WTNYDecember 13, 2004
Winter Weekend Moves
By Bryan Smith

My take on the weekend?s happenings, as I await to write about the Rule 5 draft of today. Check back for tomorrow on that, as for now, let?s review the moves behind the madness:

In my piece on Friday, I wrote the following about the Atlanta Braves and the rumored Tim Hudson deal:

I would then let Smoltz move back to the rotation, and have a staff look like this: Hudson, Smoltz, Hampton, Thomson, Ramirez. Then, move Capellan to the bullpen, where he and Juan Cruz can duke it out for the closer spot.

While the Hudson deal now appears far off, Atlanta brass has taken a bit of my advice. Trading for Dan Kolb will in fact let John Smoltz move to the bullpen, and provide a more ?Proven Closer? than Capellan or Cruz could have provided.

I?ve spoken on the merits of Jose Capellan?s resume many times before, obviously coming across the question that follows Capellan like a younger brother: can he succeed in the Majors as a starter? Judging by numbers alone, there would be no reason to doubt future success coming from the Dominican right-hander. In a year that ended with his name on Player of the Year ballots, Jose flew through the Carolina, Southern and International Leagues on his way to Atlanta. He only allowed one home run across all three stops, posting a 2.32 ERA and striking out 152 men. September issues in Atlanta are the only gaffe on his stat sheet, a sheet that will make him a top thirty prospect.

With that being said, Capellan is a fine example of the problems that come with just judging a player by his numbers. While I have only seen Capellan pitch on three occasions (two of which being in the Majors), I feel my hold on his scouting report is dead-on. Jose throws what?s called as a ?heavy? mid-90s fastball, which explains the sensational home run rate. To be able to have reacquired that heat, after arm surgery is quite the feat. So, what?s the problem?

Scouts and fans alike love that fastball, but no one loves it like Capellan himself. He?s fallen for the pitch, and because of that, throws it way too often. Major League hitters fancy pitchers with this tendency, making the ?guess? of which pitch is next a lot easier. In his first start, Capellan was lit up in the first inning, throwing his fastball about 90% of the time. But after Leo came out for a visit, the right-hander started showing the curve more, and got out of a tough jam. Sometimes the curve can show a real sharp bite, but his tendency to leave it up in the zone will have to fade for his home run rates to stay low. Adding his ?nowhere-to-be-found? change to his normal repertoire would also assist his desire to stay in the rotation.

Generously ? and I mean generously ? listed at 170 pounds, Capellan?s thick thighs pedal his large fastball. In this way he is quite reminiscent of similar stylists Bartolo Colon and Livan Hernandez, both of whom have been known to be fastball-friendly. Both have seen their HR/9 rates skyrocket since their youth, something I fear for Capellan, if not handled correctly. But that should not be a worry, as his change in organizations take him from the game?s best pitching coach, to the second best, Mike Maddux. While lacking the ?observations? to do this kind of a study, Maddux has had great success with the likes of Ben Sheets, Glendon Rusch, Doug Davis, and Dan Kolb.

My gut tells me that eventually, it will be Capellan replacing Dan Kolb in the closer spot. Still, some sort of Major League success is almost a guarantee, which mightily helps in Prospectdom. His move takes him from the third prospect position in Atlanta to third in Milwaukee, both times sitting behind two position players.

Behind Capellan in Atlanta, and possibly soon joining him in Cheeseland could be fellow pitching prospect Dan Meyer. Jim Callis mentioned Meyer as the likely second prospect in this deal, which would take the trade from swallowable to questionable for Atlanta fans. While I hate to question John Scheurholz, and in the wake of Ortiz? signing in Arizona point out that deal went quite well for the Braves even with Merkin Valdez on the Giants, one has to think that type of package could have brought in more than Kolb.

When I first saw Meyer, I was immediately reminded of Mark Redman, southpaws that throw effortlessly in the high-80s with a lot of ?pitchability.? He has a nice slider and change up, and is much more ready to contribute to a rotation than Capellan. Meyer has spent time and succeeded at each minor league stop, consistently posting ERAs under 3.00. His final stop, twelve appearances in AAA, was his least dominating to date as his BB/9 topped 3.0 for the first time.

If Maddux can keep Meyer?s control at pre-AAA levels, I think Meyer has the potential to top the careers of Redman or Mike Maroth. The spacious confines of Turner Field or Oakland?s Coliseum would have been nice for the Braves last collegiate first-round pick, but he?ll make do in Milwaukee. If this is true, then big props to Doug Melvin, who is quietly doing some good things up North.


Meyer?s exit to Milwaukee likely means that the Giles-Meyer for Tim Hudson rumor was just that. While it looked as if Hudson would be a Cardinal a week ago, the likely destination (again, a rumor) now appears to be the Los Angeles Dodgers. From what I?ve heard, the A?s have had talks with five teams about their coveted right-hander: Baltimore, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and the Dodgers. The five ?rumored? trades, from what I?ve read:

Los Angeles: Edwin Jackson and Antonio Perez

A solid package, no doubt, but probably not the best on the table. I really like Jackson, as he was my top rated pitcher before last season. After watching him pitch for the Dodgers in September, I recognized that might have been a bit high, but Jackson still has worlds of potential. Jackson effortlessly throws in the mid-90s, with a real good breaking pitch to boot. I can understand of concerns that Billy is building towards 2006 with this move, contradicting his acquisition of Jason Kendall.

