First and foremost, I have to apologize for the late posting this week, and well, my router died last night, at around 8:30 PM (during the Cowboys and Redskins, as well as True Blood, to which Diane is addicted). So, I not only lost half the piece I had been working on, but, well, no Internet (writing a column on my IPhone would be possible, but a task).
It is a pretty fun time, I must admit, with football starting, serious pennant races in San Francisco, Tampa Bay, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Colorado, and San Diego. Oh yeah, that US Open Tennis Final was last weekend, too.
But, baseball is what we look at here, and let's start this time by looking at the poor Cubs, who finally advanced prospect Sam Fuld who it seemed had earned a gig on the struggling club last year after a brief (97 at-bats) but some very good (.299-1-2 totals, with a very good .409 OBP, fueled by 17 walks to ten strikeouts) numbers. With .285-24-.218 minor league totals, including 37 triples and 106 swipes, Fuld may not be the power source, but he has the speed and eye (302 walks to 254 whiffs) Fuld could oindeed be the tonic to the troops that could help the Cubbies to a resurgance.
Surely many of the players we are looking at are with eyes pointed to 2011, and Logan Morrison, the big (6'3", 235), a 22nd round pick of the Fish in 2005, should be among them. Morrison has good power (.292-53-274 with 105 doubles) and an excellent eye (238 walks to 291 strikeouts for a .383 OBP) as a minor leaguer, and his 2010 totals with Florida this year are .303-1-14, with four doubles, but a terrific .413 OBP (30 walks, 35 whiffs), and a promising future to boot.
I have long been a fan of Hank Conger, the Angels first round pick in 2006. With minor league totals of .297-47-254 over five seasons, Conger has moved up the Angel chain with numbers complemented by his .300-11-49 this season at Salt Lake, at age 22. With 152 walks to 243 strikeouts, Conger's eye is not quite as good as his mates above, but, it is still quite good. Conger, a backstop, is one of the main reasons the Angels could consider making Mike Napoli expendable during a few weeks back.
The Dodgers Trent Oeltjen deserves notice for having such a wonderful combination of Nordic name, while being born in Australia (New South Wales, to be exact), so where else would he fit but in the melting pot of baseball? Oeltjen, originally signed by the Twins in 2001, then went to Arizona before LA, and at 27 has toiled at AAA for four years. Over that time Oeltjen has been .302-31-218 with 78 swipes, putting his minor league numbers at .297-47-418, with 196 steals. Oeltjen does not have quite the eye as his mates, but his .361 minor league OBP (259 walks to 626 strikeouts) is still acceptable.
The Red Sox promoted Lars Anderson, their 18th round selection in 2006. The 22-year old first sacker, Anderson has developing power. His primary totals of .279-53-278 with a modest .442 SLG, but Anderson also belted 129 doubles over four minor league seasons, and that suggests a translation to homers at higher levels. Anderson has a decent eye (271 walks to 467 strikeouts for a .372 OBP) and Boston will indeed have to find a spot for him before too long.
As I watched the Giants and Padres go at it last weekend, speedy Luis Durango was on display as a future table setter. A diminuative (5'9", 160) Panamanian, Durango appeared for 14 games at Petco last season, and spent the bulk of this season with Portland, going .300-4-24, scoring 42 runs while stealing 35 bags. As a minor leaguer, Durango has .322-3-129 totals, and another excellent on-base number of 413 with 277 walks to 252 strikeouts. The knock, though is his .372 SLG, with just 43 doubles and 21 triples, giving him 67 extra-base hits out of a total of 599 hits. Meaning Durango is likely a role player.
Finishing this time with a troila of potential reclaimation projects, the Reds brought back Edinson Volquez, who certainly has electric stuff when he is on, as his minor league numbers of 4-0, 1.43, with 47 strikeouts over 44 innings this season. Of course, when he is off, as his 3-2, 5.14 totals, with a 1.69 WHIP imply, he is really off. Still, this is the time of year to gamble on a cheap flier for next year and Volquez probably will not fall much lower. And, his seven inning, one-hit performance of last Saturday (one hit, 11 whiffs) suggests maybe the on is back. A good stretch run gamble and one that could carry over.
Then there is poor Chris Tillman, a lynch pin in the Erik Bedard deal, that even if Tillman flops, still makes Seattle looks kind of sad.
And, so far Tillman has indeed flopped, with 3-9, 5.70 totals for the Orioles with a 1.60 WHIP and just 59 strikeouts over 102 innings. Contrast that with 40-31, 3.69 as a minor leaguer, with 532 K over 520 innings, and his fine 11-7, 3.34 this season at Norfolk, and the hope is the wildness is gone. Then again, remember, Tillman is still just 22, so cutting a little slack is not a bad idea.
Finally, thre is 33-year old Jay Gibbons, who has had numerous issues and controversies over his career, and who came back from the dead to hit .347-18-93 at Albuquerque over 343 at-bats this season. That prompted a call-up to Dodger Stadium, and his .349-5-15 over 43 at-bats, with a .404 OBP and .698 slugging average should be enough to at least land the vet a look as a DH somewhere in 2011.