baseballbabble.com http://baseballbabble.com Mon, 16 Jan 2017 19:45:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Who will make the 2017 Hall of Fame cut? http://baseballbabble.com/who-will-make-the-hall-of-fame/ http://baseballbabble.com/who-will-make-the-hall-of-fame/#respond Mon, 16 Jan 2017 19:39:56 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=2112 The MLB Hall of Fame will announce its 2017 inductees at 6 p.m. on Wednesday night, Jan. 18, as chosen by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America. This year’s ballot includes 34 candidates, 19 of which are experiencing their first year of eligibility. Newcomers Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jorge Posada lead the [&hellip

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The MLB Hall of Fame will announce its 2017 inductees at 6 p.m. on Wednesday night, Jan. 18, as chosen by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America.

This year’s ballot includes 34 candidates, 19 of which are experiencing their first year of eligibility.

Newcomers Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jorge Posada lead the batch of first-timers, who join the likes of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Jeff Bagwell, Trevor Hoffman, and Sammy Sosa on the ballot.

Players need 75-percent of the vote for induction, with long-time Houston Astros first-baseman Jeff Bagwell owning the highest percentage from the previous year at 71.6-percent. Speculation is that Bagwell, along with Tim Raines and Trevor Hoffman, who earned 69.8-percent and 67.3-percent last year respectively, are the likeliest of selections for this year’s class.

After that, our guess is good as yours as to how the quirky BBWAA will decide who joins the ranks of the games all-time greats.

Schilling, Clemens, and Bonds hold the next highest percentages garnered from last year’s vote at 45.2, 44.3, and 44.3, with all three men on the ballot for the fifth time. Each man, along with guys like Sammy Sosa, brings a great resume to the table, but each also has the suspicion of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) swirling around them as well as character and/or personality issues that haven’t always endeared them to the fans and media.

Bonds and Clemens would probably have made the Hall one day anyway based on their God-given talents, but their increased performances as each of their ages advanced is something that raised numerous eyebrows toward the end of their careers.

There are also middle of the road guys like Mike Mussina, Magglio Ordonez, Jeff Kent, and Larry Walker, who were no doubt very good players, but who fall short of greatness in the overall view of the game’s history, and who also played in the “steriod era”.

Then, there’s reliever Lee Smith. He’s one of the best closers in history, having saved a lot of games (478), albeit for some crummy teams. This marks Smith’s 15th and final year on the ballot, one year after garnering 34.1-percent of the vote. Smith will probably see an uptick in votes, but likely not a big enough spike to make it in.

Another interesting thing will be seeing how the writers feel about the newcomers. In recent years, we’ve seen first-timers like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Ken Griffey, Jr. make the Hall, but those are special, once in a generation-type guys. The most likely of this year’s bunch to make the cut are Guerrero and Rodriquez. Ramirez would’ve been included in that same breath, but instead comes with a lot of baggage similar to Bonds and Clemens. After being busted for PED use in 2009, Ramirez opted to retire rather than serve a 100-game suspension following a second violation as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011.

My ballot:

For me personally, I would still have a hard time checking the box on a guy who tested positive, or who I believed used during the steroid era. I’m just funny like that. I love the game, and rewarding someone who disgraced it by cheating to get ahead is something I just couldn’t do if I had a vote. Like I mentioned above though, Bonds and Clemens probably would have gotten there on their own if they’d kept on being the players there were before say 1998. I don’t begrudge any writer who votes for them. The numbers are there, and I get that. It’s just a personal preference of mine to not keep praising them for cheating.

My choices: Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Trevor Hoffman, Fred McGriff, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Vladimir Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez, Lee Smith, Billy Wagner.

Predictions:

As I mentioned earlier, I believe Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, and Trevor Hoffman are the most likely to get inducted this year. I still think the PED guys like Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Sheffield, and Ramirez will have to wait a little longer to get in, and that Curt Schilling will have to wait as well given his persona and fall from grace in the eyes of the many. I also believe guys like Lee Smith and Fred McGriff will fall short. Both players had great careers and were a model of consistency, but lack a little in their numbers to ever surpass the 75-percent mark. Of the newcomers, I believe Rodriquez and Guerrero stand the best chance of getting in based on their numbers and unique skills at their respective positions.

Who gets in: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Trevor Hoffman, and Ivan Rodriquez.

I think those four names will be announced Wednesday evening, and rightfully so. All four men will add to the fine collection of talent in the MLB Hall of Fame.

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Atlanta Braves prioritizing pitching in offseason’s first week http://baseballbabble.com/atlanta-braves-prioritizing-pitching-offseasons-first-week/ http://baseballbabble.com/atlanta-braves-prioritizing-pitching-offseasons-first-week/#respond Mon, 14 Nov 2016 15:40:32 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=2105 The Atlanta Braves are the talk for Major League Baseball’s offseason thus far after spending more than $20M to stabilize its unreliable rotation by signing two former Cy Young Award winners. On Thursday, Nov. 10, the Braves signed 42-year-old knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to one-year $8M deal with an option for 2018, and followed that up [&hellip

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The Atlanta Braves are the talk for Major League Baseball’s offseason thus far after spending more than $20M to stabilize its unreliable rotation by signing two former Cy Young Award winners.

On Thursday, Nov. 10, the Braves signed 42-year-old knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to one-year $8M deal with an option for 2018, and followed that up by signing 43-year-old Bartolo Colon to a one-year $12.5M pact on Friday.

By the end of Veteran’s Day, the Braves had secured the two oldest veterans on the starting pitching free agent market in order to bridge the gap until some of the organization’s highly-touted arms are ready to consistently contribute at the big league level.

The starting rotation was the Braves’ weak link in 2016, a season which saw the club start out horribly, make a managerial change, and then went 31-25 after Aug. 1, and going 50-47 over its final 97 games.

Now, new full-time skipper Brian Snitker will have the luxury of two season veterans joining a rotation that received quality years from Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz, but not much else from the 3-5 spots.

After winning the National League Cy Young with the Mets in 2012, Dickey was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, where he went 39-37 with a 3.95 ERA from 2013-2015 before regressing to a 10-15 with a 4.46 ERA in 2016. Dickey also became highly susceptible to the home run ball pitching at Rogers Centre.

Colon on the other hand, had an All-star season for the Mets in 2016, going 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA in 191.2 IP.

Both pitchers eclipsed the 190 IP mark, which will be a welcomed addition the Braves rotation, considering Teheran lead the team with 188 IP in 2016, and only one other pitcher broke the 150 IP mark (Matt Wisler 156.2).

Having Teheran, Colon, Foltynewicz, and Dickey slated in the 1-4 slots in the rotation will create quite the competition during spring training between the likes of Josh Collmenter, Matt Wisler, Aaron Blair, Williams Perez, Tyrell Jenkins, and youngsters Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis.

Collmenter was the club’s first signing of the offseason as the two sides agreed to a new one-year deal avoiding salary arbitration. The former Arizona Diamondback went 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in three late season starts for the Braves in 2016.

The club also signed hard-throwing veteran reliever Jordan Walden to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. The 27-year-old Walden was previously with the Braves in 2013 and 2014, where he pitched to a 3.15 ERA over 97 IP with 116K.

Walden’s stock is down a little after two injury-filled seasons in St. Louis, but the club has a history of resurrecting the careers of pitchers acquired off the scrap heap.

Following the Braves addition of Matt Kemp from the Padres near the trade deadline last year, the team’s offense really began to gel, which lead to the improved record down the stretch.

Now the team’s President of baseball operations John Hart, and general manager John Coppollela have prioritized “innings-eating” starters to help balance the rotation and take the heat off the club’s young bullpen arms.

With the offseason off to a fast start, the organization could look to sign another starter, as well as a left-handed hitting catcher to tandem with Tyler Flowers.

 

 

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Ichiro adding another stellar season to HOF career http://baseballbabble.com/ichiro-adding-another-stellar-season-to-hof-career/ http://baseballbabble.com/ichiro-adding-another-stellar-season-to-hof-career/#respond Thu, 23 Jun 2016 13:32:50 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=2101 It’s hard to believe that it’s been 16 years since a Japanese hero left his home country and took American baseball by storm in 2001. But now, with his third team in his sixteenth season, Ichiro Suzuki is once again showing why he’s one of greatest hitters we’ve ever seen…at age 42. When he broke [&hellip

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been 16 years since a Japanese hero left his home country and took American baseball by storm in 2001. But now, with his third team in his sixteenth season, Ichiro Suzuki is once again showing why he’s one of greatest hitters we’ve ever seen…at age 42.

When he broke into MLB at age 27, Ichiro became an instant sensation. He hit .350, was an All-Star, won a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger Award, Rookie of the Year honors, and the league MVP for the Seattle Mariners. He also gunned out Oakland’s Terrence Long at third base from right field with a throw that has been on highlight reels since the day it was made. That Mariners team won a 116 regular season games, but fizzled out in the playoffs, and weren’t able to cap off the historic season with a championship…similar to the Golden State Warriors earlier this week…too soon?

After 11 and a half great seasons in Seattle, the rebuilding Mariners sent Ichiro to the Yankees, where he was a part-time role player who put up decent numbers, but seemed to be winding down his brilliant career.

In a head-scratcher of a move, Ichiro signed with the Miami Marlins prior to the 2015 season, which ultimately became the worst of his career. He hit .229 in 398 ABs over 153 games last year as the fourth outfielder behind Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, and Marcell Ozuna. Many thought he might hang ’em up after the ’15 season ended, but being only 65 hits shy of the coveted 3,000 milestone, Ichiro decided to rejoin the Marlins for possibly his final hoorah.

And we’re really glad he did…

Ichiro has been playing out of his mind this season filling in for Yelich, Ozuna, and Stanton at times. At age 42, he’s once again hitting .350, with a .422 OBP, and his highest OPS (.816) since his 2009 season (.851). Before Wednesday’s finale against the Braves, Ichiro had twice as many walks (17), as strikeouts (8). He’s also accumulated more than half of his hit total from last season in only a little more than one third of the at-bats.

Now sitting at 2,983, Ichiro only needs 17 more hits to join the exclusive 3,000 club. Ichiro recently past Pete Rose‘s mark for career professional hits if you combine his work in Japan with his MLB credentials, but Rose and countless others are of the the opinion that those stats shouldn’t translate to the all-time hits mark.

Just to put it in perspective how much of a hitting machine Ichiro has been during his MLB tenure, it appears as though he’ll reach the 3,000 mark this year during his sixteenth season. It took Alex Rodriguez five years longer to reach the milestone having done it last year during his 21st season.

If you look over Ichiro’s career stats, he’s averaged exactly 200 hits and a .314 batting average per 162 games played. Not to mention the incredible 2004 campaign where he had 262 hits and an insane .372 average.

He’s never hit more than 15 homers in a season, but he hasn’t had to as a leadoff hitter most of his career. Hell, he’s only hit 14 HRs combined since leaving Seattle.

All he’s doing now is hitting leadoff again, and acting as a catalyst for the Marlins who currently sit in third place in the NL East. The fish are two games behind the second place Mets, and only four back in the loss column of the division leading Nationals. If the Marlins can add another starting pitcher and sure up its shaky bullpen, the club could be in contention for the remainder of the season.

Whether or not the Marlins have enough to make the postseason remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure…they wouldn’t be as good as they are right now if not for the resurgence of Ichiro, who has shown signs this season of the exciting player who took over the baseball world back in 2001.

We’re not sure if Ichiro is making random trips to Ponce de Leon from Miami, but he certainly seems to have found the fountain of youth in his sixteenth MLB season.

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The Problem of Revenge http://baseballbabble.com/the-problem-of-revenge/ http://baseballbabble.com/the-problem-of-revenge/#respond Thu, 19 May 2016 18:32:01 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=2086 On Sunday afternoon in Texas, Blue Jay fans got to watch a modern revenge plot played out. By now, even the most die hard Raptor fans must know that while the Raptors were blowing out the Miami Heat on Sunday (to continue the most successful NBA season this city has ever seen), the Jays were [&hellip

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On Sunday afternoon in Texas, Blue Jay fans got to watch a modern revenge plot played out. By now, even the most die hard Raptor fans must know that while the Raptors were blowing out the Miami Heat on Sunday (to continue the most successful NBA season this city has ever seen), the Jays were involved in a dramatic series of events that was eight months in the making.  It all started with the Texas Rangers atoning (in their minds) for the disrespect shown to them by Jose Bautista in last year’s playoffs.  There were batters getting thrown at, fielders getting charged at, punches being thrown.  Who were the winners of Sunday’s battle?  Who were the losers?  Who was right and who was wrong?  Let’s break it all down.

It all started with ‘the bat flip’.  Anyone who has followed the Blue Jays or owns a television in Toronto knows what I’m referring to.  It was one of the defining moments in Toronto sports history.  It had all the elements of a great moment.  The team had not been to the playoffs in over 2 decades.  They had just come back to tie the series after nearly being eliminated.  It was late in the deciding game and they were trying to come back after falling behind due to a fluke play that threatened to end their season.  The man at the plate was the team’s most recognizable star, a player that the Jays plucked from obscurity and who had become a superstar.

This was no ordinary home run.  The moment deserved a celebration.  The weight of the city’s expectations and hopes had just been lifted off their shoulders with one swing of the bat.  The reaction was a natural one to Jose Bautista.  A flip of the bat.  He had triumphed.  The city rejoiced.

On the other side of the ball were the Texas Rangers.  Here was a team that had taken a commanding series lead against a favoured opponent, and now was trying to hang on to a lead late in the deciding game.  Suddenly, their team forgot how to play defense for a few minutes, and the game was slipping away.  Then came the blast.  Their hearts sunk.  And they look up to see the other guys seemingly showing them up.

As I have written before, I am a huge fan of the bat flip.  I loved every minute of it, and I totally understand that it was a natural reaction to such a huge play.  I don’t believe Bautista was trying to show up the Rangers or Sam Dyson (the pitcher).  He was simply reacting in the moment to what was the most important home run of his career.  I know that baseball has a ‘code’ that says to not show up your opponent.  And while I’m more of an old school fan than most, I am also a fan of a lot of sports where the equivalent of the bat flip would be considered a subdued celebration.

On the flip side, I am also a guy who believes that Jose Bautista is an emotional guy whose actions often display a me-first attitude that ends up hurting the team.  After reflecting over the past few days, I’ve realized that I don’t believe him to be an inherently selfish guy.  I believe he wants his personal success to contribute to team success.  However, he is an emotional guy, and his actions and reactions can end up hurting the team.  Whether it’s complaining to umpires about balls and strikes or breaking the rules with an illegal slide because he felt wronged by the opposition, his actions can cost the team outs and chances to win games.

Fast forward to last Sunday.  Whether it was an orchestrated plan or a pitcher taking matters into his own hands (I believe it was the former), the Rangers decided to wait for Jose Bautista’s last at bat of the season against them  to exact their revenge.  This revenge took the form of a mid 90s fastball straight into the ribs courtesy of journeyman pitcher Matt Bush, who was in prison last October and not even a part of the Ranger team at the time of the bat flip.  The timing of the beaning and the chosen hit man were curious choices, to be sure.  The home plate umpire immediately recognized the intent of this play and warned both teams that no further revenge would be tolerated.  He did not, however, choose to eject Bush.  Perhaps this decision had an impact on what followed, perhaps not.

Here is where the problem of revenge started for me.  The Rangers felt that they were shown up by Bautista, and they felt that this evened the score.  However, Jose felt that no apology was needed for the bat flip.  So when he got drilled with a pitch, he felt slighted and wanted to get revenge.  He chose not to get this revenge on the pitcher that threw at him.  Perhaps this is because he expected the umpire to take care of things by throwing the pitcher out of the game.  Perhaps it was because Bautista didn’t want to tangle with a guy that had done hard time in prison.  Either way, he went to first base with revenge on the brain.

When a ground ball was hit, he opted to run hard and slide late into the second baseman, Rougned Odor.  It should be noted that a year ago, this slide would have been considered a normal but aggressive baseball play, but recent rule changes have made it illegal to slide the way he did, and he knew it.  Bautista admitted quite clearly that his intent was to send a message.  To be fair, the slide was hard but he did not show any real intent to injure, and the slide on its own would likely not be noteworthy if not for the actions that preceded it and the actions that followed.  Bautista got up defiantly, and after some shoving, he took (with apologies to Nolan Ryan) the hardest punch I’ve ever seen thrown on a baseball field.  Odor, the offender, was quickly targeted by other Blue Jays rushing out of the dugout to defend their teammate.

Order was eventually restored, players and coaches were ejected, and thankfully no one was seriously hurt apart from a few scrapes and bruises (and maybe some bruised egos).  The story had a final footnote, however, when Toronto pitcher Jesse Chavez felt that Texas was now owed further punishment for this incident, and chose to throw a ball into the leg of the first batter he faced, Prince Fielder.  The scene was done in such a workmanlike fashion it was almost comical.  Fielder just laughed and waved goodbye to Chavez.  Jesse, knowing that the teams had already been warned not to do this, just put his head down and walked to the showers, knowing that his day’s work was done.  I remember wishing at the time that he had a lunch pail to pick up on his way out.  Just a guy doing his job, and that job in this case was ‘sticking up for his teammate.’  People from both dugouts came out to jaw back and forth a bit more, but it was a much more subdued version, almost like they were going through the motions and posturing because that is what they were supposed to do.

So, who was right in all this?  First, let me state the obvious and say that I don’t know any of the people involved personally, so I can only make assumptions of their intent based on what they’ve said and the actions that they’ve showed.  I have tried to give people the benefit of the doubt wherever possible.  Gregg Zaun (who I like to call Zaun Cherry for his loud suits and louder opinions) stated that everyone did what they were supposed to do in this situation.  I disagree.  In my opinion, everyone here did what they felt was the right thing based on their perception of the revenge ledger at the time.  Should the Rangers have retaliated for the bat flip?  On one hand it was 8 months ago, and many feel that if revenge was going to be served, they should have done it at the first opportunity and not waited until the last.  Honestly, this is the only element I’m divided on.  One could argue that by waiting until the end of the series, they were hoping to avoid 7 games of bad blood between two teams trying to ‘even the score’.  Overall, while the timing and delivery method were suspect, I actually don’t have a real problem with Texas choosing to send a message to Bautista that his actions weren’t appreciated.  Having said that, the whole incident could have been avoided had Texas decided to just let things go.

Once he was hit with the ball, Bautista had a few options. It was clear to him that this was retaliation. He had to know there was a strong possibility that it was coming, so he would have had plenty of time to think through his response. He chose not to charge at the pitcher. It’s possible that he thought the umpire would throw Bush out of the game and that would end it. Another aspect was that all this happened in a one run game. He may have thought that the best revenge would be to make Texas pay for their foolishness by finding a way to score and go on to win the game. This would have been a great approach. It may be that it wasn’t until the ground ball was hit, and he was surely out, that he opted to send a message. As I said off the top, I don’t think Bautista is intending to be selfish. He wanted atonement and to send a message. He just didn’t think through the possible consequences of his actions in terms of fines, suspensions and possible injuries. By choosing to escalate the issue, he put his teammates at risk.  However, to be clear, the biggest escalator of the situation was Odor, and the 8 game suspension he received was a good reflection of this. Bautista responded to one hard baseball play with another hard baseball play. Odor responded with a hard punch. Both players overreacted, but Odor without question was the main reason for the brawl that followed.

So, who was right and who was wrong? In my opinion, no one was right. And no one won out of this situation. The Rangers ultimately won the game, but both sides suffered fines and suspensions, and all sides are lucky there wasn’t a serious injury.  The problem with revenge is that it is hard to even the score if both sides have a different view of what’s right and what’s wrong, and what is owed and what isn’t. You either keep escalating, or you decide to move on. Hopefully the Blue Jays and Rangers have realized that there are no winners here, and that it’s time to move on.

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Rotation could be weak link for once pitching rich Braves http://baseballbabble.com/rotation-could-be-weak-link-for-once-pitching-rich-braves/ http://baseballbabble.com/rotation-could-be-weak-link-for-once-pitching-rich-braves/#respond Fri, 18 Mar 2016 15:20:56 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=2082 For more than two decades, starting pitching was the foundation of the Atlanta Braves, and was the key to their continuous success throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s. Now though, the rebuilding franchise goes into 2016 with starting pitching looking like it’ll be the club’s Achilles heel of the club. Gone are the days of Tom [&hellip

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For more than two decades, starting pitching was the foundation of the Atlanta Braves, and was the key to their continuous success throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s. Now though, the rebuilding franchise goes into 2016 with starting pitching looking like it’ll be the club’s Achilles heel of the club.

Gone are the days of Tom Glavine, John Smotlz, Greg Maddux, and Tim Hudson leading the Braves’ rotation. Over the past two seasons, the once pitching rich organization, has faced the reality that they needed to strip it all down and build again, which is exactly what President of baseball operations, John Hart, and general manager John Coppolella have done since taking over the front office.

After a plethora of trades beginning at the end of the 2014 season, Hart and “Coppy” have coveted numerous prospects, especially young starting pitching.

Having pried Manny Banuelos, Mike Foltynewicz, Tyrell Jenkins, Max Fried, Matt Wisler, Sean Newcomb, Chris Ellis, Aaron Blair, and numerous others away from other clubs over the past 18 months, the team now looks to open the season with a lot to prove on the starting pitching front.

Julio Teheran is primed to make his third consecutive Opening Day start for the Braves on April 4. Who will follow in the rotation has been one of the most interesting and worrisome aspects of the team’s spring training thus far.

Veteran Bud Norris is almost assured a spot in the rotation, even though he was roughed up against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday, March 15. Norris gave up six runs on nine hits with one walk over three innings. After pitching to a 3.65 ERA and a 15 win season for the Baltimore Orioles in 2014, Norris regressed into the worst season of his career last year pitching to a 3-11 record with a 6.72 ERA between the O’s and second half stint with the San Diego Padres. Now, on a team friendly contract (1 year/$2.5M), Norris is pitching with a chip on his shoulder as he tries to rebound from a dismal 2015. He had pitched well in his previous spring outings before getting battered around on Tuesday.

Matt Wisler looks to have solidified the number three spot in the rotation with his good work down the stretch for the club in 2015. Acquired on the last day of spring training last year in the surprising Craig Kimbrel/Melvin Upton, Jr. trade with the Padres, Wisler made his debut against the New York Mets in June of 2015, and held the eventual NL champs to one run over eight innings. Wisler finished the year with an 8-8 record and a 4.71 ERA. He also finished the year in fine fashion by shutout the St. Louis Cardinals over 8.2 innings at the Ted on the final day of the season. The now 23-year-old has given up one run and one walk, with four strikeouts so far this spring in his 4.2 innings of work over two starts.

The fourth and fifth spots in the rotation are where it becomes a coin flip for the Braves. The club signed a number of veterans to minor league contracts this offseason, including Jhoulys Chacin, Chris Volstad, Kyle Kendrick, hoping at least one of them would provide some experience in the rotation. Volstad and Kendrick were released following multiple bad outings. Chacin was pitching well before, like Norris, getting hit hard in his last outing. Chacin has given up three earned runs and 11 hits in his eight innings so far this spring.

Youngsters Foltynewicz and Banuelos are both working their way back from injuries they sustained towards the end of 2015. “Folty” gave up two earned runs in two innings in his spring debut Thursday, while Banuelos has given up four earned runs and six hits over his two innings of work this spring.

Newcomb, the prized pitching prospect in the return from the Angels in the Andrelton Simmons trade, has been knocked around pretty good this spring, giving up six earned runs in his 1.2 innings of work. Blair likewise hasn’t missed many bats, giving up seven earned runs in his six innings on the hill.

Blair, and fellow righty prospect Lucas Sims were both reassigned to minor league camp on Friday, March 18.

Jenkins, Mauricio Cabrera, Casey Kelly, and Danny Burawa have all already been reassigned to minor league camp.

While Chacin looks like a pretty good contender for the fourth spot in the rotation, the fifth spot could fall in the lap of one of the Braves youngsters. “Folty” has all the stuff to be a front line starter, but probably needs a little more time to develop his command. The most likely winner of the final spot could be the unlikeliest of prospects, right-hander Williams Perez, who pitched well for the team in a pinch late last season. Perez went 7-6 in 23 games (20 starts) last year, while pitching to a 4.78 ERA.

The Braves’ offense should be a little more consistent this season with the acquisitions of Ender Inciarte and Erick Aybar at the top of the lineup, and a healthy Nick Markakis and Freddie Freeman. The bullpen should also be relatively consistent with Jason Grilli, Arodys Vizcaino, and Jim Johnson at the back end. The biggest question is going to be the rotation.

Glavine, Smotlz, and Steve Avery all took their lumps and got his hard when they first arrived in Atlanta. Growing pains are just part of the game for young players. Hopefully Teheran, Norris, and Chacin can help bridge the gap until some of the organization’s young, powerful arms are ready to flourish. Either way, the team’s pitching efforts will be interesting to watch, and probably highly scrutinized in 2016.

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Pirates Spring Training http://baseballbabble.com/pirates-spring-training-2/ http://baseballbabble.com/pirates-spring-training-2/#respond Mon, 07 Mar 2016 17:34:27 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=2002 As another spring training camp hits a full stride, we as Pittsburgh Pirates fans are set to wonder…will this finally be the year we break the walls down? Over the past three seasons we have been faced with some devastating defeats in the NL Wildcard games and the NLDS. The recent defeats though, were much [&hellip

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As another spring training camp hits a full stride, we as Pittsburgh Pirates fans are set to wonder…will this finally be the year we break the walls down?

Over the past three seasons we have been faced with some devastating defeats in the NL Wildcard games and the NLDS. The recent defeats though, were much better than the years of non contention. As a yinzer in the burgh, the only thing summer baseball meant was the Steelers would be opening camp up in Latrobe, or as the Pirates’ season was starting, the Penguins would be gearing up for the playoffs. However, in dramatic fashion, the last three years have turned this football and hockey town upside down. We have become what we always were…baseball fans. And not just swing by night fans. We found all our old Bucco’s gear, and night after night we were donning it to remind everyone how much we loved a product that finally started to give back to the fans with wins.

The 2016 Pittsburgh Pirates have some characters at spring training. We have a pitcher who feels he has over performed his contract, and an infielder who appears to be on the cusp of a very dramatic early return. We have a former MVP outfielder saying all the appropriate things, but we all know his contract being there is what draws the national attention. The Pittsburgh Pirates have an opportunity this season with many more national televised games to showcase these characters. Is another playoff type season in the cards? For the 2016 Pittsburgh Pirates that still remains to be seen.

Though as fans, I think we need to recognize just how amazingly difficult it would be to appear in the MLB postseason four straight years. Make sure you all come back to the blog on Friday for a complete positional breakdown and analysis of the 2016 Pittsburgh Pirates.

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The 2016 Blue Jays – Is this the team we wanted? http://baseballbabble.com/the-2016-blue-jays-is-this-the-team-we-wanted/ http://baseballbabble.com/the-2016-blue-jays-is-this-the-team-we-wanted/#respond Mon, 07 Mar 2016 12:54:58 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=2039 As the 2016 season approaches, I find myself looking at this Blue Jays team with cautious optimism. The offense is world-class, and likely still the top offense in baseball. Defensively, we are much improved from the start of last year. The bullpen looks solid, though relievers often have trouble staying consistent from year to year. [&hellip

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As the 2016 season approaches, I find myself looking at this Blue Jays team with cautious optimism. The offense is world-class, and likely still the top offense in baseball. Defensively, we are much improved from the start of last year. The bullpen looks solid, though relievers often have trouble staying consistent from year to year. The core of our starting pitching had a great second half of 2015, but our ace is still growing up, and the rest of the staff has all had some pretty bad stretches of pitching in recent years, with each turning in pretty average career numbers.

All this is to say that the team looks poised to contend if everyone stays healthy and performs up to or around their career averages.  However, after the rabid excitement of the last half of 2015, I feel a distinct lack of buzz around the team as we near the start of the year. People who were riding on every pitch last year seem burnt out and unenthusiastic. Maybe it will all change when the season starts. Here’s to hoping.

One area of the current team that worries me is our lack of top prospects. We traded away some of our most promising young talent last July in order to make a push for the playoffs. It was a great ride, but now David Price is gone, as is much of our young talent, and we might only have one more year of Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista in the middle of our lineup. The time to win is now. I must say that, to most observers, management has done a poor job of building a pitching staff that allows us to capitalize on the opportunity to win that this offence provides. I’ve heard the arguments about a tight budget, a falling Canadian dollar, and the fact that we only need average pitching to win. I have been an advocate of the argument that giving $217 million to David Price, while it undoubtedly makes us better this year, is too high of a price to pay for a team on a budget. There is an argument out there that Rogers made a ton of money from last year’s playoff run, and they should be reinvesting that money in the team. But, since none of the people I hear from have access to Rogers’ books, no one can say for sure that they haven’t done that in some way or another.

I worry that our window to win with the current group is closing, and we no longer have the next wave of prospects since so many have been traded away in recent years. It got me to wondering what our team would look like if we hadn’t made all those trades.

One of the first things that struck me when I began to research this is that we’ve actually drafted a lot of big league talent in recent years. Our roster has the highest number of home grown guys that I can remember, and that is even after trading away a number of draft choices who are now playing on big league teams elsewhere.

After going through the major trades, I quickly concluded that I am glad we made them. Sure, we could have a young team filled with the likes of Daniel Norris, Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Kendall Graveman, Miguel Castro, with Jeff Hoffman and Franklin Barretto waiting in the wings. But we wouldn’t have Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, or R.A. Dickey. We wouldn’t have had David Price last year, and we likely wouldn’t have had a playoff run…and we would be a worse team this year than we are now.

The bottom line is that each trade had a part in getting us where we are now. RA Dickey has taken a lot of criticism from fans, myself included, but he was a key part of getting us to the playoffs last year. He has been a steady, if unspectacular, presence in our rotation since he was acquired. Sure, you may have been able to use the same prospects to acquire a different pitcher that was more suited to the AL East and the Skydome, but there is no question that the Jays have been a better team with Dickey than they would have been without him. Syndergaard may yet turn out to be great, but that likely won’t happen until after our veteran core has passed their prime. All in all, the Jays are a better team today thanks in part to some astute trades, and even in spite of some big trades that didn’t quite work out the way that they had hoped.

Another thing I was curious about was how the current roster was put together. Obviously, much of the roster was acquired under Alex Anthopolous, but I was surprised to discover how much of an impact still remains from the JP Ricciardi days. He was fired in 2009, but a number of players from his last draft in 2009 are still around, and of course the trades for Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista happened on his watch.

Here is the list of potential guys for our opening day roster along with how they were acquired and by whom:

Pitchers How Acquired Person Responsible
Roberto Osuna Free Agent Alex Anthopolous
Aaron Sanchez 2010 Draft Alex Anthopolous
Ryan Tepera 2009 Draft JP Ricciardi
Marcus Stroman 2012 Draft Alex Anthopolous
Aaron Loup 2009 Draft JP Ricciardi
Drew Hutchison 2009 Draft JP Ricciardi
J.A. Happ Free Agent Ross Atkins
R.A. Dickey Trade Alex Anthopolous
Steve Delabar Trade Alex Anthopolous
Brett Cecil 2007 Draft JP Ricciardi
Bo Schultz waivers Alex Anthopolous
Marco Estrada Trade Alex Anthopolous
Gavin Floyd Free Agent Ross Atkins
Drew Storen Trade Ross Atkins
Jesse Chavez Trade Ross Atkins
Catchers
Josh Thole Trade Alex Anthopolous
A.J. Jimenez 2008 draft JP Ricciardi
Russell Martin Free Agent Alex Anthopolous
Infielders
Ryan Goins 2009 Draft JP Ricciardi
Edwin Encarnacion Trade JP Ricciardi
Devon Travis Trade Alex Anthopolous
Justin Smoak Free Agent Alex Anthopolous
Josh Donaldson Trade Alex Anthopolous
Chris Colabello Free Agent Alex Anthopolous
Troy Tulowitzki Trade Alex Anthopolous
Darwin Barney Free Agent Ross Atkins
Outfielders
Kevin Pillar 2011 draft Alex Anthopolous
Jose Bautista Trade JP Ricciardi
Dalton Pompey 2010 draft Alex Anthopolous
Michael Saunders Trade Alex Anthopolous
Ezequiel Carrera Free Agent Alex Anthopolous
Junior Lake Free Agent Ross Atkins
Darrell Ceciliani Trade Ross Atkins

 

As mentioned, there is a lot of home grown talent here, and even though we could potentially lose a lot of veterans at the end of the year, I love the group of core young players that we have to build around for 2017 and beyond.

There are lots of things to be concerned about in 2016.  Our big stars may leave at the end of the year. Our pitching might not be good enough. Our extraordinary run of good health from last year may not continue. We could be close at the trade deadline and not have the prospects to be able to make the trades needed to get us over the top. But fear not, there is plenty of reason for hope as well.  We will score runs. Lots of them at times. This team will be fun to watch. Let’s not worry about next year right now. Let’s focus on 2016, and let’s enjoy the ride.

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Cardinals extend Kolten Wong with new five-year deal http://baseballbabble.com/cardinals-extend-kolten-wong-with-five-year-extension/ http://baseballbabble.com/cardinals-extend-kolten-wong-with-five-year-extension/#respond Thu, 03 Mar 2016 16:40:36 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=2018 The St. Louis Cardinals rewarded one of their own this week by locking up speedy infielder Kolten Wong to a new five-year $25.5M extension, the team announced Tuesday evening, March 2. The contract, which will take effect this season, buys out a couple of Wong’s arbitration years, and gives the team control of the 25-year-old [&hellip

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The St. Louis Cardinals rewarded one of their own this week by locking up speedy infielder Kolten Wong to a new five-year $25.5M extension, the team announced Tuesday evening, March 2.

The contract, which will take effect this season, buys out a couple of Wong’s arbitration years, and gives the team control of the 25-year-old through his age 30 season.

Wong entered the spring with a little more than two years worth of MLB service time, and hadn’t yet hit arbitration. The deal will pay him $1.25M in 2016, $2.5M in 2017, $4M in ’18, $6.5M in ’19, and $10.25M in 2020. The new pact also includes a $12.5M option for the 2021 season with a $1M buyout.

Wong had a solid year in 2015 hitting to a .262/.321/.386 slashline, while also hitting 11 HRs with 61 RBIs and 15 SBs after finishing third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting the season before. After playing 150 games at second base for the club last season, Wong now has a secure spot in the Cardinals’ long-term plans. The club also acquired fellow second baseman Jedd Gyorko from the Padres earlier this offseason, who likewise is under team control through 2020.

While Wong possesses great speed, and is decent contact hitter, he’s still probably won’t unseat perennial All-Star Matt Carpenter from the club’s leadoff spot in the lineup. Wong’s on-base percentage was .321 last season, while Carpenter’s was .365. However, after Carpenter lead the team with 28 HRs last season, the club could explore Wong hitting leadoff, with Carpenter dropping down into more of a run producing spot in the lineup…possibly second or third in front of Matt Holliday and Randall Grichuk.

While the club now has a number of viable infield options, the decision to lock up Wong now, before he develops further and enhances his value is a good one, which ultimately works out well financially for both the player and the team.

Wong’s new deal reportedly does not include a no-trade clause.

 

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Can Ian Desmond rebuild is value as a Ranger after passing up $100M http://baseballbabble.com/can-ian-desmond-rebuild-is-value-as-a-ranger-after-passing-up-100m/ http://baseballbabble.com/can-ian-desmond-rebuild-is-value-as-a-ranger-after-passing-up-100m/#respond Wed, 02 Mar 2016 15:21:09 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=2014 While a lot of people would be happy signing a contract to play baseball over the next year for a salary of $8M, long-time Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond will look to rebuilt his value as a member of the Texas Rangers, while also wondering what could have been. A couple of years ago, fresh [&hellip

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While a lot of people would be happy signing a contract to play baseball over the next year for a salary of $8M, long-time Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond will look to rebuilt his value as a member of the Texas Rangers, while also wondering what could have been.

A couple of years ago, fresh of the heels of a back-to-back Silver Slugger Awards and a very successful 2013 season, Desmond was offered a seven-year extension worth $107M, which he ultimately turned down with eyes on free agency.

Now, two years later, free agency has come and gone with Desmond having to settle for a one-year $8M deal, and oh yeah…he’ll also be playing left field rather than shortstop this season.

With Elvis Andrus already signed to a long-term deal as the club’s shortstop, Desmond will roam the pasture in Arlington, which could help him reconstruct his offensive game as he’ll look to recoup some of the lost free agency dollars next winter.

Over the past four seasons, Desmond’s numbers have been in steady decline. After hitting 25 homers and hitting to a .292/.355/.511 slashline in 2012, Desmond turned in a 19 HR, 62 RBI campaign while hitting to a .233/.290/.384 slashline in 2015. His OPS+ has also dipped 45 points in that time from 125 in 2012, to 80 last season.

Desmond’s defense, never his strong suit, was also an issue in 2015, as he committed 27 errors at 155 games at SS.

Desmond, as well as Ranger fans, hope he can follow in the footsteps of a former Ranger, Nelson Cruz, who was able to rebuild his value after draft pick compensation ruined his vision of a high-dollar payday two offseasons ago.

After a number of successful years in Texas, Cruz, like Desmond, was on the free agent market. After weeks on top of weeks passed, Cruz was no closer to the long-term deal he desired. Eventually, Cruz chose to sign a one-year $8M deal with the Baltimore Orioles prior to the 2014 season. What happened? Cruz became a steal for the O’s after belting 40 HRs and driving in 108 Runs for the playoff bound club, while also making the All-Star team and finishing 7th in the AL MVP race.

Cruz was then able to parlay that effort into a four-year $57M payday with the Seattle Mariners. What did he do after being rewarded? He followed that up with a nice 44 HR, 93 RBI campaign, which saw him hit to a .302/.369/.566 slashline, while making another All-Star team, winning a Silver Slugger Award, and finishing 6th in the MVP balloting last year.

The 30-year-old Desmond has a chance to rebuild his value playing on a good team surrounded by other good hitters, in a very hitter-friendly park, while also playing a less defensive demanding position.

It’s awful hard to pass up and extension that essentially leaves $100M on the table. Ian Desmond did that. Hopefully he can rediscover his stroke, clear his mind of the frustrating winter he endured, and be a viable cog in what is expected to be a contending team in the AL West. He’ll have a lot to prove to the doubters, his checkbook, and to himself as he looks to rebound in 2016.

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Jeff Francoeur’s career comes full circle with return to Atlanta http://baseballbabble.com/jeff-francoeurs-career-comes-full-circle-return-atlanta/ http://baseballbabble.com/jeff-francoeurs-career-comes-full-circle-return-atlanta/#respond Fri, 26 Feb 2016 14:53:41 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1996 It’s been 11 years since a hometown kid named Jeff Francoeur burst on to the scene for the Atlanta Braves and was quickly dubbed, “The Natural.” Now, a 32-year-old journeyman, Francoeur is looking to make an impact after re-signing with the team that drafted him 23rd overall in 2002. After being called up midway through [&hellip

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It’s been 11 years since a hometown kid named Jeff Francoeur burst on to the scene for the Atlanta Braves and was quickly dubbed, “The Natural.” Now, a 32-year-old journeyman, Francoeur is looking to make an impact after re-signing with the team that drafted him 23rd overall in 2002.

After being called up midway through the 2005 season, “Frenchy” showed the promise that made him a highly touted prospect by hitting .300 on the nose with 14 HRs and 45 RBIs in 70 games, and finishing third in the Rookie of the Year balloting. He followed that up by driving in over 100 runs in each of the next two seasons while playing in all 162 games both years. He also ended 2007 by claiming a Gold Glove Award for his work in right field. In 2008 however, Francoeur’s power numbers dropped while his average plummeted, ultimately leading to then general manager Frank Wren trading him to the rival New York Mets midway through the 2009 season for fellow outfielder Ryan Church.

Since that time, Francoeur has bounced around with a number of teams including the Mets, Rangers, Royals, Giants, Padres, and Phillies. In 2015, he rebuilt his stock to a degree by hitting 13 HRs and driving in 45 runs in 119 games for a likewise rebuilding Philadelphia club.

Earlier in the week the Braves decided to bring Francoeur into its outfield mix by signing him to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. After once being hailed the new face of the franchise, Frenchy now enters camp as a guy just trying to make the club as an extra outfielder or bat off the bench.

However, that task will be a tough one for Francoeur, as the Braves already have a number of outfield possibilities in house with the likes of Nick Markakis, newly-acquired Ender Inciarte, the expiring contracts of Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, and imported prospects like Hector Olivera and Dian Toscano. Utility players Emilio Bonifacio and Kelly Johnson could also compete for outfield at-bats.

With a lineup full of line drive and contact hitters, Francoeur’s power could be a key ingredient for the Braves off the bench this year should he find his stride during the spring.

Francoeur’s deal will be worth $1M if he makes the Braves’ roster, with an extra $1M available through incentives should he perform well. The deal also includes and opt-out where he can ask for his outright release if he’s not on the roster by March 31. Having spent time with some Triple-A affiliates during parts of the past couple of seasons, Atlanta might be an organization Frenchy would be willing to take an assignment with if he doesn’t break camp with the big club. If nothing else, he would provide the Braves with organizational depth as it continues its rebuild with focus aimed at competing in 2017 when it moves into its new Cobb County stadium.

While the return of “The Natural” to Atlanta might not end in the storybook fashion it began, a lot of fans in Braves Country are happy to have one their favorites with a tomahawk across is chest once again.

 

 

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Dexter Fowler throws curveball, set to return to Cubs http://baseballbabble.com/dexter-fowler-throws-curveball-set-to-return-to-cubs/ http://baseballbabble.com/dexter-fowler-throws-curveball-set-to-return-to-cubs/#respond Thu, 25 Feb 2016 18:34:18 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1988 It’s been an interesting offseason and an even a more interesting 48 hours for free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler, who looked primed to roam the right field grass of Camden Yards, but will now return to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field in Chicago. Fowler, one of the most interesting cases on this year’s free [&hellip

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It’s been an interesting offseason and an even a more interesting 48 hours for free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler, who looked primed to roam the right field grass of Camden Yards, but will now return to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Fowler, one of the most interesting cases on this year’s free agent market, seemed to be inching close to a multi-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles just a couple of days ago. However, multiple MLB insiders, including Ken Rosenthal and Mark Gonzales, are indicating today that Fowler will return to the Cubs on a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2017.

Recent reports had Fowler linked to Baltimore on deal in the three-year $33M range. Now, it appears Fowler will make approximately $8M in 2016, with a $9M mutual option for 2017, which includes a $5M buyout.

The signing is a sure disappointment money wise for Fowler, who turned down the team’s $15M-plus qualifying offer earlier this winter in the hopes of landing a multi-year deal. Now Fowler will settle for nearly half of that, as the attached draft pick compensation was more than likely the biggest obstacle in finding a long-term home. With the value on prospects and younger, controllable players at seemingly an all-time high, teams were reluctant to surrender their unprotected first round draft pick for the chance to sign Fowler.

With an abundance of outfielders in play for the Cubbies, the team made a corresponding roster move by dealing Chris Coghlan to the Athletics in exchange for pitcher Aaron Brooks. This move remedies the logjam that already exists with Jason Heyward, Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber, and now Fowler.

One major upside to the re-signing of Fowler is that the Cubs can now better utilize Heyward in RF, rather than moving him to center.

In 2015, Fowler hit 17 HRs, with 46 RBIs and 20 SBs, while hitting to a .250/.346/.411 slashline in 156 games.

 

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Blue Jays Finally Get Dominic Brown http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-finally-get-dominic-brown/ http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-finally-get-dominic-brown/#respond Thu, 25 Feb 2016 17:53:00 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1985 The Blue Jays have signed Dominic Brown to a minor league contract with an invite to major league spring training. This ends years of the Blue Jay’s love affair with acquiring Brown, they finally have their man. Even with Alex Antholoulos gone, the team continued their never ending fixation on specific players. It’s as if the team [&hellip

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The Blue Jays have signed Dominic Brown to a minor league contract with an invite to major league spring training. This ends years of the Blue Jay’s love affair with acquiring Brown, they finally have their man. Even with Alex Antholoulos gone, the team continued their never ending fixation on specific players. It’s as if the team sat down when AA took over and picked 10-15 players they loved and made every effort to land those players, many of which eventually were acquired well after their prospect or rookie shine was gone.

Going back to 2009, the Blue Jays seemingly wanted two key pieces in exchange for Roy HalladayJ.A. Happ and Dominic Brown. While neither would come to Toronto in the Halladay trade which officially was Kyle Drakek, Michael Taylor (swapped for Brett Wallace with the A’s) and Travis d’Arnaud (sent to the Mets in the R.A. Dickey deal). Toronto’s brass attempted to eventually get their guys. They have since acquired many of the rumoured names leading back to the Halladay sweepstakes including Anthony Gose (swapped for Devon Travis), J.A. Happ (acquired, traded & signed back as FA), Michael Saunders (nearly traded away for Jay Bruce) and Brown was the missing piece that got away.

Brown now 28 once was a blue chip prospect, earning the #4 overall ranking by Baseball America back in early 2011. Taylor by comparison was also almost as highly regarded, both were the type of legitimate pieces you would expect in return for a player like Halladay. Fast forward a few years and Brown has posted some mixed and overall unspectacular numbers with the Phillies spread over six partial seasons.  In 493 games, Brown has posted a .246/.305/.405 line and a OPS+ of 94. 2013 was the one year he seemed to be stepping into his own as a true power hitting OF’r clubbing 27HR, 83 RBI, a much improved .272/.324/.494 line along with a more robust 124 OPS+.

In November of 2013 the world almost exploded when it was rumoured that the Blue Jays were discussing trading Jose Bautista for a package that centered around Dominic Brown plus. While almost no one close to the Blue Jays thought the rumour had merit, it was telling that the Blue Jays were again interested in Brown who had finally broken out. As we know that rubbish never came to past and Brown has since struggled to find any sense of his former All-Star self leading to his outright release in October and electing Free Agency.

Brown is exactly the type of depth move the Blue Jays should be interested in. They have a recent history of helping sluggers find their swagger and getting the most value out of them. He comes to the team at a time when two of their outfielders Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders are in their final years of control. He will join the Junior Lake, Dalton Pompey and Ezequiel Carrera as the depth/4th OF options for 2016.

The Blue Jays finally got their man, hopefully they can work some magic to help the former all-star find his way again. At the very least there never is a bad minor league signing, especially one that has some potential upside like Brown at only 28 years of age. While I won’t predict Brown as the heir to Bautista’s throne, he serves as a nice gamble for the Blue Jays.

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Alex Anthopolous – A Look Back http://baseballbabble.com/alex-anthopolous-look-back/ http://baseballbabble.com/alex-anthopolous-look-back/#respond Thu, 25 Feb 2016 13:00:06 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1979 A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for this site defending Alex Anthopolous (AA).  At the time, it wasn’t a popular position.  And it became increasingly less popular until last July, when suddenly Alex shifted direction and turned this team into the playoff team that it became.  As we start 2016, Alex has [&hellip

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A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for this site defending Alex Anthopolous (AA).  At the time, it wasn’t a popular position.  And it became increasingly less popular until last July, when suddenly Alex shifted direction and turned this team into the playoff team that it became.  As we start 2016, Alex has moved on, and we are left with the glow of a playoff run that came up just a little short.  We are also left with one of the best offenses in the game, but a mediocre pitching staff and no big league ready prospects.  So now that some time has passed, what does Alex’s Blue Jay legacy look like?

I need to state from the outset that I was, and still am, an AA fan.  I rooted him on for his entire Blue Jays tenure, right from the beginnings where he was finding his footing, through the times where he believed that on a tight budget, talent was more important than character, through to early 2015, where the list of his fans and supporters was becoming shorter and shorter.  Throughout his time, he convinced me of one thing:  no one that I had ever seen in his chair had worked harder and was better prepared than he was.  His detractors disliked his inability to make the big move.  They rightly pointed out that his early philosophy of picking up talent without regarding character was not a good way to build a baseball team.  But I held firm to the belief that if something about the team was obvious to the casual fan, AA had already thought of it, and his decisions were rooted in more preparation and knowledge than any of us had.

The question on the minds of so many Jays fans is:  why did AA leave his dream job after finally breaking through and making the playoffs?  It’s an answer we may never fully know, given AA’s desire for privacy.  Maybe he’ll write a book one day.  Like most Jays fans, I have a theory.  It isn’t one I’ve heard talked about a lot, but it’s my attempt to make sense of a situation that doesn’t add up on the surface.  My theory is this:  that AA knew he was not coming back to the Jays, he had decided this long before the trade deadline in July, and that decision impacted everything that followed.

In early 2015, it was a pretty common expectation that AA was in his last year with the team.  At year-end, the retiring president (Paul Beeston) would be replaced, and along with that change there was likely to be wholesale changes in the organization.  In late July, the Jays were in their customary position of being a .500 team that many felt was not living up to its potential.  They were 8 games back of the Yankees.  Many of us in the fan base were resigned to another year as also rans, and expected AA to make some deadline moves with 2016 in mind.  What happened next was totally out of character for him.  AA threw caution to the wind, and traded a healthy chunk of the team’s prospects with an aim toward winning it all now.  It was a bold and daring move.  It has to be said that it was a move with a big chance of failure.  An 8 game lead is substantial.  To overcome that, you need to either play extraordinarily well or hope the team in front of you falters.

Fortunately for all of us, the trades all worked out perfectly, and the Jays went on a historic two month run that landed them in the playoffs at long last.  As a fan, I loved the trades immediately, even as I acknowledged that they were a huge risk.  I loved that there was exciting baseball in Toronto again.  I loved that we were basically trotting out an all-star team every day.  It was great fun for us, the fans.  But we don’t have to worry about things like having good prospects for the future, having a team that is a sustainable winner, and meeting a payroll budget.  Those are all problems for the GM.  As fans, we just want a winning baseball team.

It also needs to be said that the Jays had an enormous run of good fortune along the way.  Almost everything that could go right, did.  The starting staff, which was one of the worst in baseball for the first couple of months, suddenly was unstoppable.  Obviously adding David Price helped, but he is only one guy, and the rest of them collectively got it done as well.  Price himself pitched better than we had any right to expect.  Sure, he’s an ace, but he was a .500 pitcher for the Tigers last year as a deadline acquisition, so there was no guarantee that he was going to come in and dominate the way that he did.  We had good health for the most part, and when guys did get hurt, we had replacements come in and play well above expectations.  Basically, we got all the breaks this year, and it was a wonderful ride.

Let’s contrast that with the first big splash AA made, in the winter of 2012.  He pulled off a blockbuster deal with the Marlins, netting Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle and Jose Reyes, three big talents, for parts and prospects.  The deal had people questioning the league about its apparent one sidedness.  He then traded for the reigning Cy Young award winner in RA Dickey and picked up a troubled but super talented hitter in Melky Cabrera.  The Jays went from also-rans to World Series favourites practically overnight.

2013 was the opposite of late 2015 in many ways, in that everything that could go wrong, did.  Our top two starters succumbed to injury and ineffectiveness.  Melky tried to play through pain and had an off-year.  The team just never managed to come together.  In the end, the World Series favourites collapsed to a last place finish.

Somewhere along the way, I feel like Rogers ownership lost faith in AA.  The Marlins trade increased their payroll significantly, but still left the team with huge holes.  Those holes were even bigger by 2014, but the money had seemingly dried up.  The logical assumption is that Rogers believed that the spending in 2012 would lead to more wins, and that wins would lead to more revenue.  When that didn’t happen, the spending taps got shut off.  I remember thinking that this team was like a house where they built a beautiful second floor but ran out of money for the stairway so you had no way to get to it.  By the 2014 trade deadline, the Jays were leading the wild card spot. Fans and players alike were begging for action. AA stood pat and the team sputtered to another middling finish.

Why did AA act in 2015 and not 2014? The 2015 team was lower in the standings with a bigger hill to climb. However, there were some differences. The division in 2015 was weaker than 2014, leading to a potentially greater opportunity. The prospect pool was more advanced, so AA could deal the likes of Daniel Norris and Jeff Hoffman for value and still hold on to Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez (who were the likely cost of doing business in 2014). Also, the team in 2015 appeared to be better than its record, with underperformance and some bad luck that was expected to turn around over the course of a year. Still, there were plenty of reasons not to make the bold moves in 2015. It’s hard to justify the steep cost in prospect capital for a team that far out of the race.  So, any way you look at it, the 2015 deadline deals were a big gamble.

Why the sudden shift in thinking? I believe it was because Alex knew he was leaving. I believe that these were the moves of a guy who knew there would be no next year for him. So, given the choice between doing nothing and leaving quietly, or gambling with someone else’s chips, he gambled.

Did the gamble pay off for the team? That depends on the goal of all of the dealing. If the goal was give Toronto some late season excitement, the moves paid immediate dividends. The Royals series in early August was one of the highlights of the season for me and many others. If the goal was to bring playoff baseball to Toronto, it succeeded as well. We got the comeback, the bat flip, and the unfortunate early ending with a tough loss to KC. The goal of a world championship was not met, but I would argue that no series of moves will ever guarantee that. However, AA’s often stated goal with every move he made was to have one eye on the present and one eye on the future. If this was a goal, then these moves were a failure. I will admit that from my standpoint, prospects are unknowns, and at some point, you need enough known quantities to win baseball games. Who knows how good guys like Hoffman and Norris (let alone the long list of lesser regarded prospects that were dealt) will turn out to be? It will be many years before we know the true cost of these trades, but there is no question that the deadline flurry cost the jays a lot of medium term potential, and cost them some short and mid-term flexibility.

The result of all the deadline dealing is that Alex was able to ride out of town as a hero. The challenge of sustaining a winning team with a depleted prospect pool is the next guy’s problem. I would wager that at no time in the history of baseball has a team gathered enough excitement that a group of fans would travel to a visiting stadium and start an audible chant thanking the general manager. This is without precedent. So, did the gamble pay off for Alex? Without question, it did. He guided a team he has been a lifelong fan of to the end of a long playoff drought. He had the team begging him to come back. He leaves as a conquering hero, riding off to an open ticket to the next job of his choosing. For AA, this could hardly have gone better.

There is an old saying that I love that says “timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance”. AA made two big gambles, one in 2012 and one three years later. If the first gamble had worked, I would wager that he would still be here today, having avoided the year or two of non-confidence and doubt that led to his departure. Had the trades of 2015 not worked, he would be gone, but the fans would have been relieved rather than shocked and saddened.

I am thankful for the excitement that Alex brought to this city. A lot of things fell into place to make this year’s run happen. The guys who were brought in energized the rest of the team, and collectively they outperformed all reasonable expectations. Price was made available at the last-minute and the Jays had the necessary pieces to win the bidding for him. Alex showed a willingness to pull the trigger that many had been waiting for. The fans responded in a big way and made the Dome the place to be again. The question that it all leaves for me is: was this all the carefully orchestrated work of a calculating genius, or was it simply the time for rain?

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Prospecting Prospects: Anthony Alford http://baseballbabble.com/prospecting-prospects-anthony-alford/ http://baseballbabble.com/prospecting-prospects-anthony-alford/#respond Wed, 24 Feb 2016 18:07:05 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1974 “Prospecting Prospects” is a series at Baseball Babble profiling minor league players. It covers their background, minor league career, interesting facts and gives you a prediction on when they will make an impact at the major league level. Stay ahead of the game by getting to know these players!  Anythony Alford – OF – Toronto [&hellip

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“Prospecting Prospects” is a series at Baseball Babble profiling minor league players. It covers their background, minor league career, interesting facts and gives you a prediction on when they will make an impact at the major league level. Stay ahead of the game by getting to know these players! 

Anythony Alford – OF – Toronto Blue Jays

The Basics: Age 21 born in Columbia, Mississippi, listed at 6’1″ and 205 pounds, throws and bats right-handed. Alford was a duel sports high school star, playing both Football as quarterback and Baseball. In the 2012 draft he was projected to go in the first round but he made it clear his intentions were to attend university and purse his football career. As a result the Blue Jays drafted him in the 3rd round as the 112th pick. The Blue Jays were successful in signing Alford by awarding him a $750,000 bonus and allowing him to attend university, play football and then play baseball in the summer.Their hope was that eventually he would pursue baseball and felt the risk had a strong potential reward.

Milb Career: In 2012 at age 17 Alford played in five games in the GLC hitting just .167 with a .250 OBP and 4 SB. In 2013 he would return to the GLC for 6 games and improved his AVG to .227 along with a more robust .414 OPB. In 2014 Alford played in 14 games between The Appalachian League and Class-A ball for the Lansing Lugnuts where he hit .259 with a .333 OPB and 5 SB. In the fall of 2014 Alford announced that he would no longer pursue his University and Football pursuits and join the Blue Jays organization full-time. This allowed Alford to get more work in instructional ball in the Australian Baseball League getting in 36 games, 152 AB and he posted a .200 AVG along with a .316 OBP.

Up until this point Alford had not shown his true potential but with now his entire focus on baseball many believed he could break out in 2015 since he was still just 20 years old. At the start of 2015 he was more on the back side of the Blue Jays prospect lists which at the start of the season was still fairly strong. 2015 was a very strong year for Alford, he started again with the Lugnuts played in 50 games before being promoted to Dunedin for another 57 games. All told he compiled a very strong .298/398/421 line with 27 SB over the 107 games. This propelled Alford to the top of the Blue Jays prospect lists. He moved up to 25th overall by Keith Law, #1 on the Blue Jays by MLB.com and 42nd overall. While still at a young age Alford has plenty of time to work on his craft and develop further.

Future: Alford has yet to play at the AA level and should be there this season in his age 21 season. So there still is some development to be done but with his Speed, Defense, On base skills he is projected to be a future CF option and top of the order hitter. At the moment he is behind Michael Saunders, Dalton Pompey, Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista on the depth charts and is also blocked by Junior Lake and Ezequiel Carrera on the reserve list. There is very little expectation he will be seen this season but with a strong showing could make a case as a September call up to get a better read on his 2017 potential.

Pompey has the best shot of replacing either Saunders or Bautista in 2017 depending on the teams transactions and his 2016 season. However, Alford with further development will very much be on the radar for 2017 as a call up or to battle for a spot at the start of the year. At the very least he should be seen in 2017 and get a shot by 2018. With 2 potential OF spots opening up for the Blue Jays in 2017, Alford has risen his stock at the perfect timing.