But with this, Billy is on his way to reshaping the Big Three. My guess is that Mulder will get things in gear next year, and become the one (if there is one) to remain an A. With Mulder, Harden and Jackson, the A?s would have a very good threesome for a long time. Joe Blanton isn?t bad either, and I?m sure that Billy will land another stud young pitcher if and when he trades Barry Zito in a year.

As for Perez, I?m not sold he would be much more valuable than Mark Ellis, but at least he would provide more competition than anyone else by the Bay. I think in the least he will be a fairly valuable bench player, providing pop with the ability to play multiple positions. A younger replacement for Mark McLemore if you will.

A?s rotation under this scenario: Mulder, Zito, Harden, Jackson, Blanton

Atlanta: Marcus Giles and Dan Meyer

By far the best offer, though I?ve heard that this is not what the Braves had in mind. Think of the improvement Giles would have on a team that received a .253/.299/.363 line from their second basemen last season. While Meyer would hardly replace Hudson, I could argue this version of a staff could still replicate the 4.24 ERA of Oakland?s 2003 starters.

For Atlanta, I?m not sure this deal would be the best for them. They have already lost the negotiating rights to J.D. Drew, no doubt their MVP from last season. Chipper Jones is in the twilight of his career, and should slowly stop performing like everyone once thought. Johnny Estrada will not duplicate his 2004, and Andy Marte is not exactly a sure bet to produce power. Marcus Giles just might be the best bet (and Andruw) that this offense has for 2004.

My hope is that Billy offered Hudson and Mark Ellis in this deal, though I?m not sure how much that changes the landscape from the Braves perspective.

A?s rotation under this scenario: Mulder, Zito, Harden, Blanton, Meyer/Saarlos

St. Louis: Dan Haren, Jason Marquis, Kiko Calero

This is the trade that was hardly verified as to who was going where, with some mentions of either Jeff Suppan, Rick Ankiel or Daric Barton in the trade as well. But this is, with little variation, what I predominantly heard when Dan Patrick reported it as a done deal.

Haren is not the player that Edwin Jackson is, but probably offers more upside than Dan Meyer does. He led the PCL in strikeouts last year, using a big slider to rack up a lot of strikeouts. My guess is that him and Joe Blanton would battle it out in Spring Training, with the possibility of Marquis moving to the swingman role. I?m not sure whether I like Haren or Blanton more, with both of them topping out as a third starter in my mind. That, of course, is no low praise.

Marquis, one of the few non-Mazzone successes, is purely a marginal pitcher that could also be pawned for something when Beane was ready. I like Calero out of the bullpen as a second or third right-hander, which would allow Beane to non-tender Chad Bradford and open up a few more dollars to keep Erubiel Durazo.

A?s rotation under this scenario: Mulder, Zito, Harden, Marquis, Blanton/Haren

Baltimore: Erik Bedard, B.J. Ryan, PTBNL

As I talked about on Friday, there is no way I will believe that the O?s offered Bedard and top prospect Nick Markakis, who is one of Peter Angelos? favorites. This is by far the worst offer that was made to the A?s, which is also why it didn?t hold up very long. Bedard spells marginal, and while I like Ryan, he is only one year away from free agency. Not a lot to talk about here.

A?s rotation under this scenario: Mulder, Zito, Harden, Bedard, Blanton

Philadelphia: Ryan Madson and Chase Utley

This can definitely be viewed as the poor man?s version of the Los Angeles deal, with Madson hardly matching Jackson?s potential, and Utley only a slight improvement on Antonio Perez. The problem here is that Madson?s move back to the rotation would hardly be guaranteed, as his one start trial this year went quite poorly. The A?s are flush in reliever prospects, and Madson would provide little improvement on the Garcia-Street-Dotel trio.

A?s rotation under this scenario: Mulder, Zito, Harden, Madson, Blanton

Since it looks like talks with the Braves have broken down, Beane must consider either keeping Huddy or the Los Angeles deal. My vote would be LA, with a return to greatness circled in 2006.


Toronto made a nice little move getting Chad Gaudin from the Devil Rays, trading Kevin Cash, who hardly appears to be an improvement on Toby Hall. I don?t know what they plan to do behind the plate, but no matter who they choose, the position shouldn?t land much for Tampa. They dealt away Gaudin, described by some as a ?slider pitcher?, describing his extreme preference for his best pitch.

If you are wondering where you know his name from, Gaudin got a decent amount of press when he threw a perfect game in his first AA start, for the since-gone Orlando Rays. He drew a fair amount of hype because of the game, popping up on a few prospect lists. Overall, Gaudin is a marginal pitcher with a career in the bullpen far more likely than the rotation. Still, with Guillermo Quiroz on the horizon, J.P. made a real nice deal here.


Dan Meyer being mentioned by Callis was a mistake, as was later corrected to show the "Mighty Mite" Buddy Hernandez. No way in hell Meyer is included in this deal, but I am happy that Buddy might get the chance he wasn't going to get in Atlanta. We will have to wait for the Rule 5 to be sure exactly who the PTBNL is, but Hernandez is the leader in the clubhouse, with a group of a few other unprotected players (Zach Miner, Kevin Barry, etc.) on the shortlist.

I have seen that 170 lb listing for Capellan before, and if he is under 220 lbs., then I'm Calista Flockhart skinny. He may even be 230+.

One last thing - you may want to close your italics tag. :)

Alec Zumwalt is the PTBNL.