Monday, June 29, 2009

FanGraphs on Bergesen, Michael Aubrey trade

Last Friday, FanGraphs had two interesting Orioles-related stories: one on Brad Bergesen and another on the O's acquisition of Michael Aubrey from Cleveland.

The post on Bergesen discusses how Bergesen has been effective despite the fact that he doesn't post high strikeout numbers. Dave Camerson explains:

Usually, a pitching prospect isn’t going to get much respect if he’s punching out less than a batter per inning, especially in the lower levels. Pitching to contact in low-A is usually a sign that your stuff isn’t major league quality, and when your fastball tops out at 92, the suspicion is confirmed.

However, the strikeout obsession has led to a lot of missed evaluations on groundball specialists, and Bergesen is proving to be exactly that. Pitch F/x shows that his fastball has similar amounts of vertical movement to some guy named Roy Halladay, so we shouldn’t be terribly surprised that Bergesen has a 54% groundball rate through his first twelve major league starts.

When you can command a sinking fastball and have an off-speed pitch to keep opposite handed hitters at bay, you can be an effective major league starter. Bergesen doesn’t have the same potential as some of the more hyped arms in the Orioles system, but don’t discount his strengths and write him off as a no-stuff guy who belongs in the bullpen. Command, sinker, and change-up - it’s the recipe for a solid back-end starting pitcher.

Anytime a pitcher is mentioned in the same sentence with Roy Halladay, it's high praise. Bergesen has been the best pitcher for the Orioles this season, and he certainly has a chance to win rookie of the year honors in the AL. And if he does develop into a "solid back-end starting pitcher," the Orioles will be very pleased.

Another post, this one by Marc Hulet, briefly discusses the Orioles' recent pickup of Michael Aubrey for a player to be named later. Aubrey, basically a career minor league first baseman, was drafted 11th overall in 2003 but has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. Hulet likes the move, saying that "[i]t’s a very nice low-risk, medium-reward move by an organization that is getting better by the season."

He also believes it's a smart move in case the Orioles decide to trade Aubrey Huff or Ty Wigginton. I've never seen Michael Aubrey play, but it seems like a good move for an organization that doesn't have a whole lot of solid-hitting position players. If the Orioles do make a trade or two or suffer a couple of injuries, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if Aubrey got an extended look with the O's.

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