PDA

View Full Version : The best young tandem in baseball? Tough call



Baseball Guru
09-02-2006, 03:56 PM
http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/5921460


Ken Rosenthal / FOXSports.com

A scout last week asked me this question:

"Who would you take, the Mets' Jose Reyes and David Wright or the Phillies' Ryan Howard and Chase Utley?"

Without giving the topic much thought, I responded, "Howard and Utley."

The scout then said, "OK, Howard and Utley or the Twins' Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau?"


Hmmm ...

My response was Mauer and Morneau, but the comparisons were so fascinating, it inspired me to conduct an unscientific poll.

Over the several days, I asked 19 baseball people mostly scouts and executives, but also a manager and a sabermetrician to select their top young dynamic duo.

I promised anonymity in exchange for candid responses, and the answers, as you might imagine were fascinating.

Wright and Reyes got nine votes. Mauer and Morneau received eight. Howard and Utley incredibly, or as we shall see, maybe not so incredibly were shut out.

The sabermetrician cast his own ballot, nominating the Marlins' Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez.

An executive also veered off course, initially selecting the Indians' Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner.

Another exec declined to even vote, saying, "I don't have the mental bandwidth to distinguish between them."

The consensus, naturally, was, "I'd love to have any or all of 'em."

Young players don't always progress steadily Sizemore and Victor Martinez might have topped this list a year ago, but Martinez has regressed as a catcher and appears destined for first base.

Before racing to your favorite water cooler or entering your favorite chat room - consider the pros and cons of each duo:

Reyes and Wright

Start with their ages both are 23. The younger the player, the higher his ceiling. Power generally increases with age, and Reyes and Wright already are All-Stars in the game's most demanding market.

"I'd take the cats who are great players in the great arena," one scout says.

The positions that Reyes and Wright play also are an attraction; shortstops and third basemen are more difficult to find than first basemen, and both Howard and Morneau play first base.

Reyes' speed and leadoff skills make him that much more unique. And since both Reyes and Wright are excellent defenders "Wright plays third base like he's a shortstop," a scout says they can contribute even when they're not hitting. Athletic players tend to hold their peaks longer. And Wright, in particular, shows leadership qualities.

One qualifier: Reyes and Wright are surrounded by other terrific hitters in the Mets' dynamic lineup, while Mauer and Morneau are the Twins' centerpieces and Howard and Utley are equally prominent with the Phillies now that Bobby Abreu is gone.

Another question: Reyes and Wright just signed lucrative contract extensions, prompting one executive to speculate that the money might diminish their hunger.

Good as Reyes and Wright are, the case for the Marlins' Cabrera and Ramirez eventually could be even stronger assuming that Ramirez builds on his outstanding rookie season.

Cabrera, 23, is one of the game's top offensive performers. Ramirez, 22, has been nearly as good as Reyes.

Mauer and Morneau

Morneau, 25, is on a 40-homer, 136-RBI pace and he's the afterthought in this discussion.


Mauer, 23, is the game's most coveted young player, a gifted, athletic defender who could become the first catcher since Ernie Lombardi in 1942 to win a batting title.

If quality shortstops and third basemen are relatively scarce, catchers at Mauer's level are once-in-a-generation.

Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Ivan Rodriguez ... Mauer.

"Compare him to others at his position no one is even in the same galaxy," one exec says. "He's so much better in every way, shape or form, except for power. And Joe Mauer absolutely will hit for power."

Adds a scout: "Mauer will be the best player in the game at some point."

And finally, this from an opposing manager: "He has no holes at the plate, none."

The only way Mauer's value will drop is if he moves to another position, a possibility later in his career.

Morneau is a fine complement to Mauer, but this is his first big season, and some are skeptical of his limited track record.

Still, an AL manager says of Morneau, "If you make a mistake to him, it's not a single. It gets pummeled."

Howard and Utley

These two bums, how are they even in the conversation?

Let's see, Howard leads the majors with 49 homers and 128 RBIs a 60-homer, 157-RBI pace.

Utley merely ranks first among major-league second baseman in on-base percentage and second to the Giants' Ray Durham in slugging.

"It's not a question of the other guys being better," one executive says. "It's just age."

Well, age and athleticism, but mostly age.

Utley is 27, Howard 26. They're on the verge of entering their primes. Their upsides aren't quite as high.

The other rap on Howard and Utley is that they aren't gifted defensively, particularly when compared with Reyes, Wright and Mauer.

Both Howard and Utley are improving as defenders "for a big guy, he doesn't play big," one exec says of the 6-foot-4, 252-pound Howard but their far greater impact is on offense.

Howard is sixth in the majors in on-base/slugging percentage, Utley 36th. Morneau is 15th, Mauer 19th. Wright is 30th, Reyes 61st.

Howard's power is "easy," scouts say, and to all fields. He might be game's next David Ortiz. Heck, he might be Ortiz right now.

Utley, besides offering superior offensive skills, is a relentless, scrappy player; his intangibles enhance his value.

