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PNC Park Park Factors: Hits 106; Runs 106; HRs 91  

(100 is average, under 100 is favorable to pitchers)

Kip Wells

Values ~  2000:  -$9     2001:  -$1     2002:  $5     2003:  $9

Here's an example of how a change of scenery can sometimes help a player - Wells has developed into a successful major league starter since his arrival in Chicago two years ago. Last year he continued to make progress, lowering his hit rate 13%. Wells has four pitches - a fastball that he can run up to 96 mph but changes speeds on, an outstanding curve, a good slider and a change. Last years value is probably a pretty fair price for him.

Kris Benson

Values ~  2000:  $8     2001:  NA     2002:  -$7     2003:  -$7

Benson had Tommy John surgery and missed 2001 and the first part of 2002. He struggled upon his return, but in the final 2 months Benson turned it around, going 5-1 with a 3.52 ERA so it seemed like he was poised for a big 2003. It didn't happen. After struggling through the first half, he was shut down in midseason with shoulder discomfort. When healthy, he throws a 95 mph sinking fastball and a hard slider and will mix in the occasional curve and change. This spring he's working on adding a cutter. When I saw him, he was very effective throwing first pitch strikes and working down in the zone, forcing hitters to swing early in the count and getting a lot of groundball outs. At this point, he's 29 and a health question mark. He did not have surgery and it was reported in October that he was throwing without pain. There's probably still the potential for some upside here if you choose to gamble and can get him cheaply. Benson, due to be paid $6M+ is the subject of trade rumors.

Oliver Perez

Values ~  2000:  NA     2001:  NA     2002:  $2     2003:  -$15

Perez pitched effectively for the Padres after being rushed to the majors after just 23 innings above A ball. I haven't seen him pitch. He's said to have a good sinking fastball and slider and an effective change. SD management expressed great concern about Perez' arm being overworked last year after he complained of fatigue and insisted he either not pitch winter ball or risk being shut down this spring and opening the season in the minors. He's a speculative buy. I'd be concerned about his health at this point, but if you are in a continuing league and can stash him someplace, he could pay big dividends.

Josh Fogg

Values ~  2000:  NA     2001:  $3     2002:  -$2      2003:  -$6

Fogg missed part of the early season with a strained oblique, but was not particularly effective when he returned. He has a fastball that tops out at about 90, but he relies heavily on his assortment of off-speed and breaking pitches to keep hitters off balance. He's working on adding a slow curve to the mix this spring. When I saw him, he worked both sides of the plate with good control and mixed his pitches really well. The ratios don't recommend him and neither do I.

Ryan Vogelsong

Values ~  2000:  $3     2001:  -$9     2002:  NA       2003:  -$2

Acquired in the Schmidt trade, Vogelsong missed 2002 following ligament transplant surgery. Last year he pitched primarily at AAA and accorded himself well in his comeback (Hit Rate = .95; K/BB Ratio = 2.70 with a .98 K rate; HR Rate = .081). He throws an over-the-top fastball that failed to top 90 when I saw him, although he's supposed to top out higher. He mixed in a curve and a change or two, but primarily stuck with the fastball. May be worth a flier; watch this spring. Vogelsong is in the mix for the fifth starter role and appears to have an edge.

Jose Mesa

Values ~  2000:  -$2     2001:  $27     2002:  $22     2003:  $3

Mesa imploded last year, throwing a mid 90s fastball that lacks movement and unable to hit spots with his breaking pitch. He's most successful when he can locate his breaking pitch for strikes. He gets another chance here as a NRI.

Salomon Torres

Values ~  2000:  NA     2001:  NA     2002:  $3      2003:  -$2

In '93, Torres started the last game of the season for the Giants needing a win against LA to have a chance to make the postseason. Torres was scorched in that game and was never the same. Prior to 2002, Torres had been out of the majors since '97 and actually left the game for a while. I watched his return to the majors in a late '02 game and Torres was impressive, primarily relying on an assortment of off-speed and breaking pitches with an occasional low 90s fastball and keeping the ball down. He served as a swingman for the team last year, working primarily in relief but starting as needed. He was only effective as a reliever. The poor HR rate is indicative of his career. Pass for now.

Brian Boehringer

Values ~  2000:  $0     2001:  $0     2002:  $5     2003:  -$3

Boehringer throws a low 90s running fastball, sinker and slider. He's been moved into the bullpen due to his limited assortment of pitches and was a reliable set-up man before last year. After signing a 2-year deal last offseason, Boehringer's hit rate increased 26% last year, his K rate declined 25%, his walk rate went up 16% and his HR rate more than doubled. Not a draft consideration unless he enters the closer picture this spring.

Brian Meadows

Values ~  2000:  -$2     2001:  -$7     2002:  $1     2003:  -$2

He doesn’t throw hard, his hit rates have tended to be poor and walk rates good. His career strikeout rate is .45, which is about two-thirds the average level. When I saw him pitch, he threw a lot of first pitch strikes, then tried to work the outside corner with a mixture of high 80's fastballs and breaking pitches. He generally keeps the ball down and gets a fair amount of ground ball outs. I recommend staying away. 

John Grabow

Values ~  2000:  NA     2001:  NA     2002:  NA     2003:  $2

I haven't seen him, but he has the markings of a finesse lefty: low walk rate indicating good command, but high hit rates at the upper levels. Last year at three levels his ratios were: Hit Rate = 1.08; K/BB Ratio = 3.05; HR Rate = .092. No interest.

Jason Boyd

Values ~  2000:  -$5     2001:  NA     2002:  -$7     2003:  $4

Boyd reached AAA in '98 and although he's generally had success there, he's had difficulty making the next step before last year when he turned in a mixed set of ratios for Cleveland. This is his fifth shot with five different teams in five different seasons over a span of six years. He's had erratic control when I've seen him. 

Mike Johnston

Values ~  2000:  NA     2001:  NA     2002:  NA     2003:  NA

Johnston suffers from Tourette's Syndrome, the neurological condition that destroyed much of Jim Eisenreich's early career. Johnston, however, appears to have it under control. He throws a 93-94 mph fastball with movement and a good slider. In the brief relief appearance I watched, he was very effective. He pitched all last year at AA with very good ratios (Hit Rate = .68; K/BB Ratio = 2.41; HR Rate = .055) and impressed enough this spring to unexpectedly make the staff. Worth keeping an eye on.


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