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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Undervalued Commodities In The Marketplace

By David

Power hitting defensive catchers are few and far between in baseball. The list of outstanding back stoppers can be counted on one hand.

The Indians' Victor Martinez, the Yankees' Jorge Posada, the Red Sox' Jason Varitek, the Twins' Joe Mauer and the Tigers' Ivan Rodriguez are all former All -Stars who contribute substantially to their teams success and receive hefty pay checks.

Still, there are several catchers who make close to the league minimum and are playing well.

Brian McCann: The 23-year old is a fixture in the middle of the Braves lineup and one of the premier young players in baseball. An All=Star for the second time this season Brian is one of the top fantasy catchers in the league and has a career .988 fielding percentage. His success is frequently overshadowed due in part to the big name catchers who steal the headlines.

With a salary of $666,667 McCann is a bargain for Gm John Schuerholz.

Russell Martin: Voted in as an All-Star this year by the fans he is a multi dimensional player. The 24-year old brings speed, power, above average throwing accuracy, outstanding hitting ability and athleticism to Grady Little's lineup every night.

To put his agility into perspective, he has 16 stolen bases this season. The rest of the starting catchers in the National League have a combined 12 swiped bags. Additionally, his 61 runs knocked in are sixth best in the senior circuit and his .313 average places him in the top 15.

An .882 OPS(.382 OBP ans .500 SLG percentage) is extremely respectable for a catcher.

Russell's very fortunate to be playing in a big market city like L.A. because it enables him to receive the exposure that he deserves. Not only is he excellent with the bat, but he mans one of the better pitching staffs in the majors very well. In my opinion, he is the most undervalued catcher in MLB.

At $387,500, Martin is earning $7,500 over the league minimum.

Mike Piazza To Leave The Bay Area

By David

The highest paid backup catcher in baseball might be taking his game to another city if general manager Billy Beane can find a viable suitor.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Piazza, who has been out of action since May 2nd with a severely sprained sprained shoulder, is not ready to begin a rehab assignment as a catcher. The future Hall of Famer does not have the strength to throw the ball accurately and if it was up to him he'd return as the designated hitter.

Originally, the A's signed Piazza to be there everyday DH, but once he injured himself Jack Cust resumed that role. Cust has been playing so well (.262, 15 HR's, 42 RBI's, .388 OBP, 556 SLG) that no room remains for the man who holds the record for most home runs by a catcher.

Furthermore, 27-year old power hitting outfielder Nick Swisher would move to first base, but that position is currently occupied by Dan Johnson. However you try to jumble around the lineup card there will be no room remaining for Piazza.

Teams in search of a bat before the July 31st trading deadline include the Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem.

White Sox Slugger Jermaine Dye To The New York Mets?

By David

Two and a half weeks remain until the July 31st trade deadline and there are constant rumors swirling that the Mets are pursuing Chicago Right Fielder Jermaine Dye.

In 74 games this season, Dye is batting .219 with 13 home runs and 41 runs batted in. Not the ideal season to be having when you enter the daunting period of free agency.

In 2006 he enjoyed a career year, batting .315 with 44 home runs, 120 RBI'S, 103 runs scored, 170 hits, 27 doubles, a .385 on base percentage and a .622 slugging percentage. His monster season parlayed into an all-star appearance, a Silver Slugger award and a fourth place finish in the MVP voting, ahead of players such as Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Travis Hafner and home run derby champion Vlad Guerrero.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya has feverishly been searching for another bat in the lineup for the past several weeks and while the asking price for Dye might be too high it's still worth taking a shot. He made it crystal clear earlier this week that he was displeased with the direction of the offense when he dismissed hitting coach Rick Down and replaced him with first base coach Howard Johnson.

The next step is to acquire a power hitting corner outfielder who can fill the void left by 40-year old Moises Alou and struggling right fielder Shawn Green. Endy Chavez is a spark plug off the bench, but is not the long term solution. The recalling of Lastings Milledge indicates that Minaya is letting other general managers assess the young outfielders ability before they come calling to trade for him. If Dye is to land in the Big Apple Milledge must be included in the package.

With constant speculation mounting whether the Amazins will land the 2-time all-star, let's break down if it really makes sense for Minaya to pull the trigger. A free agent at the end of the season, Dye will demand at least $15-20 million a season and with the statistics he's putting up this season it will be hard for him to plead his case.

Plagued with a left quad injury for the majority of the season, Dye has been unable to generate the power off his bat that fans on the south side of Chicago have become accustomed to since 2004. If he's unable to drive in runners it would be senseless for the Mets to trade a top prospect for a player they'll have for two months. There are other avenues that Minaya can search in order to acquire a productive outfielder.

Two-time World Series winner Jeff Conine would be a solid fit, A's outfielder Shannon Stewart can provide speed and a veteran presence in the clubhouse, Coco Crisp of the AL East leading Red Sox could serve as a cheap addition, 14-year veteran Matt Stairs would be the quintessential power bat off the bench(.288, 14 HR's, 36 RBI's and .556 SLG percentage), Sammy Sosa and Kenny Lofton would both be fine additions and so would the Giants' Randy Winn.

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