January | 2012 | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

Articles from January 2012

A More Positive Way to View Steroid Abuse within Baseball

This week Ryan Braun accepted the National League MVP award amidst perhaps more controversy than has ever before been associated with a postseason award.  Quite obviously Braun has let down a great deal of people if he is indeed proven guilty of knowingly abusing illicit drugs to enhance his performance on the field.  While there is wiggle room within that last sentence to suggest that Braun did nothing wrong even if he is found guilty of abuse, his reputation is forever tarnished.  There is a very realistic chance that his name will be left off of ballots in the future for single season awards as well as Hall of Fame ballots upon Braun’s retirement.

We at The Sombrero certainly side with our generation in retaliation against the tyranny of the elderly BBWAA members, but their hold is not likely to be relinquished for over a decade.  Braun’s ethical failure obviously casts the game in a dark shadow that seemingly has shrouded the game for two decades now, but is there anything positive that young players can take from these years of shame that has bettered the game for the long term?  We think so.

Every time I return home to Farmington for a break from school, I lift on a near daily basis at one of two local gyms on my side of town.  I have never been to either without seeing a teenage player or one in his early 20s working out as well.  Whether these players are professionals home for the offseason, collegiate players home on holiday break, high school kids fresh off of fall or winter practice, club guys on off nights, or middle school kids new to high school athletics and familiarizing themselves with the weight room for the first time, these players all are utilizing reasonably advanced physical training techniques specifically geared toward baseball athleticism.  Rare is it nowadays for any kid to succeed on the field without training on the track or in the weight room both in and out of season.

I am not attempting to suggest that the reason these players are training athletically is an attempt to emulate steroid abusers of today and of yesteryear, but even offseason workouts were less developed in the days before PED abuse.  Watching guys like Jose Bautista and Prince Fielder go very long without prototypical bodybuilder frames should come as encouragement to young hitters.

Prince and Bautista are quite noteworthy for their specific workout regimens within the game, and while neither looks like Jose Canseco did in the late ‘80s, they still represent an end to hard work in the gym.  Both players have had to spend their entire careers attempting to overcome genetic slighting, and they both have done so magnificently.  These players are less of the model and more like today’s young players.  We all spend our lives both fighting and attempting to enhance our own genetic makeup within the game, and the steroid era in baseball, which I prefer to think of as the fitness revolution in baseball, demonstrated the lengths that players can go legally and illegally to do so.

While today’s game is policed much more thoroughly and the rules are enforced far more harshly than in the past, the hard work training in the gym and at the track hasn’t left the game and likely never will.  While we cannot thank steroids for that, we can thank many steroid abusers as well as quite likely many more non-abusers who were forced to train alongside those cheaters simply to share the same field.  Today’s young players carry that desire with them in greater frequency than ever before, and it is very refreshing for former players like myself and the other writers here at The Sombrero.

Editor’s note: If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out Dee’s other work: Today’s Prospect Landscape: Hitters vs. Pitchers, The Connie Mack World Series vs. Area Code Games, and How Division III Players Become Draft Prospects.

Top 50 Prospects: #8 – Trevor Bauer

#8 Trevor Bauer

Arizona Diamondbacks

DOB: 1/17/1991

Previous Rank: N/A

ETA: 2012

The Sombrero considered Trevor Bauer the No. 3 prospect going into the 2011 draft, exactly where he was selected.  Granted, we had Rendon at No. 1 and Bundy at No. 2, and both were selected after Bauer, but we still anticipated Bauer being both the easiest and cheapest sign of the truly elite prospects in 2011 class.

Bauer struggled upon his call-up to Double-A, but he was severely overworked at UCLA, and Towers made the correct move to shut him down rather than including him on the NLDS roster – although he could have helped.  After earning the Golden Spikes and setting numerous records at UCLA, Bauer signed an incentive-laden deal worth as much as $7 million, but with only $4.45 guaranteed.  The contract was genius, and in a year or two will certainly look like a bargain for the D-Backs.

Year Age Tm Lg Lev W L ERA G GS IP HR BB SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2011 20 2 Teams 2 Lgs AA-A+ 1 2 5.96 7 7 25.2 3 12 43 1.519 9.5 1.1 4.2 15.1 3.58
2011 20 Visalia CALL A+ 0 1 3.00 3 3 9.0 1 4 17 1.222 7.0 1.0 4.0 17.0 4.25
2011 20 Mobile SOUL AA 1 1 7.56 4 4 16.2 2 8 26 1.680 10.8 1.1 4.3 14.0 3.25
1 Season 1 2 5.96 7 7 25.2 3 12 43 1.519 9.5 1.1 4.2 15.1 3.58
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/24/2012.

