I don’t mean that he’s a giant bird, but he has caused Reds fans significant psychological grief for quite some time. It is hard to grasp what he is doing with his skill-set, as he can’t seem to figure out how to utilize his only tool worthy or ranking – speed.
Hamilton’s speed is what makes him a viable option in centerfield for the Reds. Ok…his speed and the fact that he is wearing a glove on his left hand. Beyond that, Hamilton has worn out his welcome as an everyday player, and it is time that Cincinnati does something about this problem.
This isn’t about 12 at-bats in 2018. This isn’t about the time that he was a huge jerk at the annual Cincinnati Reds Caravan – so much so that Reds’ Hall of Famer (yes, team-only) Eric Davis told him to slow down and enjoy the moment when a fan is in front of him. This has everything to do with the fact that as Hamilton makes his 2,000th career Major League plate appearance on Thursday in Pittsburgh, that he’ll be trying to improve upon his career .247/.297/.333 career line, his 19.5% strikeout rate, and his 33.7% flyball rate. Better yet, with his speed, Hamilton needs to improve upon his BABIP (yes, there is some luck involved in this number, but a few more balls not in the air would improve this statistic), which is just above league average at .304 for his career.
As the great (fake) skipper from the American classic Major League, Lou Brown, taught the legendary Willie Mays Hayes – with some negative reinforcement, “With your speed, you should be hitting the ball on the ground and be legging them out. Every time I see you hit one in the air, you owe me 20 push-ups.”
Sadly, in his nearly 2,000 plate appearances, Billy Hamilton hasn’t figured it out.
With the lack of adjustment on his part, there is a better solution than another putrid season of 600 plate appearances with rancid production, and that is to make Billy Hamilton into a super-utility player.
The 4-man outfield rotation doesn’t need one of those players on a daily basis, especially at the cost of Adam Duvall in left, who is one of the top offensive left fielders in baseball (look it up, it’s a weak position), or Jesse Winker, who needs plate appearances to get acclimated to MLB pitching to afford the Reds an opportunity to see what they have. In addition to Duvall and Winker, Scott Schebler has shown that his bat doesn’t need a platoon-mate, and the Reds can certainly use his power as he can patrol center in a respectable manner.
Certainly, the defense would take a hit for the Reds without Hamilton running around, but when the pitching staff is as patchworked together as it is, how many balls is Hamilton going to rob from 10 rows up in the outfield? And, when they’re playing from behind, how are they going to come back from deficits when you have two easy outs in the lineup (Hamilton and the pitcher’s spot)?
As a super-utility player, Hamilton can avoid the lineup several times per week, while providing breaks at short, second, and center. He’d need to take some time in Louisville to reacquaint himself with the infield; however, he was a shortstop prior to moving to center to streamline his promotion when the Reds still had Zack Cozart and Didi Gregorius in the system at short. This role also allows the Reds to use Hamilton in a pinch-runner role on days that he isn’t in the lineup in key spots, opening up the opportunity for him to run as effectively as he did upon his call-up in 2013 when he stole 13 bases and had just 19 plate appearances. Finally, this role would eliminate the need to carry Phil Gosselin or Cliff Pennington, allowing the club to carry an additional relief pitcher.
Billy Hamilton can run. Billy Hamilton can field. In an age where offense is aplenty, defensive wizardry is sought after, and speed is at a premium, he is still finding a way to make himself the weakest link in the chain. Fortunately for Hamilton and the Cincinnati Reds, there are better solutions to the team’s needs that the soon-to-be 28-year-old can take over. It just takes a little creativity to make Hamilton a viable piece to the Cincinnati Reds’ puzzle again.
With the season starting tomorrow, it’s time to embarrass myself by attempting to predict various records and awards for the 2018 season. It tends to go miserably each season, and I don’t expect anything different this year. Still, it is fun to look back on each season, so here goes nothing!
It isn’t easy to repeat as champions, but Hinch has the depth, talent, and analytic skills necessary to adapt to the game and become a legend. Hinch will have more young talent on the way, which he’ll utilize effectively again while guiding Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman into a new stratosphere of superstardom this season.
