January 27, 2003

Hot off the presses

After weeks of furiously researching, ranking and typing, my latest article for Baseball Primer is posted and ready for mass comsumption.

It is called "2003's Top 50 Prospects" and it is simply my ranking of the top 50 prospects in baseball, along with stats and comments for each and every player.

One of the easiest ways to start an argument about baseball is to start talking about prospects.

The truth is that no one, no matter how many games they watch, how many scouts they talk to or how many numbers they crunch, can tell you for certain what the Major League career of a minor leaguer is going to end up like.

Because of that, any ranking or discussion of "top prospects" is really no more than pure opinion, with a lot of educated guessing thrown in.

And, that's always a good formula for some heated "debate."

Let's say I think that minor league center fielder Joe Blow is going to be extremely great as a Major Leaguer, but another guy thinks he is going to be a total bust.

There is really no way to prove one way or another that someone is wrong about it (unless you wait 10 years or so), because when it all comes down to it, it's all just a guessing game.

All of that is the reason why it took me about 10 years to write this article.

The majority of the entries on this blog are written in one sitting.

I am usually tooling around the internet and I read something that catches my attention and I think "Hmm...maybe I should write something about this..."

So, I dig up a few stats, form an opinion and sit down and start typing.

That's not to say I don't spend a lot of time on each entry or that I don't think about what I'm writing, just that I am usually able to just let the words flow and then re-read it once it's done just to make sure I don't sound like a complete idiot.

With this latest Baseball Primer article though, I had a very hard time just letting the words flow.

Another reason for that is the fact that trying to come up with 50 unique and interesting things to say about 50 different minor league players is a difficult thing to do.

How many times can I say that a pitcher has a lot of potential, but he needs to develop a change up and avoid injuries? And how many different ways can I say it?

Plus, I have an internal need to be funny, or at least try to be.

But, it is still a serious article with serious analysis, so I had to be careful with what I said and how I said it.

Plus (or should I say plus plus?), an article that contains stats and comments for 50 players, as well as a lengthy introduction, is just going to be a really long article and take a ton of time to write.

All of this is my very long way of saying that I spent an incredible amount of time on the article and I really would like all of you to take the time to read it.

Despite (or possibly because of) the time involved, it is my favorite article of any that I have written.

I am a prospect nut and comparing stats, looking up background information and basically just learning more about each of the 50 guys (and the dozens that didn't make the cut) was a lot of fun for me.

I hope the article is a lot of fun for you too.

And, as always, you can let me know what you think of it.

Just by being an article about opinions on baseball prospects, it is sure to produce a lot of different emotions and go against a lot of different opinions, which is always fun.

So, please head over to BaseballPrimer.com and check it out:

2003's Top 50 Prospects

In other news...

Just a few days ago, I wrote the following:

"No column about minor transactions would be complete if I didn't mention the Twins newest acquisition, Jose Cabrera.

The Twins had been talking about signing Rick White or Mike Fetters, both of whom I would have liked a lot more than Jose Cabrera.

White signed with the White Sox yesterday, which makes it even worse."

While Rick White is not going to be a Twin in 2003, Mike Fetters just might be.

The Twins signed Fetters to a minor league contract yesterday, which makes me very happy, mostly because I have said previously that they should have.

I don't think Mike Fetters is anything special, but he is a useful part of a bullpen.

And, since the Twins don't appear very willing to give the job to a minor leaguer like Grant Balfour, Fetters is nice choice for 2nd righty in the bullpen and certainly a better option than Jose Cabrera.

Here are his 2002 numbers, pitching with Arizona and Pittsburgh:

55 Innings / 4.09 ERA

53 Stike outs / 37 Walks / 4 Home Runs

.252 Batting average against

Breaking that down a little further:

versus righties = .230/.329/.311

versus lefties = .306/.451/.435

As you can see, Fetters was extremely good against right handed hitting and extremely bad against left handed hitting.

His season totals really took a huge hit during the last month of the season, when he completely fell off a cliff.

April = 2.08 ERA

May = 2.38

June = 5.19

July = 3.24

August = 1.64

September = 12.86

Basically, for 4 of the first 5 months of the season, Fetters was an extremely effective reliever.

He just fell apart in September, exactly why I am not sure.

Take out the September numbers and his pitching line for 2003 looks like this:

48 Innings

2:45 ERA

43 Strike Outs

27 Walks

4 Home runs

38 Hits

Those are some damn good numbers and, as long as Fetters wasn't injured last September and has yet to recover, I think he could very well post similar numbers for the Twins.

That's the good news...

The bad news for the Twins and Fetters is that he is an extreme groundball pitcher.

You all know how I feel about Guzman and Rivas' defense up the middle (and, for those of you that don't know, I think it stinks!), so Fetters might find himself giving up a lot more groundball hits than he did with the D-Backs and particularly the Pirates last year (Pittsburgh had a great defensive middle infield of Pokey Reese and Jack Wilson).

With the Twins' great outfield defense, I tend to think they should be looking for extreme flyball pitchers (like Eric Milton) instead, but I still think Fetters is a good signing.

Here is my prediction for Fetters in 2003 (if he makes the team):

50 Innings

3.80 ERA

38 Stike outs

25 Walks

5 Homers

That aint bad.

And, it doesn't take into account the best part of having Mike Fetters on a ballclub: watching him pitch!

There is simply nothing like it.

The way I heard the story is that Fetters has asthma and he learned to combat it by taking a gigantic breath before delivering each pitch.

So, what he does is get into the stretch with his head facing third base...

He takes a gigantic breath of air...

And then snaps his head into position to look at home plate, where he proceeds to stare like a madman at the sign from the catcher.

Stare at third base.

Giant breath.

Snap head.

Stare at catcher.



If you haven't seen it, just wait.

You'll love it.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Fetters is, for lack of better words, a big fat guy, which makes everything infinitely more fun to watch.

With the loss of fellow big fat guy David Ortiz, the Twins were severely lacking in big fat guy depth, so this Fetters signing (along with Matthew LeCroy getting more playing time) will help out a lot in that area.

In fact, LeCroy and Fetters could have been separated at birth:

That's it for today.

Please make sure to go check out my latest article at Baseball Primer:

2003's Top 50 Prospects

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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