friends with A-Rod. On Sunday he faced the Tampa Bay Rays, allegedly the third best offense in the bigs, and pitched a perfect game – on Mother’s Day, in front of his grandmother, who brought him up. Wow. This will undoubtedly be one of the best feel good stories of the year, and if you started Dallas against the Rays, oh my god you are crazy, but congratulations I hoped you enjoyed it.
In non-Dallas-Braden-is-awesome news, Starlin Castro was called up by the Cubs and promptly Bonifacioed a home run and six RBIs. The Mariners lost eight (!) straight games, but incredibly are still only 5 ½ games back in the AL West. Unfortunately for a team starved of good hitters, they have also placed Milton Bradley on the restricted list while he sorts out some personal issues. The NL West standings are still backwards, with the Padres on top and the Diamondbacks bringing up the rear. And finally, Kila Ka’aihue was called up by the Royals because
they need someone with a bigger bum to keep more of the bench warm Rick Ankiel went on the DL.
*All stats as of Monday May 10
Andre Ethier – 2010: 44/112 H/AB, 21 R, 10 HR, 34 RBI, 0 SB, .393 BA
The current majors leader in RBIs and OPS (players with more then 40 at-bats). Ethier has proved in the last two seasons to be a cheap and effective power source, and right now he is completely locked in at the plate. He has improved a lot against LHP (3/2 BB/K, 1.007 OPS), who in past years have owned him. Can he keep this up? Batting average – no, his current BABIP is .386, a long way above his career mark of .321. Power – yes, he is at a peak power age (28), his Isolated Power has improved every year for the past three years (.168, .206, .237), and if he really has figured LHP out he could threaten 40 HRs this year.
Brett Gardner – 2010: 32/96 H/AB, 24 R, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 14 SB, .333 BA
Gardner has been busy proving that an elite plate approach with no power can work. For someone drafted in the 300+ pick range he is providing tremendous value to those who didn’t like the sticker price on the Rajai Davis/Juan Pierre group of speedsters. His batting average should come down from the level it’s at as his BABIP takes a dive, but as someone who could probably sustain a .330ish BABIP (currently .373) his average could well stay on the good side of .300. With Nick Johnson out for an undetermined amount of time, Gardner just needs to establish himself in the two spot to become an elite three category threat. At this stage it doesn’t look like anyone is going to give you a whole lot for him, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
Doug Fister – 2010: 42.0 IP, 2 W, 18 K, 1.71 ERA, 0.88 WHIP
And now for AussieDodger’s “Mirage Of The Week™ ”.
Fister has nearly every luck-based statistic in his favour, and half of his starts have come against either Oakland or Baltimore. While his ground ball and walks per nine stats are excellent so far, no pitcher can survive in the AL with a K/9 of less then five, excellent defense or not. With Tampa Bay ominously next on the schedule, this is the time, my friend to sell, sell, sell. Get anything usable that you can. You (most likely) only have four days to unload him.
Matt Capps – 2010: 18.1 IP, 13 SV, 17 K, 0.98 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
So far Capps has made the “don’t pay for saves” people feel like dancing on a table. He’s probably someone you drafted because you needed a second or third closer, and you had a choice between him and Dotel. A bullet nicely dodged. What is Capps doing differently after 2009’s debacle? He’s not getting creamed by left-handed batters. It’s that simple. 2009 vs LHB 27 IP, 8 HRs, 2010 vs LHB 9.1 IP, 1 HR. Obviously his ERA is going to return to the low 3 area, so you should probably see what you can get for him while he looks like a world beater.
Erick Aybar – 2010: 31/126 H/AB, 21 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 SB, .246 BA
Aybar was a fashionable choice as a MI option when it was announced that he’d be leading off for the Angels. It was thought that he was capable of 30-odd steals and .300 average in 2010, not too shabby for a SS you could grab north of pick 200. The fact is, he hasn’t been allowed to run excessively (seven SB opportunities) and has only been successful three times. Right handed pitchers have killed him so far, he’s only batted .225 against them. It seems like the league has caught up with him as he’s struck out at nearly twice the rate he did in 2009. As much as he is stinking right now, the only guy who could take at-bats off him, Maicer Izturis, has just gone on the DL so Aybar should be given the playing time to figure this out for himself. He’s still worth a watch list spot, but he’s not as interesting as he was pre-season.
Nolan Reimold – 2010: 16/79 H/AB, 7 R, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 0 SB, .203 BA
If you drafted Reimold, you should have expected a slow start like this as he recovered from off-season achilles surgery. The Orioles obviously rate him highly, as they have looked after him by letting him DH once in a while, and by not sending him, even once, to steal a base. This could be prime buying time if you need some outfield pop. His BABIP is a rugged .237, down from 2009’s .316. Between AAA and the bigs he hit 24 HRs and stole 14 bases in 2009, so when he’s 100% Reimold should be a good value add for your roster.
Josh Beckett – 2010: 41 IP, 1 W, 34 K, 7.46 ERA, 1.66 WHIP
Coming off an absolute towelling against the Yankees, and now having a slight back niggle and mechanical issues, Beckett isn’t looking too hot right now. The good thing is, we have a reason for his struggles. This is what his pitching coach John Farrell thinks:
“An additional side with Josh to reinforce, particularly out of the stretch, him getting back to a proper balance point and not getting his delivery too spread out to where he loses a downhill plane to his fastball. When he gets into a proper position, his curveball is less readable by an opposing hitter. Part of this is a constant use of the slide step that can cause some of the habits that we’re trying to re-correct here. After talking with him, after reviewing video, seeing the hitters’ reactions, just seeing performance data, that shows the same evidence, and this is where we’ve got to reestablish that good position to get into.”
Hat tip to Rotowire for the quote. Farrell has “fixed” Beckett a couple of times, most notably after a mangy 2006 season. I would trust his judgement and buy up on Beckett.
Edwin Jackson – 2010: 39.1 IP, 1 W, 24 K, 7.32 ERA, 1.70 WHIP
Jackson has been a mixture of unlucky (.346 BABIP, 62.5% LOB) and mistake-ridden (17.1% HR/FB). His new home park isn’t helping, as he has conceded five HRs in 27 innings at Chase Field. Another thing wrong/different about 2010 is that he’s slightly changed his mixing of off speed pitches, and it’s not doing him any favours. In 2008 and 2009 he threw his change and curve a combined 9% of the time, in 2010 he’s thrown them a combined 16% of the time. In my opinion he’s a two-decent-pitch reliever masquerading as a starter, and I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole.
No extra curricular stuff for me this week either, as my internet has been dial-uppy tonight. I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of fAD Tuesday, Raymondo should be back next week.
And with that I’ll leave you with a quote from Dallas Braden’s grandmother……
“Stick it, A-Rod”.
Daniel Wilson is neither an Australian citizen or a Dodgers' fan. Confused? You can catch up with Daniel in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of AussieDodger.
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