This article is part of our AL FAAB Factor series.
Article first appeared 9/14/08
This is our weekly look at the free agents in each league. We have two goals for this article:
- Identify likely free agents and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
- Try to estimate how much of your free agent budget you should bid on them.
One size doesn't fit all, and we could never hope to encompass all league structures, so we have to have a set of base assumptions. Those assumptions are:
- League size of 12 players (either NL or Mixed, we'll specify)
- 5x5 categories
- Each team has a $100 FAAB budget.
Bryan Bullington - The Indians are hoping that Bullington can be one of the proverbial "change of scenery" improvements in their organization, but he has a long way to go. Still, in a really small sample, Bullington showed some signs at Triple-A Buffalo that he could be useful. He had a 47:13 K:BB in 53 innings there, though he served up a troubling seven homers in that span. True to form, he offered up three homers in his spot start with the Tribe last week. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Sean Gallagher - Gallagher (shoulder) threw four scoreless no-hit innings in his first start back from the DL on Wednesday. He struck out six, but also walked six. This is pretty par for the course for Gallagher, who has 39 strikeouts in 38.1 innings with the A's, but also has 32 walks. Consider this the standard rookie growing pains - you won't necessarily want him now, but there's some good potential for the future. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Philip Hughes - Hughes will go into the starting rotation on Wednesday against the White Sox after helping lead Triple-A Scranton to the International League championship on Friday, striking out 12 in five innings. That outing was one of the few where he displayed his full potential - prior to that, he had struggled to get his full velocity. Still, if you're in a keeper league of any sort of depth, you're going to want to take a chance on him if he comes cheap. The talent is still there - the ability to hone that talent is still debated. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Scott Lewis - Lewis threw eight innings of shutout, three-hit ball in his major league debut against the Orioles, allowing just one runner to second base. Lewis was 6-2 with a 2.33 ERA in 13 starts at Double-A and 2-2 with a 2.62 ERA in four starts at Triple-A this season. The prevailing opinion about him entering the year was that he projected no higher than a fourth starter. That still might be true, but at least he's displayed a good command of the strike zone and the ability to keep the ball in the park. He'll probably begin 2009 in Buffalo, but there's no reason to believe that he'll be any worse than Jeremy Sowers or Aaron Laffey. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Devern Hansack - The Red Sox have a multitude of options to start, so it would take a long string of events before Hansack gets into the rotation. In another organization, Hansack might be considered an upgrade at fifth starter. He's had a pretty good strikeout rate in consecutive years at Triple-A Pawtucket, with passable flyball and walk rates. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
David Price - Apparently the "Price Rules" include using him to pitch 5.1 innings in middle relief after your starter gets bombed early - at least, that's what happened on Sunday. It's not a bad way to break in a big prospect, though hardly a high-leverage role for the stretch run. He acquitted himself pretty well, though Derek Jeter took him deep. Don't count on him starting this year, though. Mixed: $2; AL: $10.
George Sherrill- Sherrill is back from the DL, but had an ugly outing on Sunday in his first game back from his shoulder injury. Granted, it was in a mop-up situation, and the O's, with Jim Johnson out, have really nobody else. Sherrill will close, theoretically, if the O's provide any save chances in the last two weeks. Mixed and AL: $15.
Michel Hernandez - Hernandez takes over as the Rays' backup catcher, with Shawn Riggans out. He's bounced around a number of organizations, and pretty much fits the prototype as a replacement-level catcher. Mixed and AL: No.
George Kottaras - Kottaras once was a decent catching prospect before he joined the Red Sox organization, but put in two consecutive down years after getting traded from the Padres. He improved some at Pawtucket this year, posting an acceptable .804 OPS after repeating the level. He doesn't project to hit too well for average, and the .72 contact rate worries me, but he should end up as the #2 next year, if he can catch a knuckleball. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Bobby Wilson - It won't happen this year, and probably not in 2009, but at some point the Angels might consider that Wilson could at the very least be the equal of Jeff Mathis at the plate. When Mathis becomes arbitration-eligible, Wilson might just get his shot to split the playing time. He has no real power, but he can get on-base and at least hit for average this year, albeit at high-octane Triple-A Salt Lake. Mixed and AL: No.
Jeff Baisley - We're not really sure why the A's had any sense of urgency to recall Baisley, right in the midst of Sacramento's playoff run, except to avoid an active service time bonus for Mike Sweeney. Baisley was decent, not extraordinary in Sacramento, hitting .298/.374/.478 there - those numbers might look nice elsewhere, but don't really stand out for a corner infielder in the PCL. Mixed: $1; AL: $1.
Chris Carter - Like George Kottaras, Carter is a Triple-A repeater that put in a decent campaign at Pawtucket, but doesn't really profile as a prospect. More to the point, there's really nowhere for him to play on a regular basis, though Mike Lowell's durability at third base could create a small window of opportunity. Carter can and probably will take over Sean Casey's role as a spot starter from the left-hand side of the plate whenever the Sox want to give Lowell or Kevin Youkilis a break.
Dan Johnson - The Rays' outfield starters on Sunday were Gabe Gross, Fernando Perez and Eric Hinske. Yeah, we too can see why Johnson will get his share of starts too over the next two weeks. Sure, Johnson at this point is a Triple-A veteran, but what took the Rays so long to give him a chance? With Carl Crawford out and B.J. Upton banged up, they can use any sort of pop that they can find. Mixed: $3; AL: $11.
Freddy Sandoval - Sandoval is another one of the non-prospects that had a pretty good year for Triple-A Salt Lake and is now getting rewarded for his efforts. Sandoval, 26, hit .335/.389/.514 this year, drawing 47 walks while striking out 74 times. Look for him to get a few token starts down the stretch, with the Angels having already clinched the AL West. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Wilson Betemit - Robinson Cano was benched for a lack of hustle on Sunday, and with the Yankees essentially out of it, Betemit could pick up a few starts this week if manager Joe Girardi wants to exact a greater level of punishment for the transgression. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Cliff Pennington - Pennington is going to get an extra amount of playing time at shortstop in September, often at Bobby Crosby's expense at shortstop. Mark Ellis is already out for the season at second base, but given that shortstop is where the A's want Pennington to slot eventually, he'll still sub in for Crosby often enough. Pennington led the minors in walks at the time of his promotion, translating to a .426 OBP at Triple-A Sacramento, but he also only slugged .386 there. Mixed: $0; AL: $2.
Michael Cuddyer - Cuddyer is back, but not really back, being limited to pinch-hit duty for now because he can't run well yet. It's arguable that he hasn't earned the right to start yet. It's pretty amazing that the Twins have done as well as they have while getting so little from Cuddyer this year. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Jonny Gomes - This is how far Gomes' status has declined - despite their desperate need for offense, the Rays didn't bother calling up Gomes until Triple-A Durham's playoffs were over with, despite calling up Dan Johnson and Fernando Perez. Don't be surprised if Gomes lands in another organization next year. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Mitch Maier - Maier is back after the scary beaning that broke three bones in his face. He didn't play on Sunday after starting both ends of Saturday's doubleheader. He'll essentially be a fourth outfielder down the stretch, starting against many right-handers. He's still looking for his first extra-base hit after 77 major league at-bats. Mixed: No; AL: $1.