Rainy Day Reading: Paralyzed Georgia outfielder drafted by Rangers

“Baseball is a business.” You tend to hear that a lot when teams make unpopular decisions, mainly based on the dollar. But baseball teams also do a number of good things around their communities and have numerous charities that they donate to. Once in awhile there’s even a feel good story that comes out in baseball and this is one of them.

In the first round, the Texas Rangers drafted outfielder Zach Cone from the University of Georgia. But Cone wasn’t the only player drafted by Texas out of that university this year. In the 33rd round, the Rangers selected Cone’s friend and fellow outfielder Johnathan Taylor. What’s newsworthy is that Taylor is paralyzed from a collision he had with Cone in the outfield.

Although the 33rd round is relatively deep in the draft, many teams continue picking through the 50th round. Plenty of work is put into picking up players, even in these latter rounds, in hopes of finding a diamond in the rough. But the Rangers believed drafting Taylor was the right thing to do.

Check out more of the story on CNN.com.

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Rainy Day Reading: “What the Scouts are Saying”

A little while ago I came across a blog post at Inside the Padres that gathered quotes from various unnamed scouts about players on the San Diego Padres, or have links back to the Padres.  It’s an interesting read on a few players during spring training, actually to me it’s a must read.  Check it out here:

What the Scouts are Saying

Comments centered on Cameron Maybin, Anthony Rizzo, Mat Latos, Mike Adams and others.  The praise for Rizzo was interesting, some of it was good, some of it mixed like this one:

 ”I’m not sold on Rizzo. I think he’s going to be a decent big leaguer. His swing is kind of long, kind of reminds me of Adam LaRoche‘s swing. He’s got a good eye, which helps him. He’ll be able to hit them out at Petco. Right now, I don’t see a short or consistent swing.”

There was also concern for Latos that turned out to be a precursor to the troubles he’s going through now:

“….I saw Mat Latos twice. I’d be concerned, man.”

It also goes on provide comments on a number of players from other teams.  Overall, it is a very interesting read and something that I hope Tom Krasovic does again next spring.

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Rainy Day Reading: Rule 5 Draft

In the past I have given a brief pre or post-draft review of the Rule 5 draft that happens at the end of the winter meetings each year.  This year I thought I would open it up and link to other blogs with more knowledge of each player selected.  For the 2010 Rule 5 Draft, here are the results: 

PIT: Josh Rodriguez, SS, Columbus (CLE)

Bucs Prospects gives a brief breakdown of Josh Rodriguez and characterizes him as an offensive-minded utility infielder.  He “doesn’t have shortstop quickness or arm strength” needed to play the position regularly.  In my eyes he could become a late-game offensive replacement for Ronny Cedeno or defensive replacement for Pedro Alvarez or Neil Walker.

SEA: Jose Flores, RHP, Columbus (CLE)

Indians Prospect Insider discusses righty Jose Flores.  Like many blogs, Tony at the Insider is scratching his head over the Mariners’ selection of a High-A ball pitcher with a low-90s fastball and secondary offerings that “are considered anything more than average pitches now and in the future”.

ARI: Joe Paterson, LHP, Fresno (SF)

Call to the Pen looks at Joe Paterson‘s profile.  The side arming lefty looks like a specialist out of the pen.  According to Nathaniel, Joe has “a better chance than most of sticking and contributing right away, particularly in an Arizona bullpen that was terrible in 2010.”

BAL: Adrian Rosario, RHP, Nashville (MIL)

Call to the Pen also recently reviewed Baltimore’s pick of Adrian Rosario saying that he “falls into the ‘good arm, zero experience’ category”.

KC: Nathan Adcock, RHP, Indianapolis (PIT)

Adcock is a 6′-5″ righty who hasn’t passed High-A ball in the five seasons he has been pitching professionally.  Will McDonald of Royals Review give his own introductory glimpse at Adcock.  There are also links to other posts about Adcock at the end of the post.

WAS: Elvin Ramirez, RHP, Buffalo (NYM)

Matthew Cerrone discusses Ramirez prior to the Rule 5 draft in his MetsBlog.  Ramirez was considered by some to be the first overall pick in the draft this year.  He has a fastball that’s been “clocked [at] 94-98 mph this winter”, but his off-speed stuff is “extremely suspect”.  The bullpen has been Ramirez’ destination for a while due to his high walk rate, but the Nationals will put him there sooner than later.

