While working on the year end grades for all of our players, it became clear that it would be a rather lengthy article. It's also near the end of the year, and topics to write on are less forthcoming, so I decided to break the grades down into smaller parts starting with this segment entitled "The Dearly Departed". These are grades for players who didn't quite make it to the end of the season for one reason or another.
The Good - He stole bases effectively, he hit for average, and walked occasionally. He also managed to improve his game whenever there was a glaring weakness.
The Bad - His horrific start helped the tailspin start early. After a brief bout with walking a lot he tailed off and that remains a weakness in his game. Despite improvement, he did make a lot of outs on the bases. For all his speed, his defense is average at best. While power isn't crucial from a lead-off hitter, you'd still like to see him get enough extra base hits to slug .400. Alex also suffered in August with a lot of teams busting him inside preventing him from going to LF.
The Future - His future is brighter than it was a few months ago, when he was quickly falling into the non-descript AAA veteran pile. Still, his game needs some work for him to be a valuable contributor, but at this point his flashy stolen base numbers will likely insure employment for the next 10 years in some capacity. I do have some doubts about his ability to improve though. He washed out of Tampa Bay despite having a decent track record with hitting for average and having all that speed. He still didn't really do anything to suggest he was improving as a player until May of this year at age 25. Then suddenly, he seems to be able to improve his game at a steady rate? The ultimate X factor in this maybe his injury because one lost step is one too many. Grade- B
The Good - Despite the injury being horrific, it wasn't career ending, and he should be back and ready to go for spring training
The Bad - He struggled to get going to start the year, piling up strikeouts, hitting for a low average, walking little and not having quite his usual power. And then he got hurt.
The Future- He's still got two years on his contract and now he starts to get paid big money (13 million over the next two years). He's not totally down the toilet yet in terms of injury history or lost performance, but the odds of him becoming the star we thought are getting small. Grade- F
The Good - He hit well enough to force his way onto the big league roster
The Bad- He can play defense just as well without a glove. Then he made the mistake of laughing at another teammate's blooper, which won't be tolerated in this circus.
The Future - He really should be on some team somewhere next. If you're concerned his defense won't let him play the field, there is still no excuse for a team that is desperately seeking a DH. Grade B-
The Good - He stayed healthy and came back reasonably well from last year's "all swing, no walk" year. Most importantly he did enough to be tradeable for something moderately useful.
The Bad - His offensive skills have deteriorated significantly leaving him with only slightly above average on base ability and no real power. Suddenly, his lack of defensive range looms large
The Future - As a veteran with something of a bat he should find work easily, maybe even as a starter on a bad team. Grade- C-
The Good - He got back to playing shape for the end of the year.
The Bad - He was woeful offensively and defensively before hitting the DL. His paper release could have cost us Izzy.
The Future - He's got MLB service time, so he'll find work here and there (currently with Baltimore), and with the right luck and his power he just might find himself the next Jim Leyritz. Grade- F
The Good - Turned into a fair average hitter, by adding the bunt single to his repertoire. Walked a bit more and still had pop in the bat.
The Bad - Hasn't really done much for LA, and while his D may have improved at the hot corner it's still something of a liability.
The Future - Once again a big question mark his decline in LA may cost him whatever reputation he had managed to build in Milwaukee. I can't help but look at Tyler and wonder if there wasn't at least the possibility of a bigger deal that could have netted us Beltre (remember how terrible he was before the trade?). Grade C
The Good - Excellent right field defense and nice OBP skills. He made himself into a desirable player for the Angels.
The Bad - Power? Not much to speak of.
The Future - Alex will certainly benefit from being on a winning team providing him with playoff experience to add to his list of qualities. Hard to say where he'll be, but many contenders like to hang onto every piece they can, so he might not move an inch. Grade C
The Good - Doing well making sure runners don't take second on Maddux in Atlanta.
The Bad - That wet paper bag is still holding his bat tightly
The Future - A little murky since no one really knows where Maddux is going, but with his arm he'll find work somewhere. Grade D
The Good - He came up provided good defense and smacked some big extra base hits.
