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It's way too early to draw conclusions, as the sample sizes are too small, but two high-profile Jays prospects are off to good starts.

In his first five games at Syracuse, Kevin Cash is hitting .350. He has zero walks in his first 20 at-bats, though.

Gabe Gross is on a tear in New Haven: in his first five games, Gross is hitting .545, with an OBP of .600 and an OPS of 1.282. Yowza!

Of course, in a small number of games, anything can happen (henceforth to be known as the Kansas City Royals Effect), but J.P. may be prepared to make a couple of roster moves sooner than originally planned.
The Future May Be Sooner Than We Think | 23 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Coach - Monday, April 14 2003 @ 12:58 PM EDT (#13341) #
Gabe Gross has plenty of upside. Here's what Bill Mitchell of said back in November 2001. He should get to prove what he can do in AAA very soon, and that's a great place for him to keep mashing, while Reed Johnson gets his Toronto audition in a role he's well suited for.

Kevin Cash has very quick feet; he can outrun bunts. His strong, accurate arm is another plus. He also has some pop, but he takes time to adjust to each new level of pitching, so there's no need to rush him. The Jays have two experienced catchers in a productive platoon; as I've been saying all along, that's plenty. Depth is good, and the system is getting deeper.

If Johnson contributes even a little with the bat while giving Stewart and Wells routine nights off, and plays good late-inning "D" in RF, he'll stick. From what I saw on TV this spring, you'll like Reed's effort.
Pistol - Monday, April 14 2003 @ 01:59 PM EDT (#13342) #
It's good to see Gross off to a good start after his start last season. Sounds like I need to get to New Haven before he gets called up to Syracuse.
Gerry - Monday, April 14 2003 @ 02:05 PM EDT (#13343) #
More from Baseball America

NEW HAVEN (EAST) 2B DOMINIC RICH drove home the go-ahead run in the top of the 12th inning as the Ravens rallied to beat the New Britain Rock Cats, 5-2, in the first game of a doubleheader. With RHP JOSMIR ROMERO taking the mound for New Britain, C GUILLERMO QUIROZ led off the inning by reaching on an error by 3B TERRY TIFFEE. After Quiroz advanced to second on a passed ball, OF RICH THOMPSON singled to put runners on the corners for Rich, who promptly notched his first hit in six at-bats with an RBI double. After a groundout, 3B SIMON POND was then intentionally walked for the second time in the contest to load the bases. OF JOHN-FORD GRIFFIN and 1B JIM DESCHAINE followed with back-to-back RBI singles to add some insurance runs and help New Haven top the Rock Cats in extra innings for the second consecutive day.
Gerry - Monday, April 14 2003 @ 02:17 PM EDT (#13344) #
Reed Johnson was interviewed on the Fan before Sundays game. He explained that he developed a mystery wrist injury at the start of the 2002 season. When he came back he played at Syracuse for about a month before he was hit on the hand by a pitch. He went to the Dominican in the winter and was hit on the hand by a pitch again. I am not sure if he was unlucky, or if he dives into the pitches. He has played left, right and centrefield in the minors so he is comfortable anywhere.
_R Billie - Monday, April 14 2003 @ 04:25 PM EDT (#13345) #
Reed's a player when he's healthy. In 2001, he posted a .370+ OBP with double digit homers and over *40* steals with the AA team. He's an ideal fourth outfielder and having him will be like having Dave Martinez with speed. He could without exaggeration, probably start in centerfield for a lot of major league teams.
Gitz - Monday, April 14 2003 @ 04:47 PM EDT (#13346) #
The Jays have a long history of over-hyped OF prospects -- Rob Ducey, come on down! -- to go along with the ones who have worked out -- Green, Barfield, Moseby, G. Bell -- and the ones who sort of worked out -- Whiten, Derek Bell, Stewart (Stewart is a very good player, but I think his career has been a bit disappointing in that he's never really taken that big step up that we all thought he would). Hmmm. Come to think of it, maybe there aren't so many over-hyped prospects, though I'm sure I'm forgetting a few flops.

Anyway, judging by Reed Johnson's age (26), I don't see him being able to start for more than one major-league team, that being the Detroit Tigers. Heck, Chet Lemon could start for the Tigers right now.
_DS - Monday, April 14 2003 @ 05:13 PM EDT (#13347) #
I'm sure I'm forgetting a few flops

Junior Felix, Sil Campusano, Lou Thornton, Nigel Wilson....

Who else am I missing?