CHC: Mason Tobin, RHP, Salt Lake (LAA)

After Tobin was selected by the Cubs, he was promptly traded to the Texas Rangers for cash. Mason sat out all of 2010 following Tommy John surgery, but the Rangers like his stuff and are willing to roll the dice to see if he can stick in the pen with his mid-90s heater and nice slurve.  Harry Pavlidis of Beyond the Box Score created a thorough break down of Tobin in an April 2009 post, before his injury.

HOU: Aneury Rodriguez, RHP, Durham (TB)

Aneury Rodriguez was acquired by the Rays from the Colorado Rockies in the Jason Hammel deal in April 2009.  He’s still only 22 years old and has decent stuff.  The Crawfish Boxes takes a quick look at him, saying “I can see the Astros gambling on the possibility that he competes for a rotation spot.  If he shows well but can’t beat out the competition, perhaps he becomes a bullpen option”.  Other sources are saying that Aneury is one of the top three players taken in overall prospect value.  RaysProspects takes a deeper look at Rodriguez in a January posting.

MIL: Pat Egan, RHP, Norfolk (BAL)

The Brewers Bar reviews the Brewers’ 6′-8″ haul in the draft.  He says, “With his height, stuff, and ground ball tendencies, he’ll obviously remind a lot of people of Kameron Loe.”  But updates it with a Tweet from Jim Callis of Baseball America calling Egan a “sinker/slider reliever,” but says he doesn’t have a “true go-to pitch.”

NYM: Brad Emaus, 2B, Las Vegas (TOR)

Although Dan Uggla put up more power in the minors, compare his statistics from 2005 in the minors to Emaus‘ this past season at Triple-A.  Las Vegas is a good hitter’s environment, but it’s still an interesting exercise.  Amazin’ Avenue has a further breakdown of the Mets acquisition.  He could have a good chance to stick around.

SD: George Kontos, RHP, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (NYY)

Righty Kontos was selected away from the Yankees’ Triple-A team.  Yankees Daily has a detailed scouting report on the pitcher from this past January.  San Diego has always had success developing relief pitching in PETCO, Kontos may be next.

MIN: Scott Diamond, LHP, Gwinnett (ATL)

Aaron Gleeman discusses lefty Diamond in a recent blog post.  Aaron praises his ability to induce ground balls and says that, “Diamond has a chance to stick, in part because he projects as a potentially useful pitcher and in part because the Twins have plenty of spots to settle in the bullpen.”

NYY: Robert Fish, LHP, Salt Lake (LAA)

Halos Heaven has a write-up on Fish that includes a video of him pitching a bullpen session.  According to the site, he has some mechanics issues.  This may limit his long-term ability to become a good LOOGY for a major league team.  It’s doubtful that the Yankees will keep him around.

TB: Cesar Cabral, LHP, Pawtucket (BOS)

Cabral is a lefty reliever that, according to Sox Prospects, “Gets a lot of swings and misses with his changeup, which has nice downward movement.”  He also has a fastball that can occationally reach the mid-90s.  But he’s also struggled in A-ball and has little chance to stick on the Rays roster.

PHI: Michael Martinez, IF, Syracuse (WAS)

Martinez is a light hitting infielder with experience at second, short, and in the outfield.  The Good Phight has a write-up on Martinez, saying that he could possibly fill an Eric Bruntlett-like role.

WAS: Brian Broderick, RHP, Memphis (STL)

Future Redbirds gave a brief breakdown of Broderick after the pitcher was lost to the Nationals in the draft; “Broderick performed well in 2010 splitting his time between Palm Beach and Springfield.  He pitched with well above average command of a sinking fastball generating lots of ground balls and limiting his walks. At 6’6″, Broderick can make full use of his height to drive the ball down in the zone.”

 HOU: Lance Pendleton, RHP, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (NYY)

Pendleton grew up on the northeast side of Houston and will return there as the Astros continue their search for additional pitching options.  Stephen Goff of examiner.com posted a detailed article about Pendleton on December 14th.  Although Pendleton will have a spot in the competition for the 5th starter job, the Astros may also try to keep him around in a relief role if he doesn’t join the rotation.

