Apologies for my absence as of late; the semester is coming to a close, so I have been extremely busy. Also, I went and watched the Eagles of Death Metal last night in Boston. What a show; if you get a chance to see them in your area, do yourself a favor and have yourself a good time with Jessie Hughes and Company. My ticket only cost $15 last night, and it was one of the better concerts I've been too, and I've seen a few in my day (and yes, I just used that turn of phrase to make myself sound older and more experienced than I am). The opening band, Rye Coalition, also put on a good show, and I'm considering purchasing their new album with the next paycheck. Enough with the music pimpage though; on to the baseball.
There are a few interesting roster moves to take a look at today. Howie Kendrick was called up by the Angels, Mike Cameron comes off the disabled list in San Diego, and Nomar Garciaparra returns to the Dodgers, and immediately makes an impact.
Howie Kendrick is not displacing Adam Kennedy at second base -- at least not immediatly. He is coming up to get at-bats from all over the field it seems, with potential playing time coming from second, third, first and designated hitter, according to this Minor League Baseball article (link found at 6-4-2.)
In my Angels positional players preview, I compared Adam Kennedy to Howie Kendrick using their PECOTA projections. PECOTA saw Adam Kennedy as an above average second basemen when measured with positional Net Runs Above Average. It saw Kendrick as one of the best second basemen in the entire league. There is no evidence yet that Kendrick can hit major league pitching as of right now -- although in the future, he appears to be a star offensive player in the making -- so I also measured his pNRAA using his 25th percentile line, which had much lower expectations than his weighted mean. Let's take a look at Kennedy and Kendrick's projected numbers, as the season is still young and I almost refuse to use April statistics as of yet.
2006: Adam Kennedy .271/.332/.389; +3.99 pNRAA; +4.47 pNRAA/GP
2006: Howie Kendrick .298/.333/.471; +18.56 pNRAA; +24.50 pNRAA/GP
2006: Howie Kendrick .271/.305/.411; +4.50 pNRAA; +5.13 pNRAA/GP
If Kendrick can handle the duties at first and third defensively, he should be useful to the club, and more so than the player he is replacing, Maicer Izturis, who himself projected to be exactly league average.
Something of interest from PECOTA creator and Baseball Prospectus author Nate Silver, in his 50 most valuable player article from ESPN.com. He ranked Kendrick as the 27th most valuable player in the league, calling him a potential "once-in-a-generation, Tony Gwynn-type contact hitter", who has the potential for "20 home runs a season, and playing at a premium defensive position." I personally like him more than Brandon Wood at this stage of the game, although that could change if Wood continues to tear the minor leagues to pieces. Kendrick certainly has the potential to be a special hitter and player, and we'll get a preview in the coming weeks of whether or not the time for that potential to shine through is now.
Mike Cameron comes off the DL, much to the joy of Richard Wade. Cameron is expected to hit .248/.331/.444 in San Diego according to PECOTA, good for a .272 EqA, well above the average in centerfield from 2005, and well above the current .241 EqA from all centerfielders in the majors. Dave Roberts currently sports a .262 EqA, but his defensive prowess has been lacking from what I have seen (and from what I've heard the aforementioned Richard Wade fume over), although Rate disagrees. It is too early in the season for me to put any stock into Rate, so I'll side with the scouting report for now.
On an interesting defensive note, Dave Roberts is usually exceptional out in center, but seems to have lost a step in 2005 according to The Fielding Bible's numbers. Time will tell if Mike Cameron will return to form in the outfield after his scary collision, the one I prefer never to think about again. With the way Roberts has been crashing into Terrmel Sledge out there in San Diego, I think Cameron might have a hard time getting over the accident.
San Diego has quite the group of outfielders with Mike Cameron returning to the field, with Roberts/Ben Johnson in left, Cameron in center, and the always statistically interesting Brian Giles in right. His current season line: .269/.419/.388, with a .300 EqA and 17 BB's compared to 18 hits. The weirdest small sample size stat of the season is Giles Rate2 of 1186 in left field; that's 1,086 runs above average per 100 games played; I love April statistics. Giles made two putouts in 10 percent of a 9 inning game, which apparently makes ridiculous statistics appear.
Nomar Garciaparra returned to the Dodgers lineup after suffering an injury in spring training, and promptly smacked a grand slam. His season outlook is not all that enjoyable though:
Dan Scotto would like everyone to know that his projection was created by a random number generator, and therefore should not be taken seriously. As for myself, I think it seems fair, although he may exhibit a little more power if he can keep healthy. I just do not see the Bill James projection occuring under any circumstances though. With Jeff Kent's blurred vision from that pitch to the head, the Dodgers will need Garciaparra to stay healthy and productive to make up for the loss. J.D. Drew is destroying the ball right now, to the tune of .338/.442/.600 and a .337 EqA. That actually resembles his 90th percentile PECOTA projection, although I'm not sure if he can keep that sort of production up. If healthy, it is actually plausible, and the Dodgers may need him to do so to stay competitive out west, considering their injury issues that just aren't going to go away with the current roster construction. A little bit of the old Nomar might help the Dodgers' cause greatly, especially in a division where Barry Bonds' looks less and less like a giant and the Colorado Rockies are a game out of first.