Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 26, 2006
BASEBALL: Going Down, Down, Down, Down Part I

Baseball is an unforgiving game: the flip side of a crop of young players on the rise is that somebody has to be on the way down. And it's not always just old guys. Let's take a look at players who are young or still establishing themselves whose stock has tumbled dramatically in 2006 and/or 2005, starting with the AL East:

Andy Phillips and Bubba Crosby: Crosby was never really a guy with a bright future, but in both cases the simultaneous injuries to Sheffield and Matsui provided the best opportunities these two guys were ever going to see. Crosby has played poorly and sporadically, underlining the fact that he'll never be more than a 5th outfielder. Phillips, who is 29, is about out of chances to be a regular, having batted .237/.411/.269 this season in over 200 at bats.

Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small: Two more guys who people like me never thought much of, but a lot of folks expected that their remarkable stretch runs in 2005 would translate into full-season rotation gigs as reliable starters. Didn't happen. Chacon's 6.67 ERA and Small's 8.46 prove that midnight came once again for Cinderella.

Red Sox
Willie Harris: Two years ago, Harris was a 26-year-old first-time everyday player, shutting between second base and center field with a .343 OBP and good speed. Shunted to the bench in 2005 by the arrival of Tadahito Iguchi, Harris had chances to impress this year if Coco Crisp or Mark Loretta was injured or faltered. Loretta hasn't let go of the 2B job, but Crisp got hurt, and Harris has batted .156 in just 45 at bats.

Coco Crisp: Like Carlos Beltran in 2005, Crisp's off year may just be a combination of nagging injuries and high expectations; his future isn't as grim as others on this list. But bigger things than .266 with 4 HR were expected from Crisp coming to Fenway at age 26 after two years of steady progress.

Blue Jays
Josh Towers: 13-12 with a 3.71 ERA in his first 200 IP season last year, Towers seemed to be establishing himself as a rotation mainstay in Toronto, albeit as a third or fourth starter. Instead, his 9.11 ERA has has led to one too many calls to the fire department. Towers' future is in serious jeopardy.

Jason Frasor: A 3.25 ERA, down almost a run from his rookie year, and good peripheral numbers marked Frasor in 2005 as a quality steup man for BJ Ryan. His K rate is still good, but a 5.18 ERA and a rise in BB and HR rates has moved Frasor down the depth chart. He's not a bad bet to rebound, though.

Russ Adams: A regular SS at 24 last year, Adams didn't embarrass himself with the bat, and could have expected plenty of time to establish himself. Instead, John Gibbons' shuffling of the lineup - and its success with other hitters - has limited Adams to 199 at bats as he has hit just .226/.337/.280 on a team that's batting .294/.488/.361.

Jason Phillips: Phillips cooled drastically after a hot start as the Dodgers' #1 catcher in 2005, and ended up in the minors this year, only resurfacing this week with the Jays. Now battling to re-establish himself as a backup catcher.

Bruce Chen: The talented Mr. Chen threw nearly 200 innings for Baltimore last season, 50 more than he'd ever managed in one uniform in one year, going 13-10 with a 3.83 ERA. But his home run rate grew alarming as the season went on, while his K/BB rate drifted. This year has been a train wreck, with 22 homers in 71.2 innings leading to a 7.03 ERA, an 0-6 record, a loss of his rotation slot and perhaps the last chance for Chen to find stability in the majors. Who will now look at a guy who couldn't hack it under Leo Mazzone in two different cities and think they can straighten him out?

David Newhan: .311/.453/.361 in 373 at bats marked Newhan as a possible late-bloomer rookie in 2004 (he was 30), but Newhan batted .202 last year and broke his leg in April, an injury he hasn't returned from.

John Parrish: Promising young pitcher who has missed most of 2005 and all of 2006 with arm surgery.

Devil Rays
Jae Seo: OK, I was as big a Seo enthusiast as anyone after he rang up a 2.59 ERA in 90.1 innings last year, walking just 16, and I was horrified when he was dealt for a setup man. But Seo has bombed in a big way in LA and now Tampa, a combined 2-9 with a 5.78 ERA, 19 HR and 39 BB in 97.2 IP.

Sean Burroughs: Having at last worn out his welcome in San Diego, Burroughs at least brought a career .340 OBP in more than 1500 plate appearances to Tampa, and he's just 25. Instead, he lost his job in spring training and has batted .190 in just 21 at bats. A return to a regular job seems unlikely.

Seth McClung: Granted, McClung's never been any good, but he throws hard and struck out 92 batters in 109.1 IP in 2005; from that you can make something. Except that this year, even the whiffs have deserted him: 38 (to 47 walks) in 80.2 IP on his way to a 6.81 ERA.

Edwin Jackson: Once a hot Dodger pitching prospect and still just 22, Jackson has struggled at all levels for the third year in a row, with a 7.17 ERA in a brief major league trial. Think "Ed Yarnall."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:15 AM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Good stuff as always Crank! My only disagreement is with Coco Crisp. He was off to a good start before the injury. I think that by this time next year the Red Sox faithful will be saying "Johnny who?"

Posted by: maddirishman at July 26, 2006 2:31 PM

I recall Roberto Kelly saying "I'll make the Yankees forget all about Mickey Rivers." Sounds good. Johnny Damon was a really good player, was for a long time. Better than Crisp Irish. Damon sold out, plain and simple. He could have owned a city for a generation too.

I too couldn't figure out why Seo was let go. Now if I get on Peterson for saying "Let's get Zambrano," then it's fair to say he was right about Seo.

As Tom Hanks said, "If it was easy, anybody could do it."

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at July 26, 2006 10:51 PM

As a White Sox fan, I could not agree more on Willie Harris. A major disappointment as far as I'm concerned.

His name will be nostalgic in town for being the player that scored the only run in the World Series clinching Game 4 down in Houston.

Aside from that, typical speed guy that didn't really do much while he was here. Couldn't hit a lick.

Posted by: Jake at July 28, 2006 10:06 AM

Poor Edwin.

Posted by: Tan The Man at July 29, 2006 1:46 AM
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