One who played and wasn't too bad: Glenallen Hill
Craig B - Monday, April 14 2003 @ 07:32 PM EDT (#13348) #
The New York Mets' starting centerfielder is Roger Cedeno. He's also their leadoff hitter.
The Milwaukee Brewers' starting centerfielder is Alex Sanchez.
The San Francisco Giants' starting centerfielder is Marquis Grissom.
The LA Dodgers' starting centerfielder is Dave Roberts. Dave Roberts is Reed Johnson, with a big break.
The Oakland Athletics' starting centerfielder is Chris Singleton.
The Texas Rangers' starting centerfielder is Doug Glanville. He's also their leadoff hitter.
The Kansas City Royals' starting centerfielder is Michael Tucker. He's also their leadoff hitter.
The Chicago White Sox' starting centerifelder is Aaron Rowand.

None of those players can offer you anything more than Reed Johnson can, if Reed Johnson is healthy. Two of these guys are the worst leadoff men in the game... Reed Johnson would be an immesurably better guy in the leadoff spot than Cedeno or Glanville. Johnson's not a prospect, if he's going to be good he's good now. It's well worth seeing what he can do, and I'm confident he'd be a better guy than a few of those listed above.

Centerfield is a position where there was, at one time, a lot of talent... that doesn't seem to be the case anymore.
Craig B - Monday, April 14 2003 @ 07:41 PM EDT (#13349) #
OK, Rowand might be able to offer you more than Johnson. He sucked with the bat last year, and so far this year... but he's a real good defensive player and can hit better than he has.
Gitz - Monday, April 14 2003 @ 08:24 PM EDT (#13350) #

You're right, those guys ain't great either.

Still, not to ask the obvious here, then why isn't Johnson starting for these teams? It can't JUST be old-school prejudices by owners. If Johnson was so good, why did the Jays feel compelled to sign Catalanatto, someone who hasn't played RF much? Why didn't they just hand the job to Johnson? Why didn't Johnson break camp with the team, third-catcher lunacies aside?

Even the A's, who routinely give guys like Reed Johnson minor-league deals, have never given Billy McMillon or Mario Valdez or Olmedo Saenz a chance to play full-time, and those guys are your protypical AAAA hitters. (Actually, Saenz did play full time, and he was ill-suited for the role.) Remember Rontrez Johnson? Another supposed "sleeper" who simply needed a chance? Where is he now? Rotting on the Royals bench. If you can't crack the A's all-star outfield, contract obligations to T-Long and Chris Singleton or not, there's something happening that we might not know. Billy Beane does not just give people away.

Now, I am not saying McMillon or Valdez can't be productive major-league hitters -- I've said this before: they probably can -- but not everything can be explained away with "Well, he didn't get a break, but Matt Lawton and Dave Roberts did." Clearly, there's some truth to that statement. How much we simply don't know.
_Jonny German - Monday, April 14 2003 @ 09:27 PM EDT (#13351) #
Gitz, the point isn't that Johnson is especially good, and he's certainly not in Catalanotto's neighbourhood. The point is that he's better than a lot of starting centrefielders, and this implies he's probably a good guy to have on the bench. Not always a good line of logic, but I'll buy it in this case.

Billy Beane is either so much ahead of the rest of the baseball world that Long & Singleton will make sense looking back someday, or else he is human after all and does make some bad decisions.
Craig B - Monday, April 14 2003 @ 11:46 PM EDT (#13352) #
Gitz, your points are well-taken... I don't know why Texas or the Mets didn't (or don't) go out and get a better centerfielder. But remember, the fact that they did not, is not evidence. Lots of terrific players are never given a chance, or wait many years to be given one.

Reed Johnson isn't going to be given a shot to start by anyone else because he was terrible last year, suffering the aftereffects of an injury. That much is obvious.

Calling someone a "AAAA" hitter isn't evidence, it's just a label, a label that get slapped on guys who have hit well everywhere but struggle in 100 at-bats in the majors. It's not a reason a guy isn't any good; it's just a convenient way of explaining away why someone isn't given a chance. It's the ultimate in laziness. There may be other good reasons why these guys aren't given a chance to play, but I never see them from those who defend GMs decisions to prefer 32-year-old journeymen to better players under 27. What we get is admonitions to just "trust" GMs, as if that was some point in an argument.