Then again, the Indians' Hafner, 29, is only 18 months older than Utley, and his OPS is the highest in the majors. In fact, Hafner and Sizemore, 24, boast a higher average OPS than any of the other duos. Their drawback: While Sizemore plays center field, Hafner is a designated hitter.

Take your pick, then:

Reyes and Wright.

Mauer and Morneau.

Howard and Utley.

"I don't think you can whiff on that question," one executive says. "There's no wrong answer."

Ken Rosenthal is FOXSports.com's senior baseball writer.

CanadianKid
09-02-2006, 04:06 PM
Wow that would be a tough decision. Like the guy said "There's no wrong answer". But if I'd have to make a pick I'd take either Mauer and Morneau or Howard and Utley.

LouGehrig
09-02-2006, 04:21 PM
As usual, I try to keep things simple. A pair that has been omitted and may exceed all mentioned are Melke and Robinson.

NYYDerekJeter
09-02-2006, 04:37 PM
As usual, I try to keep things simple. A pair that has been omitted and may exceed all mentioned are Melke and Robinson.

Homer choice, but as a fellow Yankee fan I surely hope you are right!

W_Marone
09-02-2006, 04:43 PM
Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, but I mean Gomes and Cantu....hahaha na forget Cantu just Gomes....hahaha but seriously, Utley and Howard.

TheKingofKings
09-02-2006, 04:44 PM
My pick 1st pick would be Mauer/Morneau , a perfect combination of Contact and Power , and my second pick would be Wright/Reyes because I believe they are future Gold Glovers and All-Stars , also a perfect combination of Power , Contact , Fielding and Running .

EvanAparra
09-02-2006, 04:46 PM
As usual, I try to keep things simple. A pair that has been omitted and may exceed all mentioned are Melke and Robinson.

Yeah, i think theres a little too much dream and not enough thought in that one... Cano maybe, Melky no.

Ill take Reyes and Wright.

candy curveball cummings
09-02-2006, 04:49 PM
Howard and Utley as a "young tandem"? If they count as young, I'll take Albert Pujols and Chris Duncan from the Cardinals.

TheKingofKings
09-02-2006, 05:01 PM
What about best Old Tandem ???
I'd pick Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado .

candy curveball cummings
09-02-2006, 05:03 PM
What about best Old Tandem ???
I'd pick Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado .

Since when is Beltran "old"? I mean, Delgado isn't amazingly elderly either.

Erik Bedard
09-02-2006, 05:04 PM
Another one that doesn't get much mention is Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts of the O's. Probably because it seems like Roberts has been around forever. Of course, they aren't as good as Mauer and Morneau or Utley and Howard or Reyes and Wright.

IronMike
09-02-2006, 05:07 PM
Zimmerman and...? He'd make a good combo if there was another great young guy there. Kearns and Lopez are the closest you'd get on that team.

And what about Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder?

TheKingofKings
09-02-2006, 05:07 PM
Another one that doesn't get much mention is Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts of the O's. Probably because it seems like Roberts has been around forever. Of course, they aren't as good as Mauer and Morneau or Utley and Howard or Reyes and Wright.

Markakis has been on fire lately , he had 10 HRs in August when he only had 4 going in to August .

candy curveball cummings
09-02-2006, 05:14 PM
How about Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt? That's not a bad a young middle infield right there.

TheKingofKings
09-02-2006, 05:16 PM
How about Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt? That's not a bad a young middle infield right there.

Yes but they are not comparable to Roberts/Markakis , Wright/Reyes , Utley/Howard and Pujols/Duncan .

Erik Bedard
09-02-2006, 05:18 PM
Markakis has been on fire lately , he had 10 HRs in August when he only had 4 going in to August .

... and is hitting .387 since the ASB.

candy curveball cummings
09-02-2006, 05:19 PM
Yes but they are not comparable to Roberts/Markakis , Wright/Reyes , Utley/Howard and Pujols/Duncan .

You're right, they're young. Don't get me wrong, Wright and Reyes are young too, as is Markakis and maybe Howard. But Utley is 27 and Roberts is 28. You were just calling 29-year-old Beltran old.

Erik Bedard
09-02-2006, 05:22 PM
Howard is 26. The rest on that list are all 23, except Morneau, who is 24, and Hanley Ramirez, who is 22.

candy curveball cummings
09-02-2006, 05:25 PM
But for kicks, let's compare Brian Roberts and Jose Lopez, both of whom play second base in the American League:

Roberts: .290/7 Home Runs/48 RBI
Lopez: .277/9 Home Runs/67 RBI

Defenesively, they are comparable.

Is Roberts better? Yeah, maybe, but not by a whole lot. And Lopez is still 6 years younger than Roberts.

candy curveball cummings
09-02-2006, 05:26 PM
Howard is 26. The rest on that list are all 23, except Morneau, who is 24, and Hanley Ramirez, who is 22.

Brian Roberts is 28 and Chase Utley is 27.

