Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Playometer: Beckett and throwing in the Towles

Cooling Off

We mentioned earlier that Josh Beckett was dinged up. Well, it looks like he won't be starting in Japan, hasn't really done much during Spring Training, and his status is questionable.

If you had him up with Sabathia, Hamels, Lackey, and other fourth or fifth-round SP candidates, I'd knock him down below a few of them at this point.

Heating Up

J.R. Towles wasn't a name on my fantasy radar back in February. He has a decent minor league track record, but I wasn't all too sure he'd crack 400 at-bats for the Astros due to the presence of the very estimable Brad Ausmus. Well, in the last few weeks he's gone from just another final round rent-a-catcher to the number one "added" player at his position on Yahoo, and his ADP is rising rapidly. He's also popping up in numerous sleeper reports. When I saw him go in the teens at Mock Draft Central, I took note. When it happened in two more drafts, I realized I had undervalued a player's draft position mightily (it happens).

What's happened, you ask? Well, it turns out Towles (along with Mauer and Martin) is the only catcher in MLB who might steal 10+ bases in 2008, and Houston newspapers have reported that he's penciled in as the starter. In 100 minor league games, he stole 14 bases. Basically, now that he's a starter, you've got to put him side by side with Geovany Soto as a prospect to watch coming into the year. Given the chance of 10 steals, I'd love to have Towles in the late teens, if he lasts that long. He has some lingering leg issues that have kept him out of spring training games the last few days, which may depress his value (but don't look too serious).

It's pretty remarkable that three players are probably going to account for more than half of the stolen base total of all MLB starting catchers, combined.


Anonymous said...

JR Towles outside of the last round does not equal a bargain. Ausmus will deflate his value. This is the same organization that destroyed Chris Burke out of loyalty to Biggio.

Eric said...

I tend toward agreement with the previous post. Also, Towles was caught on 50% of his steal attempts.

Ausmus and a poor SB% makes me leary of the hype.

Mike Bock said...

The standard yahoo draft consists of 22 rounds. The mere chance that Towles is going to give you anywhere near ten steals makes him worthy of more than a final round catcher selection. Heck, even five steals bumps him a bit. A late teen pick -- meaning eighteenth or nineteenth round -- seems appropriate to me at this point.

ben lea, staff blogger said...

Bear in mind that Ausmus isn't chasing a major statistical milestone like 3000 hits (as Biggio was). He needs 10 hits to get to 1500, and only 7 GIDP to hit the magical 200 GIDP mark. (And I think we all know that Hall of Fame voters are waiting for that magic number before they put him on the ballot... The all-time leader in GIDP? Cal Ripken. See? It's like 300 wins for a pitcher!)

My point is: there's no reason for Astros upper management to think fans will fill up seats just because Brad Ausmus is playing. So... I don't think he'll depress Towles' playing time tremendously.

Editor Bob, I think that needs to be our new poll: which will Brad Ausmus get first, 10 hits or 7 GIDP?

Mike Bock said...

I like the: who will have a better year, "Jamie Burke or Brad Ausmus?" poll, myself.

Anonymous said...

it appears Ausmus will be Oswalt's person catcher this year. So Towles (TOE-liss, not TAU-uls) will lose at least 1/5 of the at bats.