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Domonic Brown, Casper Wells among those being undervalued
By Paul Swydan | FanGraphs
Every season, there are certain players who get overlooked by their own teams. The reasons are myriad, but in many cases, the player ends up being seen as a victim, and calls for the "Free Player X" campaign to begin in earnest. Oftentimes, the player fizzles when he is eventually freed (see Pena, Wily Mo). Other times, he becomes a Hall of Famer (see Boggs, Wade).
The 2013 season will be no different. Let's take a look at five players who fit the bill:
Domonic Brown, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
It's true that Brown had his chance toward the tail end of last season, and it's true that he didn't do a ton to justify the Phillies' love heading into 2013. He hit just five homers in 212 plate appearances, and while he improved his ISO by 13 points, it was a marginal gain.
Still, rather than publicly saying that the team believes in Brown, its message to him has consistently been "show me you belong." That's not always the environment best suited to success, especially when that environment also contains 40,000 fans who are frothing at the mouth. The team has now signed Delmon Young, and even though ZiPS projects Brown to have a wOBA 20 points higher than Young, Young has been handed a starting gig and Brown will have to fight for a share of the left-field job with John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Darin Ruf.
It's time for Brown to get out of Philadelphia. He might not have a ton of trade value, but the Phillies should trade him and see if he can flourish in a more accommodating market.
Solution: Trade to the Minnesota Twins
Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds
Even though he entered last season as one of the top prospects in the game, Mesoraco was never really given a chance to crack manager Dusty Baker's lineup on a regular basis. He actually had a productive April, when he hit .300/.389/.433 in 11 games, nine of which he started. But after that ninth start on April 27, during which Mesoraco smacked his first homer of the season, his backstop partner Ryan Hanigan started the next three games and seven of the next 10 overall. Mesoraco wouldn't start in back-to-back games again until after the All-Star break.
So while Mesoraco hit an uninspiring .193/.264/.333 from May until the end of the season, he was never really given a proper chance to establish himself. Despite the poor season line, though, Mesoraco still showed a great batting eye, and if given the chance to play on a regular basis, the future star may shine through.
Solution: Give Mesoraco more playing time
Casper Wells, OF, Seattle Mariners
It's hard to understand why the Mariners don't like Wells, especially since they traded a very valuable pitcher away in Doug Fister in order to acquire him. Throughout his three years in the majors, Wells has displayed league average or better skills offensively, while playing plus defense at all three outfield spots. The samples at each position are minuscule, but there is nothing to suggest in his defensive profile that he isn't the plus defender he has appeared to be.
Wells may not be a superstar, but he's certainly just as good -- if not better -- then the cavalcade of corner types the Mariners have imported this year. He will almost certainly be better than Jason Bay, and if you thought Michael Morse's outfield defense was bad in Washington, wait until he gets a chance to roam the larger pasture in Seattle. Wells doesn't have those defensive concerns, but he also doesn't have the support of his team to give him more playing time. It's time for Wells to go.
Solution: Trade to the New York Mets
Jake Arrieta, P, Baltimore Orioles
To say that Arrieta was unlucky last season would be a significant understatement. Not only was the right-hander victimized by Baltimore's poor defense, he was also taken down a peg by the homer-friendliness of his home ballpark. Oriole Park at Camden Yards has consistently been one of the best parks for hitting home runs, and last season was no different, as it was at least 20 percent easier to hit homers there than at the average ballpark.
Arrieta was one of the chief victims of these long flies -- only four pitchers allowed more homers per nine innings at home last season than did Arrieta (minimum 60 innings pitched at home). He allowed 12 homers at home in total, with 10 of them coming against left-handed hitters. On the road, however, he was a different pitcher. His 5.04 FIP at home was completely different than his 2.95 FIP on the road, and he didn't have the problems with left-handed hitters on the road that he did at home, suggesting once again that his problems have more to do with Camden Yards. Overall, Arrieta posted some really nice peripherals, and even though he was sent to the minors for two months, he still ended up being the Orioles' third-most-valuable pitcher last season.
Unfortunately, it doesn't appear he will get much of a shot at redemption this year, as the team has eight other starting pitching candidates, including the recently signed Jair Jurrjens. Arrieta may find much better results on a team with a big ballpark and good outfield defense.
Solution: Trade to the Los Angeles Angels
Patrick Corbin, P, Arizona Diamondbacks
Last year, Corbin turned in some fairly solid work as a rookie in the Diamondbacks' rotation. After Daniel Hudson got hurt, Josh Collmenter proved better suited to relief and Trevor Bauer showed that he needed a touch more seasoning at the minor league level, it was Corbin who provided some stability to the back end of the rotation. In 17 starts he posted a 99 FIP that was nearly identical to that of rotation front man Ian Kennedy.
However, the Diamondbacks wanted to upgrade this offseason, and signed Brandon McCarthy, which bumps Corbin into a three-way battle for the fifth spot in the rotation with prospects Randall Delgado and Tyler Skaggs. And when Hudson returns at midseason, it will bump Corbin further down the depth chart. Corbin certainly isn't the second coming of Steve Carlton, but ZiPS projects him at a healthy 2.6 WAR for 2013. (For reference, only 54 of the 142 pitchers who threw 100 or more innings last season were worth at least 2.6 WAR.)
If Arizona isn't going to use Corbin in its rotation, the Diamondbacks would be best served getting something for him in trade.
Solution: Keep him in rotation until Hudson returns, then trade to contender looking for pitching help at deadline
Of course, players with a season or more of major league experience aren't the only ones who may need to be freed from the shackles of their organization's depth chart. Many prospects either fit that description right now, or could by the end of this season. That list may include, but also may not be limited to:
" Rubby De La Rosa, P, Boston Red Sox: blocked by John Lackey
" Brett Jackson, OF, Chicago Cubs: blocked by David DeJesus
" Wilmer Flores, IF, New York Mets: blocked by David Wright
" Matt Adams, IF, St. Louis Cardinals: blocked by Allen Craig
" Chris Archer, P, Tampa Bay Rays: blocked by Jeff Niemann
" Jurickson Profar, IF, Texas Rangers: blocked by Ian Kinsler
" Anthony Gose, OF, Toronto Blue Jays: blocked by Melky Cabrera
" Anthony Rendon, IF, Washington Nationals: blocked by Ryan Zimmerman
I would love to see the phils trade Brown. I think they could get somebody pretty good for him. He has just not panned out in Philly. They are always talking about how good he is, but I just don't see it. I think a change on scenery would do him good.