Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 27, 2006
BASEBALL: Going Down, Down, Down, Down Part II
Part II of my look at young or still-establishing-themselves players whose stock has fallen dramatically in 2006 and/or 2005 - the AL Central.
Jhonny Peralta: At age 23 in 2005, Peralta made the sudden step up - as guys that age sometimes do - from non-hitter to "young Nomar"-type slugger. His regression to a .258/.397/.330 line this season has to lower expectations for the future, and the signs are that his glove work hasn't been quite as stellar either.
Fernando Cabrera: The one-time future Indians closer was passed over for that title in favor of Fausto Carmona when Bob Wickman left town, and for good reason, with a 5.65 ERA inflated by 22 walks and 6 dingers in 36.2 IP. Cabrera's 42 Ks mark him as a guy who still has potential, but not for today.
Cliff Lee: Lee's failures haven't been as dramatic, but there was talk before the season that the 27-year-old lefty was ready to jump to the elite level of starters; a 4.78 ERA says otherwise.
Scott Baker: Baker got the nod over Francisco Liriano as the fifth starter in spring training, a decision that now seems very long ago. Baker looked like a quality pitcher in 2005 (3.35 ERA in 9 starts) and April (3.47 in 4 starts - a total K/BB ratio of 48-18 in that stretch) but has been pounded unmercifully since, allowing 58 hits and 12 homers in 37 innings. Unlike some of the others on this list, Baker is probably just taking needed lumps as a learning experience, and should have more chances.
Jesse Crain: 15-5 with a 2.53 ERA as a setup man in 2004-05, the 24-year-old Crain has struggled this year (4.31 ERA). Probably in the same boat as Baker: he's suffering but isn't losing out on opportunities that he'll never have again.
Denny Bautista: Major velocity, but like more Royals than we have time to discuss here, no sign of pitching talent shows up in his box scores, as Bautista has started just 7 times with a 5.66 ERA, no wins, and a 22-17 K/BB ratio. (See also: Jeremy Affeldt, Mike Wood)
Andrew Sisco: Perhaps the brightest spot in the 2005 KC wipeout was Sisco, a 6-10 southpaw Rule V pick with blazing heat; 76 K and just 6 HR in 75.1 relief innings gave visions of a future rotation star. But Sisco's control problems (28 walks in 40.1 IP) have sent him back to "project" land this season (7.14 ERA).