Conclusions: Anthony Alford has a very legitimate shot at seeing the big leagues in the coming years as mentioned. Because of his On base skills, speed and defense at worst he is a 4th OF but has starting potential. He so far lacks power but makes up for that with his On base and speed skills. My best prediction would be that he makes his debut in 2017 as the 2016 depth is very deep and with 2 spots opening in 2017 he should find his way on the roster by mid-season. I suspect he will fight for a starting role by 2018 and join Pompey and Pillar in the OF rotation. An OF of Pompey, Pillar and Alford would be a very nice and athletic look combination with 3 true center fielders in the mix.

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Bidding Farewell http://baseballbabble.com/bidding-farewell/ http://baseballbabble.com/bidding-farewell/#respond Wed, 24 Feb 2016 14:20:00 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1968 2015 was a great ride for the Toronto Blue Jays.  After 22 years of hearing fake war stories, complaints about the spending of the Yankees and Red Sox, and a long series of odd management moves, the team finally emerged from the shadows and landed in the postseason.  There were a number of key deadline [&hellip

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2015 was a great ride for the Toronto Blue Jays.  After 22 years of hearing fake war stories, complaints about the spending of the Yankees and Red Sox, and a long series of odd management moves, the team finally emerged from the shadows and landed in the postseason.  There were a number of key deadline acquisitions that helped to make this happen.

As fans, we wished that this team could be held together for one more run at it.  Realistically, we knew it wasn’t possible, but we hoped against hope that they could find the money to bring everyone back for another kick at the can.

Alas, reality set in, and it became clear that not everyone would be back with the 2016 Jays.  The saddest day of all for fans was when we learned that one of our beloved had left the cozy confines of the Skydome (aka Rogers Centre) to ply his trade in one of the most iconic stadiums in baseball, for one of the most storied franchises.  He had only been with us a short time, but his impact to the team will never be forgotten.

I am of course referring to none other than Munenori Kawasaki, of bush party fame.  His rise to stardom with the Jays was inevitable from the time he emerged.  He was the perfect star for a Toronto team in need of someone to cheer for.  Toronto has a long history of valuing character, grit and determination above all else.  The town that revered Tie Domi and scores of others who toiled in anonymity elsewhere was the perfect place for Muni to announce his presence.  He is the epitome of the old line from the movie Major League:  you don’t have to do something good to be famous.  You just have to do it colourfully.

Other people may remember the bat flip, but for me, the lasting memory of the 2015 season was Muni during the celebration trying to bridge the gap with a rather persistent reporter.  “I’m drunk.  English too hard.  Speak Japanese please” was the perfect way to capture the emotion of the moment for a team that had waited 22 years for playoff success.

Farewell, Muni.  Judging by the ovation every time you appeared on the field in Toronto, you will be missed by a great many fans.  May you always keep smiling, and keep the bush fires going.  Just don’t light up the ivy at Wrigley.

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It’s time (for someone else) to pay Jose Bautista http://baseballbabble.com/time-someone-else-pay-jose-bautista/ http://baseballbabble.com/time-someone-else-pay-jose-bautista/#respond Wed, 24 Feb 2016 02:51:50 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1962 It seems the hot topic of the day is Jose Bautista.  He has come out and told the world that he has named his price to Rogers and the Blue Jays management.  He has assessed his worth and has given them an all or nothing ultimatum.  He doesn’t want to quibble over ‘a few dollars’, [&hellip

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It seems the hot topic of the day is Jose Bautista.  He has come out and told the world that he has named his price to Rogers and the Blue Jays management.  He has assessed his worth and has given them an all or nothing ultimatum.  He doesn’t want to quibble over ‘a few dollars’, but just to be clear, the ‘few dollars’ that he’s talking about would take the average person a couple of lifetimes to accumulate.

Let me get this out-of-the-way right off the top:  Rogers will not meet his initial demands.  His assessment of his value is based partly on the fact that he feels he was underpaid for the past 5 years and should be compensated for it.  I presume that he also feels that he will continue to be a strong hitter and fielder for at least the next 5 years.  Rogers made a lot of money off of him and he wants his share.

Now, I don’t fully disagree with him.  At the time of signing, his contract contained risk for both sides, but there is no disputing that he has provided substantial value above the contract.  The risk turned out in the Jays’ favour.  But does that mean that they should shell out back pay as a bonus?

Additionally, there is no disputing that Jose Bautista is the face of the Blue Jays.  Some might even argue that he is one of the best and most impactful in team history, and I don’t disagree.  The bat flip may be a polarizing moment, but to me it was one of the best punctuation marks to a moment that will stand among the greatest moments in the history of the franchise.  Without question, there is a value to opening the vault and having Bautista retire with the Blue Jays in terms of fan support and goodwill.

Blue Jay fans are still upset at the departure of their ace pitcher and ace GM, with new management known only for its track record of budget management in Cleveland.  In my view, the hatred heaped upon the new management is a bit unfair.  There are some valid questions that have been asked about whether Mark Shapiro really had the track record to be picked as the top guy for his job.  That said, I am willing to give him a shot to succeed.  He has definitely been thrown into a tough spot.  The cost of last year’s playoff run was a significant hit on our prospect pool, leaving few guys who appear to be ready to be ready for the majors in the next couple of years.  Additionally, a significant portion of the team are pending free agents, including Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, who make up a big part of the core of this lineup.

Bautista’s timing and tactics are very calculated.  By going public with his contract talks, he is hoping that management is swayed by the emotions of a fanbase who are still upset over not signing David Price and who want ownership to pay anything to keep their franchise player around.  There is a fairly vocal swell of support that is saying “pay him whatever he wants.”

I think Jose Bautista has provided value far above his contract.  His offensive numbers put him in an elite class.  I think he is worth a healthy raise.  I have no problem with the notion of offering him a contract that acknowledges that he has been underpaid and gives him a bit of a bonus for that, as well as a contract that factors in his value as the face of the franchise.  But if the rumours of a request of $150MM over 5 years are even close to true, then it is time for us to prepare for 2016 as Jose’s last year in Toronto.  I cannot justify giving $30MM per year to a guy entering his late 30s whose defense is declining and whose bat and health statistically are due to decline as he gets older.

Moreover, I need to state a personal bias.  I love Jose Bautista the offensive machine, but I do not like what I see of Jose the team leader.  I will admit that my knowledge as an outsider is extremely limited.   What I have seen is a guy that shows a consistent me first attitude.  I’ve had endless debates about the value of character, and about Bautista’s character specifically.  Here are my main arguments:

  • I’m not saying he’s not a leader or a clubhouse influence, as many affirm that he is. But I’m not sure he’s a positive influence.  Every time I saw Brett Lawrie have an outburst, I thought he’s learned that well from the best player on the team.
  • I don’t have a problem with Bautista’s passion. What I do have a problem with is his tendency to blame others every time something goes wrong.  Strike out on a close pitch?  Blame the umpire.  Team not performing up to your standards at the trade deadline?  Blame management for not getting better players.  But the most recent and glaring example for me was last year in the playoffs.  A pop up drops between him and Ryan Goins due to some miscommunication.  A good veteran player covers his teammate and says ‘these things happen, we’ll both do better next time.’  Bautista says ‘check the tape’, implying that the tape clearly shows that Goins was at fault.  Sure, it can be argued that he simply didn’t want to engage with reporters on the issue, but to me, a strong leader comes publicly to the defense of a young teammate there.
  • His current negotiating tactics are another example. Whether he, or us fans, like it or not, the Blue Jays are working within a budget framework.  They have a certain number of dollars available to try to field a competitive team.  An unselfish team player starts a negotiation with the stance of finding a way to get valued while working with the team to make their contract fit within the budget framework.  Bautista says ‘I know what I’m worth, I’m not negotiating, and I know how baseball works so I’m rejecting the idea of a budget’.  Basically, he thinks he sees the pie, wants his slice, and wants to ignore how that impacts the rest of the team.

 

So, what does this all mean?  Do I think that Bautista’s demands are unreasonable?  Not at all.  As Baltimore proved with Chris Davis, there is always someone out there willing to pay more than a player is worth in a true sense.  I absolutely think Bautista has a right to ask for top dollar, and to go to the team that pays it.  But as someone who wants to see the Jays be a competitive team for years to come, I don’t want to see the Jays enter into a contract based on sentiment that ends up with them tying up significant money in a declining player who isn’t nearly worth the level of their contract.  He may be a DH soon, but isn’t asking for DH money.  If the Jays want a smarter investment, they’ll offer a contract to someone who is already a DH.  Bautista may be the sentimental choice, but extending a contract to Encarnacion is the better investment.

It’s time for us to embrace the present and move on.  Thanks Jose for all the great memories.  I hope that you get to ride off a winner and provide us some more great moments in 2016.  If you want to sit down and talk about a price that helps both you and the team, I welcome you back.  If not, we wish you well and every success as you move on to greener pastures.

For a counterpoint see Time to Pay Bautista

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Time to Pay Jose Bautista http://baseballbabble.com/time-to-pay-jose-bautista/ http://baseballbabble.com/time-to-pay-jose-bautista/#respond Tue, 23 Feb 2016 18:00:08 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1932 Jose Bautista is about to get paid. He has been one of the most dominant and feared hitters in baseball over the past six seasons. He has mashed the most HR at 227, or 28 more than #2 Miguel Cabrera on the list over the past six seasons. Take a look at the top offensive categories, [&hellip

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Jose Bautista is about to get paid. He has been one of the most dominant and feared hitters in baseball over the past six seasons. He has mashed the most HR at 227, or 28 more than #2 Miguel Cabrera on the list over the past six seasons. Take a look at the top offensive categories, and he is near or at the top in almost all of them (per Fangraphs), HR (1), RBI (5), BB% (2), ISO (1), OBP (7), SLG (3), WAR (6), Off (4). With another year close to his annual averages, Bautista is set up to make a significant amount of money on Free Agency, despite his 2017 season age of 36. Baseball still pays a significant premium for power bats (see Chris Davis, or maybe that’s just the O’s), and even at an advanced age, Bautista still has top power, mixed with his high OBP and lower SO%. His age and declining defense in RF could be the difference between extra years and top dollars though he still should get paid very well. He is not your typical aging star, which makes it difficult to get an accurate read on his total value moving forward.

Jose Bautista is in the last year of his “team friendly” 5 year $65MM deal. He will earn another $14MM in 2016, bringing the total contract to 6 years and $78MM (less $1MM buyout on picked up option). In Bautista’s media comments yesterday he said, “I don’t believe in hometown discounts. I’ve given this organization a 5-year hometown discount already.” In fairness to the Blue Jays, Bautista’s deal now looks like an absolute bargain, but at the time the deal was signed, it was considered very risky. The Blue Jays committed significant money based on Bautista’s breakout season in 2010. Bautista willingly signed the deal knowing he could have waited out free agency and possibly earned more money. That’s the risk/reward factor, and in hindsight, I will say that his comments on already giving a “team friendly” deal has truth but is deeply flawed. That being said, there is no reason for Bautista to accept an under market, team friendly deal when he has every right to test free agency in a very weak market year.

Bautista started his Blue Jays career in unspectacular fashion. On August 21, 2008, he was traded to the Blue Jays for a player to be named later, which turned out to be Robinzon Diaz. At the time, this was a small move, and was even considered to be a bad deal for the Blue Jays. Fangraphs detailed the move as a “sell low move” by the Blue Jays acquiring Diaz, and a plunder by the Pirates to ship off the underachieving Bautista.

It’s easy to forget Bautista the utility bench player, who famously turned his career around when coach Dwayne Murphy re-configured his swing and added a leg kick. In 2010, Bautista became an unexpected superstar and has not looked back. He hit 54 HR, produced 6.9 WAR, and set the table for his five-year contract extension. He is the superstar no one expected, a true underdog story, and the one that got away from countless teams. The Blue Jays lucked out. They fixed the flaws that turned him from bench warmer to superstar.

They again hit gold when they bet on him continuing his new-found elite status. He has produced 26.9 WAR or 5.54 per season over the last 5 years. When considering the cost of WAR at roughly $5 million per, and I am being conservative, (upwards of 8-10 for FA) Bautista provided roughly $134MM in value for a cost-effective team, and essentially between $64MM and $70MM in surplus value. That of course does not include the value Bautista has brought the city of Toronto, the country of Canada, and the organization as a whole. It’s difficult to quantify what Bautista has meant for the Blue Jays with an exact number, but he has been the shinning light for many years, and the face of a franchise during its 20-plus year absence from the playoffs.

How do you quantify the “bat flip” that propelled the Blue Jays to the AL Division series? Can you put a price tag on one of the most historic homeruns in Blue Jays history? Bautista firmly planted himself in Blue Jays history, his homer and bat flip will be played over and over for many years to come. It was not the MVP Josh Donaldson who hit the historic HR (though he did tie the game), it was the long-time Blue Jay, Jose Bautista. Many fans would not have had that moment any other way. It was exactly how the best story-teller could have scripted that moment. Like many fans, I was sitting on the edge of my seat, fearing the Blue Jays would be sent home packing entering the bottom of the 7th down 3-2. Then as if in a dream, Martin reached on an error, as did Pillar, Goins then also reached on an error, Revere grounded out, Donaldson blooped into a force out (Revere at 2nd) – Pillar scores. Bautista comes up with two outs and opportunity to make Texas pay for its historically sloppy disaster of a 7th…. 1-1 count, Swing and a massive drive to left… Bautista watches it sail, takes a step and tosses his bat into the air with a pronounced shout in celebration…there is deep passion on his face, adrenaline, and some deep rooted confidence…maybe even arrogance. Like many fans, I completely lost it…my wife and I were screaming, and celebrating that moment we would never forget. Our almost four-year-old was looking at us so confused and yet amazed by our outburst. It was the perfect moment.

For many fans that is what Bautista means to the Blue Jays. He is part of the history. He is our guy. We have one of the games best power hitters. When the moment came and we needed the big hit, he not only delivered, but he also gave us pure passion and a memory for a lifetime. There are some fans that don’t like Bautista’s passion (I am looking at you buddy). His outbursts a few years back at umpires caused many to turn on him and want to see him traded. Bautista plays with a chip on his shoulder, and he believes he knows the strike-zone very well…even better than the umpires. In those moments of focus, you can see how a bad call angers him. A few years ago that could get him fired up enough to lay out a few too many choice words on the umpires. Warranted or not, he has learned to control his outbursts. A few bitter fans still hold this against him, but I love the fire Bautista brings. When he strikes out in a key moment, he doesn’t just walk back to the bench and move on. He gets pissed! I love seeing the fire in his eyes. You want to hit him with a pitch or brush that elbow off the plate? Do it at your own risk because when Bautista is angry, he is a homerun crushing machine. Its beautiful.

Moving on to today. The Blue Jays have a big decision to make. Do they extend Bautista for four or even five more years when he already is at an age many players are in deep decline, or do they let him walk at the season’s end, offer him a qualifying offer, and take the pick? While it’s not known what Bautista is asking for from the Blue Jays, he has indicated that he has given Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins his number. If I were Bautista, I would be asking for 5 years and $150MM (one source indicates he asked for $30MM per year). It’s very difficult to know what Bautista’s market value is. Not many players are still performing at an elite level at 34 or 35, and especially not at 38 or 39. Can they realistically commit $30MM to an aged 39-year-old Bautista? In all honestly, that probably is a very poor risk. Perhaps his number is 5 years and $125 million factoring in his age a little.

The Blue Jays in my opinion need to sign Bautista to an extension. That might mean if he needs five years you replace this year’s $14MM option with a revised amount based on the new extension that way he gets five years but more of a four-year extension. That option manages the risk a little, and maybe bridges the gap on the five years. It’s really hard to project what Bautista gets in the off-season, but since he would be the premium offensive player on the market in a poor FA class, a $125MM+ deal might not be out of the question, on a four or five-year deal plus an option.

The biggest risk as mentioned is his age in years three through five of a potential deal. However, teams have shown they are willing to have a few bad years in lieu of elite performance at the front of a deal. Over the next five years, can Bautista be worth $100-125MM? With three good years, he could approach that value, but it’s not a good bet. It’s more likely that this contract is a bit of an overpay. However, the Blue Jays need to sign him knowing they are going to pay a premium to retain their star. They could easily walk away, but I believe they need to make this deal for the fans, and not for the balance of the budget.

I would agree that in most scenarios this is not a wise financial deal. However, at times you need to forget about the money. While I criticize the O’s on the Chris Davis deal, they stepped up to keep their guy even if no one else was willing to pay him that much. To the O’s though, he was worth it. This is one case where the Blue Jays need to show the fans they value their star, that they want to pay him what he is worth, or at the very least, give a little extra for what he has done. It’s partly because of what he has given the fans, and its also that they have no real replacement for Bautista. Assuming the Blue Jays have another competitive season in 2016, they face the risk of loosing Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, R.A. Dickey, Drew Storen, Jesse Chavez, Justin Smoak, Michael Saunders, Brett Cecil and Gavin Floyd to free agency. In the cases of Bautista and Encarnacion, that’s the middle of their powerful lineup, and there are no other FA’s that can plug those holes. They could make a trade, but they traded away all of their key assets needed to make their 2015 playoff run. The Blue Jays have roughly $60MM coming off the books in the above mentioned FA’s balanced off a little by some pay increases and arbitration raises. Still, what that leaves is enough money to keep Bautista as part of the long-term plan and several holes left to fill.

In order to keep Bautista, they might have to commit 4-5 years upwards of $25MM per year, but in doing so they will save face with their fans, who are already uncomfortable with the recent front office changes. Now, you cannot always make decisions to please the fans, but Bautista is the guy they need to keep. Sure, they could sign Encarnacion, and maybe that is the more fiscally responsible option, but signing Bautista is the move that keeps fan locality alive.

Time will tell what happens between the Blue Jays and Bautista, but the Blue Jays need to consider what Bautista means to this team and the city of Toronto before they walk away from one of their franchise’s best and most historic players.

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Michael Saunders and Jay Bruce Involved in 3 Team Deal http://baseballbabble.com/michael-saunders-and-jay-bruce-involved-in-3-team-deal/ http://baseballbabble.com/michael-saunders-and-jay-bruce-involved-in-3-team-deal/#respond Tue, 23 Feb 2016 04:22:11 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1948 UPDATE: Last night around midnight it was reported that the deal fell apart. The initial report was that there was an issue with Saunders medicals and specifically his recently injured knee. This made a lot of sense given his history but this morning Ken Rosenthal reported that the medical issue was with a minor leaguer [&hellip

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UPDATE: Last night around midnight it was reported that the deal fell apart. The initial report was that there was an issue with Saunders medicals and specifically his recently injured knee. This made a lot of sense given his history but this morning Ken Rosenthal reported that the medical issue was with a minor leaguer from the Blue Jays who was assumed to be going to the Reds. This is an interesting development as it was the first time that any additional players from the Blue Jays were mentioned. It is believed the deal is now off the table.

According to multiple reports the Blue Jays, Angels and Reds appear to be finalizing a 3 team deal. The Reds will send Jay Bruce to the Blue Jays, the Blue Jays will send Michael Saunders to the Angles and the Reds will receive a package of prospects. Cash could also be exchanged in the deal.

The Reds have been shopping Bruce for some time now as they are in full rebuild. Bruce is set to make $12.5MM in 2015 and has a $13MM option with a $1MM buyout in 2016. For the Reds Bruce is an expensive player they no longer need. Bruce has not performed well over his last two campaigns, well off his former all-star performances. Metrics have not been kind to him at the plate or on the field with negative values over his past 2 season. The Blue Jays would be betting on a return of the former Bruce and not the later. With Michael Saunders and Dalton Pompey both on the roster, there was not an obvious fit for Bruce, so moving Saunders does make room even if it’s not a predictable upgrade.

The Angels get a wild card in Saunders. The often injured Saunders lost his 2015 season due to injury and looks to have a bounce back year in 2016. He comes with a manageable $2.9MM salary but as mentioned his injury history is a risk. Still at his price point he offers large potential as he showed in 2012-2014 that when on the field he provided good value. Of course Saunders has struggled to consistently stay on the field. The Angles do get an exciting player but he comes with the mentioned poor injury history.

The package to the Reds is still not know and it has been assumed they will be covering some of Bruce’s salary. Of course there could be additional players in the deal to balance money or help cover the costs. It is hard to imagine the Blue Jays adding nearly $10 million of payroll as they have suggested they do not have much flexibility this off-season.

With the Blue Jays apparent lack of budget room, I do suspect there could be other moving pieces in the coming days. Neither the Blue Jays or the Angles have deep farm systems so it will be interesting to see how the pieces fall. Of course with Bruce’s recent performance he should not command a big haul. More to come…

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Blue Jays 2016 Roster Predictions http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-2016-roster-predictions/ http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-2016-roster-predictions/#comments Mon, 22 Feb 2016 19:58:33 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1942 We finally have the first sights of the Blue Jays baseball now that Pitchers and Catchers have officially reported to spring training. For baseball fans there is something beautiful about seeing spring training begin, it reminds us that the long wait of winter is finally over and real baseball is about to begin. Right now [&hellip

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We finally have the first sights of the Blue Jays baseball now that Pitchers and Catchers have officially reported to spring training. For baseball fans there is something beautiful about seeing spring training begin, it reminds us that the long wait of winter is finally over and real baseball is about to begin. Right now there is just hope, hope that this season is your teams year, that the baseball gods will look down on your team and smile. Regardless of the projections, hype or lack of hype seeing 0-0 in the win loss column means everyone is again on equal ground. We get to learn who is in the BSOTL or who gained too much in the offseason. We get to see rookies battle for a shot at the majors but best of all we get baseball back…

I like to make a prediction of the 25 man roster at the start of spring training. Before everything gets going its fun to look ahead at the positions in flux and make an argument for the final roster spots. With player options you might not have the best roster on opening day as some players without options will stick around until the team can sneak them through waivers, so that is always worth remember. Lets take a look at who makes the cut:

Catchers:
This is an easy category for the Blue Jays, Russell Martin has a lock on the #1 role for starting catcher and there is no real competition. The backup catcher I predict will be Josh Thole, he isn’t a good choice for a true backup but with the durability of Martin and need for Dickey to have a personal catcher, Thole wins the role. On his heels will be newly signed Tony Sanchez, I would pick Sanchez over Thole but with Dickey around Thole will be on the roster

1B/DH
We have 3 selections in this category Chris Colabello, Justin Smoak and Edwin Encarnacion. Colabello & Smoak should get the share of work in at 1B with Encarnacion spending more time at DH. However all 3 should see time between the two roles. Colabello had a great 2015 and could see the majority of playing time at 1B but Smoak brings his power bat and apparent defense (I don’t have time for that rant) which will come into play as well.

2B
With Devon Travis starting the year on the DL, Ryan Goins is the easy pick for the starting 2B role. Goins proved last season that his defense alone makes him a good choice but he also showed that there is a little life in his bat. I have always said that if Goins has an OBP of at least .300 he is worth a starting spot. Last year he managed a .318 OBP which combined with his defense is a great asset until Travis is healthy. I suspect Travis will take over once he returns as we saw last year what a potentially great player he might be. Goins however will stick around to share time and give rest needed.

SS
Another easy selection is Troy Tulowitzki at short. It will be interesting to see Tulo get a full spring with his new team which hopefully gets him more comfortable. He was open with the fact that the trade was a shock and he wasn’t comfortable in Toronto. His bat will be a welcomed addition to an already beefy lineup. NOTE: Just saw a report that he has a new leg kick similar to Bautista and Donaldson…. keep an eye on that!

3B
Josh Donaldson…. moving on… can you say MVP!

IF
The only real lock I can give right now for a backup role is Darwin Barney. With Travis on the DL and the occasional rest offered to Tulo you need a versatile backup fielder  and Barney while not much of a hitter gives the Jays a versatile option. On the outside looking in is re-signed Maicer Izturis and Matt Dominguez though I suspect there is a waiver grab or minor league deal out there for another option before opening day. You would like two on the roster but for now I will go with just Barney.

OF
In left I will pick two players, Dalton Pompey and Michael Saunders. I think they both will share time in left with Pompey seeing time in all three OF positions. In center Kevin Pillar secured his spot past year with an outstanding season and the ever powerful Jose Bautista will be in right. There has been some talk of getting Bautista some practice at 1B to see if he can eventually transition. With 4 good OF options, this leaves the option to DH Bautista on occasion which is why I suspect Pompey will get moved around a bit to cover as needed. On the outside the next two guys in case of an injury are Ezequiel Carrera and Junior Lake, there is a chance that Pompey starts in AAA to get full-time work with Lake or Carrera making the roster. However I still pick Pompey to be on the opening day roster as I think he has improved his patience at the plate and they can be creative to ensure he gets enough playing time. Though both of those guys could sneak on the roster if Saunders wins as the Left Fielder and there wont be enough starts for Pompey.

That gives us 13 so far, with a bench of Thole, Barney, and two of Bello/Smoak/Pompey/Saunders. Ideally they have an additional IF option as they could use one more but I suspect they go with a deeper pen, unless they pick up another IF not currently on the roster. I prefer the deeper bench but the Blue Jays seem to prefer the deeper pen most of the time.

Starters
Lets start with the four starters that have a virtual lock on their positions. Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey, Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ. Those four assuming good health will be in the rotation unless Dickey gets traded but I am doubtful on one despite a few rumbles over the past few months. My idealistic off-season moved the Dickey and Thole combo but so far the Jays went with their plan. The last spot is tough to peg but as of today I will go with Drew Hutchison. The team wants to believe that Hutch is worth betting on, John Gibbons recently gave him great praise in an interview and he expects him to be a top starter in the coming years. I will touch on his competition in a moment.

The locks for the pen are Drew Storen, Roberto Osuna, Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup, Jesse Chavez and Gavin Floyd. Now before you explode on a few names give me a second. You can easily argue that Loup doesn’t deserve “lock” status and that is probably true but there are virtually almost no other viable lefties to take his spot and while his 2015 wasn’t very good, I do believe it was a blimp and if Gibby uses him as a lefty specialist only he will be a good pick.

Aaron Sanchez is a good as any to be considered a lock but listen for a moment. Personally I would stretch out Osuna and stick Sanchez in the pen for his entire career. That being said I have zero impact on the decision and Sanchez has been very vocal about his desire to be a starter. While I have been hearing rumbles for years that the team is very mixed on Sanchez as a starter or reliever it appears that they are going to give him a shot to be a starter. In short he has the make up to be a top line starter but he lacks secondary pitchers, has control issues and has shown he can be moved back to the pen and be dominant if the starter dream fails. I hope to be wrong but I believe he is a setup guy in waiting. I only hesitate to give his a lock because I think there is an outside chance with the addition of Storen that Sanchez actually starts the year in AAA to work on his secondary pitches until the need arises. So he could not make the team in favour of his future as a starter instead of moving to the pen which makes the team a little stronger.

With the addition of Floyd & Chavez the Blue Jays have nice rotation depth when an injury happens, it always happens and you need depth. The problem is that I think both make the team out of the pen. Now I will pick Sanchez to make the team but if another reliable IF option is added his spot could be temporarily moved to the minors.

The Blue Jays have numerous options to fill out the pen should there be a need. Some of the better names are Ryan Tepera, Bo Schultz, Steve Delabar and Pat Venditte. Out of this list there is room for 1 more, I would pick Schultz from the list after a nice showing last year but it could be easily taken by Venditte.  There are also is a list of guys who have touched the majors and next in line depth options. However those are names you might hear of in a few months once everything has settled.

There always is the chance of injuries which could easily make a few names shift. If that happens the next in line guys I mentioned are the names I would predict make the cut. I do not see any prospects making the team this year as the upper minors has been vastly ripped apart from the trade deadline. In the end I predict the 25 man roster will look something like this:

 

Chris Colabello
Justin Smoak
Edwin Encarnacion
Ryan Goins
Troy Tulowitzki
Josh Donaldson
Darwin Barney
Dalton Pompey
Kevin Pillar
Jose Bautista
Michael Saunders
Russell Martin
Josh Thole
Marcus Stroman
R.A. Dickey
Marco Estrada
J.A. Happ
Drew Hutchison
Jesse Chavez
Gavin Floyd
Brett Cecil
Drew Storen
Aaron Loup
Roberto Osuna
Bo Schultz

 

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How will Freddie Freeman fare as Atlanta’s only big bat? http://baseballbabble.com/how-will-freddie-freeman-fare-as-atlantas-only-big-bat/ http://baseballbabble.com/how-will-freddie-freeman-fare-as-atlantas-only-big-bat/#respond Sun, 21 Feb 2016 02:42:47 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1935 It’s been a tough couple of years for Atlanta Braves fans, and that frustration is expected to continue in 2016 as the team continues to rebuild while looking ahead to moving into its new ballpark in Cobb County in 2017. That being said, 2016 could be especially long for the current face of the franchise, [&hellip

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It’s been a tough couple of years for Atlanta Braves fans, and that frustration is expected to continue in 2016 as the team continues to rebuild while looking ahead to moving into its new ballpark in Cobb County in 2017. That being said, 2016 could be especially long for the current face of the franchise, Freddie Freeman, who currently lacks protection and other players of his caliber around him.

A couple of years ago, Freeman was another power bat in a lineup that included the likes of Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and Evan Gattis. After winning the division and 96 games in 2013, the Braves brass accepted the fact that they weren’t going to be able to keep all their marquee players long-term, which initiated a huge fire sale before Opening Day of last season. Shipped out were the likes of the aforementioned Upton, Heyward, and Gattis, along with Craig Kimbrel. Throughout the season, the team also dealt away setup men Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan, starter Alex Wood, veterans Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, and finally rid themselves of Chris Johnson. The team did take on aging veterans Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher from the Indians in the Chris Johnson swap, but the team also garnered a lot of younger players and contract relief as well.

This offseason, the team put the final nail in the rebuilding coffin by dealing away fan favorite and arguably the games best defensive player in SS Andrelton Simmons to the Angels in exchange for a collection of highly touted prospects and Erick Aybar. While LHP Sean Newcomb is now considered the organization’s top pitching prospect, the trade further depleted the nucleus of players Braves fans expected to see for years to come.

With position players expected to report to spring training in a couple of days, Freeman and pitcher Julio Teheran are the only holdovers from that team that last claimed a division title in 2013. Furthermore, Freeman is surrounded in the lineup by up-and-comers and small ball players, rather than the boppers that protected him in years past. While guys like Nick Markakis, Aybar, A.J. Pierzynski, and newly acquired Ender Inciarte are all fine big league players, none of them possess the true power or fear you generally expect out of a three, four, or five hitter. Last season, Freeman predominantly hit third in an attempt to get him to plate in the first inning of every game. This year, the team might be better off going ahead and hitting him cleanup since he’s the best hitter on the team, and the most polished run producer. With contact guys Inciarte, Aybar, and Markakis hitting one through three, Freeman could have a lot of RBI opportunities. Manager Fredi Gonzalez tinkered with having Markakis hitting cleanup for a large portion of last season. While a great contact and on-base guy, Markakis didn’t hit his first homer of the season until July 20, and only had three all season in 156 games played.

30-year-old rookie Adonis Garcia surprised the Braves by belting 10 HRs in his first 191 big league at-bats, but he’s expected to split time at 3B with Kelly Johnson, whom the team brought back into the fold this offseason for his third stint with the club.

Cather A.J. Pierzynski had a resurgent year in 2015, stroking 9 HRs, and driving in 49 runs while hitting .300 with a .339 OBP. The Braves would love a repeat of that, but Pierzynski also is expected to split time behind the plate with pitch framing extraordinaire Tyler Flowers, who has returned to the club that originally drafted him. While he’s a nice role player, A.J. too isn’t able to offer the kind of protection Freeman needs to be at his most productive.

The wildcard in the Braves’ lineup will be Cuban export Hector Olivera, who was acquired from the Dodgers last season. While Olivera exhibits a lot of tools that have John Hart and the front office excited, he struggled trying to figure out big league pitching late last season. Granted, it was a small sample size, but Olivera hit .253 in 79 at-bats with 2 HRs and 11 RBIs. The team is also looking to shift him from 3B to LF for the upcoming season, so we’ll see if the new position and more experience can help the promising prospect blossom into the player the Braves envision.

While the Braves lineup is young, athletic, and able to make more contact that some of the lineups it has fielded in years past, the biggest question will be how many opportunities opposing teams will give Freeman to beat them. It’s easy to say on Feb. 20, “oh, just pitch around Freeman.” However, with speedy, contact hitters setting the tables ahead of him, there’s a good chance Freeman could do some real damage at times.

He could also very well lead the league in walks this season.

Coming off a nagging wrist injury that limited him to only 118 games in 2015, Freeman will need to stay healthy if the Braves have any shot at finishing better than their dismal 67-95 finish of a year ago.

While the team is set up nice for 2017 and beyond with the plethora of young arms and position players they’ve accumulated since John Hart and John Coppolella began calling the shots. It may be another frustrating year for the team’s franchise player whom they signed to an eight-year $135M contract after he finished fifth in the MVP voting after the 2013 season.

Braves projected lineup: 1. Ender Inciarte 2. Erick Aybar 3. Nick Markakis 4. Freddie Freeman 5. Adonis Garcia/Kelly Johnson 6. Hector Olivera 7. A.J. Pierzynski/Tyler Flowers 8. Jace Peterson/Gordon Beckham 9. Pitcher.

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Marcus Stroman Ready to Breakout http://baseballbabble.com/marcus-stroman-ready-to-breakout/ http://baseballbabble.com/marcus-stroman-ready-to-breakout/#respond Thu, 18 Feb 2016 16:51:47 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1923 I was asked today if Marcus Stroman will be a breakout player in 2016, the short answer is “yes, no doubt” but lets take a closer look at Stroman and what is expected. I have always been a big believer of Stroman and profiled him before his debut here. There is a lot to love about [&hellip

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I was asked today if Marcus Stroman will be a breakout player in 2016, the short answer is “yes, no doubt” but lets take a closer look at Stroman and what is expected. I have always been a big believer of Stroman and profiled him before his debut here.

There is a lot to love about Marcus Stroman, he always shows his big smile, has an extremely positive attitude, gives constant love to the city of Toronto and is the example of young professionals. The guy never stops winning fans over from paying off his moms mortgage, constant social love to his family, shout outs to Earl his massively built dad and genuine connection with his fellow teammates. Off the field he sets the table with a personality that every fan and front office loves to see from their starts or up and coming players.

Heading into the 2015 season, the world was ready to see Stroman lead the Blue Jays pitching staff and fave a breakout season. He was the appointed golden boy, he relished the spotlight, the table was set for him. If it was not for a freak injury in spring training during bunting drills we might have been blessed with his breakout. Instead he tore his ACL, went back to Duke University to finish his degree and made a miracle recovery.

Stroman was a write off for the 2015 season after his injury, he promised a September return but that was the best case scenario. What he did accomplish was 4 regular season starts putting up a 4-0 record, 1.67 ERA, .963 WHIP, and a remarkable 1.3 WAR. He continued to start 3 games in the playoffs covering 19.1 IN, with a 4.19 ERA and 1.345 WHIP. While it’s a small sample size, it gave many the confidence needed going forward. In his 24 career regular season starts, Stroman has a 2.99 ERA, 1.113 WHIP, 7.4 SO/9 while limiting his BB to 2.06/9.

Heading into the 2016 season, Stroman will still only be 24 on opening day and has his career ahead of him. He will be the #1 starter in a rotation that includes Marco Estrada, R.A. Dickey, J.A. Happ, one of Jesse Chavez, Aaron Sanchez, Drew Hutchison or newly signed Gavin Floyd. That is a lot of responsibility for a young player but Stroman has shown he wants the spotlight, he thrives to prove that HDMH (height doesn’t measure heart) and is ready by all accounts to be a top pitcher.

The question is can Stroman put up 180-200 dominant innings similar to his first 24 starts? It is probably unrealistic to ask him to spin a 2.99 ERA over a full season as only 3 starters in the AL achieved that last season in David Price, Dallas Keuchel and Sonny Gray. Being in that company would be an obvious massive win for the Blue Jays.

The first step in Stroman achieving breakout status is to pitch over a full season. He is projected by Steamer to pitch 193 innings with a 3.66 ERA and a 3.3 WAR. Something in that range would be very promising but probably not give him “breakout status”. In this projection he stays around 7.5 SO/9 which is not bad but not elite. To achieve breakout status he will need to move up his strikeouts more in line with his minor league numbers, he would then put himself in conversation with another stud Chris Archer. Now Archer is probably closer to what you can hope Stroman will become, expect with a few less walks and strikeouts.

What is very possible is that Stroman has a final season line something like 15-8, 3.40 ERA, 8.2 SO/9, 2.5 BB/9, 1.2 WHIP and a WAR in the 4.5 range. With this type of season Stroman will have put himself in the conversation as a top pitcher in the AL and be in position to improve on that line and be considered one of the elite starters in the game. Anywhere in between the two projections will be a successful season for Stroman, especially considering his age.

Keep your eyes peeled for Marcus Stroman because he is ready to prove that he is one of the best pitchers in the game.

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Diamondbacks keep strengthening team, add RP Tyler Clippard http://baseballbabble.com/diamondbacks-keep-strengthening-team-add-rp-tyler-clippard/ http://baseballbabble.com/diamondbacks-keep-strengthening-team-add-rp-tyler-clippard/#respond Thu, 11 Feb 2016 02:38:15 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1916 The Arizona Diamondbacks have been one of the biggest players this MLB offseason, and they’re still adding pieces, as they’ve agreed to a two-year $12.25M deal with relief pitcher Tyler Clippard. According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the deal includes a $4M signing bonus, plus salaries of $4.1M, and $4.15M over the next two season. [&hellip

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The Arizona Diamondbacks have been one of the biggest players this MLB offseason, and they’re still adding pieces, as they’ve agreed to a two-year $12.25M deal with relief pitcher Tyler Clippard.

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the deal includes a $4M signing bonus, plus salaries of $4.1M, and $4.15M over the next two season.

The 30-year-old Clippard will probably setup for Brad Ziegler, who filled the team’s closer role admirably after taking over for the dismal Addison Reed, who was shipped off to the Mets.

Clippard had a good year in 2015 while splitting time between the Athletics and Mets. He pitched to a 2.92 ERA over 71 IPs. He also has closing experience, which will only help strengthen the Dback’s pen for the playoff run they have in mind.

The team made the first big waves of the offseason by bringing Zack Greinke to the desert on a $200M-plus contract, and mortgaging its future by dealing the current number one overall pick Dansby Swanson and other pieces to the Braves for starter Shelby Miller. They also made headlines last week by shipping Aaron Hill to the Brewers in a deal for Jean Segura.

While it still remains to be seen whether or not all the moves will allow the team to challenge the Dodgers or even the Giants for the division crown, GM Dave Stewart is in “win now” mode, and the addition of Clippard is just further proof of that.

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Blue Jays sign Josh Donaldson to 2-year extension http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-sign-josh-donaldson-to-2-year-extension/ http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-sign-josh-donaldson-to-2-year-extension/#respond Tue, 09 Feb 2016 15:53:31 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1911 The Blue Jays have signed Josh Donaldson to a 2-year $29MM deal and will avoid going to arbitration for the second year in a row, ahead of his hearing which was scheduled for February 15th. The Blue Jays had offered $11.35MM while Donaldson filed at $11.8MM, many had questioned going to a hearing over such a small [&hellip

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The Blue Jays have signed Josh Donaldson to a 2-year $29MM deal and will avoid going to arbitration for the second year in a row, ahead of his hearing which was scheduled for February 15th. The Blue Jays had offered $11.35MM while Donaldson filed at $11.8MM, many had questioned going to a hearing over such a small difference but the Blue Jays currently operate under the “file and trial” strategy.

The Blue Jays have bought out 2 of Donaldson’s 3 remaining years of control and will still have 1 final year of arbitration heading into the 2018 season. While we don’t have word on the breakout of the contract yet, something in the range of $12MM & $17MM would make sense. This gives the front office a set cost for 2017, avoids going to arbitration next season and potentially gives more time on a potential long-term deal. For Donaldson he realistically doesn’t give up too much in potential earnings but also hasn’t given up any of his FA years.

Many fans would like to see the 2015 MVP locked up for the long-term and be a fixture in the middle of the order for many season to come. This deal does not do much for the long-term, it simply is a means to avoid going to this years arbitration deal and gives the team certainty on his 2017 salary. So far the new front office has not shown their cards for the long-term plan by sticking to short-term deals but again for Donaldson he still is under control for 3 season so an extension is not an immediate need. This contract could be a pillow deal until a longer term extension can be finalized which would buy out several years of FA.

I believe Shapiro & Ross need to first address the plans for Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion which will play a massive role in future payroll commitments. Should one or both leave at season’s end the Blue Jays will have some payroll flexibility as Shapiro/Ross shape the team for the coming years.

For the casual fan this deal buys a little favour with Shapiro/Ross who have a ways to go to buy the fans appreciation. It’s always a good PR move to extend the MVP  and a fan favorite but in reality it accomplishes little. I won’t suggest this was a poor move, as it’s not but it’s merely a formality. I do think before this 2-year contract expires that the Blue Jays will attempt to sign Donaldson to a 5 or 6 year extension to keep him for the long-term but for now Shapiro/Ross have bought themselves some time to sort out the long-term plan. As well Donaldson has earned himself a nice payout for the next two seasons.

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How will the new bullpen ingredients mesh in the Bronx? http://baseballbabble.com/how-will-the-new-bullpen-ingredients-mesh-in-the-bronx/ http://baseballbabble.com/how-will-the-new-bullpen-ingredients-mesh-in-the-bronx/#comments Sat, 06 Feb 2016 16:24:39 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1905 For years, one of the strengths of the New York Yankees has been its stout bullpen. With future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera evolving into arguably the greatest closer of all time, The Bronx Bombers always had him as an anchor to fall back on. Now, two years removed from Mo’s retirement, The Yankees brass [&hellip

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For years, one of the strengths of the New York Yankees has been its stout bullpen. With future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera evolving into arguably the greatest closer of all time, The Bronx Bombers always had him as an anchor to fall back on. Now, two years removed from Mo’s retirement, The Yankees brass has decided to strengthen the team’s pen by featuring three of the toughest late inning guys in the game.

After the 2013 Season, The Yankees were able to admirably fill Rivera’s role with long-time setup man David Robertson. However, after one year as Mo’s successor, Robertson took large free agency dollars from the Chicago White Sox, which opened doors for the signing of Andrew Miller, and an expanded role for Dellin Betances. Both men flourished last season, as the Yankee pen set the all time record for strikeouts in a season by a team’s relief pitchers with 596K’s in 530.2 relief IP.

That number could be shattered easily in 2016 now that the team went out and acquired star closer Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds over the winter. Chapman had another great year in 2015. For the dismal Reds, he was still an All-Star who racked up 33 saves in 66.1 IP with 116 K’s…yes, that’s 116 strikeouts in 66.1 innings pitched. Adding a 15.7 K/9 rate to an already strikeout happy bullpen is insane, but the scary part? That 15.7 K/9 rate was down from 17.7 the year before. In 2015, Chapman, Miller, and Betances ranked first, second, and third respectively in K/9 rate, for pitchers who tossed at least 60 innings, which could mean a lot of bad news for teams looking to come from behind against this group in 2016.

Furthermore, having two left-handers with that type of dominant stuff certainly gives the Yanks an arm up when facing the likes of division foes Chris Davis, or David Ortiz with the game on the line.

The Yanks will still face father time in 2016 with an aging roster, and several questions in their starting rotation, so building a pitching staff from the back-end forward is probably the best way to approach the 2016 team given the dollars owed to its veteran players.

Rather than addressing some of the other holes in the team’s roster, long-time GM Brian Cashman has instead decided to construct a super bullpen reminiscent of the Nasty Boys. Those guys were tremendous in Cincinnati, but I don’t think the baseball world is ready for the possible eye-popping, video game-type numbers this Yankees trio, and bullpen as a whole could produce when the upcoming season is all said and done.

 

 

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Blue Jays add Gavin Floyd and Acquire Darrell Ceciliani http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-add-gavin-floyd-and-acquire-darrell-ceciliani/ http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-add-gavin-floyd-and-acquire-darrell-ceciliani/#respond Fri, 05 Feb 2016 15:25:20 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1900 The Blue Jays have made two depth related moves this week as they continue to round out their 2016 roster. Team President Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins have continued to express their need for depth at the minor and major league level. Lack of depth has been an issue in years past as many [&hellip

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The Blue Jays have made two depth related moves this week as they continue to round out their 2016 roster. Team President Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins have continued to express their need for depth at the minor and major league level. Lack of depth has been an issue in years past as many fans will remember last year Chris Colabello attempting to run down fly balls in LF or that former GM Alex Anthopoulos moved significant future depth at the deadline to help aid their playoff run.

Earlier this week the Blue Jays acquired Darrell Ceciliani from the Mets for a player to be named later or cash. Ceciliani will provide depth at AAA should the Blue Jays have a need arise during the season. Currently the major league roster looks full with Dalton Pompey, Michael Saunders, Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista all locked. He will be fighting with Ezequiel Carrera & Junior Lake for the first available call up or 4th OF spot should Pompey start the season in AAA. Ceciliani comes with a little MLB experience in 2015, while his debut at the plate was sub par he did have a strong defensive showing. He has played well in the minors with a .290 avg/ .354 obp and 125 SB. At the very least he provides strong defense as depth should there be a need in the future.

The Blue Jays have reportedly signed Gavin Floyd to a contract, it is not confirmed yet if he signed a minor or major league deal. Floyd will be a potential rotation depth piece or could look to land a spot out of the pen. There is no immediate need that Floyd looks to cover but brings value as a depth option behind Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, Drew Hutchison, Jesse Chavez and Aaron Sanchez. Floyd while previously an effective mid-rotation starter has not pitched much since 2013 while recovering from Tommy John surgery and two separate DL stints due to a fractured olecranon bone in his right elbow.

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The Rise of Kevin Pillar http://baseballbabble.com/the-rise-of-kevin-pillar/ http://baseballbabble.com/the-rise-of-kevin-pillar/#respond Thu, 04 Feb 2016 17:34:04 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1891 If I surveyed baseball fans from around North America not many could probably tell me too much about Kevin Pillar and that would be understandable. 2015 was his first notable season and I would suspect most people had seen one of his highlight plays on TV or online. I will post one of his superman [&hellip

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If I surveyed baseball fans from around North America not many could probably tell me too much about Kevin Pillar and that would be understandable. 2015 was his first notable season and I would suspect most people had seen one of his highlight plays on TV or online. I will post one of his superman catches below if you have yet to see the miracle of flight. Pillar is an interesting player to me because his arrival was not that of a top prospect and he arrived in the majors at time when defense is gaining momentum. He is a great story of an underdog and had to fight his way to ensure he ever got his chance at a breakout 2015 season.

After a promising Division II College career, Pillar assumed that his success despite being at a smaller school would get him drafted. Enough so that he and his friends went out on draft day waiting for his name to be called. That never happened and by day three of the draft Pillar was not paying too much attention when he was selected by the Blue Jays in the 32nd round as the 979th selection of the 2011 Major League Draft. College seniors who get selected at the end of the draft are organizational fillers, long shot lottery tickets and not treated to the large signing bonuses like the early round picks. Pillar received a $1,000 signing bonus and has been quoted saying after taxes the $500 left wasn’t enough to buy the iPhone he wanted, for the remaining money he would have to ask his mother. It’s great to see stories of players who take their multi-million dollar signing bonus and do nice things like paying off their parents mortgages, instead Pillar’s mom had to chip in for his phone.

Instead Pillar accepted what he was given and set out to prove everyone wrong. In 2011 at age 22 (+1.5 yrs above average) in Rookie League he hit .347/.377/.534 winning The Appalachian League batting title and was named an Appalachian League All-Star, setting a team record in Average, On base and slugging percentage along the way. He capped 2011 off with being called up to the Northwest Leauge to help the Vancouver Canadians win the League title while hitting .391 in 5 games. In 2012 he would continue to impress in A ball & get promoted to Advanced A ball while playing in 128 games hitting .323 and stealing 51 bases. He was awarded Midwest League MVP, given mid & post season All Star honours and was named the best hitting prospect in the Midwest League by Baseball America. Again he would cap the year off with success by hitting .371 in the Arizona Fall League. By 2013 his success had started gather a little attention and his name started to appear on the Blue Jays top 20 prospect lists. He would play 123 games between AA & AAA hitting .307 with a .353 OBP. At the age of 24 only 2 years after being drafted Pillar would make his major league debut. He also would be the first Blue Jay’s selection of the 2011 draft to reach the majors, quite the feat for a late round selection.

Like many young players Pillar didn’t stick permanently at the majors and would again find himself fighting his way back. In his professional career this was the first time he didn’t go up to a new level and hit well, which as we know often happens in the jump to the majors. Heading into the 2015 season Pillar had seen limited success in the majors at the plate after hitting just .206/.250 in 2013 & .267/.295 in 2014. Despite his speed he only stole 1 base and showed below average power. Yet because of his strong defense and limited competition Pillar had a chance to be the Blue Jays 4th OF heading into spring training. The competition would be short-lived as Michael Saunders would have a freak accident tripping on a sprinkler head.

This would open the door for Pillar and he did not disappoint. Even as a big fan of Pillar’s potential I did not expect his breakout to be so quick and big. In 159 games Pillar hit .278/.314/.399 with 12 HR, 56 RBI, 25 SB (4 CS), 5.2 WAR (bref) and 22 Rfield playing LF & CF as one of the top defenders in the game. His defensive value was second only to Kevin Kiermaier (who took the Gold Glove by a hair) of the Rays, his WAR of 5.2 tied him with big name players like Chris Davis, Miguel Cabrera and Nelson Cruz.

It is pretty remarkable in his first full season he would bring equal value to some of the biggest names in baseball. Now many would argue that much of his value was in his defense and its hard to compare him to guys like Cruz & Davis who hit 44 & 47 HR respectably. I can agree to a certain extent as many advanced metrics value defense differently in their total value equations but that is an argument for another day. Yet today defense has become more of an important part of the conversation as players like Pillar bring a combination of excellent defense, contact skills and speed while sluggers like Cruz or Davis often have negative defensive value which is outweighed by their superior slugging skills. Finding players who bring strong combinations of many skills is also very important when constructing a team.

Given the option many teams would have chosen Davis, Cabrera or Cruz over Pillar even if they had the foresight of knowing the seasons outcomes, as many teams still value power at a greater rate which is easily demonstrated by said players contracts. Davis signed a 7 year 161 million dollar deal this offseason as teams continue to overlook flaws and pay a premium for power. Perhaps times have changed a little which is reflected in Jason Heyward‘s 8 year 184 million dollar deal this offseason. Mega contracts like Heyward’s have typically only been reserved for the elite power hitters or true pitching studs. Heyward is a player who doesn’t bring elite power but contributes very well in every category and hit the FA market at a very young age.

Now don’t get me wrong I am not projecting Pillar to be the next Heyward or saying he will again be equal in value to Davis, Cruz or similar players. We do not yet know fully what the Blue Jays have in Pillar but it does appear they struck gold with him. At worst Pillar is an exceptional defensive OF option with speed, this is why he was often considered a strong 4th OF option as he fits the bill. The ceiling of course is closer to what we saw in 2015, an elite defensive CF, around 15HR potential, 25-30 SB, strong contact skills with .300 avg potential. If Pillar continues to put up those types of numbers he will find himself a very long, financially rewarding and successful major league career.

When digging into his numbers there are not a ton of red flags saying he wont continue his success. He posted a very low 13.5% SO rate in 2015, which was 4th lowest among qualified CF and was greatly improved from his 26% SO rate in his debut season and more in line with his milb rates. While he improved his BB rate to 4,5% that is one area Pillar could look to improve which was 22/23 qualified CF last year. Increasing his OBP a little would be a big asset since he posses strong SB skills. The Blue Jays lack a true lead off hitter so with increased OBP he could be a candidate for that role. His BABIP of .306 is not unexpected given his speed and seems sustainable. Overall it appears as if 2015 was real and sustainable, if anything we have learned not to doubt Pillar.

What the Blue Jays have in Pillar is an exciting player who makes watching them very entertaining. He has earned a lot of fan appreciation and rightfully so. As with many young breakout players you have to see how they bounce back the following year. The encouraging thing for me is that we did see Pillar have bad slumps and he would adjust and bounce back. He has proven in the minors that he is very capable of hitting and will look to prove in 2016 that CF is his for the foreseeable future.

Here is a video of some Pillar highlights, around the 2:38 mark was one of my favorite catches of all time, it’s just insane.

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The Hitting Beast of the AL East http://baseballbabble.com/the-hitting-beast-of-the-al-east/ http://baseballbabble.com/the-hitting-beast-of-the-al-east/#respond Tue, 02 Feb 2016 02:29:41 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1849 Last week I took a look at each teams pitching in the AL East, you can read it here. I always enjoy pre-season projects even if they are meaningless which they pretty much are. One of my favorite tools is the Fangraphs projected standings, they have a variety of projection systems, depth analysis and playoff odds [&hellip

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Last week I took a look at each teams pitching in the AL East, you can read it here.

I always enjoy pre-season projects even if they are meaningless which they pretty much are. One of my favorite tools is the Fangraphs projected standings, they have a variety of projection systems, depth analysis and playoff odds to keep ones mind running. Not all of their projects are posted yet but once we get a little closer there will be lots more to consume. Now we can look at the AL East offences and see which teams might take the title of the Hitting Beast of the East.

Hitting:
Using the Fangraphs depth charts as a starting point we can see who they project to get the most AB and production. It’s not a perfect science but its a good tool. I always then consider injury risk, past performances or age and if their system over/under estimates their players. Based on these projections below is a spreadsheet of the top 12 players projected to get the most playing time for each team by Fangraphs (if you disagree yell at them). *Note: Gregory Bird will now miss the 2016 Season (I would suspect they add a replacement depth option shortly)

5th Place – Orioles
I could have easily gone with the Rays as its pretty close but I will give the basement mark to the Orioles. The O’s have a top line 3B in Manny Machado, some solid offensive players in Adam Jones & Chris Davis but lack the depth or quality their AL East competitors run out. If the O’s had a front line pitching staff this would be a nice lineup but unfortunately they do not and in my mind this lineup doesn’t cut it. Matt Weiters has never blossomed, they wildly outbid themselves to bring back Chris Davis on an insane seven-year 161 Million dollar contract. Davis is hit .196 in 2014 and I get it, he hits HR but for a team that doesn’t spend to the division this is a contract bound to fail. Adding Mark Trumbo who is also another flawed power hitter does little to help their overall needs. I don’t like the makeup or the balance so the O’s get the stinker award.

4th Place – Rays
In fairness the Rays very well might be the worst offense in the AL East but I like the upside and balance in their lineup a little more. The Rays always strive to get as much as possible from the little they spend. Like many other teams in the division they have a star at 3B in Evan Longoria who leads the offensive charge, while not a superstar Longoria still is a player most teams would love to have. I like the upside in Steven Souza and they have depth in the OF with Kevin Kiermaier, newly added Corey Dickerson and Desmond Jennings. As a group I think its deeper than the O’s, they have the ability to be creative when scoring runs. The Rays are always a pesky team to play while not a slugging juggernaut like some of their rivals.

3rd Place – Yankees
While not as threatening as years past, the Yankess look to have middle of the pact offense. The big question again this year will be health and age. Speaking of health it was just announced that Gregory Bird will miss the 2016 with shoulder surgery. While on the surface this seems small, it hurts as Bird was much-needed depth for Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees benefit from a bulk of middle of the pact players in Brian McCann, Chase Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner while not superstars they are all good players to have on any team. I won’t be surprised to see a few depth moves in the coming weeks as right now the lineup looks thin beyond the core.

2nd Place – Red Sox
When looking at the Red Sox there is a significant jump from the previous three teams, the Red Sox look to have one of the leagues better offenses. What Boston has done well at is building their young core with exciting players in Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., they complement  their established heroes Dustin Pedroia & David Ortiz. The additions of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval haven’t gone smoothly so far but as long as they provide average production the Red Sox will have a potent offense. Of course there is some risk if the younger players do not repeat or their aging players fall off but I think the Red Sox have the depth to survive a little turbulence. Fans should be excited to see another year with their promising young potential stars unlike the Yankees who do not have the depth of young talent to replace its ageing stars.

1st Place – Blue Jays
The Blue Jays blew the league away last year scoring 5.50 runs a game which was well above the 2nd place Yankees at 4.72. Their potent offense is back for 2016 and it has potential to be even better, the Blue Jays enter 2016 as not only the best offense in the AL East but all of major league baseball. The Blue Jays core of reigning MVP Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki is second to none. The Blue Jays also have their younger core in Kevin Pillar, Devon Travis, Dalton Pompey and Ryan Goins while not as potent as Boston’s youngsters they offer a balance to compliment the older power bats. There is very little breathing room in this lineup and that is why the Blue Jays win the title of Hitting Beast in the AL East.

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Where will some of the remaining free agents eventually land? http://baseballbabble.com/where-will-some-of-the-remaining-free-agents-eventually-land/ http://baseballbabble.com/where-will-some-of-the-remaining-free-agents-eventually-land/#respond Fri, 29 Jan 2016 04:12:44 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1852 With pitchers and catchers due to report to spring training in less than a month, there are still a number of very viable pitchers and position players still looking for a place to call home. Whether it be the market itself, the projected dollars involved, or the ever so annoying draft pick compensation attached, there [&hellip

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With pitchers and catchers due to report to spring training in less than a month, there are still a number of very viable pitchers and position players still looking for a place to call home.

Whether it be the market itself, the projected dollars involved, or the ever so annoying draft pick compensation attached, there are a lot of players still looking for work.

Ian DesmondA couple of years ago, Desmond was at least on the fringe of the conversation pertaining to the best offensive shortstops in the game, but after a rough start to the 2015 season, he had many around the game wondering why he didn’t jump on the long-term offer the Nationals made to him prior to his walk year, when he was coming off three straight Silver Slugger Awards. After hitting to the worst slashline of his career (.233/.290..384), Desmond seems to be in a situation where teams aren’t looking to offer him a multi-year deal, and him probably not too thrilled with the shorter, less lucrative deals that are coming in way under what he already declined. So far this offseason Desmond has been linked to the Rays, Padres, Mets, and White Sox. The now 30-year-old Desmond might actually have to settle for a one-year deal as he tries to rebound and rebuild his value. Perhaps then he could strike a deal more to his liking next offseason. The tricky part is, Desmond is one of five remaining free agents who turned down qualifying offers from their previous clubs, which means any new team that signs one of these free agents will have to surrender their first round unprotected draft pick to the player’s previous team.

