Crashburn Adds A New Slugger

I’m pleased to announce that a fifth writer has joined the Crashburn team. Bradley Ankrom will be providing weekly coverage of the Phillies’ Minor League system throughout the season. Prospect coverage was this blog’s weak point, so he will definitely put some shine on that area for us, and most importantly, for you. He has been contributing to Baseball Prospectus (and will continue). Please kindly welcome him to the Crashburn confines. Give him a follow on Twitter while you’re at it.

If you’d like to follow the other four of us:

Weighing the Pros and Cons of IF Trade Targets

With Chase Utley sidelined and Freddy Galvis slated for an Opening Day start, it is no secret that the Phillies are looking to acquire an infielder via trade. Despite a barren farm system, the Phillies do have two trade chips in Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick. Blanton, earning $8.5 million in the final year of his contract, is recovering from an elbow injury, but has looked sharp in ten inning this spring. Likewise, Kendrick signed a  a two-year, $7.5 million deal during the off-season and looks ready to go. The one object in a trade involving one of the two is the money — the Phillies would have to cover about $6 million with Blanton and likely at least $2 million in both 2012-13 for Kendrick.

What infielders might be available for the Phillies? Let’s take a look.

Alberto Callaspo, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Pros

  • Versatility. Callaspo can play second and third base, which would cover Chase Utley and Placido Polanco. He can also play shortstop in a pinch, but only 195 of his 4,568 career defensive innings (four percent) have been at shortstop.
  • Defense. He has been a plus defender in two out of his three full seasons according to UZR, and in all three according to Baseball Reference.
  • Gets on base. He posted a .366 on-base percentage last year with a career-high 11 percent walk rate.
  • Makes contact. He struck out in less than eight percent of his career 2,208 plate appearances.
  • Arb-eligible. Callaspo will enter his third year of arbitration in 2013, meaning the Phillies could have control of him for two seasons. However, this also makes him more expensive to acquire in a trade.

Cons

  • No power. His career .080 ISO over the last three seasons puts him in the same company as Jack Wilson, Skip Schumaker, and Emilio Bonifacio.
  • Doesn’t steal bases. He has stolen a measly 18 bases in 26 attempts (69 percent) in his career, despite hitting 416 singles and drawing 173 walks in his career.
  • Too many fly balls. For a hitter with so little power, he puts too many batted balls in the air, which explains his .295 career BABIP.
  • No shortstop. As mentioned above, Callaspo can play shortstop, but it doesn’t mean he’ll do it well. To quote a scouting report from Royals Review:

Unfortunately, his defensive abilities at shortstop are underwhelming at best. He simply doesn’t possess good enough instincts, arm, or glove to truly be relied upon as a force on the left side of the field.

Maicer Izturis, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Pros

  • Doubles. Izturis doesn’t possess much power, but he does hit the ball in the gaps. He doubled 35 times last year, bringing him up to 135 in his career (21 percent of his hits).
  • Speed. He is no Vince Coleman, but he can steal bases in the double-digits while surpassing the 70-75 percent break-even rate.
  • Versatile. Izturis can play second and third base as well as shortstop, and he’s about equally as good at all three positions. UZR has him at a +5.0 at second (1,775 innings), +4.7 at third (2,015 innings), and +6.2 at shortstop (1,332 innings).

Cons

  • Money. Izturis is making $3.8 million in 2012 before becoming a free agent.
  • Pop-ups. Nearly ten percent of his fly balls have failed to leave the infield over the course of his career, cutting into his production.
  • Injured. He missed about two weeks of spring training due to leg tightness, which may have some lasting effects during the season.

Mike Aviles, Boston Red Sox

Pros

  • Makes contact. He struck out in just over 13 percent of his plate appearances in his brief career.
  • Versatile. He can play at second, third, and short.
  • Light power. The right-hander’s career .131 ISO isn’t earth-shattering, but he would be good for 25-30 doubles in 600 PA.
  • Steals bases occasionally. 28 steals in 37 attempts (76 percent) in each of the past two seasons.
  • Cheap and under control. He will earn $1.2 million this year, avoiding his first year of arbitration. The Phillies would have control of him through 2014.

Cons

  • Swings away. He has drawn walks in only four percent of his plate appearances.
  • Defense. Aviles is versatile, but doesn’t play any position particularly well.