NYM: Pedro Beato, RHP, Norfolk (BAL)

MetsMerizedOnline discusses Beato in a recent posting.  Jim Mancari characterized him as a, “two-pitch reliever with a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s”.  Jim goes on to say that he “could play a role in the 2011 Mets bullpen.”

NYY: Daniel Turpen, RHP, Pawtucket (BOS)

Turpen was acquired in the Ramon Ramirez trade with the San Francisco Giants this past season.  As Sox Prospects states, he is a “Big sidearm reliever with a 93-94 mph fastball, complemented by an above-average changeup and an above-average slider. Induces a lot of ground balls.”

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Rainy Day Reading: Defending Omar

Typically I am in favor of the writing of newspaper sportswriters as they in front the sport on a daily basis and typically they provide informative articles that not only tell you what you need to know, but also often give you some little tidbit of insight into the the thinking of those in the game.  One of these writers is StevePopper of NorthJersey.com.  I follow his Twitter feed regularly to catch some insight into New York baseball.  It’s a good Twitter feed without too much inconsequential information. 

However, one of his latest articles, entitled ”Omar Minaya’s scout skills will be his saving grace“, immediately raised my eyebrow.  In the article Popper opens with the open admission that Omar Minaya has made some mistakes in his tenure as the GM of the New York Mets, but says his scouting background will help him out in the final two years of his deal.

UGH.

The article briefly “sums up” the two main cons of Minaya’s “scorecard” in the contracts for Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, $60 million worth of contracts that had some critics cringing when they were signed, let alone after the first few games under those new contracts were played out.  Also, what about Jason Bay?  The Red Sox knew there was something wrong with his knee, but the Mets obviously didn’t think it would be that big of a thing.  Yet, wouldn’t scouting have played a role in the decision-making on these signings?

It also defends Omar Minaya’s actions, stating that he is “…..bound to restricted access to the Wilpons’ checkbook.”  When Minaya took over the reigns in 2004, he accepted a team that entered the season with a $ $96.66 million payroll.  In 2009 he went into the season with a $149.37 million payroll, an over $50 million increase in five years.  Let’s put aside the nearly $150 million figure that 28 other GMs would love to have at their disposal and look at the net increase the Mets have had at their disposal since Minaya walked in.  Cot’s Baseball Contracts have the 2010 Mets payroll at $126,498,096, an approximate $29,800,000 increase from what Minaya inherited when he came into the position in September 2004.  Only nine teams enjoyed more of an increase over that span (interestingly the Yankees are not one of them).  But only five of those teams currently have payrolls in excess of $100 million.

He also states, “The scout in Minaya will come in handy if he sticks out the final two years of his deal…”  Although Minaya has been able to stock his team with players through the draft and the international market, the volume of prospects in the Mets system has handcuffed the Mets ability to acquire top talent through trades.

Jon Heyman of SI.com discussed in a recent column that Minaya’s job situation isn’t secure.  It shouldn’t be.

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Rainy Day Reading: Yuni and Strasburg

Tom Verducci of CNNSI.com wrote an article shortly after Stephen Strasburg‘s debut discussing Strasburg’s impact and his interesting connection with Yunieski Betancourt.  Yes, Verducci actually made a connection between the best pitching prospect to come along in years and a shortstop that amazes me that he’s still starting in the major leagues.

Back in 2008 the Seattle Mariners and the Washington Nationals were in a heated race to see who could be the worst in Major League Baseball.  With two games remaining in their 2008 schedule, the Mariners had a 59-101 record, giving them a half-game lead over the woeful Nationals at 59-100.  But Betancourt turned it on and hit like a man possessed the last two games, going -for-7 with a walk, two runs and two RBI.  The Mariners won their last two games and the Nationals won the rights to draft Strasburg.

Even when Yuni played well, he was screwing over Mariners fans.  If only Mariners Jack Zduriencik had suckered the Royals into taking Yuni earlier…
 

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Rainy Day Reading…Watching: MSG Picks All-Time Best NY Lineup

The Lineupis the new original series on with MSG Network  airing on Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m.  The show looks at each position around the diamond and will determine NY’s All-Time Best.  All-time greats Donnie “Baseball” Mattingly and Alex Rodriguez are already on the list.

