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Big League Stew

Slumpbot .200: Carlos Beltran is hurting in San Francisco

Alex Remington
Big League Stew

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Using the best technology available to us today, SlumpBot .200 identifies a few players who are currently having a bit of trouble and then offers solutions for performance recovery.

Carlos Beltran, San Francisco Giants

Data: .284/.378/.495, 15 HR, 68 RBIs, 3 SB, 0 CS, 61 BB/72 K

Malfunction: Carlos Beltran is one of baseball's good guys, and his comeback this year has been joyous to watch. The only problem is that he hasn't done anything since being traded to San Francisco. He's batting .244/.261/.356 since joining the Giants, with no homers, just one walk, and 11 strikeouts.

Actually, most of that line is actually a result of his 3-for-5 day on Aug. 3. In his other 10 games in a Giants uniform, he's batting .200 with a .495 OPS. The Giants acquired him to bolster their sputtering offense, but instead of raising team offense, he's just fallen to their level. {YSP:MORE}

Diagnosis: Beltran has played 11 games with the Giants and has been hampered with a wrist injury that could keep him out all this weekend, so it's hard to draw too many conclusions. But he really has been awful. Injury or not, the one-to-11 strikeout to walk ratio is particularly hard to stomach for a player with plate discipline as superior as Beltran's. It would be tempting to blame the drop on AT&T Park, but he's actually hit very well there throughout his career, batting .313/.363/.487 in 29 career games — 22 as a New York Met and seven as a member of the home team.

The wrist could really be playing a big role, though, because Beltran has also lost his power with his plate discipline since coming to the west coast. He's mustered three extra-base hits in 45 at-bats as a Giant — one double and two triples.

Reboot Directions: All of that said, it's been just two weeks, and that's far too short a time to be able to draw any conclusions about anything. Before being shelved for the Pittsburgh series, he had been batting .321 in his previous seven games of the current homestand. He just needs to make sure he's healthy enough when he returns and gets that plate discipline back where we expect it to be. He's not of any value to the Giants if he can't get on base.

Which other players are struggling?

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Denard Span, Minnesota Twins .267/.337/.349, 2 HR, 15 RBIs, 6 SB, 1 CS, 27 BB/34 K
The Twins were extremely close to trading Span to the Washington Nationals at the deadline, but they wound up holding onto him. They may be feeling a bit of non-seller's remorse. Span had a concussion and returned from the disabled list on Aug. 2, but he's clearly not right; he's already received two days off in a little over a week and he's just 1-for-27 in seven games since coming back. Concussions are no joke, and the Twins are especially cognizant of the dangers of a player trying to come back too soon: Post-concussion symptoms ended Corey Koskie's career, and they've derailed the All-Star level production of Justin Morneau. The Twins are well aware that Span isn't fully healthy, as manager Ron Gardenhire admitted:

It's not perfect. He still has his moments. I talk to him daily, and today was a good day. Seeing the ball -- he talked about not really seeing the spin real good yet ... We'll back him off and see where we go from there.

A guy who isn't seeing the ball has no real business being at the plate, and though they're clearly trying to ease Span back into his starting role, he just isn't there yet. They need to be extraordinarily cautious with him. Brain injury is frightening.

Ubaldo Jimenez, Cleveland Indians 7-9, 4.57 ERA, 136 IP, 3.51 FIP, 1.37 WHIP, 2.38 K/BB
I was a big fan of the trade that sent Ubaldo to Cleveland — sometimes you just gotta say "what the *$%!" — but it was a risky move, and going back to July 24, Jimenez has thrown just 19 innings in his last four starts, allowing 17 runs, good for a woeful 8.05 ERA. However, Jimenez's underlying components remain quite strong. A couple of weeks ago, Dave Cameron at Fangraphs took a look at Jimenez's numbers and noticed that his xFIP — a measure of a pitcher's performance that neutralizes the effect of home runs — was virtually identical in 2009 (3.59), 2010 (3.60), and 2011 (3.56), suggesting that Ubaldo was effectively the same pitcher, just victimized by worse luck on homers this year.

Wednesday night's start was his Indians home debut, and it was his best start in a month, as he went eight innings and walked only one batter for the first time since early July. He wasn't perfect, but he yielded little outside a three-run fourth, and departed after a one-two-three eighth inning with two strikeouts, his fastball touching 94 on the gun. With results like that, it's easier to consider his previous three starts a simple summer dead-arm period which he's already working his way out of.

Chris Capuano, New York Mets 9-10, 4.51 ERA, 133 2/3 IP, 4.05 FIP, 1.38 WHIP, 2.68 K/BB
It's rather remarkable that Capuano has been able to pitch effectively at all — he missed the entire 2008 and 2009 seasons due to injury, but managed 66 innings last year in the Brewers' bullpen with a 3.95 ERA. This year, he's spent nearly the whole year in the Mets' rotation and has pitched rather decently. But he has no stamina. He's allowed at least four runs in four of his last five starts, suggesting that his arm may be suffering after pitching his most innings in four years. But just as importantly, he has no stamina to go far into a single game, either. As Rotowire mentioned earlier this year, he's been great through the first five innings, with a 3.03 ERA through the fifth, and an 11.41 ERA in the sixth and later innings. It's been wonderful to see Capuano return to pitch effectively in the majors. Manager Terry Collins just has to be physically restrained from sending him out to pitch the sixth inning.

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