Ask BA

I hope everyone has had a good holiday season, and Happy New Year to you all. Ask BA went by the wayside as we scrambled to put the finishing touches on the 2007 Prospect Handbook last week, but it’s back in full force with the regular three questions.

The good news is that the Handbook is done, earlier than ever before. We should be getting the books back in January, and if you ordered from us, there’s a good chance you’ll have your copy by the end of the month.

In the last two weeks, three more compensation free agents have changed teams. Ryan Klesko (Type B) went from the Padres to Giants, Jeff Suppan (Type A) from the Cardinals to Brewers and Barry Zito (Type A) from the Athletics to the Giants. Zito got $126 million over seven years, and I’ll reiterate what I’ve said before: I’d rather have Daisuke Matsuzaka for six years and $103 million.

Below is the updated draft order for 2007. The supplemental first round currently stands at a whopping 32 picks, and it could swell to 38 if the remaining compensation free agents all change addresses.

First-Round Picks
1. Devil Rays
2. Royals
3. Cubs
4. Pirates
5. Orioles
6. Nationals
7. Brewers
8. Rockies
9. Diamondbacks
10. Giants
11. Mariners
12. Marlins
13. Indians
14. Braves
15. Reds
16. Blue Jays (Frank Catalanotto, A, to Tex)
17. Rangers (Carlos Lee, A, to Hou)
18. Cardinals
19. Phillies
20. Dodgers (Julio Lugo, A, to Bos)
21. Blue Jays
22. Giants (Jason Schmidt, A, to LAD)
23. Padres
24. Rangers (Gary Matthews Jr., A, to LAA)
25. White Sox
26. Athletics
27. Tigers
28. Twins
29. Giants (Moises Alou, A, to NYM)
30. Yankees
Supplemental First-Round Picks
31. Cubs (Juan Pierre, B, to LAD)
32. Nationals (Alfonso Soriano, A, to ChC)
33. Diamondbacks (Craig Counsell, B, to Mil)
34. Giants (Alou)
35. Mariners (Gil Meche, B, to KC)
36. Braves (Danys Baez, A, to Bal)
37. Reds (Rich Aurilia, A, to SF)
38. Rangers (Lee)
39. Cardinals (Jeff Suppan, A, to Mil)
40. Phillies (David Dellucci, A, to Cle)
41. Red Sox (Alex Gonzalez, B, to Cin)
42. Blue Jays (Justin Speier, A, to LAA)
43. Dodgers (Lugo)
44. Padres (Woody Williams, A, to Hou)
45. Angels (Adam Kennedy, B, to StL)
46. Athletics (Barry Zito, A, to SF)
47. Tigers (Jamie Walker, B, to Bal)
48. Mets (Roberto Hernandez, A, to Cle)
49. Nationals (Jose Guillen, B, to Sea)
50. Diamondbacks (Miguel Batista, B, to Sea)
51. Giants (Schmidt)
52. Rangers (Matthews)
53. Blue Jays (Catalanotto)
54. Padres (Dave Roberts, A, to SF)
55. Athletics (Frank Thomas, B, to Tor)
56. Mets (Chad Bradford, A, to Bal)
57. Giants (Mike Stanton, B, to Cin)
58. Rangers (Mark DeRosa, B, to ChC)
59. Blue Jays (Ted Lilly, B, to ChC)
60. Padres (Alan Embree, B, to Oak)
61. Padres (Ryan Klesko, B, to SF)
62. Diamondbacks (have yet to sign 2006 first-rounder Max Scherzer)
Second-Round Changes
65. Nationals (Soriano to ChC)
67. Braves (Baez to Bal)
69. Cardinals (Suppan to Mil)
72. Athletics (Zito to SF)
75. Mets (Hernandez to Cle)
79. Padres (Williams to Hou)
86. Blue Jays (Speier to LAA)
Third-Round Changes
97. Mets (Bradford to Bal)
102. Reds (Aurilia to SF)
105. Phillies (Dellucci to Cle)
Fourth-Round Changes
132. Padres (Roberts to SF)
Remaining Compensation Free Agents
Bos: Keith Foulke (B).
Cin: Scott Schoeneweis (B).
NYY: Ron Villone (B).
StL: Mark Mulder (B).
SD: Chan Ho Park (B), David Wells (B).
    As a Rangers fan, I'm really intrigued by the Brandon McCarthy/John Danks trade. Though I'm very disappointed to see Danks depart, I think this is a good deal for the Rangers. That said, I thought at the time the trade was made that McCarthy was considered to have more upside than Danks, but I since have seen several commentators characterize Danks as the higher-ceiling guy and McCarthy characterized as more of an innings-eater than a frontline starter. In your view, who has the higher upside?

    Adam J. Morris

    With the McCarthy/Danks trade, where will you Danks rank on the White Sox Top 30 list in the Prospect Handbook?