It's the worst kind of argument from authority. Yes, there could be something that we might not know; but if we don't know it, we shouldn't be making judgments based on it. Billy Beane or J.P. Ricciardi have already forgotten more about baseball than I will ever know, but when I see Doug Creek on a roster I don't just submit to J.P.'s authority in making a judgment about him. I say he's a guy with terrific stuff who won't keep the ball down and cannot throw a 3-2 strike, and therefore call him useless as tits on a boar hog -- whether or not a smarter man than me saw fit to pay him nearly a million dollars. Billy Beane gets the same treatment... respect for his success, and for his obviously good use of a knowledge base that went unused for so long by major league GMs. That doesn't mean I knuckle under to his judgment about ballplayers; that's the intellectual equivalent of Dale Petroskey saying we should all get behind George Bush because he obviously has the best interests of America at heart and has more information about the situation in the Middle East then we do.

If a guy has trouble getting around on the mid-90s fastball (something he'll see much more in the majors than in AAA) that's an argument. Saying a guy is a "AAAA" hitter, as if that term meant anything, isn't. Saying that "if he were so good, Mr. Jackass running the Brew Crew would have signed him" is an argument, but it's a lousy one.

There's no excuse to be playing Doug Glanville or Roger Cedeno every day in centerfield and the leadoff spot. Glanville is a nothing player, a glorified pinch-runner, a guy who is still cruising off the one good season he had in his career; that was four years ago. He's a terrible offensive player, a lousy defensive centerfielder, and he's a crime against leadoff men. Reed Johnson (again, assuming his health is good) is a much better player than Glanville is right now, and Rontrez Johnson could hit better than Glanville with a table leg for a bat.

Cedeno is a born DH, and the worst centerfielder I have ever seen. Unlike Glanville, he can actually hit a little, but he hasn't shown that in two years and frankly I think his chances of doing it this year are not good. If he returns to form, Cedeno could probably outhit Reed Johnson or Rontrez Johnson (I don't think he would even if he returned to form, but he might) but given that *Nick* Johnson would probably be a better outfielder, is it worth it?

Michael Tucker (who is only the starter because of the injury to Beltran) was once a good hitter, a hitter equal to or maybe a bit better than either Johnson. He's now 32, and he's an average rightfielder trying to play center, a position where he is stretched. And he's not a leadoff man, either, since his offensive value is mostly in his little bit of power. If I had Tucker, I might play him too, over either player, but it's close and if I were Tony Pena I'd be playing Rontrez Johnson... which still might happen. Johnson came back to KC at the end of camp and hasn't had time to show what he can do yet.

I stand by what I said. As to why some players play and some don't, you'll have to ask the GMs. If you're lucky, you'll get an answer. Most of the time, you hear nonsense like "we think he can turn it around". I'll leave the question of whether that's being coy, being polite, or just cluelessness in action as an exercise for the reader.
Craig B - Monday, April 14 2003 @ 11:51 PM EDT (#13353) #
Gitz, incidentally, I didn't mean to accuse you of intellectual laziness or anything like that. You were playing devil's advocate, which I understand... I just wanted to build a nice straw man to have a go at.

As you point out in your last sentence, it's the gaps in our knowledge that create the greatest controversies. We get the most frustrated as fans and analysts when real life doesn't give us the material to work with!
Gitz - Tuesday, April 15 2003 @ 12:51 AM EDT (#13354) #

Ah, is there any better way to say "I think you're an idiot" than to say "Your points are well-taken"? :)

Seriously, in no way did I think you accused me of being intellectually vapid (though there may be some truth to that ... ) In the brief time I've been posting on BB, I think I've made it clear that I don't trust a whole lot what people in authority tell me -- though, I confess, this is less apparent when it comes to baseball than politics. In the latter arena, particularly when applied to the U.S. government, I simply don't believe a word anyone in this administration tells me; certainly Kent can vouch for my "character" in this regard.

The funny thing is that much, if not all, of what you say resonates with me. Not giving someone like Reed Johnson a chance and playing Roger Cedeno because "We think he'll turn it around" is a lousy way to run an organisation. As you imply, the primer to the "We think he'll turn it around" and "Why bother? Give the job to Reed Johnson and let him prove us wrong" mentalities lies somewhere between the titles General Manager and Hack Analyst. I'm working on a longer piece about this topic, but for now, let me say that both sides have cogent arguments. For my money, I'll give the baseball folks the benefit of the doubt more often than not -- say a 52/48 breakdown. I will not, however, do the same for my embarrassing president.

Now please don't oragnise a boycott of my A's column, gentle BB readers.
Craig B - Tuesday, April 15 2003 @ 01:13 AM EDT (#13355) #
Well, your points really were well-taken... I really don't know what the hell possesses the Mets to run Cedeno out there! :)

I like your 52/48 split, it reminds me of a certain analyst who shall remain nameless... he's just following his hunches too, and his hunches turn out pretty good.

