Thursday, July 29, 2010

Prospect Pr0n - Barely Legal Edition!


Here we go, no bullshit. I don't know the first thing about Anthony Gose, just as I knew next to nothing about Brett Wallace. Being a sportsnerd on the Internet in the year 2010, it's easy to jump to irrational positions and fall in love — hard — without thinking clearly or seeing the whole picture.

Brett Wallace came with pedigree, an accomplished hitter with gap power and a sweet swing. We saw the home runs pile up in Vegas and sat back, content in the knowledge that the first baseman of the future was secure. Very few, if any, of us bothered looking much more deeply at Wallace or many of his numbers. The harsh, sober light of post-trade day opens eyes and invites scrutiny. Maybe his power wasn't what it should be, maybe his splits were unfavorable, and maybe a potential franchise cornerstone should absolutely demolish the PCL, leaving no question as to his viability at the next level.

Flipping him for a raw 19 year old confuses and frustrates those of us who began investing heavily in his cause two weeks into Lyle Overbay's early season slump. 19-year toolsy outfielders are difficult to project and nail down. Sure, you can throw pigtails and a cheerleader uniform on just about anyone (athleticism off the charts!) Toss them a lollipop and you're halfway to 10 to 15 (love his makeup!) But does that make the unpolished kid the grade A stuff, unsullied and untouched while the busty, heavy-set proven commodity has the look of someone whose seen one too many DPs?

The numbers for Gose aren't pretty but as a 19 year old in High A, I feel you can throw them out the window, especially for a converted pitcher. A player in the mold of Brett Gardner is incredibly valuable. Patient fly catchers don't fall out trees. But the patient part, that's where it gets tricky. Gose is still learning the strike zone and how to recognize offspeed pitches, we're told. Call me crazy, but I fall in the camp that believes a lot of that ability is damn near innate. This isn't tricking your body to stop smoking or start flossing, plate patience and knowing when to pull the trigger requires an ungodly amount of discipline and control. I'm not sure you can teach it, at any age.

I keep coming back to the Tao's comment section from earlier this week. I drew an analogy between building a baseball team and progressive blackjack betting systems. Place a bet: if you win, you up the stakes a little while feeding your stack. Win again, do the same. Incrementally, you build and build, capitalizing on hot streaks while minimizing losses during the cold snap.

Moving Wallace as his stock slips (but still maintains some value) may be an example of Anthopoulos and friends employing this very strategy. The Jays can't afford to ovecommit to a guy like Brett Wallace - a professional hitter with limited (2 or 3 Win?) ceiling. They keep building the stack. Wallace could be good and controllable, but finding a guy with his skillset is much, much easier than finding 5 tool guys at the Sally league or above.

Consider me firmly in the tank for AA, and willing to explain and justify away any doubts I may have. It's what we do. This team traded my three favorite players in the same season; I think I can roll with a few blue chippers shipping out from time to time.

21 comments:

  1. Here's the thing about upping the stakes to build that stack, though. Inevitably, you're gonna lose. Landing Drabek - WIN. Landing Morrow - WIN. Landing Freddy Lew - WIN. Wallace for Gose?..... Let's hope the cold streak isn't juuuuust around the corner.

    This from a guy who's too scared to sit at a table and play cards for money. So there's that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You lose some, yes. But when you're losing the house's money? You are still far ahead of where you started.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well said, mate.

    I believe in Alex Anthopoulos.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love Brett Gardner. If Gose is anything like him, we are set at CF for a decade. However, Gardner had a .389 OBP in the minors and he has brought it over to the majors. Gose, with some tweaks to fix his comically bad SB%, has a ceiling of Michael Bourn and Nyjer Morgan right now, not Brett Gardner and Carl Crawford. Anyway, I trust AA. He has been practically perfect so far after all.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. In the days before twitter and the internet, I'm convinced the newspaper headline would read as follows:

    "Jays and Astros swap minor leaguers"

    and none of use would have any idea what was really going on.

    This isn't my Britney Spears "Sometimes we should just trust the President" moment, but shit, I've never seen Wallace or Gose play in my entire life, and every time I saw a video of Wallace all I could see was Travis Snider anyway, so I'm fine with it.

    *edited to fix an ugly typo

    ReplyDelete
  7. When AA became GM, one of his first moves was to assemble The Machine, a vast network of scouts meant to give the Jays a competitive advantage. As fans, we lauded the move, seeing it as a way to gain an edge on the free spending Yankees and Red Sox. What we have to remember is that The Machine is useless if we have a GM who is too pusillanimous to make proper use of it. Clearly, AA is not. I'm sure that he knew that guys like K-Law would come out right away and pan the move. That didn't stop him. I'm sure he knew that fans would throw their hands up in the air in dismay, especially given the optics: "But we got him in the Halladay deal!" That didn't stop him. AA has faith in himself and in The Machine and will make what he believes to be the best move regardless of what those with lesser knowledge of the situation might believe.