 

Dexter FowlerThe 29-year-old Fowler had a good year for the Cubs in 2015, as he stroked 17 HRs, stole 20 bases, and posted an admirable .757 OPS in 156 games. While he’s not quite as sexy a name as Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, or Alex Gordon, Fowler could help a lot of teams looking for a good center fielder. With Yoenis Cespedes finally coming off the board this week by returning to the Mets, Fowler now becomes the biggest name on the free agent outfield market. The problem? Like Desmond, Fowler too is attached to draft pick compensation. That wouldn’t be a big deal for Cubs, Fowler’s former team, who could then best utilize Heyward in RF and keep Fowler in CF. The only problem there is creating a logjam with Kyle Schwarber and Jorge Soler who are already major league ready. The cross-town White Sox could be another fit, as could the injury-riddled Cleveland Indians. Fowler might get a multi-year deal from a club, but it doesn’t look like he’ll garner the $15.3M on a one-year deal he would have gotten had he accepted the qualifying offer from the Cubbies.

 

Yovani GallardoGallardo is a very reliable and durable starter having made 30-plus starts each of the past seven season, including 33 in 2015. He went 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA last season for the resurgent Texas Rangers, who shocked the AL by making a playoff run. Gallardo also has draft pick compensation attached to him, which is probably scaring some teams away. It’s hard to figure why teams would shy away from this proven of a starter with quality pitching so scarce, meanwhile a player like Ian Kennedy getting a $70M deal from the Royals. I know Kennedy has won 20 in the show, and is allowed to let fungus grow on his shower shoes, but come on. a 5-year deal? Yikes. Gallardo will land somewhere soon. Durable starting pitchers are too hard to find nowadays for him not to. A team will have to swallow their pride on the draft pick in order to pluck him, unless of course he returns to Arlington. Other suitors for Gallardo’s services could be the Astros, Orioles, Rockies, Blue Jays, and Mariners.

 

Other notable free agents who’ve yet to sign include Howie Kendrick, David Freese, Pedro Alvarez, Tyler Clippard, and Justin Morneau. All of these veteran players could help a number of clubs whether it be as a stop-gap bridge to an up and coming prospect, a platoon situation, or a bench role for a contending club.

 

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The Pitching Beast of the AL East http://baseballbabble.com/the-pitching-beast-of-the-al-east/ http://baseballbabble.com/the-pitching-beast-of-the-al-east/#respond Wed, 27 Jan 2016 17:14:15 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1844 Looking back at the 2015 season the AL East continued on balance a strong division. The league lacked a true bottom feeder with the final win totals being fairly close: Blue Jays 93, Yankees 87, Orioles 81, Rays 80 and Red Sox 78. Not one team ran away with the division as everyone took a turn in [&hellip

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Looking back at the 2015 season the AL East continued on balance a strong division. The league lacked a true bottom feeder with the final win totals being fairly close: Blue Jays 93, Yankees 87, Orioles 81, Rays 80 and Red Sox 78. Not one team ran away with the division as everyone took a turn in first place, however by the end of July it appeared the Yankees would take the division. Of course the Blue Jays would go on a magical second half run and end their 22 year playoff drought. Heading into 2016 it appears there again will be no bottom feeder but there also is no clear leader.

I always enjoy pre-season projects even if they are meaningless which they pretty much are. One of my favorite tools is the Fangraphs projected standings, they have a variety of projection systems, depth analysis and playoff odds to keep ones mind running. Not all of their projects are posted yet but once we get a little closer there will be lots more to consume. Either way we can look at the AL East pitching staffs and see which teams might take the title of the Pitching Beast of the East. In the future I will look at offense and defense but lets look today at the pitching.

Pitching:
Using the Fangraphs depth charts as a starting point we can see who they project to start or fill out the most innings in the pen. It’s not a perfect science but its a good tool. I always then consider injury risk, past performances or age and if their system over/under estimates their players. I will combine the Pen & Rotation for my overall rankings.

5th Place – Orioles
The O’s are the clear bottom feeder when it comes to pitching. They lack a true top of the rotation arm and have a series of question marks with their rotation. As per fangraphs their rotation should be Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kevin Gausman, Miguel Gonzalez and Tyler Wilson. The top 3 all have a chance at being serviceable mid-rotation starters (or a disaster) and Gausman could work his way to a #2 type. Not enough ceiling for me and a big depth issue. The top 4 relievers are projected to be Zach Britton, Darren O’Day, Brian Matusz and Brad Brach. Bring back O’Day to set up Britton was a much-needed but as a whole it lacks the depth compared to their rivals.

4th Place – Blue Jays
The Blue Jays did a lot of work to help ensure they have depth for the 2016 but they also didn’t bring in top talent. Under Mark Shapiro they appear to taking the strategy that with a league best offense they only need an average pitching staff. They appear to have exactly that. Top 6 starts projected are Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, Jesse Chavez and Drew Hutchison. They have a good chance at being better than their projections with very mild optimism given towards Dickey, Estrada, Happ. There also is a high ceiling for the up and coming Stroman and they boast good options for the 5th starter compared to some of their rivals. That being said there is not massive upside to the rotation. The Top 4 relievers are projected to be Drew Storen, Roberto Osuna, Brett Cecil and Aaron Sanchez. As a group the pen is much improved with the addition of Storen and should Osuna/Sanchez stay in the pen its a solid group. By no means the best in the AL but very strong.

3rd Place – Red Sox
The Red Sox pitching staff is where I disagree with fangraphs the most. They have true top end talent but I just do not buy some of the lofty projections.  The rotation as projected David Price, Rick Porcello, Clay Buchholz, Eduardo Rodriguez and Roenis Elias. There is no denying that Price was a much-needed addition for the Red Sox. Their rotation in 2015 was a disaster and having a true ace in Price is a clear advantage. However I am not prepared to believe that Porcello and Buchholz will both have strong seasons. There is a depth issue as well but the addition of Price takes them from the O’s level to middle of the pact. The top 4 relievers projected are Craig Kimbrel, Koji Uehara, Carson Smith and Junichi Tazawa. They have a nice top 4 with the additions of Kimbrel and Smith, easily one of the better 4 in the league.

2nd Place – Rays
The Rays have for years been the masters of bring up arms and then trading them once they become too costly. It’s pretty remarkable what they have been able to do and in 2015 they allowed the 2nd lowest runs per game in the American League. Projected rotation of Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly, Erasmo Ramirez and Matt Moore. Archer has grown into a true ace and probably one of my favorite pitchers in the league. Beyond Archer there is a lot to love with returns from Moore and potentially Alex Cobb near the end of the year. Of course you can never discount the classic unknowns coming from the Rays. The top 4 relievers are projected to be Brad Boxberger, Jake McGee, Danny Farquhar and Alex Colome. As a unit the pen is projected to be the weakest in the AL but because of their rotation they easily slid into 2nd place for me with the potential to be the best.

1st Place – Yankees
I picked the Yankees as the best pitching staff because when you combine their pen with their rotation I think it edges out its competitors. That being said I also think their rotation has some risk attached to it but I am going to give them the on paper benefit. Their top 6 rotation projections are Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Luis Severino, Nathan Eovaldi, CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova. If all of their arms are healthy and pitching to potential they could boast a very tough starting staff. Of course every single name listed posted some level of injury or performance risks. For me Severino looked like a legit starter in his 2015 debut which gives them a boost but they have to figure out a plan with Sabathia who looked nearly washed up at times last year. Again because of the injury risks they have the potential to fall off hard but that brings us to their pen. Their top 4 are projected as Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances and Chasen Shreve. The three-headed monster of Chapman, Miller and Betances is actually downright unfair and gives the Yankees a distant advantage as they have the ability to shorten games with their pen. So with the combination of pen and rotation I have to give the slight edge to the Yankees but of course I think they have one of the higher risk potentials of the AL east.

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What to do with Drew Hutchison http://baseballbabble.com/what-to-do-with-drew-hutchison/ http://baseballbabble.com/what-to-do-with-drew-hutchison/#respond Tue, 26 Jan 2016 19:34:53 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1836 I have always been a huge fan of Drew Hutchison, when a 15th round draft pick makes their Major League debut at age 21 that is always a great sign. Leading up to his debut in 2011 he climbed 3 levels posting a 14-5 record in 27 starts, a 2.53 ERA, 149 IP, 1.038 WHIP, [&hellip

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I have always been a huge fan of Drew Hutchison, when a 15th round draft pick makes their Major League debut at age 21 that is always a great sign. Leading up to his debut in 2011 he climbed 3 levels posting a 14-5 record in 27 starts, a 2.53 ERA, 149 IP, 1.038 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9. At the end of the 2011 season his minor league success earned him the ranking of 9th best prospect in the Blue Jays system by Baseball America.  To put that in context after stockpiling young talent the Blue Jays had the 5th best system in the MLB according to Baseball America. He was by no means a Blue Chip prospect but a solid player on the rise in a nice young system.

Hutchison made is MLB debut on April 21st, 2012 at age 21. It is always exciting to see young players step up and contribute. Hutchison would go on to make 11 starts with decent results before hitting the disabled list and eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery. It was disappointing to see a promising young player suffer a major injury so early into his career. At the very least he was only 21 and could be capable of returning in 2014 still at a very young age.

In 2014 Hutchison did again make the rotation and appeared ready to contribute. There is always a level of drop off expected in the first year post Tommy John. Still Hutchison gave 184 IP, pitched to a 4.48 ERA with a promising 3.85 FIP, his metrics looked very promising with a 2.9 BB/9 & 9 SO/9. This was a very successful season for the 23-year-old and the expectation was that with another year post Tommy John he would be ready to reach his potential or at least be a solid contributor.

Heading into 2015 I told every person who would listen that Hutchison was ready for a breakout season, I added him to every fantasy team I had. I believed in his metrics and was excited to watch him lose some of the inconsistent performances that made his numbers like ERA balloon a bit. When Hutchison is on his game its a beautiful thing, he controls the zone, strikes guys out and can pitch deep into the game. He is the type of player you want in the middle of your rotation.

2015 did not go as planned. He made 28 starts, had a shiny 13-5 record but had an ugly 5.57 ERA, by the end of the season Hutchison would eventually loose his rotation spot and not make the playoff roster. Taking a look at his metrics you see that his ERA suffered some inflation with a 4.42 FIP and respectable BB/SO ratios. They  indicate that he could very well put up average numbers next season but his 10.7 H/9 or 9.83 road ERA also show the lack of consistency. Yet at home he was brilliant, posting a 2.91 ERA and limiting batters to a .238 avg (.380 on the road).

This is exactly what makes Hutchison so confusing. On one had he was brilliant at home, would occasionally be downright nasty and on the road he was a disaster, and looked completely lost on the mound. I have read numerous theories on what is wrong with Hutchison and I hope the Blue Jays have figured it out. However that leaves us with the question of what to do with Hutchison in 2016.

As it stands today the Blue Jays have 1 rotation spot left. Hutchison by no means has that spot locked up and he will have to fight for it in spring training. His main competition appears to be Jesse Chavez and Aaron Sanchez. Of the 3 I think Hutchison might get the first crack. Chavez IMO was brought in strictly as a depth rotation piece and is there to fill a spot when it opens. As previous noted Sanchez will be fighting for the spot but he also might end up in the bullpen to start the season. Should Hutchison have a good spring I think he ends up in the rotation and  I believe the organization wants to see if he can make the necessary step forward. It’s easy to forget that the is only 1 year older than Marcus Stroman and already has several season of experience under his belt. He still is of an age where it’s not unrealistic to expect him to come into his own.

The other options are to send him to AAA to help fine tune some issues and wait there until a need arises or see if he can be an effective reliever. He has decent velocity and could potentially live at 96-97 MPH in the pen with his fastball. Of course Hutchison unlike Sanchez does not rely on movement. When effective Hutchison controls the zone, piles up the SO and manages contact but as mentioned he needs consistency to take the next step.

I do believe that Hutchison will get the first crack at the 5th spot in the rotation this season and very well could be an effective option. Of course we will have to wait to see how the spring plays out, there is always a chance someone has an injury and Hutchison could fall into a spot in the rotation.

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2016 Blue Jays Stories to Watch http://baseballbabble.com/bluejays2016-blue-jays-to-watch/ http://baseballbabble.com/bluejays2016-blue-jays-to-watch/#respond Mon, 25 Jan 2016 17:43:45 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1829 The 2016 season is finally almost upon us. With Spring Training about 1 month away we can finally narrow down the Blue Jays 2016 club with some degree of accuracy. Without going into each player the team as a whole is in a fairly strong position. The offense is very strong, the defense is improved, [&hellip

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The 2016 season is finally almost upon us. With Spring Training about 1 month away we can finally narrow down the Blue Jays 2016 club with some degree of accuracy. Without going into each player the team as a whole is in a fairly strong position. The offense is very strong, the defense is improved, the pen has firmed up and the rotation while not great has some average expectations. As a team they should realistically be a contender in the improved AL East but we can look deeper at the division another day.

Kevin Pillar
Pillar came into 2015 with a chance to be the 4th OF after some mixed results at the plate. His defense would allow him to be a great 4th OF and he had something to prove at the plate if he wanted the full-time gig. Pillar responded with a huge breakout season he batted .278, improved to a .314 OBP, hit 12 HR and stole 25 bases. Add in his out of this world defense and Pillar put up a staggering 5.2 WAR, this from a guy who had to fight his way onto the team.

Pillar was no doubt one of the best stories in 2015 and he enters 2016 as the starting CF. While its hard to image he puts up an equally strong 2016 he should be a strong contributor. At 27 he is a late bloomer, but the hope is that his recent success carries over. With some improvement in the BB%, Pillar can ensure he stays the starting CF. He is an excellent defender, has great speed and enough power for CF. With that if his avg slips to the .250 range he should still hang on to his spot. Pillar is a player that could turn out to be a real steal for the Jays, much like…

Jose Bautista & Edwin Encarnacion
What happens with JB & EE might be the biggest story of 2016. Both are in their final team friendly option years of their contracts and currently both are set to be free agents at the end of the season. If I am being realistic the Jays can only afford to extend one of their sluggers.

JB has been one of the best stories in recent memory, his rise to an elite hitter is unparalleled, his bat flip in the postseason is of legends. From an emotional standpoint you do what it takes to extend him. However you have to consider that he will be 36 in 2017 and his days in RF might be limited. An extension to JB means in time he will be a DH or a 1B if he can make the transition. He is a great choice but that leads us to EE.

EE much like JB has been a brilliant power hitter and his salary/acquisition costs are also remarkably low. We are talking about two of the best power hitters in the MLB the last 5 years. Chris Davis just signed a 7 year 161MM deal and I would argue that JB & EE have been one step above Davis. All 3 have been the elite power hitters in baseball and Davis while not as consistent has the advantage due to age. JB & EE should not get $161 million but exceeding the 23 AAV is not out of the question.

The Jays should not give $50MM a year to two aging sluggers, it doesn’t make economic sense in light of the payroll and roster construction.They will have to pick 1 or let both of them walk at the end of the year. How Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins handle this situation should be one of the bigger stories in 2016. If I had to pick, I would actually go with EE. I really love JB but if I had to pick I think EE is the better investment. He already is your DH/1B, age is on his side and while I am guessing I think he will agree to the better term. JB will want to be compensated as an Elite RF slugger, while EE is already mostly a DH and that means a lot of difference in dollars. Keeping at least 1 I believe should be a top priority.

Aaron Sanchez
Sanchez has already been said to be in the #bsofl or Best Shape of His Life, after adding 25 pounds of muscle to his lanky frame. There is no debate that the former top prospect should be on the major league roster but there is an active debate over him being a reliever or starter. Sanchez has been downright nasty out of the pen with a 1.67 ERA, a .775 WHIP and a manageable BB/SO ratio. As a starter he has been okay with a 3.55 ERA but his peripherals haven’t been so shiny and in some cases ugly like his BB rates or BB/SO ratios.

The biggest problem is that there might not be a rotation spot available with Drew Hutchison and Jesse Chavez as his main competition. There is a valid argument that Hutchison at only 25 still deserves another shot in the rotation. Hutch has shown moments of dominance that are hard to overlook despite his horrific road splits. How this story plays out should be another top story in 2016. Sanchez will be stretched out to compete in spring but I would wager that he starts the year in the pen.

I am also looking forward to see if Roberto Osuna stays in as closer or if Drew Storen is given the job. Can Devon Travis get healthy and take the job at 2B. Can RA Dickey still give 200 average innings as he enters his 40’s. Lots of great stories and moments to come in 2016!

Imagine a Josh Donaldson back to back MVP!

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Blue Jays 25 Man Roster Prediction http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-25-man-roster-prediction/ http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-25-man-roster-prediction/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 01:29:58 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1801 The Toronto Blue Jays pitchers and catchers officially report to Dunedin, FL tomorrow, February 23rd for their first workout. By the reports I have heard most pitchers have arrived and underwent their physicals today ahead of tomorrows workout. The position players will start to roll in the next few days ahead of their official workout [&hellip

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The Toronto Blue Jays pitchers and catchers officially report to Dunedin, FL tomorrow, February 23rd for their first workout. By the reports I have heard most pitchers have arrived and underwent their physicals today ahead of tomorrows workout. The position players will start to roll in the next few days ahead of their official workout later this week. Before we know it spring games will be underway and finally we will have some (fake) real baseball. This usually keeps me going for a few weeks until I am tired of spring training and ready for real baseball to start. None the less there is nothing better than knowing real baseball is just around the corner.

The Blue Jays have a few spring battles to keep an eye on with 2B, CF, 5th Starter and bullpen positions to sort out. Instead of going through those too deeply I want to look at what the 25 man roster might look like if tomorrow was opening day. Obviously going to have to make a few guesses but I will try to back those up the best I can with my predictions, feelings or bias.

25 Man Roster
Starting 9
C Russell Martin
1B Justin Smoak
2B Maicer Izturis
SS Jose Reyes
3B Josh Donaldson
LF Michael Saunders
CF Dalton Pompey
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
Bench
C Dioner Navarro
IF Ryan Goins
OF Kevin Pillar
IF Danny Valencia
UTL Steven Tolleson
Pitchers
SP R.A. Dickey
SP Marcus Stroman
SP Mark Buehrle
SP Drew Hutchison
SP Daniel Norris
CL Brett Cecil
RP Aaron Sanchez
RP Aaron Loup
RP Marco Estrada
RP Todd Redmond
RP Chad Jenkins

 

Notable Exclusions:

Josh Thole – C
With Navarro on the team as the backup catcher there is no room for Dickey’s personal catcher. Of course it is possible Navarro gets shipped when another teams catcher goes down to injury this spring or during the season. For now it looks like Thole starts the season in the Minors as the first catcher to be called up.

Steve Delabar – RP
The 2013  All-Star had a rough 2014 as he struggled with control issues, spent time on the DL and was sent home after the AAA season wrapped up. Delabar has been a solid option in the past and if he can show improved control he should be one of the first RP’s called up.

Kyle Drabek – RP
If Drabek has a good spring there is a good chance he wins one of the spots in the bullpen. Since he is out of options he would have to be placed on waivers. So his lack of options might find him a spot if he performs. However I chose to keep him off of my roster as there are better options at this point. Though I would consider keeping him around to prove himself before exposing him to waivers.

Devon Travis – 2B
The newly acquired prospect could win the 2B job out of spring but the odds are against it. Travis will likely spend 2015 in AAA but could see time in the MLB as a mid or late season callup. With several other rookies on the roster the Blue Jays will probably give Travis more time before giving him a shot at holding down the 2B job.

Notable Inclusions:

Dalton Pompey – CF
When Pompey got a late season callup in 2014 most would not have expected him to be the starting CF in 2015. The 22-year-old Canadian prodigy has seemly won the favour of the front office and all indications point to Pompey starting in CF. This move poses some risk as Pompey has not had much time above AA but the Blue Jays believe in his ability and seem ready to give him a chance.

Ryan Goins – IF
Goins is admittedly a favorite of mine for his stellar glove work despite his weak bat. There is a good chance he finds his way onto the roster as a late game defensive replacement or spot starter at SS/2B. With Izturis being somewhat of a question mark Goins could again split time with Tolleson as a platoon though the three could all see time on the field with some version of a platoon at 2B.

Daniel Norris – SP
My biggest gamble goes with Norris. While it probably is unlikely he starts the season in the rotation I think it makes the most sense. This allows Sanchez & Estrada to help balance what would be a weak bullpen. The 21-year-old van dwelling hipster might not be quite ready for the bigs and most likely starts the season in AAA. Keep an eye on the top ranked prospect as he should see time in the rotation in 2015.

At least in my mind this gives the Blue Jays the most rounded 25 to start the season. Of course as spring goes on we will find out if everyone is healthy, in the “best shape of their life” and ready to go. A lot can change during spring with  injuries, additions and subtractions so ultimately the roster will have a few variables. There are a few other players out of options that the Blue Jays might want to give a longer look, which may ultimately determine what the 25 man looks like on opening day.

Until then, have a happy spring!

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Why the Blue Jays Should Sign James Shields http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-sign-james-shields/ http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-sign-james-shields/#respond Sat, 24 Jan 2015 03:33:23 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1785 In roughly 1 month teams will be reporting to spring training. February is a beautiful time for baseball fans despite most baseball markets weather conditions not conducive to playing baseball. Yet with about 1 week to go in January, free agent James Shields still does not have a home. It’s getting oddly late for Shields [&hellip

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In roughly 1 month teams will be reporting to spring training. February is a beautiful time for baseball fans despite most baseball markets weather conditions not conducive to playing baseball. Yet with about 1 week to go in January, free agent James Shields still does not have a home. It’s getting oddly late for Shields to sign and there is no clear favorite yet to sign him. Over the last week however talk about the Blue Jays having interest has grown. What exactly is interest or internal discussion anyway?

It would come as no surprise that Alex Anthopoulos and his team have discussed Shields. AA often has mentioned that they discuss every free agent and potential trade acquisition as they assess their team needs at the start if the offseason. So when a report surfaced that the Blue Jays had internal discussion about Shields it should have come as no surprise. However with the ongoing reports and mention in the press it would appear that these discussions are more than internal player evaluations. As Shields reported asking price has dropped in the $80 – $100 MM range over 4 years, he becomes an interesting option for the Blue Jays.

Before we get too deep into Shields, lets consider what the potential Blue Jays 2015 rotation currently looks like. I will look at various factors age, salary, steamer 2015 projections, average 3 year war (fWar), 2014 numbers and risk/reward.

R.A. Dickey
Age: 40
Salary: $12 MM + 2016 $12 MM option or $1 MM buyout
Steamer 2015: 12-10, 192 IP, 4.27 ERA, 1.5 WAR
3 yr WAR AVG: 2.86
2014: 14-13, 215.2 IP, 3.71 ERA, 2.1 WAR
Risk & Reward: Low Risk & Average Reward

In his two years as a Blue Jay, Dickey has been a decent pitcher for the Blue Jays. He has given them 68 games started and more than 200 IP each season. He has been a classic, low risk veteran that goes deep into games and gives you around a league average ERA. In his two seasons as a Blue Jay he has an ERA+ of 101 which pretty much defines average. He is no ace but he should be about league average again and give the Jays lots of innings. Steamer isn’t so high on Dickey at aged 40 but Dickey is a rare pitcher since he relies on the knuckleball and his age regression is not typical.

Mark Buehrle
Age: 35
Salary: $20 MM, 2016 FA
Steamer 2015: 12-11, 189 IP, 4.45 ERA, 1.5 WAR
3 yr WAR AVG: 2.7
2014: 13-10, 202 IP, 3.39 ERA, 3.5 WAR
Risk & Reward: Low Risk & Average Reward

Much like Dickey, Buehrle has been a solid innings eater for the Blue Jays with about average results. Buehrle has the better ERA+ of 106 in his two seasons as a Blue Jay. He is pretty expensive this year at $20 MM for a pitcher who might be around league average but the Blue Jays took on the contract knowing this in the Marlins trade. As well Steamer isn’t so high on an aging Buehrle in 2015 but Buehrle has been a model of consistency in his career. You can expect some regression in 2015 but if you’re betting on innings and around league average results than Buehrle is about as sure of a bet you can take.

Marcus Stroman
Age: 23
Salary: League Minimum, FA in 2021 (earliest)
Steamer 2015: 13-10, 192 IP, 3.76 ERA, 3.3 WAR
3 yr WAR AVG: 3.3 (only 1 year)
2014: 11-6, 130 IP, 3.65 ERA, 3.3 WAR
Risk & Reward: Average Risk & High Reward

Stroman is on the opposite end of his career compared to Buehrle & Dickey. He didn’t do very well as a reliever but shined in his first season as a starting pitcher. Recently Jeff Sullivan from Fangraphs wrote that Stroman Discovered Roy Halladays Sinker and I highly recommend giving it a read. Stroman has the potential to be the true Ace that the Blue Jays have been missing. While it is too early to proclaim Stroman to be the next Roy Halladay he has shown signs of being an elite pitcher in the making. Steamer is much more positive regarding Stroman and is predicting an above average performance. Still he comes with some risk as he is still fairly unproven at the MLB level but 2015 could be his breakout year or at least set up a full breakout in the coming years.

Drew Hutchison
Age: 24
Salary: League Minimum,FA in 2019 (earliest)
Steamer 2015: 12-9, 173 IP, 4.07 ERA, 1.9 WAR
3 yr WAR AVG: 1.5 (2 years)
2014: 11-13, 184 IP, 4.48 ERA, 2.6 WAR
Risk & Reward: Average Risk & Above Average Reward

Hutchison had a good 2014 considering he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. While the ERA wasn’t great he showed a lot of positive signs with 9 SO/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a FIP of 3.85 suggesting he was a little unlucky. From my perspective Hutchison was proned to the occasional blow up which ballooned his ERA a bit. At only 24 and two partial seasons under his belt there is a lot to like about Hutchison. I have been a strong supporter as I love guys who have strong SO/BB ratios. Steamer is projecting him to be slightly below average but I think he will take a positive step forward in 2015. While I don’t expect him to have the ceiling of Stroman, Hutch could easily be a strong #2 or #3 for the Blue Jays for many years to come.

Marco Estrada
Age: 31
Salary: $3.9 MM, FA in 2016
Steamer 2015: 3-2, 55 IP, 3.43 ERA, .2 WAR
3 yr WAR AVG: 1.5
2014: 7-6, 150 IP, 4.36 ERA, -.3 WAR
Risk & Reward: Average Risk & Below Average Reward

Aaron Sanchez
Age: 22
Salary: League Minimum, FA in 2021 (earliest)
Steamer 2015: 8-9, 150 IP, 4.83 ERA, -.3 WAR
3 yr WAR AVG: .6 (1 year)
2014: 2-2, 33 IP, 1.09 ERA, .6 WAR
Risk & Reward: High Risk & High Reward

The leading candidates for the 5th spot comes down to Estrada vs Sanchez. This is a tough call as the organization has indicated that Sanchez is the future and they want to give him the chance but at the same time they could use him in the bullpen. In the bullpen his fastball which averaged 97.1 MPH combined with his Curveball at 81.4 MPH was enough to keep hitters off balance and he proved to be a dominant arm in the pen. Currently the pen is need of an arm like Sanchez and you could argue that he needs more time to develop his third pitch and a year in the pen could be good for him. At only 22 years old there is plenty of time to develop Sanchez but if he can he a dominant starting pitcher the Blue Jays want to give him that chance. The major issue is that in the minors he has struggled with his command and has a career 4.8 BB/9. Out of the pen in 2014 he was able to limit the walks to a respectable 2.5 /9 IP. You can make a similar case for Estrada in that he might be more valuable out of the pen and not the rotation. At the moment I think Estrada is the true leader for the 5th spot despite what the front office has suggested. I think Sanchez still needs more time to develop and even if Sanchez gets the first shot in the rotation there is a good chance Estrada gets more IP.

Currently you have two average inning eaters, one big young gun, one young gun on the rise and a battle for the 5th spot between the big name prospect and the aging soon the be relief pitcher. Overall its not a bad rotation, it has the potential to be good or even great but its more likely just average. If Sanchez is dominant than its a very solid rotation but thats asking a lot from a 22 year old prospect who has yet to show he can limit the walks and still needs work on his additional pitches. You can live with Estrada as a 5th starter but ideally he is better served in the bullpen. At the moment next in line is Daniel Norris who also is a big name prospect but still a big risk. While I like the depth, I believe it lacks options you can reasonably count on if you lose one of the top 4 to injury.

This is where James Shields comes back into play. Lets look at Shields in the same way as the Blue Jays projected rotation.

James Shields
Age: 33
Salary: FA, expected to be around $17-$20 MM over 4 years
Steamer 2015: 13-11, 201 IP, 3.62 ERA, 3 WAR
3 yr WAR AVG: 4
2014: 14-8, 227 IP, 3.21 ERA, 3.7 WAR
Risk & Reward: Low Risk & Above Average Reward

Shields would become the Ace of the staff even if he is more of a true #1A or #2 starting pitcher. Much like Buehrle you can count on Shields for 200 IP but you can expect those to be better quality innings of above average production. In his last 2 years with KC he had an ERA+ of 127 which is well above what Dickey & Buehrle have produced over the same period. Sliding Shields in the rotation gives the Blue Jays a stronger starting 5, more depth and takes the rotation from average to good.

Why Shields is the guy:

The Blue Jays have a strict 5 year max free agency policy. When it comes to signing the most elite players, this policy takes the Blue Jays out of the running. Shields is expected to sign a 4 year deal which puts the Blue Jays in the running.

Improve where you can. AA has taken the opportunity this offseason to improve the team where he can. He has not been able to fix 2B or the bullpen but he did improve at catcher, 3B and made some other savvy moves. Signing Shields gives the Blue Jays a net improvement in the starting rotation. It might not be the biggest hole but it solves a few issues.

Fixes the Bullpen. By signing Shields both Estrada and Sanchez can move to the bullpen. This gives the Blue Jays two reliable bullpen options and improves the pen’s outlook which is currently a weakness.

Gives Sanchez more time. As much as I am a fan of Sanchez I also believe he needs more time to develop. This takes the pressure off of needing Sanchez to be in the rotation. Once the rotation opens up in 2016 the Blue Jays can look to move Sanchez into a starting role.

Veteran for next 4 years. The Blue Jays have lots of young controllable pitchers who they expect to be the future. With Buehrle leaving after 2015 and Dickey leaving at the end of 2015 or 2016 this opens up two spots and around $33 MM. Having Shields as a fixture could help anchor the young staff.

Why Shields is not the guy:

Budget issues: As I mentioned previously there has been a lot of discussion around the Blue Jays payroll. If the Blue Jays only have $5-$7 MM left to spend than fitting in Shields would be tough for 2015. They can either backload the deal or clear more room by trading Navarro. AA has previously mentioned that even though they have a general payroll ownership is open to the discussion.

He doesn’t want to sign. The Blue Jays have had some issues in the past signing Free Agents. Whether its the fear of a foreign country, tax issues, playing on turf or any other list of reasons often FA don’t want to come. Russell Martin is the exception this year but he is Canadian and wanted to come home.

The Jays stand pat. The Blue Jays have several needs to fill and reportedly not a lot to spend. They could choose to stand pat on their rotation and try to address other needs.

The Blue Jays look to be a solid option for James Shields. The next few weeks should shed some light as to where he ends up. Stay Tuned!

 

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What is the Truth about the Blue Jays Payroll? http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-2015-payroll-truth/ http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-2015-payroll-truth/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 20:42:07 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1776 The Blue Jays 2015 payroll is an enigma. Earlier this offseason president Paul Beeston suggested the payroll would increase in 2015 from about $137 MM in 2014. The common speculation was that with the needed improvements and roster commitments the 2015 payroll should fall in the $140-150 MM range. Currently the 2015 roster as stacks up to [&hellip

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The Blue Jays 2015 payroll is an enigma. Earlier this offseason president Paul Beeston suggested the payroll would increase in 2015 from about $137 MM in 2014. The common speculation was that with the needed improvements and roster commitments the 2015 payroll should fall in the $140-150 MM range.

Currently the 2015 roster as stacks up to about $125 MM which includes arbitration estimates from MLBTR and reasonable guesses on the pre-arb players which fall into a $505K-520K range. The one player which could shake this up is Dioner Navarro, who has been expected to be traded. This would free up $5 MM and my calculations include 26 players as I couldn’t choose between several replacement options. So the current roster which is has some holes stacks up to about $120-125 MM.

As mentioned previously this would suggest the Blue Jays have a lot of money to spend in the range of $15-25 MM depending on what happens to Navarro. That range of available cash should be enough to fill in a few empty holes the Jays currently have. However recently several Blue Jays reporters have suggested there is not a lot of cash available. Richard Griffin of The Toronto Star noted there is about $9 MM remaining and Shi Davidi suggested AA has $5-7 MM left to spend.

This stood out to me as going in the 2015 offseason AA was adamant the bullpen needed to be fixed and was one of the main reasons they missed the playoffs in 2014. Additionally with the losses of Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus, Casey Janssen and the second base black hole the Blue Jays would probably need to spend.

AA started off the offseason at an incredible pace. He was traded 1B/DH Adam Lind for RHP Marco Estrada. Lind was a little redundant and they gained a bullpen or 5th starter in Estrada while saving around $3 MM. He signed Canadian Catcher Russell Martin to a 5yr/ $82 MM deal which was by far his biggest FA signing to date. Navarro did a good job, they could have lived without the improvement but he was also going to be a FA after 2015 and Martin gives the Blue Jays young pitching staff a large defensive & pitch framing advantage. In pure AA ninja style he acquired 3B Josh Donaldson for 3B Brett Lawrie,RHP  Kendall Graveman, SS Franklin Barreto and LHP Sean Nolin. AA somehow managed to get one of the top 5 players over the past few years without giving up any of his top prospects. He did give up a solid player in Lawrie (when healthy) and two pitchers who could have been future rotation arms but probably decent relief options. Somehow Oakland will turn them into stars but its doubtful they would have been more than pen options with the Blue Jays. Next once it appeared that Mekly was not returning he sent SP J.A. Happ to the Mariners in exchange for OF Michael Saunders. Saunders could be Melkys equal in 2015 but if you had to pick the safe option you go with Melky and pay the money.

Overall these are some solid moves. You make two improvements at positions that probably didn’t need to be fixed but I can’t fault AA for making improvements where he could. Additionally he filled in his LF hole with a reasonable and inexpensive option, can’t complain and I never really liked Happ anyways. It’s good he is gone because he was slowly wearing me down and I started to rationalize why he was a good option. This opens the 5th spot for Estrada or Aaron Sanchez which makes sense and saves money.

However second base right now still has no owner they can trust and the bullpen is a complete gamble. AA sent speedy OF Anthony Gose to the Tigers for 2B prospect Devon Travis, again this is a solid move and I love it for both teams. The only issue is that Travis is not expected to MLB ready and probably still needs at least 1 more year in the minors. So for 2015 you are looking at Steven Tolleson, Maicer Izturis & Ryan Goins. I love me some Goins and his spectacular defense but the guy just can’t hit, Tolleson is a great bench bat as he crushes LHP but maybe redundant with Danny Valencia and Izturis was injured for nearly all of 2014. You take Goins & Tolleson as bench options but you can not trust Izturis to be even a semi regular at 34 coming off a major knee injury.

Right now the Blue Jays Pen looks something like this: RH Marco Estrada, LH Brett Cecil, LH Aaron Loup, RH Todd Redmond, RH Chad Jenkins and… a list of big questions RH Steve Delabar, RH Kyle Drabek,LHP Daniel Norris, LHP Ricky Romero (okay not really but he is getting paid $7.75 MM) and a list of guys you might have never heard of. Cecil and Loup are nice arms but might not be 9th inning guys, Redmond did well as a low leverage reliever, Estrada has been effective as a reliever and Jenkins somehow manages to get hitters out. What you have is a decent group of 5 guys and that is not a terrible starting point. What is missing is a lights out RHP and a closer. I buy the argument that closers can be overrated but right now I am not seeing a lights out 9th inning guy who can dominate. Cecil might be the one guy in the bunch or Sanchez or even Norris but right now there are holes. Relief pitchers are not trustworthy, take Delabar for example he had a great 2013 but his walk rate spiked as his strikeout rate plummeted in 2014 and he looked washed up and might start 2015 in the minors.

The bullpen is a delicate and fragile beast, one that needs a few electric arms that can dominate consistently. However as we can see the Blue Jays have a handful of good arms and a sea of potential or maybe a wasteland of rejected starters. It’s risky and when you want to content you need a little less risk. If Delabar can’t throw strikes, Cecil gets injured or Estrada turns nada the Blue Jays might be in for a long season.

So naturally the Blue Jays should sign one of those lower risk relief FA’s and maybe add another on the trade market. Think again, the FA market is long dried up and old Blue Jay Casey Janssen might be the best remaining. The same guy who lost his closer job, looked kinda pissed and really was terrible in the second half after a bad case of food poisoning.

I don’t envy AA at this point. The guy has made some pretty impressive moves this offseason and yet he has half a pen and no true second baseman. If he in fact only has $5-7 MM his options are a bit limited at this point. He might be forced to trade Navarro to free salary space and then trade potentially valuable future pieces for a top pen arm. That would not leave enough money to fill all the holes and maybe round out the bench.

Either way there is a mystery around the payroll numbers and it has been suggested that the current exchange rate could be a major factor. At the moment a projected payroll of $125 MM USD puts it at about $146 MM CAD. This could be a factor but at the moment the truth has yet to be revealed. If a few million is the deciding factor it would be hard for Blue Jays fans to watch another season end with a good but not great result. The Blue Jays have built some nice teams over the past 10 years but they have yet to build a great team and AA is close in 2015. If he can fill in some holes, there is a chance but they probably come short if $5 MM is truly all that remains.

Keep an eye out for more articles like Davidi’s latest. That will tell the story of what to expect over the next two months. Does the topic change to how they believe in their pen, how young guys like Norris will be the difference, how Estrada is AA’s big pen arm and other pieces with the intent to swing popular opinion. At the moment I fear more articles trying to suggest the Blue Jays love their pen, despite a few months ago publicly shaming it.

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Teams with the most WAR Hitters http://baseballbabble.com/teams-war-hitters/ http://baseballbabble.com/teams-war-hitters/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 04:17:39 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1765 Recently I was thinking about how some teams have multiple elite hitters while others might have one superstar mixed with average hitters or others have no elite players to be found. This got me interested in looking at all 30 MLB teams to see how each team fairs with top hitters. So I decided to [&hellip

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Recently I was thinking about how some teams have multiple elite hitters while others might have one superstar mixed with average hitters or others have no elite players to be found. This got me interested in looking at all 30 MLB teams to see how each team fairs with top hitters.

So I decided to take the 3 year WAR totals from the MLB and find the top 60 players from 2012-2014. I decided on the 3 year totals to help find a better average. If I took 1 year, than I might find players who had 1 great season or miss players that had injuries. Three years gives enough time to account for some time loss to injury and is not too long to account for most players who have declined sharply. It does eliminate rookies or some players who have recently broke into the league but most players take a few years to reach elite status. By no way is 3 years perfect but it helps to get a good understanding. I settled on the top 60 players instead of maybe 50 as there are 30 teams and 60 sounded like a nice cutoff.

For the sake of this article lets call the top 60 players elite players. There are a few that didn’t make the cut that could be considered elite but over the past 3 years the players on my list provided the most value. Lorenzo Cain came in as number 60 on the list with 9.2 WAR. He also accomplished this in the fewest plate appearances at 1188. This suggests that true elite players even with some lost time could still make the top 60. Another factor was how many players have moved this offseason, however not as many of the top 60 moved teams which made sorting a little easier.

I wanted to see going in to 2015 which teams have the most elite hitters and what that might tell about 2015. First off lets look at the top 10 players over the past 3 years according to WAR.

Name Team WAR
Mike Trout Angels 28.4
Andrew McCutchen Pirates 21.8
Miguel Cabrera Tigers 19.8
Robinson Cano Mariners 19
Buster Posey Giants 18.2
Adrian Beltre Rangers 17.3
Ben Zobrist Rays 17
Carlos Gomez Brewers 16.4
Alex Gordon Royals 15.7
Josh Donaldson Blue Jays 15.6

No surprise that Mike Trout leads the list with a massive 28.4 WAR, at only 23 Trout is currently dominating the MLB at a significant rate. Even going down to Josh Donaldson at #10 we see a significant drop off of 12.8 WAR or the equal value Joey Votto & Kyle Seager provided their respective teams over the past 3 years. Also consider that the Athletics traded Donaldson this offseason who is the only top 10 player to get signed or moved this offseason. Some people would be surprised to see Ben Zobrist on the top 10 list but he is just so consistent in putting up high WAR totals it should not be a surprise. Moving on to the bottom 10 we see a lot less variation.

Name Team WAR
Salvador Perez Royals 9.5
J.J. Hardy Orioles 9.5
Bryce Harper Nationals 9.5
Adrian Gonzalez Dodgers 9.5
Jose Reyes Blue Jays 9.5
Josh Reddick Athletics 9.5
Erick Aybar Angels 9.5
Chris Davis Orioles 9.4
Austin Jackson Mariners 9.3
Lorenzo Cain Royals 9.2

All of the players in the bottom 10 only vary by .3 WAR which is a pretty small margin considering the significant variations near the top but not unexpected. A few guys on the bottom 10 stood out to me. First off Chris Davis was not very good in 2014 with a .196 BA and .5 WAR but his 6.8 WAR in 2013 gets him in the top 60. I didn’t expect to see Jose Reyes on the list but he makes the top 60 by staying consistent over the past 3 years despite only playing 93 games in 2013. These factors point to why I wanted to look at 3 year totals, some players have provided elite production by having monster years and others by giving consistent value.

As I expected some teams did not have any players in the top 60. Four clubs get this distinction and they are the Astros, Cubs, Padres and White Sox. I had to double-check that Jose Altuve wasn’t in the top 60 but seeing 2014 is his only elite season with 5.1 WAR he fell in at #83. These 4 teams have also had very active offseasons and are making strides to improve. Jed Lowrie who joined the Astros falls 1 spot ahead of Altuve, Jose Abreu of the White Sox looks to be a future top 60 with a 5.3 WAR in his first showing and new teammate Melky Cabrera falls in at #116 with a 3yr total WAR of 6.2. The Padres have also been making additions with Will Meyers & Matt Kemp but neither have come close to the top 100 in the past 3 years. Kemp has had some elite seasons but has not been consistent and injured while Meyers has potential to join the elite hitters but it has yet to be seen. At the very least the Astros & White Sox should have at least 1 or two players in the top 60-100 range in the near future.

Now on to the Top 5 teams with the most elite hitters on their rosters for 2015 based on the past 3 yrs.

#5 – Mariners – 3 Elite – 41 Total WAR – 13.7 Avg per year – 4.6 Avg Player

The Brewers, Dodgers, Rays and Royals also had 3 Elite players but the Mariners take the 5th spot with the highest overall WAR number. Robinson Cano leads the team at #4 with 19 WAR, Kyle Seager comes in at #23 with 12.8 WAR and Austin Jackson finishes the Mariners at #59 with 9.3 WAR. The Mariners also added Nelson Cruz but he comes in at 104 with 6.6 WAR.

#4 – Orioles – 4 Elite – 43 Total WAR – 14.3 Avg per year – 3.6 Avg Player

Adam Jones starts off at #16 with 14 WAR, Manny Machado comes in at #44 with 10.1 WAR, J.J. Hardy comes in at #52 with 9.5 WAR and Chris Davis rounds off the list at #58 with 9.4 WAR. The Orioles have the lowest average WAR per player at 3.6 but they make up for it with 4 Elite players.

#3 – Nationals – 4 Elite – 44.3 Total WAR – 14.8 Avg per year – 3.7 Avg Player

The best of the Nationals starts with Ian Desmond at #17 with 14 WAR, Denard Span comes in at #38 with 10.8, Jayson Werth comes in at #45 with 10 WAR and Bryce Harper finishes the list at #53 and 9.5 WAR. Similar to Orioles the Nationals have one top 20 player and 3 players near the bottom 20.

#2 – Cardinals – 5 Elite – 65.6 Total WAR – 21.9 Avg per year – 4.4 Avg Player

The top Cardinal is the newly acquired Jason Heyward at #13 with 14.8 WAR he just beats out Yadier Molina #14 with 14.6 WAR, Matt Holliday comes next at #24 with 12.7 WAR, Matt Carpenter comes in at #26 with 12 WAR and Jhonny Peralta finishes the Cardinals at #31 and 11.5 WAR. The Cardinals have 5 elite players with an average of 4.4 WAR per player.

#1 – Blue Jays – 5 Elite – 71 Total WAR – 23.7 Avg per year – 4.7 Avg Player

The Blue Jays take the #1 spot with 5 elite players and the highest Average WAR of 4.7 per player in the top 5. Newly acquired Josh Donaldson tops the Blue Jays at #10 with 15.6 WAR, next is Jose Bautista at #21 with 13.4 WAR, followed by Edwin Encarnacion at #30 with 11.6 WAR, newly acquired Russell Martin is right behind Edwing at #32 with 11.4 WAR and the final Blue Jay is Jose Reyes at #55 with 9.5 WAR.

Having elite players is a great way to build an offense and it goes without saying you need to fill the remaining roster with quality players. If this exercise shows anything, it shows these top five teams have a solid foundation in elite players. Past performance is never a guarantee of future success but it can be a useful starting point. In thinking about the potential top teams many of the actual top 5 were in my mind. I was expecting stronger showings from the Red Sox, Dodgers and Tigers but while they have Elite level performances they did not have the bulk of consistent performers. The Dodgers missed the cut by losing Hanley Ramirez which would have put them ahead of the Mariners.

In total last year the Blue Jays’ hitters had a team WAR of 23.6 which is nearly equal to the average yearly WAR of their top 5. The average total includes this years additions of Martin & Donaldson which indicates the Blue Jays should have a top offense in 2015. Last year the Dodgers led the league with 31.2 WAR which gives us a good base to consider.

Again you do need an overall offense which is why the Red Sox did not make the top 5 in elite players. The Red Sox only had 2 Elite players in Dustin Pedroia & newly acquired FA Hanley Ramirez. However they do fill out their roster well with non elite players who are average to above average performers. David Ortiz & Pablo Sandoval are examples of players who did not make the top 60 but fall into the next category and offer strong value but not elite value.

Most teams would jump at the chance to acquire or sign the players listed on the top 60, it of course does not include some of the rookies or up and coming players but it does give some insight into which teams are positioned to have strong offenses.

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Winter Meetings & Moves http://baseballbabble.com/winter-meetings-moves/ http://baseballbabble.com/winter-meetings-moves/#respond Wed, 10 Dec 2014 15:04:37 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1738 The annual Winter Meetings are upon us! So far the 2014-2015 MLB offseason has been a busy one with many top names in play. We have already seen a blockbuster with the Oakland Athletics sending All-Star 3B Josh Donaldson for 3B Brett Lawrie, Prospects: SS Franklin Barreto, P Kendall Graveman, and P Sean Nolin. A few quality [&hellip

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The annual Winter Meetings are upon us! So far the 2014-2015 MLB offseason has been a busy one with many top names in play. We have already seen a blockbuster with the Oakland Athletics sending All-Star 3B Josh Donaldson for 3B Brett Lawrie, Prospects: SS Franklin Barreto, P Kendall Graveman, and P Sean Nolin. A few quality bats have already signed with the Blue Jays picking up catcher Russell Martin, the Braves signing OF Nick Markakis, Boston grabbing the pair of Pablo Sandoval & Hanley Ramirez, with Seattle signing the best power bat in DH Nelson Cruz. The Yankees moved quickly to sign the best left-handed RP on the market in Andrew Miller before the winter meetings opened.

So far the pitching market has been very slow-moving with Jon Lester being the expected top Free Agent SP to sign. Rumours have indicated that Lester could sign very soon and perhaps during the Winter Meetings. Once Lester finds a home we could see the market for James Shields, Max Scherzer and the Tier 2 FA’s start to build traction.

We will keep updating this post to include any significant moves at the Winter Meetings.

Trade: Athletics send OF/1B Brandon Moss to the Cleveland Indians for minor league 2B Joe Wendle.
Quick Thoughts: The Athletics are continuing to overhaul their team by moving many key major league assets which are starting to get into their arbitration years. The A’s are building for the future and either clearing salary for their next big move or are looking to the future. Now for the Indians it will be interesting to see if Nick Swisher is the next guy they move.

FA: The Chicago White Sox sign closer David Robertson to a reported 4 year $46MM contract.
QT: The White Sox are making a very serious run at improving quickly, they are reportedly finalizing a Jeff Samardzija trade and have already added Adam LaRoche & Zach Duke. Robertson is getting a huge contract for only one year of closing experience. While he has been a solid reliever for several years the White Sox are paying big dollars to acquire his services.

Trade: The Athletics send SP Jeff Samardzija & minor league pitcher Michael Ynoa to the White Sox in exchange for four minor league players, Marcus SemienChris BassittJosh Phegley and Rangel Ravelo
QT: Billy Beane is a smart guy and I will not question his roster moves and I mean changing his entire team  Additionally the White Sox are quickly getting significantly better. The Shark will join ace Chris Sale & Jose Quintana as a very strong top 3 starting rotation for the White Sox.

FA: The Pittsburgh Pirates have resigned free agent SP Francisco Liriano to a 3 year $39MM contract
QT: Liriano has pitched well for the Pirates over the past 2 seasons and this signing comes as no surprise and is a great sign for the Pirates. He has been part of the success of the Pirates over the past two years and at $39MM/3 years it is probably about market value considering his 4.5f WAR over the past 2 seasons.

Trade: The Chicago Cubs have acquired catcher Miguel Montero from the Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league players Zack Godley and Jeferson Mejia.
QT: Montero still has 3yrs and $40MM on his contract who has not performed well over the past two seasons. Still he is seen as a strong defender and pitch framer, so Chicago is taking a little financial risk and could benefit if his offence returns. Either way we should expect more movex from the Cubs who are looking to take a step forward.

FA: The Chicago Cubs have signed free agent SP Jon Lester to a 6yr $155MM contract with a vesting 7th year $15MM option
QT: The Cubs are making noise and this is a huge get for them. Lester reportedly turned down a $135MM offer from the Red Sox and a $150M offer from the Giants. All offseason we have been waiting on Lester to move, we should see the fallout moves in short order as Boston now has to jump on plan B and the Tier 2 pitchers should start to sign.

FA: The Houston Astros signed free agent RP Luke Gregerson to a 3yr $18.5MM contract.
QT: Teams have been paying this offseason for quality relief pitching and Gregerson has been a very solid in relief over his 6 year career. Nice get for the Astros who have been rumored to be in on several of the top available relief pitchers this offseason.

FA: The Astros signed free agent RP Pat Neshek for 2yrs/$12.5MM with a 3rd year option
QT: The Astros managed to strengthen their pen with back to back signings of two of the better RP options on the free agent market. Neshek cashed in on a very strong 2014 season which saw him put up a 197 ERA+.

Trade: The Pirates acquire RP Antonio Bastardo from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for minor league pitcher Joely Rodriguez
QT: The Phillies long overdue sale has officially started and it will be interesting to see how many pieces start to fall into place. The Pirates have been quietly putting together a strong offseason despite not resigning Russell Martin.

Trade: The Miami Marlins acquire IF Dee Gordon & Dan Haren from the LA Dodgers in exchange for RP Andrew Heaney, 2B Enrique Hernandez, C Austin Barnes and RP Chris Hatcher.
QT: The Dodgers got a nice volume of players in exchange for Dee Gordon. Now the interesting part is that Dan Haren has suggested he would retire if traded. Some are speculating that another move could be lined up as Haren has requested to only pitch for the Dodgers or Angels. The Marlins get Gordon who had a breakout year in 2014 and is still controllable for 4 more years as he enters arbitration.

Trade: The Red Sox have acquired SP Wade Miley from the Diamondbacks in exchange for SP Rubby De La Rosa, P Allen Webster and one other minor league player.
QT: The Red Sox picked up their first piece in their Rotation upgrade and got a mid level starter in Miley, while Rubby De La Rosa has shown some potential he has yet to give the consistency the Red Sox need.

Trade: The Tigers acquired OF Yoenis Cespedes, RP Alex Wilson & pitching prospect Gabe Speier from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for SP Rick Porcello and RP C.J. Nitkowski.
QT: The Red Sox are moving to fill in their rotation holes and added a nice pitcher in Porcello while dealing from their outfield depth in Cespedes. This is a good move for the Tigers as they address their need for another OF bat and add some much needed bullpen depth.

Trade: The San Diego Padres have acquired OF Matt Kemp & C Tim Federowicz from the Dodgers in exchange for C Yasmani Grandal, P Joe Wieland and likely pitching prospect Zach Eflin. The deal is also expected to include around $30MM from the Dodgers to cover a portion of Kemp’s $107MM contract
QT: Kemp has been rumoured to be on the move all winter and the Padres have won the bidding. The Dodgers are getting a complete makeover under new GM Andrew Friedman giving the Dodgers a balance between expensive aging players and young talent.

Trade: The Marlins have acquired Mat Latos from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for SP Anthony DeSclafani & Catching prospect Chad Wallach
QT: The Reds have 3-4 starting pitchers on the block and Latos is the first to go. I had been believing that Alex Anthopoulos would try to acquire Latos as he has always coveted him but the Marlins have won the bidding and get a solid addition to their rotation for 2015.

Trade: The Tigers have acquired SP Alfredo Simon from the Reds in exchange for SS Eugenio Suarez and P Jonathan Crawford
QT: The Tigers needed to replace Porcello and wasted no time in acquiring Simon. As mentioned the Reds are in sell mode and picked up two young pieces in the process.

FA: The Minnesota Twins have signed free agent SP Ervin Santana to a 4yr/54MM contract with a 5th year vesting option
QT: Pretty amazing what 1 year made for Santana, he had to sign a 1yr deal with Atlanta due to his qualifying offer holding him back. However he gets a nice 4-5 year deal with the Twins and could put up decent numbers at Target Field. Santana was one of the better second tier SP in this years FA class.

FA: The Red Sox have signed FA SP Justin Masterson to a 1yr/$9.5MM contract
QT: Masterson is the 3rd SP the Red Sox have signed or acquired in the last 24 hours, I guess they moved quickly after losing out on Lester. Masterson has a lot of talent but has been inconsistent over the past few years. He had nice 2011 & 2013 seasons but has mixed in some poor showings. Really this could go either way for the Red Sox but it is worth the risk.

FA: The Royals sign Free agent DH Kendrys Morales for 2yr/$17MM
QT: Like Santanta & Stephen Drew, Morales got hurt by his qualifying offer but even after a poor shortened 2014 season he managed to get a decent offer. If he rebounds he will bring a lot of value for the Royals.

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Where will Braves’ big bats land? http://baseballbabble.com/braves-big-bats-land/ http://baseballbabble.com/braves-big-bats-land/#respond Mon, 08 Dec 2014 01:00:27 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1725 The Atlanta Braves are usually an interesting team to watch during the season, but this year, it’s the club’s offseason intrigue that has become the talk of Major League Baseball. In a potential rebuilding mode under new President of Baseball Operations John Hart, a lot of questions remain…the biggest being will, when, and where will [&hellip

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The Atlanta Braves are usually an interesting team to watch during the season, but this year, it’s the club’s offseason intrigue that has become the talk of Major League Baseball.

In a potential rebuilding mode under new President of Baseball Operations John Hart, a lot of questions remain…the biggest being will, when, and where will he trade the right-handed power he currently possesses in C/OF Evan Gattis and OF Justin Upton.

Hart has already made a couple of big moves thus far during the hot stove season by dealing away homegrown talent Jason Heyward and setup man Jordan Walden to the St. Louis Cardinals for SP Shelby Miller and pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins. At first glance, many Braves fans (including myself) scoffed at the news of the trade, but after digging a little deeper, the trade is a great one for both sides. The Braves obviously felt they weren’t going to be able to re-sign “J-Hey” past the 2015 season, and even if there was mutual interest, the Braves probably wouldn’t have felt comfortable dishing out a $100-million plus contract for a player who has never quite lived up his potential in fives seasons with Atlanta.

The Braves have already found Heyward’s successor in right field after inking long-time Oriole Nick Markakis to a deal of four-years and $44 million. While Markakis is a little older than Heyward, he’s also a more polished at the plate, and more equipped to hit at the top of the lineup. Markakis hit to a .276/.340/.386 slash-line  with 14 HRs and 50 RBIs in ’14 compared to Heyward’s .271/.351/.384. 11 HRs and 58 RBIs. Pretty close right? They both also won the second Gold Glove Awards of their respective careers as well, and to top it all off, Markakis donned the number 22 during a visit to Turner Field on Friday afternoon. The upside for the Braves is that Markakis hit to a .290/.358./.435 career slash-line compared to that of a .262/.351./.429 for Heyward. Heyward has also had a run of injuries through his career in Atlanta while Markakis has averaged 152 games per season for his career. Not to mention, Markakis also handles left-handed pitching well, which sometimes a hole in Heyward’s game.

With Right field squared away for the next four years, Hart will now turn his focus to the financial strains the club is currently experiencing as he tries to figure out to do with underachieving B.J. Upton, his brother Justin, and the Paul Bunyan-esque Evan Gattis, who is seemingly out of a place to play for the time being. Then there’s the need for pitching depth…a perennial strength of the club, which has taken a hit after the departure of Ervin Santana and the resurgent Aaron Harang to free agency, and the recent decision to not tender contracts to the arbitration eligible Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, both of whom missed the entire ’14 season due to a second Tommy John Surgery.

There’s definitely a market for Gattis and Justin Upton…B.J. though? Well, a trade involving him is something that is obviously going to be easier said than done.

A number of teams are said to be interested in the right-handed power of Gattis and/or Upton, including the Mariners, Astros, Rangers, Padres, Orioles, Giants, Reds, Tigers, Blue Jays, and probably some others.

