The season has just begun, but as the Five Man Electrical Band once sang, “Sign, Sign, everywhere a sign.” Here are some signs from early this season that have me a little worried.
Brian Fuentes is throwing 88 mph
Fuentes’ drop in velocity last season made him more hittable than at any point in his career. It was the first time in Fuentes’ career in which opposing hitters made contact on his pitches over 80 percent of the time. Consequently Fuentes had the lowest K/9 of his career.
Fuentes had an average fastball last season of 90 mph. In his first inning of work this season he topped out at 89 mph with an average velocity of about 88 mph. Of his ten pitches, Fuentes generated zero swings and misses.
If he can put together a few good outings, look to sell high as the Angels have plenty of replacement options should 2009 repeat itself.
Brandon Wood looks over-matched
In his first game Wood struck out three times, twice against Scott Baker and once against Jesse Crain. The problem wasn’t just the strikeouts, it was the fact that Wood simply looked over-matched against a pitcher (Baker) that is far from overpowering.
The next day Wood singled to center off of Nick Blackburn, but failed to reach base on any other at bat. He struck out on a curveball in the dirt against Jon Rauch in the ninth.
Wood has been swinging through a ton of pitches, which he has done in the past. His career contact rate in 232 Major League at-bats is only 68 percent (Chris Davis territory).
Maybe Wood just needs to settle in, but at this point he doesn’t visibly look like a hitter that is going to breakout.
I’d be looking to add Maicer Izturis if things don’t turn around fast.
Franklin Morales got the save…thanks to his defense
Morales gives up one hit, one run and a couple scorching line drives that turned into outs. While the save was recorded, it could have been a much different outcome given the way the ball came off the Brewers bats. He threw a fastball right down the middle to Prince Fielder and hung a curve to the left-handed Jim Edmonds. While Morales may very well earn some cheap saves, I’d be looking to sell high if another owner thinks Houston Street is going to be out longer than expected.
Michael Bourn has struck in out 4 of 8 at-bats
It was easy to look past Bourn’s strikeout issues last season because of his usable AVG and big stolen base total. Bourn struck out 140 times in 606 at-bats (23 percent strikeout rate) last season, which is too much for a hitter of his skill set. His BB/K rate was very similar to that of Luke Scott. Nyjer Morgan struck out only 15.8 percent of the time in 2009.
This is something that should be monitored very closely, because if Bourn doesn’t hit for a .280-plus AVG or repeat his .350-plus OBP, he won’t steal as many bases.
I wasn’t hot on him anyway heading into this season, so I’d look at selling Bourn to a team who needs some speed.
Anything that I missed that you have noticed?