The Brewers will win at least 90 games in 2018 with a below-average pitching staff. How? Because Counsell will find a creative way to juggle all of the offensive talent that the Brew Crew has accumulated over the offseason. Yes, Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain will make a big impression, but they’ll do so with Ryan Braun, Eric Thames, and Domingo Santana getting enough playing time to also be useful pieces…all thanks to Counsell’s tinkering.
I’m really going out on a limb, here. It’s incredible to think about Trout turning 27 this August. He is one of those generational types of players who you begin to think, “ho-hum, another 30+ bomb and 7+ WAR season.” We shouldn’t think that, though! Trout has two MVPs (and two 2nd place finishes) and six All-Star games under his belt before he reaches the so-called prime of his career. Lord help the pitchers if he gets better than he already has been. Just a reminder, he hit 33 bombs and led the league in OPS (1.071) last season while walking more than he struck out (90:94 K:BB) in just 114 games.
Goldy has been an excellent player for the last several years, despite dealing with inconsistent talent and several injuries to his supporting cast. Luckily, this is the year that it all breaks right for the Diamondbacks and Goldschmidt will get the recognition that he has deserved. In what will be his sixth straight All-Star season, the humidor is the only thing that will be able to contain the bat of this superstar.
Another boring pick, Kluber has the boring personality, robotic approach, and dominating stuff to remain focused and prepared for a 3rd CYA. He is the anchor of, arguably, the best rotation in baseball, and will continue mowing down the competition while leading the Indians to another Central title.
Jorge Polanco‘s misstep with a PED could open the door for the former No.5 overall pick. He isn’t going to provide sexy power numbers, but the Twins have Miguel Sano and Brian Dozier for that. Gordon will get on base, steal some bases, and use the gaps at Target Field in ways that would make my wife’s abuse of the Target One Spot look weak. Women be shoppin’!
He’s only going to the minors to allow the Braves an extra year of service. They were working on a Scott Kingery-type of deal for the future star, but if it doesn’t work out, Acuna will be up for good before your taxes would be considered late. That’s April 17th if you still need to do them. Hurry.
We’ll see how wrong I am when October rolls around. Enjoy another awesome MLB season!
Below is a list of the top 100 prospects in MLB, as compiled by a non-scout, Language Arts teacher and father. With it being the holiday season, what better gift than to begin prospecting for your fantasy teams right now? Brief write-ups for top 25 only. Enjoy, comment, and share…share a lot!
1. Ronald Acuna, ATL, OF
Acuna is the Mike Trout of prospects. He can do everything well. He’ll be in Atlanta as soon as the Braves can guarantee an extra year of service time.
2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., TOR, 3B
The kid can hit, which is exactly what his father could do. He more than held his own as an 18-year-old in Advanced A-ball last season. He’ll continue to move quickly, likely filling third in Toronto by May of 2019.
3. Gleyber Torres, NYY, SS
Torres may be a little overrated here, but he will be an impressive player due to consistently improving parts of his game as he moves up through the system. Last season, his plate discipline drastically improved. He will be a very useful player in New York, but not as a shortstop.
4. Eloy Jimenez, CWS, OF
Jimenez has massive power potential. He had a .947 OPS last season at age 20, reaching Double-A for the White Sox. He’s a large man who continues to improve his hit-tool while showcasing his power.
5. Shohei Otani, LAA, RHP/OF
We will see just where Otani becomes most valuable pretty quickly. Due to an injury to his pitching elbow, it may be alongside of Trout in the outfield more often than not. Otani is a gifted talent, but, as always with these imported talents, we’ll need to see how it translates to MLB.
6. Victor Robles, WAS, OF
Robles has moved quickly, reaching the majors last season at the age of 20. He reminds me of Starling Marte with a little less speed (and, hopefully, fewer PEDs), but, if Bryce Harper leaves via free agency after 2018, Robles will be ready to step in as an impact talent.
7. Kyle Tucker, HOU, OF
The rich get richer in Houston. Tucker is an impressive offensive talent. He doesn’t have the same type of swing and miss to his game as George Springer, but he could be a similar producer from the left side of the plate.
