Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Little About Matt Macri

In the Phoenix Desert Dogs first fourteen games, Matt Macri has been establishing himself in the Arizona Fall League (with a decent .283/.313/.522 line with 2 HRs in 46 at-bats) and could emerge as a strong candidate for the Twins third base spot. Macri as you might recall was the last Terry Ryan minor league acquistion of his GM tenure and came to the Twins from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Ramon Ortiz. If he finishes the fall league as well as he starts coupled with a strong spring showing, we may have a genuine third base controversy on our hands.

According to Baseball America on August 16th, 2007 the Twins had finally grown tire of Ortiz's 5.14 ERA over 91 innings both starting and relief and were looking to rid themselves of responsibility of his $3.1 million contract. The Rockies were in desparation after their rotation had succumbed to numerous injuries to Aaron Cook, Jason Hirsh and Rodrigo Lopez. Colorado offered Matt Macri who was currently in Triple-A Colorado Springs after spending the majority of the 2007 season in Double-A Tulsa and was in the middle of a rebound season after posting Matt Moses-like numbers (.232/.293/.370) the previous season at the same level. Dethroned of his prospect status following his first year in 2004, the now 25-year-old Macri was hitting .298/.349/.502 in 79 games from the Tulsa Drillers and recieved a promotion to the Triple AAA affiliate.

Born and bred in Iowa, the 6'2", 200-pound Macri was, prior to being drafted by the Rockies in 2004, the Twins original 2001 17th round draft choice. He instead opted to go to Notre Dame where the right-handed batting Macri hit .367/.465/.667 in his final season with the Irish. Placed in Tri-City in the low-A Northwest League following his 5th round selection by the Rockies in 2004, Macri played third and hit well finishing the season with .333/.410/.569. Following this season, the Rockies organization began to play musical positions with him. In response to the logjam at third where the Rockies were blessed to have two outstanding candidates ahead of Macri in Ian Stewart and Garrett Atkins, Macri began 2005 in High-A Modesto in the California as a shortstop. In the hitter's league that is the California League, Macri saw his numbers fall slightly (.283/.381/.443). The Rockies continued to move Macri up in the organization even if they had no real idea where on the diamond he would be most beneficial. In his first full-season in Double-A Tulsa, the Rockies shifted him yet again to 2B where he posted his lowest totals of his career (.232/.293/.370). Assuming that it must be all the defensive tampering effecting his bat, at the beginning of 2007 the Rockies reinstated Macri as the Drillers third baseman and he rewarded them with a blazing start (.298/.349/.502 with 11 HRs in 275 at-bats) and recieved a promotion to Colorado Springs.

His decline obviously troubled the braintrust of the Rockies even though taken in its entirety his stats never indicated that there was a reason to hit the panic button on him. His peripheral numbers were almost identical over those three season:

2004 195 65 7 23 52 .333 .404 .569
2005 247 69 7 34 67 .279 .379 .437
2006 288 67 8 22 66 .233 .294 .372
2007 331 98 15 23 71 .296 .345 .511
It was not as if Marci suffered from an increased amount of strikeouts or suddenly becoming impatient while at the plate when jumping levels by being overmatched. His 2006 season appears to be a case where his BABIP dipped well below his norm and that the 2006 Macri was actually the anomally. In 2005 for Modesto his BABIP was .365, a well inflated number, while the following year his .276 BABIP skewed the opposite end of the spectrum while with the Tulsa Drillers. This suggests that it had nothing to do with technique rather that Macri was the benefactor of both good and bad luck.
A franchise like the Minnesota Twins who lacks the depth in the system at third base certainly could use all the talent they can accumulate at the position (Buscher, Moses, Macri) while the Rockies certainly had enough prospects to merit trading Macri. As the years progress, I believe we will witness in Matt Macri yet another Terry Ryan project in the same caliber of a Jason Bartlett or Alexi Casilla where one team devalued a prospect and was willing to concede that player for a deshelved veteran. Admittedly Macri, like Bartlett or Casilla, may never reach superstardom but could provide the Twins as a serviceable third baseman who has the potential to hit 15-20 home runs and flirt with .300.