Upton

Teams like Upton’s track record of hitting in the middle of a lineup, but he’s only under contract for the upcoming 2015 season before hitting free agency and inevitably commanding one of the aforementioned $100-plus million contracts that are handed out like candy these days. Some trade scenarios have made their way through the rumor mill over the past few weeks such as Upton to the Mariners for either SP Taijuan Walker or SP James Paxton. The deal probably sounds great to Braves fans, but the question is whether or not Mariner signal caller, Jack Zduriencik, will be willing to part with either prized arm for a one-year rental of Upton. There’s always the possibility that Upton could resign long term there, but there’s no guarantee. Power arms with top of the rotation potential don’t come around everyday, so for Seattle it’d be a win now decision similar to one the Braves made a few years ago when they traded Adam Wainwright to the Cardinals for one year of J.D. Drew. Granted, Drew had arguably the best year of his career that season in Atlanta, but there isn’t a Braves fan on earth that doesn’t watch all of Wainwright’s success and get sick to their stomach at the thought of what could have been. The Padres are a little intriguing with the pieces they are said to have available. Ian Kennedy is a veteran starter, but he too is entering the final year of his contract. Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner are said to be available, but while very talented, neither pitcher has shown the consistency a guy like John Hart would want in return. Ross bursted on to the scene last year with a great stretch for the Friars, but faded in August and September. Cashner on the other hand, has all the talent in the world, but seems to get derailed by injuries on a consistent basis. He’s never made more than 26 starts in a season. The Padres are also said to be looking to deal C Yasmani Grandal, which could interest Atlanta as they look for a backup catcher to replace Gerald Laird behind projected starter Christian Bethancourt. I’m a little unsure of the Reds’ interest in a guy like Upton seeing as how they just dealt away Chris Heisey, and are said to be dangling Jay Bruce this offseason, but all things the same, a guy like Mike Leake could really interest Atlanta.

Gattis

In my opinion, Gattis might bring back the biggest return for the Braves if they do in fact deal him. He’s got more power than the law should allow in a hitter, and he’s not even arbitration eligible yet. In game that seems to pay players with unfathomable monopoly money, four years of control of a player is still something to be valued. Four years of Gattis at a cheap rate would be a bargain for a team especially since he has clobbered 43 HRs and 117 RBIs over his first 783 career at-bats. The ideal trade partner for Gattis would be an American League team where he could DH, as his defensive skills are “still developing” to put it nicely. He can still play catcher or potentially left field if a team wants his bat bad enough, but he translates better as a DH in my opinion. The Orioles could be in play after losing Nelson Cruz and Markakis this week. Baseball aside, such a trade could lead to epic weight room clinics by Gattis and Chris Davis. Yikes. Long-time baseball columnist Ken Rosenthal reported last week that a deal with the Astros was at least discussed recently involving Dexter Fowler and prospects, but that the deal fell through when the Braves insisted that expensive B.J. Upton be packaged with cheap and productive Gattis. The deal could be looked at as paying B.J.’s money to Gattis and Gattis’ money to B.J., but that type of thinking will be void in a year or two when/if Gattis starts earning significant raises through the arbitration process. To me, the best destination would be to the Texas Rangers. If the Braves could somehow swing a deal involving Gattis (a Texas guy) for a guy like Jurickson Profar, a pitcher and a prospect, I think both sides would be happy with the deal. Besides, who knows the Rangers players and farm system better than Hart, who worked there as a special adviser before coming to Atlanta.

The Braves could ultimately decide to keep one or both of the players, but at the same time, it may be better to get value for Upton now as Hart did with Heyward before he exits town via free agency. Also, with Markakis now in the mix, it would be awfully hard to either A: keep B.J. Upton and the 3-years and $46 million of his remaining contract on the bench, or B: not have Gattis’ bat in the lineup somewhere. The Braves brass seems content to enter 2015 with Bethancourt behind the plate, which further creates the logjam that is the Braves’ outfield. Already having swallowed the bad contract of Dan Uggla, which is in the $14 million range on the 2015 payroll, it’s highly unlikely the Braves would entertain another such fate with B.J.’s albatross of a contract. Another option would be to trade bad contract for bad contract with another team, but those avenues are extremely limited given the years and dollars B.J. is owed.

All in all, it’ll be interesting to see which teams pony up the goods to acquire the two middle of the lineup hitters the Braves are currently dangling on the market.

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Red Sox dishing out wicked bucks in Beantown http://baseballbabble.com/red-sox-dishing-wicked-bucks-beantown/ http://baseballbabble.com/red-sox-dishing-wicked-bucks-beantown/#respond Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:52:20 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1718 The Boston Red Sox have made big splashes over the past 48 hours by inking two of the biggest bats on this year’s free agent market to lengthy, lucrative contracts. After a sub-par year that saw the Sox finish 20 games under .500 and last place in the American League East, the team has addressed [&hellip

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The Boston Red Sox have made big splashes over the past 48 hours by inking two of the biggest bats on this year’s free agent market to lengthy, lucrative contracts.

After a sub-par year that saw the Sox finish 20 games under .500 and last place in the American League East, the team has addressed some of its offensive concerns by signing World Series hero Pablo Sandoval, and talented SS Hanley Ramirez to long-term deals.

The Ramirez signing, which was struck on Monday, Nov. 24, is a four-year deal worth $88 million, which also includes a vesting option for the fifth year at $22 million.

Sandoval , also known as the “Kung-Fu Panda,” is signing for a five-year deal in the $95 million range. A sixth year option is also supposedly included in the deal, but the details of that option are unclear at this time.

While some may view the moves as a little pricey, the club needed to do something to improve a team that went from World Series champion to cellar dweller in just one calendar year.

Ramirez and Sandoval should both benefit from the hitter friendly Fenway Park, but the number of years they can continue to play their current positions will be a question towards the end of the contracts. However, with David Ortiz inching closer towards the end of his career, both players could possibly see time at DH down the road.

Sandoval hit to the tune of a .279/.324/.415 slash-line in 2014 with 16 HRs and 73 RBIs on his way to helping the Giants win their third World Series title in five years.

Ramirez, on the other hand, hit to a .283/.369/.448 slash-line in 2014 with 13 HRs and 71 RBIs in 128 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Early indications are that Ramirez will be the team’s left fielder in 2015 with youngster Xander Bogaerts already handling the SS duties. Such a position transition could also be a prelude to more moves to come by GM Ben Cherington, as Ramirez’s presence in left creates an even bigger logjam for a team that already has Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Nava, Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley, Jr., Shane Victorino, Rusney Castillo, and Mookie Betts in its outfield mix.

Two or even three of those players could be a part of upcoming trades to address the team’s pitching depth needs. The club’s rotation is young to say the least, with Clay Buchholtz now the only truly experienced holdover from the club that won it all in 2013.

The club’s rotation could get a big boost if the Sox brass could create a reunion with highly coveted lefty Jon Lester, whom it dealt away to Oakland this past trade deadline.

Lester turned down an extension last spring, which was said to be in the four-year $70 million range. With teams like the Giants, Cubs, and Braves already showing considerable interest in the durable lefty, it will could take a five, six, or even a seven-year deal to land the most consistent starter on the market. Knowing Lester the way they do, and with money rarely being a problem, the Sox could easily open up the wallet and out bit a lot of teams for Lester’s services. The Sox could also look at cheaper options like James Shields, Ervin Santana, or Francisco Liriano.

 

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Jose Abreu: The 6 Year $68 Million Risk http://baseballbabble.com/the-6-year-68-million-risk-jose-abreu/ http://baseballbabble.com/the-6-year-68-million-risk-jose-abreu/#respond Wed, 08 Oct 2014 13:59:14 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1707 The Chicago White Sox took a 6 year $68 million dollar risk. But, so far the risk has had a great return. Now that the 2014 season has come to a close the Chicago first baseman Jose Abreu is proving worth the risk. In the American league; Abreu finished 3rd in home runs with 36, [&hellip

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The Chicago White Sox took a 6 year $68 million dollar risk. But, so far the risk has had a great return. Now that the 2014 season has come to a close the Chicago first baseman Jose Abreu is proving worth the risk. In the American league; Abreu finished 3rd in home runs with 36, 4th in RBI’s with 107, and 5th in batting average with .317. These, as most of you know, are the triple crown categories. With this season, Abreu becomes the first rookie ever to finish in the top five of all three triple crown categories.

To give you a little baseball perspective, you would have to go back 21 years to the 1993 season for any type of comparison. There was a rookie in 1993 who played for the National League and made a huge impact not only in that season, but also in the game itself. He finished in the top 10 in all 3 triple crown categories that season, while Abreu finished in the top 5 this season. That rookie played catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and is named Mike Piazza.

So, year 1 was a success. But, the contract still has 5 additional years and $61 million dollars. Another question will be, will Abreu have an overall successful career as did Piazza, the person we compared his rookie career with?

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ReKEMPtion http://baseballbabble.com/rekemption-matt-kemp/ http://baseballbabble.com/rekemption-matt-kemp/#respond Mon, 06 Oct 2014 14:06:26 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1703 Matt Kemp has quietly gone from damaged goods to once again damaging the other team for the good of the Dodgers. This time last year Kemp was not even available for the Dodgers. Kemp had a severe ankle injury and eventually needed off-season surgery. Kemp actually injured the ankle on July 21st on an awkward [&hellip

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Matt Kemp has quietly gone from damaged goods to once again damaging the other team for the good of the Dodgers. This time last year Kemp was not even available for the Dodgers. Kemp had a severe ankle injury and eventually needed off-season surgery.

Kemp actually injured the ankle on July 21st on an awkward looking slide into home plate during a game against the Nationals, a team they could later face in the postseason. He tried to play through the pain and still contribute to his team the rest of 2013 and therefore did not have the surgery until after their season was done on October 21st.

The Dodgers, as you may recall, opened the season in Australia against the Diamondbacks. Kemp did not take the plane to Australia in order to continue his rehabilitation. Then there was the issue of the ever-changing Dodger outfield, and where Kemp was going to fit in. “I feel just blessed, man,” Kemp said. “It’s been a grind the last two years. Last year was a disappointing year for me as far as just sitting there and watching my team be successful. I thought I could have helped them a lot, but they did a really good job last year of getting as far as they did. I’m just blessed to be able to be on this stage and be able to be healthy and to help the team try to accomplish a big time goal.”

You may recall Kemp’s stellar 2011 season when he posted career highs in home runs (39) RBI (126) and steals (40) and finished 2nd place in the MVP race. This season, only one player had 39 or more home runs (Nelson Cruz). This season Kemp’s teammate Adrian Gonzalez led the league in RBI’s but only amassed 116. And with 40 stolen bases he would have finished in 5th place in MLB this season. That is why the Dodgers, in November of 2011 signed Kemp to an 8 year $160 million contract.

2012 and 2013 were not kind to Kemp. Ankle, hamstring, and shoulder injuries caused him to miss (151) almost as many games as he played (173). His 2014 season did not start off much better. On April 4th Kemp started at Dodgers Stadium in center field. After a lackluster performance both offensively and defensively manager Don Mattingly to moved Kemp from center to left. Then on July 21st Mattingly moved the still slumping Kemp from left to right, a place he once played as a kid. And the rekemption started.

In the next 46 games after the 2nd position move Kemp was hitting .307 with 11 doubles, 1 triple, 11 home runs and 33 RBI’s. And in the month of September this year Kemp hit .322 with 9 home runs and 25 RBI’s. “You just don’t lose everything at 29 years old,”said Davey Lopes, Dodgers first base coach, earlier this year. Davey may be right, especially after Kemp had the big home run that contributed to the win in-game 2 of the National League Division Series.

Matt is on the road to rekemption, but unfortunately, until he does it for a whole season, he is still driving about 10 MPH under the speed limit.

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Mo’ne Davis 13 year old girl, 70 mph fastball, 1 million dollar question http://baseballbabble.com/mo-ne-davis-13-year-old-girl-70-mph-fastball-1-million-dollar-question/ http://baseballbabble.com/mo-ne-davis-13-year-old-girl-70-mph-fastball-1-million-dollar-question/#respond Fri, 26 Sep 2014 23:40:56 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1675 Mo’ne Davis has an unusual name, and is in an unusual situation. You may have seen her on the mound during the Little League World Series for the Mid-Atlantic Region wearing #3. She is a 13-year-old girl with a 70 mph fastball and a curveball and a change-up, just to keep the hitters honest. I [&hellip

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Mo’ne Davis has an unusual name, and is in an unusual situation. You may have seen her on the mound during the Little League World Series for the Mid-Atlantic Region wearing #3.

She is a 13-year-old girl with a 70 mph fastball and a curveball and a change-up, just to keep the hitters honest. I love her quote,” I throw my curveball like Clayton Kershaw, and my fastball like Mo’ne Davis.” There is not a coach in the nation who would not salivate over having this 13-year-old girl on their team of boys.

I was a softball coach once. I even coached my own daughter. But I knew that girls making it into a college on a softball scholarship was difficult. Last year, 427,791 boys played high school baseball, according to research by Emma Span for a New York Times story published in June. The number of girls was 1,259. Therefore, I was tough on the 7 and 8-year-old girls. I did not believe that the main objective was to have fun. For me, the main objective was to win, because it is much more fun to win. I have never seen a team jumping up and down after a game in celebration saying, “We lost, but we had fun! We lost, but we had fun!” Yet I have seen plenty of teams jump up and down in celebration exclaiming, “We won, we won, we won!” None of the parents saw it my way. My daughter even told my wife she did not want to play if I was going to coach the team next year. So reluctantly, I agreed not to coach, but my daughter never played another season. I thought she was good. But, based on the statistic above, just to play in high school you have to be better than good.

Mo’ne Davis is better than good, in fact she was better than most of the boys she shared the field with. Sadly, her dream is to play for the University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball Team, and eventually for the WNBA. That is not sad because that team is not a special group of women, on the contrary, they are possibly the most special group of women especially in the realm of sports. It is sad because her dream can not be to play minor league softball and one day play for the WMLB.

The good news is that there is a women’s professional softball league. The bad news is I had to do a Google search to find out that there is such a league. It is called National Pro Fastpich. I love sports, and did not know this league existed. If I do not know about it, not many other people do either. Why is there is no WMLB? This is the million dollar question.  I have been wracking my brain for the past few weeks trying to figure out why there is no WMLB. If there can be a WNBA, women’s golf, a woman NASCAR driver, and a Women’s lingerie Football League; which I assume are all profitable or would not still be in business, then why is there not a WMLB?

RBI Baseball stands for reviving baseball in inner cities. It is MLB’s way of targeting kids in poverty who might not have a chance to play baseball because of the underprivileged neighborhoods they live in as well as the financial means at their disposal. Major league Baseball and their teams and affiliates spend millions overseas on camps and facilities in countries like Cuba and the Dominican Republic trying to find the next Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman, or Yoenis Cespedes. And all of those programs are great. Yet we are seemingly ignoring women. Baseball has failed women until one day a 13-year-old little girl who can throw a 70 mph fastball can answer the million dollar question and say that one day she wants to be able to grow up and play in the WMLB.

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My Interview with the AZR MVP Bobby Bradley http://baseballbabble.com/bobby-bradley-interview/ http://baseballbabble.com/bobby-bradley-interview/#respond Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:46:12 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1671 Over the Labor Day holiday weekend the Cleveland Indians continued their dominance of the Arizona Rookie League at Goodyear Ballpark. They handily beat the Texas Rangers Rookie League team in the Semi-Final game only to absolutely spank the Rookie League Giants 14-0 in the Championship Game. The Rookie League Indians had 4 of the top 10 [&hellip

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Over the Labor Day holiday weekend the Cleveland Indians continued their dominance of the Arizona Rookie League at Goodyear Ballpark. They handily beat the Texas Rangers Rookie League team in the Semi-Final game only to absolutely spank the Rookie League Giants 14-0 in the Championship Game.

The Rookie League Indians had 4 of the top 10 sluggers in the whole league. The Rookie League season is divided into two halves. In the second half the Indians were so dominant they had a record of 20-2 at one point and finished the complete season in first with a 37-16 record.

One of the biggest contributors to the Indians becoming Rookie League Champions was first baseman Bobby Bradley. Bobby was awarded the Rookie League MVP and also took the Triple Crown in the Rookie League this year with the most home runs, RBI’s and highest batting average. After the Indians big Semi-Final victory he was gracious enough to have a conversation on the field with me.

MB: You were drafted right out of high school, and are currently 18. How much different is Rookie League than high school?

BB: “It is completely different, the pitching is much better.”

MB: How so?

BB: “The fastball velocity is much faster. The difference in the off-speed pitches from the fastball is greater too.” He paused for a minute or so to sign an autograph then he continued, ” In fact, it took me a few weeks to actually get adjusted.”

MB: So it took you a little time to get adjusted, yet you won the Triple Crown in the Rookie League this year. What did it feel like to win that award?

BB: “There was no better feeling in the world,” he exclaimed as his face lit up with joy as though he was re-living the moment in his mind.

MB: I know you finished the 53 game season with 8 home runs, 50 RBI’s and a .361 batting average to capture the Triple Crown. But, is there anything you need to work on to improve your game?

BB: “My defense.”

MB: Your defense at first base?

BB:” Not only at first base, but I have played third base and catcher as well.”  I move back so he can pose for a couple of pictures with some young fans, and without even losing a beat he continues. “One of those positions will hopefully get me to the big leagues, so I must be equal at all three.”

MB: Of the three Triple Crowns, which one are you the most proud of obtaining this season?

BB: “Most definitely the RBI’s. Because they usually come in key situations and therefore contribute to a team win.”

MB: Were you aware your RBI total this year was the most in the past five years of the Rookie League?

BB: “I was not, but that is pretty cool.”

And with that I thanked him for his time and we agreed to meet up again as he advanced through the ranks of the minor leagues and hopefully to major league baseball.

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Billy Hamilton Running Away with Rookie of the Year http://baseballbabble.com/billy-hamilton-running-away-with-rookie-of-the-year/ http://baseballbabble.com/billy-hamilton-running-away-with-rookie-of-the-year/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 13:50:04 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1657 Cincinnati Reds’ center fielder Billy Hamilton has 55 steals going into the weekend. He has done so at age 23. The feat is impressive. Since 1999 only 8 total players in the majors have over 50 steals in a season in which they were 23 or younger. Plus, if he can get to 60 by years [&hellip

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Cincinnati Reds’ center fielder Billy Hamilton has 55 steals going into the weekend. He has done so at age 23. The feat is impressive. Since 1999 only 8 total players in the majors have over 50 steals in a season in which they were 23 or younger. Plus, if he can get to 60 by years end, then only himself and Jose Reyes will have 60 or more steals at age 23 or younger for a season since 1999. Reyes had 60 steals in 2005 and 64 in 2006.

Because of his running prowess, I believe Billy Hamilton will be the landslide winner for the Rookie of the Year award in 2014. The last rookie to steal 50 bases was Jacoby Ellsbury in 2008 when he swiped exactly 50 bases, the 3rd highest mark of his 8 year career. The last rookie prior to that was Hanley Ramirez in 2006 when he stole 51 bases. Hanley then duplicated the same amount in 2007, but since then has only reached 30 or more stolen bases twice in his 10 year career with only 12 this season.

But, just for a bit of historical perspective. The all-time stolen base leader, Rickey Henderson, had amassed 319 career steals through age 23. That included 130 steals in his age 23 season. Rickey played baseball for 25 years and holds the record for number of career steals with 1406. If Billy wants to think about catching up to Rickey, he needs to steal 74 bases this year as well as the next 24 years thereafter.

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Blue Jays, Improbable not Impossible Playoff chances http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-improbable-impossible-playoff-chances/ http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-improbable-impossible-playoff-chances/#respond Wed, 03 Sep 2014 19:14:55 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1649 The Blue Jays have 25 games remaining in 2014 and currently hold a 70-67 record. The projected chance they make the playoffs is at about 3.2% which is not impossible but likely improbable after digging themselves a 10 game division hole & a 5.5 game second wild card hole. It is easy to loathe the [&hellip

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The Blue Jays have 25 games remaining in 2014 and currently hold a 70-67 record. The projected chance they make the playoffs is at about 3.2% which is not impossible but likely improbable after digging themselves a 10 game division hole & a 5.5 game second wild card hole. It is easy to loathe the days when they had a 6 game division lead but its more beneficial for my health to look at what lies ahead in September. If the Blue Jays are to make a run they will need to win most of their remaining games, I would suggest between 17-20 of their 25 remaining games and give a more in-depth look at the remaining contenders.

At the moment the biggest obstacles standing in their way is the number of teams and not as much as the 5.5 games distance. Lets break down the teams standing in their way and what their schedules looks like going forward. The main teams in contention for the second wild card are Kansas City (+.5), Detroit (2nd WC), Seattle (-1.5), Yankees (-5) & Cleveland (-5). The other  3 teams holding playoff spots Orioles (+9.5), Angels (+4.5) & Athletics (+3 lead on 1st Wild Card) will also play a large role but currently have a lock on their spots.

Detroit/ Kansas City: I am going to lump them together because with only .5 games of separation you are essentially chasing one or the other. At present KC holds the Central division lead by a tiny .5 game lead with Detroit holding the 2nd wild card. One of these teams needs to fall out of contention for the Blue Jays to have a chance.

KC has 24 games remaining with 1 suspended game also to be completed. 1 vs Rangers;  3 @ Yankees; 3 @ Tigers; 3 vs White Sox; 3 vs Tigers; 1 suspended game vs Indians; 3 @ Indians; 4 at White Sox. Detroit has 24 games remaining. 2 @ Indians; 3 vs Giants; 3 vs Royals; 3 vs Indians; 3 @ Twins; 3 @ Royals; 3 vs White Sox; 4 vs Twins.

Detroit and KC play each other 6 more times plus a combined 12 more games against the other Wild Card hopefuls. The Central Division is going to be a crazy race down the stretch because you also can not forget the Indians who are 5.5 back of the division and 5 back of the 2nd Wild card they will also play a key role.

Cleveland has 25 remaining games + 1 suspended game against the Royals. 2 vs Tigers; 3 vs White Sox; 1 vs Angels; 3 vs Twins; 3 @ Tigers; 4 @ Astros; 3 @ Twins; 1 @ Royals (suspended game); 3 vs Royals; 3 vs Rays.

Cleveland has a tough road ahead with 9 games against their Division rivals & 1 against the leading Angels. The rest of their schedule is pretty good if they can beat their division rivals. However they will not get any more chances against the Yankees or Seattle who are also ahead of them.

Seattle is only 1.5 games back of the 2nd Wild card and have 25 games remaining. 1 @ Athletics; 4 @ Rangers; 3 vs Astros; 3 vs Athletics; 4 @ Angels; 3 @ Astros; 4 @ Blue Jays; 3 vs Angels.

Seattle has a rough schedule the rest of the way with 4 against the Athletics, 7 vs the Angels and 4 vs the Blue Jays. The fact however that while tough they can control their future if they can win against their division rivals. They only have 4 games against the other Wild Card opponents but I like that they will get some chances to change the West race & 1st Wild card.

The Yankees like the Blue Jays have been up and down all year and they have the most remaining games at 26. 2 vs Red Sox; 3 vs Royals; 3 vs Rays; 4 @ Orioles; 3 @ Rays; 4 vs Blue Jays; 4 vs Orioles; 3 @ Red Sox

The Yankees schedule is not that bad with 7 against the other wild card rivals and 8 vs the division leading Orioles. They have a full plate ahead if they want to make some headway but like Cleveland and the Blue Jays a lot has to go right.

Finally we have the Blue Jays who have 25 games remaining. 2 @ Rays; 3 @ Red Sox; 3 vs Cubs; 3 vs Rays; 3 @ Orioles; 4 @ Yankees; 4 vs Mariners; 3 vs Orioles.

The next 25 games for the Blue Jays breaks up into two parts. The next 11 games will be against teams out of contention, if they want a chance at a playoff spot they will need to win the vast majority of these games. Something in the range of a 9-2 run is almost needed to set them up for the next 14 games which will be split between 6 vs the Orioles and 8 vs the Wild Card rivals.

“If” they can manage to extend their current win streak of 4/5 over the next two weeks that will set them up for an interesting final 2 weeks of tough baseball. They would need to find themselves  with 87-90 wins to land the final Wild Card Spot. Meaning they will need to play some incredible baseball by winning no less than 17 of their last 25 games. Currently according to fangraphs projected standings the final wild card will go to the Royals at 88 wins with Seattle right behind at 87. So this is my basis for needing around 87-90 wins, while typically around 90 games puts you right in the playoff hunt. This year 1-3 games less might just do it but the next month will tell us for sure!

Luckily the stage is set for all the remaining teams to have a chance at beating each other up. This is the only thing the Blue Jays can hope for. For those meager 3.2% playoff odds to become a reality they will need to play close to .700 ball while beating up on Seattle & New York and the teams ahead of them need to beat each other up while not playing hot. The Blue Jays have shown in 2014 that when they get hot they are amongst the best in the game and when they get cold it becomes painful to watch. In winning 4 of their last 5 it might be a sign they are heating up. Jose Bautista has been really hot, Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera both are doing well while Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind look to be shaking off their DL dust. They will need some contributions from young guns Dalton Pompey, Daniel Norris, Anthony Gose, Kevin Pillar, Sean Nolin and Ryan Goins but perhaps with these players they can use them for timely defense, speed and needed relief or spot pitching. Like I said it’s not impossible but its pretty improbable, hopefully Blue Jay fans get a little September drama instead of an August hangover.

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6 teams, 5 stadiums and every MLB team represented in 2014 AFL http://baseballbabble.com/6-teams-5-stadiums-every-mlb-team-represented-2014-afl/ http://baseballbabble.com/6-teams-5-stadiums-every-mlb-team-represented-2014-afl/#respond Wed, 03 Sep 2014 01:09:12 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1629 The 2014 Arizona Fall League season will, as always, feature some of the best up and coming minor league superstars and will feature two divisions of three teams each for 32 games with 4 special events sprinkled into the season for your baseball entertainment. The East Division will feature the Mesa Solar Sox who will play their [&hellip

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The 2014 Arizona Fall League season will, as always, feature some of the best up and coming minor league superstars and will feature two divisions of three teams each for 32 games with 4 special events sprinkled into the season for your baseball entertainment.

The East Division will feature the Mesa Solar Sox who will play their home games at the newest spring training site, Cubs Park (pictured above).  Featuring the stars of the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals. The Salt River Rafters will also be in the East Division and play home games at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick and will be represented by players from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Miami Marlins, and Minnesota Twins. Lastly, the Scottsdale Scorpions will be the third team in the East Division and will be made up of players from the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, Pittsburg Pirates and San Francisco Giants and play their home games at Scottsdale Stadium.

The West Division will also feature three teams with the first being the Glendale Desert Dogs. The Desert Dogs will feature players from the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers  and play their home games at Camelback Ranch Glendale. Surprise Stadium will house the last two teams in the West Division. The Peoria Javelinas will have players from the Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Cardinals, and Tampa Bay Rays. The second team, the Surprise Saguaros will be constructed from players from the following teams Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, and Cincinnati Reds.

The six team Arizona Fall league was founded in 1992 and is operated by Major league Baseball. Most of the players who participate in the Arizona Fall League are from a particular clubs Double-A or Triple-A affiliates. These are the players who the clubs either consider to be on the cusp of the major leagues or they were hurt during a significant part of their minor league season. Each team can opt to send a maximum of 2 players below the Double-A level. As you have read from the above list each AFL team consists of 5 teams, each team provides 7 players, giving the AFL team a total of a 35 man roster.

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Aroldis Chapman May Make History……Again http://baseballbabble.com/aroldis-chapman-may-make-history-again/ http://baseballbabble.com/aroldis-chapman-may-make-history-again/#respond Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:21:50 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1642 In 2006 Pitch F/X was introduced. Since its inception no MLB pitcher has ever finished a season averaging over 100 MPH on his fastball. Enter Aroldis Chapman and his current average of 100.3 MPH. According to BaseballSavant.com, there have been 14 Major League pitchers who have reached 100 mph this season on a combined 469 [&hellip

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In 2006 Pitch F/X was introduced. Since its inception no MLB pitcher has ever finished a season averaging over 100 MPH on his fastball. Enter Aroldis Chapman and his current average of 100.3 MPH.

According to BaseballSavant.com, there have been 14 Major League pitchers who have reached 100 mph this season on a combined 469 pitches. Entering Sunday, Chapman had thrown 325 of those pitches. He had thrown 767 pitches over 43 appearances, meaning 42 percent of his total pitches have been 100 mph or higher.

He already made history earlier in the year when he set the MLB record at 40 for number of consecutive appearances with at least 1 strikeout. That record had been held by Bruce Sutter when he fanned at least one batter in 39 straight appearances. He also set his baseball history in his rookie season with the fastest pitch ever recorded in a MLB game, clocked officially at 105.1 MPH.

Not only that, but among qualified relievers, Chapman is blowing by (pardon the pun, but I could not resist) the competition in strikeout rate. His 52.1 percent K-rate is nearly 11 percent higher than that of noted flamethrower and Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel who is in a distant second place and 11.5 percent higher than the third place finisher Andrew Miller of the Baltimore Orioles.

Chapman has done all of this after having a titanium plate inserted in his forehead after being hit in the head by one of his own mighty fastballs off the bat of Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez in a spring training game. You can learn more about that incident at this link http://baseballbabble.com/chapman-hit-line-drive-game-called/. Remarkably it only cost him the first 6 weeks of the regular season.  A season in which he owns a 2.44 ERA with a 87/19 K/BB ratio in 43 1/3 innings. He’s 29-for-31 in save opportunities.

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Arizona Fall League Announces 2014 Coaching Staff http://baseballbabble.com/arizona-fall-league-announces-2014-coaching-staff/ http://baseballbabble.com/arizona-fall-league-announces-2014-coaching-staff/#respond Tue, 02 Sep 2014 01:01:21 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1624 Do you recognize the guy in the picture above? Yes, that is an old picture of 12 year MLB  veteran Delino Deshields. And he will lead the charge as the manager of the Surprise Saguaros this season in the Arizona Fall League. But, if you add all the years of MLB experience by the coaches [&hellip

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Do you recognize the guy in the picture above? Yes, that is an old picture of 12 year MLB  veteran Delino Deshields. And he will lead the charge as the manager of the Surprise Saguaros this season in the Arizona Fall League. But, if you add all the years of MLB experience by the coaches in this years Arizona Fall League, it would be a whopping 107 years!

Besides former infielder Delino Deshields, 8 time All-Star Lance Parrish will bring his 18 years of playing knowledge as he manages another AFL team. If that was not enough for you how about another player as a manager with an impressive career as a MLB infielder in Mike Mordecai. Former 7 year veteran MLB catcher Vance Wilson will also manage a team in the AFL. And the final 2 managerial spots are occupied by Andy Haines, and Jeff Banister.

Along with the managers all six teams also announced their hitting and pitching coaches. Lance Parrish will have the Brewer’s Chris Hook be his pitching coach and Alan Mills from the Orioles for his hitting coach as well as Andy Tomberlin from the White Sox. Deshields will have two-time All Star Jody Davis as his hitting coach. He also will have two pitching coaches, Jeff Andrews from the Rangers and Andrew Lorraine from Seattle. Mordecai’s hitting coach will be Jeff Sparks of the Oakland organization with two hitting coaches in Ron Villone and Matt Wise. For Wilson his pitching coaches will be R.C. Lichtenstein and Jason Simontacchi and Gary Ingram as hitting coach. Haines’ team will feature Josh Miller of the Astros as pitching coach and Kevin Riggs will be the hitting coach from the Rockies organization. Finally, the team managed by Bannister will have two pitching coaches, Ray Burris and Mike Couchee and one hitting coach, P.J. Pilittre.

The Arizona Fall League will kick-off on Saturday October 4th with the Bowman Hitting Challenge with opening day on Tuesday October 7th. The 2014 season will conclude on Saturday November 15th with the Championship game. Keep checking back at baseballbabble.com for further information about the Arizona Fall League.

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A Major League Engagement http://baseballbabble.com/major-league-engagement/ http://baseballbabble.com/major-league-engagement/#respond Mon, 01 Sep 2014 00:59:42 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1621 As I write this article, I am a very proud father. My daughter was proposed to by her boyfriend this past weekend. Our family and the future grooms’ family are both big baseball fans, so where else would you pop the question at than Chase Field? If you or someone you love is planning an [&hellip

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As I write this article, I am a very proud father. My daughter was proposed to by her boyfriend this past weekend. Our family and the future grooms’ family are both big baseball fans, so where else would you pop the question at than Chase Field?

If you or someone you love is planning an engagement before the end of the baseball season, then your closest ballpark is a great choice. They started out by allowing the happy couple to go onto the field before the game during the home teams batting practice. While there, they got to interact with some of the players and Paul Goldschmidt, my daughters favorite Diamondbacks player, came over to them took a picture and signed their ticket. They were on cloud nine from the beginning, as both families got to watch from a distance.

Then in the fourth inning they put a special message from him to her on the board as the public address announcer read it for all 30,000 in attendance to hear as he got down on one knee right there in the stands. It was then followed up by the camera crew from Fox Sports Arizona filming the “crazy kids,” as Diamondbacks broadcaster Steve Berthiaume dubbed them, to bring the viewers back from commercial at the bottom of the 6th inning. The package we choose also included a keepsake picture of the message on the video board and a picture of them on the field as well as a set amount of tickets for family and friends all at a group discounted price.

A quick search of different major league ballparks told me that most MLB ballparks have some sort of engagement and or wedding packages available for their fans. If you do not see a package on your favorite teams website call and talk to a salesperson in the sales department and I am sure they will direct you to the correct place. I guarantee if you are a baseball fan, the event will be a home run.

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Just do a Cespedes http://baseballbabble.com/just-cespedes/ http://baseballbabble.com/just-cespedes/#respond Mon, 01 Sep 2014 00:56:23 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1610 Attention all major league players, please take note of what Yoenis Cespedes did in Cincinnati on Tuesday night! When someone pitches inside to you stop whining and crying about the pitch. Stop pointing the bat at the mound or dropping the bat and running to the mound. In fact don’t say a word, just stare the [&hellip

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Attention all major league players, please take note of what Yoenis Cespedes did in Cincinnati on Tuesday night!

When someone pitches inside to you stop whining and crying about the pitch. Stop pointing the bat at the mound or dropping the bat and running to the mound. In fact don’t say a word, just stare the pitcher down for a few seconds and get back into the box. Then, on the next pitch get your revenge as you hit the ball over the 404 foot sign in straight away center field. Which by the way, gives your team the lead and leads to your team winning the game. Just do a Cespedes.

That was exactly what Yoenis Cespedes did to Red’s reliever Jonathan Broxton on Tuesday night. Broxton threw a ball up and in toward his head. Cespedes simply backed out of the box as the crowd responded with a collective exhale. He gave Broxton a stare down as he adjusted his batting gloves and simply dug back in and got back into the box. Then on the next pitch, he deposited a fastball over the plate, over the fence in straight away center field. He did not stare at the ball as it sailed over the fence. He did not hop after he hit, he did not toss his bat, he did not take a leisurely stroll around the bases. In doing that he made every highlight reel that night, for doing the right thing and acting the right way.

MLB needs to record this at bat and make it a training video for every major leaguer to see every spring training and title it just do a Cespedes.

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The Cost of being a Chicago Cub’s Fan http://baseballbabble.com/the-cost-of-being-a-chicago-cubs-fan/ http://baseballbabble.com/the-cost-of-being-a-chicago-cubs-fan/#respond Mon, 01 Sep 2014 00:52:24 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1634 Most of you reading this have already heard about the recent grounds crew debacle where they did not get the field covered in time which led to the upholding of a protest of the opposing team and forced the Cubs to continue play of the affected game a few nights later. The situation made the [&hellip

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Most of you reading this have already heard about the recent grounds crew debacle where they did not get the field covered in time which led to the upholding of a protest of the opposing team and forced the Cubs to continue play of the affected game a few nights later. The situation made the organization look bad and generated plenty of negative press. Then, a report surfaced that the Cubs actually sent members of the grounds crew home that very night so they could limit their hours and not have to pay their insurance. The Cubs claimed, when asked, that the forecast they received did not call for rain.

So the Cubs are cutting costs. From 2007-2013 the Cubs payroll was well over the $100 million mark. Of those years 2010 was its highest mark at over $142 million. Lately, their yearly payroll is falling fast. Their 2014 payroll is estimated at $89 million or 23rd out of the 30 MLB clubs.

The Cubs are also in full rebuilding mode under new owners the Ricketts family. The Cubs and their new owners are trying to re-write history and therefore change the longest futility streak in all of American sports. The Cubs last won the World Series 106 years ago. Tom Ricketts told his father Joe, who is founder of T.D. Ameritrade, “They sell every ticket, every game, win or lose.” Tribune, the previous owners of the Cubs bought low and sold high. In 1981 Tribune bought the Cubs for $20.5 million. While the lovable losers were living up to their nickname, attendance still greatly increased from an average of 15,423 in 1992 to an average of 40, 743 in 2008, the year before they sold 95% of the team to the Ricketts family for $845 million.

Since 2009 ticket sales at Wrigley Field are down almost 6,500 per game. And that is considering that this year is the 100th anniversary of Wrigley field. In 1984 a good box seat at Wrigley Field cost $8.00 this year for the same seat against a top team that ticket costs $116.00. According to Team Marketing Report, a company that tracks major-league ticket prices, they report that at $44.16 an average for tickets the Cubs are the 3rd highest in all of MLB behind only the Red Sox and the Yankees.

The Cubs are literally under construction. The Ricketts are the new owners, they hired Theo Epstein to be the new team president. Although the 2012 team had the fourth worst winning percentage in Club history (and that is saying a lot) the new Cubs have subtracted from the major league team and added considerably to their minor league teams. They also have spent heavily on a new spring training facility, to accompany those minor league moves.

The Chicago Cubs are showing improvement. They have some bright young stars on the major league roster, and plenty more to come in the minor leagues. But as I watched the Cubs game the other night I saw quite a few empty seats. Are the fans finally getting tired of loosing? Is it not cool to be the loveable losers anymore? Or are Cubs fans saving their money for the 2015 and 2016 seasons?

Is $44.16 to high of an average cost to be a Cubs fan? And as the team improves, as it looks like it will, what will the cost be then? If the fan base has been paying this kind of price for a loser, how much will they pay for a winner? Or maybe they are just trying to prove Tom Ricketts wrong.

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David Peralta is Diamondback in the Rough http://baseballbabble.com/david-peralta-diamondback-rough/ http://baseballbabble.com/david-peralta-diamondback-rough/#respond Fri, 22 Aug 2014 01:45:28 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1600 David Peralta actually started his professional baseball career for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 as a pitcher. The native Venezuelan never made it past a torn labrum injury, never got his ERA under 5.00 and thus never made it out of rookie ball. Rightfully so, the Cardinals released him in 2009. In 2011 he [&hellip

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David Peralta actually started his professional baseball career for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 as a pitcher. The native Venezuelan never made it past a torn labrum injury, never got his ERA under 5.00 and thus never made it out of rookie ball. Rightfully so, the Cardinals released him in 2009. In 2011 he re-emerged, this time as an outfielder in the independent North American League with the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings where he had a slash line of .392/.429/.611 in 85 games. Then, the North Atlantic League folded. So, in 2012 he latched onto the Wichita Wingnuts of the American Association and in 98 games with them he had a slash line of .332/.392/.462. In 2013 he stayed in the American Association but switched teams to the Amarillo Sox where in 42 games with them he had a slash line of .352/.381/.604. Why just 42 games? Because that was when the Arizona Diamondbacks discovered Senger David Peralta Guerreiro.

The Diamondbacks signed him as a free agent on July 3rd 2013 and sent him to their California League affiliate the Visalia Rawhide. At the age of 25 he was considered old for the California League, but in 2014 he moved up to Double-A Mobile where he had an average over .300 between the two levels. Now he mans the outfield for the Major League club Arizona Diamondbacks.

He was called up to the big leagues on June 1st 2014 and made his debut the same day. All he proceeded to do was tie a Diamondback’s record by recording 7 multi-hit games in his first 15. This past Friday night in a game against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field Peralta noticed that Rockies catcher Michael McKenry was just lobbing the ball back to his pitcher. With Peralta on third after a triple he saw McKenry lean back to lob the ball and he took off for home. With a slight assist from Rockies pitcher Rex Brothers, who momentarily bobbled the ball, Peralta successfully stole home. The next night in a 14-4 win against those same Rockies Peralta had 5 at bats with 2 runs, 3 hits and 5 RBI’s. 4 of them were provided by his first grand slam of his short Major League career.

As far as his overall statistics; in 57 games (as of Sunday August 10th) he has 67 hits. Of those 67, 5 of them were home runs, 5 of them were triples and 12 were doubles. Not to mention he has 29 runs and 4 stolen bases. His average is .313 while his on base percentage is .347 and he is slugging .486.

Should he start to get some Rookie of the Year consideration? Let’s look at the likely 2014 Rookie of the Year favorite Billy Hamilton and compare the two. Now without a doubt Hamilton has more steals than Peralta, and Hamilton has played in almost double the games at 112. Hamilton’s average is at .268 for the year. His on base percentage is at .299 and he is slugging .394 (all as of Sunday August 10th as well). Hamilton has 113 hits; of those 6 are home runs, 7 are triples, 21 are doubles. Hamilton has 59 runs and 43 stolen bases. I am not saying Peralta deserves Rookie of the Year. But, I am saying he deserves to be mentioned in the conversation because he is certainly a Diamondback in the rough.

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It is Official, Mark McGwire is a Hypocrite http://baseballbabble.com/mark-mcgwire-steroids-hypocrite/ http://baseballbabble.com/mark-mcgwire-steroids-hypocrite/#respond Thu, 21 Aug 2014 00:55:39 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1594 Mark McGwire told ESPN Los Angeles, “It’s too late, I don’t care to ever speak to him again. What he did was wrong.” So because of that, Mark McGwire will not accept Jose Canseco’s apology and forgive him. McGwire’s feelings stem from his 2005 book about baseball and steroids entitled Juiced. Does anyone but me [&hellip

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Mark McGwire told ESPN Los Angeles, “It’s too late, I don’t care to ever speak to him again. What he did was wrong.” So because of that, Mark McGwire will not accept Jose Canseco’s apology and forgive him. McGwire’s feelings stem from his 2005 book about baseball and steroids entitled Juiced.

Does anyone but me find this totally hypocritical? McGwire lied and said that he did not take steroids. He cried on Capital Hill saying he was not there to talk about the past and therefore did not want to incriminate anyone as he wiped away big gorilla tears from his cheeks.

But, come to find out later, McGwire did indeed take steroids. Then, he asked for our forgiveness as he again cried on national television. Even if you or I did not forgive him, baseball forgave him. Therefore, he is now allowed by baseball to be employed for the exact thing he lied and cheated about…..hitting. He is currently the hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He disgraced the sport, lied about it, asked for forgiveness, and now is getting paid to teach what he lied about to other baseball players. Yet he won’t forgive Canseco.

Canseco did not lie. He just told the ugly truth. He did profit from the book, but what was in the book was factual and would eventually at least somewhat be proven to be fact. Nevertheless, McGwire will not accept his apology for profiting from the truth, about McGwire taking steroids, which he eventually admitted to anyway.

Mark McGwire expects us as fans to forgive him for tainting the game we love. Yet he refuses to forgive Jose Canseco for telling the truth to the world, despite the fact that the truth was ugly. It’s official, Mark McGwire is a hypocrite, and because I put it in writing he will never forgive me for it.

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Putting the Money in Moneyball http://baseballbabble.com/putting-money-moneyball/ http://baseballbabble.com/putting-money-moneyball/#respond Fri, 15 Aug 2014 01:58:21 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1463 Some say the money in baseball (or in sports in general) is getting out of hand. So I did some research and came up with some startling figures that puts the money in moneyball. I leave it to you to decide if it is out of hand, out of sight or not even on your [&hellip

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Some say the money in baseball (or in sports in general) is getting out of hand. So I did some research and came up with some startling figures that puts the money in moneyball. I leave it to you to decide if it is out of hand, out of sight or not even on your mind and leave your comments below.

The cumulative salaries of all 30 MLB teams at the opening of the 2014 season was $3.4 billion. In the 2014 season, 114 players are guaranteed a salary for the year of at least $10 million. This in turn makes the average big league salary in 2014 $4 million. Not to mention the fact that 15 teams have an opening day payroll in excess of $100 million.

Let’s look at a trend in baseball as it relates to money and individual player figures that are a result of that trend. The trend is that in 2013 only 5 MLB players received contract extensions of 6 years or more, but, just since January 1st of this year 12 players have received contract extensions of 6 years or more. Furthermore, there are currently 2 MLB players who have signed contracts that guarantee them income from their perspective teams until the year 2024. These two players are Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto. Cabrera’s contract has an average annual value(average value per year) of $31 million, the highest in the game. Clayton Kershaw also received an extension of more than 6 years this off-season in the amount of $215 million over 7 years, making him the National League leader in average annual value just behind Cabrera at $30.7 million per year.

As far as the highest paid players for this season from each league; Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners is making $24 million, while in the National League Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke holds the honor with $28 million. As you may have guessed, the team that employees both the aforementioned Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, the Los Angeles Dodgers, has this year highest total payroll with $241.1 million. It is the first year since 1998 that a team other than the Yankees has had the highest payroll in the game. Of the 25 men on their active major league roster 9 of them will be paid in excess of $15 million.

Finally, as a current comparison, the Miami Marlins only have 12 players of their 25 on their active roster making in excess of $1 million. While the Houston Astros have a minuscule 6 of their 25 players making over $1 million.

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2015 All-Star logo Revealed http://baseballbabble.com/2015-star-logo-revealed/ http://baseballbabble.com/2015-star-logo-revealed/#respond Sat, 09 Aug 2014 23:27:51 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1587 Earlier this week, the 2015 All-Star logo was revealed at Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds. The logo represents the long storied history of the oldest franchise in baseball, formally the Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1863. The first thing that stands out in the logo is the traditional handlebar mustache and the [&hellip

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Earlier this week, the 2015 All-Star logo was revealed at Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds. The logo represents the long storied history of the oldest franchise in baseball, formally the Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1863. The first thing that stands out in the logo is the traditional handlebar mustache and the old square cap worn by the Red’s mascot Mr. Redleggs who made his first appearance on a Red’s uniform as a sleeve patch in 1955. This design sits atop of the classic oval-shaped “C” that has represented Cincinnati baseball for much of the teams long cherished history. A history that has produced 5 World Championships, 10 pennants, 15 playoff appearances and over 30 Hall of Famers.

The 2015 All-Star Game will be the 86th edition of the great summer classic. It was last held in the Queen City 26 years in then Riverfront Stadium. The 2015 All-Star game will be played on June 14th in Cincinnati’s new home for baseball, Great American Ball Park which has been around since 2003. There have been several improvements to the ball park since it’s inception including smoke stacks in center field that represent the tall stacks of the vessels that made their way up and down the Ohio River that is a backdrop of the stadium and a riverboat-styled deck above the batter’s eye in center field. The stadium also features a scoreboard that measures 217 feet, 9 inches wide. This makes it the sixth largest in Major League Baseball and the fifteenth largest in the United States. It is composed completely out of LED screens, is HD quality and cost the Reds $4 million to install in 2009. Plus, the city has developed the area surrounding the ball park with a wide variety of restaurants and bars called the Banks District as well as the soon to be completed Smale Riverfront Park. Cincinnati has redesigned their downtown area known as Fountain Square and redeveloped the eclectic Over-The-Rhine neighborhood to add to the national and global spotlight that the All-Star game will bring to the city. Not to mention the estimated $80-$90 million experts say will be infused into the local economy by such a magical event.

Cincinnati will be just the sixth city to host the All-Star game five or more times. Crosley was the sight of the 1938 and 1953 All-Star games while Riverfront Stadium hosted the Midsummer Classic in both 1970 and 1988. But of this year’s event, Reds CEO Bob Castellini said, “We are very proud, this is a gem event. It will be over the top, I guarantee it.” I hope so, because I will be attending.

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Big Papi vs The Big Donkey http://baseballbabble.com/big-papi-vs-big-donkey/ http://baseballbabble.com/big-papi-vs-big-donkey/#respond Tue, 05 Aug 2014 06:50:30 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1572 As of this writing two active major leaguers are currently tied for 35th all-time on the MLB home run hitters list with 357. The two sluggers are David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox and Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox. This year Adam Dunn has hit 17 while David Ortiz has hit 26. [&hellip

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As of this writing two active major leaguers are currently tied for 35th all-time on the MLB home run hitters list with 357. The two sluggers are David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox and Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox. This year Adam Dunn has hit 17 while David Ortiz has hit 26. So, I began to wonder, which of these two sluggers; the “Big Donkey” or “Big Papi” has had the better offensive career?

The first question that we will need to answer for each is how long each have been in the big leagues? Ortiz has been in the league for 18 years and has spent all 18  in the American League. Minnesota for his first 6 seasons and Boston for his last 12 seasons. While in comparison Dunn has been in the show for 4 fewer years spending his first 8 in Cincinnati. In 2008 he was traded to Arizona and played the final 44 games of that year in Arizona. His next two years were spent in Washington, then he signed a 4 year contract to play for the White Sox in 2011.

Looking at some of their power numbers, Dunn has averaged 38 home runs per year for his career while Ortiz has averaged 36. While Dunn has averaged 192 strike outs per year for his career, Ortiz has averaged only 120 per year. But, if we are going to look at strike outs we also need to look at the career yearly average in walks. Dunn has that advantage at 108 to 89. Lets also look at each players slash line of batting average/on base percentage/ and slugging percentage. Dunn’s slash line is .238/.366/.492 while Ortiz has a career slash line of .285/.380/ .546. Both of these hitters are known for their home run power so I also wanted to look at how many at bats they had for every home run they hit for their careers. Dunn comes in at 14.8 which puts him at #2 as far as active players, while Ortiz comes in at 16.4 which is 7th best as far as active players.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the spike in Ortiz’s numbers from 2004-2006 as compared to his career numbers. From 2003 to 2004 his numbers take a drastic uptick with his home runs jumping from 31 to 41 and his RBI’s jumping from 101 to 139. But they did not stop climbing there, in 2005 those numbers became 47 and 148 and in 2006 his home runs continued to climb to a career pentacle of 54. In the first 6 years of his career he hit a total of 58 home runs in 1477 at bats yet in 2006 in 919 less at bats he hit 54. Plus, with the exception of the three straight years in question from 04-06 Ortiz has only hit more than 30 home runs 3 times in the other 15 years of his career. Like it or not, this raises the proverbial red flag.

While Ortiz has a part of his career that raises a red flag Dunn has an 8 year career that raises a flag of consistency. From 2004 -2010 Adam Dunn hit between 38 and 46 home runs then after a down year in 2011 he again hit 41 in 2012. His RBI totals are very similar over those same 9 years as well only fluctuating from 92 to 106 over those 9 years.

To compare some additional offensive statistics; Adam Dunn has more walks, more stolen bases, and more sacrifice flies than Ortiz. Dunn has also grounded into less double plays than has Ortiz. While they have both driven in 100 or more RBI’s the same amount of seasons with 7. And remember, Dunn has accomplished all of this with 4 fewer years in the league.

There are so many different numbers you can look at and compare and contrast in order to determine which of these two players has had the better career. But, for my money, I am going to go with Adam Dunn as having the better career so far. So, because he has been more consistent, raises no red flags, and because his numbers are virtually even with Big Papi yet have come in four years less, I am going to give the edge to the “Big Donkey” over “Big Papi.”

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Kendrys Morales travels full circle; ends up back in Seattle http://baseballbabble.com/kendrys-morales-travels-full-circle-ends-back-seattle/ http://baseballbabble.com/kendrys-morales-travels-full-circle-ends-back-seattle/#respond Sat, 26 Jul 2014 17:57:59 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1578 It’s been a strange 9 months to say the least for DH/1B Kendrys Morales, who after all the talk about qualifying offers, draft picks, deadlines and price tags, has now landed back in the greater Northwest as a member of the  Seattle Mariners. Morales, now 31, had a good year on a bad team in [&hellip

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It’s been a strange 9 months to say the least for DH/1B Kendrys Morales, who after all the talk about qualifying offers, draft picks, deadlines and price tags, has now landed back in the greater Northwest as a member of the  Seattle Mariners.

Morales, now 31, had a good year on a bad team in 2013 when he hit to a respectable .277/.336/.449 slash line, while also showing decent power hitting in the not-so-hitter-friendly Safeco Field by stroking 23HRs, 34 2Bs, and driving in 80 runs.

Following another fourth place finish by the club to close out the 2013 season, Seattle had a decision to make, to bring back their most productive power hitter, or let him walk via free agency. The club, extended Morales the $14.1 million qualifying offer, which he declined in favor of testing the market for a multi-year deal. However, with his signing attached to draft pick compensation, and his limited ability at first base, clubs shied away from signing switch hitter, who ultimately had to wait until after the MLB first year player draft in June for his phone to ring.

As expected, after the Draft, Morales received a call from the Minnesota Twins, which lead to him sign a prorated one-year deal for roughly $7.5 million.

After a less than stellar 39-games stretch with the Twinkies, Morales accumulated a .234 average with 1 HR and 18 RBI before being dealt back to Seattle on July 24 for right-handed pitcher Stephen Pryor.

The deal, which now seems funny after the drawn out offseason, gives Seattle another bat that they’re very familiar with, and saves Minnesota roughly $4.3 million on a signing that didn’t pan out, while also netting them a hard-throwing young arm.

Pryor, a former 5th round pick in the 2010 draft has accumulated a 3-1 record with a 2.81 ERA over his first 32 career MLB innings.  Following the trade, he reported to Minnesota’s Triple-A Rochester affiliate.

For Morales and the Mariners, the deal makes sense…Seattle currently sits 10.5 games behind Oakland in the AL West with a 53-49 record, but remains only 0.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot behind the Angels, Yankees, and Blue Jays.

The Mariners’ pitching staff is keeping the club in the hunt behind another Cy Young worthy campaign from Felix Hernandez, but the homecoming of Morales gives the club another much-needed bat for its, at times, anemic offense.

Morales is five years removed from a fifth place finish in the AL MVP balloting in 2009 when he hit .306 with a .924 OPS while clubbing 34 HRs and 43 2Bs and driving in 108 runs.

The Mariners are currently in the middle of their most competitive season in a while. Making the playoffs would be a welcomed sight for a team that hasn’t been to the postseason since it’s record-setting 2001 year, in which the team finish 116-46 while the world got to watch a newcomer named Ichiro Suzuki take home the Rookie of the Year and MVP honors.

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AFL announces Hall of Fame Inductions http://baseballbabble.com/afl-announces-hall-fame-inductions/ http://baseballbabble.com/afl-announces-hall-fame-inductions/#respond Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:14:40 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1568 This past Sunday the Arizona Fall League announced their Hall of Fame inductions. Both are outfielders and both currently play for National League teams. Those two players selected are Dodgers’ outfielder Carl Crawford and St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder Matt Holliday. The Arizona Fall League has been in existence for 24 years and established their Hall [&hellip

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This past Sunday the Arizona Fall League announced their Hall of Fame inductions. Both are outfielders and both currently play for National League teams. Those two players selected are Dodgers’ outfielder Carl Crawford and St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder Matt Holliday.

The Arizona Fall League has been in existence for 24 years and established their Hall of Fame in 2001 for players who participated in the Arizona Fall League and went on to have outstanding Major League careers. Crawford and Holliday will be the 35th and 36th inductees with the ceremonies taking place in November.

Crawford played in the AFL for the Maryvale Saguaros. He only played in 17 games in the AFL because he also played for Team USA that year in the World Baseball Classic. But, those were some impressive AFL games in which he stole 9 bases and when he went to play for Team USA he was leading the AFL with a .386 batting average. As far as his Major league career, now in his 13th season, his speed did not let up. Crawford is a four-time All Star and a career .291 hitter. He burst onto the scene with Tampa Bay as he became the youngest player to reach 100 home runs, 100 triples and 400 stolen bases. He did this by leading the American League in triples in three different seasons and led baseball in triples one season. He also led the AL in stolen bases in four different seasons. Impressively, Crawford is only the fourth player since 1900 to have 1,500 hits and steal 400 bases before turning 30 years of age.

Holliday, on the other hand, has made his career with more power than speed. In the AFL Holliday played with the Mesa Solar Sox in both 2002 and 2003. Now, in his 11th season in the Majors he has been an All-Star for 6 of them. Earlier this season he drove in his 1,000 run and he led all Major League left fielders in hits, runs, doubles and RBI’s. Holliday is also one of only 18 active players with both 400 doubles and 1,000 runs scored. Plus, he has batted .300 or higher in 8 of his 11 Major League seasons.

I must admit that when I read that Crawford and Holliday were being inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame I wondered if they were deserving. But, taking a deeper look at their stats now makes me believe that they are. With Holliday has been the model of consistency for 11 seasons with both Colorado and St. Louis. The way that Crawford broke into the Major Leagues back with the Tampa Bay club has been kind of overshadowed by the way he has regressed in recent years especially since joining the Dodgers. But, I forgot all that he accomplished with Tampa Bay. That should be rewarded, and will be for both players, as they will be enshrined in the AFL Hall of Fame.

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My Interview with Wade Miley II http://baseballbabble.com/my-interview-with-wade-miley-ii/ http://baseballbabble.com/my-interview-with-wade-miley-ii/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:43:37 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1494 This is the second of a three-part interview I did with Arizona Diamondback starting pitcher Wade Miley Me: Your strike outs are up this year, yet so are your home runs allowed. Do you think those two are related? WM: “No, not at all. My strikeouts are up because I am getting some good tilt [&hellip

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This is the second of a three-part interview I did with Arizona Diamondback starting pitcher Wade Miley

Me: Your strike outs are up this year, yet so are your home runs allowed. Do you think those two are related?

WM: “No, not at all. My strikeouts are up because I am getting some good tilt on the ball. My home runs are happening because sometimes I am having a hard time locating my pitches.”

Me: The Diamondbacks have designated for assignment two pitchers recently. What has that done to the moral of the team?

WM: “It is no secret that we are struggling this year. It sucks to see anyone go. When I first came up to the big leagues J.J. (Putz) kind of took me under his wing. But, at the same time it is a business and tough decisions have to be made.”

