Saturday, February 28, 2009

5 Million Plus Bonus IFA Babies – Season 1

As we start Season 5, I was wondering about high priced IFAs from season 1. Where are they now? Have they made it to the ML level yet? Will they? Were they worth the price the owner paid?

As we all know the bidding for some IFAs can get rather ‘intense’ and expensive. Was he the worth the price the winner of the sweepstakes paid to get him? For the most part it’s their potential we’re bidding on. Again as we all know, they may not reach those lofty ratings. You have injuries, makeup ratings, playing time, training budgets, coaches etc all go into determining whether or not he reaches what you paid for.

So going down in order of price tag (highest to lowest), I’m going to look that IFAs that cost their owners at least 5 million in bonus money to get. My value rating (out of 10) is based on the cost to sign him and kind of return the franchise has got so far, as well what they can expect.

Vic James (COF) Bonus 16.2
Signed by Los Angeles and still with franchise (Now Salt Lake City)

Vic’s major drawback is his health, it’s marginal and his stamina is a little low. But SLC has been able to keep him off the DL so far. In season 4 Vic started in AA, then after only 16 games he was promoted to the ML Squad!! A risky move, but seems to have paid off. In 137 games he hit 20 long flies, hit for a .319 average and brought in 82 RBIs. He lost out to Trever Russell for the ROY award. Vic has A/S written all over him and I think we’ll see him playing in the mid-summer classic a fair number times. If he can stay away serious injuries, he should be major cog in the SLC offence for a long time

Value: 9

Alex Javier (RP) Bonus 15.0
Signed by Fargo and still with franchise

From the owner:
“.i think his ratings/stats speak for themselves...although 15 mil and a 5 yr ML deal is a bit high, i think one could argue he was underpaid as there's no doubt he's one of the world's best closers at 22 yrs old (LOOK OUT ALL-TIME SAVES RECORD!)”

Well… I don’t think I could possibly disagree with that (even if I tried!). What else is there to say? His ratings are pretty much EXACTLY what you’d want from closer. Like Vic, Alex also made the jump from AA to ML level in season 4. He saved 25 in 31 chances, not exactly a stellar performance to say the least. BUT, I don’t expect the SV % to stay that low. This is too good of closer. I expect we’ll see Alex win his share of the Fireman Awards in the seasons to come. As I mentioned in my original review, CY Young ain’t out of the question for this guy.

Value 10

Richardo Gabriel (SP) Bonus 14.3
Signed by Norfolk and still with franchise

This is the one I got! I’ve taken the slow road to develop this one. He spent all of Season 2 in AA and the last 2 seasons in AAA. Now in season 5, I feel he’s ready for the big times. As of this report, he’s 0-1 in 3 starts; but it’s not his performance that has been the reason for not winning (no offensive support). 2 of the 3 starts have been quality starts (6 or more innings, with 3 or fewer runs allowed). While his splits are a little low AND he doesn’t really have an ‘out’ pitch; I think he will make a fine #2 or #3 man in the rotation. Apparently there are owners out there that are taking guys like Richardo (with high durability for a SP) and pitching him as soon as he’s at 100 again. Therefore they end up starting an insane number of games during the season (70-80). If Richardo’s durability does reach it’s potential… I may try it. Either way, he should be a solid and dependable starter for seasons to come.

Value 9.0

Alex Saenz (COF) Bonus 12.1
Signed by Chicago Cubs and has been traded a few times. Now with Buffalo

Maybe instead of referring to Alex as an IFA, we should call him a NFA (no fixed address). Still after all that moving around, he has still yet to see any ML action. He spent 2 whole seasons in AA. Keeping a player at the same level for 2 seasons (except AAA), seriously hinders his develop! Anyway, he’s now starting his 2nd season in AAA. His first was split between 2 clubs and his overall performance was not exactly anything worth writing home about. When I reviewed Alex back in season 1, I saw solid 2B with leadoff potential; now… well he’s a COF and still may make a decent leadoff guy. The thing is that his splits are marginal. It’s possible all this being traded has hindered his development.

Value 8

Miguel Reyes (SP) Bonus 11.9
Signed by Vancouver and was traded to Cheyenne in Season 4.