The Bad - He's old and really can't be considered part of the future, his OBP is quite lacking.
The Future - Despite his hamstring injury, he'll hang around for a few more years as a AAAA player, but hopefully not here, where his familiarity might prove too tempting and he might evolve into the next Lenny Harris granted a much better hitter and a useful one but we don't need to be clogging our roster with too many 35 year old extras. Grade- C-
The Good - Very good August, posting a sub 3.00 ERA and eating innings. Managed to make himself a dealable quantity.
The Bad - Everything prior to August.
The Future - Dave Duncan just might be the guy that can figure Jamey out. He'll hang around for awhile yet. Currently pitching out of the pen, another way he may revive his career. Grade D+
The Good - He's still young enough to be worth our time
The Bad - Everything except for a few June starts. A strained oblique finally shut him down.
The Future - Many of us have been clamoring for him to be shut down. Hopefully rest and time heals all wounds and get Ruben back to the stellar gun he has been in AAA. Early struggles could permanently sideline his career at this stage as he's beginning to suffer from Belliard-itis. Grade D-
The Good - Was young enough to still be considered a prospect despite being a minor league free agent. Pitched well enough to earn a call up.
The Bad - Was injured before starting? Then pitched poorly and given up for dead?
The Future - It should be good, but I have no idea what the organization's plan for him was, because he did everything right to make Dean look very good. He was then jerked around with little apparent method to the madness. Grade B
The Good - Anything I could say here would only be dark humor and not particularly good humor either.
The Bad - Suffered a probable career ending injury in Spring training and never played a game.
The Future - Very cloudy future he's still talking about coming back next year, but that seems ill advised to me based on the reports Jim has given throughout the year. Assuming he's insured the Brewers would be better off if he retired due to injury and saved the team the money (as long as he took up a 40-man spot, which should be a reasonable thing for a rebuilding team). Grade- I
The Good - At least it wasn't his elbow
The Bad - Not surprisingly Fox got hurt again. All logic dictated he should have been dealt, but wasn't.
The Future - Fox's injury isn't career threatening other than sooner or later people are going to tire of throwing him out there only to get hurt. Assuming he's healthy to start the year he should find employment somewhere on a team that could use any quality relief innings it can find. Grade- D, because you can only fault him so much for such a predictable injury.
The Good - He was a decent risk at a low cost. If he had done anything exciting he'd have been dealt for something of longer term value even in this year's weak market. And the pain for the Brewers was over quickly
The Bad - The pain lasted all year in Indy, and he really contributed to a total implosion of the team right from the start.
The Future - I'm not sure he has one I can't imagine his option would be exercised or another team would even bother. At least rummies like Shinjo actually bring something of value like defense to the table. Grade- F
The Good - Great year as AAA closer
The Bad - Was given a shot at the MLB level and didn't perform well. But where was he in September? Once again the organizations motives aren't remotely clear.
The Future - Like Matt Childers Mallette needs to succeed fairly quickly because Dean has many options and can always find more. Grade C
Matt Childers -
The Good - Finally after years of hype Matt did something to get excited about with a great performance out of the AA bullpen.
The Bad - He struggled during his call up and could certainly use more high level experience.
The Future - Matt's future is as a reliever. He needs to sustain his performance though because Dean has little trouble finding relief pitchers. Grade C+
Player of the week
It was possibly the toughest week to pick someone, this time around. One of the tell-tale marks of a player of the week is a highlight game. There were only two players that had those types of games this week, Jim Rushford and Keith Ginter. It takes more then just a big game to make it as player of the week (unless it's a huge game, 4HR's is pretty much a lock). Productive play throughout the rest of the week is very important, and for that reason I can't give the award to Jim, but with his 3-3 game with 2 doubles and a walk on Wednesday a two walk performance Thursday. Ginter was able to smack 4 doubles to go with 4 RBIs and 5 walks. So it is with much pleasure that I give the player of the week award to Keith Ginter.