Me: I read a quote recently from fellow starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy who said despite his numbers, he does not know what he is doing wrong. As a fan and a person who has never met Brandon, I want him to join the other two pitchers who have been designated for assignment as well. What would you say to myself and those fans like me?

WM: “I am defiantly going to defend Brandon here. First of all most people kind of forget that this game is hard. Brandon works extremely hard at his craft in fact he works his tail off everyday. And it is not like he is terrible, he is only having one bad inning for the most part. But, sometimes no matter how hard we try, when we struggle it gets in our heads and it messes with our confidence.

My opinion: I certainly respect that Wade is defending his teammate Brandon, I would expect nothing else from him. But, I must say he was adamant about it. But, as a fan, Brandon does not have good numbers this year, in fact he does not have good numbers as a Diamondback with a record of 7-21. This year he has lost 10 games while winning only 2. He has given up more home runs so far this year than he did all of last year, and he has his highest ERA in his major league career at 5.11. Before I would dismiss him (designate him for assignment) I would try him in the bullpen. If you dig deeper into his stats he does well the first time through the line-up, and he has been bitten by the one bad inning. But, I would give him a limited number of relief appearances, and if he does not improve, I would have to cut him.

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The Yankees Trade and the Cubs Designate http://baseballbabble.com/the-yankees-trade-chase-headley-cubs-darwin-barney/ http://baseballbabble.com/the-yankees-trade-chase-headley-cubs-darwin-barney/#respond Wed, 23 Jul 2014 02:41:23 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1564 Two interesting moves have taken place in major league baseball. The Yankees made a trade, and the Cubs designate a player for assignment. First, the Yankees trade. Earlier today the Yankees traded for starting third baseman Chase Headley. The Yankees sent infielder Yangervis Solarte and right-handed Rafael De Paula to the San Diego Padres. De [&hellip

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Two interesting moves have taken place in major league baseball. The Yankees made a trade, and the Cubs designate a player for assignment.

First, the Yankees trade. Earlier today the Yankees traded for starting third baseman Chase Headley. The Yankees sent infielder Yangervis Solarte and right-handed Rafael De Paula to the San Diego Padres. De Paula was in Class A Advanced Tampa when the trade was made where he had struck out 154 batters in 138 innings, but in two seasons in the minors he has compiled a 4.83 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP. The good thing is that he has an excellent fastball in the mid 90’s, but the bad thing is, he seemingly has nothing else.

Solarte has some decent numbers in this his first year in the big leagues. He has 64 hits in 75 games, he has a .254 average and possibly most impressive of all he has struck out 34 times while walking 30 times. He is a switch hitter and most important, unlike Headley, he is under club control for the next few years while Headley will be a free agent at year’s end.

Speaking of Headley, who is also a switch hitter, his 2014 has been abysmal batting .229 with 7 home runs and 32 RBI’s in 77 games. But, since July 4th he is batting .339 with 4 doubles, 8 RBI’s with both a triple and a homer. The Yankees also received $1 million in cash to off-set Headley’s remaining approximately $4 million 2014 salary.

The other interesting move was made by the Chicago Cubs. They designated second baseman Darwin Barney for assignment. Since the start of 2013 he has a slash line of .214/.266/.311 and in the saber metric world he has been barely above replacement with the bat for the last 2 seasons. But, he defensive skill set is tremendous. He was #1 in fielding percentage at second base in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons, his career fielding percentage is .990 which is 3rd among all active second baseman,  he had the most put-outs at second base in 2012 and also won the gold glove at second base that year.

The move was made to clear a roster spot for returning infielder Emilio Bonifacio from the disabled list.

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J. D. Martinez thriving in new scenery, protecting game’s best hitter http://baseballbabble.com/j-d-martinez-thriving-in-new-scenery-protecting-games-best-hitter/ http://baseballbabble.com/j-d-martinez-thriving-in-new-scenery-protecting-games-best-hitter/#respond Tue, 22 Jul 2014 00:07:02 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1557 At the beginning of the season, it was thought that the heart of the Detroit Tigers‘ perennial formidable lineup would feature Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, followed by Martinez…well it has, only it’s J.D. Martinez, a player cut in the spring by baseball’s worst team only to turn into one of the most interesting stories of [&hellip

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At the beginning of the season, it was thought that the heart of the Detroit Tigers‘ perennial formidable lineup would feature Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, followed by Martinez…well it has, only it’s J.D. Martinez, a player cut in the spring by baseball’s worst team only to turn into one of the most interesting stories of the season’s first half.

Through the first three years of his big league career with the dismal Houston Astros, outfielder J. D. Martinez took his lumps, got some hits, but ultimately fell out of favor with the organization.

In 252 games with the Astros from 2011 to 2013, Martinez hit .251 with 24 HRs and 126 RBIs, while compiling a .300 OBP and a .387 Slugging percentage. While those numbers aren’t great, they also aren’t as bad a lot of 26-year-old players with less than three full years in the bigs.

Nevertheless, the Astros decided to leave Martinez off of their 40-man roster in the offseason. Martinez still attended Spring Training with club as a non-roster invitee, but was officially cut from the team on March 22 after 18 spring at-bats.

Two days later, on March 24, Martinez signed on with class of the AL Central and has yet to look back.

While playing in only 59 of Detroit’s first 95 games, Martinez has quickly catapulted himself from Spring Training outcast, to middle of the lineup run producer, who is often called on to bat cleanup behind arguably the games best hitter in Miguel Cabrera. He is also on pace to set career highs in every offensive category.

Currently, “the other Martinez” known as J.D., is hitting to a .330/.367/.616 slash line with 13 HRs and 44RBIs over 203 at-bats through his first 59 games. Martinez has already reached his career high for homers in a season, and if he continues at his current pace, he will easily pass his career highs in RBIs (55), hits (95), runs (34), and doubles (17).

Not to mention, Martinez currently sits with a .982 OPS, which would rank him second only to Mike Trout if he had enough at-bats to qualify.

Hitting in a far superior lineup for a much better team can’t be the only ingredient in what J.D. has cooking this season can it?

No.

Martinez reconstructed his swing towards the end of the 2013, and on into the offseason. The Houston Astros simply didn’t give him enough time to showcase that change that is now paying dividends in Motown.

In an interview with Jeff Seidel of the Detroit Free Press over the All-Star break, Martinez explained that he watched a lot of video and found mechanical similarities in the swings of guys like Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun, and Jason Castro, which caused him to reassess his own stroke.

After Ryan Braun was suspended for PED use last year, Martinez says he kept seeing Braun’s swing played over and over again on ESPN and other news channels, which got him looking at the swing a little closer.

“That’s strange, that looks a lot like Jason’s (Castro) swing,” Martinez told Seidel. “Then I went back to the video room, and I watched video of Braun. They had similar swings. Not identical, but they looked the same through the hitting zone.”

Martinez worked on his new swing in Venezuela during the offseason, and after signing with the Tigers, worked hard to implement his new-found stroke for when and if he got a chance at the Majors again.

On April 21, Martinez was called up the Tigers to act as a part-time player following a back injury to Andy Dirks, and has parlayed that platoon playing time into a full-time gig becoming a bat the Tiger’s lineup now can’t do without.

Hitting fifth most of the time, and even fourth on occasion, Martinez has become that “out of nowhere” player that seems to surface each and every season, and it feels good for both the player and the team…just ask Jose Bautista and Evan Gattis about going from obscurity to offensive juggernaut.

Time will tell if Martinez can keep up his incredible tear, but for the time being, he has helped the Tigers achieve the lead in the AL Central with a 54-41 record, and a 5.5 game lead over the Cleveland Indians.

Not bad work for a guy who was unwanted by the worst teams in baseball just four short months ago.

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Wearing one in the Ribs http://baseballbabble.com/wearing-one-in-the-ribsmanny-machado/ http://baseballbabble.com/wearing-one-in-the-ribsmanny-machado/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:24:31 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1551 Tonight Manny Machado will deservingly wear one in the ribs. Especially with newly acquired Jeff Samardzija trying to fit into a new club house being on the mound in the first game of the series. As most of you know earlier in the season Machado hit A’s catcher Derek Norris in the head twice as he [&hellip

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Tonight Manny Machado will deservingly wear one in the ribs. Especially with newly acquired Jeff Samardzija trying to fit into a new club house being on the mound in the first game of the series. As most of you know earlier in the season Machado hit A’s catcher Derek Norris in the head twice as he finished his swings without even as much as an “I’m sorry.” Then after being barked at by A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson Machado then threw the bat at Donaldson as he swung the bat after the ball was already in the catcher’s mitt. Machado insisted he did not intentionally throw the bat, but it certainly looked as if he did. He has since served a five game suspension that he fought but was upheld by major league baseball.

Tonight is the first time the two teams will face each other since the dugout clearing incident, and it is in Oakland where the fans will expect something to happen. But, these are two first place teams and having players from these teams getting suspensions of any kind could prove costly to both or either clubs. So, will the managers of the clubs or the front offices of the clubs squash any plans the players might have of retribution? One last note that may come into play. The A’s made a big move in the off-season and signed former Oriole closer Jim Johnson. He has not performed near as they hoped he would when they signed him to a $10 million one year contract. He could quickly become a fan favorite and could also earn some respect points with other players in the clubhouse if he had a chance to hit Machado sometime in the series.

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Is Instant Replay in the MLB Rewriting the Rules? http://baseballbabble.com/instant-replay-mlb-rewriting-rules/ http://baseballbabble.com/instant-replay-mlb-rewriting-rules/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 15:25:01 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1502 As of Monday June 23rd there have been 567 challenges utilizing the new instant replay in the MLB, of those 567 challenges 270 of those had been overturned, or about 47.6% according to ballsavant.com. The force play has been challenged the most with about 43% of those 576. Tag plays represent the second highest percentage challenged [&hellip

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As of Monday June 23rd there have been 567 challenges utilizing the new instant replay in the MLB, of those 567 challenges 270 of those had been overturned, or about 47.6% according to ballsavant.com. The force play has been challenged the most with about 43% of those 576. Tag plays represent the second highest percentage challenged with 33.2%. Interestingly, there is one play that has been challenged 9 times and has subsequently been overturned all 9 times, the trap play. This is the only play that has been overturned every time it has been challenged.

Personally, I am not a fan of the instant replay. I much preferred the human element of the game, where people are allowed to make mistakes and are not scrutinized for every decision they make. We all know that everyone is human and mistakes are going to be made, but I also believe in such things as make-up calls and believe that over the course of a season before instant replay was implemented that everything comes out in wash in the game a very high percentage of the time. I will take this opportunity to show that coaches are human just like umpires and players, and therefore make mistakes. To me it seemed like we implemented replay to negate mistakes and therefore the human element of the game, but no matter how progressive our technology, we will never eliminate the human element. Nor should we want to.

The statistics show that coaches are scared of using their challenges in the early part of games for fear of losing said challenge and subsequently not having a challenge toward the end of the game when it is perceived that the challenge is more important and could have a greater effect on the outcome of the game. But if a call is wrong, a call is wrong, no matter what inning it occurs in. So is the fear of failure, and the subtraction of the human element, causing them the agony of defeat? The most challenges by far have come in the final three innings of games (216) but have the least amount of successful overturns (38%). In the middle three innings the challenges decrease (177) but the percentage of them that are actually overturned increases as well (49.2%). While challenges in the first three innings decrease even more (156) yet the percentage of calls overturned increases dramatically (59%). By these numbers, if the coach of your favorite team is not challenging plays early in the ball-game (remember if they win, they receive another challenge to use later in the game) where there is a higher probability of winning the challenge rather than saving the challenge till the end of the game where the probability is the lowest, then they could be costing their team to lose by their mismanagement. It has often been said that coaches seldom affect the actual outcome of the game. But replay has rewritten the rules.

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My NL Dynamite Team http://baseballbabble.com/nl-dynamite-philadelphia-phillies/ http://baseballbabble.com/nl-dynamite-philadelphia-phillies/#respond Wed, 09 Jul 2014 19:35:54 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1460 You probably read the title and thought this article was going to be about my outstanding National League team of the first half. That is not the case; a dynamite team to me is a team that needs to be blown up, and constructed over from the ground up at the major league level. I have [&hellip

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You probably read the title and thought this article was going to be about my outstanding National League team of the first half. That is not the case; a dynamite team to me is a team that needs to be blown up, and constructed over from the ground up at the major league level. I have picked one team from each league to depress the plunger on, so turn away, cover your ears and put your safety glasses on. My national league team that needs blown up is the Philadelphia Phillies.

There are two basic reasons why this needs to occur, one they are too expensive and second they are far too old. The Phillies have the third highest payroll in baseball, which currently sits at $179.5 million. They have seven players making at least $11 million and they are currently fighting with the New York Mets for last place in the National league East despite having the highest payroll in the division. Plus, as afore-mentioned they are old. They have four players in their everyday lineup that are 35 or older and 1st basemen Ryan Howard is 34 years old and signed through 2016 which will pay him $25 million for those two years and a $23 million option for the third year with a $10 million buyout. If that is not enough to convince you how old this team has suddenly become, consider this; every pitcher in their  rotation will be at least 30 this summer.

They need to trade Howard to a contending American League team while eating most of his salary and receive a good young infielder in return. My suggestion is trade him to the Seattle Mariners eating 75% of his salary in return for Nick Franklin.

I would then trade Chase Utley to the New York Yankees. Philly should not have to eat much if any of the contract here, he is owed roughly half of his 2014 salary of $15 million and is signed for next year for either $10 or $15 million depending on his number of days on the DL in 2014. He is then signed for three additional years after that as long as he receives 500 plate appearances the previous year. I would think the Yankees would pick-up the contract as long as all they would have to give Philly would be an A or AA level prospect.

Next I would trade Jimmy Rollins to the Cincinnati Reds, having them pick-up the remainder of his $11 million 2014 salary for another prospect. They also have A.J. Burnett, Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee they can trade and should be able to get decent upper level talent back for. Maybe they could find the Baltimore Orioles a willing trade partner for taking on the contracts of both A.J. Burnet and Jonathan Papelbon for a couple of “change of scenery” players who are still on their 40 man roster in relievers Evan Meek and Brian Matusz. And provided Cliff Lee can prove he is healthy with a couple starts before the trade deadline then there should be plenty of suitors for him as well.

All is not lost for the Phillies, they do have some decent pieces that would allow them to stay competitive and build around. They would have an outfield of Ben Revere, Domonic Brown Marlon ByrdJohn Mayberry Jr.. Corner infielders Cody AscheDarin Ruf  with Freddy Galvis at 2nd and Nick Franklin at shortstop along with starting pitchers Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick and Brian Matusz being caught by Carlos Ruiz. This would make them younger and would shave around $85 million off their 2015 payroll, excluding any potential future salaries they might have to pay mentioned in the trades above.

It is time they stop leaning off their past success. Yes it got them multiple playoff appearances, and a World Series championship, but if they keep going with the same guys it will get them multiple last place finishes as well.

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Will Samardzija help Billy Beane finally win the last game of the season? http://baseballbabble.com/samardzija-billy-beane-win-world-series/ http://baseballbabble.com/samardzija-billy-beane-win-world-series/#respond Tue, 08 Jul 2014 18:25:51 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1535 The closing scene of the film “Moneyball” is a simple, resonating, and beautiful piece of sports cinema in which Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane has a life changing decision to make. After another season of overachieving, and subsequently falling short of the ultimate goal of a World Series title, Beane stood in the wake [&hellip

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The closing scene of the film “Moneyball” is a simple, resonating, and beautiful piece of sports cinema in which Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane has a life changing decision to make.

After another season of overachieving, and subsequently falling short of the ultimate goal of a World Series title, Beane stood in the wake of the 2002 season at a crossroads. With a $12.5 million offer from the Boston Red Sox to become the richest general manager in the history of professional sports at the time, Beane, played by Brad Pitt, drives down the freeway in his truck while listening to a CD his daughter made for him as the shot fades to black at which point we (the audience) learn that “Billy is still trying to win the last game of the season.”

Now, 12 years later, Beane may finally achieve his lofty, coveted goal after adding arguably the most dominant starting pitcher on this year’s market to a team that already held baseball’s best record and owned the lowest team ERA among starters.

The trade went down on the 4th of July, and lit the fuse and what will hopefully be a great firework show this month with the trade deadline quickly approaching. The A’s acquired starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for pitcher Dan Straily, and former first round draft picks Addison Russell and Billy McKinney.

To make room for the new hurlers, the team unclogged its potential pitching logjam by designating Brad Mills (the pitcher, not the former Astros’ manager) for assignment, and sending Tommy Milone to Triple-A.

Now, the rotation features Samardzija and Hammel, along with Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray, and Jesse Chavez.

The trade of Samardzija didn’t come as a shock to the baseball world. It’s been a foregone conclusion that Cubs’ ace would be moved, the only questions where when and to whom. Teams like the Yankees, Blue Jays, Mariners, and Royals seemed to be in the mix, maybe even teams that needed a shot in the arm to chase down their division leaders like the Pirates or Angels. Nevertheless, I had to do a double take when I saw the news come across the wire…Oakland? Really? They already have an abundance of pitching. The more I thought about it, the more I loved the move for that particular club.

Billy is GOING FOR IT ALL, and rightly so…

Over the past two seasons Beane has seen his club win back-to-back division titles in the scrappiest of fashions, but has also seen both of those seasons end after game five losses in the American League Division Series. Ironically, those early 2000’s teams who brought “Moneyball” into the baseball mainstream also endured four straight ALDS game 5 loses from 2000-2003.

Something’s got to give.

While those “Moneyball” teams relied heavily on the Big 3 of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito, Beane has now assembled a pretty stout top three in Samardzija, Kazmir, and Gray, with both Hammel and Chavez fully capable of complimenting the backend of the rotation.

The trade is already paying dividends as Samardzija won his first start in the green and gold on Sunday when he scattered four hits and struck our five while giving up one run over seven innings against the powerful Blue Jays.

The trade itself is one that Beane said his club had been eyeing for a while.

“This was an area a few weeks ago we absolutely felt like we had to address,” Beane said Saturday morning during an interview with A’s beat writer Jane Lee. “We Really started the process of trying to find at least one guy, and ultimately decided we needed two guys … we thought they were two of the best guys available.”

Detroit Tigers’ long-time ace Justin Verlander chimed in following the trade stated that he believed the trade was aimed at competing with his club, who bounced the A’s out of last year’s playoffs.

“Really, when I saw that trade, I thought they made that trade for us,” Verlander said. “No doubt about it in my mind.”

With the A’s primed for a run at another division title and beyond; the bolstered rotation comes at the perfect time. Rather than waiting until the July 31st deadline, and letting other teams woo the Cubs with their best offers, Billy pulled the trigger early and in turn gets more out of both arms this summer with roughly five more starts from each guy down the stretch.

Currently, Oakland has a 3.5 game lead on the Los Angeles Angels, and a 7 game lead on the up-and-coming Seattle Mariners.

With the Mid-Summer Classic a week away, the A’s will be the most represented team in Minnesota with 6 All-Stars.

Over the past couple of years, even when baseball people and critics have said, “there’s no way they can keep it up,” the A’s have refused to go away. They keep on hitting, they keep on pitching, and they keep on finding ways to win with another “collection of misfit toys.”

This year’s 2014 squad (56-33) has the franchise’s highest winning percentage (.629) that it has had since that 2002 team (.636) went 103-59 and ultimately inspired the “Moneyball” picture.

While he’ll never have the means of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who own the game’s highest payroll just north of $235 million, and isn’t quite as bad off as the Houston Astros lowest payroll at $44 million, Beane has made the best of his 25th ranked payroll ($83 million) out of 30 teams. The team still has the best record in all of baseball, a great group of players, strong pitching, and a tactical manager that seems to know how to push the right buttons at the right time.

Also, after adding a top of the rotation starter to match up with the Verlanders, Scherzers, Lesters, and Prices of the world, Beane may have just put his team in the perfect position to finally win that elusive final game of the season.

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AL East Again Mediocre http://baseballbabble.com/al-east-again-mediocre/ http://baseballbabble.com/al-east-again-mediocre/#respond Mon, 07 Jul 2014 17:16:26 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1525 If we rewind the clock about 1 month back to June 9th, the AL East was finally taking shape after surprising balance over the first 5 weeks. It might have been the opposite of what pre-season predictions forecasted but after 2 months of balance the Blue Jays where running away with the division leaving its [&hellip

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If we rewind the clock about 1 month back to June 9th, the AL East was finally taking shape after surprising balance over the first 5 weeks. It might have been the opposite of what pre-season predictions forecasted but after 2 months of balance the Blue Jays where running away with the division leaving its rivals in their dust. The Standings looked like this:

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 10.45.48 AM

No one expected the Blue Jays to continue to play .600 ball but even with slightly better than .500 ball they could maintain a lead deep into the final months. Since June 10th the Blue Jays have gone 8-17 setting up the stage for a return to balance in the AL East. As of today July 17th, here is an updated look at the standings:

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 10.53.57 AM

The top 3 spots are still held by the Orioles, Blue Jays and Yankees with the Orioles now securing the #1 spot. The Yankees have not improved much and continue to float around .500 with the Red Sox also keeping the same winning % or shall we say loosing %. The Rays have been on fire going 17-9 to put them only 8.5 games back in a still weak division.

What this balance does is keep every team in the race. When the Rays where 15 games back and the Blue Jays showed no signs of stopping, it was easy to write the Rays off. However if this trend continues the Rays might think twice about selling off their highly valued assets like David Price and Ben Zobrist. Just 4 weeks ago Price was as good as gone but with anther few weeks of winning the Rays could find themselves within 5 games of first and 2 months left for an exciting AL East showdown. The Rays still might look to move Price now if the perfect return presents itself but this sure has to be complicating the situation.

What exactly has happened to the Blue Jays? First off we can see that the overall offensive production has dropped. Here are some April, May, June, July (6 games) numbers.
IS0 – .159, .210, 144, 146
HR – 32, 48, 28, 6
Runs – 122, 165, 105, 15
Walk Rate – 9.1, 8.8, 8.4, 6.5
SO Rate- 19.6, 18, 18.2, 19
AVG – .251, .276, .248, .221
OBP – .326, .343, .315, .276
WAR – 3.9, 7.9, 2.7, -.2

On the pitching side the Blue Jays have actually improved since their poor start. Over the past 30 days as a team they are siting around an ERA of 4.00 and have seen a large improvement from the previously disastrous bullpen. It’s not great but also not terrible and right around the league average. There is not much to say about the pitching as their problem has been the offense during this poor run. The Blue Jays have been living on power hitting and have seen a large decline in overall power and home runs. Added is that their overall hitting/on base has declined resulting in a significant loss in run production.

The Blue Jays face a challenge going forward with Edwin Encarnacion expected to go on the DL, Jose Bautista and Adam Lind have been nursing injuries while Brett Lawrie is also on the DL. This would be a great time for Jose Reyes to be effective, Colby Rasmus to go on his annual tear and to find a 3B/2B option to replace no longer working Juan Francisco/ Steven Tolleson platoon.

The Orioles have grabbed 1st place for now but the next few months could very well see multiple teams swap positions. No AL East team has yet to maintain a prolonged run of success creating the up and down trend we have seen in 2014. The Yankees have made the first trade getting Brandon McCarthy to help their rotation and we should expect a few more moves for the Orioles and Blue Jays before the trade deadline.

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Time for Paul Goldschmidt to be Selfish http://baseballbabble.com/paul-goldschmidt-homerun-derby-2014/ http://baseballbabble.com/paul-goldschmidt-homerun-derby-2014/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 14:13:07 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1520 I usually do not encourage people to be selfish, but I am on this occasion. I have read several different reports that Arizona Diamondbacks 1st baseman Paul Goldschmidt would decline an invitation to participate in this years home run derby. I have had two brief encounters with Paul, based on those and everything I have read [&hellip

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I usually do not encourage people to be selfish, but I am on this occasion. I have read several different reports that Arizona Diamondbacks 1st baseman Paul Goldschmidt would decline an invitation to participate in this years home run derby. I have had two brief encounters with Paul, based on those and everything I have read and heard about him I assume he wants to be a team player for the unofficial second half of the season. I applaud him for thinking of his team before himself, but his team has little or no shot at making the postseason even with both Bronson Arroyo and Mark Trumbo returning.

Therefore, I believe this could be the year to put himself on the map. He just was voted by the fans to start the All-Star Game at 1st base. If he would participate in the home run derby as well I believe he could really boost his stock with the fans as well as for his future. For those of us on the west coast, we already know how great he is, and it is time he shows his greatness to the rest of the baseball community on its grandest stage. Both at the All-Star Game and showing off his power in the home run derby at Target Field. It is time for Goldschmidt to be selfish, and even if he is not at full strength for the Diamondbacks in the second half, it is alright. In this particular scenario it is alright to think of yourself first. Go for it Goldy!

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Indians: Terry Francona too Calm? http://baseballbabble.com/indians-terry-francona-calm/ http://baseballbabble.com/indians-terry-francona-calm/#respond Fri, 04 Jul 2014 15:07:58 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1454 The Cleveland Indians have had an up and down first few months of the season. As of the writing of this article they are 41-43 and 8 games back of the Detroit Tigers. They have a 18-28 road record,  have had a number of injuries and have had lengthy winning and losing streaks. Yet through [&hellip

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The Cleveland Indians have had an up and down first few months of the season. As of the writing of this article they are 41-43 and 8 games back of the Detroit Tigers. They have a 18-28 road record,  have had a number of injuries and have had lengthy winning and losing streaks.

Yet through it all manager Terry Francona has stayed positive. In fact he was asked earlier this month why in fact he is always so positive. He replied, “You can yell and scream, or you can choose to believe in your guys. I believe in my guys. I believe in this team.” But, as nice and inspirational as that sounds. Is that what you want the head coach of your team saying? Do you want the leader of your team to essentially say that he does not raise his voice to people because he believes in them?

Haven’t we all seen that parent with their kid in the cereal aisle at the grocery store. The parent says, “No Tommy we are not buying any cereal today.” To which the child defiantly grabs the box of cereal off the shelf and clutches it. The parent, staying calm and even keel says, “no,” and gently grabs the box of cereal and places it back on the shelf. This exchange goes on for a couple of minutes until the still calm parent eventually gives in and allows the child to get what he wants.

I do not know Terry Francona, nor have I ever met him. But in my opinion sometimes in life, when you are a leader you have to yell and scream, believing is not enough. Give me your opinion and tell me what you believe?

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That Final Fantasy Arm http://baseballbabble.com/fantasy-baseball-pitching-july/ http://baseballbabble.com/fantasy-baseball-pitching-july/#respond Fri, 04 Jul 2014 14:44:43 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1504 If you are looking at your fantasy team, and your overall offense is looking pretty good, but you could use one more arm to fortify your rotation. Here are a few suggestions you may want to look into. Jake Odorizzi, Tampa Bay Rays. This is one of those classic players where you should not look [&hellip

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If you are looking at your fantasy team, and your overall offense is looking pretty good, but you could use one more arm to fortify your rotation. Here are a few suggestions you may want to look into.

Jake Odorizzi, Tampa Bay Rays. This is one of those classic players where you should not look at his overall season numbers when you are evaluating him to add to your roster now. Plus, I know his record is 3-7 but I also know his April ERA was 6.85 and his ERA since then is 3.17. In those 54 innings since May (a 10 stretch start) he has only allowed 39 hits and 18 walks while striking out 69 batters. He might not give you wins, but he cannot control how many runs his team scores for him in any given start, but of the stats that he can control he is doing really well on.

Next is an ex Tampa Bay Ray and current Kansas City Royal (he was involved in the same trade with Jake above) could also boost your overall WHIP and ERA, but this pitcher is a reliever so he will not get you wins. Right-hander Wade Davis entered the week on a 22 inning scoreless streak that has spanned his last 19 appearances. To make the sample size a little larger, he has a 1.11 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 32.3 innings.

Anaheim Angels starter Garrett Richards should be on the radar of more people. With his win on June 20th he is now 7-2 with an ERA of 2.79. He has only given up 2 home runs while striking out 94.

If his previous owner got fed up and dropped him, then the time is now to scoop up Cliff Lee from the Philadelphia Phillies while he is still on the DL. In his previous 10 starts he has a 3.18 ERA in 68 innings. He has only given up 24 earned runs with 9 walks and 61 strikeouts.

Lastly, if you are just trying to move up a step or two in all pitching categories then you would look for a pitcher with quality starts. A quality start is defined as a pitcher who goes 6 or more innings with no more than 3 earned runs in those 6 innings. Believe it or not, Milwaukee Brewer starting pitcher Kyle Lohse has 13 quality starts this year and he has a record of 9-2 in 16 total starts.

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What He Lacks in Stature, He Makes Up For in Statistics http://baseballbabble.com/lacks-stature-makes-statistics/ http://baseballbabble.com/lacks-stature-makes-statistics/#respond Tue, 01 Jul 2014 17:56:40 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1497 Jose Altuve is generously listed at 5’6″but, he became the first player to reach the 100-hit mark this season pictured above with Oakland Athletic shortstop Bobby Crosby. Jose accomplished the feat in only 298 at-bats which made him the first Astro to reach the century mark before his 300th at-bat since 2008. It only took [&hellip

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Jose Altuve is generously listed at 5’6″but, he became the first player to reach the 100-hit mark this season pictured above with Oakland Athletic shortstop Bobby Crosby. Jose accomplished the feat in only 298 at-bats which made him the first Astro to reach the century mark before his 300th at-bat since 2008. It only took Lance Berkman 277 at-bats to reach 100 hits in 2008 but he never gave the Astros what Altuve has so far in their first 77 games. He has a .336 average with 23 doubles, 25 RBI’s 36 runs, 26 stolen bases in 29 attempts with 21 walks and only 23 strike outs. Altuve’s 103 hits in 77 games puts him on pace for 217 hits at the conclusion of the season. If he keeps up that torrid pace, he would break the Astros single season hit record of 210 set in 1998 by Craig Biggio. Then, this past Sunday he stole two more bases in a victory over the Detroit Tigers, in doing so he became the first player since Ray Chapman in 1917 to steal multiple bases in four straight games.

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My Interview with Wade Miley Part I http://baseballbabble.com/interview-wade-miley-part/ http://baseballbabble.com/interview-wade-miley-part/#respond Tue, 01 Jul 2014 14:40:53 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1490 First of all, I want to thank Wade Miley for talking to me during his hitting clinic this past Monday afternoon https://twitter.com/WadeMileyCamp . He was gracious, candid and honest, all things I respect from a big league athlete. I decided to split this interview up into 3 separate articles, to show Wade’s passion for the [&hellip

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First of all, I want to thank Wade Miley for talking to me during his hitting clinic this past Monday afternoon https://twitter.com/WadeMileyCamp . He was gracious, candid and honest, all things I respect from a big league athlete. I decided to split this interview up into 3 separate articles, to show Wade’s passion for the game, his willingness to be personable to me and vicariously through me to you, the reader, and to be able to share his answers and my opinions on a variety of subjects.

Me: You are doing this camp to raise money and awareness for cancer with an emphasis on your best friend Johnnie Santangelo. How is he doing today?

WM: “He is doing great. He is recovering very well and is actually back at his job. He would have been here today, but he had a doctor’s appointment.”

Me: You mention your faith in your Twitter description https://twitter.com/wademiley36 . What does your faith mean to you?

WM: “It is very important to me. It was how my parents raised me, and how my wife and I will raise our children.”

Me: What three things do you want participants in this camp to take away from their experience today?

WM: “The first is fun. I want these kids to know that baseball is difficult, but can also be fun. Secondly, I would have to say fundamentals. Today, myself and the other instructors and volunteers are going to show these young people the fundamentals of the great game of baseball. Fundamentals to baseball players and athletes in general are like the foundation to a home. You must master fundamentals so you can build upon them, and as you do that the game also becomes fun, so those two go hand-in-hand. Then for number three I would have to say success. Success leads to winning and winning is something you have to earn through the fundamentals of success. I believe athletes need to be passionate about winning and passionate about the fundamentals of baseball. These are all things that kids have to learn and learn at a young age. I personally do not agree with giving everyone a participation trophy and telling them they are all good. I think we need to give them the fundamentals and in turn the foundation to be successful so they can earn their individual success. I also think it is important to learn how to lose so that you understand the success of winning.

My opinion: Somebody finally said it! He does not like the idea of giving our children participation trophies just because they go through the motions. I agree so much with his sentiments. As a father and a person who loves and respects the game of baseball I think we baby our children too much. They make a bad play and the coach is supposed to simply tell the kid that it is alright and they will get them next time. No! We should tell them they did something wrong, show them what it was and teach them how to correct it. That allows them to take constructive criticism and allow them to earn and build those foundations. Lastly, I love when he said that they need to learn how to lose in order to understand the success of winning. It is alright to lose at this level as long as you learn from it so that as you progress through your different levels the winning that you earn is sweeter.

On part two of my interview with Arizona Diamondback starting pitcher Wade Miley, we will talk about his struggles with the long ball, his increase in strikeouts, the recent roster changes to the Diamondbacks pitching staff and he adamantly talks up for fellow starter and teammate, Brandon McCarthy.

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19 for 19 – Tony Gwynn http://baseballbabble.com/19-for-19-tony-gwynn/ http://baseballbabble.com/19-for-19-tony-gwynn/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 17:39:51 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1469 Tony Gwynn was one of the greatest all around players of all time. You, as a baseball fan know that he holds many baseball accolades. With this article I tried to highlight some of the lesser known, but maybe greater accomplishments of his storied career. Here is my tribute to one of the most consistent [&hellip

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Tony Gwynn was one of the greatest all around players of all time. You, as a baseball fan know that he holds many baseball accolades. With this article I tried to highlight some of the lesser known, but maybe greater accomplishments of his storied career. Here is my tribute to one of the most consistent players in all of major league baseball, Tony Gwynn.

1) Tony Gwynn had a flair for the dramatic. On April 22nd 1997 he reached his 1,000 career hit, with a single off none other than Nolan Ryan. Later in his career he amassed his 3,000 hit on August 6th 1999, his mothers birthday. Then Tony Gwynn Jr. got his 1st hit on July 19th 2006, 24 years to the day of Tony Gwynn’s first hit. And, just for good measure, both hits were doubles.

2) Tony Gwynn had 8 career 5 hit games and 1 career 6 hit game.

3) In the 1994 and 1995 seasons he never went more than two games without a hit. Plus, he never batted under .309 in any one season.

4) In 1987 Gwynn stole 56 bases, he stole 30 or more bases in 4 different seasons and stole 318 bases in his long illustrious career, and on Sept. 20th 1996 he became only the fifth major leaguer to steal 5 bases in 1 game.

5) Tony Gwynn is the only major leaguer in history to win 4 batting titles in two separate decades.

6) When he retired in 2001 he led the Padres in 10 different offensive categories.

7) In 1984, his 1st full season in the majors, he received 606 at bats. In those at bats he stole 33 bases and struck out 23 times.

8) Also in 1984 San Diego won the National League West division crown, then the National League Championship, but lost the World Series. In that off-season after all of those accomplishments, he signed a 6 year contract with San Diego for $4.6 million taking less money to stay with the Padres.

9) On the Padres home opener in 1997 their first 3 hitters in the 1st inning Marvell Wynne, Tony Gwynn, and John Kruk hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to become the first 3 players to ever begin a game hitting three home runs in MLB history.

10) In 1987 Gwynn became the first player in MLB history to hit .370 and steal at least 50 bases in the same season. Gwynn actually stole 56 bases that year.

11) In his 16th season, Gwynn became the oldest player ever to have a 100 RBI season.

12) Tony Gwynn was 5’11” tall and weighed about 200 lbs. He once jokingly described himself as, “Body by Betty Crocker.”

13) Only 4 players in MLB history had a career batting average of at least .338. Only one of them played the game after 1928, Tony Gwynn.

14) Tony Gwynn is 1 of 22 players to amass 3,000 or more hits. He accomplished this feat in 2,284 games. Only 2 players did it quicker; Ty Cobb and Nap Lajoie.

15) Tony Gwynn won 8 National League batting titles, 7 Silver Slugger Awards, and 5 Gold Gloves in his career.

16) Gwynn had 19 consecutive .300 hitting seasons, he batted .350 from 1993-1997 and owns a career .338 batting average.

17) Gwynn was quoted early in his career as saying home runs were, “boring.”  After talking with Ted Williams about driving the ball and hitting with more power, 43 of his 135 home runs were hit in his final three full seasons (1997-99).

18) Tony had 20-10 vision, but it slowly faded to 20-15. So, in 1994 Gwynn tried wearing glasses but stopped because he said he, “looked like a dork.”

19) What pitcher did Tony Gwynn get the most hits off of in his career? He hit .429 against him and got 39 hits off him and never struck out against Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.

Lastly, a short Tony Gwynn story. Gwynn made his major league debut on July 19th 1982 against the Philadelphia Phillies. He got his first hit in his fourth at bat that same night. The 1st baseman for the Phillies that night was none other than Pete Rose who told Gwynn that night, “Congratulations. Don’t catch me in one night.”

Everyone here at baseballbabble.com thanks Tony Gwynn for the memories, and passes on our most sincere condolences to the Gwynn family.

 

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Going The Extra Miley http://baseballbabble.com/going-extra-miley/ http://baseballbabble.com/going-extra-miley/#respond Fri, 20 Jun 2014 14:30:11 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1476 We all have friends, people we work with or have frequent interaction with at the places we frequent. Then we have best friends. We have best friends in high school or in college, but sadly as we grow older most of us grow apart from those best friends as life just sort of gets in [&hellip

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We all have friends, people we work with or have frequent interaction with at the places we frequent. Then we have best friends. We have best friends in high school or in college, but sadly as we grow older most of us grow apart from those best friends as life just sort of gets in the way as we live it everyday. But, for a lucky few we are able to keep those childhood relationships throughout our adult life. Shockingly, what if one day you found out that your best friend had brain cancer? What would you say? What would you do? More importantly, how would you help?

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Wade Miley is currently faced with this situation. His best friend Johnnie Santangelo is his best, and he has brain cancer. But Wade and Johnnie have decided to fight this disease head on by stepping up to the plate and knocking one over the wall in the deepest part of the park! The best part is you can help Wade and Johnnie raise awareness and much-needed funds to fight this and other types of cancers by attending the Wade Miley celebrity baseball camp at this link, http://www.eventbrite.com/e/wade-miley-charity-celebrity-baseball-camp-vip-lunch-at-salt-river-fields-tickets-11714238603.

It is a one day camp on Monday June 23rd from 9:00am to 12:00pm for kids ages 5 to 17. Wade Miley, runner-up Rookie of the Year, and current Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher will be in attendance along with other guest instructors and a few promised surprises from Wade himself, (follow the event on Twitter for all the exclusive scoops at https://twitter.com/WadeMileyCamp). The camp is reasonably priced at under $100.00 per child which enables you to receive free gifts in a “swag bag” that includes a jumbo autographed Topps baseball card from Wade Miley, an exclusive camp t-shirt from Under Armor and other one-of-a-kind prizes. There is also an available dugout luncheon with Wade Miley and special guests where you will be able to mingle and take photos and possibly get Wade or one of his special guests to autograph items for you! This is a separate event and there is a separate charge for the dugout luncheon.

This wonderful event for a spectacular cause will take place on field D-3 at the beautiful spring training facility for the Arizona Diamondback Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. So, come dressed like a pro and bring your bat, glove and love of the game to this once in a lifetime event you will never forget!

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Monday Fantasy Report http://baseballbabble.com/monday-fantasy-baseball-report-june-16/ http://baseballbabble.com/monday-fantasy-baseball-report-june-16/#respond Mon, 16 Jun 2014 23:59:02 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1451 The following fantasy baseball report give you a few fantasy players that you may want to look at adding to your fantasy roster for the week of June 16th thru June 23rd. 1) Kendrys Morales– Last year with Seattle he hit .277 with 23 home runs in 156 games. So far this year he has started [&hellip

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The following fantasy baseball report give you a few fantasy players that you may want to look at adding to your fantasy roster for the week of June 16th thru June 23rd.

1) Kendrys Morales– Last year with Seattle he hit .277 with 23 home runs in 156 games. So far this year he has started six games for the Minnesota Twins, he has 4 runs, 4 RBIs and in those 6 games has had at least one hit in every one. His batting average is currently sitting at .360 with 9 hits in six games.

2) Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Khris Davis. This is a guy that will give you good stats in all categories, with spectacular numbers in none. In the past 15 games he is 11 of 44 for a .250 average. But as I said across the board in those same 15 games he has given his owners 10 runs hitting 2 home runs, 7 RBIs and 2 stolen bases. He has had at least 1 hit in 7 of his last 10 games and starts a four game road series on Monday against the last place Arizona Diamondbacks.

3) Curtis Granderson– In his last 15 games the New York Mets outfielder is hitting .375 and in his last 7 games an even .400. He has great numbers across the board in his last 15 games as well. Those games have produced 7 runs, 3 home runs, 8 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. Plus in the month of June he has actually walked more (10) than he has struck out (9).

4) A hot start has now prolonged enough to say that New York Yankees infielder Yangervis Solarte is starting to put together a hot season, yet very few people are taking notice. For the season he is batting .274 with 26 runs, 6 home runs, and 28 RBIs. But his best quality may be his versatility, in most leagues he qualifies for outfield, second base and third base.

5) First baseman Matt Adams of the St. Louis Cardinals came off the disabled list on June 13th and has promptly hit a home run in each of his last 3 games and has 4 RBIs in those same 4 games. One of them was a game winning 398-foot bomb off of Stephen Strasburg.

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The Dreaded Designated for Assignment http://baseballbabble.com/dreaded-designated-assignment/ http://baseballbabble.com/dreaded-designated-assignment/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 14:19:14 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1423 Monday the Arizona Diamondback’s finally had enough of Trevor Cahill and designated him for assignment. This distinction means the club has one of three choices in the next 10 days; they can trade him, they can place him on waivers, or they can send him to the minors if he clears waivers. I am not sure if anyone [&hellip

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Monday the Arizona Diamondback’s finally had enough of Trevor Cahill and designated him for assignment. This distinction means the club has one of three choices in the next 10 days; they can trade him, they can place him on waivers, or they can send him to the minors if he clears waivers. I am not sure if anyone will bite on him for a trade with his 1-6 record, 5.66 ERA in 4 starts and relief appearances 2014. If another team claims him off waivers the Diamondbacks must do one of the following with the claiming team; arrange a trade within two business days of the trade, they can pull the player off waivers canceling the claim and keep the player on their 40 man roster, or they can let the claim go through so that the claiming team then takes over the complete contract of the claimed player and pay the waiving team a waiver fee.  Therefore, based on the circumstances I believe the eventual result will be to send him down to the minors.

But, there is a problem with that, because of his service time Cahill does have the right to not accept the minor league assignment and become an outright free agent. “We’ve talked to Trevor at length, we talked to his advisor,” D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said. “There’s a game plan in place for what we’re ultimately going to do, but as of right now he’s just designated. Because of service time and where he’s at, there’s a lot of hurdles and hoops you’ve got to jump through. The reason I can’t be totally upfront is there are a lot of things that can still happen in the next couple of days. I hate to put the cart in front of the horse right now.”

Not only were there some interesting comments made from Kevin Towers, but there were some equally interesting comments made by Cahill. “The way I’m throwing right now I don’t know necessarily what the outcome of that would be,” Cahill said of electing free agency. “I just want to get back to being a starter and right now I’m not built up. I’m sure they’ve got a plan and I trust them and I feel like they’ll do right by me. They haven’t given me an indication that they wouldn’t. So I’m just going to do whatever’s best for the team. I like playing here. I want to stay here, but I want to get better and be the guy that I can be.”

It is at this point that I have a question. Who do you blame for this debacle, the Diamondbacks or Cahill? You see Cahill said he wanted to do what was best for the team. What is best for the team is for them to be able to get out of his contract, especially since he is performing so poorly. I love it when athletes say this kind of thing knowing that they are still going to get paid regardless. Cahill says he trusts that the Diamondbacks will do right by him. Really, what about you doing right for them? If he had any other job and he performed this poorly, he would be fired with no pay. How much is he owed, you ask? He is owed roughly $5.6 million for the remainder of this season and $12 million in 2015. The Diamondbacks also hold options for the 2016 and 2017 seasons with a first option buyout of $300,000. And lets say he does refuse to go to the minor leagues, then the Diamondbacks would be paying the majority of his salary for the next two years minus the contract his new team would be paying. I do realize the Diamondbacks did agree to that contract as well, but $12 million for a six-year pitcher with a career 62-63 record and a career ERA of 3.97 seems a bit much to me. The Diamondbacks signed him to a ridiculous deal, but Cahill has ridiculously underperformed. Who’s at fault for this dreaded designated for assignment?

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Wednesday Fantasy Baseball Report http://baseballbabble.com/wednesdays-fantasy-baseball-report-june/ http://baseballbabble.com/wednesdays-fantasy-baseball-report-june/#respond Wed, 11 Jun 2014 14:32:01 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1436 If you play fantasy baseball to actually win, as I do then you look for advantages ahead of time. The information contained in this weekly fantasy article will look at players you should put on your watch lists or keep an eye on to possibly add to your active rosters. This week we will look [&hellip

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If you play fantasy baseball to actually win, as I do then you look for advantages ahead of time. The information contained in this weekly fantasy article will look at players you should put on your watch lists or keep an eye on to possibly add to your active rosters.

This week we will look at two players who are soon coming off the DL and should be able to immediately pay dividends to your fantasy roster. One will help you with your pitching, while the other will help you with your hitting categories. The first player is Mat Latos, he has been in the big leagues for five years, in three of those years he has won 14 games and has averaged over 210 innings pitched per year with 195 strikes outs per season. So despite his injuries this year, he has proven to be a durable, winning, strike thrower over his career. Pick him up, especially if you have an open DL spot. By all reports it looks as if he will make his season debut on Saturday against his division foe the Milwaukee Brewers.

The second player to watch is Los Angeles Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis. Although his stats are not eye-popping, he has two distinct advantages. One, he is on the $300 million plus payroll L.A. Dodgers and second, he is their best option by far at catcher both offensively and defensively so he will get the bulk of the playing time. Don Mattingly said in an interview earlier in the week that his activation from the DL could come “any day now,” so keep a close watch on him as the catching field this year is depleted especially with the slumping of Indians catcher Carlos Santana. As of the writing of this article only one catcher has double-digit home runs (Evan Gattis) and only one has more than 30 RBI’s (Miguel Montero).

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Some Fantasy Pickups http://baseballbabble.com/some-fantasy-baseball-pickups/ http://baseballbabble.com/some-fantasy-baseball-pickups/#respond Wed, 11 Jun 2014 01:19:44 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1427 The following report contains some hitters that you might want to consider adding to your fantasy baseball roster for the week of June 9th. First, if you are looking at players from either the St. Louis Cardinals or the Miami Marlins know that both these teams have two scheduled days off this week as you [&hellip

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The following report contains some hitters that you might want to consider adding to your fantasy baseball roster for the week of June 9th.

First, if you are looking at players from either the St. Louis Cardinals or the Miami Marlins know that both these teams have two scheduled days off this week as you make your selections.

American League

Brock Holt from the Boston Red Sox. In the last 15 days he has gone 23/64 with 10 runs, 7 RBI’s, a stolen base, a home run and a .359 batting average. Plus, he has now started playing the outfield so he will soon be eligible at both third base and the outfield.

If Alex Gordon is still available in your league, snatch him up. In his last 7 days he is 7/16 with 5 runs, 4 RBI’s a home run, a stolen base and a .438 batting average.

Quite a few people do not know about Oswald Arcia who plays in the Minnesota outfield but you will look smart when you pick him up with 15 day production like his with 7 runs, 4 home runs, 12 RBI’s and a .308 batting average.

National League

There are two Arizona Diamondbacks you should take a look at, one for a long-term and one more for the short-term. Long term take a look at Martin Prado. First, he is currently qualified at third base, second base, and the outfield while his 15 day production has him hitting .357 with a stolen base, two home runs, 10 runs and 8 RBI’s. Arizona outfielder David Peralta was called up when A.J. Pollack went on the DL. He has been up for a week and last night was the only night he has not had a hit with 6 runs, a home run and an impressive .357 average.

If you need a good batting average from a second baseman look no further than Atlanta’s Tommy La Stella’s .333 in his last 7 games.

Corey Dickerson is now going to get plenty of playing time with both Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer on the DL. Plus, in the last 15 days his numbers are 3 home runs and 6 RBI’s with a .270 average and a stolen base as well.

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Could Mookie Betts Save the Red Sox Outfield? http://baseballbabble.com/mookie-betts-save-red-sox-outfield/ http://baseballbabble.com/mookie-betts-save-red-sox-outfield/#respond Mon, 09 Jun 2014 14:22:12 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1414 Last year top Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts took an expedited path to a late August call up to the majors.   At the age of 20 Bogaerts joined the Red Sox after only 73 career games at AA (where Bogaerts was nearly five years younger than the average player) and 60 career games at AAA.  [&hellip

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Last year top Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts took an expedited path to a late August call up to the majors.   At the age of 20 Bogaerts joined the Red Sox after only 73 career games at AA (where Bogaerts was nearly five years younger than the average player) and 60 career games at AAA.  Bogaerts only played ten total games at third base before being called up to man the hot corner in Boston.

As quickly as Bogaerts path to the Majors was, Red Sox prospect Mookie Betts may be on an even faster track to the big leagues in 2014.  Betts has played in only 257 total Games at the minor league level, but his numbers have been outstanding. Prior to his recent promotion to AAA-Pawtucket, Betts posted a remarkable .355/.443/.551 line in 253 plate appearances for AA-Portland.  Betts was a fifth-round draft pick in 2011 and no one could have ever expected the 5’9, 156-pound infielder would hit his way to becoming one of the best prospects in the Red Sox system.  With Pedroia and Bogaerts expected to lock down the Sox middle infield for years to come, Betts appeared to be blocked and far away from a major league assignment until the Red Sox decided to start playing him in the outfield this season.  Betts is currently splitting time between second base and centerfield at Pawtucket, where he is hitting .333 with a home run in his first 20 plate appearances.   With Jackie Bradley, Grady Sizemore, and Daniel Nava all struggling offensively, and Mike Carp and Shane Victorino on the disabled list, Betts could be the spark in the outfield the Sox are sorely lacking.

John Farrell’s sometimes questionable, tactical decision-making has seemed to carry over from last year’s post season to the lineup construction of the current team.  Farrell recently named Johnny Gomes his full-time starter in left field (despite a horrific .169/.247/.296 line against right-handed pitching this year).  Not only is Gomes poor against righties, he’s also a weak defensive outfielder.  Playing him every day supersedes any value gained from his impressive .303./.425/.486 line against lefties.   I wouldn’t be surprised to see Betts playing in the Boston outfield by August as he has virtually paralleled the minor league trajectory of Bogaerts last year.  With 81 minor league stolen bases and a career .406 OBP, Betts could be a nice option to hit at the top of the Sox lineup.  Betts has yet to make an error in the outfield this year and his bat could be a considerable upgrade over Bradley Jr. in center or Gomes in left versus righties.  The parity in baseball this season with so many teams hovering around .500 has weakened the trade market.  Most teams (aside from a select few) are still in contention for one of the two wild card spots, so trading for an additional outfielder could be costly and complicated.  Betts may be the Red Sox best option and as Bogaerts proved last year, rushing a prospect to the majors doesn’t always end in disaster.  With Sizemore and Gomes impending free agency, a summer call-up for Betts could be exactly what the Sox outfield is missing.

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Does Drafting Smart Equal Spending Less? http://baseballbabble.com/2014-first-year-player-draft-spending/ http://baseballbabble.com/2014-first-year-player-draft-spending/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 14:49:27 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1404 With the 2014 MLB First Year Player Draft beginning on June 5th I thought it would be a timely exercise to make a 25 man roster correlation between drafting, and having a low controllable payroll. One would assume that teams with low payrolls have the highest numbers of team drafted players on their 25 man rosters [&hellip

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With the 2014 MLB First Year Player Draft beginning on June 5th I thought it would be a timely exercise to make a 25 man roster correlation between drafting, and having a low controllable payroll.

One would assume that teams with low payrolls have the highest numbers of team drafted players on their 25 man rosters and their current disabled list. The five teams with the lowest payrolls as of opening day 2014 are; Houston Astros with $44,544,174, Miami Marlins with $47,565,400, Tampa Bay Rays with $77,062,891, Pittsburg Pirates with $78,111,667 and the Cleveland Indians with $82,534,800.

There are four teams tied for third who all have 12 home drafted players currently either on their 25 man roster or on their disabled list. Those teams are the Washington Nationals, Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies, and the Cincinnati Reds. Only one of those four teams, the Seattle Mariners, has a 2014 opening day payroll under $100,000,000 with $92,081,943. The team with the second highest number of home-grown drafted talent on their 25 man roster or their disabled list is the Atlanta Braves with 14. Which is amazing considering that more than half of their 25 man roster they drafted, they developed and now are contributing and playing on their major league roster. But, the number one team has 19, that is correct 19 of their 25 man roster or current disabled list that they drafted, they developed and are now in the majors! That team ranks 13th this year in opening day payroll with $111,020,360 and that team is the St. Louis Cardinals.

So as you can clearly see, there is absolutely no correlation between having the most home-grown drafted and developed talent on a teams 25 man roster and having a low yearly payroll. So, I guess my question is, why are draft picks so coveted by so many teams? Does it not make sense to pay for proven talent instead of rolling the hypothetical dice on an unproven and uncertain college or high school kid? Especially when the fact remains that since 2005 the first 5 picks of the MLB draft have signed for bonuses (not the actual contract dollars) averaging  $4.41 million each.

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Marcus Stroman to Stay in Blue Jays Rotation http://baseballbabble.com/marcus-stroman-stay-blue-jays-rotation/ http://baseballbabble.com/marcus-stroman-stay-blue-jays-rotation/#respond Mon, 02 Jun 2014 16:35:18 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1393 Earlier this year I wrote a piece profiling Marcus Stroman as he had an outside chance at landing the 5th spot in the Blue Jays rotation at the start of the year. While it was pretty unlikely, there was the chance Stroman could be added. As expected Stroman started the year in AAA with the [&hellip

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Earlier this year I wrote a piece profiling Marcus Stroman as he had an outside chance at landing the 5th spot in the Blue Jays rotation at the start of the year. While it was pretty unlikely, there was the chance Stroman could be added. As expected Stroman started the year in AAA with the Buffalo Bisons and put up excellent numbers posting a 1.69 ERA in 5 starts with 36 SO and 7 BB. Stroman was called up on May 4th and was originally given the opportunity to help secure the back-end of the Blue Jays bullpen that had been faltering. Additionally with the injury to Brandon Morrow, Dustin McGowan‘s poor performance and the wild card in J.A. Happ most expected Stroman to join the rotation in short order.

In the process several things happened. First off, Happ has pitched okay since his return from the DL and has secured his spot in the back-end of the Blue Jays rotation. He has most of the time gone 5+ innings and given the Blue Jays a chance to win around 50% of the time. Thats really what you get from Happ, a back-end starter who at times is  good and at times pretty poor. It’s a mixed bag but overall good enough as a 5th starter.

Secondly, McGown will the help of an insulin pump turned in a few good starts in a row. This really delayed the McGowan decision and earned him a few more starts. However it was becoming obvious that McGowan did not have the stamina needed to go 6-7 innings and after a forgettable loss on May 14th was moved to the bullpen permanently thus ending the experiment of McGowan as a starter. He returned to his role in the pen which he excelled at in 2013 and in turn helped strengthen the pen which had been suffering. This move has helped McGowan greatly as he has been dominant in his new role posting a 1.29 ERA, .714 WHIP in 7IP out of the pen.

During this time Stroman was used out of the bullpen and not given a chance to start. As a reliever Stroman was not effective getting hit hard allowing a .419 AVG and a bloated 12.79 ERA over 6.1 innings of relief. The sample size is small but since the Blue Jays want Stroman to be a starter they returned him to Buffalo to get (re)stretched out so in time he could return as a starter. I think the intent was to give him a one or two appearances in relief, wet his whistle which would allow some time on a decision as to which spot he would take in the rotation. As mentioned above it just did not work out as planned and he needed to get back into form.

In the meantime Liam Hendriks was chosen to start as Stroman needed to get stretched out again. Hendriks flat-out earned the chance posting a brilliant 1.48 ERA, 3 BB vs 36 SO in 48.2 IP. The Aussie however had not impressed in his previous 30 MLB starts with the Twins posting a 67 ERA+. The 25-year-old has shown excellent command and he dominated AAA earning the promotion. You could look at Hendriks 2 starts and marvel at the shinny 2.31 ERA and assume he did a great job. In fairness he gave the Blue Jays what they needed, quality innings. However Hendriks achieved this by narrowly escaping HR after HR with warning track laser beams. He got really lucky as his 5.21 FIP would suggest. Hendriks would probably do well playing for a team in a really friendly pitchers park that can handle some long fly balls. For now Hendriks has been returned to AAA but he should keep his head up knowing he did a good job even if he was a bit lucky.

After all of this and a few additional warm up starts in AAA, Stroman was called upon on May 31st to make his first MLB start against the Kansas City Royals. Drew Hutchison was moved up to June 3rd to give him a few extra days rest which opened the door for Stroman to return and show what he can do in the rotation. He did not disappoint in his first start going 6 IP, 1 ER, 5 hits, 0 BB, 6 SO all adding up to a solid performance and his first Win as a starter. His pitches looked really good, lots of movement and at times he looked dominant. This was the type of performance that showed Blue Jays fans why Stroman has been ranked as a top Blue Jays prospect.

After his start John Gibbons told the media that Stroman was here to stay for now and in turn Hendriks was optioned to AAA. This was the play several weeks ago but various details derailed the process in the meantime. Stroman by no way has full control on his starting spot, with the Blue Jays in 1st place in the AL East they will continue to monitor the situation but for now they feel he is the best option. Its always a great story when a young prospect can step up and help impact the big league club, the Blue Jays are hoping Stroman can provide that help and in turn help secure the rotation for the remainder of 2014. An effective Stroman would help quiet the talk about the need to add another arm like the ever available Jeff Samardzija.