When traded to Cheyenne, Miguel had been in AAA. He was promoted right away to the ML squad. In 17 games (starting 13) he posted a 2-10 record with a WHiP of 1.49 and ERA of 4.82. Again not exactly what one would call an impressive debut? Though this season has definitely started better for Miguel. He should make for a solid addition to the Cheyenne rotation. He has the ratings for it, no doubt. As well he’s still pretty young and therefore still developing. Whatever they gave up for Miguel, I’m sure it will be worth it, because this looks to be a solid player for seasons to come.

Value 9.5

Tony Delgado (CF) Bonus 11.3
Signed by Toronto and still with franchise (now Washington)

Tony has great glove and range ratings, which is perfect for a major league CF. His contact and speed ratings seem to indicate a possible leadoff hitter and this still might be the case. He, like two others above, made the jump from AA to the ML level last season. He played the last half of the season with the big club. His performance wasn’t what you’d want from a lead off guy; a batting average of only .268 (OBP of .319) and walking only 18 times while striking out 42. His split v LH is very low, though not unusual for his type of player. I think what hurts him is his batting eye and split vs RH, but I could be wrong. I guess time will time of course. Still even if he doesn’t make it as a leadoff guy, he’ll contribute some with his bat. More importantly, a glove of this quality is always welcome in the CF position.

Value 7.5

Julio Mendoza (3B) Bonus 11.0
Signed by Memphis and still with franchise (now Austin))

This one has taken the slow route actually spending his first two season in Low-A. A fact I’m sure has hurt his development. This season sees him start his first season in AAA and not exactly a great start. While Julio defensive skills will be ML calibre (maybe gold glove stuff); his offensive skills aren’t quite what you’d want from your ML 3B. His contact & batting eye are marginal and couple this with a low vs R split… means he’ll struggle against ML pitching. Thing here is, will his skill at defence make up for his marginal bat?? Time will tell I guess, if he makes it to the ML level. 11 Million is a lot to pay for what looks to be a 3B defensive specialist.

Value 6.0

Damaso Ramirez (P) Bonus 10.9
Signed by Boise, traded to Houston in season 3

Here is one that seemed to have all the tools to be solid ML SP when signed. The key, with his marginal health rating, keep him from getting a serious injury if possible. Well, last season it happened (Shoulder, labarum tear) and he was put on the 60 day DL. After being signed Damaso went straight to Hi A and next season to AAA. He’s been used in the out of the pen as Closer and Set Up roles. Last season was injured early and never came back; this season sees him still working from the pen. His stamina has been hurt to a point that really he no longer can be a ML starter. But if Houston can keep him healthy (will be tough now as his health is below 50), he should make a solid bullpen pitcher (Long or closer).

Value 6.5

Daisuke Chang (C) Bonus 10.3
Signed by Fargo, traded to Louisville in season 3

This is pretty close to what I call a pseudo-catcher. His PC rating and defensive skills are very marginal for the ML level but his offensive ratings are solid. The things hurting him are his marginal contact & batting eye. But they are not terrible for the ML level. He’ll be a bigger asset at the DH or 1B positions; at C his defensive liabilities will be just offset by his offensive skills. Overall this is a decent signing but not a great one and I’m not really sure Daisuke is worth a bonus this high.

Value 7.0

Junior Tabaka (C) Bonus 8.5
Signed by San Juan and still with franchise

Here is a pseudo-catcher but San Juan has been playing him at the catching position on their ML squad. Junior was called up about half way into last season and in 60 games his numbers weren’t exactly stellar at the plate. This season, has started out much better. With his weakness as a defensive catcher, he’d better put up some great numbers at the plate to be an overall asset to the team. Though, this is a definite possibility in his case. Being in the NL and the fact they already have a solid 1B, I’d say at present catcher is the only place for this youngster. Looks like the ‘Stiff Hares’ are hoping his offence strengths over shadow his defensive & PC liabilities.

