Archive for the ‘ Baseball Rants ’ Category

Reds Facing Reality

The Cincinnati Reds are not good. They are currently 36-59, 21.5 games back of the Chicago Cubs, proud (?) owners of the third-worst record in MLB, and the occupants of last place in the NL Central. Anyone with a functioning brain saw this coming, even after their 5-1 start to the season, as the club traded away several pending free agents last season for prospects. The biggest questions should have been who was next and when. There have been rumors all over the place for several months about OF Jay Bruce, ranging from Toronto to Cleveland, but many will be shocked about the latest rumor:

Could DeSclafani be on the move? Courtesy: baseballessential.com

Could DeSclafani be on the move?
Courtesy: baseballessential.com

Reds’ RHP Anthony DeSclafani is an unlikely candidate to be dealt in the opinions of many Reds fans. He is a part of the rebuild, right? He is the only legitimate arm in the rotation, right? He is under team-control through 2020, so why would the Reds deal him?

Well, based on the results to this point, the Reds aren’t going to be contending in 2020, either. Dealing a pitcher, and a somewhat successful one at that, right now, will allow the club to acquire additional pieces that could help the club’s stagnant offense. While you want young, affordable, controllable talent, teams can also use that talent to acquire additional talent, and DeSclafani’s success makes him quite useful for those acquisitions.

Cincinnati ranks 20th in MLB in runs scored and 28th in OPS. Their pitching is horrific. They rank last in MLB in team ERA (5.32), WHIP (1.52), walks (401, 50 more than the next closest team) and HR allowed (161, a whopping 33 more than the next club). What’s odd is that the problem is across the board for the bullpen and rotation. They both rank last in ERA and WHIP (tied with Oakland).

Stephenson has pitched well in two starts for Cincinnati Courtesy: cincinnati.com

Stephenson has pitched well in two starts for Cincinnati
Courtesy: cincinnati.com

With young starters like John Lamb, Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed, and DeSclafani in the rotation, this type of catastrophic suck-capade is not unexpected. Luckily, the Reds have several other young starters who are nearing the majors to replace DeSclafani, or any other starter, including RHP Robert Stephenson, LHP Amir Garrett, RHP Tyler Mahle, RHP Nick Travieso, and RHP Rookie Davis all at or above Double-A.

However, Cincinnati is lacking tremendously in offensive talent. Their No.1 prospect, OF Jesse Winker, has battled injuries while struggling to a fairly empty .297/.387/.380 line as a 22-year-old in Triple-A. The major league club has watched Billy Hamilton fail to adjust and utilize his speed, as the speedster has lost playing time to Tyler Holt at times this season. OF Phillip Ervin and C Tyler Stephenson are far away, and the club hasn’t had C Devin Mesoraco for nearly two full seasons due to shoulder and hip injuries that have required surgeries.

As a homer for the Reds, it is easy to look at DeSclafani and want to build around him. He appears to be a solid, innings-eating workhorse. However, those aren’t No.1 starters. He is the equivalent of Mike Leake, a fine starter, but Cincinnati can’t count on him for anything more than middle-of-the-road numbers. If you can get legitimate prospects for that type of arm, you do it.

There is very little known about the type of return that could come from this type of deal, but the Cincinnati Reds would be foolish to not start with 3B prospect Joey Gallo, whose massive power and strikeout totals will bring immediate comparisons to Adam Dunn in the Queen City, but whose skill-set is something that the lineup is tremendously absent of after dealing Todd Frazier over the winter. Other names that must be mentioned are Jurickson Profar, OF Lewis Brinson, RHP Luis Ortiz, and LHP Yohander Mendez.

The Cincinnati Reds are not going to be competitive for several seasons. There is absolutely no one on the current roster who should be deemed untouchable – even OF Adam Duvall and 1B Joey Votto. If a team comes calling, management must listen. There are far too many years between where the Reds are right now and their “window” for a championship to have fallen in love with this club.

As much as fans hate to see talent leave, this is a business. Trade everyone!

 

 

2016 Midseason Top 100 Prospects

At the beginning of the 2016 season, I prepared a prospect list. Now, at the mid-point of the season, it is time to look at how that list has changed; whether because of performance or promotions, you’ll see a drastically different list of players to keep an eye on over the remainder of the 2016 season. (Click on the hyperlink to view the player page through Baseball Reference)

  1. Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

    Dodgers LHP phenom Julio Urias

    Dodgers LHP phenom Julio Urias

  2. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals
  3. Yoan Moncada, 2B, Boston Red Sox
  4. J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies
  5. Alex Reyes, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
  6. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
  7. Alex Bregman, 3B/SS, Houston Astros
  8. Brendan Rodgers, SS, Colorado Rockies
  9. Trea Turner, SS/CF, Washington Nationals
  10. Orlando Arcia, SS, Milwaukee Brewers
  11. Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves
  12. Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
  13. Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers
  14. Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox
  15. Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals
  16. Anderson Espinoza, RHP, Boston Red Sox
  17. David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies
  18. Amed Rosario, SS, New York Mets
  19. Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox
  20. Ozzie Albies, 2B/SS, Atlanta Braves
  21. Manuel Margot, OF, San Diego Padres
  22. Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians

