Mound musings: Duds of the year
The Injury Duds
Brandon Webb (ARI) — Color me shocked that the Diamondbacks aren't picking up Webb's $8.5 million option (really a $6.5 million decision considering the $2 million buyout). Webb had shoulder surgery in August and expects to be ready for spring training. He'll be 30 at the beginning of next season and could be a huge bargain for some team.
Edinson Volquez (CIN) — It probably wouldn't fair to lay the blame for Volquez's Tommy John surgery at Dusty Baker's feet, so I won't (or did I just do it?). Volquez, though, exceeded his previous high for innings by 20 last year with 196. And while other pitchers were abused more than him, and this may have nothing to do with Baker, is there a Johnny Cueto owner out there who is NOT nervous?
Brett Myers (PHI) — Myers is back pitching out of the bullpen, but we had projected 179 strikeouts and 12 wins for him and he sits at 48 and four. It should be interesting to see how teams view the prospective free agent next year — as a starter or potential closer.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS) — Dice-K was surprisingly effective in his return against the Angels, mostly sitting at 90-92 with his fastball and showing good bite on his slider. No one should've been expecting 18-3, 2.90 again given his 94 walks and 4.03 FIP, but then again, we also weren't expecting two wins and a 7.02 ERA in the middle of September. He'll need to finish very strong for me to go all-in in 2010.
Erik Bedard (SEA) — Now out with a torn labrum, Bedard may be done with his Mariners tenure, as he's a free agent this winter. For the low, low cost of $14.75 million, Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherrill and a couple others, the Mariners have received a grant total of 164 innings and 11 wins. Bedard had surgery for a torn labrum in August and isn't likely to be ready for Opening Day. Take a flier in AL-only leagues, but I'm not expecting much in 2010.
Chris Young (SD) — A line drive off the face and a shoulder surgery have combined to limit Young to 32 starts since 2007, but he's expected to be ready to go once 2010 rolls around. Young is set to make $6.25 million next season, so it's unlikely he'll be on the Padres roster by Opening Day as long as he's healthy. I'll reserve judgment until we see whether he's healthy and where he winds up.
John Maine (NYM) — After winning 15 games and striking out 180 batters two years ago, Maine's either been disappointing or hurt for the majority of the time. I can't say he's washed up at age 28, but it's clear we won't know for sure until he's 100 percent back in 2010.
Randy Johnson (SF) — Johnson's back, pitching in relief for the Giants. It's a role he'll likely have for the rest of the season. We thought we were being pretty conservative projecting 145 innings for the 46 year old, but it looks like he'll struggle to reach 100. It's really hard to see him returning in 2010. Either way, have a backup plan if you wind up with R.J. on your roster next season. What's a more obvious recommendation, that, or recommending handcuffing Chester Taylor to Adrian Peterson?
Chien-Ming Wang (NYY) — Don't expect Wang back until 2011 after he underwent shoulder surgery in July. There's a good chance Wang's Yankees career is over, but someone will likely bring him in on a one year deal with a team option and try to rehab him for 2011. Since back-to-back 19-win seasons in 2006 and 2007, Wang has made just 24 starts, and the immediate future is looking just as gloomy.
Armando Galarraga (DET) — Galarraga was one of Detroit's most reliable starters last season, but digging a little deeper you'd have seen a 3.73 ERA vs. a 4.89 FIP. Such a discrepancy should have left you wary in creating your 2009 cheatsheets. Galarraga's seen his walk rate jump from 3.1 BB/9 to 4.1, and when you allow 1.5 HR/9, that's dangerous. I can see him being Detroit's No. 5 starter next year, but he could be in trouble if he doesn't finish strong and perform well in the spring.
The Performance Duds
Derek Lowe (ATL) — Lowe's win total (14) is well within expectations, but a 4.47 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and K/9 rate that have plummeted from 6.3 to 4.9 are huge concerns. Of greater concern for the Braves is the $45 million still due Lowe through 2012, but they're likely stuck with him. I think he's OK going forward, but the days of a 3.24 ERA are over, particularly being out of Dodger Stadium.
Scott Kazmir (TB/LAA) — Granted, he's been far better lately, but still a 5.32 ERA and plummeting strikeout rate have hurt many a fantasy owner that paid $20-plus for his services in March. Perhaps Kazmir stays healthy and has a huge year in Anaheim next season, but something tells me his seasons of less than 30 starts aren't over.
Oliver Perez (NYM) — Perez and his $36 million contract are one of many things that went wrong for the Mets this year. We projected this: 14-11, 3.96 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 185 strikeouts. Perez delivered this: 3-4, 6.82 ERA, 1.92 WHIP, 62 strikeouts. Because his 8.5 K/9 was right in line with expectations, however, you shouldn't totally cross him off your 2010 cheatsheets. Monitor his rehab from knee surgery and grab him as a flier in deeper leagues for that strikeout potential.
Cole Hamels (PHI) — The 2008 World Series MVP hasn't been awful by any means, but nine wins and a 4.21 ERA aren't exactly what fantasy owners were projecting. Hamels has a 1.52 ERA in his last four starts, so a strong finish appears in order. There won't be too many pitchers ahead of him on my 2010 lists.
Ian Snell (PIT/SEA) — I was fairly optimistic the move out of Pittsburgh would help Snell's numbers, but while 4-2, 4.86 is actually an improvement, a 25:30 K:BB in 46 1/3 innings is not. Snell's still just 27 with a live arm, and while I may be too hesitant to let guys like that go, I still think he can be a quality No. 4 starter.