Bauer features some of the most unconventional pitching mechanics in the game, but he has always been tested as far as pitch counts go and has never really been injured.  We at The Sombrero are onboard in terms of challenging tradition so long as whatever challenges they may be can hold up against the empirical scrutiny of the game.

He features a fastball that can reach 98 mph, a boulder of a curveball that receives consistent 70s and the occasional 80, a plus slider and changeup, and a solid splitter.  Bauer is a tremendous athlete that has constantly overcome his lack of physicality.  He trains incredibly hard and truly knows what it means to compete.  Trevor Bauer should win a Cy Young Award or two for Arizona and represents everything that a young pitcher should desire to be.

Top 50 Prospects: #9 – Manny Machado

#9 Manny Machado

Baltimore Orioles

DOB: 7/6/1992

Previous Rank: 23

ETA: 2014

Machado is the top middle infield prospect in the Minors today, unless we are counting Anthony Rendon.  The Florida-native failed at the plate upon a promotion to the Carolina League, but he torched the Sally League, posting an .859 OPS and walking nearly as many times as he struck out.  His posted a slash line of .245/.308/.384 on the year, went deep 11 times, and stole 11 bases, but needs to make more consistent contact as well as develop some discipline in the box.

Year Age Tm Lg Lev G PA AB R 2B 3B HR RBI BA
2010 17 2 Teams 2 Lgs A–Rk 9 39 36 3 1 1 1 5 .306
2010 17 Orioles GULF Rk 2 7 7 1 0 0 1 2 .143
2010 17 Aberdeen NYPL A- 7 32 29 2 1 1 0 3 .345
2011 18 2 Teams 2 Lgs A+-A 101 430 382 48 20 5 11 50 .257
2011 18 Delmarva SALL A 38 170 145 24 8 2 6 24 .276
2011 18 Frederick CARL A+ 63 260 237 24 12 3 5 26 .245
2 Seasons 110 469 418 51 21 6 12 55 .261
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/20/2012.
2010 17 2 Teams 2 Lgs A–Rk 9 39 36 1 5 0 0 3 3 .306 .359 .472 .831
2010 17 Orioles GULF Rk 2 7 7 1 2 0 0 0 1 .143 .143 .571 .714
2010 17 Aberdeen NYPL A- 7 32 29 0 3 0 0 3 2 .345 .406 .448 .855
2011 18 2 Teams 2 Lgs A+-A 101 430 382 11 50 11 6 45 73 .257 .335 .421 .756
2011 18 Delmarva SALL A 38 170 145 6 24 3 1 23 25 .276 .376 .483 .859
2011 18 Frederick CARL A+ 63 260 237 5 26 8 5 22 48 .245 .308 .384 .692
2 Seasons 110 469 418 12 55 11 6 48 76 .261 .337 .426 .763
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/20/2012.
Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G Ch PO A E DP Fld% RF/G
2010 17 Aberdeen NYPL A- BAL SS 5 22 7 14 1 2 .955 4.20
2011 18 2 Teams 2 Lgs A+-A BAL SS 94 448 139 290 19 53 .958 4.56
2011 18 Delmarva SALL A BAL SS 33 178 51 120 7 23 .961 5.18
2011 18 Frederick CARL A+ BAL SS 61 270 88 170 12 30 .956 4.23
2 Seasons 99 470 146 304 20 55 .957 4.55
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/20/2012.

Machado has elite tools and no real weaknesses, and should develop into one of the truly special shortstops in the game.  Scouts see him as a plus-hit/plus-power offensive player with enough range and more than enough arm for short.  His hands are not consistent in the field and his footwork can get sloppy, but a teenager at short in the Carolina League is given the benefit of the doubt every time.  If he is forced to shift positions, which we are skeptical of (at least for the rest of this decade), he will have plenty of bat to stick at third.  Machado is as toolsy as they come, and when he grows into his 6-foot-3 frame a bit, he will light up whatever league he finds himself in.