8. Brendan Rodgers, COL, SS
Rodgers will always get Troy Tulowitzki comps due to being in the Rockies system and being a shortstop; however, no matter how gaudy the numbers may look, he has some flaws. He only walked 14 times in 400 plate appearances last year, something to monitor as he moves up. MLB will eat him up if he doesn’t make adjustments, but he is a legitimate power bat at a prime position, so he still warrants this ranking.
9. Nick Senzel, CIN, 3B
The Reds have a lot of young talent, but they’ll make room for Senzel, even if it means Eugenio Suarez moving off of third or Senzel possibly getting time at second. Senzel can do a little of everything and will move quickly towards the “Queen City”, giving their fans someone worth watching other than Joey Votto.
10. Michael Kopech, CWS, RHP
Kopech can absolutely bring it. His arm is electric…so much so that he is still erratic, at times. He had 172 Ks and just six home runs allowed in 134.1 innings last season, reaching Triple-A at just 21 years of age.
11. Francisco Mejia, CLE, C
Mejia will never look intimidating at just 5’10”, but he just hits the ball. It is what he has done since he became a professional. He earned a very limited look during Cleveland’s push to the playoffs last season, but the Indians will have to find a role for him, possibly a utility role, to get him more reps with the big club in 2018.
12. Brent Honeywell, TB, RHP
The Rays may be losing Alex Cobb to free agency and could be shopping Jake Odorizzi in a trade, but they have Honeywell ready to step in if they want to open a spot in their rotation for him. The 22-year-old made 24 starts in Triple-A in 2017, striking out 172 in 136.2 total innings last year.
13. Fernando Tatis, Jr., SD, SS
As a shortstop prospect, Tatis should probably be in the top five of this list; however, he needs to show he can adjust to the upper levels before totally jumping to the top of a list. He manhandled the Midwest League as an 18-year-old last season, posting impressive numbers, including a .910 OPS, before jumping to Double-A for San Antonio’s playoff push. He struck out 17 times in 55 at-bats there, but he should start the season in Advanced-A ball and get an opportunity to continue growing and showing mad skills at a more appropriate pace.
14. Lewis Brinson, MIL, OF
The Brewers have a gluttony of young outfield talent, but they’ll need to make room for Brinson very soon, possibly making Keon Broxton a part-time player or moving Domingo Santana in a trade, as they were rumored to be doing. Brinson can fill-up the stat sheet, but he likely won’t hit at the level that his Pacific League-inflated numbers showed in 2017.
15. Triston McKenzie, CLE, RHP
McKenzie could be a monster for the Indians. He has impressive stuff and just as impressive results to this point in his career. He needs to put some beef on his frame (he is listed at 6’5″, 165 pounds) to become another workhorse for the Tribe, but the stuff is there to become a No.1 or No.2 starter.
16. Walker Buehler, LAD, RHP
Buehler made several unimpressive appearances out of the Dodgers bullpen in 2017, but he is a starter in the long run. He has moved quickly, as he should’ve as a college arm, jumping four levels to MLB last season. He’ll slow it down a bit and get more experience in Triple-A before arriving and becoming a solid No.2 or No.3 starter for the Dodgers.
17. Forrest Whitley, HOU, RHP
Whitley’s numbers are crazy good and his 6’7″, 240-pound frame and stuff will make him an incredible workhorse for the Astros. He had 143 strikeouts in 92.1 innings last season, reaching Double-A at the age of 20. He could make a few starts for Houston late in 2018, but a better ETA is Spring of 2019…for good.
18. Bo Bichette, TOR, SS
Bichette somehow gets overshadowed by another prospect in the Jays’ system, but he is just as important for their future…and he has put up more impressive numbers than Vlad, Jr.! He hit a ridiculous .362/.423/.565 as a 19-year-old, reaching Advanced A. The 41 doubles and 14 bombs show that he could continue to improve his power numbers in the future. He’s a star in his own right.