 

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Time For Yankees To Update Facial Hair Policy http://baseballbabble.com/time-for-yankees-to-update-facial-hair-policy/ http://baseballbabble.com/time-for-yankees-to-update-facial-hair-policy/#respond Sun, 01 Jun 2014 01:32:51 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1384 The Yankees have had a no facial hair policy in place for decades.  George Steinbrenner put it in place during the Bronx Zoo days of the 1970s in an attempt to install discipline on one of the most notoriously undisciplined teams in the history of the MLB.  The culture in the nation and clubhouse changed [&hellip

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The Yankees have had a no facial hair policy in place for decades.  George Steinbrenner put it in place during the Bronx Zoo days of the 1970s in an attempt to install discipline on one of the most notoriously undisciplined teams in the history of the MLB.  The culture in the nation and clubhouse changed but the no facial policy remains.   The official rule states that facial hair is not permitted below the lip.  Enforcement of the rule has been left to GM Brian Cashman who occasionally needs to walk through the clubhouse to keep players honest.

“I have to go around to guys every now and then and keep them honest.  The line I usually use, I ask them, ‘Is your rotator cuff OK?’ And they say, ‘Huh? Yeah. Why?  And I say, well, obviously you’re having trouble getting that razor up to your face. So I figured you’re having shoulder problems,” Cashman said. (h/t Daniel Barbaresi, Wall Street Journal)

There have been some famous violations over the years.  Roger Clemens notoriously refused to shave on days he pitched and sported a noticeable five o’clock shadow.  In 1991, Yankee Captain Don Mattingly was ordered by the Yankee front office to get a hair cut.  He was sporting an impressive mullet at the time and he refused to cut his long locks.   He was suspended by the team until he got a hair cut.  In 1995, Mattingly again broke the rule by growing a goatee.  Steinbrenner called him out to the media and the Captain trimmed it into a mustache.   The whole situation was lampooned in a famous classic Simpsons episode.  Ironically, today as manager of the Dodgers, a team without a facial hair policy, Mattingly is clean-shaven.  Loose cannon David Wells reportedly asked to have money put aside in his contract to pay any fines associated with his occasional goatees.

Most players conform to the grooming standards without incident.  Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, Randy Johnson and others all got the required haircuts or shaved to get in line with the standard.  Others such as Brian Wilson and David Price have stated they would never sign with the Bombers as long as the grooming standard remains in place.  The standard is generally popular with fans, it has become increasing unpopular with players.  Especially as beards have become more stylish in recent years.  The first thing former Yankees Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes did upon signing with the Tigers and Twins respectively was grow a beard.

At this point, it may be time to relax the facial hair standard.  Perhaps along some facial hair such as goatees or slight beards while still banning the long hair and beards worn by players in other cities such as Boston.  The Yankees can’t afford to let good players such as Wilson, Price and others sign elsewhere due to their reluctance to conform to the Yankee grooming standards.  Abolishing the rule is not wise.  The Yankees still have a corporate image to uphold, but perhaps it can be relaxed.

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Gose the Future? Don’t write Colby Rasmus off just yet http://baseballbabble.com/gose-future-dont-write-colby-rasmus-just-yet/ http://baseballbabble.com/gose-future-dont-write-colby-rasmus-just-yet/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 14:07:33 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1375 On May 15th the Toronto Blue Jays placed Colby Rasmus on the DL with hamstring tightness. Rasmus had been dealing with the tightness which caused him to miss a few games in April and again in May. The Blue Jays wanted to make a move as they needed the bench spot with Dioner Navarro also [&hellip

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On May 15th the Toronto Blue Jays placed Colby Rasmus on the DL with hamstring tightness. Rasmus had been dealing with the tightness which caused him to miss a few games in April and again in May. The Blue Jays wanted to make a move as they needed the bench spot with Dioner Navarro also nursing some tighness. Going into the 15th the Jays where 20-21 sitting in 4th place in the AL East and 1.5 games  back of the first place Baltimore Orioles. To replace Rasmus the Blue Jays recalled 23 year old CF Anthony Gose.

Gose is an excellent defender and with his speed he could be a 4th OF no matter how his bat develops. However in his first two looks in the MLB he has had SO rates of 31.2% & 24.4% and with poor hitting/walk rates posted OBP’s of .303 & .283. The key to Gose sticking in the bigs is him getting on base as  with his speed he can bring a lot of value. The interesting thing is that for the first time Gose has looked like a real major league player. He is patient at the plate (15.9% walk rate), getting hits & timely bunts and all around he has looked very good on defense. Having a .405 OBP looks good on anyone which is of course will level off in due time but it has cause a lot of people to forget about Rasmus.

Anytime one of your top players goes on the DL, its a huge bonus when his replacement helps you forget you lost a major piece. Thats right lets not forget that Rasmus is one of the Blue Jays top players. Gose has only played 15 games in 2014 and the results have been very encouraging as he has been unspectacular in the minors which in turn has tarnished his previous “top prospect” label. It is very encouraging to see his progress and at 23 he still has a lot of potential to go. Right now he is showing what could be to come and its promising.

Lets move over to Rasmus, who in 2013 was fantastic putting up 4.6 WAR, great defense, a .276 avg, 22 HR and a tidy 126 OPS+. His production ranked him #6 amongst CF in 2013 and he accomplished that in only 118 games. Rasmus is FA at the end of the 2014 and he might want to test free agency. He is a confusing player and I understand why fans get down on him at times. He strikes-out a ton with a career average of nearly 25% which was a career worst 29.5% in 2013. It can be really frustrating to see him strike-out on a terrible pitch when he needed to deliver a hit. However the flip side is that when Rasmus gets hot, he can help carry the team offensively. Additionally he is an excellent defender which makes him a very valuable player.

If the Blue Jays do not extend him and he chooses free agency, Rasmus will receive a very large contract probably in the $15M per year range over 4-5 years. Paying Rasmus $75 million will probably make a lot of fans question the decision but at 28 in 2015 Rasmus will be a power hitting, plus defender in his prime years. Like a lot of players there is risk here. If Rasmus keeps striking-out at rates around 30% he could see his OBP suffer but teams will be paying for the Home Runs and he hits around 24 per season. There is a real chance that the Blue Jays do not extend Rasmus and he goes to free agency. Really its his chance to potentially see a windfall upwards of $75M in a poor FA pool.

However its way to early for Jays fans to be calling for a trade of Rasmus. Even if Gose continues to improve and is the heir in CF for 2015 the Blue Jays are unlikely to trade Rasmus. It is possible Rasmus could be part of a deal that brings the Blue Jays a Starting Pitcher but generally teams are looking for prospects over a half season from a pending FA. Alex Anthopoulos highly values extra picks and would be more likely to offer Rasmus a 1-year qualifing offer as Rasmus would turn it down gaining the Blue Jays most likely an extra 1st round draft pick. As frustrating as Rasmus can be at times, he is right now a better player then Gose and will return to CF once healthy. There is a chance that Gose goes back to AAA and in the past he has not taken the demotions well, he believes he is a big league player and he probably is but right now Rasmus is the big man in CF. Of course once Gose regresses a little most fans might be calling for a Rasmus extension but long-term Gose looks to be one hell of a 4th outfielder off the bench or the makings of a great CF for years to come. Hopefully its the later but don’t let 44 good plate appearances shadow the fact that Rasmus has proven to be a valuable contributor.

It will be interesting to see what the Blue Jays do when Rasmus returns in a week or so. The most likely candidates right now to be demoted are: Kevin Pillar, Erik Kratz and Anthony Gose. Pillar & Gose both have been nice additions to the bench and Kratz has been working really well with J.A. Happ. Demoting Kratz would seem like the obvious choice as the Blue Jays have 3 catchers but all 3 right now are playing important roles.

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Will Adrian Beltre Don Pinstripes? http://baseballbabble.com/will-adrian-beltre-don-pinstripes/ http://baseballbabble.com/will-adrian-beltre-don-pinstripes/#comments Mon, 26 May 2014 02:09:53 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1367 After season ending surgery for Prince Fielder and a shoulder setback that will keep Jurickson Profar out for the majority of the year, the Texas Rangers may want to start thinking about building their roster for next year.  Adrian Beltre is in his fourth year of a five-year $80 million contract that includes a vesting [&hellip

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After season ending surgery for Prince Fielder and a shoulder setback that will keep Jurickson Profar out for the majority of the year, the Texas Rangers may want to start thinking about building their roster for next year.  Adrian Beltre is in his fourth year of a five-year $80 million contract that includes a vesting option of $16 million for 2016.  Beltre is 35 years old and has shown signs of decline this year as well as a stint on the DL.   Beltre’s 2014 OPS of .814 is his lowest since 2009 with the Mariners.  Beltre’s defense has also taken a turn for the worse, as the perennial gold glove winner’s 2013 and 2014 dWAR is a combined -0.1.  Despite this decline, Beltre’s current line of .284/.351/.463 would be a welcomed asset to a contending team in need of middle of the lineup third baseman.

After this season, the Rangers will still owe Prince Fielder $144 million (30 of which will be paid by the Tigers) over the next five seasons.  Shedding two years of Beltre’s contract could provide some much-needed payroll relief if the Rangers choose to pursue a free agent starting pitcher next off-season There’s  no predicting what type of production the Rangers will get from Beltre in his age 36 and 37 seasons, but a team contending now would be much more likely to assume that risk.  The New York Yankees would be a great fit for Beltre.  Yangervis Solarte has been surprisingly good as a fill-in at third for the suspended Alex Rodriquez hitting .309/.386/.474; however, it may be time to tap the brakes on Solarte as its doubtful this type of production will continue.  Solarte has a .321 BABIP (league average is around .290) and is a career .286/.336/.397 hitter in eight minor league seasons.    The Yankees could sell high on Solarte and try to swap him to Texas for Beltre.  Solarte has the upside of being a cheaper, younger option for the Rangers at third.  Beltre would give the Yankees  a proven three or four hitter that their lineup is lacking since losing A-Rod, and now Carlos Beltran as well, to injury.

New York has been using Jacoby Ellsbury in the three spot this year in order to compensate for lack of production.  Ellsbury’s true value is in the leadoff spot, where he has more opportunities to steal and utilize his high OBP.  Trading Brett Gardner to Texas for Beltre is also a viable option.   Gardner’s name has been included in trade rumors before including one the Yankees reportedly turned from the Reds in exchange for Brandon PhillipsIchiro Suzuki has a .357 batting average and a 132 OPS+ in limited playing time this season. A trade of Gardner would open up some more plate appearances for Ichiro.  Solarte played 2B and Outfield in the minors, so he could also see time in the outfield if Gardner is dealt.  Ellsbury would move back to the leadoff spot and Beltre could join Teixeira, Soriano, and Mcann in the heart of the New York lineup.  The Yankees are currently only two games behind Toronto at the top of the AL East.  An Impact bat like Beltre would give the Yanks a great chance to contend for a playoff spot in the final season of Derek Jeter.

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Prince Fielder – Mr Durability Lands on DL http://baseballbabble.com/prince-fielder-to-dl-surgery/ http://baseballbabble.com/prince-fielder-to-dl-surgery/#respond Sun, 25 May 2014 00:52:58 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1362 Prince Fielder has played in parts of 10 seasons in Major League Baseball and has never spent time on the disabled list. He has been the perfect example of durability playing 162 games in four of his 8 full seasons and no less than 157 in the remaining 4 seasons. On January 26th, 2012 Fielder [&hellip

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Prince Fielder has played in parts of 10 seasons in Major League Baseball and has never spent time on the disabled list. He has been the perfect example of durability playing 162 games in four of his 8 full seasons and no less than 157 in the remaining 4 seasons. On January 26th, 2012 Fielder famously signed a massive $214 Million, 9 year contract with the Detroit Tigers and two years later was part of the blockbuster Ian Kinsler & Fielder trade with the Texas Rangers.

In his first year with the Rangers, Fielder was struggling  in 42 games with a .247/.360/.360 line with only 3 HR and 16 RBI. This is significantly off his 162 game average pace of .285/.388/.522 with 34 HR & 105 RBI.

Fielder and the Rangers explored options to keep him off the DL and he received a nerve-root injection which according to the University of Maryland sounds fun, “A nerve root block is an injection of local anesthetic (numbing medicine) and steroid injected under X-ray guidance into the area where the nerve exits the spinal column.” Fielder meet with spine specialist Drew Dosset and it was recommended he have season-ending fusion surgery  to repair a herniated disk in his neck which will require a three-four month recovery.

The loss of Fielder for the season is a huge blow for the Rangers who have suffered significant injuries in 2014. Fielder joins Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Pedro Figueroa, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Jim Adduci, Tanner Scheppers, Joe Saunders, Geovany Soto, Engel Beltre, Jurickson Profar, Derek Holland and Joe Ortiz on the extensive Texas Rangers DL. The long line of injuries has put the 23-25 Rangers in 4th place in the NL West. If they continue to fall out of contention they might look to move some of their valuable pieces and focus on rebuilding towards a healthy 2015. In the meantime they will face tough competition from their division rivals as they try to nurse the team back to health and competitiveness.

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The Bachelor: David Price http://baseballbabble.com/bachelor-david-price/ http://baseballbabble.com/bachelor-david-price/#respond Fri, 23 May 2014 14:31:15 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1353 With the Rays under-performing this season with a record of 20-28, prospective suitors will be lining up with roses in hand looking to settle down with the most eligible bachelor in baseball, David Price.  The Rays would obtain greater value if they opt to move Price around the trade deadline as opposed to this off-season.  [&hellip

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With the Rays under-performing this season with a record of 20-28, prospective suitors will be lining up with roses in hand looking to settle down with the most eligible bachelor in baseball, David Price.  The Rays would obtain greater value if they opt to move Price around the trade deadline as opposed to this off-season.  With Price signed through 2015, a contending team would be much more willing to part with top prospects provided Price were around for two possible playoff runs instead of one.   Not all competing teams have the means to acquire Price.  A team like the Yankees that lack a surplus of low-level talent might have to get creative and entertain some sort of three-way deal where an established player like Brett Gardner could be dealt to a team with better prospects.  Below I have listed the three most likely teams in my opinion, to acquire Price.  I’ve also noted two “wild-card” teams that haven’t been rumored suitors, but would make a lot of sense for implementing a “win now at all costs” strategy.

The-Rose-Ceremony-in-Season-15

Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers injury riddled starting pitching staff is in dire need of a top of the rotation arm to accompany Yu Darvish.  With the recent promotion of second baseman Rougned Odor, the eventual return of Jurickson Profar may create an excess of middle infielders similar to last season.  The departure of Ian Kinsler was supposed to remedy the situation; however, instead the Rangers may have to return to shuffling Profar through multiple positions if Odor can stick at second.  The Rays could use a long-term second base option with Ben Zobrist set to become a free agent after this season.  The Rangers top catching prospect Jorge Alfaro would be a great fit in Tampa as Jose Molina and Ryan Hanigan are elite pitch framers, but lack the offensive pop of Alfaro. Texas infield prospect Joey Gallo is tearing it up in high A this season with an astonishing 18 HR in 150 at bats.  Power like that could be an excellent future addition to the middle of the Rays Lineup.

Proposed Trade: Rangers Get: David Price/Rays Get: Rougned Odor-2B, Jorge Alfaro-C, Joey Gallo-CI, and Akeem Bostick-RHP

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs don’t have the incentive to acquire Price this season, as they are clearly playing for the future; however, they may have to in order to undercut the competition from teams looking to win now.  Chicago has the prospects to deal for Price and the payroll flexibility to lock him up long-term.  Though I previously made the argument the Cubs should keep Samardijza, it’s looking more and more like he will be dealt by the trade deadline.  Samardijza should yield a nice package of prospects that a savvy front office like the Cubs could cherry pick to tailor to the needs or likes of the Tampa Bay front office.  Players like Starlin Castro and Mike Olt are currently blocking top prospects Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, and it would make sense to move them.  Mike Olt could provide the Rays with a power hitting DH that their lineup has been desperately lacking for several years now.  Cubs 1B prospect Dan Vogelbach is expendable, with Anthony Rizzo looking like the long term option at first.  Vogelbach could be a nice power option to replace James Loney when his three year contract expires in 2017.

Proposed Trade:   Cubs get David Price, Hak-Ju Lee-MI/Rays get Mike Olt CI, C.J Edwards-RHP, Starlin Castro SS, and Dan Vogelbach 1B

Los Angeles Dodgers

Perhaps the most likely of all the Price suitors is the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The “win now at all costs” mentality Dodger ownership has shown would make a trade for David Price a strong possibility.  Not only does LA have the payroll to sign Price; they also have the prospects to trade for him.  Outfielder Joc Pederson would likely be the centerpiece of a Rays/Dodgers deal.  Not only does Pederson offer a first-rate power/defense combo, he has excellent plate discipline as well.   Pederson could join Desmond Jennings and Wil Myers in what could be become one of the best outfields in baseball.  The Dodger’s outfield is already over crowded with the likes of Carl Crawford, Andre Eithier, Andy Van Slyke, Yasiel Puig, and Matt Kemp all competing for time, so it will be hard to find a role for Pederson.   Adding Price would easily give LA the best starting rotation in baseball.  Could you imagine having to face Kershaw/Greinke/Price in a playoff series?  With the recently hearing-impaired Alexander Guererro just about major league ready, top SS prospect Cory Seager could also be a valuable trade chip.

Proposed Trade:  Dodgers get David Price/ Rays get Joc Pederson-OF, Cory Seager-SS, and Julio Urias-LHP

“Wild Cards”

Colorado Rockies

The Colorado Rockies have deified naysayers this season by starting the year with an impressive 26-21 record.  With Colorado’s core of Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and Wilin Rosario all under team control through 2017, some elite pitching help could be a real difference maker.  The Rockies off-season strategy of stacking the rotation with groundball pitchers has proven successful thus far, as Rockies pitchers have posted a respectable 4.11 team ERA while opposing hitters have been held to an impressive .258 at Coors Field and .247 on the road.  Price’s career 45.6% ground ball rate could be an excellent fit for a park that is not kind to fly-ball pitchers. Since their inaugural 1993 season, the Rockies  have consistently  put up elite offensive numbers; whereas  the organization has never had a true #1 ace starting pitcher of Price’s caliber.  The favorable hitter’s park effect of Coors Field has made it incredibly hard for the Rockies to sign an ace through free agency, which is why a year and a half of David Price may be their only hope…   It wouldn’t be easy for Rockies fans to part with top pitching prospects Eddie Butler and Jonathan Grey (which is what it would likely take to land Price), but a post season run could make it very easy to forget about prospects.  Let’s not forget the Rockies were terrible last year and will have the #8, #35, and #48 picks in this summer’s amateur draft, so the farm will certainly not be depleted by a major trade.  Price would be a key addition to the Rockies making a run at their first World Series title in franchise history.

Proposed Trade:  Rockies get David Price/ Rays get Eddie Butler RHP, Jonathan Gray RHP, and Rosell Herrera SS

 

Baltimore Orioles

While currently only 1.5 games out of the lead for the AL East, The Baltimore Orioles are in a solid position to contend for their second postseason berth in the last three years.  With the off-season signings of Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez, and rumors circulating the O’s will attempt to sign Kendrys Morales, they are looking to cash in on the present window of opportunity to win.  With AL East favorites Boston and Tampa Bay struggling mightily, the O’s greatest weakness is once again starting pitching.  Though the Rays are unlikely to trade Price within the division, the Orioles may be able to offer the best group of pitching prospects of any prospective David Price suitor.  Dylan Bundy (recovering from TJ surgery but should return later this season), Kevin Gausman, and Hunter Harvey could be huge future rotation pieces should the Rays look to recoup the starting pitching depth that would be lost on Price as well as Matt Moore’s shoulder injury.  Baltimore hasn’t had a legitimate ace since Mike Mussina. The potent slugging Baltimore offense and elite infield defense would be a great fit for a pitcher who has grown accustomed to minimal run support.  What player wouldn’t want to go from the ugliest most scarcely attended park in baseball to the beautiful and historic Camden Yards?

Proposed Trade:  Orioles get David Price/ Rays Get Dylan Bundy-RHP, Hunter Harvey-RHP, Jonathan Schoop-INF

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Roster Shuffling, Options, Transactions http://baseballbabble.com/options-roster-moves/ http://baseballbabble.com/options-roster-moves/#respond Thu, 22 May 2014 00:24:03 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1337 Alex Anthopoulos in his time as the Blue Jays GM appears to love to play the system. He helped build the Blue Jays farm system by taking advantage of qualifying offers to type A & B free agents prior to the most recent rule change debacle. He made an insane amount of waiver claims in [&hellip

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Alex Anthopoulos in his time as the Blue Jays GM appears to love to play the system. He helped build the Blue Jays farm system by taking advantage of qualifying offers to type A & B free agents prior to the most recent rule change debacle. He made an insane amount of waiver claims in 2013 to try to find minor league depth. He has been a sneaky GM finding ways to move players like Vernon Wells who was a player in decline on a massive contract. He found valuable pickups in players like Yunel Escobar and Colby Rasmus who had fallen out of favour with their current clubs.

In 2014 the one really surprising love of AA has been his love for guys without Options. At the beginning of the 2014 season roster construction was a little puzzling leaving the Blue Jays with a poor 3-man bench and a bloated 8-man bullpen. The 3 man bench had Josh Thole, Maicer Izturis and Moises Sierra. Thole was chosen to be R.A. Dickey‘s personal catcher, Izturis was the IF bench option and part-time second baseman to cover rookie Ryan Goins when needed and Sierra was a RH power bat that would give the Blue Jays a OF option along with a RH bat to platoon with Adam Ling against LHP, additionally he was out of options. In the 8 man pen the Blue Jays had Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond, moved J.A Happ to the DL and kept flame throwing Jeremy Jeffress. All 4 players where guys that have potential, have shown potential and could not be optioned or in Happ’s case be optioned without his approval and in fairness is a decent back of the rotation option despite a horrible spring. At the same time Rogers, Redmond and Jeffress where marginal players who often were not good but if the Jays wanted to keep them had to be on the MLB team. I can understand that AA did not want to part with his assets but at some point, fielding the best team is a better option over players with options. Because of the lack of roster flexibility the following moves have since been made:

Date Transaction
4/1/14 Toronto Blue Jays placed SS Jose Reyes on the 15-day disabled list. Left hamstring tightness
Toronto Blue Jays selected the contract of Jonathan Diaz from Buffalo Bisons.
4/5/14 Toronto Blue Jays designated RHP Jeremy Jeffress for assignment.
Toronto Blue Jays selected the contract of Marcus Walden from Buffalo Bisons.
4/9/14 Toronto Blue Jays recalled RHP Neil Wagner from Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays optioned RHP Marcus Walden to Buffalo Bisons.
4/14/14 Toronto Blue Jays placed 2B Maicer Izturis on the 15-day disabled list. Left knee injury
Toronto Blue Jays activated LHP J.A. Happ from the 15-day disabled list.
4/15/14 Toronto Blue Jays selected the contract of SS Munenori Kawasaki from Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays designated RHP Marcus Walden for assignment.
4/17/14 Toronto Blue Jays recalled Anthony Gose from Buffalo Bisons.
4/18/14 Toronto Blue Jays optioned CF Anthony Gose to Buffalo Bisons.
4/19/14 Toronto Blue Jays activated SS Jose Reyes from the 15-day disabled list.
Toronto Blue Jays placed 1B Adam Lind on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 16, 2014. Lower back tightness
Toronto Blue Jays selected the contract of 1B Juan Francisco from Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays optioned Munenori Kawasaki to Buffalo Bisons.
4/26/14 Toronto Blue Jays recalled Chad Jenkins from Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays optioned RHP Neil Wagner to Buffalo Bisons.
4/28/14 Toronto Blue Jays optioned 2B Ryan Goins to Buffalo Bisons.
4/29/14 Toronto Blue Jays selected the contract of 2B Chris Getz from Buffalo Bisons.
5/1/14 Toronto Blue Jays selected the contract of Steve Tolleson from Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays recalled CF Anthony Gose from Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays optioned SS Jonathan Diaz to Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays designated RF Moises Sierra for assignment.
5/2/14 Toronto Blue Jays recalled C Erik Kratz from Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays optioned RHP Chad Jenkins to Buffalo Bisons.
5/3/14 Toronto Blue Jays recalled Chad Jenkins from Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays placed RHP Brandon Morrow on the 60-day disabled list. Torn tendon sheath in his right index finger
5/4/14 Toronto Blue Jays selected the contract of Marcus Stroman from Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays optioned CF Anthony Gose to Buffalo Bisons.
5/8/14 Toronto Blue Jays activated 1B Adam Lind from the 15-day disabled list.
Toronto Blue Jays optioned RHP Chad Jenkins to Buffalo Bisons.
5/11/14 Toronto Blue Jays designated 2B Chris Getz for assignment.
Toronto Blue Jays activated RHP Casey Janssen from the 15-day disabled list.
5/12/14 Toronto Blue Jays recalled RHP Chad Jenkins from Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays recalled SS Jonathan Diaz from Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays optioned Erik Kratz to Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays placed RHP Sergio Santos on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 11, 2014. Forearm tenderness.
5/13/14 Toronto Blue Jays optioned SS Jonathan Diaz to Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays recalled Kevin Pillar from Buffalo Bisons.
5/14/14 Toronto Blue Jays placed C Dioner Navarro on the bereavement list.
Toronto Blue Jays recalled Erik Kratz from Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays recalled Neil Wagner from Buffalo Bisons.
Toronto Blue Jays optioned Chad Jenkins to Buffalo Bisons.
5/15/14 Toronto Blue Jays placed CF Colby Rasmus on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 13, 2014. Right hamstring tightness.
Toronto Blue Jays recalled Anthony Gose from Buffalo Bisons.
5/17/14 Toronto Blue Jays activated C Dioner Navarro from the bereavement list.
Toronto Blue Jays optioned Neil Wagner to Buffalo Bisons.
5/19/14 Toronto Blue Jays optioned Marcus Stroman to Buffalo Bisons.
5/20/14 Toronto Blue Jays recalled LHP Rob Rasmussen from Buffalo Bisons.

To save yourself from counting that is 50 transactions in just over 1.5 months. Every team is going to have to make moves but the Blue Jays have pretty aggressive. Let me break it down:

  • 6 DL moves
  • 1 +/1 Bereavement move (4 transactions total)
  • 4 players designated for assignment
  • 14 player options
  • Chad Jenkins has been recalled and Optioned 3 times and pitched a total of 3 innings.

The one bright note has been Francisco who replaced the injured Adam Lind and has stayed with the team since Lind returned. The remaining group of players has combined to a pathetic line.

To date Jenkins & Wagner have been the main two players Optioned and recalled as Marcus Walden did not throw any innings on the MLB team before being designated for assignment.  Jeffress after a poor start was also designated for assignment.

Which leads me to the big question? Why have the Blue Jays been carrying an 8 man bullpen, sending players back and forth which carrying a short bench which has to date not been used effectively. The best answer is that AA has not been willing to part with players like Rogers, Redmond while hanging on the Jeffress and Sierra until his hand was forced. Players with options can be sent back and forth which is why Jenkins has already made numerous trips while pitching 3 meaningless innings.

At some point Happ, Redmond and Rogers can not all exist on the team. With them the Blue Jays are forced to carry 8 guys in the pen and make roster shuffles every time one of the starting position players needs more than 1 day off due to minor ailments. We have seen this many times over Rasmus, Reyes, Navarro, Lawrie and others needing a day or several days to heal a minor injury however that leaves the Blue Jays with a 2 man bench. It’s also forced AA to shuffle through 11 position players to cover said injured player.

AA I get that you love to give players with options excessive amounts of Air Miles but lets cut down the 8 man bullpen and keep the bench full of players that can step in when needed.

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Shift Happens: The Increase of Shifting in Baseball http://baseballbabble.com/shift-happens-increase-shifting-baseball/ http://baseballbabble.com/shift-happens-increase-shifting-baseball/#comments Mon, 12 May 2014 11:00:37 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1325 After several season’s worth of at-bats facing the left-handed shift, it seems the defensive positioning has yet to force the Red Sox to compromise on David Ortiz’s approach at the plate.  He never appears to be trying to go to the opposite field, and it looks like the Red Sox don’t really want him to.  [&hellip

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After several season’s worth of at-bats facing the left-handed shift, it seems the defensive positioning has yet to force the Red Sox to compromise on David Ortiz’s approach at the plate.  He never appears to be trying to go to the opposite field, and it looks like the Red Sox don’t really want him to.  The fact is that when he makes hard contact, Ortiz stings a ball as well as some of the best hitters in baseball.  At the age of 39, Ortiz’s continued success gives hope to any fan of a team that has signed its star into their late 30’s.  “Big Papi” has seen his 2014 batting average fall over 40 points from last year with his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) also dropping  from .321 in 2013 to .276 in 2014.  The shift, which consists of employing three infielders on the right side of the infield and one on the left side (vice versa for righties), is designed to combat pull-happy lefties by taking away hits up the middle and in shallow right field.  This season, I have seen the shift rob Ortiz of more hits than I have fingers to count.   The obvious question is why doesn’t Ortiz simply change his approach and go to the opposite field or bunt down the third base line?  This could certainly help improve Ortiz’s declining batting average, but would it actually improve his overall value?  The Red Sox don’t seem to think so.  Ortiz is not a speedy singles-hitter, and while changing his approach to the opposite field could improve his batting average,  his potential for extra base hits and home runs would likely decrease.   The Red Sox wisely don’t seem willing to make that trade-off.  If Ortiz’ average has to suffer, it’s a small price to pay in order to retain his slugging value.  In Ortiz’s own words “you can’t shift against a home run”, and from what I have witnessed this season, Ortiz isn’t changing a thing at the dish.  With spray charts, heat maps, and advanced scouting, Ortiz’s days as a .300 hitter are likely over, but a fifth straight season of plus .500 slugging is all but assumed.

Dan-Uggla-spray-chartdunnutleyspraychart

Stats and info services are actively tracking numbers, metrics and zone ratings against shifts this season, and we should have access to some interesting data that could affect an overall decline in batting average like many of us have never seen in our lifetimes.  With a current American League batting average of .252 (with the Detroit Tigers being the only team collectively hitting over .270), shifts and improved pitching are taking a huge bite out of hitter’s success rates.  Not since 1972, when the American League batting average was a paltry .239, has the AL hit this poorly.  With declining batting averages, players like Ortiz that walk and hit for power are even more valuable as batting average continues to be a less accurate representation of a player’s overall importance.

Many people believe shifting began with the “out of the box” thinking of progressive managers like Buck Showalter and Joe Maddon, but the implementation of infield shifting goes back much further.  Cy Williams of the Philadelphia Phillies used three men on the right side of the infield during the 1920’s.  St. Louis Cardinals manager Eddie Dyer famously used the shift against Ted Williams in the 1946 World Series. Indians Manager Lou Boudreau (whom the shift was named after) considered the strategy to be more psychological than tactical.  Ted Williams refused to change his approach at the plate as teams would sometimes have six fielders on the right side of the diamond.  Shifting has been used more this year than ever before, and it looks to continue to become a big part of the game we love.  So the question becomes at what level do we start teaching and applying it?

migrated

In a recent conversation with a local high school baseball coach here in Vermont, I asked him if he had ever considered shifting against the better opposing batters.  He of course looked at me like I was crazy and basically said if someone got a hit in a spot where he had moved a fielder, the parents and fans would eat him alive.  I noted that at the high school level where the best players can easily hit above .450 and slug like Barry Bonds, a single to the opposite field might not be the worst possible outcome.  Preventing elite hitters from getting extra bases at the high school or even little league level could be very effective if a coach is willing to subject himself to the possible questioning and criticism.  Think of how many times in high school, Babe Ruth league, or little league your team would get crushed because of one or two elite hitters.  Shifting at these lower levels could pay huge dividends to an open-minded manager.  Obviously you don’t want to be intentionally walking players in little league where the focus is more about development than winning, but shifting could be a great learning tool for both hitter and fielder.  If an infielder can get more reps in fielding balls from the opposite side of the field they are accustomed to, it could help them greatly if they are talented enough to have a career in baseball.  The younger you start teaching a skill, the better the skill will be developed.   With shifting proving to be successful on players like Ortiz at the pro level, you have to wonder how soon it will start trickling down to backyards, sandlots, and parks across the world.

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Orioles’ Top Prospect On Track For July Return http://baseballbabble.com/dylan-bundy-july-return/ http://baseballbabble.com/dylan-bundy-july-return/#respond Sun, 11 May 2014 00:27:31 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1314 The Baltimore Orioles have announced that top prospect Dylan Bundy is continuing to progress nicely in his rehabilitation from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery and should return to game action in July. Bundy threw a 50-pitch bullpen session on Thursday and is currently scheduled to face live batters on Tuesday and be pitching in extended spring training [&hellip

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The Baltimore Orioles have announced that top prospect Dylan Bundy is continuing to progress nicely in his rehabilitation from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery and should return to game action in July.

Bundy threw a 50-pitch bullpen session on Thursday and is currently scheduled to face live batters on Tuesday and be pitching in extended spring training games within two weeks.

A 21-year-old right-hander and the Orioles’ first round pick in the 2011 MLB player draft, Bundy went 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 119 strikeouts in 103 innings pitched in the Orioles system in 2012 before missing last season due to the elbow injury.

Bundy could be a very interesting and valuable mid/late season addition to the Orioles’ pitching staff as they compete in the hotly contested AL East race.

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Giants’ Brandon Belt To Miss 6 Weeks http://baseballbabble.com/giants-brandon-belt-miss-6-weeks/ http://baseballbabble.com/giants-brandon-belt-miss-6-weeks/#respond Sun, 11 May 2014 00:13:40 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1318 The San Francisco Giants have announced that first baseman Brandon Belt has been placed on the 15-day disabled list and will miss the next six weeks of the 2014 season due to a broken left thumb. Belt sustained the injury when he was hit by a pitch in the second inning of San Francisco’s Friday [&hellip

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The San Francisco Giants have announced that first baseman Brandon Belt has been placed on the 15-day disabled list and will miss the next six weeks of the 2014 season due to a broken left thumb.

Belt sustained the injury when he was hit by a pitch in the second inning of San Francisco’s Friday night win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 26-year-old Belt has hit .264/.317/.504 with 9 home runs and 18 RBI for the Giants this season.

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Balance in the AL East http://baseballbabble.com/balance-al-east/ http://baseballbabble.com/balance-al-east/#comments Thu, 08 May 2014 19:10:17 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1294 The AL East has been a dominant division for many years, it holds two of the best franchises in the New York Yankees and  Boston Red Sox. Making it tougher over the past 6 years are the Tampa Bay Rays who have been very strong making the playoffs in 4 out of the last 6 [&hellip

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The AL East has been a dominant division for many years, it holds two of the best franchises in the New York Yankees and  Boston Red Sox. Making it tougher over the past 6 years are the Tampa Bay Rays who have been very strong making the playoffs in 4 out of the last 6 years. The Baltimore Orioles have finished in 5th place 4 times out of the last 10 years and one 2nd place finish in 2011 which earned them a Wild-Card playoff berth. The Toronto Blue Jays have been an example of a good but never great team, in the last 10 seasons they have finished 5th only twice, won between 67-87 games, finished 2nd once and finished 3rd or 4th in every other season. The Blue Jays are the only AL East Team to not make the playoffs in the last 10 years.

2014 to date has shown a surprising amount of balance with no team showing dominance or disaster. It has set the stage for a very interesting battle. One that could see no dominant team due to infighting, it could be possible to see all 5 teams at or above .500 by the end of the season. The largest gap from first to last was 4.5 games from April 28th-30th when the Rays had fallen 4.5 games behind the leading Yankees. As recent as May 5th all 5 teams where within 1.5 games of each other. To show how volatile the division has been here is the current list of each teams share of first & last place.


Days in First Days in Last
Yankees 25 4
Blue Jays 9 6
Orioles 7 9
Red Sox 1 21
Rays 10 13

Every team has tasted the top and the bottom. The Yankees have held the top spot for most of the past month while the Blue Jays, Orioles and Rays have all had their turns. Interesting as well is that the 2013 World Series champion Red Sox have spent the most time at the bottom.

Now lets see how each team has been performing and some expected performance courtesy of fangraphs.com

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 12.51.33 PM

As you can see the Blue Jays have the best differential with a +14 while the first place Yankees have the worst at -11. Outside of the Blue Jays, all other teams are currently not scoring enough runs per game and allowing too many in return. The Red Sox have allowed a decent 4.26 per game but have not been able to support it with enough offense. It is safe to say that most teams in the AL East have not yet performed at a level you would expect with no clear front-runner. At the beginning of the season it looked close but not this close. The Rays have been hit with pitching injuries which has caused a swing in the balance and potentially help set up a close divisional battle. At the end of May we could be looking at a completely different race but so far its been an interesting ride!

 

Top 5 Position Players by WAR
Jose Bautista, Tor – 1.9
Mike Napoli, Bos – 1.5
Desmond Jennings, TBR – 1.3
Ben Zobrist, TBR – 1.2
Dustin Pedroia, Bos – 1.1

Top 5 Pitchers by WAR
Mark Buehrle, Tor – 1.9
Masahiro Tanaka, NYY – 1.4
Jake Peavy, Bos – 1.1
Adam Warren, NYY – .9
Darren O’Day, Bal – .9
Zach Britton, Bal – .9
Koji Uehara, Bos – .9
Michael Pineda, NYY – .8
Bud Norris, Bal – .8
Chris Tillman, Bal – .8
John Lackey, Bos – .8

Team Total Pitcher’s WAR
Red Sox – 3.7
Orioles – 3.7
Yankees – 3.5
Blue Jays – 2.2
Rays – .9

Team Total Batter’s WAR
Blue Jays – 5.8
Rays – 5.6
Yankees – 5.4
Red Sox – 4.5
Orioles – 2.3

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Let George Kottaras Play! http://baseballbabble.com/let-george-kottaras-play/ http://baseballbabble.com/let-george-kottaras-play/#respond Wed, 07 May 2014 13:00:29 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1286 After being designated for assignment by the Cleveland Indians today, catcher George Kottaras finds himself without a job for the second time in a little over a month.  Released by the Chicago Cubs in late March, Kottaras is a surprisingly underrated player that just can’t seem to catch a break and stick as a backup with a big [&hellip

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After being designated for assignment by the Cleveland Indians today, catcher George Kottaras finds himself without a job for the second time in a little over a month.  Released by the Chicago Cubs in late March, Kottaras is a surprisingly underrated player that just can’t seem to catch a break and stick as a backup with a big league team.   In Kottaras’ first and final game with Cleveland on Saturday, he slugged two home runs and drew a walk but was released after starting catcher Yan Gomes returned from paternity leave.

When Kottaras is given the opportunity to play, he’s actually quite effective.  In 462 Plate appearances over the last 4 seasons, Kottaras has posted a respectable .218/.343/.434 triple-slash line with 21 Home Runs, 64 RBI, and a 111 OPS+.  Those are hardly the numbers of a player that doesn’t at least deserve a major league back up job.  Perhaps the low batting average is killing his value, but try to name any backup catcher that hits above .270?  J.P. Arencibia has posted a .188/.224/.354 line with 22 home runs and a 55 OPS+ over his last 545 plate appearances, yet he has greater job security than Kottaras? Hopefully the former Indian won’t be unemployed for long as no hitter this solid deserves to find a red tag in their locker…

sheen major league

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Reds’ Jay Bruce To Miss 3-5 Weeks http://baseballbabble.com/reds-jay-bruce-miss-3-5-weeks/ http://baseballbabble.com/reds-jay-bruce-miss-3-5-weeks/#respond Wed, 07 May 2014 00:16:36 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1276 The Cincinnati Reds have announced that right fielder Jay Bruce underwent surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his left knee on Monday and will miss the next 3-5 weeks of the 2014 season. Bruce was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday. A two-time National League All-Star, the 27-year-old Bruce has averaged [&hellip

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The Cincinnati Reds have announced that right fielder Jay Bruce underwent surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his left knee on Monday and will miss the next 3-5 weeks of the 2014 season.

Bruce was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday.

A two-time National League All-Star, the 27-year-old Bruce has averaged 32 home runs and 102 RBI         per year for the Reds over the past three seasons.

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Baseball’s Top Prospect Set To Begin Season http://baseballbabble.com/byron-buxton-activated-from-dl/ http://baseballbabble.com/byron-buxton-activated-from-dl/#respond Mon, 05 May 2014 14:01:32 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1269 The Minnesota Twins have announced that top prospect Byron Buxton has been activated from the disabled list at High-A Fort Myers and will begin playing this week Buxton has been sidelined since mid-spring with a wrist injury. Currently considered MLB’s top prospect by virtually every major baseball publication, the 20-year-old Buxton hit .334/.424/.520 with 19 doubles, 18 triples, [&hellip

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The Minnesota Twins have announced that top prospect Byron Buxton has been activated from the disabled list at High-A Fort Myers and will begin playing this week

Buxton has been sidelined since mid-spring with a wrist injury.

Currently considered MLB’s top prospect by virtually every major baseball publication, the 20-year-old Buxton hit .334/.424/.520 with 19 doubles, 18 triples, 12 home runs, and 55 stolen bases in 125 games      for Low-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers last season and has superstar potential.

 

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Should the Cubs Trade Jeff Samardzija? http://baseballbabble.com/cubs-trade-jeff-samardzija/ http://baseballbabble.com/cubs-trade-jeff-samardzija/#respond Sun, 04 May 2014 18:36:34 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1257 Don’t let the 0-3 record fool you, Jeff Samardzija is pitching like a bona fide ace this season.  With a 1.98 ERA and only 2 home runs allowed in 41 innings pitched, Samardzija could yield a nice package of prospects should the Cubs decide to move him to a competitor.  Chicago already has one of [&hellip

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Don’t let the 0-3 record fool you, Jeff Samardzija is pitching like a bona fide ace this season.  With a 1.98 ERA and only 2 home runs allowed in 41 innings pitched, Samardzija could yield a nice package of prospects should the Cubs decide to move him to a competitor.  Chicago already has one of the best farm systems in baseball with top-rated prospects like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Albert Almora rapidly approaching big league call-ups.  As stacked as the Cub’s system is with hitting prospects (7 out of 10 of Baseball America’s top 10 Cub’s prospects are hitters), their minor league pitching isn’t nearly as deep.  The famous phrase coined by Baseball Prospectus “there is no such thing as a pitching prospect” holds truer than ever today, as multitudes of young pitchers are either busting at the minor league level or going under the knife for elbow or rotator cuff surgeries.

A few years ago many speculated the Kansas City Royals would have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball;  however,  after top pitching prospects like Luke Hochevar, John Lamb, Mike Montgomery, and Chris Dwyer failed to live up to expectations, Kansas City was forced to compensate through trades and free agency.  The Royals traded their top hitting prospect Wil Myers in a controversial deal for two years of James Shields.  They also were pressed to sign expensive free agent pitchers like Ervin Santana and Jason Vargas. Luckily, the Royal’s bullpen and defense have been phenomenal allowing them to be competitive.  The unknown long -term effect of dealing Wil Myers and and losing Santana and Shields, could prove to be costly to Kansas City’s cash strapped franchise.   The infamous New York Mets trio of pitching prospects nicknamed “Generation K” also famously flamed out.  Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen , and Paul Wilson were projected to be a championship caliber starting rotation, but failed to live up to the hype with only Isringhausen going on to experience later success as a reliever.  The Cubs should be weary to depend on minor league talent alone for future success, which is why trading Samardzija for more prospects may not be their best option.

 

Selected by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 2006 draft, Samardzija spent three seasons in the minors before his call-up to the majors in 2008.  Samardzija experienced immediate success posting a 2.28 ERA in 26 games out of the Cubs bullpen in his rookie year.  In 2012 Samardzija became a full-time starter tossing 174 innings with 180 strikeouts, a 3.55 FIP, and a 1.21 WHIP.  In 2013 Samardzija eclipsed the 200 inning marker striking out 214 batters with a 3.77 FIP.  Unfortunately Samardzija wasn’t getting any favors from the Cubs offense or defense losing 13 games for the second straight year (a pattern that continues in 2014).  Surprisingly Samardzija has posted a higher K/9 and K/BB rate as a starter than as a reliever.   Typically a relief pitcher transitioning to a starter will see his strikeout rate dip, as they often sacrifice velocity for stamina and try to work more to contact to preserve pitch counts. With very impressive peripheral stats, and misleading traditional stats, the Cubs would be wise to lock up their current ace to a multi-year extension sooner than later.  Prospects are great, but Samardzija is an established top of the rotation starter with sneaky appeal as his most undervalued asset may be his career workload.

 

Jeff Samardzija is a baseball player tried and true.  In a laughably unbelievable story from last season, it was reported that the towering-long haired starter actually dumped his girlfriend because he felt she was too much of a distraction from his baseball career.  Now that’s dedication!!  But Samardzija’s true advantage is his right arm.  At the age of 29, Samardzija has only 599 career innings pitched.  The team that drafted him has done a wonderful job conserving the wear and tear on his arm which is why they should extend him.  Here’s a look at the projected top-tier 2015 free-agent starting pitching class provided no one is extended or goes down to injury. Career innings pitched and career FIP are listed below.

 

Max Scherzer–  IP-1,058  FIP-3.48

Jon Lester –      IP-1,417  FIP-3.67

James Shields– IP-1,723     FIP-3.78

Justin Masterson– IP-1,048 FIP-3.81

Jeff Samardzija– IP- 599       FIP-3.89

 

It will likely be four seasons until Samardzija reaches 1,000 innings which should give him a greater chance to maintain velocity and avoid injury in future seasons.  It would be wise for the Cubs to attempt to extend Samardzija in hopes he might offer a hometown discount to the team that drafted him.  The Cubs could also use his poor career win/loss record as a bargaining chip.  Samardzija is a superb athlete with excellent conditioning (he was an All-American wide receiver at Notre-Dame).  A four to five year extension at around 13-15 million a year would be a great bargain for high payroll team like Chicago to build their future rotation around.

 

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Braves, Chris Johnson Agree To 3-Year Extension http://baseballbabble.com/braves-chris-johnson-agree-3-year-extension/ http://baseballbabble.com/braves-chris-johnson-agree-3-year-extension/#respond Sat, 03 May 2014 00:08:30 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1253 The Atlanta Braves have signed third baseman Chris Johnson to a new 3-year, $23.5 million contract extension according to multiple reports. The new deal covers the 2015, 2016, and 2017 seasons and includes a $10 million club option for the 2018 season. The 29-year-old Johnson finished second in the National League in batting last season [&hellip

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The Atlanta Braves have signed third baseman Chris Johnson to a new 3-year, $23.5 million contract extension according to multiple reports.

The new deal covers the 2015, 2016, and 2017 seasons and includes a $10 million club option for the 2018 season.

The 29-year-old Johnson finished second in the National League in batting last season when he hit .321/.358/.457 with 12 home runs and 68 runs batted in for the Braves.

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Will previous PED suspensions affect this year’s MLB All-Star ballot? http://baseballbabble.com/ped-suspensions-mlb-all-star-ballot/ http://baseballbabble.com/ped-suspensions-mlb-all-star-ballot/#comments Fri, 02 May 2014 18:48:42 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1245 With the first month of the 2014 season now in the books, we’ve had a big enough sample size to evaluate which players could have a shot at playing in the annual All-Star game at Target Field in Minnesota on July 15. The interesting part of the balloting, which is already underway, is whether or [&hellip

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With the first month of the 2014 season now in the books, we’ve had a big enough sample size to evaluate which players could have a shot at playing in the annual All-Star game at Target Field in Minnesota on July 15. The interesting part of the balloting, which is already underway, is whether or not PED suspensions handed down by MLB to more than a dozen players last year will affect how fans cast votes for said players.

While PED poster boy Alex Rodriguez headlined last year’s suspensions, there are a lot of players who were also suspended 50 games or more for use, some of which are having seasons that are on track to garner votes on this tears MLB All-Star ballot.

While browsing MLB.com yesterday I noticed the icon for voting already in full swing, so like any other fan of the game, I took a gander to compile my early season thoughts on the matter. I had a few guys in mind for certain positions in each league, but it’s always worth crunching a few numbers to make sure you’re making a legitimate choice as opposed to the voting being a popularity contest. For example, I’ve been an Atlanta Braves fan all my life, and I love Freddie Freeman’s game, but I voted for Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers, because statistically he’s having the better season.

Another thing I always try to do is keep my emotions and personal feelings out of it, and vote for the best player. For instance, I hate the Philadelphia Phillies, and have never really cared for Chase Utley. However, he got my vote for NL second baseman because he’s tearing it up so far this season, and it wasn’t really that close.

Honestly, my biggest dilemmas centered around two players who were suspended last year (Ryan Braun and Nelson Cruz), and one guy (Melky Cabrera), who was suspended in 2012. These three players collectively got me to thinking about one simple question…do I want to vote for these players after they were suspended for cheating the game I love? No. After a few minutes I came to the conclusion that I would rather cast my All-Star vote for guys who seem at least at the current time to be doing things the “right way.”

What bother’s me the most, is that fact that all three players are having tremendous starts to their respective 2014 campaigns, and that they created such a question in the first place. My philosophy on life has always been to do your best…work hard and earn things…don’t take shortcuts. Personally, I just felt like I couldn’t reward these guys so soon after being punished for cheating.

It’s a shame too, because based on the numbers, they all three probably should be there. However, based on all the other unfortunate junk that often overshadows the game, I went with guys I felt deserved the nods this year.

Ryan Braun

With his 6HRs, 18RBIs, and his .318/.361/.591 slash line, Braun would have easily been in my starting outfield if not for getting busted last year, one year after he made a spectacle of himself and the process. Instead, I gave my vote to San Francisco’s Michael Morse to go alongside Justin Upton of Atlanta and Charlie Blackmon of Colorado.

Melky Cabrera

Cabrera is having a hell of a year north of the border, and just set the Blue Jays franchise record for hits in the month of April. As if his one miserable year in Atlanta wasn’t enough to make me shake my head at the guy, him being busted for 50 games late in 2012 after being named All-Star game MVP really creates even more of a compelling argument for leaving him off this year’s team. The karma in his 2012 case was the fact that his teammates went on to win the World Series without him. Nevertheless, Cabrera was able to parlay his work with the Giants into a lucrative deal with the Jays, so more power to him. With his 5 HRs, 11RBIs, a .342/.368/.567 slash line and 41 hits in his first 27 games, Cabrera’s numbers right away jump out as those worthy of a trip the mid-summer classic, but I instead gave his spot to Detroit’s Torii Hunter alongside Toronto’s Jose Bautista and L.A.’s Mike Trout.

Nelson Cruz

Although he was a late sign by Baltimore, Cruz has fit in nicely and is mashing for the O’s so far this season. With this year’s game taking place in an American League city, the ballot allows for a DH vote, and given the numbers Cruz almost certainly would have garnered my initial vote with his 7 dingers, 25 RBIs and .289/.373./.557 slash line. In light of the circumstance though, I decided to give the nod to Detroit’s Victor Martinez.

There’s no right or wrong answer really, it’s just each fan’s preference. If you’re able to look past the PED stuff and chalk it up to the era we’re in right now where guys will do what they have to do put up enough numbers to get paid, then cool. I’m just a little more old-fashioned I guess. I’d rather not reward the guys with bonuses, and the chance to play with the best in the game if they had to cheat to get there.

It’ll be interesting to see how the voting shakes out as the season progresses, and whether or not fans care about the mistakes these players have made in seasons past.

 

National League ballot:

Catcher: Yadier Molina (STL), 1st Base: Adrian Gonzalez (LAD), 2nd Base: Chase Utley (PHI), Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki (COL), 3rd Base: Nolan Arenado (COL), OF: Justin Upton (ATL), Michael Morse (SF), and Charlie Blackmon (COL). 

 

American League ballot:

Catcher: Matt Wieters (BAL), 1st Base: Jose Abreu (CWS), 2nd Base: Ben Zobrist (TB), Shortstop: Alexei Ramirez (CWS), 3rd Base: Josh Donaldson (OAK), OF: Jose Bautista (TOR), Torii Hunter (DET), Mike Trout (LAA), and Designated Hitter: Victor Martinez (DET).

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Are the Miami Marlins Stealing Signs? http://baseballbabble.com/miami-marlins-stealing-signs/ http://baseballbabble.com/miami-marlins-stealing-signs/#comments Fri, 02 May 2014 14:32:33 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1231 While listening to Fangraph’s  “Sleeper and the Bust”, fantasy baseball podcast co-host Jason Collette presented a very interesting theory.  Collette argued the Miami Marlins may be stealing signs at home this season.  On consecutive nights this week, the Marlins hung nine runs on Aaron Harang and 7 runs on Alex Wood.  These two pitchers had [&hellip

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While listening to Fangraph’s  “Sleeper and the Bust”, fantasy baseball podcast co-host Jason Collette presented a very interesting theory.  Collette argued the Miami Marlins may be stealing signs at home this season.  On consecutive nights this week, the Marlins hung nine runs on Aaron Harang and 7 runs on Alex Wood.  These two pitchers had been lights out all season before getting crushed in Miami which is normally a pitcher’s haven.

Collette noted some very intriguing statistics.  So far this season the Marlins have posted an .840 OPS at home and a dismal .621 OPS on the road.  Miami batters have a 19% strikeout rate at Marlin’s Park and a league worst 29% K-rate in road games.  In the words of Collette “These guys don’t become contact hitters at home and then stink on the road”.  The fish have the best home record in baseball and an increased 10% contact rate at home.  The home/road splits from Miami this year resemble splits you would see from a team like the Colorado Rockies, not from a team that plays in a cavernous pitcher’s park.

Collette also observed that Atlanta Braves’ catcher Evan Gattis was flashing multiple signs without any runners on base, so perhaps the Braves suspected something was awry.  So is this some wild conspiracy theory, or do these claims actually have merit?  I for one, will be watching very closely…

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Mariners’ Hisashi Iwakuma Set For Season Debut http://baseballbabble.com/mariners-hisashi-iwakuma-set-season-debut/ http://baseballbabble.com/mariners-hisashi-iwakuma-set-season-debut/#respond Fri, 02 May 2014 00:04:11 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1227 The Seattle Mariners have announced that starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma will be activated from the disabled list and make his season debut on Saturday against the Houston Astros. Iwakuma has been sidelined since early in spring training due to a finger injury. A 33-year-old right-hander, Iwakuma was one of the American League’s best starting pitchers [&hellip

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The Seattle Mariners have announced that starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma will be activated from the disabled list and make his season debut on Saturday against the Houston Astros.

Iwakuma has been sidelined since early in spring training due to a finger injury.

A 33-year-old right-hander, Iwakuma was one of the American League’s best starting pitchers last season when he went 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 185 strikeouts in 220 innings pitched in 33 starts for the Mariners.

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Clayton Kershaw whiffs 9 in Double-A rehab start, sells out Chattanooga’s AT&T Field http://baseballbabble.com/clayton-kershaw-whiffs-9-rehab-start/ http://baseballbabble.com/clayton-kershaw-whiffs-9-rehab-start/#respond Thu, 01 May 2014 17:53:59 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1221 Defending National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw made a pit stop in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Wednesday night to make his latest rehab start as a member of the Dodgers Double-A affiliate Chattanooga Lookouts.   While it’s a far cry from Chavez Ravine, Kershaw pitched in front of a sellout crowd of 6,318, and [&hellip

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Defending National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw made a pit stop in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Wednesday night to make his latest rehab start as a member of the Dodgers Double-A affiliate Chattanooga Lookouts.

 

While it’s a far cry from Chavez Ravine, Kershaw pitched in front of a sellout crowd of 6,318, and gave up two runs over five innings while striking out nine on his way to a no decision. Kershaw finished up his work with the game tied at 2-2, with the Tennessee Smokies ultimately pulling out a 4-3 victory over the home team.

 

“I would like to have gotten through six or seven innings, but I had a good time working with these guys,” Kershaw told the Chattanooga Times Free Press in a post game interview. “It’s tough when pitch counts are in the back of your mind. Obviously the main goal of why I was here was to get my pitch count up and be ready for 100-plus pitches in the big leagues.”

 

The 26-year-old southpaw threw 86 pitches last night, an improvement over the 56 pitches he threw over five scoreless innings of two-hit ball for the Single-A Rancho Cucamonga last Friday. Now with two rehab starts under his belt, Kershaw could rejoin the Dodgers rotation as soon as Monday night, but no such announcement has been made as of yet.

 

Kershaw kicked off the MLB 2014 in fine fashion with a season opening win down under in Australia against the rival Diamondbacks, but was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career shortly thereafter with strained lower back.

 

Although he has performed well throughout his rehab journey, Kershaw said after the game that he is looking forward to getting back with the big club.

 

“I’ve learned I don’t like it,” Kershaw said of his stint on the DL. “As much as you try and be a part of this team, our team is playing right now while I’m in Chattanooga. It’s a weird process for me, and you kind of feel isolated a little bit. Hopefully I never have to do it again.”

 

Wednesday night’s crowd was the biggest in Chattanooga since last season when Yasiel Puig hit .313 with 8 HRs, 37 RBIs, and 13 SBs for the Lookouts over 40 games, which ultimately led to him being called up and claiming an everyday spot with the Dodgers.

 

A healthy Kershaw will be a welcomed addition to the Dodgers’ staff, as the club currently sits 1.5 games behind the rival San Francisco Giants with a 15-12 record.

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Blue Jays Pitching Decisions http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-pitching-decisions/ http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-pitching-decisions/#respond Thu, 01 May 2014 16:01:02 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1192 As April closes the Blue Jays are likely to make some decisions about their Starting Pitching and Bullpen. As a team the Blue Jays have an ERA of 4.64 and a below average ERA+ of 94. On a quick glance those numbers are just under league average and not surprising considering the question makes at [&hellip

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As April closes the Blue Jays are likely to make some decisions about their Starting Pitching and Bullpen. As a team the Blue Jays have an ERA of 4.64 and a below average ERA+ of 94. On a quick glance those numbers are just under league average and not surprising considering the question makes at the start of the season. Right now they are playing like a .500 team as their pitching has been very inconsistent.

On paper considering talent and potential the starting rotation of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Drew Hutchison, Brandon Morrow and Dustin McGowan had the chance to be a solid group. However considering the injury risks of McGowan, Morrow, the unproven Hutchison and the aging Dickey, Buehrle the Blue Jays also faced the risk of an inconsistent or injured rotation. To date they have received much more of the later and it might be time to make a change.

Overall the Blue Jays starting pitching has an ERA of 4.41 which puts the 24th in the MLB. Overall it has not been great but lets look a little deepr.