    J.P. Schwartz
    Springfield, Ill.

    With the new, young arms recently acquired through trades, how would the White Sox Top 10 list look if compiled today?

    Mike Bridges
    Marshall, Mich.

In actuality, McCarthy and Danks are very similar. They both throw two-seam and four-seam fastballs and top out at 93-94 mph, they both have good curveballs and they both have made a lot of progress with changeups. McCarthy has a slightly better curve, while Danks has a slightly better changeup. Their command and control are about the same.

There seems to be a perception that McCarthy is a can’t-miss guy, perhaps fueled by his spectacular minor league numbers (37-21, 3.38, 536-92 K-BB ratio in 471 IP). But his stuff isn’t overwhelming and he has been inconsistent in the majors, as is the case with most young pitchers. I think they’re both No. 3 starters. If I had my pick, I’d take Danks because he’s two years younger (21 vs. 23) and he’s lefthanded.

However, because McCarthy has spent parts of the last two seasons getting acclimated to the majors, he’s a better bet to make a contribution at that level in 2007 and 2008 than Danks, who has yet to make his big league debut. So the trade is more likely to help the Rangers in the short term. The White Sox seem to be straddling the fence between trying to win now while also building for the future, and that usually doesn’t work out well on either end.

Since we originally ran our White Sox Top 10, Chicago has acquired six young pitchers: Gio Gonzalez and Gavin Floyd (in the Freddy Garcia deal with the Phillies); Andy Sisco (for Ross Gload from the Royals); and Danks, Nick Masset and Jacob Rasner in the McCarthy trade. Floyd and Sisco have too many big league innings to qualify as prospects.

We inserted Gonzalez as the White Sox’ No. 3 prospect in the Handbook, but the McCarthy/Danks deal happened too late to be included. If it had occurred in time, I would have lined up the Chicago Top 10 like this:

1. Ryan Sweeney, of
2. Josh Fields, 3b
3. John Danks, lhp
4. Gio Gonzalez, lhp
5. Lance Broadway, rhp
6. Kyle McCulloch, rhp
7. Charlie Haeger, rhp
8. Nick Masset, rhp
9. Aaron Cunningham, of
10. Adam Russell, rhp
    What's the scoop on Yoslan Herrera? Will he be in the Pirates rotation in 2007? Is he a potential impact guy? What has he done in international play?

    Walter Paley
    Templeton, Calif.

The Pirates haven’t done much on the international market in recent years, but they made a big investment this month by giving Herrera a three-year, $1.92 million big league contract, including a $750,000 bonus. He’s the first Cuban they’ve signed since the 1950s, and he could make a splash in Pittsburgh’s rotation this year. However, he hasn’t pitched competitively since defecting in 2004 after he was left off Cuba’s Olympic roster, so he may need some time to round back into pitching shape.

I can’t find any records of Herrera in major international competition. But this much we do know: He’ll be 26 next season, and he’s a 6-foot-2, 200-pound righthander whose best pitches are his curveball and his splitter. He sits at 88 mph and tops out at 92 with his fastball. He sounds like a No. 3 starter at best, but also remember that the vast majority of Cuban defectors who have signed with U.S. teams haven’t lived up to expectations.

    In your chat
    two days ago, I asked for your thoughts on the Red Sox' other Japanese signee, lefty reliever Hideki Okajima. You said if I e-mailed you at Ask BA, you might be able to share his scouting report from the Handbook. Can we see it?

    Mike Sweeney
    Brighton, Mass.

I’m a man of my word, so here it is. I’ll even tell you that he’ll be No. 22 on our Red Sox Top 30 in the Handbook.

Hideki Okajima, lhp
Born: Dec. 25, 1975. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 195. Signed: Japan, 2006. Signed by: Craig Shipley/Jon Deeble.
The Red Sox’ quest for relievers took them to Japan, where they signed Okajima with far less fanfare than surrounded Daisuke Matsuzaka. Because he had nine years of service time, Okajima was a pure free agent who didn’t have to be posted. He signed a two-year contract with annual salaries of $1.25 million and a $1.75 million club option for 2009. Other clubs offered more money, but he signed with the Sox in part because they were the first team to show interest. Okajima is a versatile pitcher who served as a starter, middle reliever, setup man and closer in Japan, where he was a key cog in Japan Series championship teams in 2000, 2002 and 2006. His best pitch is an overhand curveball that’s tough on lefties. He doesn’t throw hard, operating in the mid- to high 80s and topping out at 91, but his fastball is effective because he can locate it to both sides of the plate. He keeps righties honest by throwing two versions of a splitter, one for strikes and another as a chase pitch. His command has improved in the last two years as he has done a better job of keeping his focus on the plate during his delivery. Boston lacked reliable southpaw relievers for most of last season, and it believes that Okajima can serve as more than a situational lefty. At the worst, he’ll help ease Matsuzaka’s transition to the United States.

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