19. Mitch Keller, PIT, RHP
Keller caught my eyes in 2016 due to his 19 walks and 138 strikeouts in 130.1 innings, but he continued to show pitchability in 2017, reaching Double-A at the age of 21. He has allowed just 12 home runs in 293.1 career minor league innings, walking just 80. He has Tyler Glasnow ahead of him in the system, but he could make some noise if the Pirates end up dealing Gerrit Cole and other players while beginning a new rebuild.
20. Hunter Greene, CIN, RHP/SS
Greene is another possible two-way player, but the Reds really like the fastball, which can hit triple-digits, and overall stuff. Also a shortstop in high school, he was rated as the top talent in the 2017 draft and almost missed the signing deadline before finally signing on with Cincinnati. A tremendous athlete, it’s anyone’s guess as to where he ends up in the long-run, but he could accel at either position.
21. Austin Meadows, PIT, OF
Meadows has been around for what seems like forever. He’s still blocked in Pittsburgh, unless they trade Andrew McCutcheon, but he hasn’t done himself any favors by being injured so frequently while moving up through the system. He could afford more seasoning because of that; however, he could be a doubles machine upon his promotion.
22. Willy Adames, TB, SS
Adames hasn’t taken massive steps forward offensively, but he continues to produce consistently at each stop in the minors. He seems to be someone that you can count on for about 30 doubles, 12 homers, 10 stolen bases, and a .270/.360/.415 line, which isn’t bad at all for a shortstop!
23. Alex Reyes, STL, RHP
Reyes may have lost his luster after missing all of last seasons due to Tommy John surgery, but don’t forget about him. An innings-limit could hold him back, but he had the stuff to be a Carlos Martinez light. Keep in mind, his control wasn’t elite prior to the injury, so he could struggle with location…that’s just him.
24. Alex Verdugo, LAD, OF
Another prospect who is blocked by talent ahead of him, Verdugo is a hitter. He isn’t going to hit for tons of power, but he would be an excellent leadoff hitter to set the table for Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, and company in Los Angeles.
25. Luis Robert, CWS, OF
Robert had the luxury of getting the next biggest deal after Yoan Moncada out of Cuba, getting $26 million. He has power, speed, and an awesome approach at the plate. He should move quickly this year and could settle into a full-time role in Chicago by the middle of 2019, possibly sooner due to the lack of outfield talent on the current Chicago roster.
26. Brendan McKay, TB, LHP/1B
27. Luiz Gohara, ATL, LHP
28. MacKenzie Gore, SD, LHP
29. Austin Hays, BAL, OF
30. Kolby Allard, ATL, LHP
31. A.J. Puk, OAK, LHP
32. Royce Lewis, MIN, SS
33. Leody Taveras, TEX, OF
34. Kyle Wright, ATL, RHP
35. Nick Gordon, MIN, SS
36. Franklin Barreto, OAK, 2B/SS
37. Franklin Perez, DET, RHP
38, Willie Calhoun, TEX, 2B
39. Mike Soroka, ATL, RHP
40. Cal Quantrill, SD, RHP
41. Justus Sheffield, NYY, LHP
42. Jesse Winker, CIN, OF
43. Juan Soto, WAS, OF
44. Kyle Lewis, SEA, OF
45. Mickey Moniak, PHI, OF
46. Jorge Mateo, OAK, SS
47. Anthony Alford, TOR, OF
48. Jay Groome, BOS, LHP
49. Scott Kingery, PHI, 2B
50. Jack Flaherty, STL, RHP
51. Blake Rutherford, CWS, OF
52. Christian Arroyo, TB, 3B/SS
53. Ryan McMahon, COL, 1B
54. Yadier Alvarez, LAD, RHP
55. Dylan Cease, CWS, RHP
56. Jake Bauers, TB, 1B/OF
57. Chance Sisco, BAL, C
58. Michel Baez, SD, RHP
59. Michael Chavis, BOS, 3B
60. Sixto Sanchez, PHI, RHP
61. Chance Adams, RHP, NYY
62. Jorge Alfaro, PHI, C
63. Luis Urias, SD, 2B/SS
