<span class="vcard">Matthew Pouliot</span>

Jhoulys Chacin

Rockies, Jhoulys Chacin agree to $6.5 million deal

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A long-term deal didn’t make a lot of sense after Jhoulys Chacin’s poor 2012 season, but the right-hander and Rockies did find common ground on a two-year, $6.5 million pact on Saturday.

The deal takes care of Chacin’s first two years of arbitration. He’ll again be eligible for arbitration in 2015 before he qualifies for free agency following that season.

The 25-year-old Chacin asked for $2.6 million and was offered $1.7 million in arbitration  Assuming that the two sides would have settled at the $2.15 million midpoint, this essentially gets him under control for 2014 at $4.35 million.

Chacin looked like one of the NL’s most promising young pitchers two years ago, posting ERAs of 3.28 and 3.62 and WHIPs of 1.27 and 1.31 in his first two seasons with the Rockies. Adjusting for Coors Field, those were particularly strong marks.

Chacin, though, struggled right from the get-go in 2012, showing neither his usual velocity nor a quality slider before being diagnosed with shoulder inflammation and, later, a nerve issue in his chest. He did rebound at the very end of the season, though, going 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA in his last nine starts.

Lifetime, Chacin has a 3.05 ERA in 29 starts and eight relief appearances away from Coors Field. He’s 23-31 with a 3.68 ERA overall.

Landon Powell loses baby daughter to liver condition

Izzy Powell
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There’s some very sad news to report tonight, as Landon Powell, the former A’s catcher currently employed by the Mets, has lost his baby daughter, Izzy, after a four-month ordeal.

Izzy, one of two twin sisters born prematurely (the other, Ellie, is alive and well), was diagnosed with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, which led to a liver to large for her body. If she had survived longer, she could have received a bone marrow transplant from her older brother. However, she was never in the kind of condition that would have permitted such a surgery.

You can read more about all the Powell family (Landon, Allyson, Holden and Ellie)  has been going through at their facebook page,  Prayers for Izzy.

Our condolences go out to the Powell family.

Uptons to follow in footsteps of Alous, Conigliaros, Waners

Felipe, Matty and Jesus Alou
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With B.J. and Justin Upton getting together in Atlanta, I thought it’d be fun to look at the other MLB outfields to pair siblings. The Uptons are the fourth set of brothers charged with patrolling the same outfield. Here’s how the first three fared:

Felipe, Jesus and Matty Alou

1961-63 Giants
Felipe: .296/.336/.486, 63 HR, 232 RBI in 1,541 AB – 125 OPS+
Matty: .276/.325/.380, 9 HR, 40 RBI in 471 AB – 92 OPS+

1964-65 Giants
Matty: .246/.286/.303, 3 HR, 32 RBI in 574 AB – 65 OPS+
Jesus: .288.312/.369, 12 HR, 80 RBI in 919 AB – 90 OPS+

1973 Yankees
Felipe: .236/.256/.321, 4 HR, 27 RBI in 280 AB – 65 OPS+
Matty: .296/.338/.356, 2 HR, 28 RBI in 497 AB – 100 OPS+

Felipe, Matty and Jesus were all briefly part of the 1963 Giants, but I didn’t count that, since Jesus got just 24 at-bats in 16 games as a rookie that season.

Felipe was obviously the best of the brothers, but his two best seasons came in Atlanta in 1966 (.327/.361/.533, league-leading 218 hits, 122 runs) and 1968 (.317/.365/.438, league-leading 210 hits).

Before their late-career reunion with the Yankees, Felipe and Matty just missed each other and Jesus in Oakland. Felipe played for the A’s in 1970 and briefly in 1971, Matty played their in 1972 and Jesus was there in 1973 and ’74.

Billy and Tony Conigliaro

1969-70 Red Sox
Billy: .274/.343/.479, 22 HR, 65 RBI in 478 AB – 119 OPS+
Tony: .261/.323/.464, 56 HR, 198 RBI in 1,066 AB – 111 OPS+

Everyone knows what happened with Tony; his time with his brother came after he missed the 1968 season following a beaning. A Hall of Fame-type talent, he was already dealing with the deteriorating eyesight that forced him out of baseball.

