Is Russell Branyan for real?
As for the potential replacement, once name jumps out above the others, and that is the Twins'
(1) Baker's K/9 rate is 7.39, nearly identical to last season's 7.36 mark. (2) Baker is actually walking fewer batters this season as his already strong 2.19 BB/9 mark has dropped to a spectacular 1.66. (3) As a result of the first two factors his K/BB rate of 4.45, besides being a full point better than his 3.36 mark from last season, is eighth in baseball. (4) His BABIP mark, a solid .290 last season, is virtually unchanged this season at .287. So why is he struggling? Two main reasons. First, his left on base percentage, over 72 percent in his career, is just 64.2 percent this year. Second, though he has always been a flyball prone pitcher, his rate is up more than five percent this year so that 50.8 percent of all batted balls are hitting the clouds. In addition to this inflated rate, his HR/F has also nearly doubled from 8.5 percent last year to 15.6 percent this season. That's a perfect storm for failure, though one that I just cannot see lasting. These last three measures will almost certainly improve to a point where they fall in line with his career work, and when that happens I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him shave nearly two runs off that ERA with a corresponding increase in his win total. Buy low on this one.
If you need pitching help then any deal with the best left-handed pitcher in baseball must be seriously considered.
Showing no ill effects from preseason elbow issues, Santana has been as good as ever, in truth, he has almost been better than ever. Santana currently has a 2.00 ERA with an 11.13 K/9 mark, and while those numbers are spectacular, it's not like his WHIP (1.11) or his K/BB (4.24) are chopped liver. Santana is allowing more flyballs then we are used to seeing, his current rate of 49.2 percent is well above his 42.5 percent career mark, but luckily for him he has knocked about three percent off of his career HR/F mark of 9.5 percent. Chances are that this number will rise moving forward, and when it does he could allow a few more long balls unless he cuts down that fly ball rate. But really, that's just nit picking as he continues to be as tremendous as he has always been.
It's ironic that this deal could have Ethier and Manny switching teams, because it is pretty apparent that Ethier needs his Manny. Since May 6th, Manny's last game before his drug related suspension, Ethier has hit .200 with just one home run an four RBI in 25 games. Are his struggles a coincidence or does he really miss Ramirez's presence that much? It should be pointed out that Ethier is walking more than even before, a good sign, and that his line drive rate of 18 percent is well below his 22 percent mark. Toss in the fact that his BABIP, a strong .329 in his career, is down to .289 this season, and it seems like he has been a bit unlucky in 2009. He should improve moving forward, especially when Manny returns.
Who would have thought that the battle for supremacy in the Upton clan would begin this season? Younger bro' Justin has certainly been the better Upton in the early going despite just 151 games of major league experience heading into this season. After hitting just .250 in April, Justin has been terrorizing pitchers ever since batting .358 with eight home runs, 25 RBI and 26 runs in 31 games. Heck, he has even tossed in six steals for good measure. For all his skill there is just no way he can maintain a .400 BABIP given a line drive rate of just 21 percent, and when that fact is coupled with a strikeout rate of 27.8%, this likely as good as it will get with the D'backs outfielder. He is too talented to just collapse, but a regression seems likely over the next couple of months (it may have already starter as he is 2-for-18 the past week).
Since Santana is as rock solid an option as there is in the game, since we know Manny will miss another month of action, and since you expressed a need to bolster your pitching staff, I say that you accept this deal if you have enough bullpen help to cover the loss of saves that you will be hit with in sending Sherrill to the other squad.
I did a big write up on Weaver the other day, and you can read all about it in this
As for the other side of the deal, I'm buying what Lester is selling as I have said multiple times this year. Lester owns a 5.65 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP, numbers that he has clearly outperformed in several areas including his K/9 (10.19), K/BB (3.08) and his line drive rate (19.9 percent). So why the "struggles?" His HR/F rate is huge at 16.7 percent, well above his career 9.3 percent mark, so given that he is permitting the same amount of flyballs as we have seen from him in the past (his current 35.5 percent mark is a mere 0.3 points below his career average), this number should normalize leading to fewer runs. In addition, he continues to be rather snake bitten with a BABIP mark of .374, a full .060 points above his career mark. Sooner or later that luck of his will even out.
As for Carmona -- people, he is a pathetic excuse for a major league pitcher so do yourself an immediate favor and completely forget about his 2007 season (19-8, 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) as its about as likely to repeat as I am to suddenly develop some insight into why
Would I do this deal? In my mind it's Weaver for Lester. Given everything, I would hold on to Weaver, but this is a very, very close call.
Symmetry is wonderful isn't it? I just touched on Branyan on Thursday as well in my piece entitled
Branyan has cut his K-rate down to 30.1 percent this year, still a horrible number, and while that decrease will help him maintain a more consistent approach, it still doesn't explain his bating average growth. In addition his line drive rate is the same, 20.5 percent this season and 20.8 percent for his career, and his groundball and flyball rates are almost identical to his career marks as well. So bottom lining it for you -- Branyan has been exceedingly lucky. His BABIP is .394, and that number isn't remotely close to being supported by his line drive rate (click on the link above for an explanation on that line of thinking). With a career BABIP mark of .313 it is clear that the rabbit's foot in his pocket has been working quite well -- but at some point that luck will turn and the average could plummet.