Baseball Crank
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.

White Sox
Brian Anderson: A well-thought of prospect, Anderson batted .161 in April, .167 in May and .196 in June, all but frittering away an everyday job he was given every opportunity to keep. He's batted .308 and slugged .462 in July (though with a weak, if much-improved, .315 OBP), so Anderson's case isn't hopeless; as likely as not he'll be playing regularly into October.

Omar Infante: Infante's only 24 and was the Tigers' everyday 2B in 2004 & 2005 until Placido Polanco arrived. After batting .264 and slugging .449 in 2004, Infante slumped to .222 last year, and while his batting average has recovered to .263 this year, his power hasn't and neither had his playing time.

Jason Michaels: A lifetime .291/.442/.380 hitter entering 2006, Michaels had to be salivating at the chance to finally prove himself as a regular at age 30. But his .270/.397/.331 line won't give him much job security.

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.

Kyle Lohse: His long descent from adequacy ended with a 7.12 ERA and a pink slip from the starting rotation. Lohse will be lucky to have a roster spot in 2007.

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.

Zack Grienke: You know this story.

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).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:22 AM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

I live in Michigan now, and get to listen to a lot of Tigers games. Infante's settled into a decent "super-sub" role.

The Tigers are plaing the Indians this week, and I don't know about his hands/arm, but Peralta's range is abyssmal.

Posted by: Mr Furious at July 27, 2006 11:13 AM

He may not have done much with the bat prior to very recently, but thank God for Brian Anderson's glove.

Podsednik is a total hack in left field and Dye is average at best. Backup outfielders include Pablo Ozuna, Rob Mackowiak and Ross Gload. All three are infielders.

Anderson is hands down, in his first full season, the best outfielder on the team.

Posted by: Jake at July 28, 2006 2:43 PM

A little premature on the Brian Anderson comments. He has the tools and hit well in the minors, it has just taken him a while to put it all together in the majors. A player of his defensive calibur can always lean on his 'D' to get thru the tough times at the plate. He's fun to watch in the field... has an amaxing instinct on fly balls.

Posted by: nate at August 16, 2006 6:47 PM
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