Buehrle – He has been an absolute thrill to watch this year, in his first 4 games he pitched way beyond expectations and even with a forgivable 5th performance he easily leads the crew with an ERA of 2.16 and a dominant ERA+ of 198. Not only has he pitched well, he has averaged 6.7 IP/game which has given the pen needed rest. He has been everything the Blue Jays wanted and then a lot more.

Hutchison – The youngster on the staff has pitched above expectation in his 6 starts with a 3.82 ERA and a 113 ERA+. He has averaged 10.4 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched and 2.7 BB/9 IP giving him the best SO/BB ratio at 3.80 amongst the rotation. Considering he was not a lock for the rotation coming off Tommy John surgery, Hutch has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed. He has been given the worst run support on the staff at 2.8 per game which accounts for his 1-2 record. Overall he has been pitching well and has been going on average 5.5 innings per game which pretty good for a young starter.

Dickey – Dickey has to be the most frustrating player on the roster, you just never know what to expect. On any given day he will be somewhere between brilliant and awful, you never know if his knuckleball will show up. This has lead to a 5.09 ERA and an ERA+ of 84 in 6 starts. He is walking way to many at 4.6/9 IP which has lead to a lot of runs, especially near the end of his night. Gibbons has been giving him a little more of a quick hook as he tends to be hit hard as he tires. Overall Dickey has not lived up to expectations, one would expect some improvement but my overall outlook is more of a #3-4 instead of a team Ace.

Morrow – This is where it starts to get really ugly. Morrow has allowed the least amount of hits at 7.7/ 9 IP but also has walked guys at an alarming 6.4/ 9 IP. He has been terrible, his ERA is at 6.04 with an ERA + of 71. He has averaged only 4.5 IP per start meaning the pen must pick up the other 4.5 innings of work. He has shown some great velocity at times hitting upwards of 98 MPH but his control has been so poor that he his velocity means nothing. Opposing batters are only swinging at 41.8% of his pitchs, without command of his pitches Morrow has been walking way too many guys.

McGowan – In McGowan’s first 4 starts he was really bad and at risk of loosing his spot. After a strong start against the Royals he might have earned a few more appearances. Still his overall 5 game performance adds up to a 5.87 ERA/ 75 ERA+, 5.9 SO/ 9 IP and a weak 4.6 IP per start. Overall McGowan has pitched well 2/5 times but his 3 poor starts all lasted 4 innings or less with 3 or more runs. McGowan has always been praised for his “stuff” and at 32 the time of him being a started could be limited. Like I said he might have earned a few more starts but he is on a short leash. 

The bullpen was considered one of the Blue Jays strengths but instead it has been a weakness. The group has combined for a terrible 5.03 ERA which lands them 28th in the MLB. Consider that in 2013 they finished the year in 9th overall at 3.37. I won’t go into too much depth regarding the pen but the biggest issue has been the walks. They have allowed an astonishing 5.12 BB/ 9IP which can not be tolerated.

Right now the Blue Jays have J.A. Happ, Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond and Chad Jenkins as long men in the 8 man bullpen. Jenkins can be optioned, Redmond has been very good which leaves Happ & Rogers as the guys who might be DFA’d or traded. With Casey Janssen coming back shortly the Blue Jays could simply option Jenkins but they still have 3 guys filling one role on a bloated 8 man pen which in turn has resulted in a cycle of roster moves on the 3 man bench. It might be time to cut bait on Rogers and see if they can find a new home for Happ. With both of them gone, Neil Wagner can return and the Blue Jays have more then enough options in the minors to fill out the pen.

With all of this said, numerous reports have indicated that Marcus Stroman could be joining the team shortly. It might be time to find an “injury” for Morrow who has been the worst of the starters. May will see a different look on the pitching staff and changes in the rotation look to be coming. I think its a good idea to give your guys around 5 starts to get a good look and so far McGowan & Morrow have not lived up to task. Change in May is very likely.

 

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Orioles’ Manny Machado Set To Make Season Debut http://baseballbabble.com/orioles-manny-machado-set-make-season-debut/ http://baseballbabble.com/orioles-manny-machado-set-make-season-debut/#respond Wed, 30 Apr 2014 23:21:04 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1212 The Baltimore Orioles have announced that star third baseman Manny Machado will be activated from the disabled list for Thursday’s doubleheader with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Machado has been out of the Orioles lineup since suffering a season-ending knee injury on September 23 of last year. The 21-year-old Machado hit .283/.314/.432 with 14 home runs, 71 [&hellip

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The Baltimore Orioles have announced that star third baseman Manny Machado will be activated from the disabled list for Thursday’s doubleheader with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Machado has been out of the Orioles lineup since suffering a season-ending knee injury on September 23 of last year.

The 21-year-old Machado hit .283/.314/.432 with 14 home runs, 71 runs batted in, and an American League leading 51 doubles for the Orioles last season while playing Gold Glove award-winning defense at third.

 

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Young phenoms look to recreate last week’s instant classic tonight in Miami http://baseballbabble.com/young-phenoms-mlb/ http://baseballbabble.com/young-phenoms-mlb/#respond Tue, 29 Apr 2014 18:30:53 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1208 Sequels rarely live up to the original, but tonight in Miami, two of baseball’s brightest young arms will look to recreate the gems they each threw just seven days ago.   All youngsters Jose Fernandez and Alex Wood did last week at Turner Field in Atlanta was combine for 25 strikeouts in a pitcher’s duel [&hellip

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Sequels rarely live up to the original, but tonight in Miami, two of baseball’s brightest young arms will look to recreate the gems they each threw just seven days ago.

 

All youngsters Jose Fernandez and Alex Wood did last week at Turner Field in Atlanta was combine for 25 strikeouts in a pitcher’s duel for the ages, which resulted in the Miami Marlins topping the Bravos 1-0.

 

That night’s loss was the second in a row for Wood, who had also lost 1-0 in his previous start in Philadelphia.

 

That night was special. Not only did it showcase two big-time arms who will hopefully be battling it out in the division for years to come, but it was a night of career highs for both Fernandez and Wood who struck out 14 and 11 hitters respectively. Combining the 25 K’s recorded by the starters with those accumulated by relievers David Carpenter and Steve Cishek, the Braves and Marlins combined to strike out 28 batters, which was the most by two teams without issuing a walk since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

 

Entering tonight’s round two, Wood currently ranks 7th in the NL in ERA at 1.54, while Fernandez sits 10th at 1.99. Although the accolades are nice, Wood has fallen on some bad luck as his 2-3 record would indicate. Aside from the back-to-back 1-0 losses, Wood was also beat 2-1 by the Washington Nationals on April 6 after giving up only the two runs in 7 innings of work. Nevertheless, Wood has only given up 6 earned runs and 27 hits in his first 35 innings of the year, while Fernandez has been dealing to a 3-1 record a midst giving up 7 earned runs and only 23 hits in his first 31.2 innings of work in 2014.

 

Although Fernandez came into 2014 as an already established star fresh off a Rookie of the Year campaign, Wood has opened a lot of eyes outside of Atlanta so far this year with his stellar work as part of an over-achieving Braves rotation. Just two years removed from pitching at the University of Georgia, Wood accumulated 77.2 IP in 2013 while being used primarily as a reliever and spot starter.

 

Since breaking onto the MLB scene last April, Fernandez has pitched to a 15-7 record with a 2.16 over 204.1 IP in 33 starts, and his home stats are even more jaw-dropping. In 18 starts at Marlin’s Park during his young career, Fernandez has owned the building with an 11-0 record with a 1.07 ERA over 117.2 IP, and has struck out 135 batters in the process while only giving up 68 hits and 14 earned runs.

 

Tonight’s match-up might not live up to the hype given the masterpiece the duo provided us with last week, but it’ll be a real treat if they give us another game indicative of what the rivalry could look like for years to come.

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Robinson Cano Can Expect to Hear Boos upon Return to Yankee Stadium http://baseballbabble.com/robinson-cano-can-expect-hear-boos-upon-return-yankee-stadium/ http://baseballbabble.com/robinson-cano-can-expect-hear-boos-upon-return-yankee-stadium/#respond Tue, 29 Apr 2014 12:52:58 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1200 On Tuesday night, Robinson Cano will return to Yankee Stadium for the first time since he spurned the Yankees offer of $175 million over seven years to take $240 million from the Seattle Mariners.  His reception is expected to be icy.  There will be some cheers when he comes to bat in the top of [&hellip

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On Tuesday night, Robinson Cano will return to Yankee Stadium for the first time since he spurned the Yankees offer of $175 million over seven years to take $240 million from the Seattle Mariners.  His reception is expected to be icy.  There will be some cheers when he comes to bat in the top of the first inning, but the boos will likely drown them out.  And all the boos will be completely Cano’s fault.

Robinson Cano spent the first nine years of his stellar career in pinstripes.  He won a World Series and made five All-Star teams.  He won five Silver Slugger Awards but he never won an MVP or a batting title.  He was the best second baseman in baseball for the past few seasons but his career has been overshadowed by his teammates.  Before last season, no one said the Yankees were Cano’s team.  They were Derek Jeter‘s team or Alex Rodrieguez’s team or CC Sabathia‘s or Mark Teixeira‘s or Jorge Posada‘s or Andy Pettitte‘s or Mariano Rivera‘s.  They were never Cano’s.

Cano played in the postseason seven times with the Yankees and yet never had that signature moment.  He never had Jeter’s flip play. He never hit a memorable home run like Tino Martinez or Scott Brosius did in ninth inning of the 2001 World Series or Aaron Boone did in the 2003 ALCS.  He didn’t steal two bases at once like Johnny Damon in 2009 World Series.  He didn’t have a otherworldly hitting series like Hideki Matsui or Alex Rodriguez had.  He was very good but he shared all the moments with others.

Cano’s career has put him on pace to be remembered as one of the greats.  If his next seven season were as good as his last seven, he would be a on Hall of Fame track.  Had he stayed in New York he could have looked forward to a chance every season at making a postseason memory.  He might have been able to go down as the greatest second baseman in Yankee history.  He might have had a plaque to immortalize him in Monument Park.  He would have been cheered at Old Timer’s Day games until the day he died.

Instead he traded that goodwill and those future cheers for money, a lot of money.  This was not a case of player leaving becuase the organization did not want them back.  The Yankees were going to make him the highest paid second baseman in the game and one of the highest paid in the entire sport.  This was not about a player going to a team that had better chance to win.  The Yankees have made the playoffs in 17 of the past 19 seasons; the Mariners have sported a winning record just twice in the last decade.  This was a clear cut case of a player taking the most money regardless of who offered it and without regard for any of the consequences of such an action.  This is why he will be booed.

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Blue Jays Option Ryan Goins http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-option-ryan-goins/ http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-option-ryan-goins/#respond Mon, 28 Apr 2014 23:23:30 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1194 The Toronto Blue Jays have optioned second baseman/ shortstop Ryan Goins to AAA – Buffalo, a corresponding move has not yet been announced. In 66 plate appearances, Goins was batting .150 with an OPB of .203. Goins is a defensive first infielder and had contributed a positive 4 runs from fielding (rfield) and a positive [&hellip

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The Toronto Blue Jays have optioned second baseman/ shortstop Ryan Goins to AAA – Buffalo, a corresponding move has not yet been announced. In 66 plate appearances, Goins was batting .150 with an OPB of .203. Goins is a defensive first infielder and had contributed a positive 4 runs from fielding (rfield) and a positive overall WAR of .2 despite his negative offensive contributions.

While I am not surprised by the move, it does go against the Blue Jays decision to stand behind Goins as their everyday second baseman. There is no logical replacement for Goins in the Blue Jays minor league system currently. This does appear to be a roster management move by the Blue Jays and not based on Goins performance.

Jonathan Diaz is the only logical 2B option currently on the major league roster with the current 3 man bench. Diaz has proved to be a solid defender and has shown to be competent with working counts despite his below average hitting ability. However unlike Goins, Diaz does not have any options and would have to be passed through waivers. Even with Diaz the Blue Jays will need to add another IF option.

The best option in AAA is fan favorite Munenori Kawasaki who is an average defender and slightly below average hitter. Other options could be a trade for Nick Franklin who has been a know available option or perhaps Stephen Drew is getting tired of being a FA. However if the Blue Jays actually signed Drew he would need to be assigned for a few minor league games to get ready.

Updated: Shi Davidi of Sportsnet is reporting that Chris Getz will be called up on Tuesday. Davidi has a pretty good pulse of the organization and I would trust his sources as he is most often correct and the first to know. This move however would require the Blue Jays to remove someone for the 40 man roster as Getz is currently not on the 40 man. So expect another move shortly!

 

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Cuban rookie Jose Abreu raking, setting records on the south side of Chicago http://baseballbabble.com/cuban-rookie-abreu-raking-setting-records-south-side-chicago/ http://baseballbabble.com/cuban-rookie-abreu-raking-setting-records-south-side-chicago/#respond Mon, 28 Apr 2014 16:40:00 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1186 The first month of the 2014 season will come to a close on Wednesday, and one person who will hate to see April end is White Sox rookie first baseman Jose Abreu, who is quickly becoming a household name on Chicago’s south side.   Abreu’s explosion onto the MLB scene this month continued on Sunday [&hellip

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The first month of the 2014 season will come to a close on Wednesday, and one person who will hate to see April end is White Sox rookie first baseman Jose Abreu, who is quickly becoming a household name on Chicago’s south side.

 

Abreu’s explosion onto the MLB scene this month continued on Sunday when he drilled a two-run homer off former Cy Young winner David Price, and later drove in two more runs to give him 31 RBIs for the month of April, breaking the tie for the all-time rookie record of 27 in the month, which he had been sharing with Albert Pujols, who achieved the feat in 2001. On his way to claiming the April rookie record from Pujols, Abreu surpassed Paul Konerko’s team record for RBIs in April, which was 28, previously posted in 2002. Abreu’s 31 is also the most RBIs in any month by a south-sider since Frank Thomas drove in the same number in August of 2003.

 

With three more games (one against Tampa Bay, and two against Detroit) left in the month, Abreu could very well challenge Harold Baines’ franchise record for most RBIs in any month of 36, set in June 1987.

 

In addition to the RBIs, Abreu has belted 10 HRs, and has put up a slash line of .262/.330/.631 thusfar this season.

 

Now, I love baseball…and like a lot of other guys, I hate being wrong. However, during instances when I do turn out to be wrong, I’m usually pretty quick to admit to the fact. Now I don’t remember the exact wordage, but before the season started, I did a review and preview of both leagues, where I discussed everything from offseason moves good and bad, as well as awards and post season predictions. In all of that, I remember saying that I didn’t understand the White Sox signing Abreu. Now, that wasn’t a knock or Abreu or his talent so much as it was the club spending more millions of dollars on another first baseman. With $17.2 million being paid to Adam Dunn ($15 million) and Paul Konerko ($2.2 million) this year, Abreu’s six-year $68 million contract is now looking like a big-time offseason bargain given his April numbers at the rate of the $8.6 million he’s receiving this year.

 

While Dunn is off to a respectable start as the team’s primary DH with 5 HRs, 11RBIs, and a steady .393 OBP, Konerko has fallen on hard times providing no power, 2RBIs and a slash line of .226/.242/.258 while only appearing in 15 games.

 

While I’m sure Abreu will cool off a bit before reaching the 62HRs and 193RBIs he’s on pace to accumulate if he were to play in all 162 games, the Cuban import currently leads the AL in HRs (10), RBIs (31), slugging percentage (.621), while also ranking third in runs (20), and sixth in OPS (.962), all of which have been garnered while playing in all of his team’s first 26 games.

 

A lot of the “rookie talk” rubs some fans the wrong way, as Abreu had five-plus years experience in the Cuban League before the ChiSox snatched him up during the offseason. It’s a lot of the same type of backlash often associated with Japanese League players like Ichiro Suzuki, Hideo Nomo, Yu Darvish, and Masahiro Tanaka, who dominate over seas and then continue that success in the Major Leagues under the “rookie” classification.

 

“He’s not a rookie,” commented a Detroit Tigers’ fan this morning on MLB.com. “I had the same issue when Ichiro came over. The MLB rule should be updated on this one. Yes, he’s a beast, but lets see where he is in July and August before we start crowning him MVP.”

 

For the record, I felt the same way following the 1995 season when Nomo was named “Rookie of the Year” over Chipper Jones, who I at the time thought was a “genuine rookie.” Alas, with age comes perspective. While Abreu does indeed have years under his belt in the Cuban League, he is still a rookie to MLB. He’s in a new county, learning a new language, new culture, and most importantly new pitchers. His beast-like hitting during this inaugural month of his MLB career is all happening in a pitching dominant era, where some are even suggesting that the baseball powers again lower the mound to balance out the current lack of offense we grew accustomed to during the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

 

Nevertheless, Abreu has had a tremendous start to the season, and his team currently sits 1.5 games behind Detroit in the AL Central with a 13-13 record. If Abreu continues to progress, he has displayed the kind of talent that could carry a club throughout the summer.

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What If Ted Williams Hadn’t Missed Three Seasons During WWII? http://baseballbabble.com/ted-williams-hadnt-missed-three-seasons-wwii/ http://baseballbabble.com/ted-williams-hadnt-missed-three-seasons-wwii/#comments Mon, 28 Apr 2014 00:01:54 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1172 Ted Williams’ career numbers look like something out of a video game on “easy” mode.  Williams’ career line of .344/.482/.634 with a 1.116 OPS is indicative of a perennial MVP season.  His 521 home runs, 2,654 hits, and a yearly average 190 OPS+ puts Williams in the company of the greatest hitters of all time.  [&hellip

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Ted Williams’ career numbers look like something out of a video game on “easy” mode.  Williams’ career line of .344/.482/.634 with a 1.116 OPS is indicative of a perennial MVP season.  His 521 home runs, 2,654 hits, and a yearly average 190 OPS+ puts Williams in the company of the greatest hitters of all time.  Williams holds the second highest all-time slugging and OPS (behind only Babe Ruth).  He is 18th all-time in home runs and 14th all-time in RBI.  But here’s the kicker, “Teddy Ballgame” missed his age 24, 25, and 26 seasons to military service.  That’s three years of possible prime production.  Times have indeed changed.  Williams made $30,000 in 1942 and $40,000 when he returned to baseball in 1946.  In today’s era, where a blister can lead to a 15-day DL stint, Ted Williams missed three years of his career to serve his country in World War II.  As a “seam-head” and “stat-nerd” I just had to know what Williams career numbers might have looked like had he not forfeited three seasons to serve in the military.

To calculate the three missed years, I made a conservative estimation based on Williams’ three prior seasons to WWII, and three succeeding seasons following the war.  Obviously I’m not going to project him to hit over .400 again, and I will also subtract games missed due to possible injury.  I will list Williams’ actual stats alongside his projected stats.  I will also list where Williams ranks all-time, and where he would rank had he not missed the three seasons.  I will only be projecting counting stats i.e. home runs, RBI, runs scored.  Batting Average, OBP, OPS, etc.  are already reliable and accurate statistics.  So nerdy baseball fans rejoice and enjoy!

Runs: 1,798 (19th) Projected Runs: 2,191 (4th) All-time leader: Rickey Henderson 2,295

Hits: 2,645 (73rd) Projected Hits: 3,191 (15th) All-time leader: Pete Rose 4,256

Doubles: 525 (40th) Projected Doubles: 630 (10th) All-time leader: Tris Speaker 792

HR: 521 (18th) Projected HR: 608 (9th) All-time leader: Barry Bonds 762

RBI: 1839 (14th) Projected RBI: 2,190 (3rd) All-time Leader: Hank Aaron 2,297

BB:  2,021 (4th) Projected BB:  2,411 (2nd) All-time leader: Barry Bonds 2,558

Total Bases: 4,884 (21st) Projected TB: 5,859 (5th) All-time leader: Hank Aaron 6,856

 

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Nationals’ Bryce Harper Placed On 15-Day DL http://baseballbabble.com/nationals-bryce-harper-placed-15-day-dl/ http://baseballbabble.com/nationals-bryce-harper-placed-15-day-dl/#respond Sun, 27 Apr 2014 23:53:15 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1178 The Washington Nationals have announced that star outfielder Bryce Harper has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a sprained left thumb. Harper sustained the injury on a head-first slide during Washington’s Friday night game with the San Diego Padres. The 21-year-old Harper is batting .289/.352/.442 with four doubles, two triples, one home [&hellip

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The Washington Nationals have announced that star outfielder Bryce Harper has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a sprained left thumb.

Harper sustained the injury on a head-first slide during Washington’s Friday night game with the San Diego Padres.

The 21-year-old Harper is batting .289/.352/.442 with four doubles, two triples, one home run, and nine runs batted in for the Nationals this season.

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Orioles Place Chris Davis On 15-Day Disabled List http://baseballbabble.com/orioles-place-chris-davis-15-day-disabled-list/ http://baseballbabble.com/orioles-place-chris-davis-15-day-disabled-list/#respond Sun, 27 Apr 2014 23:51:34 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1181 The Baltimore Orioles have announced that star first baseman Chris Davis has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained oblique muscle. Davis sustained the injury during an at-bat in Baltimore’s Friday night game with the Kansas City Royals. The 28-year-old Davis hit .286 with 53 home runs and 138 runs batted [&hellip

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The Baltimore Orioles have announced that star first baseman Chris Davis has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained oblique muscle.

Davis sustained the injury during an at-bat in Baltimore’s Friday night game with the Kansas City Royals.

The 28-year-old Davis hit .286 with 53 home runs and 138 runs batted in for the Orioles last season.

 

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Padres’ Chase Headley Placed On 15-Day DL http://baseballbabble.com/padres-chase-headley-placed-15-day-dl/ http://baseballbabble.com/padres-chase-headley-placed-15-day-dl/#respond Sat, 26 Apr 2014 00:55:45 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1162 The San Diego Padres have announced that third baseman Chase Headley has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained right calf muscle. Headley sustained the injury during a second inning at-bat in San Diego’s Thursday night win over the Washington Nationals. The 29-year-old Headley finished fifth in the NL MVP voting [&hellip

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The San Diego Padres have announced that third baseman Chase Headley has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained right calf muscle.

Headley sustained the injury during a second inning at-bat in San Diego’s Thursday night win over the Washington Nationals.

The 29-year-old Headley finished fifth in the NL MVP voting in 2012 when he hit .286/.376/.498 with 31 home runs and 115 runs batted in for the Padres, but had a down year last season and is off to a slow start again this season.

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Braves’ patchwork rotation thriving despite missing pieces http://baseballbabble.com/braves-patchwork-rotation-thriving-despite-missing-pieces/ http://baseballbabble.com/braves-patchwork-rotation-thriving-despite-missing-pieces/#respond Fri, 25 Apr 2014 19:18:24 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1159 Towards the end of spring training, Atlanta Braves fans began holding their breath following injuries to Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, and Brandon Beachy. Over the first 21 games of the season however, the team’s rebuilt rotation has done nothing but provide one quality start after another on its way to a Major League-best 1.50 ERA. [&hellip

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Towards the end of spring training, Atlanta Braves fans began holding their breath following injuries to Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, and Brandon Beachy. Over the first 21 games of the season however, the team’s rebuilt rotation has done nothing but provide one quality start after another on its way to a Major League-best 1.50 ERA.

 

After entering the season with Medlen and Beachy on the shelf dealing with their second Tommy John Surgeries each, and Minor expected to miss most of the first month, the Braves went to battle with Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Aaron Harang, David Hale, and Ervin Santana as it’s new starting five.

 

A group consisting of three youngsters who’d combined to make 47 career starts, a journeyman with his sixth team over the past calendar year, and a guy who signed very late in spring training didn’t exactly temper the worry of how reliable the staff could be.  However, all that worry has quickly been dismissed now that the Braves are sitting a top the National League East with a 14-7 mark. The starters in that time have allowed two runs or less in 20 of the teams 21 games.

 

While the Braves’ brass was hoping for top-of-the-rotation stuff from Ervin Santana when they approved raising the payroll to accommodate his $14.1 million salary, the early season performance of Harang far exceeds what the team expected when they inked him to a one-year $1 million deal. How could have they have known he’d be 3-1 with a 0.85 ERA and that he’d be taking no-hitters into the seventh inning in two of his first four starts? It seemed unlikely based on 2013, when Harang compiled a 5-12 record with a 5.40 ERA over 26 starts. Harang’s signing, which happened hours after the team cut ties with fellow veteran Freddy Garcia, seemed like a lateral move at the time, but has proven to be one of the bargains of the offseason.

 

While the Dodgers, Rockies, Mariners, Mets, and Indians might be scratching their heads trying to figure out what has rejuvenated Harang, Braves’ general manager Frank Wren is looking like a genius through the first four weeks of the season.

 

While a lot of people try to live by the motto “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” the Braves are sitting in a nice position with their best starter from last year, Mike Minor, slated to rejoin the team next week, and Gavin Floyd set to return from his own Tommy John Surgery in the coming weeks.

 

An abundance of starting pitching is always a nice luxury to have, but when everyone returns to full health, the team will have seven guys for five spots. David Hale will most likely be the odd man out when Minor returns, but a trade could be imminent down the road if Floyd returns to form and the current rotation continues to pitch out of their minds.

 

Just to put the staff’s early success into perspective, opening day starter and newly designated ace Julio Teheran, ranks 10th in the NL and fourth on his own team with a 1.80 ERA through his first five starts. He delivered a three-hit shutout against the Phillies last week, and then returned to the hill Monday only to limit the Marlins to one run over seven innings.

 

If the club’s all-or-nothing bats can find a consistent medium between mashing and being shutout, the team might find itself being the surprise winner of the division for the second year in a row. While it’s still early in the season, the team’s production during this first month has been fun to watch given the uphill climb they were thought to be facing following its pitching injuries.

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The Fenway not-so Faithful http://baseballbabble.com/red-sox-fans-faithful/ http://baseballbabble.com/red-sox-fans-faithful/#respond Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:48:12 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1150 Jacoby Ellsbury was welcomed back to Boston this Tuesday by a throng of boos, vitriol, and outrage.  Fans held signs calling Ellsbury a “sellout” and “traitor” with one sign actually reading “Break a leg Jacoby, seriously”.  The animosity was so malicious you would have sworn Ellsbury had singlehandedly lost the World Series for the Sox [&hellip

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Jacoby Ellsbury was welcomed back to Boston this Tuesday by a throng of boos, vitriol, and outrage.  Fans held signs calling Ellsbury a “sellout” and “traitor” with one sign actually reading “Break a leg Jacoby, seriously”.  The animosity was so malicious you would have sworn Ellsbury had singlehandedly lost the World Series for the Sox last season, as opposed to helping them win it.  But Ellsbury won’t be remembered for winning a World Series with Boston, he’ll be remembered for winning two.  In 2007 and 2013 Ellsbury combined to hit .325/.386/.450 in the fall classic.  In his seven seasons with the Red Sox Ellsbury hit .297/.350/.439 with 241 stolen bases while averaging a 4.8 WAR per 650 plate appearances.  Ellsbury didn’t always fit in Boston; he was quiet and reserved and developed an unfair reputation of being injury-prone.  The majority of Ellsbury’s injuries had more to do with hard play and bad luck than poor conditioning.  I can’t think of anyone who could survive a full-speed head on collision with Adrian Beltre… How quickly we forget in Boston.  “They’re booing the uniform not the player” is the hackneyed response to the ice-cold receptions to Sox legends like Johnny Damon, Roger Clemens, and Wade Boggs following their returns to Fenway in pinstripes.  As a Red Sox fan it’s truly embarrassing when a player that’s given so much to the team and city returns only to be maligned and burned at the stake by the same fans that worshipped him six months prior.

After three championships since 2004, you would think the Sox could lose 100 games for 10 straight years and still be in the fans good graces.  It baffles me how a fan base that went 86 years without a championship can be this entitled. Red Sox nation collectively turned their backs on champions like Terry Francona, Josh Beckett, John Lester, Clay Bucholz, and John Lackey only to pull a complete 180 and embrace the latter three with open arms the second the team starting winning again.  The reactionary sensationalized nature of sports talk-radio and journalism in the vast Boston media market often bleeds over and shapes fans opinions for better or worse.  It’s safe to assume that if the Red Sox continue playing poorly this season; last year’s World Series title will be quickly forgotten.  A true fan of a team mustn’t waver.  You buy tickets and cheer regardless of your team’s current position in the standings.  You don’t have to agree with the moves or decisions of your favorite ball club, but you still watch the games and wear the cap.  Fair-weather fans and bandwagon jumpers will come and go, but real fans should take pride in knowing sticking it out through the lean years makes winning all the more sweeter.

The Yankees/Red Sox rivalry is dead.  The two teams haven’t faced each other in the postseason in 12 years, and the only two players remaining from 2004 ALCS are David Ortiz and Derek Jeter.  The subsequent “hatred” between these two teams is largely manufactured by the media and broadcast television in order to boost interest and ratings.  Do you honestly think the players from either of these teams play harder or with more intensity when they face each other as opposed to any other team?  It’s fun for Sox fans to hate the Yankees and vice-versa but is there really any reason anymore?  If you think Ellsbury signing with the Yankees is such an act of betrayal don’t blame him, blame the Red Sox front office. They didn’t touch the years and money offered by the Yankees, and this Red Sox fan is glad they didn’t.  More power to Ellsbury, but I’m excited not to be burdened with a 37-year-old, making $21 million, playing center field for my team in 2021.  I’m grateful the Red Sox got to employ Ellsbury for his age 24-29 seasons for a combined salary of what he’ll be making in one year as a Yankee.  I’m happy for Jacoby Ellsbury.  He was a great player for the Red Sox, and he played his way into a massive free agent contract.  I’m glad it’s no longer my favorite team cutting the checks.  So instead of booing Ellsbury for what he’s become, how about cheering him for what he was.  I’m sure it will be easier for the “Fenway Faithful” to cheer for him when he’s an aging 37-year-old making $21 million dollars for a team they love to hate.

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White Sox Place Chris Sale On Disabled List http://baseballbabble.com/white-sox-place-chris-sale-disabled-list/ http://baseballbabble.com/white-sox-place-chris-sale-disabled-list/#respond Wed, 23 Apr 2014 15:48:07 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1145 The Chicago White Sox have announced that pitching ace Chris Sale has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a flexor muscle strain. An MRI showed no ligament damage in the elbow and the White Sox believe that Sale will not miss more than 15 days. A 25-year-old left-hander, Sale is 3-0 with a 2.30 [&hellip

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The Chicago White Sox have announced that pitching ace Chris Sale has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a flexor muscle strain.

An MRI showed no ligament damage in the elbow and the White Sox believe that Sale will not miss more than 15 days.

A 25-year-old left-hander, Sale is 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 29 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched   in four starts for the White Sox this season.

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Braves’ Mike Minor Set To Make Season Debut http://baseballbabble.com/braves-mike-minor-set-make-season-debut/ http://baseballbabble.com/braves-mike-minor-set-make-season-debut/#respond Tue, 22 Apr 2014 02:16:27 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1142 Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor has missed the first three weeks of the 2014 season due to a sore shoulder, but that will likely change later this week. Minor is tentatively scheduled to start for the Braves against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday. A 26-year-old left-hander, Minor went 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA, 1.09 [&hellip

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Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor has missed the first three weeks of the 2014 season due to a sore shoulder, but that will likely change later this week.

Minor is tentatively scheduled to start for the Braves against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.

A 26-year-old left-hander, Minor went 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 181 strikeouts in 204 innings pitched for the Braves last season.

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Yankees Nova Out with Partly Torn UCL http://baseballbabble.com/yankees-nova-partly-torn-ucl/ http://baseballbabble.com/yankees-nova-partly-torn-ucl/#respond Mon, 21 Apr 2014 01:01:33 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1134 Another major league pitcher appears headed for a lengthy DL stint due to Tommy John surgery.  The Yankees’ Ivan Nova left Friday’s game with an apparent elbow injury.  An MRI revealed a partial tear his UCL.  He was immediately placed on the Disabled List and will be reevaluated on Monday.  The prognosis is not favorable [&hellip

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Another major league pitcher appears headed for a lengthy DL stint due to Tommy John surgery.  The Yankees’ Ivan Nova left Friday’s game with an apparent elbow injury.  An MRI revealed a partial tear his UCL.  He was immediately placed on the Disabled List and will be reevaluated on Monday.  The prognosis is not favorable however.   The recovery time for Tommy John surgery is generally 12-18 months but most players do make a full recovery.

Since the end of last season twenty players on the 40 man rosters of major league teams have undergone Tommy John Surgery.  The Atlanta Braves lost two fifths of their rotation (Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy) to the surgery during spring training.  The Mets lost last season’s National League All Star Game starting pitcher Matt Harvey and this season lost their closer Bobby Parnell to the procedure.  The procedure has spread through the majors in epidemic like proportions.  The reasons for the uptick in the number of surgeries, especially on young pitchers, is unclear.  If you ask twenty baseball people the reason, you will likely have twenty difference answers.  The beliefs range from throwing too much to throwing not enough to PEDS to weight lifting to increased ability to spot partial tears sooner.

As for the Yankees, this creates a big hole in their starting rotation.  The Yankees were counting on Ivan Nova to take a big step forward and finally complete a full season with the big league club and improve his consistency.  Now the Yankees will need to find someone to take his place in the rotation between Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka.  During Spring Training, the Yankees had David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno competing for the fifth starter position with eventual winner Michael Pineda, however, the decision to keep all three with major league club means they are no longer stretched out and able to take the starter job right away.  Nuno will be starting the Easter Sunday game against Tampa with a pitch count of 75.  At AAA, the Yankees have Alfredo Aceves who was recently promoted from AA to AAA after signing with the team at the beginning of the month.  Looking towards the rest of the season, Manny Baneulos might be a possibility as well as he returns from Tommy John surgery himself.  They will also scour the trade market in hopes of adding another arm by the trade deadline.

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Five Early-Season Trade Proposals http://baseballbabble.com/five-early-season-trade-proposals/ http://baseballbabble.com/five-early-season-trade-proposals/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 01:18:41 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1128 1.  With Chase Headley recently going down with a right bicep strain, the San Diego Padres have been having Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal start taking ground balls at third.  The speculation is that one of these two could be more than a temporary solution. With Headley’s impending free agency and top catching prospect Austin [&hellip

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1.  With Chase Headley recently going down with a right bicep strain, the San Diego Padres have been having Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal start taking ground balls at third.  The speculation is that one of these two could be more than a temporary solution. With Headley’s impending free agency and top catching prospect Austin Hedges projected to start in 2015, Headley will likely be dealt if the Padres continue to play poorly.  Alonso’s bat isn’t likely to stick at first base, which is why he and Grandal could be strong candidates to replace Headley.  The Boston Red Sox would be a great fit for Headley who could use a change of scenery going from one of the worst hitter’s parks in baseball to one of the best.  A Middlebrooks/Headley platoon would help both players immensely considering both hitters have significant platoon splits.  The switch hitting Headley has a career .273/.362/.418 line as a lefty facing right-handed pitching, while Middlebrooks has a career .288/.342/.500 line vs. lefties (opposed to .236/.272/.444 versus righties).  Headley’s free agent value could be boosted by moving to Fenway as well.  Mike Carp would be a great fit with the Padres, as he would be a cheaper/cost-controlled option for San Diego who could rotate between first, third, and corner outfield.  Carp’s bat is being wasted in Boston as a part–time player; and, you could imagine San Diego buying out some of Carp’s arbitration and free agency years with a team-friendly contract much like they did with Jedd Gyorko last week.  The Red Sox could also throw in a lower-tier pitching prospect to supplement the deal, as these two teams already have a long history of making trades.

2.  Following the possible season-ending injury of Maicer Izturis, the Blue Jays are particularly thin around the infield.  One of their top outfield prospects Anthony Gose, after 6 professional seasons (three split between the majors/minors), seems primed for an opportunity to make an impact at the big league level.  Unfortunately barring injury, Gose is currently blocked in the Jays’ outfield by  Colby Rasmus, Melky Cabrera, and Jose Bautista.  The Jays may be waiting to plug Gose into Centerfield in 2015, if Rasmus leaves as a free Agent; however, the Jays have a short window for success and they need to win now.  I would suggest offering Gose to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for another blocked player, second basemen Nick Franklin.  Franklin hit nearly .400 in the minors this season and was recently called up by Seattle following an injury to Logan Morrison.  A lot of the trade speculation surrounding Franklin has him going somewhere to play shortstop, but a move to the Blue Jays would allow him to stay at his natural position, second base.  Seattle’s lack of speed and outfield defense would make Gose a welcomed addition.  The switch-hitting Franklin could platoon at second base with lefty Ryan Goins and could also be a formidable fill-in for Jose Reyes’ semi-annual DL stints.

3.  With top infield prospects Javier Baez and Kris Bryant set to be called up this season, it may be wise for the Chicago Cubs to sell high on utility infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio.  After a dismal 2013, Bonifacio is off to a great start hitting .339 with seven steals this April.  Chicago has a surplus of hitting prospects, but they need to continue to add pitching to their farm system.  The Texas Rangers would be a great fit for Bonifacio.  With injuries to Adrian Beltre, Jurickson Profar, and Engel Beltre, Bonifacio could add depth to both the infield and outfield.  A lower-level Texas pitching prospect like Jerad Eickhoff, Alee Asher, or lefty Luis Parra, could be ready to contribute when the Cubbies project to be competitive in 2016.

4.  After losing Jose Iglesias for the season due to shin splints, the Detroit Tigers revamped defense took a huge hit.  Many Tigers’ fans questioned why they would go with a veteran like Alex Gonzalez (who hit .177/.203/.230 with a -0.1 dWAR in 118 plate appearances with Milwaukee last season) instead of trading for Nick Franklin or signing Stephen Drew.   The Arizona Diamondbacks have one of the worst starting rotations in baseball and a logjam at short stop with Didi Gregorius optioned to AAA to make room for Chris Owings.  A top Tigers’ pitching prospect like Robbi Ray or Drew VerHagen could help compliment a future D’backs rotation that includes Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley, and Aaron Blair.  Gregorius is a superb defender and would help Detroit recoup the defensive value lost on Iglesias.

5.  The Pittsburgh Pirates desperately need a first baseman. After losing Justin Morneau to free agency they are going with an ineffective platoon of Gaby Sanchez and Travis Ishikawa.  The New York Mets have gone with Lucas Duda as their starting first baseman leaving power-hitting Ike Davis relegated to the bench.  The Mets outfield is a mess, and the speedy Jose Tabata would be a nice addition considering he will be the odd man out once the Pirates call up uber-prospect Gregory Polanco.  Getting out of the intense media-frenzy of New York City and into the small market of Pittsburgh could be exactly what Davis needs. PNC Park is also more accommodating to left-handed power than spacious Citi Field.  Davis’ .256/.357/.471 career platoon splits against righties would make him a much more favorable platoon partner with Sanchez than Ishikawa.  If the Pirates aren’t willing to shell out the cash to sign Kendrys Morales, Davis may be a cheaper investment with major upside.

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Braves’ Craig Kimbrel Says Shoulder Is Fine http://baseballbabble.com/braves-craig-kimbrel-says-shoulder-fine/ http://baseballbabble.com/braves-craig-kimbrel-says-shoulder-fine/#respond Fri, 18 Apr 2014 00:58:53 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1120 Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has not pitched since Saturday due to soreness in his right shoulder, but said he had no issues with the shoulder during a bullpen session on Wednesday. “Nothing was uncomfortable and I felt great out there. I’m ready to get back into a game in a save situation,” Kimbrel said following [&hellip

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Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has not pitched since Saturday due to soreness in his right shoulder, but said he had no issues with the shoulder during a bullpen session on Wednesday.

“Nothing was uncomfortable and I felt great out there. I’m ready to get back into a game in a save situation,” Kimbrel said following his throwing session.

That is great news for Braves fans as the 25-year-old Kimbrel has posted a 15-7 record with a 1.39 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 144 saves, and 393 strikeouts in 233 innings pitched in his four+ seasons with the Braves       and is considered one of baseball’s best closers.

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Rays’ Matt Moore To Have Tommy John Surgery http://baseballbabble.com/rays-matt-moore-tommy-john-surgery/ http://baseballbabble.com/rays-matt-moore-tommy-john-surgery/#respond Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:52:27 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1116 The Tampa Bay Rays have announced that starting pitcher Matt Moore will have Tommy John surgery to repair a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and will miss the rest of the 2014 season. Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery on April 22. A highly-regarded 24-year-old left-hander, Moore went 17-4 with [&hellip

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The Tampa Bay Rays have announced that starting pitcher Matt Moore will have Tommy John surgery to repair a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and will miss the rest of the 2014 season.

Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery on April 22.

A highly-regarded 24-year-old left-hander, Moore went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA for the Rays last season.

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Maicer Izturis to Miss 4-6 Months http://baseballbabble.com/maicer-izturis-miss-4-6-months/ http://baseballbabble.com/maicer-izturis-miss-4-6-months/#respond Mon, 14 Apr 2014 23:32:15 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1112 The Toronto Blue Jays announced today that Maicer Izturis will miss 4-6 months after an MRI revealed a complete tear of the LCL in his left knee. He will seek a second opinion but surgery and a lost season is the likely outcome for Izturis. Izturis had a solid start to 2014 playing in 11 [&hellip

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The Toronto Blue Jays announced today that Maicer Izturis will miss 4-6 months after an MRI revealed a complete tear of the LCL in his left knee. He will seek a second opinion but surgery and a lost season is the likely outcome for Izturis.

Izturis had a solid start to 2014 playing in 11 games with a .286 avg and a .324 obp. With the loss of Jose Reyes he gave the Blue Jays an offensive upgrade over Jonathan Diaz and Ryan Goins. It is a true loss to the Blue Jays considering the lack of infield depth currently on the roster and in the organization. Reyes should be back shortly as he has been assigned to a rehab stint and if his hamstring is healthy he will be back in short order.

In the meantime the Blue Jays called up fan favorite Munenori Kawasaki, optioned catcher Erik Kratz and added J.A. Happ from the DL, who will join the bullpen. These moves return the Blue Jays to an 8 man bullpen and a bench of Josh Thole, Moises Sierra & Kawasaki with Diaz & Goins as regulars.  This also leaves the option of keeping both Diaz & Goins on the roster once Reyes returns. They both are defensive players who provide most of their value on the field and allow the Blue Jays to rest Reyes or DH him to give his hamstring extra care. 

The loss off Izturis greatly impacts the bench depth but again with Reyes returning shortly the Blue Jays should be able to live with a weakened bench. The great news however for Blue Jays fans is that Kawasaki returns as the teams mascot and all around spirit lifter. Hopefully his return can spark another 11 game win streak like in 2013!

 

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Rockies’ Brett Anderson To Miss 4-6 Weeks http://baseballbabble.com/rockies-brett-anderson-miss-4-6-weeks/ http://baseballbabble.com/rockies-brett-anderson-miss-4-6-weeks/#respond Mon, 14 Apr 2014 23:00:47 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1103 The Colorado Rockies have announced that starting pitcher Brett Anderson will miss the next 4-6 weeks of the 2014 season due to a broken left index finger. Anderson sustained the injury during an at-bat in the Rockies’ Saturday afternoon game with the San Francisco Giants. A 26-year-old left-hander, Anderson is 0-2 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts [&hellip

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The Colorado Rockies have announced that starting pitcher Brett Anderson will miss the next 4-6 weeks of the 2014 season due to a broken left index finger.

Anderson sustained the injury during an at-bat in the Rockies’ Saturday afternoon game with the San Francisco Giants.

A 26-year-old left-hander, Anderson is 0-2 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts for the Rockies this season.

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Injured Yankees Take 3 of 4 from Sox to Jump Into 1st Place http://baseballbabble.com/injured-yankees-take-3-4-sox-jump-1st-place/ http://baseballbabble.com/injured-yankees-take-3-4-sox-jump-1st-place/#respond Mon, 14 Apr 2014 21:21:15 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1092 The injury bug has bitten the Yankees hard in the last week and while lesser team may have imploded, the Yankees responded by winning three of four games over the weekend against their arch-rival, the Boston Red Sox.  Two weeks into the season the Yankees have already been decimated by injuries at the two positions [&hellip

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The injury bug has bitten the Yankees hard in the last week and while lesser team may have imploded, the Yankees responded by winning three of four games over the weekend against their arch-rival, the Boston Red Sox.  Two weeks into the season the Yankees have already been decimated by injuries at the two positions on the roster with the least amount of depth, first base and closer.  Mark Teixeira has been out since April 5th with a hamstring injury and David Robertson has since joined him in the DL with a groin injury.

The Yankees have plugged the holes as best they can.  Shawn Kelley, a reliever with zero career saves entering the 2014 season, has moved from setup man to the interim closer and responded by compiling three saves so far.  Other members of the bullpen have also stepped up into more critical roles, most notably Adam Warren, who has not allowed a run in his team leading six appearances.  At first base, Kelly Johnson as moved across the diamond from third base to be the regular first baseman.  Francisco Cervelli and Carlos Beltran have also maned the position with limited problems.

The Disabled List threatens to grow in the wake of this weekend’s series with the Red Sox.  Backup catcher Francisco Cervelli will  be added to the DL before the Yankees next game with a severe hamstring injury suffered in Sunday’s game.  In addition, Brian Roberts (back) and Derek Jeter (quad) missed the game and are listed as day-to-day.  Catcher Brian McCann had X-rays and an MRI on his hand after being hit with a foul ball.  The walking wounded will be given Monday’s off day to recover and then will be reevaluated before the Yankees first taste of interleague play in 2014 against the Chicago Cubs.  If necessary, the Yankees may add them to the DL or be forced to once again play with a very short bench.  This may lead to more players playing out of position like we saw on Sunday when Carlos Beltran was forced to relieve Cervelli at first base.  Cervelli was playing first for the second time his career, the first time coming earlier in the week, and Beltran played the position for the first time in his 17 year career.

The construction of the current 40 man roster does not provide any immediate relief.  The Yankees do not have a signle minor league infielder on the current 40 man roster.  Any attempt to add Scott Sizemore or Russ Canzler or another player would require a subsequent move to clear a spot for them.  This could lead to a DFA for a marginal player such as Preston Claiborne or Ramon Flores.  Otherwise they would risk losing one of their protected prospects.  While the Yankees do not have many blue-chip prospects, they do have several above average ones.  In a perfect world, they might be able to swap a few marginal prospects for a better player but teams are loathe to take on another teams scraps.

However, the Yankees have battled through injuries before.  Last year was one of the most injury riddled teams in Yankee history, and while they did not make the playoffs, they far exceeded their talent level to win 85 games.  This season the Yankees can feel good about their start to the season.  They just took three of four from the defending champion Red Sox.  They are above .500 and sitting in first place in the AL East.  There is a lot of season left, but the Yankees can feel confident that they can overcome the injury bug and return to the playoff in 2014.

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Ryan Zimmerman To Miss 4-6 Weeks http://baseballbabble.com/ryan-zimmerman-miss-4-6-weeks/ http://baseballbabble.com/ryan-zimmerman-miss-4-6-weeks/#respond Mon, 14 Apr 2014 02:02:19 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1077 The Washington Nationals have announced that third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will miss the next 4-6 weeks of the 2014 season due to a fractured right thumb. Zimmerman sustained the injury while diving back to second base on a pickoff play in the Nationals’ Saturday night loss to the Atlanta Braves. A former National League All-Star, [&hellip

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The Washington Nationals have announced that third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will miss the next 4-6 weeks of the 2014 season due to a fractured right thumb.

Zimmerman sustained the injury while diving back to second base on a pickoff play in the Nationals’ Saturday night loss to the Atlanta Braves.

A former National League All-Star, the 29-year-old Zimmerman was hitting .364/.405/.636 with three doubles, two home runs, and six runs batted in at the time of the injury.

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Rangers Place Adrian Beltre On 15-Day DL http://baseballbabble.com/rangers-place-adrian-beltre-15-day-dl/ http://baseballbabble.com/rangers-place-adrian-beltre-15-day-dl/#respond Mon, 14 Apr 2014 01:59:37 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1080 The Texas Rangers have announced that All-Star third baseman Adrian Beltre has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a left quad strain. Beltre has not played since Tuesday due to the injury and the move is retroactive to April 9. Considered one of baseball’s best third basemen, the 35-year-old Beltre hit .315/.371/.509 with [&hellip

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The Texas Rangers have announced that All-Star third baseman Adrian Beltre has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a left quad strain.

Beltre has not played since Tuesday due to the injury and the move is retroactive to April 9.

Considered one of baseball’s best third basemen, the 35-year-old Beltre hit .315/.371/.509 with 30 homers and 92 RBI for the Rangers last season.

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Pop Fly Culture: The Return of R.B.I. Baseball http://baseballbabble.com/pop-fly-culture-return-rbi-baseball/ http://baseballbabble.com/pop-fly-culture-return-rbi-baseball/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 01:57:10 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1048 Anyone who has visited MLB.com recently or subscribes to MLB At Bat or MLB.TV is likely already well aware of the long awaited return of R.B.I Baseball.  MLB fans have been inundated with ads and articles for the first ever console game developed and licensed by MLB.com.  The re-boot of the classic late-80’s video game [&hellip

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Anyone who has visited MLB.com recently or subscribes to MLB At Bat or MLB.TV is likely already well aware of the long awaited return of R.B.I Baseball.  MLB fans have been inundated with ads and articles for the first ever console game developed and licensed by MLB.com.  The re-boot of the classic late-80’s video game is now available for purchase on XBOX 360, Playstation 3, and Android Apps.  With all the hoopla surrounding the revamped version, I thought I’d spend some time gushing over the original R.B.I. Baseball as well as my personal favorite video game of all time, R.B.I. Baseball 3.

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R.B.I. Baseball debuted in the United States in 1988 after a successful run as a console game in Japan titled “Pro Yakyuu Family Stadium”.  R.B.I. Baseball was the first console game ever to be licensed by the Major League Baseball Players Association.  This enabled R.B.I. Baseball for the Nintendo Entertainment System to use actual Major League players.  R.B.I.’s biggest competitors at the time Altus’ “Major League Baseball” and Jaleco’s “Bases Loaded” had to use fictitious players due to not having the endorsement of the MLBPA.  “Major League Baseball” was licensed by Major League Baseball and allowed to use actual MLB team names but not players.  R.B.I. found a loophole by simply using the names of the cities in which the team played as opposed to the team names and logos themselves.  R.B.I.’s competitors were both flawed in different areas. “MLB” had sloppy graphics and inferior game play, while “Bases Loaded” used a televised point of view from the pitcher’s perspective which made hitting feel awkward and backwards.  Fielding in “Bases Loaded” presented additional challenges as there was hardly any warning to get into position on a ball hit to the outfield.  R.B.I. Baseball featured a more straightforward pitcher/batter interface that was much more user-friendly.  The game featured a selection of eight teams consisting of division winners from the 1986 and 1987 MLB seasons.  One creative fan actually made a YouTube video recreating the infamous Buckner error in the 1986 World Series set to Vin Scully’s audio of the call (Click here to watch, It’s pretty incredible!). Tengen’s original R.B.I. Baseball established a strong template but it was the subsequent sequels that revolutionized arcade-style baseball for decades to come. 

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R.B.I. Baseball 2 introduced several new features that were groundbreaking at the time and remain mainstays of today’s baseball video games.  Users now had the ability to jump and dive in the field, switch hit, and substitute players.  Measurements of home runs were displayed immediately after they were hit, and instant replays were broadcast following home runs or premiere defensive plays.  The gameplay was quick and efficient, as a 9 inning game could be played in about 20-30 minutes.  The game now featured all 26 Major League teams including the NL and AL All-Star teams.  The players looked more realistic as opposed to the bubble-shaped caricatures featured in the original version. Pitchers fatigued and lost velocity as the game progressed and relievers only had enough stamina to throw an inning or two.  Players’ defensive skill sets were also taken into account, as better defensive players threw harder and made less errors.  The game developers had made significant improvements and would perfect the series one year later with the release of the third installment.

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Debuting in 1991, R.B.I. Baseball 3 expanded on the innovations of its predecessor to make a classic baseball game that holds up almost as well today as it did back when MTV still played music videos and the Minnesota Twins were the best team in baseball.  R.B.I. 3 included players and stats from the 1990 baseball season and added a new feature where the gamer could play as every division winner from the 1983-1989 seasons.  This allowed baseball fans to play out various classic matchups that were previously unheard of on any other baseball arcade.  Dwight Gooden and the 1986 Mets could now battle it out with Cal Ripken Jr. and the 1983 Orioles.  Ozzie Smith and the defensive juggernaut 1985 St. Louis Cardinals could matchup against Mark McGwire and the slugging 1989 Athletics.  The possibilities were endless and provided Baseball fans with hours upon hours of fun and competition

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In R.B.I. 3 speedsters like Tim Raines and Rickey Henderson were nearly impossible to throw out unless you were skilled enough to pick them off.  Pitchers like Dennis Eckersley and Roger Clemens could hit 100 mph, and with the ability to throw at three different speeds and drop curve balls in the dirt, pitching was very realistic.  The hitting was authentic as well.  The better you barreled a ball the harder you would hit it; and, early and late swings had remarkably realistic outcomes.  R.B.I. 3 was also the first baseball video game to introduce a regular season mode.  Now remember, this was way before gamers had the ability to save their progress.  On NES if you wanted to beat a game you could not turn off your console or you would lose everything.  R.B.I. 3 introduced a system where you would be given a password following each regular season game.  You could shut the power off, enter the password and pick up right where you left off in the season.  Once you beat every team in the league, you would play a hidden Japanese All-Star team featuring fictitious pitchers that were virtually un-hittable and batters that could pound any pitch that wasn’t perfectly executed.  Winning a title in R.B.I baseball on the “hard” setting was a feat that very few skilled players could accomplish.  25 years later, R.B.I. Baseball has joined Tecmo-Bowl, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, and Blades of Steel, as one of the most influential and groundbreaking sports games introduced on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

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Avisail Garcia To Undergo Season-Ending Surgery http://baseballbabble.com/avisail-garcia-undergo-season-ending-surgery/ http://baseballbabble.com/avisail-garcia-undergo-season-ending-surgery/#respond Sun, 13 Apr 2014 00:41:27 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1058 The Chicago White Sox have announced that starting right fielder Avisail Garcia will have season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Garcia sustained the injury on Wednesday while attempting to make a diving catch in right field during the sixth inning of Chicago’s game with the Colorado Rockies. Since being acquired [&hellip

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The Chicago White Sox have announced that starting right fielder Avisail Garcia will have season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

Garcia sustained the injury on Wednesday while attempting to make a diving catch in right field during the sixth inning of Chicago’s game with the Colorado Rockies.

Since being acquired from the Detroit Tigers last July, the 22-year-old Garcia has hit .298/.332/.450 for the White Sox with seven home runs and 25 RBI in 202 plate appearances.

 

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Cardinals Extend GM John Mozeliak Through 2018 http://baseballbabble.com/cardinals-extend-gm-john-mozeliak-2018/ http://baseballbabble.com/cardinals-extend-gm-john-mozeliak-2018/#respond Sun, 13 Apr 2014 00:37:13 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1071 The St. Louis Cardinals have announced that general manager John Mozeliak has received a two-year contract extension that will keep him in the Redbirds’ front office through the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The 45-year-old Mozeliak joined the Cardinals’ front office in 1995 and became the team’s scouting director in 1999, assistant general manager in 2003, and [&hellip

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The St. Louis Cardinals have announced that general manager John Mozeliak has received a two-year contract extension that will keep him in the Redbirds’ front office through the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

The 45-year-old Mozeliak joined the Cardinals’ front office in 1995 and became the team’s scouting director in 1999, assistant general manager in 2003, and general manager in 2007.

The Cardinals have excelled under Mozeliak’s leadership, making three consecutive NLCS appearances and winning two National League pennants and one World Series championship in the last three years.

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Josh Hamilton To Miss 6-8 Weeks http://baseballbabble.com/josh-hamilton-miss-6-8-weeks/ http://baseballbabble.com/josh-hamilton-miss-6-8-weeks/#respond Fri, 11 Apr 2014 16:32:12 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1053 The Los Angeles Angels have announced that star outfielder Josh Hamilton has been diagnosed with a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb that will require surgery and cause the slugger to miss the next 6-8 weeks of the 2014 season. Hamilton sustained the injury while attempting a head-first slide into [&hellip

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The Los Angeles Angels have announced that star outfielder Josh Hamilton has been diagnosed with a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb that will require surgery and cause the slugger to miss the next 6-8 weeks of the 2014 season.

Hamilton sustained the injury while attempting a head-first slide into the first base bag in the Angels’ Tuesday night loss to the Seattle Mariners.

A former American League MVP, the 32-year-old Hamilton was batting .444/.545/.771 and leading the American League in six hitting categories at the time of the injury.

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The Batting Order – Allen Craig, Emilo Bonifacio and Yordano Ventura http://baseballbabble.com/the-batting-order-april-11/ http://baseballbabble.com/the-batting-order-april-11/#respond Fri, 11 Apr 2014 14:05:02 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1044 A look around the major leagues at some of the more interesting stories from the past week. Here is The Batting Order! #1 SS FiveThirtyEight – Who is the ‘toolsiest’ player of them all? Jeff Sullivan looks for the most well-rounded player in baseball. #2 2B Grantland – Two weeks into the season, means it’s time for someone to put [&hellip

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A look around the major leagues at some of the more interesting stories from the past week. Here is The Batting Order!

#1 SS FiveThirtyEight – Who is the ‘toolsiest’ player of them all? Jeff Sullivan looks for the most well-rounded player in baseball.

#2 2B Grantland – Two weeks into the season, means it’s time for someone to put together a hilarious list of awards winners. Michael Bauman gives us a look at what the league awards handouts would look like if they were handed out on April 8th.

#3 LF FoxSports – Ken Rosenthal reports that not only had several Blue Jays players agreed to defer their salaries in an attempt to make room for the Blue Jays to sign Ervin Santana, but the MLB Players Association had already signed off on it.

#4 1B ESPN –  As discussed in a previous The Batting Order, Emilio Bonifacio has found a new home, and is off to a fantastic start. But how did he end up with the Cubs? Jesse Rogers takes a look at why the Cubs were able to make themselves as the right team for Bonifacio.