They’ve already completed the infield, now they’re into looking at the outfield positions.  The next shows airs Tuesday, April 27th at 10:30pm (EST).

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Rainy Day Reading: Rider, slurve and… Titanic

While perusing through my RSS links one day I came across an interesting article about pitching….more specifically the pitches that are thrown.  Max Marchi over at Hardball Times wrote an article entitled Rider, slurve and….Titanic that goes in-depth about the numerous types of pitches that are thrown.  It is a very interesting read if you have the time.

In addition to going in-depth about the different types of pitches thrown, Max throws in quotes to further his points.  My favorite was from Bob Gibson:

It was said that I threw, basically, five pitches—fastball, slider, curve, change-up, and knockdown. I don’t believe that assessment did me justice, though. I actually used about nine pitches—two different fastballs, two sliders, a curve, change-up, knockdown, brushback and hit batsman.”

Bob Gibson, Stranger to the Game.

As I was growing up, I only knew of four main pitches.  The fastball, curve, slider, and change up was the basic arsenal (though I did occasionally throw a screwball in wiffle-ball).  But the vast array of pitches out there is truly interesting once you really break it down.  From the basics like the fastball, to the elusive gyro, the list goes on and on.  Max categorized all of them into 14 groups:

  • No. 1 – Slow change or, as they used to say in the past, simply slow ball.
  • No. 2 – Hard curve, tight curve.
  • No. 3 – Slider.
  • No. 4 – Heater (hummer, blazer…).
  • No. 5 – Sinker.
  • No. 6 – Floater, junk, feather.
  • No. 7 – Cutter, sailer.
  • No. 8 – This one tails to the throwing arm side. I would suggest tailing fastball, but according to Neyer and James, they used to call a pitch from a righty that runs into a right-handed batter a riding fastball.
  • No. 9 – I really don’t like the terms hard change and slow change, so I expect good suggestions from you for this and No. 1.
  • No. 10 – Slow curve, drop curve.
  • No. 11 – Low-arm-angle pitches. How do we call them as a group? Sidearmers? Submariners?
  • No. 12 – Okay, this is a fastball that’s not quite fast (high 80s), but stays up. I go with rising fastball.
  • No. 13 – Slurve.
  • No. 14 – Similar to No. 12, but 4-5 mph faster. Hopper comes to my mind.
  • I especially like his comment about fast/slow curve balls being two different pitches.  It’s a totally different experience when stepping into the box against either one of the two.

    It’s a good thing that catchers don’t have to use this system though.  Imagine the signals that would have to go down for a slurve when there is a man on base.

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    Ranking the GMs

    Tim Marchman over at SI.comrecently wrote an article on something that about every baseball writer eventually does (whether it’s published or not), ranking the GMs.  I thought I would put my opinion into his rankings.

    Before picking apart his rankings, I need to highlight a statement that he provided near the beginning of his article:

    “One problem is that it’s hard even to tell what general managers should be judged by. Each has different goals, different resources and a different amount of control over his team, and for these reasons it’s not rare for an empty suit to run a good club, or for a bright spark to run a lousy one.”

    This is so true.  There’s no good objective way to rank the GMs.  With that said, let’s look at his rankings:

     