The Baseball Show: The Yu Darvish Edition

On the latest installment of The Baseball Show, Clint, MJ, and I discussed the week’s most interesting story lines as well as our usual assortment of nonsense.

We started things off by discussing Yu Darvish and how his signing was inevitable after the Rangers posted a $51.7MM bid, so it’s no surprise that they ultimately paid $111MM.  According to MJ, Darvish would have to produce a 22 WAR over the next six years to justify his price.  But what separates Darvish from previous imports like Hideo Nomo and Dice-K?

We also debate whether or not Darvish will perform like the No. 1 starter that Rangers expect him to be.

We discuss MJ’s Baseball Prospectus debut, “The Advantage of Low Expectations,” which has been well received throughout the baseball blogosphere.

A day after our last show, the Yankees and Mariners conducted a big-time prospect swap, as the Bronx Bombers sent Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos.  We evaluate the trade and can’t help but feel that the Yankees were on the winning end of this swap.

Who has received the best return for their starting pitcher this offseason? Although we agree the Padres received a great haul for Mat Latos, we unanimously agree the A’s received the best return this offseason.

And of course, what would The Baseball Show be without “Ask MJ…”


Would you take a job in the Angels front office if it were offered to you today?


Cure for hangover? No booze – note: you can’t say “more booze.”

You’re going to have to find a Waffle House and order the greasiest Cheese Stake plate with hash browns and jalapeños to get through it.

Weirdest thing you’ve ever owned or collected?

I was a huge baseball card fan, but mainly when I was growing up I spent a lot of money on hockey cards for some reason.  I doubt I could get anything for my Pavel Buree rookie card.  I do have an autographed John Smoltz Starting Lineup figurine still in its package.

If you could sit at a bar and have a drink with any three sports figures, who would it be and why?

1)    Mickey Mantle – We’re going to have a good time and hopefully get into some trouble

2)    Wayne Gretzky – He was my hero growing up

3)    Dana White – I like I guy who curses every other word

4)    More so 3a) Mike Trout received an honorable mention provided that MJ can find him a semi-decent fake I.D.


1)    Mickey Mantle

2)    Willie Mays, but he’s just an old saltry prick

3)    Joe Nameth – he likes to drink Johnny Walker

4)    Babe Ruth – The more drunk Yankees the better


1)    Mickey Mantle

2)    Michael Jordan

3)    Mark Grace

We agree that Vin Scully would have to be there to narrate the entire night.


If you could sponsor one BR page, regardless of price, who would it be?

Too easy. I literally sat around waiting for Mike Trout to buy his page. If not, then it would probably be Barry Bonds.

Your favorite Disney movie?

Cinderalla, and you’re not going to believe his response…

Rookie of the Year or the Sandlot?

The Sandlot. No question.

Celery or Celery Salt?

Celery. They should just re-name it “ranch shovel”

Jered Weaver: Long hair or short hair?

Long hair! Come on, he’s a dirt bag.

If you could assume a fake identity, what would it be?

MJ: Viagra Nopantsman, a middle-aged pitcher; Hunter Dye and he’d carry around a shotgun like Omar from The Wire.

CE: Chet Rockwell, 29 yrs old, DH, can’t run

MR: Speechless

MJ makes Baseball ProGUESTus debut: The Advantage of Low Expectations

My good friend MJ Lloyd of OffBasePercentage.com and HaloHangout.com made his highly anticipated Baseball Prospectus debut this morning.  Featured as a columnist in the prestigious Baseball ProGUESTus series, MJ’s article, “The Advantage of Low Expectations,” blends commentary on some of the more famous prospect flops of the past two decades with his usual array of utter nonsense.  If that doesn’t sound like a great read, then you are forever banished from this site.

Here is a excerpt:

Prospects are like new car smell. They’re exciting and intoxicating. They make it seem like your favorite team is about to turn the corner.

With prospect analysis and news having penetrated every corner of the Internet, it’s hard not to get carried away with prospect love. I can’t imagine how many tweets Kevin Goldstein and Keith Law have to see every day asking if Team X’s third- and fifth-best prospects would be enough to score Felix Hernandez.

It’s prospect-mania out there. I’m guilty of it. I sponsor Brandon Wood’s Baseball-Reference page, and I’m no longer hopeful that it will fund my retirement plan.

But I have managed to identify a few of the pitfalls of prospect worship.

Read the rest of “The Advantage of Low Expectations