    So far, we have done pretty well by The Machine. Morrow and Escobar stand out in that regard. I can just imagine a scout coming into AA's office, telling him that Escobar was the real deal, that he was getting beaten down by the culture in Atlanta, forced to repress his natural tendencies because "that wasn't the way they did things in Atlanta." Any questions about whether Escobar could flourish in Toronto must have been answered by the look on his face after he made the behind the back toss and got the standing o'. Finally he could be himself without feeling that he was doing something he shouldn't. And Morrow? He just needed the chance to know that he had a defined role and was going to be given the chance to grow into that role.

    The point I am trying to make is that AA, so far, has looked very much like a man who knows exactly what he is doing. By now he certainly has a good idea about Wallace's capabilities. If he believes that Wallace for Gose is a good move for the organization, then I am willing to stand by him. The Machine is in action. Why don't we let it work?

    -Linutor

    ReplyDelete
  8. Brian Tallet's MoustacheJuly 30, 2010 at 8:53 AM

    Do we know the nature of his strikeouts? Perhaps it's a bit silly to want, or expect, to nitpick over strikeout types from the Sally league, but I'd feel a lot better if his strikeouts were largely from swinging too early on an off-speed pitch, or not quite catching up with a tough fastball, as opposed to swinging at hittable pitches that are out of the soon. After all, I think Cito's shown that it's possible to teach a hitter to sit on a pitch, right?

    Maybe that's why AA dismissed his numbers offhand, because the caught stealing, and the strikeouts, are mistakes that can be erased?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I would't cast aside a 2 - 3 win player at league minimum with such ease.

    That fangraphs article has way too much influence around the Jays blogosphere. Wallace's D isn't great but it won't be too far below MLB average when he's ready. He needs to work on the little things. Once's he's sorted that out he'll be ok.

    BTW how is a hitter such as Goes considered a 5 tooler? He hasn't hit, period.

    The Phillies have a long history of toolsy OF's that just didn't work out (Greg Golson!). It's not like he's facing big league breaking stuff in rookie ball, low A and even high A.

    ReplyDelete
  10. That's a good point Matthias, league average isn't replacement level and is certainly worth holding on to.

    That said, Alex Anthopoulos and his team must feel as though they can bilk another GM out of a player in this mold while (potentially) filling a much harder position moving forward.

    They rate him as a 5 tool (more likely 4 tool - power seems a lot to ask) likely because of how they project him. He will hit for average because of his swing and body type, the scouts believe.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Gose is fourth in hits in the Florida State League, which is notoriously known as a pitcher's league. All as a 19 year old, who is just two years away from being converted from a pitcher. If he can get that many hits in a tough hitter's league against guys 2-3 years older than him, I think he has a chance to develop into a decent hitter.

    ReplyDelete
  12. SP, while I agree that he has a lot to work on before we can start calling him Carl Crawford-esque, take a look at Crawford's line as a 19-year-old:

    .274/.323/.352, 36 stolen bases, 20 caught stealing

    Compared to what Gose is currently doing at age 19:

    .263/.325/.385, 36 stolen bases, 27 caught stealing

    Obviously he's no sure thing but all of AA's scouts were apparently raving about this guy, so I would think they're projecting him to be better than Bourn or Morgan, even with his current flaws.

    ReplyDelete
  13. when you are 19 playing with 20/21 year olds the numbers need a little adjustment. Think about how much you changed those 2 years, if you can remember that far back ;) The CF position is the icing on the cake here. Also remember that the Jays need to develop high ceiling guys they can control at reasonable prices, not middle of the road guys they could cheaply acquire in free agency. This is their plan to compete with the payrolls in the AL East.

    ReplyDelete
  14. His walk rates are actually pretty good all things considering. (his age, the league he is in, that he's being converted from a pitcher) He just needs to drop his K rate, which is definitely easier then raising the walk rate. But right now he projects to about 50 walks over a full season. Not great, but not horrible either.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Brett Wallace <> Eric Hinske?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wallace is on his 4th organization in a not very long career. Maybe to know him is not to love him. Could be some deficiency in him that you only see up close. All in all, AA is making these calls on a much larger universe of information than we have when we're on here talking out our exits. I'm gonna give him the benefit of the doubt, for now.

    ReplyDelete
  17. smells like teen spirit music video?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Can someone explain this "converted pitcher" thing?

    He hit in high school too did he not?

    ReplyDelete
  19. I just watched today's Astros game. You know the alien in Men in Black? When he wears the farmer's skin? Yeah. He moves like that guy. So awkward it's hard to watch. Even his hit made me cringe.

    ReplyDelete

Send forth the witticisms from on high