And yes, I was teasing you with regard to the Bush comment. Underhanded, I know. Sorry... but I'll do it again :)
robertdudek - Tuesday, April 15 2003 @ 09:56 AM EDT (#13356) #
I think it's clear that many GMs prefer players with track records in the big leagues. The next thing they look for is raw tools - speed, power, and a throwing arm.

Ignoring 2002 because of injury, Reed Johnson put up decent but not great numbers in AA in 2001. He was very successful stealing bases, but his K/W and power were of the average variety. He was a bit old for that level of play (24). Now, it may be that he's improved since then, but I don't see anything more than a 4th outfielder career even if he's given every chance to play in the majors from here on in.

I don't think he's as good as Dave Roberts, who puts up good numbers in a tough tough pitcher's park. Besides which, Roberts is more of an OBP guy.
_Jonny German - Tuesday, April 15 2003 @ 10:13 AM EDT (#13357) #
As you imply, the primer to the "We think he'll turn it around" and "Why bother? Give the job to Reed Johnson and let him prove us wrong" mentalities lies somewhere between the titles General Manager and Hack Analyst

I think this is where Beane and J.P. come in - it takes a certain combination for a GM to make that shift towards the Hack Analyst thinking and try things like Reed Johnson instead of Doug Glanville. The winning combo?

- An inclination towards statistical analysis.
- A tolerance for risk.
- A limited budget.
- Intestinal fortitude, the confidence to stand behind decisions.

Why does the traditional GM go with Glanville over Johnson? Without consulting let alone trusting Keith Law, he's pretty sure that Glanville will hit like a shortstop, but he doesn't know if Johnson will hit like an outfielder or like a point guard. If Johnson hits like a shortstop, Richard Griffin & Friends rip him for not going with the 'proven veteran', even though he got the same offensive production while saving a money and improving the defense. The money saved means more to a low budget team, because those savings are needed to be able to lock up, say, Vernon Wells. It'll be interesting to see what Theo Epstein does in these sort of situations, given that he budget is not a concern. Speaking of the Red Sox, didn't Brian Daubach have the AAAA tag on him at one time?
_R Billie - Tuesday, April 15 2003 @ 11:13 AM EDT (#13358) #
The reason I think Reed Johnson can play is because of his performance in spring training last year. He's a "dirt bag" as Ricciardi likes to call them, a guy who gives an all out effort and gets the most out of his talent. He can play all three outfield positions well, has speed to burn on the bases (bunt single type speed), and has enough power to hit the gaps and even clear the fence occasionally. And he will take a walk. He won't hit for a high average but he can probably get onbase at an average major league clip.

Losing last year to the wrist injury (which they weren't even able to identify the cause of) was a huge blow, especially considering his age. He should have gotten his first year at AAA. Fortunately, Ricciardi is not one to discriminate based on age. Yes, Johnson is unlikely to get better than he is now, but he's good enough now to be a major league outfielder, at least part time.
Craig B - Tuesday, April 15 2003 @ 12:09 PM EDT (#13359) #
To give context to this : Reed Johnson's 2001 MLE at Tennessee was .285/.346/.407 (and 26/37 stealing). Not as good as I had eyeballed, still not too bad for a fourth outfielder.
robertdudek - Tuesday, April 15 2003 @ 12:15 PM EDT (#13360) #

I don't trust that MLE for a second. Where did you get it from?
Gitz - Tuesday, April 15 2003 @ 04:12 PM EDT (#13361) #
And yes, I was teasing you with regard to the Bush comment. Underhanded, I know. Sorry... but I'll do it again.

I would expect nothing less, Mr. Burley.

As for Daubauch, I think what hurt him more than anything else was his status as a replacement player. Same for Kevin Millar.
Craig B - Tuesday, April 15 2003 @ 09:14 PM EDT (#13362) #
Robert, I calculate MLEs using Dan Szymborski's spreadsheet. Dan uses Bill James's figures and algorithm in the spreadsheet, and I'm not sure if it's tweaked further... the park factors are one-year park factors for the minor league parks, I don't know for the MLB parks but I believe they are three-year factors.

The Bill James method is far from perfect, yes... but that's as good a calculation as I've got.
Craig B - Tuesday, April 15 2003 @ 09:18 PM EDT (#13363) #
Incidentally, here's Dan's piece on "How To Calculate MLEs" which details his method... essentially the James method.
The Future May Be Sooner Than We Think | 23 comments | Create New Account
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