64. Alec Hansen, CWS, RHP
65. J.P. Crawford, PHI, SS
66. Danny Jansen, TOR, C
67. Kevin Maitain, LAA, SS
68. Adrian Morejon, SD, LHP
69. Matt Manning, DET, RHP
70. Tyler O’Neill, STL, OF
71. Jesus Sanchez, TB, OF
72. Adbert Alzolay, CHC, OF
73. Domingo Acevedo, NYY, RHP
74. Carter Kieboom, WAS, SS
75. Estevan Florial, NYY, OF
76. Taylor Trammell, CIN, OF
77. Stephen Gonsalves, MIN, LHP
78. Dustin Fowler, OAK, OF
79. Luis Ortiz, MIL, RHP
80. Jon Duplantier, ARZ, RHP
81. Tyler Mahle, CIN, RHP
82. Austin Riley, ATL, 3B
83. Jeren Kendall, LAD, OF
84. Keston Hiura, MIL, 2B
85. Alex Faedo, DET, RHP
86. Corey Ray, MIL, OF
87. Jose De Leon, TB, RHP
88. J.B. Bukauskas, HOU, RHP
89. Ian Anderson, ATL, RHP
90. Corbin Burnes, MIL, RHP
91. Joey Wentz, ATL, LHP
92. Miguel Andujar, NYY, 3B
93. Erick Fedde, WAS, RHP
94. Harrison Bader, STL, OF
95. Bobby Bradley, CLE, 1B
96. Yusniel Diaz, LAD, OF
97. Jhailyn Ortiz, PHI, OF
98. Starling Heredia, LAD, OF
99. Max Fried, ATL, LHP
100. Ryan Mountcastle, BAL, SS
Atlanta is so hot this time of year, and nothing is much hotter than “The Freeze”, a man in an uncomfortably tight leotard who uses his blazing speed to embarrass challengers in between innings. However, “The Freeze” isn’t the hottest thing within the Braves’ new SunTrust Park. That label belongs to its short-term first baseman, Matt Adams.
Adams was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals on May 20th, just two days after their All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman had his left wrist broken after being hit by a pitch. Since landing in the “A-T-L”, Adams has a .948 OPS with eight homers and 21 RBI in 24 games and 106 plate appearances.
“Big City” had become pretty useless in St. Louis, as the club decided to move Matt Carpenter to first base, with Jedd Gyorko, Aledmys Diaz, and Kolten Wong bringing “stability” to the rest of the infield. With Diaz in the midst of a sophomore slump and Wong dealing with injuries after his own bouts of ineffectiveness over the last two seasons, the Cardinals aren’t the same, competitive club as they seem to annually be. Still, they felt that Adams wouldn’t cut it in the outfield, even after his whopping 34 inning test-run in five starts there this season, taking a 19-year-old first base prospect in return to rid themselves of the 6’3″ slugger, even as the club rosters the likes of Tommy Pham, Chad Huffman, and Jose Martinez as options in left field today.
St. Louis’ focus on defense in left field has been the Braves’ offensive gain, and the Braves would be wise to continue to reap the benefits of Matt Adams when Freeman returns in July.
The Braves are in an interesting situation. Yes, they have the new stadium. Yes, they have an interesting blend of talent on their roster; however, they are in the midst of a rebuild, despite the presence of Matt Kemp, R.A. Dickey, and Bartolo Colon on their roster. Dealing Matt Adams at the deadline, or whenever Freeman returns, would benefit the club tremendously, as several teams could be interested in the slugger for their own playoff push.
Atlanta sits 10 games out of first place entering play today. Adams may be of value to a team like, say, the Yankees, whose first basemen have hit just .195/.298/.345 with eight home runs and 23 RBI all season (see Adams’ stats again since joining Atlanta!). Another team that could make some noise, if everyone gets healthy, would be Seattle, who could use an upgrade over Danny Valencia, who is the main culprit in the Mariners’ first basemen hitting just .244/.300/.368 with just six homers all season.
