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Friday, June 04, 2010

Super Two, Super For Who? (Part Deux)

This past Wednesday, I contributed a guest blog for Inside Pulse Sports, renewing my quasi-familiar rant against the "Super Two" rule in response to disingenuous public diatribes by Brian Sabean and Mike Rizzo in the week preceding their announcements of the promotions of Buster Posey and Stephen Strasburg.  Today I offer some additional notes regarding "Super Two."
  • As if on cue, the Pirates GM, Neal Huntington, responded to questions about Pedro Alvarez and Brad Lincoln on Tuesday by saying, "They're just not ready yet.  We're essentially through the arbitration window, so the reality is we're waiting for some finer finishing touches on all these guys.  We're still a ways away."  Alvarez had a 982 OPS in May.  He's third in the International League with 11 HR on the season.  Lincoln had a 2.38 ERA in May, with a ridiculous 31/4 K/BB rate.  When a GM describes player development using ambiguous terms like "finer finishing touches," it's usually because he's blowing smoke up your ass.  If the pattern holds, based on the similar masquerades by Rizzo and Sabean, we can expect Alvarez and Lincoln to both make their debuts before the end of June.
  • In the last two offseasons, the cut-off for "Super Two" status has been either 139 (Carlos Gomez, '09) or 140 (Taylor Buchholz, '08) days.  Based on that timeline, we could assume that the cut-off this season will be somewhere in the middle of May.  In order to get 140 days of service this season, a player would have to be promoted by May 17.  However, this is a little misleading.  When discussion the '09 and '10 arbitration classes, we are referring to players who (in most cases) made their major-league debuts in '05, '06, and '07.  Team have become much more cognizant of the "Super Two" designation in the intervening years and their reticence would suggest that the date will get progressively later (as fewer teams are willing to promote players in the opening months).  
  • In each of the last two offseasons, fifteen players qualified for "Super Two" status.  But, of course, it isn't as easy as counting the first fifteen promotions of 2010.  Many fans don't realize how often some players, especially young relievers and back-of-the-rotation starters, are shuffled back and forth to AAA.  Twins reliever Jeff Manship was recently promoted and demoted twice in less than three weeks.  Of the 146 rookies who appeared in a big-league games during the first two months of the season, 62 have already made at least one trip back to their minor-league affiliate, and many more will ride that bus before the end of June.  The roster math is made more complicated by the fact that some players who still have rookie status, have several weeks of service time accumulated from a previous season.
  • When the season began, their were 60 rookies on MLB rosters.  23 of them have already been returned to the minors, at least temporarily, meaning they won't get a full year of service time in 2010.  Of the remaining 47, less than 20 have played well enough in significant roles to make themselves safe bets to last on the MLB roster for the full season.
  • 86 rookies have been promoted since Opening Day.  39 of them have already suffered another demotion.  Of the remaining 47, at least 20 are filling expressly temporary roles (i.e. replacing injured regulars) and will almost certainly be returned to the minors for much of the remaining year.
  • So, in conclusion, I provide you with a list of the players with the best chances of securing "Super Two" status...
The Probables (crosses fingers):  These players are regulars on teams with competitive aspirations, making it unlikely they would be demoted for purely fiscal purposes, and all have played well enough to make it unlikely they would be demoted for performance.
    John Jaso, C (Rays) Promoted 4/13
    Ike Davis, 1B (Mets) 4/19
    Brennan Boesch, OF (Tigers) 4/24
    Justin Smoak, 1B (Rangers) 4/24
    Jhoulys Chacin, SP (Rockies) 4/28
    John Ely, SP (Dodgers) 4/29*
    Drew Storen, RP (Nationals) 4/29
    Starlin Castro, SS (Cubs) 5/7
    Neil Walker, 2B (Pirates) 5/25
    Buster Posey, C/1B (Giants) 5/30

    The Maybes:  These players have been introduced into relatively large roles, though not always as full-time starters and have shown at least flashes of productivity.  However, staying in the majors will probably require more sustained efforts.

    A. J. Ellis, C (Dodgers) 4/11
    Roger Bernadina, OF (Nationals) 4/11*
    Chris LeRoux, RP (Marlins) 4/14
    Jonny Venters, RP (Braves) 4/17
    Enerio Del Rosario, RP (Reds) 4/24
    Eric Young Jr., 2B/OF (Rockies) 4/25
    Max Ramirez, C (Rangers) 4/28
    Alfredo Simon, RP (Orioles) 4/28
    Chris Heisey, OF (Reds) 5/1
    Michael Saunders, OF (Mariners) 5/6
    Trevor Bell, RP (Angels) 5/10
    John Axford, RP (Brewers) 5/15
    Marco Estrada, RP (Brewers) 5/18
    Jonathan Lucroy, C (Brewers) 5/21
    Zach Braddock, RP (Brewers) 5/23
    Andrew Cashner, RP (Cubs) 5/31

    The Long Shots:  These players got to the bigs due to an injury and would have to play their way into long-term playing time.  However, either noteworthy talent or a favorable window of opportunity makes that within the realm of reason.

    Luis Atilano, SP (Nationals) 4/24
    Rhyne Hughes, 1B (Orioles) 4/24
    Xavier Paul, OF (Dodgers) 4/24*
    Antonio Bastardo, RP (Phillies) 5/1
    Cesar Valdez, SP (Diamondbacks) 5/3
    Chris Carter, OF (Mets) 5/10
    Brett Hayes, C (Marlins) 5/13
    Juan Miranda, OF (Yankees) 5/13
    Jason Donald, SS (Indians) 5/18
    Jeff Stevens, RP (Cubs) 5/19
    P. J. Walters, SP (Cardinals) 5/22
    Sam LeCure, SP (Reds) 5/28

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