Friday, July 07, 2006

Some AA Thoughts

If only we could figure out that Jeff Karstens character. The not-yet-24-year-old hurled a six-inning gem last night, allowing just a solo homer while striking out five and walking two. He paved the way for J.B. Cox's two frames (four strikeouts, one walk), and Justin Pope's 18th save.

The thing with Karstens and Pope: they both had unsuccessful stints with Columbus this year, but are absolutely dominating in AA. Karstens is now 6-0 and seems to have put his unsightly stint in Ohio behind him. His ERA sits at a tidy 2.31, while walking less than two per nine and maintaining a 4.80 K/BB ratio. He's surely not the answer for our present woes – I wouldn't even send him to Columbus until next year – but he 's young and promising. This means he could help sometime in the future, though the scenario remains likely that he'll be shipped off before the end of the month.

Pope just got hammered in his 12.1 innings in Columbus, allowing 10 runs – three homers – while walking six to match his strikeouts. His K/BB is at 2.25, much more normal than Karstens, but still very respectable. I don't see Pope going anywhere, mainly because I think other teams won't be particularly interested, not when an under the radar guy like Karstens will likely be available.

While we're here talking about Trenton, I should mention Tyler Clippard's resurgence. His ERA still hovers well above 4, but that is mainly the result of too many long balls too early in the season. He's recovered from that ailment, and his ERA should begin to dip, normalizing itself with that 1.09 WHIP he's carrying around.

At this point, I don't think teams will be sniffing around for Clippard. He got off to such a horrible start that we was removed from most prospect lists, though he never became an afterthought to us Yankees prospect geeks. If I'm Cashman, I'm holding out with Clippard, refusing to deal him unless we can package him for Bobby Abreu. In fact, if Pat Gillick is in fact going to gut the team, I'd offer up Duncan and two of Karstens, Pope, or Clippard. He likely wouldn't take that unless he was desperate to sell, which could be the situation if the Brewers and Nationals can successfully unload Carlos Lee and Alfonso Soriano within the next week, week and a half.

On the other hand, why am I advocating the further gutting of our minor league system? You just never know with these young guys, especially lanky guys like the recently 21-year-old Clippard. Sure, you want to land pitching and an outfielder, but do you really want to give up so easily on a guy who was just recently allowed to order a drink?

Does anyone have a more informed opinion of Clippard's true potential and trade value? I know Baseball America doesn't like him at all, but they've snubbed guys who ended up performing well.