Kevin Slowey (MIN) — I could've slotted Slowey in the injury section, but even before he went down, he disappointed owners to the tune of a 4.86 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. Sure, the flukish 10-3 record was nice, as was a 5:1 K:BB, but we had projected a 3.52 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. It was revealed this week that his wrist surgery was a bit more complicated than initially thought, but he's still expected to be ready for spring training. He could be a bit undervalued in 2010 drafts based on this year's abbreviated season.
Francisco Liriano (MIN) — Liriano's fastball isn't near what it was in 2006, but it's still up a tick over last year. That hasn't been enough, though, as he still doesn't feel he can trust his stuff to throw strikes on a consistent basis. He's seen his walk rate jump from 2.4 BB/9 in his rookie year to 4.0 this year. Some think he's a reliever long term, and if you've had to suffer through his 5.71 ERA this season, you might agree. For me, I'm still optimistic considering he's still just 25. Guessing he winds up on more than one of my teams in 2010.
Manny Parra (MIL) — The 10 wins are fine, but the 6.42 ERA has killed a few fantasy teams. Parra could be a bit of a post-hype sleeper next year if he can improve his command next spring, so he'll be one guy I'm tracking closely in February/March.
Andrew Miller (FLA) — We had Miller projected for 151 strikeouts, yet he sits at just 57 as of Tuesday. Miller's still a 24-year-old lefty with good stuff and the history of being drafted ahead of Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw. I'll probably retain my optimism for at least another year, but I'm going to need to see quick improvement next year to retain that optimism.
Andy Sonnanstine (TB) — I figured Sonnanstine would eventually be the guy to go once Wade Davis and/or Jeremy Hellickson were ready, but a 7.15 ERA in 89 1/3 innings? Didn't see that coming. At this point, it's hard to see Sonnanstine being a part of the Rays' organization next year, so figure he winds up as part of a trade.
Kerry Wood (CLE) — Wood had a 1.64 ERA in August and sports a 10.4 K/9 in 50 innings, so not all is lost. Wood, though, has just 19 saves due in part to both his and his team's incompetency, leaving him an easy pick for the dud section.
Brad Lidge (PHI) — Lidge finally lost his hold on the closer job this month, and with a 7.18 ERA, it's hard to see him getting it back. Lidge though is due $12 million in each of the next two seasons, so it's easy to see him back in the mix sooner rather than later.
B.J. Ryan (TOR) — No explanation needed here. It's doubtful Ryan ever sees the ninth inning in a close game ever again.
Matt Lindstrom (FLA) — Another brutal outing on Monday leaves Lindstrom with a 5.83 ERA, and with just 14 saves, he's been a huge bust. It's hard to imagine the Marlins spending a whole lot on a free-agent closer, so Lindstrom could be in the mix again with a big spring.
Matt Capps (PIT) — Capps' 25 saves are about in line with expectations, but the 5.96 ERA and 1.68 WHIP are not. He probably would've lost his job long ago if not for a dearth of viable alternatives. Don't be surprised if the Pirates deal him this winter and go with Joel Hanrahan or someone off the scrap heap to close in 2010.
Jason Motte (STL) — Motte was the Cardinals' closer on Opening Day, blew his first save opportunity and now has zero saves and a 4.96 ERA on the year. He allowed just one run and struck out 16 in 11 innings for the Cards last year, so this year has been a huge letdown. Ryan Franklin's a lock to enter 2010 as the St. Louis closer, meaning Motte will need an injury and good numbers to ever see saves in St. Louis again.
Joel Hanrahan (WAS/PIT) — I was pretty bullish on Hanrahan coming off a 9.9 K/9 season, but he's been plain awful this year for fantasy owners. Look a bit deeper, however, and his K/9 actually rose to 10.4 and he's allowed just three home runs. He's been killed by a .411 BABIP, making more relatively optimistic about his future. He's in a great situation in Pittsburgh where Matt Capps is no lock to be the Pirates' closer of the future given his escalating salary and 5.96 ERA. There may be available saves for Hanrahan next year.
Brad Ziegler (OAK) — After skating by with a 30:22 K:BB and 4.5 K/9 a year ago, hopefully you didn't buy into Ziegler's 1.06 ERA too much. He lost his closer job in May to Andrew Bailey and is unlikely to regain it in 2010.
Brandon Morrow (SEA) — Morrow's transitioning back to the rotation, and he's had zero success as a starter or reliever this year. We projected 26 saves for him, but clearly David Aardsma is the closer of the present and future. Look for Morrow to be a starter again in 2010.
Kevin Gregg (FLA) — We projected 24 saves for Gregg, and he's currently sitting with 23, so can he be that big a disappointment? A 4.77 ERA says "yes". He's allowed 11 more homers in 2 2/3 fewer innings than last year, accounting for much of the damage. It's unlikely he'll be closing for anyone next season.
Mike Gonzalez (ATL) — With a 2.51 ERA and 11.1 K/9, Gonzalez should command a nice contract in free agency this winter. He has just 10 saves versus our projection of 22, so he winds up as a disappointment after losing the closer job to Rafael Soriano. Gonzalez and Soriano are both free agents this winter, so perhaps the Braves re-sign the cheaper of the two to be its closer.
Troy Percival (TB) — Taking health concerns into account, we predicted just 15 saves for Percival this year, but he couldn't reach that, garnering just six before going down with a shoulder injury in May and missing the rest of the way. It is expected Percy will retire with 358 career saves.
Article first appeared 9/17/09