Erik Bedard
09-02-2006, 05:31 PM
Brian Roberts is 28 and Chase Utley is 27.
I wasn't including Utley and Roberts, who had been mentioned in the previous post.

Erik Bedard
09-02-2006, 05:32 PM
But for kicks, let's compare Brian Roberts and Jose Lopez, both of whom play second base in the American League:

Roberts: .290/7 Home Runs/48 RBI
Lopez: .277/9 Home Runs/67 RBI

Defenesively, they are comparable.

Is Roberts better? Yeah, maybe, but not by a whole lot. And Lopez is still 6 years younger than Roberts.

Roberts is coming off a horrible elbow injury, and it has taken him a while to regain his power stroke. Plus, he hits leadoff, so his RBI total isn't very accurate. AND he spent some time on the DL this year.

candy curveball cummings
09-02-2006, 05:34 PM
Roberts is coming off a horrible elbow injury, and it has taken him a while to regain his power stroke. Plus, he hits leadoff, so his RBI total isn't very accurate. AND he spent some time on the DL this year.

I'm not saying that Lopez is better than Roberts, however cut Lopez some slack. Roberts is not light-years ahead of him. Besides, like I said, 6 years younger.

Erik Bedard
09-02-2006, 05:35 PM
Yes, Lopez is good, but Markakis is far better than Betancourt, and Roberts is ahead of Lopez.

candy curveball cummings
09-02-2006, 05:42 PM
Yes, Lopez is good, but Markakis is far better than Betancourt, and Roberts is ahead of Lopez.

Markakis and Betancourt aren't comparable. Betancourt is a future gold glove shortstop and Markakis is a Right Fielder (if I'm not mistaken). Don't get me wrong, I just think a good-fielding shortstop that bats .300 with good speed is more desirable than a good-hitting right fielder. That's my opinion. But don't think I'm bashing Markakis, I'll take him over Yuniesky if August is any indication of his true potential.

Erik Bedard
09-02-2006, 05:43 PM
I'd take him over Betancourt right now, and for the future, though Betancourt does win based on position.

candy curveball cummings
09-02-2006, 05:47 PM
I'd take him over Betancourt right now, and for the future, though Betancourt does win based on position.

I don't know about future. Betancourt has some skills. Let's give it a couple of years, because based on this year, I think it's a flip depending on what your preference is. I just don't think Markakis' statistics this year are that much better than Betancourt, and Betancourt plays a more important position. So right now, I give the nod to Betancourt. But then again, aren't we all biased? That's what's great about baseball. We're biased, but we respect each other and we respect the game.

Erik Bedard
09-02-2006, 06:12 PM
I don't know about future. Betancourt has some skills. Let's give it a couple of years, because based on this year, I think it's a flip depending on what your preference is. I just don't think Markakis' statistics this year are that much better than Betancourt, and Betancourt plays a more important position. So right now, I give the nod to Betancourt. But then again, aren't we all biased? That's what's great about baseball. We're biased, but we respect each other and we respect the game.

:clapping :clapping :clapping The last part of that post was among the best I've read in a long time.

I must disagree with you, though.

Betancourt:

7 HR 41 RBI .299 BA .321 OBP .415 SLG .736 OPS

Markakis:

14 HR 56 RBI .311 BA .370 OBP .486 SLG .856 OPS

Markakis has him in each of these categories by a significant margin. Betancourt cannot draw a walk, and while he is faster, Markakis is easily the better hitter. Of course, Betancourt's stats are from SS, but I'd still give the edge to Markakis.

candy curveball cummings
09-02-2006, 06:30 PM
:clapping :clapping :clapping The last part of that post was among the best I've read in a long time.

I must disagree with you, though.

Betancourt:

7 HR 41 RBI .299 BA .321 OBP .415 SLG .736 OPS

Markakis:

14 HR 56 RBI .311 BA .370 OBP .486 SLG .856 OPS

Markakis has him in each of these categories by a significant margin. Betancourt cannot draw a walk, and while he is faster, Markakis is easily the better hitter. Of course, Betancourt's stats are from SS, but I'd still give the edge to Markakis.

Remember, Markakis has had one outstanding month that has just raised his average. Betancourt has been consistent. Markakis needs to show he can do it consistently. Anyone can have a hot bat for a month.

If you remove August, Markakis is batting .275 with 4 Home Runs and 30 RBI. If you remove Betancourt's best month (which happens to be July where he batted .374), Betancourt is batting .280 with 6 Home Runs and 36 RBI. When Markakis does more than one month, get back to me.

Another thing, you're going to get back to me with stats representing your case. And then I'll get more stats supporting my player. In the end, it's a personal thing. I don't see these two guys as being far a part in their abilities. Maybe you do.

Reed Johnson
09-02-2006, 06:33 PM
Another one that doesn't get much mention is Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts of the O's. Probably because it seems like Roberts has been around forever. Of course, they aren't as good as Mauer and Morneau or Utley and Howard or Reyes and Wright.

This guy takers homerism to a new level. He just has to mention the Orioles in every thread and its getting annoying.