Value 8.0

Damaso Brogna (RF/1B) Bonus 7.6
Signed by Pawtucket, traded to Colorado Springs (now Boise) in season 2

Damaso is starting his second season at the AAA level. So far he’s put up solid offensive number at all level. The only major bump in his journey was a long stint on the DL for a hamstring tear in season 3 and missed the bulk of the season. His glove is really that of a 1B, in the outfield Damaso will be a liability at the ML level. Still, I think we can expect this one to be playing for the Shadow Wolves ML squad maybe later this year but definitely next season. Where he should be big part of their batting lineup.

Value 8.0

Hector Javier (P) Bonus 7.5
Signed by Ottawa, picked up in Rule V Draft by Jackson

Hector did okay in the lower levels of minors as a starter, but as soon as he hit AAA he struggled. Didn’t matter whether he was a starter or a long man out of the pen, WHiP of 1.60 and ERAs of around 6. So, I guess it was no surprise that his franchise left him unprotected in the Rule V draft. His performance out of the pen for Jackson hasn’t exactly been any better than his AAA numbers. I don’t Hector will ever be anything more than a marginal long relief pitcher at the ML level. Though he still has some developing to do, still what he is now is all he’ll ever be.

Value 4.0

Bartolo Barcelo (CF) Bonus 6.6
Signed by New Orleans, traded to Atlanta last season

Bartolo is without doubt has some very unique ratings. He should have fantastic Contact and Batting Eye ratings, but the rest….. While his split VS RH is very marginal, he split VS LH doesn’t exist. He also has some great speed and base running skill BUT that only has value if he can get on base. I’m sad to say will not happen often at the ML level with those splits. Bartolo is still only in AA, he spent his first 2 seasons Low A & started his 3rd there too!!!! This no doubt hurt his development, maybe he been promoted properly and with a good training budget… he might have a decent MLer; now that is highly doubtful. At very best, he’ll be a bench player and pinch runner at the ML lever but no more.

Value 3.5

Luis Wilfredo (P) Bonus 6.5
Signed by San Juan and still with franchise

Luis has taken the slow route to a possible ML career. He spent all of seasons 3 & 4 at the AA level, again no doubt hurting his development. He starts this season at the AAA level in a set up role for the farm team and so far done ok (not great). Ratings wise, Luis should be able to make it to the ML level and perform not too badly. His splits are marginal but pitch quality is decent for a setup guy. He will not be a #1 setup guy at the ML level however. In my view, this price tag for a setup B guy is a little high.

Value 5.5

Donaldo Lopez (P) Bonus 6.0
Signed by Atlanta, traded in Season 3 to Toronto

Donaldo starts this season with the big club, after spending the last 2 seasons in Hi-A (again I seem to be repeating this often!!! Not a good thing). So far he has been a very effective for the club so far. His ratings make him a good fit for the set up role but not the closer role. His quality of pitches, aren’t what you need from a closer. Still he should be a solid arm from the pen for years to come for Toronto.

Value 7.0

Alfredo Tatis (P) Bonus 5.9
Signed by Huntington and still with franchise (now Boston)

This make for the 3rd short bullpen guy in a row here. Alfredo has spent his entire pro career at the AA level (again????) Though he has put up decent #s he is still there. Boston is lucky Alfredo didn’t retire at the start of this season. If they don’t promote him to at least AAA this season…there is a real good likelihood of him saying GOOD BYE! That would be a shame, because he should make a decent setup guy at the ML level. The neglecting of the prospects is one the biggest sins HBD and here is a prime example.

Value 7.0

Victor Gonzales (CF) Bonus 5.0
Signed by Baltimore, traded to Colorado Springs (now Boise) in season 3

Victor is the last of the group and while not a bad pick up, his potential is marginal for the ML level. At best I see Victor as ML bench material. Though I feel he could be of some value in that role. Other than SS/3B (& of course C) he can play all the positions. Which means he could spell-off the starters from time to time and not be a liability in the field? And while his offensive ratings are not great, he’ll not be an ‘auto-out’ at the plate. Still, is this worth the 5 million bonus…?

Value 5.5

Well that’s it. As a side note, it’s mentioned quite a few times how one of these guys has repeated a level. Except for AAA, a guy you feel has shot at playing for your ML squad should NEVER be left in the same level for a 2nd full season. Even AAA, after 2-3 seasons there it’s a matter of promote him or trade; because improvement will slow down.

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