Scouting the Pitchers
May 28, 2006
I guess if I have a niche in the fantasy baseball industry, it's my
scouting reports of players. I just try to watch as many players
as possible and relay things about them that haven't shown up in their
numbers so far, things are telling about their potential and future
Jered Weaver, for example.
He had an excellent debut against the Orioles after posting some pretty
impressive numbers against Triple-A competition. And I'm sure
there are a lot of people out there now clamoring for his
services. Me? Not so much. It's not that I don't
think he'll be decent, but I have doubts that he will be half as good
as his numbers have looked. Here's why:
Weaver has a slow delivery to the plate and will be susceptible to
teams that run. His
delivery is very distinctive and methodical so there's no fooling
going home, giving baserunners an easy first step. Good
baserunners will get several steps. Corey
almost 4 steps against him and stole second base so easily that by the
Mike Napoli's throw reached second, Patterson had already slid past the
doubled back. Weaver also doesn't appear to have a secondary
delivery, like a slide step, so stealing bases will be simply a matter
of whether or not that baserunner has the green light.
His delivery also has a lot of parts to it. He hides the ball
well initially with his back turned to the batter, but then it's a
sequence of parts moving one at a time so that his whole body acts as a
whip. It's a process rather than a compact delivery. As
such, he is probably going to encounter some difficulty in maintaining
consistent mechanics, especially on his breaking pitches. This
was true last night as he threw very few of his breaking balls over for
strikes. Fortunately for him, Oriole hitters were all too eager
swing at them, even though some were very clearly not coming close to
He had a little extra adrenaline in his first start: he hit 94 mph once
but most of his fastballs were 89-90. And his long arms make it
seem like he's releasing the ball closer to the batter than most
pitchers. He has a good feel for pitching, using his fastball to
set up his other pitches.
But unless he has his breaking ball is working, patient teams like the
Rangers, As, Yankees and Red Sox are going to feast on his
fastball. On the plus side, he doesn't see much of those teams
until the middle of July. His next starts will be in Cleveland
and Tampa (two good
parks), then back home against Kansas City and San Diego, then at
against the Dodgers and then at Seattle. In short, he could be a
pretty serviceable option until the tougher opponents start showing up
on his doorstep. However, I
would not own him in a fantasy league in August or September because
the Angels see an
awful lot of
the A's, Rangers, Yankees and Red Sox then and by then there will be
plenty of video to study.
His opponent last night, Erik Bedard, didn't fare as well but it wasn't
as bad as it looks in the boxscore. He threw first
pitch fastball strikes to the first eight batters he faced.
for him, it was apparent that Angel's hitting coach Mickey Hatcher told
his hitters that Oriole's pitching coach Leo
preaches the doctrine the fastball on the outside corner. That's
what the hitters went
for. Four of the first five hits from right-handed batters went
to right field. Bedard didn't do a very good job of mixing his
curve or locating
his change so the Angels batters simply keyed off his fastball.
Ironically enough, the Orioles hitters should have been doing the exact
same thing against Weaver but didn't.
The other problem was the defense behind Bedard. Melvin Mora made
a terrible fielding
choice with runners on second and third by trying to tag an already
Juan Rivera at third base instead of throwing to first for the easy
out. It had to be ruled a fielder's choice, yet was clearly an
runners at second and third with two out, the bases were loaded with
one out. Umpire Tim Timmons followed that up by blowing what
been the final out on a 3-6-1 double play, but ruled Garret Anderson
first. Then Melvin Mora fumbled a hot shot off the bat of Vlad
Guerrero that should have been
error but was ruled a hit. So by the time Bedard got back to the
dugout, the Orioles had in
essence given the Angels five outs in the inning. True, Bedard
have made some better pitches and certainly could have done a better
mixing his offerings, but his defense had several opportunities to get
him out of the inning without any damage but
ended up totaling three earned runs.
So when all is said and done, Bedard didn't pitch nearly as bad as the
indicates (although it wasn't good) and Weaver was no where as good as
his line score.
Another pitcher who's been the subject of much ink this year and last
is Oliver Perez. Other than his Opening Day start, he's been
inconsistent to say the least. But today he turned in a terrific
outing (although it was blown by the Pirate bullpen) that should be
viewed with a great deal of optimism.
It's been a while since I've watching him closely, but he's added a
hitch in his delivery similar to Gustavo
Chacin's although not as pronounced. I don't remember him having
that before this year, or even at the beginning of this season.
But it seemed like it was something that helped him maintain his
release point. Also a big plus was that he was throwing his
fastball in the low
90s, touching 94 a few times later in the game. No, it's not the
96-97 he used to throw fairly routinely in his 2004 breakout season,
but it is a good sign that the life is returning to his arm.
Finally, here's a little tidbit I found interesting. The AL has
the reputation of being a sluggers league. Judging from last
year's All Star Game results, I'd say the reputation is
justified. However, a new trend is developing that seems
counter-intuitive to the whole three-run homer mentality.
In 2002, just one guy, Alfonso Soriano, stole 40 bases in the AL.
In 2003, that number increased to three (Carl Crawford, Alex
Sanchez and Carlos Beltran) with one topping 50
In 2004, it dropped back to just Crawford topping 40, although
he nearly got 60.
In 2005, three guys - Chone Figgins, Scott Podsednik and Crawford -
topped 40 with one topping 60 and still one more
(Julio Lugo) who was one shy of 40.
This year, there are five guys on pace for 50 steals (Crawford,
Podsednik, Figgins, Corey Patterson and Ichiro Suzuki) and two more
(Johnny Damon and Joey Gathright) who
are on the cusp of being on pace for 40.
So while the general perception is that steals are scarce, the reality
is that they are becoming increasingly common, even in a year when home
runs appear to be up. Don't overpay for speed.