    1. Andrew Friedman, Tampa Bay Rays – It is hard to argue with this.
    2. Theo Epstein, Boston Red Sox - 15 of 39 players on 40-man farm raised
    3. Brian Cashman, New York Yankees - He (not by himself though) has made some bad decisions, enough was cleared off the books last year to reload.  Farm system still needs improvement.  Downgrade.
    4. Larry Beinfest, Florida Marlins – Choked by management, it’s hard to argue with how Larry’s kept them respectable.
    5. Jack Zduriencik, Seattle Mariners – I agree with the spot for the most part, worry about lack of respect for gathering hitting talent….but then again he was behind Fielder and Braun drafts in Milwaukee.
    6. Doug Melvin, Milwaukee Brewers - I agree but worry about him without Jack at his side.
    7. Dan O’Dowd, Colorado Rockies -Close, Coors can make any GM look bad occasionally (Hampton, Neagle).
    8. Jon Daniels, Texas Rangers - He may be a couple notches higher. Tough park to grow pitching, but farm system and trades have been good.
    9. Ken Williams, Chicago White Sox - Good trader, but inability to draft/grow young talent.
    10. Billy Beane, Oakland A’s - I’d actually downgrade him (WHA?!?!).  Not much, but his love for slow, defensively challenged players has done him in repeatedly.
    11. Josh Byrnes, Arizona Diamondbacks - Adequate spot
    12. Andy MacPhail, Baltimore Orioles - Adequate spot….check back in a couple years when talent is settled in the Majors and ownership opens up the pocketbook to fill the holes.
    13. Dave Dombrowski, Detroit Tigers - Used to be a big fan, but financial decisions in recent years have been horrid.  Farm system hasn’t been that great over the past few years either.  Down a few spots.
    14. Walt Jocketty, Cincinnati Reds - About right.
    15. Tony Reagins, Los Angeles Angels - About right. Farm system has gone downhill under him, but team still winning.
    16. Jim Hendry, Chicago Cubs - Downgrade here.  Plenty of bad contracts, lowly farm system for the past few years.
    17. Frank Wren, Atlanta Braves - Farm system has been restocked, but his player relations sucks.
    18. John Mozeliak, St. Louis Cardinals - About right, maybe a touch higher.  The team’s always a winner.
    19. Ruben Amaro Jr., Philadelphia Phillies - Dogged for his acquisition/dealing of Cliff Lee, but two pennants in two years, he should be higher.
    20. Neal Huntington, Pittsburgh Pirates - He’s dogged a bunch, but I can see his plan and the Pirates will be somewhat better in a couple years.  A little higher.
    21. Bill Smith, Minnesota Twins - Santana, Garza, Bartlett….lower ranking.
    22. Mark Shapiro, Cleveland Indians – Forced to slash, he’s better than this.  Not by too much, but better.
    23. Mike Rizzo, Washington Nationals -Under-ranked about as much as Amaro Jr. No money to play with, but he’s fixing a team that was destroyed under Jim Bowden’s regime.  Good low-level moves.
    24. Alex Anthopolous, Toronto Blue Jays -Alex has done what his predecessor couldn’t do, pull off a major trade.  He has an uphill battle in front of him, but I’d definitely put him in front of Bill Smith right now, even with his short tenure.
    25. Jed Hoyer, San Diego Padres - Have yet to see his value, we shall see.  I’d still put him above Bill Smith, neutral rank is better than negative.
    26. Omar Minaya, New York Mets -This ranks him as the fifth worst GM in the game, he’s definitely in the bottom four.
    26. Ned Colletti, Los Angeles Dodgers -Sure, he’s had some bad contracts, but he keeps winning. Cashman has had some too.  Farm system has been better than the Yankees’ regularly though.  But Cashman has a few World Series rings….Ned should be high teens, low 20s.
    27. Brian Sabean, San Francisco Giants – Watching these bottom three run (and Minaya) a team is hillarious, unless you are a fan of the teams.  Sabean has a certain love for old players on the downside of their careers.
    29. Ed Wade, Houston Astros - UGH.
    30. Dayton Moore, Kansas City Royals - Oddly, he was often talked about in other GM searches before the hapless Royals nabbed him.  Sure, he’s handcuffed by low payrolls, but there’s many bad decisions beyond that.

    Pretty decent ranking overall by Marchman.  There were only two significant under-rankings in Rizzo and Amaro Jr.  Noteable over-rankings would’ve been Smith and Minaya (although Minaya can’t go much lower).

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    USA Today’s List of Names You Need to Know

    Each year USA Today puts out a list of the 100 Names You Need to Know, a list of the prospects you should know of going into the upcoming season.  It’s not a top-100 list, as many prospects in the top-100 will not be ready during the upcoming season.  As I see it, the list is more of a “what rookies will have the most impact” in the upcoming season.

    It’s an interesting list that gives you a little background on each of the prospects and when they might start making an impact at the Major League level.  But I do have my own opinion on some of the rankings:

    Pedro Alvarez(7):  Though a great prospect, he still has some work left he needs to do in the minors.  Andy LaRoche also took a good step forward (finally) in the second half last season as well.  I could see Neal Huntington letting the market develop and see if he can get much for LaRoche (unless he plans on moving him to second, as rumored) before bringing up Alvarez.