With an already crowded outfield and the likes of Ronald Acuna and Dustin Peterson racing their way to Atlanta and through the minors, the Braves should only consider Adams as a tradeable asset and not a piece of their future. If he continues to produce, his price tag only increases, but the club shouldn’t alter their current roster by trying to hold on to another solid first baseman…unless Major League Baseball suddenly adds the DH to the National League.
There are a lot of things that make prospects special – their incredibly smooth deliveries, their sweet swings, and their game-changing gloves; however, I don’t have time to travel around the country. Therefore, scouting becomes what baseball is all about – the numbers. Based on the numbers, here are some prospects to watch in the coming months:
(NOTE: CLICK ON THE BLUE HYPERLINK TO VIEW PLAYER STATS!)
The Midwest League is a difficult league for hitters, but you wouldn’t know that by taking a look at this 6′, 145 pound shortstop’s numbers. His .936 OPS ranks third in the league, enhanced by his recent surge at the beginning of June, as Palacios has hit .448/.467/.931 with three homers in six games. The Twins have a solid young core that has them leading the AL Central. He is a couple of years away, but could be another in a long line of successful Venezuelan shortstops, especially if he keeps up this pace.
Bichette, like Palacios, is tearing up the Midwest League. Although he was ranked as the Jays’ No.5 prospect by MLB.com, his production will lead to a lot of helium in his already solid stock. Having just turned 19 in March, Bichette has raked all season, posting a .381/.457/.614 line, pacing the league in OPS by 116 points. Playing alongside Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., the Lansing Lugnuts have the most productive left-side of the infield in the lower minors, with exquisite bloodlines to thank for a beautiful future in Toronto.
It is downright absurd that this 22-year-old is still in the Midwest League. His numbers are outrageous and warranted a promotion weeks ago. Overall, Duplantier has a 0.95 ERA and 0.78 WHIP over 66.2 innings with a 71:14 K:BB. He has some issues, mostly the abuse that goes along with all of the pitchers who once attended Rice University, which shelved him in his debut last season when he had elbow soreness. Still, taken in the 3rd round last season, Duplantier ranked No. 8 in the D-backs system prior to this onslaught and he’ll only continue to rise with dominance like this. k
Hey, look…another Mets’ pitching prospect. Maybe they won’t somehow ruin this arm. While he’s still 21 and successful in the minors, Humphreys is dominating the South Atlantic League to the tune of a 1.41 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, .164 BAA, and a 77:8 K:BB in 63.2 innings. An 18th round pick in 2015, Humphreys ranked 29th in the Mets’ system by MLB.com prior to the start of the season, and was said to be a “back of the rotation piece”; however, there could be more there.
At the age of 20, this former first round pick has managed to hit, probably more than expected. At 6’3″, he probably won’t be staying at shortstop, and with Manny Machado (pending free agency) around, Mountcastle will likely find himself in an outfield corner. Mountcastle’s 22 doubles and 12 home runs show a massive amount of potential for his bat to continue to mature as he continues to fill out his frame.
After a breakout campaign over two levels last season, Long returned to the Florida State League to dominate once again. He shouldn’t be there much longer. The 5’8″ left-handed hitting second baseman has 26 XBH to go along with a .911 OPS. With the Reds possessing many solid middle infield prospects, Long continues to show that he could be a huge part of the future by 2019.
I don’t know much about Reading. It is either a hitter’s paradise or a place where Phillies outfield prospects prosper – at least over the last couple of years. Last year it was Dylan Cozens and this year it is Pullin, who has seemed to find himself since arriving in Reading last season. This season, Pullin has been solid again (.307/.373/.564), but over 104 games in Double-A, Pullin is hitting .324/.382/.562 with 30 doubles and 22 home runs. The 23-year-old is a left-handed hitter and wasn’t ranked in the club’s top 30 prospects by MLB.com, but maybe he works himself into a very crowded outfield of respectable prospects…maybe even becoming trade bait.
Yes, that one. What a sad way to go. After signing a $10 million deal before seeing his first pitch as a top prospect, Singleton is now in Double-A, wasting away as the Astros invest their playing time in other players, like A.J. Reed and Yuli Gurriel. After being removed from the 40-man roster, he has received his guaranteed money and may get a buyout before he becomes a free agent after next season. His .233 average this season is hidden by his home runs and walks, which have inflated his OPS to .920, so he still has some value. Perhaps he’ll get a chance to produce for another organization after this season, but it would require a release. He will only be 26.