Robert Andino, Baltimore Orioles

Pros

  • Defense. The samples are relatively small, but most reports  and stats indicate that Andino plays above-average at both second base and shortstop.
  • Speed? Prior to last year, Andino was an unimpressive 6-for-10 stealing bases with 66 singles and 28 walks. However, he stole 13 bases in 16 attempts last year alone.
  • Price and control. Andino is earning $1.3 million and will be arbitration eligible for the second and third time in 2013-14, respectively.

Cons

  • No offense. He doesn’t hit for average, he doesn’t get on base, and he has no power. His career batting line is only marginally better than what Michael Martinez posted last year.
  • Whiffs. Andino has struck out in over 19 percent of his 951 career plate appearances.

Blake DeWitt, Chicago Cubs

Pros

  • Versatile. DeWitt can play second, third, and left field.
  • Marginal power. In 600 PA, he could be good for 10 HR and 20 doubles.
  • Walks. He has drawn walks in about nine percent of his plate appearances.

Cons

  • Defense. Although he is verstile, he doesn’t play any position at even an average level.
  • Bad contact skills. Career .260 average and 16 percent strikeout rate. He has a career 15 percent infield fly ball rate, the 12th-highest rate in the National League since 2008.
  • Reverse platoon split:
  • vs. LHP: .290 AVG, .373 OBP, .440 SLG in 228 PA
  • vs. RHP: .254 AVG, .318 OBP, .373 SLG in 985 PA

Chris Getz, Kansas City Royals

Pros

  • Fast. 62-for-74 stealing bases over his career spanning 1,099 PA.
  • Cheap. Earning under $1 million and is arbitration-eligible in each of the next two seasons.

Cons

  • No offense. A complete inability to make quality contact has led to a carer .290 wOBA.
  • Second base only. 2,349 of his career 2,384 defensive innings have come at second base.

There is no clear-cut target on the list and some pieces need to fall into place for any deal to get done. For instance, the Red Sox would need to be convinced that prospect Jose Iglesias can hold down the everyday job at shortstop in Aviles’ absence. Currently, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Additionally, the Angels don’t have a pressing need for Blanton, so the Phillies would need to give them another reason to relinquish Callaspo or Izturis. It is just not a great time to be shopping around for infield help if you’re the Phillies.

Jamie Moyer Defying Expectations with Rockies

Once thought to be headed into retirement, Jamie Moyer is on the comeback trail with the Colorado Rockies. The veteran lefty missed the entirety of the 2011 season and the final ten weeks of the 2010 season due to an elbow injury.  In nine spring training innings thus far, Moyer has a 1.00 ERA backed by seven strikeouts and zero walks.

While Moyer’s style of pitching seems like a bad fit for Coors Field, there is a chance the match works out. Moyer induces a lot of infield flies — his 12 percent pop-up rate since 2007 is tied with noted DIPS-anomalies Matt Cain and Shaun Marcum. Moyer also has excellent control, averaging 2.6 walks per nine innings since 2007, so any damage inflicted by the hitter-friendly tendencies of Coors Field will be done with fewer runners on base than the average pitcher.

Moyer could become just the fourth pitcher since 1901 to complete a full inning in the Majors at the age of 49 or older, joining Satchel Paige (58!), Hoyt Wilhelm, and Jack Quinn.

Rk IP Year Age Tm
1 Satchel Paige 3.0 1965 58 KCA
2 Hoyt Wilhelm 25.1 1972 49 LAD
3 Jack Quinn 15.2 1933 49 CIN
4 Hoyt Wilhelm 20.0 1971 48 TOT
5 Jack Quinn 87.1 1932 48 BRO
6 Phil Niekro 138.2 1987 48 TOT
7 Kaiser Wilhelm 8.0 1921 47 PHI
8 Hoyt Wilhelm 82.0 1970 47 TOT
9 Jack Quinn 64.1 1931 47 BRO
10 Phil Niekro 210.1 1986 47 CLE
11 Jamie Moyer 111.2 2010 47 PHI
12 Nick Altrock 2.0 1924 47 WSH
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/23/2012.

If Moyer is able to stay healthy in each of the next two seasons, it is possible that he will join the illustrious 300-win club. He currently has 267, thus would need to average 16-17 in 2012-13 to make the cut. Many conversations fixating on the next player to join the 300-win club bring up Roy Halladay and C.C. Sabathia while omitting Moyer. With good health, good fortune, and good run support, it is possible that Moyer makes history at the ripe age of 50.