    Jon Niese(12): Niese is over-ranked in this list.  His positive impact on the Mets will be significantly less than some of the others lower on this list.  Many media outlets are high on him, but I have my doubts.

    Brett Wallace (27):  I really think that Brett’s going to force his way into the Jays’ lineup at some point early in the season.  He could have a bigger impact than Daniel Hudson or Jeff Clement.

    Stephen Stasburg (31):  Stephen is underrated at 31.  Although the Nationals will have him settle in during a short period in the minors, they’ll likely be itching to bring him up mid-season.  He’s good enough to make the jump and possibly pitch as well as Tommy Hanson did last season for the Braves.

    Desmond Jennings (59):  He’s a little underrated here.  If Jennings performs well enough and B.J. Upton continues his sluggish hitting of 2009, the Rays could hook Upton at mid-season.

    David Freese(60):  Barring a significant change (Like a Felipe Lopez signing), Freese will likely get the majority of the playing time at third base.  He could have a bigger impact on the Cardinals’ overall offense than some of the players above him on this list.

    These are just the more notable arguements about the rankings in this list.  But there’s players that USA Today left off this list that I haven’t mentioned.  Who’s been left off that deserves to be on this list more than Allen Craig (100)?

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    Rainy Day Reading: The Gambler and the Investor…

    Nearly every night before I fall asleep I read a few articles from other blogs in glow radiating from my Blackberry.  One of the sites that I often head to is FanGraphs, a great site to conduct statistical analysis and to read great commentary from some very good writers.

    A little while ago I came across an article entitled, “The Gambler and the Investor: Two Models of Fandom“.  Written by Carson Cistulli, this long but very well written article immediately grabbed my attention.  He discusses how he used to put “emotional wagers” on a team.  Being emotionally connected to a team and how his emotions would change with the team’s fortunes.  Now he’s more interested in a variety of players from various organizations.  As they come up through the minors and succeed he gets the satisfaction of having followed the player since he was signed.  But if they fail and are eventually out of baseball it isn’t as much of a loss as enduring an depressing losing season where your team is at the bottom of the scrap heap.

    This immediately sunk in with me as I remember watching Sid Bream sliding across home plate to score the winning run in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS.  From that point on I was a die-hard Atlanta Braves fan.  Each year I would go from the high points of getting into the playoffs, to the disappointment of not taking home a World Series crown (except for 1995).  There were even points where I wouldn’t watch a game after the 7th inning if the Braves were in the lead, thinking it was bad luck as I could possibly see the other team come back to win.  This may have been more of a self-preservation thing as I emotionally didn’t want to deal with the possible gut-wrenching late inning loss.

    But as time wore on, my interest in other teams grew.  Although I still had a love for the Braves, younger teams with low payrolls and prospects on the way drew me in their direction.  Through the years, teams like the Athletics, Rays, and Brewers caught my eye as they each had spurts of prospects rising through their system as the Braves once had during the 90s.  But it didn’t hurt so much when these teams would fall out of a pennant race late in the season or get knocked out of the playoffs.  Really it was more about an interest in rising players.  Sure, there was still the interest in how well a team scouted and developed players, but there wasn’t as much of an emotional connection with the team itself.  

    It hasn’t been the star prospects either that I have followed.  The lower ranked prospects with good peripheral stats and decent reports drew my attention.  One player that drew my interest that has really blossomed has been Dustin Pedroia.  He was never ranked higher than fifth on the Boston Red Sox prospect lists, but his stats initally drew my interest.  The fact that he’s short like me and a dirt dog furthered my interest in the scrappy second baseman.  But I never thought he’d be the 2008 AL MVP.

    Here are some other players that haven’t been top prospects that I have been following a little closer than others over the past couple years:

    P  Cole Rohrbough

    1B Kila Ka’aihue

    OF Nelson Cruz

    P  Blake Hawksworth

    1B Rhyne Hughes

    3B Andy LaRoche

    IF Matt Antonelli

    OF Michael Taylor

    P Johnny Cueto

    P Wade Davis

    IF Eric Young Jr.

    An odd mix, that’s for sure.  But each of these players have piqued my interest over the past couple years for one reason or another.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-gambler-and-the-investor-two-models-of-fandom

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