When the Toronto Blue Jays acquired RHP R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets following his 2012 Cy Young Award, they took a huge gamble. After all, this was a man who had just completed his age-37 season, but Dickey was very good over his three full seasons with the Mets and knuckleballers are able to pitch “forever”, right? Well, after investing $41 million into the knuckler, the Blue Jays are still without a title and Dickey is now floating pitches for Atlanta.
Unfortunately, the Blue Jays didn’t just invest millions of dollars. They gave up prospects to receive Dickey from the Mets, including C Travis d’Arnaud and the majestical, golden locks of RHP Noah Syndergaard.
Dickey’s 49-52 record and 4.05 ERA over his four seasons to the north would ultimately cost the Blue Jays a legitimate ace. While Toronto made the playoffs in Dickey’s final two seasons with the club, he wasn’t the ace – by any means – as RHP Marco Estrada, RHP Aaron Sanchez, RHP Marcus Stroman, and LHP J.A. Happ had gradually taken on larger roles in the rotation. The problem, however, was that none of the other pitchers could give the Blue Jays the innings necessary to go deep into the playoffs. With a lack of pitching depth around the incredible bats of 3B Josh Donaldson, OF Jose Bautista, and 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion, the Jays faltered in the ALCS the last two seasons.
While D’Arnaud has battled injuries…constantly…Syndergaard has become one of the best young arms in baseball, even leading the Mets to a World Series in 2015, winning his only start against the eventual champion Royals. Since the World Series loss, Syndergaard has thrown 202.2 innings, striking out 238 (10.6 K:9), and posting a 2.44 ERA (2.15 FIP). Still just 24 (25 in August), “Thor” has a microscopic 0.95 ERA and 0.84 WHIP thanks to his 20:0 K:BB over his first three starts and 19 innings of 2017. The Mets have control of their young ace through the 2021 season, which, clearly, leaves the Mets as the winners of this trade.
However, hindsight allows us to look back at this as miserable; it wasn’t always the case:
Anybody remember a team trading for 3 starters in one offseason who averaged 209 IP the season before? #BlueJays have done it this winter
Getting Dickey with LHP Mark Buehrle and RHP Josh Johnson was, on paper, a huge, smart investment. Injuries to Johnson and age affecting the results of Dickey and Buehrle didn’t allow this wonderful offseason to culminate into anything but a last place finish in the AL East in 2013. Bleacher Report had a nice collection, including Stark’s, that you can check out if you’d like.
There are prospects dealt every year. Hell, OF Michael Brantley became the “player to be named later” in the Indians’ deal that sent LHP CC Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 – and nine years later, “Dr. Smooth” is still rocking a Tribe uniform. You would think that teams would have learned about the value of those cost and team-controlled years, but we still see these types of deals. Risks are the norm when a team is chasing a title. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays’ gamble will likely go down with the acquisitions of Frank Robinson, John Smoltz, and Jeff Bagwell as one of the worst trades in baseball history, and Toronto fans will long for “Thor” as he continues to lead the Mets’ rotation for several years.
The series of trades that Toronto thought would bring them a title left their system bare. Sure, Sanchez and Stroman came up through their system, but when Syndergaard, LHP Justin Nicolino, RHP Henderson Alvarez, and RHP Anthony DeSclafani were dealt, the club’s depth took a hit. Now, sitting at 2-10 to start the 2017 season, the club needs a starter with Sanchez heading to the DL. What are their options? LHP T.J. House, RHP Mat Latos, and RHP Brett Oberholtzer. Another season without a title and another season with very little pitching depth at the Major League level, as many of their top pitching prospects are getting their first tastes of Double-A. They can always continue to just outscore the opposition, but it hasn’t worked this year. While we can look at this as the “Dickey deal”, it was so much more than that. The philosophy of buying a title by mortgaging the future is what continues to be problematic for the Jays.