#5 CF SportsDay – Evan Grant reviews the most recent instant replay to cause a stir for the Texas Rangers. Maybe this is what we should expect from instant replay, or maybe this is what we should expect from Ron Washington?

#6 3B SB Nation: Seth Kolloen takes a look at the Seattle Mariners and their success at drafting and developing starting pitchers. It isn’t a coincidence that of the five players in Seattle’s starting line-up, four were also drafted by the club.

#7 RF Fansided: Is Milwaukee taking a serious look at Kendrys Morales? Andrew Vrchota has his doubts. Excerpt:”…  [T]he Brewers don’t seem to be settled at firstbase and could look to bring in Kendrys. However, since the Brewers gave up last year’s first round pick for Kyle Lohse, I’m skeptical at how serious the Brewers are in Morales.”

#8 C Bleacher Report: Mike Rosenbaum looks at Royals pitching sensation Yordano Ventura. Excerpt:  “With Ventura’s electric fastball-changeup combination, he doesn’t always need to have an effective third pitch in a given start. The elite velocity on Ventura’s fastball allows him to consistently avoid barrels, even when he’s pitching behind in the count or catches too much of the plate.”

#9 P RantSports: Todd Bennett brings up the topic that has bothered St. Louis Cardinal fans everywhere; Why isn’t Allen Craig hitting?

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The transformation of Joey Votto http://baseballbabble.com/transformation-joey-votto/ http://baseballbabble.com/transformation-joey-votto/#respond Thu, 10 Apr 2014 21:00:29 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1023 I live in Buckeye Arizona which is about 10 minutes from Goodyear ballpark the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians spring training home. This year I saw over 20 live Cincinnati Reds spring training games, and spent quite a few days on the back fields to watch the team I grew up idolizing. During this time I noticed [&hellip

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I live in Buckeye Arizona which is about 10 minutes from Goodyear ballpark the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians spring training home. This year I saw over 20 live Cincinnati Reds spring training games, and spent quite a few days on the back fields to watch the team I grew up idolizing. During this time I noticed a definite change in one ball player in particular.  A ball player who in the past few seasons had been distant, not a jerk, but distant with the fans. He would wave, or flash a smile, but would do so from a distance as though he was scared of fans.

This year seemed to be a turning point for Joey Votto. He was seemingly coming out of his shell first in the off-season as he was on Cincinnati’s largest radio station 700WLW with Lance McAlister almost every week for an hour. He seemed to be embracing the fans more and more each week as they embraced him back.  During spring training when the p.a. announcer would say his name, he would thrust his right hand into the air and motion to the capacity crowd to their delight. This was emotion I had never seen from him in spring trainings in the past. I saw him sign autographs more (even one for me) and interact with fans more.  Red’s fans were talking about it. I struck up many conversations with many fans about this new-found excitement outwardly shown by Joey. I hope he is finally putting everything together having dealt with the depression and anxiety that caused him to miss time in 2009 dealing with the sudden death of his father and the injury he suffered in 2012 that required arthroscopic knee surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus.   This is important to the fans and the franchise considering he signed a 10 year $225 million dollar contract through 2024 with the Reds or if you take into account it included his two previous years were included it was for 12 years and for $251.5 million.  At the time, it was the longest deal in baseball and the 4th largest in MLB history as well as the longest guaranteed in MLB history making him the highest paid Canadian born baseball player ever.

Joey Votto not only started coming out of his shell this year, but he earned my respect this year . I personally witnessed him one-hoping balls of the center field wall one after the other, yet could hear him frustrated with himself. Grumbling and groaning to himself in the batting cage on the practice fields. And during one of the last games of the spring training season against Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox he was so mad at himself that he broke his bat on the ground and slammed his helmet on a called third strike. Then his next at bat, before the at bat began, he made sure the umpire knew that he was not mad at him for the call but he was mad at himself for the complexity of the previous at bat as a whole. I watched a lot of games this spring, I saw a lot of players just go through the motions. But it was refreshing to see a man who knew when to have a good time and sign autographs, yet also knew when to be serious and concentrate on his craft. Maybe that is why Joey Votto has a career .314 average in the majors, to go along with his .540 slugging percentage and .959 career on base plus slugging percentage.  When I was watching Intentional Talk on Tuesday I witnessed him give the best interview in baseball and my respect meter went up even more.

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Why the Shane Victorino Injury Could Improve The Red Sox Outfield http://baseballbabble.com/shane-victorino-injury-red-sox/ http://baseballbabble.com/shane-victorino-injury-red-sox/#respond Thu, 10 Apr 2014 14:01:45 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1031 Jackie Bradley Jr. was on his way to Triple-A Pawtucket following an offseason in which he was projected to be the Boston Red Sox starting center fielder.  His course was suddenly re-directed when a hamstring injury put right fielder Shane Victorino on the DL and subsequently yo-yoed Bradley Jr.  back onto the Sox roster. After only nine games this season, it [&hellip

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Jackie Bradley Jr. was on his way to Triple-A Pawtucket following an offseason in which he was projected to be the Boston Red Sox starting center fielder.  His course was suddenly re-directed when a hamstring injury put right fielder Shane Victorino on the DL and subsequently yo-yoed Bradley Jr.  back onto the Sox roster.

After only nine games this season, it has become very clear that Bradley Jr. is the best defensive outfielder on the team.  He has shown an uncanny ability to track down tough fly balls with ease and has already made several highlight-reel plays.  He has also produced at the plate hitting .400 with a .978 OPS.  Bradley is forcing Boston to rethink its current outfield depth chart when Victorino returns.

Johnny Gomes’ and Daniel Nava‘s defensive inefficiencies have become increasingly exposed without Victorino’s gold glove in right field.  Every Sox fan can almost see the sand clearing out of the hour-glass every time Grady Sizemore dives or slams into the center field wall.  There have been murmurs amongst Red Sox nation about possibly moving Sizemore to left field upon Victorino’s return and making Bradley Jr. the full-time center fielder.  This would greatly reduce the role of the Gomes/Nava platoon and possibly open one of them up to a trade. With Mike Carp also part of the corner outfield logjam, you would have to assume there is more value in a trade then demoting any of the Red Sox outfielders to the minors.  Sliding Sizemore to left greatly decreases the amount of ground he has to cover while reducing the risk of injury as well.

An outfield of Sizemore/Bradley Jr./Victorino would arguably give the Red Sox one of the best defensive outfields in baseball without having to sacrifice offensive punch.  Had Victorino not been put on the DL, Bradley would likely still be in Pawtucket; and, would have never had the opportunity to showcase his phenomenal defense on the national stage.  Even if Bradley struggles to hit, his premium defensive abilities and consistently strong on-base skills should be more than enough to keep him at the end of the Boston lineup.

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Josh Rutledge Recalled http://baseballbabble.com/josh-rutledge-recalled/ http://baseballbabble.com/josh-rutledge-recalled/#respond Thu, 10 Apr 2014 13:42:11 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1026 On Wednesday, the Colorado Rockies announced that SS/2B Josh Rutledge has been recalled from AAA. During his 5 games with Colorado Springs, Rutledge posted a respectable .389 average and a strong 1.111 OPS. After being named the starting 2B for the 2013 season, Rutledge struggled and was eventually demoted to AAA Colorado Springs. Rutledge was [&hellip

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On Wednesday, the Colorado Rockies announced that SS/2B Josh Rutledge has been recalled from AAA. During his 5 games with Colorado Springs, Rutledge posted a respectable .389 average and a strong 1.111 OPS. After being named the starting 2B for the 2013 season, Rutledge struggled and was eventually demoted to AAA Colorado Springs. Rutledge was one of the finals cuts made before last week’s season opener.

To make room on the roster, the Rockies demoted reserve pitcher Wilton Lopez to AAA Colorado Springs. Lopez fell apart in the eight inning on Tuesday allowing 6 runs, including 3 homeruns, over 0.2 innings.

 

 

 

 

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Braves’ high-priced boppers off to slow starts…again http://baseballbabble.com/braves-high-priced-boppers-slow-starts/ http://baseballbabble.com/braves-high-priced-boppers-slow-starts/#respond Wed, 09 Apr 2014 12:30:03 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1013   With each new season comes a renewed sense of excitement, hope, and optimism, but for Braves fans, the hope that B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla could each put last year’s struggles behind them have been tempered by their slow starts over the first six games.   The duo’s struggles were well documented in 2013. After [&hellip

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With each new season comes a renewed sense of excitement, hope, and optimism, but for Braves fans, the hope that B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla could each put last year’s struggles behind them have been tempered by their slow starts over the first six games.

 

The duo’s struggles were well documented in 2013. After signing a then franchise high $75 million 5-year contract, the eldest Upton brother bottomed out in 2013 hitting .184 with 9 homers and 26 RBIs in 126 games after being relegated to an outfield platoon role with both Jordan Schafer and Evan Gattis.

 

Uggla on the other hand, battled vision issues in 2013 on his way to a .179 average with 171 strikeouts and 22 homeruns before being left off the divisional series playoff roster in favor of Elliot Johnson.

 

Upton likewise struck out more than 150 times, a trend that has reared its ugly head again in the first six games of the season against the Brewers and Nationals.

 

Upton has struck out 11 times in his first 25 plate appearances with no walks, and only three hits resulting in a .120 average while hitting in a spot in the order that requires at least a little contact. Upton’s damage, or lack there of, has all taken place while hitting in the two-hole between “the twin towers,” Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. While Heyward has hit a dry spell of his own over the past couple of games, Freeman has been one of the hottest hitters in the league to open the year.

 

The standard rules of protection seem to be applying to Upton thus far…he’s seeing a lot of fastballs hitting in front of Freeman, he’s just not making enough contact when those pitches are served up. With only three hits and zero walks so far this season, it might be time for manager Fredi Gonzalez to consider dropping Upton down in the lineup or perhaps swapping spots with current eight-hole hitter Andrelton Simmons, who is hitting .300, and is yet to strikeout this season, and who rarely does for that matter.

 

Uggla on the other hand has shown a few signs of improvement early in the season, but is still a far cry from the consistent slugger the team traded for prior to the 2011 season. Uggla is currently hitting .217 over his first 24 plate appearances, but has stroked a couple of doubles, knocked in three runs, and has only struck out five times.  Some of his outs have also been of the right field variety, which shows at least an attempt on his part to go the other way with pitches instead of trying to pull everything.

 

The Braves’ offense hasn’t been anything to write home about so far this season, which probably adds to the scrutiny of how much Upton and Uggla produce. However, the team’s pitching staff has provided solid outings  and the hitters have launched enough homerun balls for the team to open up with a 4-2 record as they head into the home opener tonight at The Ted against the New York Mets.

 

Part of the problem with the lack of production from both players is the fact that not only does their lackluster numbers hurt the overall production of the lineup, but also irks fans into exhaustion given that the two make up more than 20-percent of the team’s payroll at a combined $26.4 million this season. It’s hard to play Jordan Schafer, Tyler Pastornicky, or Ramiro Pena more when the finances are factored in. Frankly, Upton and Uggla make too much money to sit on the bench. Financially, it makes more sense for the team to let the duo try to work out their hitting issues each day on the field.

 

Hopefully, both players can find their strides as the season progresses. If not, it could be a long summer in “Hotlanta” for a club expected to make another run at a postseason birth.

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Week 1 Review: Blue Jays http://baseballbabble.com/week-1-review-blue-jays/ http://baseballbabble.com/week-1-review-blue-jays/#respond Tue, 08 Apr 2014 18:22:14 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1004 The Blue Jays finished their first week with a 3-4 record after facing the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field (2-2) and 3 against the New York Yankees at Home (1-2). It’s hard to draw a lot of conclusions from just 7 games but we can take a look at what the first week told [&hellip

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The Blue Jays finished their first week with a 3-4 record after facing the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field (2-2) and 3 against the New York Yankees at Home (1-2). It’s hard to draw a lot of conclusions from just 7 games but we can take a look at what the first week told us or at least we think it told us.

Offense

The offense has started off very slow with a .216 AVG, .277 OBP and produced just 3.14 runs/game.  They are sitting 20th overall in walk %, 10th best in strikeout % and 3rd overall in HR’s. When you consider those poor offensive numbers, still winning 3 games is not all that bad. This is not what you would expect from the Blue Jays offense and  an improvement should be expected. The offense also faced tough pitching from the Rays & Yankees so a poor week should have been expected but probably not this poor.

Pitching

I have been a big defender of the Blue Jays pitching staff and this week did not help my case. They currently are the 8th worse team in team ERA at 4.57 after some terrible starting pitching mixed in with some brilliant starting pitching. On the positive side they Jays are 6th overall in K/9, 3rd in HR/9 and 7th in FIP. However allowing the 2nd most walks/9 in the league is not a recipe for success, especially not in a week when you are facing tough AL East rivals. The pitching was really a mixed bag and we should see some clarity over the next few weeks.

Negatives

Jose Reyes: Reyes left after half of an inning and 1 AB, he came close to a nice leadoff hit had Desmond Jennings not make a fantastic play. Loosing Reyes in the first game was a huge loss as it drastically changes the look of the Blue Jays lineup. Hopefully his hamstring recovers quickly and he can return asap.

Dustin McGowan: I really don’t want to pick on McGowan but his first start was really poor. With a line of 2.2 IN, 8 hits, 4 Runs and 17 batters faced it was just not an acceptable performance. His biggest issue was that he was just far too hittable, it has been suggested he was tipping his pitches which could have added to the poor performance.

Jeremy Jeffress: In 3.1 IN Jeffress gave up 8 hits and 3 walks which resulted in 4 earned runs. He was essentially the mop up guy who kept the games well out of reach. Jeffress was DFA’d and while he can light up the radar guy he has not been able to harness his abilities. We might not see him again or like in 2013 he could return to the minors and come up when he is hot and excel.

Edwin Encarnacion: Edwin had a pretty bad week and gets my pick for the worst performance on the team. Edwin had a 34.5% strikeout rate which is highly unusual considering his 10% rate in 2013. He failed to deliver this week and was not himself. If Edwin can get locked in this week the Jays should score a lot more runs.

Colby Rasmus: Rasmus has looked lost at the plate so far with 10 SO in only 23 AB. To make things worse he has been hitting 2nd most days between Cabrera and Bautista which has resulted in many unproductive outs.

Positives

Melky Cabrera: Melky has been on fire hitting 3HR, with a .323 AVG. He appears to be healthy and has been a valuable top of the lineup option for the Blue Jays.

Jose Bautista: Bautista has been looking like himself again with 3HR, 7 walks and a .414 OBP. He is waiting for his pitch and has been crushing the ones he wants.

Adam Lind: Lind has only been facing RHP and when he has been playing he has been really solid with a .308 AVG and a .500 OBP. He will see some LHP but when the likes of Price are pitching its best he sits out.

Maicer Izturis: After such a terrible 2013 it has been great to see Izturis come out swinging, he leads the Blue Jays with 8 hits and sports a flashy .500 AVG.

Mark Buehrle: Buehrle was absolutely dominant in his first start striking out 11 over 8.2 innings with only 1 walk and 4 hits. It was one of the best games I have seen, he was cutting up the strike zone with Roy Halladay precision.

In the Middle

Brett Lawrie: Lawrie has started off very slowly but with only 4 strikeouts, unlike Rasmus he is making contact. Things should turn around soon for Lawrie.

R.A. Dickey: Dickey pitched two games, one great and one terrible. The Blue Jays will need a lot more of the 6.2 shutout innings Dickey pitched in his second game and less of the 6 ER over 5 inning performance. He needs to cut down the walks.

Drew Hutchison: Hutch also had 1 good and 1 bad start. I am willing to give the 23-year-old a pass as a few bad starts are expected. His walk rate is also pretty high which should even out soon.

 

 

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Bobby Parnell To Undergo Tommy John Surgery http://baseballbabble.com/bobby-parnell-undergo-tommy-john-surgery/ http://baseballbabble.com/bobby-parnell-undergo-tommy-john-surgery/#respond Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:43:32 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1007 The New York Mets have announced that closer Bobby Parnell will undergo Tommy John surgery on Tuesday to repair a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his right elbow and will miss the rest of the 2014 season. Parnell was initially diagnosed with the partial MCL tear early last week and the Mets had feared that [&hellip

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The New York Mets have announced that closer Bobby Parnell will undergo Tommy John surgery on Tuesday to repair a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his right elbow and will miss the rest of the 2014 season.

Parnell was initially diagnosed with the partial MCL tear early last week and the Mets had feared that Tommy John surgery would be required to repair the damage.

A 29-year-old right-hander, Parnell went 5-5 with a 2.16 ERA, a 3.67 strikeouts-to-walks ratio, and 22 saves in 50 innings pitched for the Mets last season.

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Rays Sign Yunel Escobar To 2-Year Extension http://baseballbabble.com/rays-sign-yunel-escobar-2-year-extension/ http://baseballbabble.com/rays-sign-yunel-escobar-2-year-extension/#respond Sun, 06 Apr 2014 23:01:19 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=1001 The Tampa Bay Rays have signed shortstop Yunel Escobar to a new 2-year, $13 million contract extension according to multiple reports. The new deal will cover the 2015 and 2016 seasons and also includes a $7 million club option with a $1 million buyout for the 2017 season. A talented defensive shortstop, the 31-year-old Escobar hit [&hellip

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The Tampa Bay Rays have signed shortstop Yunel Escobar to a new 2-year, $13 million contract extension according to multiple reports.

The new deal will cover the 2015 and 2016 seasons and also includes a $7 million club option with a $1 million buyout for the 2017 season.

A talented defensive shortstop, the 31-year-old Escobar hit .256/.332/.366 with 27 doubles, 9 home runs, and 56 runs batted in for the Rays last season.

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Re-Defining Bullpen Roles: Baseball’s Newest Market Inefficiency http://baseballbabble.com/re-defining-bullpen-roles-baseballs-newest-market-inefficiency/ http://baseballbabble.com/re-defining-bullpen-roles-baseballs-newest-market-inefficiency/#comments Sat, 05 Apr 2014 20:10:17 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=991 “You know what your role is when your phone rings and your name is called. Go get people out. That’s your role.”  This was the response by Houston Astros’ manager Bo Porter when asked to define bullpen roles by the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich last week.  The Astros have started the 2014 season with a [&hellip

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“You know what your role is when your phone rings and your name is called. Go get people out. That’s your role.”  This was the response by Houston Astros’ manager Bo Porter when asked to define bullpen roles by the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich last week.  The Astros have started the 2014 season with a closer-by-committee bullpen where they will use a series of relief pitchers to close out games depending on the matchup.  This strategy failed famously in 2003 when The Boston Red Sox, led by newly-hired GM Theo Epstein and Senior Advisor Bill James, implemented the strategy where the idea is to use the right relief pitcher in the right situation regardless of the inning or perceived role.  The experiment ended six weeks later when the Red Sox traded for Arizona reliever Byung-Hyun Kim.  I always believed the reason the Red Sox abandoned the tactic had more to do with the quality of their bullpen than the strategy itself.  With the increasing velocity, strikeout rates, and efficiency of today’s bullpen specialists, it’s surprising the Houston Astros are the only team attempting a closer-by-committee approach this season.   Here are some reasons Re-defining bullpen roles could not only improve a team’s win/loss record, but save millions in payroll as well:

Money, Money, Money

Saves mean big money for relief pitchers in free agency and arbitration cases.  A relief pitcher with a surplus of saves on their resume will make considerably more in free agency or arbitration than a pitcher with similar numbers minus the saves.  A pattern is developing this year of which many fantasy players all already well aware.   Some teams are keeping their best young relievers out of the closer role opting to use cost-controlled veterans on a short term deal instead.  Fantasy players all assumed young hard-throwing pitchers like Nate Jones, Cody Allen, Ryan Cook, and Danny Farquhar would all be transitioning to full-time closers this season. Instead, their respective teams decided to go with veterans on short-term deals with arguably inferior skill sets.  It will be interesting to see if these young relievers take over closing duties down the stretch where save totals can be minimized.  This new strategic blueprint is likely designed to keep saves out of the arbitration process with teams still using these pitchers in high-leverage situations earlier in the game.  Billy Bean had the baseball world scratching their head after trading for Jim Johnson this offseason.  Bean is well known for doing the opposite with a history of trading away his closers before they could get to arbitration.  Former A’s closers Andrew Bailey, Billy Koch, and Billy Taylor were all dealt prior to arbitration with very successful returns.  The A’s may have the best bullpen in baseball this season; and, by trading for Johnson, Bean ensures young studs like Sean Doolittle, Drew Pomeranz, and Ryan Cook will not be huge strains on the A’s payroll when they hit arbitration.  Taking the financial hit on Johnson’s remaining one-year ten million dollar contract may be well worth the overall savings on the rest of the A’s pen.  If the A’s aren’t in contention this July, you can rest assured Johnson will be a valuable trade commodity for cost-controlled prospects before his impending free agency.

 

Optimizing In-Game Bullpen Strategy

As an avid lifelong Strat-O-Matic lover I have always geeked out over the opportunity to manage a bullpen in a non-traditional manner.  Amongst friends I have become well known for un- orthodox moves like using my “closer” in the 7th inning with a one–run lead with runners on first and second and one out, because I believed this may be the “make-or-break” moment of the game.  Believe it or not the highest leverage points in a baseball game aren’t solely reserved for the ninth inning.  Traditional bullpen usage has many flaws that managers like Ned Yost and Ron Washington are constantly being burned by and costing their teams victories.  This week alone, the Royals lost two close games in the late innings without using one of the best relievers in baseball, Greg Holland.  Why? Because there simply wasn’t a save opportunity.  Perhaps it would have better served the Royals to use their best pitcher in a tie or down a run, but we will never know because Holland didn’t pitch and the Royals lost.  The ability to stay in the game is often more valuable than the ability to close it out. Wouldn’t you prefer your team’s best relief pitcher to be used in the 8th inning of a tie game than with a three run lead in the 9th?  The Astros’ closer-by-committee will once again attempt to negate the idea of traditional bullpen roles; and, if it works you can bet others will soon follow.

The “Closer Mindset and Mentality”

The myth of needing experience and a special mindset to close games has been frequently debunked.  You often hear managers defending their bullpen usage by citing inexperience and makeup.  As David Price and Trevor Rosenthal both proved in the 2008 and 2013 post seasons, you don’t need years of experience or a specific temperament to pitch in the last inning versus the other eight.  There is no such thing as clutch in the major leagues.  Every big league player has proved time and time again, through multiple levels, that they can perform under pressure. If they hadn’t, they wouldn’t be major leaguers in the first place. They would have been weeded out in high school, college, or the minors.  The tough questions a manager has to answer at the end of the game are much easier deflected when the closer role is clearly defined.  One specific guy for each late inning is the norm and you can bet Bo Porter will be facing tougher questions than most other managers.  Luckily the expectations for the Astros are very low and the pressure and media scrutiny that the 2003 Red Sox faced won’t be as pressing.  As a long-time proponent of re-defining bullpen roles, I’m excited to see how it turns out.  The paradigm shift could provide a significant financial and strategic value to the teams that choose to embrace it.

    

    

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Indians Sign Jason Kipnis To Six-Year Extension http://baseballbabble.com/indians-sign-jason-kipnis-six-year-extension/ http://baseballbabble.com/indians-sign-jason-kipnis-six-year-extension/#respond Sat, 05 Apr 2014 13:04:19 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=984 The Cleveland Indians have signed All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis to a new six-year, $52.5 million contract extension according to multiple reports. The new deal includes a $1 million signing bonus and will pay Kipnis annual salaries of $2 million in 2014, $4 million in 2015, $6 million in 2016, $9 million in 2017, $13.5 [&hellip

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The Cleveland Indians have signed All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis to a new six-year, $52.5 million contract extension according to multiple reports.

The new deal includes a $1 million signing bonus and will pay Kipnis annual salaries of $2 million in 2014, $4 million in 2015, $6 million in 2016, $9 million in 2017, $13.5 million in 2018, and $14.5 million in 2019  and also includes a $16.5 million club option with a $2.5 million buyout for the 2020 season.

The contract buys out Kipnis’ final pre-arbitration year, three arbitration years, and first two free agent years, while the option would cover a third free agent year.

The 27-year-old Kipnis hit .284/.366/.452 with 36 doubles, 17 home runs, and 30 stolen bases for the Tribe last season and was named to the American League’s All-Star team.

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Blue Jays Face Series Win in Tampa Bay http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-series/ http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-series/#respond Thu, 03 Apr 2014 19:56:54 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=970 The Blue Jays will attempt to do something they have not done since April 8th, 2007 tonight in Tampa and that is win a series at Tropicana Field. Tampa has been a real house of horrors for the Blue Jays and series after series they leave with little to show for their efforts. The 19 [&hellip

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The Blue Jays will attempt to do something they have not done since April 8th, 2007 tonight in Tampa and that is win a series at Tropicana Field. Tampa has been a real house of horrors for the Blue Jays and series after series they leave with little to show for their efforts. The 19 consecutive non-winning series in Tampa could come to an end tonight as the Blue Jays take an 2-1 advantage into the finale.

Brandon Morrow will take on Chris Archer which could make for an interesting game. Morrow has been fairly solid at Tropicana Field in 5 starts going 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA, 30 innings pitched, 30 SO but he has allowed a lot of walks at 22. In Morrow’s final spring start vs the Mets, Morrow went 5.2 innings with 8 SO, 2 walks, 2 hits and 0 ER. If that Morrow shows up the Blue Jays could be in good position to end the 7 year series drought. However the newly extended Chris Archer will be a tough competitor. He has 3 career starts vs the Blue Jays and had been fantastic going 1-0 with a 1.65 ERA, 16.1 IP, 10 SO and 5 walks.

The Blue Jays will benefit from adding in as many LH batters as possible as Archer dominates RH batters but has been subject to getting hit hard by lefties with an .816 OPS vs a .450 OPS against righties. Still Archer is a tough opponent and will be no easy task for the Jays.

If the good Morrow shows up tonight, it will give the Blue Jays potent offense a chance to wear down Archer and try to close the first series win in 7 years. The Blue Jays will get to add Adam Lind to the mix tonight which could provide an offensive boost with the RHP on the mound. Even with a loss the Blue Jays will return to the Rogers Centre tomorrow to face the New York Yankees with a 2-2 record after a road series against a tough division rival and that in itself will be a positive start for the Blue Jays.

Blue Jays announced lineup:

Cabrera-LF
Rasmus-CF
Bautista-RF
Encarnacion-DH
Lind-1B
Navarro-C
Lawrie-3B
Izturis-2B
Goins-SS

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The Batting Order – Yan Gomes, Dave Parker and Brandon Backe http://baseballbabble.com/the-batting-order-april-03-14/ http://baseballbabble.com/the-batting-order-april-03-14/#respond Thu, 03 Apr 2014 13:35:09 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=960 A look around the major leagues at some of the more interesting stories from the past week. Here is The Batting Order!   #1 DH Injuries Everywhere – Pitchers continue to fall like flies over the last week. Bobby Parnell, Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Doug Fister, and Tim Lincecum are only the most recent one. [&hellip

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A look around the major leagues at some of the more interesting stories from the past week. Here is The Batting Order!

 

#1 DH Injuries Everywhere – Pitchers continue to fall like flies over the last week. Bobby Parnell, Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Doug Fister, and Tim Lincecum are only the most recent one. It has been a crazy first week of the season!

#2 SS National Post – As seen in last week’s Batting Order brought up in last week’s Batting Order, maybe that insignificant strain on Jose Reyes’ hamstring is more significant than was originally suggested. John Lott captures the mood of Blue Jays fans after a season opener that brings back memories of a disastrous 2013.

#3 1B Bloomberg – As Mason Levinston reports, it was a very sad sight in Los Angeles when Angels’ hitting coach Don Baylor broke his femur during the ceremonial first pitch at the season opener. A ceremonial first pitch is supposed to be a feel good moment before a game. It is never supposed to end like this.

#4 3B SFGate – After a dreadful 2013 season, Joe Blanton is back where he started his career. Susan Slusser looks at what A’s fans can expect from the veteran pitcher this season.

#5 CF Bleecher Report – Thanks to Mike Bass for the look at the twists and turns in the life of Dave Parker; Baseball’s first million dollar player. Bass on Parker: “Parker had a Marvel quality to him. He was 6’5″, 230 pounds. A phenomenon. In the minor leagues, legend has it, he hit a ball in West Virginia that was picked up some 150 miles later after it landed in a coal car that finally stopped in Columbus, Ohio. With the Pirates one year, he knocked the cover off a ball. Literally.”

#6 RF LA Times – Dodgers games are getting blacked out in Los Angeles, and fans are none too pleased about it. As Steve Dilbeck reports, even legendary announcer Vin Scully cannot watch Dodgers games from home during his days off.

#7 2B MLB – Jordan Bastian explains how Yan Gomes earned the largest contract by a catcher MLB history during his pre-arbitration years. Excerpt: “It has been a running joke between Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles since the Indians acquired the pair from the Blue Jays prior to last season. Both players joke that they were the main piece in the trade and the other guy was simply tossed in.” Blue Jays fans are probably kicking themselves right now wondering how nice it would be to have Yan Gomes behind the plate.

#8  C Yahoo! – Times are tough for a Brandon Backe. David Brow explains why the former pitcher is suing the Galveston Police department for $12 to $15 million in damages.

#9 LF Hardballtalk: Thanks to Matthew Pouliot for a summary of the instant replay scandal that took over the Giants-Diamondbacks game on Tuesday and to Craig Calcaterra for his observations for what this means to baseball managers thinking about challenging a call mid game.

 

Misquote of the Week: This comes courtesy of Mike Oz at Yahoo! Mike Francesca, a New York Sports Talk Show host, gives his take on the Met’s Daniel Murphy taking three days paternity leave for the birth of his first-born child. “I don’t know why you need three days off, I’m going to be honest. You see the birth and you get back. What do you do in the first couple days? Maybe you take care of the other kids. Well, you gotta have someone to do that if you’re a Major League Baseball player. I’m sorry, but you do … Your wife doesn’t need your help the first couple days, you know that.”

Clearly this asinine response comes from a different era. When his children were born, I presume Mike Francesca was out with the rest of the men pulling down a large dangerous animal… Otherwise this response is just pure ignorance.

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Rays Sign Chris Archer To Six-Year Extension http://baseballbabble.com/rays-sign-chris-archer-six-year-extension/ http://baseballbabble.com/rays-sign-chris-archer-six-year-extension/#respond Thu, 03 Apr 2014 00:10:07 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=956 The Tampa Bay Rays have signed starting pitcher Chris Archer to a new six-year, $25.5 million contract extension according to multiple reports. The new deal will begin this season and run through 2019 and also includes team options for the 2020 and 2021 seasons that could bring the total value of the deal to eight [&hellip

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The Tampa Bay Rays have signed starting pitcher Chris Archer to a new six-year, $25.5 million contract extension according to multiple reports.

The new deal will begin this season and run through 2019 and also includes team options for the 2020 and 2021 seasons that could bring the total value of the deal to eight years and $45.5 million.

The 25-year-old Archer went 9-7 with a 3.22 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 101 strikeouts in 128 innings pitched for the Rays last season and finished third in the American League’s Rookie of the Year voting.

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Mets’ Bobby Parnell Has Partially Torn MCL http://baseballbabble.com/bobby-parnell-partially-torn-mcl/ http://baseballbabble.com/bobby-parnell-partially-torn-mcl/#respond Tue, 01 Apr 2014 23:00:22 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=953 The New York Mets have announced that closer Bobby Parnell has a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right elbow and may need surgery. Parnell has received a platelet-rich plasma injection and will be shut down for at least two weeks before beginning a throwing program and will then be reevaluated to [&hellip

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The New York Mets have announced that closer Bobby Parnell has a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right elbow and may need surgery.

Parnell has received a platelet-rich plasma injection and will be shut down for at least two weeks before beginning a throwing program and will then be reevaluated to see if surgery will be required.

The 29-year-old Parnell went 5-5 with a 2.16 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, a 3.67 strikeouts-to-walks ratio, and 22 saves in 50 innings pitched for the Mets last season.

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Blue Jays: 2014 Roster Rating & Review http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-roster-review-2014/ http://baseballbabble.com/blue-jays-roster-review-2014/#respond Tue, 01 Apr 2014 16:50:23 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=825 With the Blue Jays Opening Day roster now set its time to look a little more in-depth at their strengths and weaknesses heading into the start of the 2014 season. Starting Lineup – Grade A :  The starting lineup overall is pretty solid, nearly every spot has an above average MLB contributor with the exception of [&hellip

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With the Blue Jays Opening Day roster now set its time to look a little more in-depth at their strengths and weaknesses heading into the start of the 2014 season.

Starting Lineup – Grade A :  The starting lineup overall is pretty solid, nearly every spot has an above average MLB contributor with the exception of 2B and maybe C. The combination of Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion makes up one of the toughest top of the lineups around and most of the lineup is filled with power threats along the way. If healthy this lineup will be a top run producer in the AL and is competitive against its AL East counterparts. Health has been an issue for this team which leads to one of its weaknesses with most players seeing the DL in 2013.

Bench –  Grade C- : Maicer Izturis is coming off a terrible 2013 and should see some improvement, he is a decent backup if he plays to his past performance. Moises Sierra is a decent offensive option but is still unproven, he also has terrible base running instincts and is prone to mental mistakes but does have a cannon of an arm. Josh Thole only gets the job to be R.A Dickey’s personal catcher, if not for that he is not on the team. With Dioner Navarro expected to make a major jump from part-time player to full-time catcher you would hope for a solid backup option and Thole might not be up to the task offensively. Overall the bench is a weakness that can not support a major injury loss, depth in the minors is also not encouraging should a regular be off for an extended period.

Starting Pitching – Grade B: This rotation actually has some great potential if it can stay healthy. Brandon Morrow & Dustin McGowan are big injury risks and Drew Hutchison is returning from Tommy John. If intact the starting 5 is very competitive and gives a nice mix of power/crafty pitchers. R.A. Dickey & Mark Buehrle should provide 200 innings of respectable results while the remaining 3 all have high upside. Morrow has been considered one of the best arms in the AL when healthy and McGowan has always been praised for his outstanding “stuff”. It does have some question marks with health/durability but the Blue Jays do have some depth when the need arrives with J.A Happ recovering on the DL, Esmil Rogers & Todd Redmond in the pen and several depth options in Chad Jenkins, Marcus Storman, Sean Nolan, Aaron Sanchez and Kyle Drabek in the minors.

Bullpen – Grade A-: The Blue Jays had a fantastic bullpen in 2013 and it is mostly unchanged for 2014. If it gets reduced to a 7 man pen you are looking at 5-6 very solid options. Jeremy Jeffress while possessing an amazing arm is inconsistent and Rogers/Redmond also have question marks. The remain 5 guys  Casey Janssen, Brett Cecil, Sergio Santos, Aaron Loup and Steve Delabar are a solid pen capable of taking most of the high leverage work. Overall its a good group.

Defense – Grade B-: In 2013 defense was an issue for the Blue Jays but 2014 looks to be much improved. Melky Cabrera is tumour less, J.P. Arencibia is gone, Ryan Goins is miles above Maicer Izturiz & Emilio Bonifacio defensively and Jose Reyes & Brett Lawrie look healthy which should tighten up the overall defense. It’s not a grade A defense but it should be much improved and there are no major liabilities unless Cabrera still has no range post tumour removal. However if you do look at the bench it yet again is a sore spot not offering much in defensive help.

Overall – Grade – B: The Blue Jays are a tough team to read, they were expected to be a World Series contending team in 2013 but finished in 5th place in the AL East due to injuries and several key players having disappointing seasons. The AL East is looking to be very tough yet again setting the stage for a tough 2014 for the Blue Jays. If healthy the Blue Jays have a good shot at being competitive but their margin of error is slim with few solid backups to step in when needed.

Players that could emerge/improve:

Drew Hutchison – Hutchison had an outstanding spring and appears to be healthy and ready to be a major contributor in the starting rotation. Remember that he is only 23 years old and could be a fixture in the rotation for years to come.

Dustin McGowan – It is a miracle that McGowan is able to still pitch and hit upwards of 95 MPH with his fastball after years of injury and countless surgeries. Its a fairytale story that could be a huge lift for the Blue Jays.

Melky Cabrera – As I mentioned previously Melky had a tumour removed from his spine at the end of last season which was believed to be the cause of his sluggish running and powerless batting line. He tore it up this spring and would be a huge lift near the top of the batting order along with Reyes setting the stage for Bautista and Encarnacion.

Players who could regress:

Dioner Navarro – Last year Navarro had an exceptional season with the cubs as a part-time player but in 2014 he will be playing full time. It would be hard to image he puts up another 132 OPS+ season which is 50 points ahead of his 82 OPS+ career average.

R.A. Dickey – Dickey was not even the Ace Toronto expected in 2013 but his success relies on his knuckleball and it just hasn’t been that great. If Dickey can not find the velocity of his hard knuckler and maintain some control of his pitch we could see another subpar season.

Colby Rasmus – All told 2013 was actually a solid year for Rasmus as he came into his own in 2013. He accumulated 4.6 WAR with a combination of offensive and defensive production. In a walk year Rasmus will hope to have another great year to land a huge contract but that might be difficult.

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Is Televised Baseball Becoming Over-Produced? http://baseballbabble.com/televised-baseball-becoming-produced/ http://baseballbabble.com/televised-baseball-becoming-produced/#respond Tue, 01 Apr 2014 16:26:49 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=938 While watching the Dodgers/Padres game on ESPN last night, I noticed a continuing trend in the broadcast that I have also observed during the World Series, Winter Olympics, and NFL football.  Televised sports broadcasts are embracing more and more elements of “reality-television” and becoming increasingly produced.  Broadcasts like Fox, ESPN, NBC, and CBS are now [&hellip

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While watching the Dodgers/Padres game on ESPN last night, I noticed a continuing trend in the broadcast that I have also observed during the World Series, Winter Olympics, and NFL football.  Televised sports broadcasts are embracing more and more elements of “reality-television” and becoming increasingly produced.  Broadcasts like Fox, ESPN, NBC, and CBS are now finding narratives sometimes not even related to the sport they are covering.  In our celebrity obsessed/TMZ culture, producers are attempting to bring in the non-sports fans by showcasing anything from a character quirk or flaw, to an emotional, “beating the odds” back story and running with it.  In last night’s game alone, ESPN ran several pre-taped segments featuring interviews of the players talking about everything from opening day memories, Andrew Cashner’s mullet, and Yasiel Puigs “polarizing” career.  Last time I checked Puig posted a 4.9 WAR in a little over 100 games last year.  Not so sure I would define that as “polarizing”???  Dan Shulman and John Kruk actually pointed out every time Yasiel Puig hit his cut-off man (even on routine fly balls!).  I had to laugh at the segment that tried to present Cashner as the new cast member of Duck Dynasty…  Didn’t the entire 1993 Phillies team have mullets?  When I watch a baseball game, I want analysis… BASEBALL ANALYSIS.  So why not put Puig’s rookie season into historical context or discuss how his strikeout-to-walk rate probably needs to improve in order to sustain his success.  I’m not asking the broadcasts to ram sabermetrics down our throats until were too confused to even care; however, the focus needs to shift back to the field.  Save the taped segments for pre or postgame.  If I wanted over produced reality TV, I wouldn’t be watching baseball in the first place.

The closest I come to watching reality TV are feature-length film documentaries, so I’m no expert; however, I do know this: Baseball is already the greatest form of reality TV on television.  What happens is real.  A good or bad year can change a player’s entire life.  Dreams are crushed, hearts are broken, and epic battles are won and lost on a daily basis.  You don’t need to manufacture drama, brevity, or character in baseball.  It’s all there on the field already.  Just watch the game.  I don’t need interviews from the dugout, stories about beards and tattoos, or a segment about the 14 pound Chocolate Sunday at the concession stand.  As broadcasters try to establish baseball heroes and villains, maybe they should look a little deeper.  Yasiel Puig drove his car too fast and missed some cut-off throws, and he is scrutinized more than any player I can remember.  ESPN seems to employ a camera solely dedicated to his cut off throws, and you get the feeling broadcasters are eagerly awaiting for him to make a mistake.   Some have argued that race is playing a role in the Puig outrage; and, it’s hard to dispute that when examining the case of Tampa’s hard throwing relief pitcher Josh Lueke.  In 2008 while pitching in A-ball, Lueke and some teammates got drunk and brought a woman home with them.  The next morning, having feeling violated, the woman went to a hospital and requested a rape kit.  The last thing she remembered was waking up with her pants off and a man ejaculating on her body while she vomited into a toilet.  DNA tests later confirmed that Lueke had sodomized her despite making the initial claim he had no sexual contact with her.  Due to the “he said/she said” nature of the case, the victim decided not to pursue further prosecution; and, Lueke served 43 days in jail on a 12-year sentence before being released.  You aren’t going to see any pre-taped segments about Lueke’s rape charge, instead let’s just focus on Puig’s immaturity.  A disturbing story of that nature would likely alienate fans; furthermore, it isn’t quite as “family and ratings friendly” as loveable beards. It’s up to alternative media like Deadspin to get information like this in the public consciousness (Here’s a link to the article).  The ethical questions we should be asking about the Rays employing a player with this kind of history have also managed to fly under the radar.  If broadcasts insist on adding narrative to accentuate player character defects, then they should at least play fair…

Unfortunately die-hard baseball fans like me aren’t the people the networks care about.  They know I’m going to watch baseball regardless of whatever bells, whistles, tickers or trackers they put on my screen.  They are trying to appeal to the person who thinks baseball is slow and boring by giving them an alternative reason to watch and care.  Without home run records, 100-year curses or consecutive games played streaks being broken, the networks often have to reach to find the narrative in order to keep Joe-six-pack tuned in.  As a baseball fan, I have to tolerate it; but I don’t have to like it, so thanks for letting me vent…    Happy Opening Week!!!

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2014 Predictions on Opening Day http://baseballbabble.com/2014-mlb-predictions/ http://baseballbabble.com/2014-mlb-predictions/#respond Mon, 31 Mar 2014 14:56:35 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=924 Well…here we are. It’s Opening Day! Granted, the season kicked off a week ago in Australia, and then again last night with the Padres defeating the Dodgers in come-from-behind fashion. But come on, all the teams are cranking it up today, which is what we all consider the “true” Opening Day. Anyway, here are my [&hellip

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Well…here we are. It’s Opening Day! Granted, the season kicked off a week ago in Australia, and then again last night with the Padres defeating the Dodgers in come-from-behind fashion. But come on, all the teams are cranking it up today, which is what we all consider the “true” Opening Day.

Anyway, here are my 2014 predictions. Some may be right, some may be wrong, and some may even raise and eyebrow or two, but that’s the fun of predictions. Take a read and relax for now…you can yell at me in October when we see how it all shakes out.

 

American League

Manager of the Year: Ned Yost. I know Bob Melvin and Joe Maddon are the sexy picks here because they get more out of less than any other two managers in the game, but I like the Royals this year, and if Yost can get them to the postseason for the first time in ages, he’ll deserve the award.

Rookie of the Year: Xander Bogaerts. The kid has all the tools, and while Masahiro Tanaka will probably win the award, I’m one of those guys who are on the fence about “rookies” from over seas winning the award after pitching professionally in Japan for a number of years. Regardless, Bogaerts will play everyday and hopefully play up to the potential we’ve been hearing about for the past couple of years.

Cy Young Award: Felix Hernandez. After the brass broke the bank signing Robinson Cano, I think “King Felix” will be on a mission this season, not only to live up to his own lofty contract, but to also remind everybody who the face of the Mariners is. The extra pop in the lineup should help a little too. A little run support will go a long way for a guy like Hernandez who has suffered the lack of such support over the years.

Most Valuable Player: Prince Fielder. After being traded away just two years into his mega-deal, I think Prince will have a chip on his shoulder entering 2014, and what better way to exploit that chip than to have Shin-Soo Choo on base ahead of you and Adrian Beltre batting right behind you in one of the most hitter-friendly parks around. Also, homeboy almost never misses a game. I think the Rangers will just miss the playoffs, but it won’t be for a lack of production from Prince, he’ll be the main reason they get so close.

 

Division Winners

East – Tampa Bay

Central – Detroit

West – Oakland

 

Wildcards

Boston, Kansas City

 

AL Champion

Tampa Bay Rays

 

National League

Manager of the Year: Bruce Bochy. I know the team was down a little last year, which will make it that much sweeter when they get back to the playoffs this season. The Giants have a good rotation top-to-bottom, a sold bullpen, and they’ll score enough runs to get by. Bochy is one of the few “old school” skippers left in the game, and I think he’ll guide his crew to another deep run this year.

Rookie of the Year: Archie Bradley. His stuff is so good, that when he does come up to stay, he’ll power his way to phenom status a la Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez. Bradley will provide a spark to a rotation in need, and will give the team the jolt it needs to make a push.

Cy Young Award: Stephen Strasburg. I know Clayton Kershaw is the best in the game, and he could easily win another, but I wanted to not be boring…baring injury, I think this could be the year that Strasburg finally puts it all together and comes away with some hardware. He’ll be leading a staff destined to make the playoffs, and that always helps.

Most Valuable Player: Freddie Freeman. People can call this a homer pick if they want, but all the guy does is rake, play great defense, and lead that clubhouse at the ripe old age of 24. The guy finished fifth in the race last year, and he’s only getting better.

 

Division Winners

East – Washington

Central – St. Louis

West – Los Angeles

 

Wildcards

Atlanta, San Francisco

 

NL Champion

Los Angeles Dodgers

 

World Series Prediction: Tampa Bay over the Dodgers. It’s David versus Goliath. I honestly love what the Rays have been able to do over the past few years. They gut it out in the toughest division in baseball year in and year out, and they’re always right there at the end of the bell. What better way to finally bring home a title than to win it over the team with the game’s highest payroll, while consistently operating with a lack of financial resources, and one of the worst ballparks around. Go get ‘em Rays.

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2014 MLB Rankings from Baseball Babble http://baseballbabble.com/2014-mlb-rankings/ http://baseballbabble.com/2014-mlb-rankings/#respond Mon, 31 Mar 2014 14:27:42 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=820 As we are set to start the 2014 MLB season we did a poll at Baseball Babble among our contributors to do an official pre-season 2014 MLB ranking. It is always a fun exercise to try to predict what might happen before the season begins. We had 6 contributors give their predictions, as well I [&hellip

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As we are set to start the 2014 MLB season we did a poll at Baseball Babble among our contributors to do an official pre-season 2014 MLB ranking. It is always a fun exercise to try to predict what might happen before the season begins. We had 6 contributors give their predictions, as well I used Fangraphs team Projections as a 7th vote and I have totaled each teams score in the 3rd column.

 

1 Cardinals 15 Defending NL Champs are the best run organization from top to bottom.  They earned the clear #1 spot with only 15 total points & 3/7 first place votes.
2 Dodgers 20 Most Complete team on paper with an ownership that will not shy away from adding payroll at the deadline. They were an easy NL West pick in a competitive division.
3 Tigers 29 The Tigers made some changes this offseason but still are the clear favorite in the AL Central. Despite their division they never seem to dominate but playing the Twins & White Sox always helps.
4 Nationals 29 Most disappointing team in the MLB in 2013, we are picking them for a big rebound in 2014. They had a nice offseason with the Dough Fister steal.
5 Red Sox 46 WS Champs could be really, really good or drop off a cliff. They got ranks between 2-14 as its hard to know exactly how good they are; there is an element of this team thats hard to fully trust.
6 Rays 50 By not trading David Price, they return with what may be the best rotation in AL. The Rays are always sneaky good and that Joe Maddon might have cut a deal with the baseball gods. If only fans would show up to watch this great team.
7 Athletics 59 The Athletics are a risky pick with some of their recent injuries but along with the Rangers its a beat up division right now.
8 Braves 60 The Braves looked to be right at the top of the MLB but a series of recent injuries might be hard to overcome.
9 Angles 60 Mike Trout is locked up for the next 6 years and if Hamilton & Pujols can return to form the Angels will have a solid offense. However the pitching is still weak though the Angels could surprise.
10 Rangers 74 It will be interesting to see how Prince Fielder does in the Texas heat in July and August. Recent injuries have piled up on what looked to be a promising starting rotation.
11 Giants 77 Tim Hudson will be a stabilizing influence in the rotation, but ultimately the success of this season will be tied to a return to form for Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum.
12 Pirates 87 The Pirates could be good again in 2014, they are a bit of a wildcard but some of our writers ranked them as high as 9th while others were more skeptical.
13 Yankees 95 The Yankees have potentially the worst infield in baseball after a massive offseason spending spree. Still their starting pitching could be great with the addition of Masahiro Tanaka
14 Diamondbacks 112 Mark Trumbo and Paul Goldschmidt might combine for over 75 HR. The pitching is underwhelming but Archie Bradley might almost be ready to step in and be a big contributor.
15 Reds 116 If Billy Hamilton can hit .250, he may end up with 100 steals. Lots of solid players but not quite complete right now.
16 Blue Jays 119 The Blue Jays had the highest variation in our rankings from 10-26 showing just how many ways 2014 could go for the Blue Jays. They might just surprise or land in the AL East cellar yet again.
17 Orioles 119 Late offseason moves (Cruz and Jimenez) could help make the Orioles relevant again but their pitching might not be good enough in the AL East.
18 Indians 120 Its a little confusing what exactly is going on in Cleveland after a solid 2013. Tough to call the AL Central but the Indians could again find their way to the postseason or buried in irrelevance.
19 Royals 120 Kansas City has promise and a balanced team going into 2014, in a weak division this might be the year they return to the postseason.
20 Padres 125 Could be the best team made up of guys you have never heard of lost in a competitive division.
21 Mariners 128 Cano can thank Jay-Z for the extra month of vacation each year in October. Adding Cano was a huge add for the Mariners but the build is not yet complete and they face a tough go with 3 solid teams ahead of them.
22 Brewers 136 What will we see from Ryan Braun in 2014? Better yet Lyle Overbay made the team at 37!
23 Rockies 157 Pitching is probably a year away.  Look for Cuddyer to have the single biggest drop off in production in MLB from 2013-2014
24 Phillies 164 Aged, injury prone team, could be better than expected thanks to a solid rotation of Lee, Hamels and Burnett.
25 Mets 176 A transition season without Matt Harvey could go better than expected if we see improvement from Zack Wheeler, Ike Davis and Travis d’Arnaud.
26 White Sox 183 The White Sox are going to be a bad team but have to like the re-build and international signing of Abreu.
27 Twins 185 The Twins have some amazing prospects coming up but right now they are a bad team after a strange offseason which saw them spend on marginal players for little reason.
28 Marlins 190 The Marlins have received some praise from National Sports writers for their recent trades and rebuild. Jose Fernandez is a dream on an interesting team that could move up a few spots with some luck and development.
29 Cubs 192 What can you really say about the Cubs? Maybe Jeff Samardzija finds a new home he has a solid start to 2014 or the Cubs lower their asking price. 
30 Astros 210 $5 for anyone who can name the 25 man roster. The Astros are not playing around on this rebuild and could find anther 100 loss season in 2014 but they have a beautiful farm system in the making.

 

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Five Bold Predictions for the New York Yankees http://baseballbabble.com/new-york-yankees-2014-predictions/ http://baseballbabble.com/new-york-yankees-2014-predictions/#respond Mon, 31 Mar 2014 11:00:33 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=903  Jeter’s Career will end in the Postseason: Derek Jeter has missed the playoffs exactly twice in his big league career, with 2014 being his last season, there will not be a third.  The Yankees will win a wild card, finishing second to the Rays in the AL East.  The Bronx Bombers will score more runs [&hellip

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  •  Jeter’s Career will end in the Postseason: Derek Jeter has missed the playoffs exactly twice in his big league career, with 2014 being his last season, there will not be a third.  The Yankees will win a wild card, finishing second to the Rays in the AL East.  The Bronx Bombers will score more runs in 2014 than 2013 and be bolstered by a deep and underrated rotation.
  • Masahiro Tanaka wins AL ROY: There has been a lot backlash by the writers who vote for Rookie of the Year against Japanese players but the fact remains they are eligible for the award.  If Tanaka’s spring is any indication of things to come, then Yankee opponents are in trouble  because he is the real deal
  • CC Sabathia wins 17 games: Much has been made about the decline in velocity of CC’s fastball and his major weight loss over the last year.  He is also coming off the worst season of his career.  But lost in the shuffle is the fact that Sabathia has remade himself as a pitcher this spring.  He worked with Andy Pettitte and has developed a cutter and relied more on location and control over velocity.  Velocity is a red herring when used to gauge how good a pitcher can be.  Yankee fans will remember Mike Mussina winning 20 games after he lost nearly all the velocity on his fastball and being called out by Hank Steinbrenner.  Oh and by the way, Sabathia just had the camp of his career sporting a 1.29 ERA in 21 innings with 16 punchouts.
  • David Robertson leads AL in saves: David Robertson will pick up right where Mariano Rivera left off for the Yankees, making his second All-Star team and lead the American League in saves.  Robertson has all the tools to be a successful closer in the majors and if he played for any other team or was replacing any other closer, it would simply be a natural progression of the bullpen.  However, when you are replacing a legend, you don’t get the benefit of the doubt.  This season Drob proves his doubters wrong.
  • Alex Rodriguez does something ridiculous: Ok, this is not so much a bold prediction as much as a sure thing and thinly veiled attempt by this writer at a reverse jinx.  However, history shows us that Arod will do something or say something or get caught doing something that will then monopolize all of baseball for four days as we dissect how much of a joke he is at this point.
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    Dodgers Place Clayton Kershaw On Disabled List http://baseballbabble.com/dodgers-place-clayton-kershaw-disabled-list/ http://baseballbabble.com/dodgers-place-clayton-kershaw-disabled-list/#respond Sun, 30 Mar 2014 17:34:07 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=899 The Los Angeles Dodgers placed star pitcher Clayton Kershaw on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday after he felt some discomfort in his back while throwing earlier in the day. The move is retroactive to March 23 and Kershaw will be eligible to return April 7, but no timetable has been set for his return [&hellip

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    The Los Angeles Dodgers placed star pitcher Clayton Kershaw on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday after he felt some discomfort in his back while throwing earlier in the day.

    The move is retroactive to March 23 and Kershaw will be eligible to return April 7, but no timetable has been set for his return as of yet.

    Considered baseball’s best starting pitcher by many, the 26-year-old Kershaw went 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 232 strikeouts in 236 innings pitched for the Dodgers last season and won the National League’s Cy Young Award for the second time in three years.

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    Red Sox And Jon Lester Put Extension Talks On Hold http://baseballbabble.com/red-sox-jon-lester-put-extension-talks-hold/ http://baseballbabble.com/red-sox-jon-lester-put-extension-talks-hold/#respond Sun, 30 Mar 2014 17:32:27 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=896 The Boston Red Sox and pitching ace Jon Lester have agreed to put their contract extension talks on hold for now according to multiple reports. Both sides are reportedly still interested in reaching an agreement at a later date and it is possible that talks could begin again at some point during the upcoming season. [&hellip

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    The Boston Red Sox and pitching ace Jon Lester have agreed to put their contract extension talks on hold for now according to multiple reports.

    Both sides are reportedly still interested in reaching an agreement at a later date and it is possible that talks could begin again at some point during the upcoming season.

    The 30-year-old Lester went 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA and 177 strikeouts in 213 innings pitched for the Red Sox last season and also starred in postseason play where he went 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA.

     

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    Angels Sign Mike Trout To 6-Year, $144.5 Million Contract Extension http://baseballbabble.com/angels-sign-mike-trout-6-year-contract/ http://baseballbabble.com/angels-sign-mike-trout-6-year-contract/#respond Sat, 29 Mar 2014 16:58:41 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=889 The Los Angeles Angels have signed superstar outfielder Mike Trout to a new 6-year, $144.5 million contract extension according to multiple reports. The new deal will go into effect in 2015 and will cover Trout’s three arbitration years and his first three years of free agency. Considered by many to be baseball’s best all-around player, [&hellip

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    The Los Angeles Angels have signed superstar outfielder Mike Trout to a new 6-year, $144.5 million contract extension according to multiple reports.

    The new deal will go into effect in 2015 and will cover Trout’s three arbitration years and his first three years of free agency.

    Considered by many to be baseball’s best all-around player, the 22-year-old Trout has finished second in the American League’s MVP voting in each of the last two seasons.

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    Red Sox Name Grady Sizemore Starting Center Fielder http://baseballbabble.com/red-sox-name-grady-sizemore-starting-center-fielder/ http://baseballbabble.com/red-sox-name-grady-sizemore-starting-center-fielder/#comments Sat, 29 Mar 2014 00:27:11 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=880 One of baseball’s best comeback stories of 2014 continued on Friday when the Boston Red Sox officially named former American League All-Star Grady Sizemore as their starting center fielder. The 31-year-old Sizemore has played well throughout the Spring for the Red Sox, posting a .333 batting average and a .842 OPS while having more walks than strikeouts. [&hellip

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    One of baseball’s best comeback stories of 2014 continued on Friday when the Boston Red Sox officially named former American League All-Star Grady Sizemore as their starting center fielder.

    The 31-year-old Sizemore has played well throughout the Spring for the Red Sox, posting a .333 batting average and a .842 OPS while having more walks than strikeouts.

    Once considered one of the best all-around players in the game, Sizemore starred for the Cleveland Indians from 2005-2008 when he batted .281/.372/.496 with 27 home runs, 41 doubles, and 29 stolen bases per year before being sidelined by a series of injuries.

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    The Wide Open AL West Preview; Den of Injuries http://baseballbabble.com/the-wide-open-al-west-preview/ http://baseballbabble.com/the-wide-open-al-west-preview/#comments Fri, 28 Mar 2014 15:40:52 +0000 http://baseballbabble.com/?p=852 With a rotation of Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, (and arguably the best lineup in baseball), the Texas Rangers were my offseason runaway favorite to win the AL West.  It seemed the only thing standing in their way were the young and promising starting pitching staff of the Oakland Athletics.  Jarrod Parker [&hellip

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    With a rotation of Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, (and arguably the best lineup in baseball), the Texas Rangers were my offseason runaway favorite to win the AL West.  It seemed the only thing standing in their way were the young and promising starting pitching staff of the Oakland Athletics.  Jarrod Parker and Sonny Gray were positioned to be one of the great 1-2 combos in the AL.  After a horrendous April in which Parker struggled with mechanics and posted a 7.36 ERA, he rebounded strongl