Market Fresh Update: Fien, Dukes, and more

As spring training rolls along the rosters slowly shrink.  There are a number of players getting released or placed on waivers and switching teams.  Seems to me that a Market Fresh Update is long overdue, so here’s a quick* recap of the recent moves.

*Quick from the standpoint of reading but surprisingly time consuming to pull together and write.

LHP-Jay Marshall (27) was claimed off waivers by the New York Mets back in January but the claim was voided due to an existing shoulder injury.  On March 10th he was returned to the Athletics.  Oakland promptly released him.

The Toronto Blue Jays claimed RHP-Casey Fien (26) off waivers from the Boston Red Sox on March 4th.  He lasted just 14 days in the organization and was released by the Jays today.  You may recall that Boston claimed him off waivers from the Tigers on March 1st, but lasted only 3 days before making his way to Toronto.  I’m really surprised that he keeps bouncing around.  In four minor league seasons he has very solid numbers including a 1.11 WHIP, 8.0 H/9, 9.7 SO/9, 2.0 BB/9 and an excellent 4.88 SO/BB.  He has maintained his consistency and production while advancing through the Tigers system after being drafted in 2006.

2B-Hernan Iribarren (25) was placed on waivers on March 13th by the Milwaukee Brewers and was immediately claimed by the Texas Rangers.

On March 11th, the Washington Nationals released LHP-Eddie Guardado (39) and LHP-Shawn Estes (37).  Eddie might have one more season left in the tank, but Estes was done years ago.

Back in the news, the Nationals released LHP-Ron Villone (40) on March 15th.  In recent seasons his WHIP has been climbing and his SO/BB has been falling.  Since 2006, his ERA+ has been stuck in the 90s except for 2007 when it bumped up to 106.  He remains on the market and probably will until he either retires or accepts a minor league contract with someone.

March 16th:

23-year old 2B-Jose Vallejo cleared waivers and was outrighted by the Houston Astros to Triple-A Round Rock.

The Milwaukee Brewers released LHP-John Halama (38) who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2006 and hasn’t had an ERA+ over 100 since 2003.

March 17th:

The Houston Astros released OF-Alex Romero (26).

RHP-Logan Kensing (27) was released by the Washington Nationals.

The Seattle Mariners released RHP-Yusmeiro Petit (25).

New York Mets 2B-Anderson Hernandez (27) was claimed off of waivers by the Cleveland Indians.  To make room on the 40-man roster, the Tribe DFA’d 27-year old SS-Brian Bixler.

LHP-Sean Henn (28) cleared waivers and was outrighted by the Toronto Blue Jays to Triple-A Las Vegas.

The Chicago White Sox released 1B-Jason Botts (29) and RHP-Daniel Cabrera (28).

RHP-Derrick Turnbow (32) was released by the Florida Marlins after injuring his shoulder.  He is probably staring down the barrel of another surgery.  Outside of an incredible 2005 season with the Brewers when he had a 246 ERA+ and 39 saves in 67.1 innings pitched, he hasn’t been very good.  Turnbow is another case of “what could have been” if he had managed to stay healthy.

The big transaction news from yesterday surrounded OF-Elijah Dukes (25) who was released by the Washington Nationals.  Considering he figured to be the team’s starting RF at the start of the regular season the move raised more than a few eyebrows.  It also kicked off a quick reaction from the blogosphere including FanGraphsBig League Stew, and Beyond the Boxscore.  It also generated a few “should our team bring him in” articles including one from NY Baseball Digest which covers the Mets perspective, and this Blue Jays based take from Jays Journal.

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Of all the players listed above, I am most intrigued by Casey Fien and Elijah Dukes.

Fien has very good minor league numbers and just made his major league debut last season with Detroit.  He allowed 10 ER in 11.1 innings for the Tigers so to say things didn’t go well would be was a case of extreme understatement.  Still, he has a track record of sustained success up through Triple-A and a sparkling 10.2 SO/9 and 4.37 SO/BB in 73.0 Triple-A innings.  Unlike some of the other bullpen options the Royals are entertaining, Fien has strikeout ability and a low walk rate.  He also fits the “young player with 0-3 years experience” mold that Dayton threw out at the start of the offseason.  The only downside to signing Fien is that someone else would have to be cut loose or optioned down and I’m not sure the Royals are willing to do that.

Like Casey Fien, Dukes has an excellent minor league track record.  There is no question that he has failed to live up to the hype and promise, but he has been effective in 970 major league plate appearances with a line of 0.242/.349/.421.  His career 104 OPS+ comes with a solid BB to SO rate of 129 to 197.  Despite all of that, Elijah’s addition to the Royals roster seems unlikely due to a number factors.  The first is that he would have to play every single day to turn his potential into results.  Obviously with DeJesus, Ankiel, and Podsednik entrenched as the starting OF someone would have to be dealt to make room for him.  Even if a trade or another move occurred, Trey Hillman would have to actually play him on a regular basis over the likes of Mitch Maier, Brian Anderson, Josh Fields and Willie Bloomquist.  The second factor working against Dukes in Kansas City would be Elijah’s past off the field issues.  I don’t know how much this would play into things since Dayton has taken chances on troubled hitters including Alberto Callaspo and Jose Guillen plus his failed attempt to acquire Milton Bradley.  He has run a handful of “troubled” players out of town since taking over as GM, but they have primarily been pitchers like Ambiorix Burgos, Andrew Sisco, Dan Cortes, and Danny Gutierrez to name a few.  The third factor, and this may be the biggest one, is that Elijah Dukes would have to want to come to Kansas City.  I have no doubt that he will have his share of offers from a number of organizations as the talent and potential are just too great to ignore.

When all is said and done, I don’t expect either player to wind up in Kansas City and that’s okay.  I’ll just be happy if Dayton resists the urge to sign one of the over-the-hill LHPs that have been released recently.

(Wally Fish is the lead blogger for Kings of Kauffman and FanSided’s MLB Director.  Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)

Topics: Alex Romero, Anderson Hernandez, Brian Bixler, Casey Fien, Daniel Cabrera, Derrick Turnbow, Eddie Guardado, Elijah Dukes, Hernan Iribarren, Jason Botts, Jay Marshall, John Halama, Jose Vallejo, Logan Kensing, Ron Villone, Sean Henn, Shawn Estes, Yusmeiro Petit

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  • http://bleacherreport.com/users/10925-nathaniel-stoltz Nathaniel Stoltz

    I don’t think Fien can translate the K rate to the majors. He’s more of a sinker-slider guy who has taken advantage of minor leaguers’ impatience. Maybe 7-8 K/9 in the bigs, but more of a double-play specialist than power pitcher. Definitely a major league quality arm though.

    Dukes would sure be an upgrade over Jose Guillen.

    Petit and Botts would be nice depth pickups for a team like KC.

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