What I didn’t realize is that Billy looks like quite a talent himself. That 119 OPS+ came in his age 21 and 22 seasons. However, he wasn’t happy with the Red Sox after they traded Tony following the 1970 season, and it seems to show up in his performance. He hit .262/.310/.436 in 1971 and then got traded himself. Struggling with the Brewers, he retired in the middle of the 1972 season while still just 24 years old. He did try a comeback the next year, getting into 48 games with the A’s, but that was it for his career.

Lloyd and Paul Waner

1927-40 Pirates
Lloyd: .319/.356/.400, 27 HR, 573 RBI in 7,219 AB – 100 OPS+
Paul: .341/.406/.487, 101 HR, 1,098 RBI in 7,893 AB – 136 OPS+

The Waners were also very briefly teammates on the 1941 Boston Braves and again on the 1944 Brooklyn Dodgers, but both were well past their primes by then.

Both Waners made it into the Hall of Fame, Paul in 1952 and Lloyd in 1967. Paul was obviously deserving. He won three batting crowns and finished in the top 10 in the NL in average nine times, in OBP 13 times and in slugging seven times. Lloyd, while a solid enough regular, was a rider of coattails. He finished in the top 10 in the NL in average six times, but just once higher than eighth (third in 1927). He was in the top 10 in OBP once (ninth in 1927) and never in slugging. He finished his career with a 99 OPS+, compared to 134 for Paul.

Notes and thoughts on the Justin Upton trade

Martin Prado
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Braves acquire OF Justin Upton and 3B Chris Johnson from Diamondbacks for 3B Martin Prado, RHP Randall Delgado, RHP Zeke Spruill, SS Nick Ahmed and 1B Brandon Drury.

– As some probably guessed, I’m a big fan of this deal for the Braves. I wrote an entry trying to pair the Upton brothers in Atlanta before the Braves had B.J. signed.

That said, I would have liked this deal a bit more two months ago, when the Braves would have had more flexibility to deal with the losses of Prado and Delgado. I still think it’s a great value trade, and I expect that the competitive Upton brothers could push one another to new heights. Prado is a very good player right now, but he was under control for just one more year and I don’t think he’ll live up to his next contract. I’ve never seen Delgado as much more than a No. 4 starter. None of the prospects are elite talents. I’m surprised the Diamondbacks didn’t insist on right-hander J.R. Graham in the deal.

– As for the Diamondbacks, well, there’s really been no plan from the beginning. They’ve now parted with two terrific young talents in Upton and Trevor Bauer and still haven’t set themselves up as obvious contenders for 2013.

Here’s a possible lineup:

CF Adam Eaton
3B Martin Prado
2B Aaron Hill
LF Jason Kubel
1B Paul Goldschmidt
C Miguel Montero
RF Cody Ross
SS Didi Gregorius/Cliff Pennington

That’s certainly not bad. A rotation of Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Brandon McCarthy and Delgado/Tyler Skaggs/Patrick Corbin is also pretty good.

Still, this is a team without a definite All-Star and it’s going up against a Dodgers club full of them and the defending world champs in San Francisco. Towers did add some nice minor league depth today, but he’s still given away arguably his two top talents and inflated the payroll, all for an 85-win, third-place team.

– The Diamondbacks just keep backing themselves into corners. It’s what forced them to trade Upton. And now it’s going to force them to give Prado a big extension, since there’s no way they’re going to let the key piece in the deal leave after one year.

Prado has hit .300 and topped a .350 OBP in three of his four full seasons in the bigs. I’ll be curious to see whether his terrific 69/58 K/BB ratio from last season holds up or if he reverts to previous form (86/40 K/BB in 2010, 52/34 in 129 games in 2011). A quality walk total will make the difference between him being an above average regular or an overpriced mediocrity in those seasons in which he hits .280 or so. And he will have those seasons after turning 30. The Diamondbacks are probably going to have to give him $30 million-$36 million for three seasons, and I have my doubts he’ll prove worth it.

A Prado extension would also cut off prospect Matt Davidson’s current path to the majors, though I don’t really see that as a problem. He projects better in left field than third base anyway. And if the Diamondbacks did want to leave him at third base, they could put Prado back in left field in 2014.

– This trade does leave the Braves lineup in a bit of a weird place. Prado was their only great option to bat first or second this season. Right now, we might be looking at:

SS Andrelton Simmons
CF B.J. Upton
RF Jason Heyward
LF Justin Upton
1B Freddie Freeman
2B Dan Uggla
C Brian McCann
3B Juan Francisco/Chris Johnson

With McCann set to miss at least the first few weeks following shoulder surgery, the third baseman will likely bat seventh, putting Gerald Laird in the eighth spot.

This arrangement will work out just fine if Simmons builds on his .289/.335/.416 line from his rookie campaign. I’m not sure the Braves can count on that, though.

And then there’s B.J. Upton, whose OPS went from .331 in 2011 to .298 last year. If he comes back in at .330 or so, he’d be an asset at the top of the order. If not, he’s a problem.

The Braves could always drop either Simmons or B.J. and simply move everyone else up a spot. I’d be good with Heyward batting second and Justin hitting third. I’m guessing that’s not how Fredi Gonzalez will want to play it, though.

– At third base, the current play should be to play Francisco versus righties and Johnson versus lefties. Johnson will get a chance to win the starting job outright, but I’m not a fan at all. He’s a poor defender, and while he does have pop, I doubt he’ll hit .281 again.

One potential problem with the platoon: the right-handed-hitting Johnson has actually performed much better against righties (.283/.323/.452 in 896 AB) than lefties (.255/.294/.372) in his career. Still, I think Francisco will outhit him against righties.

– Now that the Braves have question marks at the back of the rotation and at third base, they should be in contact with some free agents. Roy Oswalt and Javier Vazquez would make tons of sense as the new fifth starter. Vazquez would likely come cheaper, and Atlanta is about as close as he can get to his home in Puerto Rico. Of course, he pitched for the Braves in 2009 and went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA. Some other inexpensive possibilities: Carlos Zambrano, Carl Pavano, Kevin Millwood, Freddy Garcia and Chris Young.

For third base, it makes plenty of sense to check in with Scott Rolen and see if he has any interest in a part-time role. I’d take him over Johnson to pair with Francisco. And I know this won’t be very popular, but it’s worth offering Chone Figgins a minor league contract. The smart money says he’s done as a useful player at 35, but if he does have something left, he’d be a pretty great fit on a team with little speed, no obvious leadoff man and no plus defensive third basemen.

The price was right for Delmon Young

Delmon Young
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Knowing just how bad defensively Delmon Young is, it’s impossible to wholly endorse the Phillies’ signing today. Still, at some point, he was worth a try. And a one-year, $750,000 deal with $2.75 million in incentives reaches that point.

Of course, Young has now played six full seasons and performed as a quality regular in just one of them. That was 2010, when he hit .298/.333/.493 with 21 homers and 112 RBI for the Twins. For his career, he’s a pedestrian .284/.317/.425 hitter, which, combined with some of the league’s worst outfield defense, has made him a well below average player.

Young, though, does have some offensive upside. And maybe he’ll finally get a clue at the plate now that all 30 teams have essentially agreed he’s one step up from worthless as is. Young is a lifetime .351 hitter when ahead in the count. If he ever learns a little patience at the plate, he’d be dangerous.

And even if he doesn’t, Young will bring a career .336/.356/.488 line in 342 at-bats against National League pitchers with him to Philadelphia. Small sample size that it is, it can hardly be taken as a bad sign.

Given Young’s low base salary and playing-time-related incentives, there will be ample reason to cut him if he struggles early. Still, he’s likely to get at least a month or two in right field before any decisions are made. The addition means John Mayberry Jr., Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf and Laynce Nix will all battle for time in left.