    Indians Ginger Clint Frazier

    Indians Ginger Clint Frazier

  23. Lewis Brinson, OF, Texas Rangers
  24. Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Colorado Rockies
  25. Jorge Mateo, SS, New York Yankees
  26. Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins
  27. Willy Adames, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
  28. Nick Williams, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
  29. Raul A. Mondesi, SS, Kansas City Royals
  30. Bradley Zimmer, OF, Cleveland Indians
  31. Raimel Tapia, OF, Colorado Rockies
  32. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago Cubs
  33. Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees
  34. Gleyber Torres, SS, Chicago Cubs
  35. Jose De Leon, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
  36. Josh Bell, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates
  37. Amir Garrett, LHP, Cincinnati Reds

    Reds' LHP Amir Garrett is still transitioning from basketball - even with his outrageous numbers. Courtesy: Reds Reporter

    Reds’ LHP Amir Garrett is still transitioning from basketball – even with his outrageous numbers.
    Courtesy: Reds Reporter

  38. Francis Martes, RHP, Houston Astros
  39. Brent Honeywell, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
  40. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, Washington Nationals
  41. Joe Musgrove, RHP, Houston Astros
  42. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
  43. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
  44. Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Chicago Cubs
  45. Sean Newcomb, LHP, Atlanta Braves
  46. Jake Thompson, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
  47. Nick Gordon, SS, Minnesota Twins
  48. Luis Ortiz, RHP, Texas Rangers
  49. Tyler Jay, LHP, Minnesota Twins
  50. Brett Phillips, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
  51. Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres
  52. Franklin Barreto, SS, Oakland Athletics
  53. Yohander Mendez, LHP, Texas Rangers"Texas
  54. Alex Verdugo, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
  55. Josh Hader, LHP, Milwaukee Brewers
  56. Jorge Alfaro, C, Philadelphia Phillies
  57. Kevin Newman, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
  58. David Paulino, RHP, Houston Astros
  59. Phil Bickford, RHP, San Francisco Giants
  60. Tyler O’Neill, OF, Seattle Mariners
  61. Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
  62. Christian Arroyo, SS, San Francisco Giants
  63. Grant Holmes, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
  64. Brady Aiken, LHP, Cleveland Indians
  65. Jake Bauers, 1B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays
  66. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
  67. Erick Fedde, RHP, Washington Nationals
  68. Braden Shipley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
  69. Jesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds
  70. Justus Sheffield, LHP, Cleveland Indians
  71. Trent Clark, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
  72. Jack Flaherty, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
  73. Bobby Bradley, 1B, Cleveland Indians
  74. Francisco Mejia, C, Cleveland Indians
  75. Gavin Cecchini, SS, New York Mets
  76. Dominic Smith, 1B, New York Mets

    Smith is a 1B-only prospect who is actually worth monitoring Courtesy: metsmorizedonline.com

    Smith is a 1B-only prospect who is actually worth monitoring
    Courtesy: metsmorizedonline.com

  77. Mike Soroka, RHP, Atlanta Braves
  78. Carson Fulmer, RHP, Chicago White Sox
  79. Andrew Knapp, C, Philadelphia Phillies
  80. Luke Weaver, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
  81. Frankie Montas, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
  82. Mike Clevinger, RHP, Cleveland Indians
  83. Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
  84. Kolby Allard, LHP, Atlanta Braves
  85. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
  86. Anthony Alford, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
  87. Chris Shaw, 1B, San Francisco Giants
  88. Jorge Polanco, 2B, Minnesota Twins
  89. Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
  90. Javier Guerra, SS, San Diego Padres
  91. Tyler Beede, RHP, San Francisco Giants
  92. Adalberto Mejia, LHP, San Francisco Giants
  93. Derek Fisher, OF, Houston Astros
  94. Conner Greene, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
  95. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Atlanta Braves
  96. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Minnesota Twins

    Gonsalves could be a top 50 prospect by the end of the year Courtesy: milb.com

    Gonsalves could be a top 50 prospect by the end of the year
    Courtesy: milb.com

  97. Michael Kopech, RHP, Boston Red Sox
  98. Yusniel Diaz, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
  99. Josh Naylor, 1B, Miami Marlins
  100. James Kaprielian, RHP, New York Yankees

 

Fantasy Fix for 6/15: Who to Target and Avoid

As we get further into the season, the sample sizes of players has become a little more realistic. For those who say that players will correct themselves and hit “to the back of the baseball card.” That is the case for some players, while others actually breakout or stay in funks all season. Based on the “norms” of players, this should help you decide who to trade or sell high, who to target, and who to avoid like the plague.

Who to Target

Frazier has struggled, but he is still mashing and is a player to target.

Frazier has struggled, but he is still mashing and is a player to target. Courtesy: CBS Sports

Todd Frazier, 3B, Chicago White Sox

Frazier is sporting a pretty dreadful .206/.301/.466 line over 272 plate appearances. His average is driven down by his .185 BABIP, worst among qualified batters in MLB. If you’ve owned Frazier before, you know that the batting average isn’t what makes him valuable, but that number should certainly increase over the rest of the season, especially as Chicago heats up and the ball flies out of U.S. Cellular. Additionally, Frazier’s 19 bombs are 2nd in MLB and he has a .261 ISO and the highest walk rate of his career (11.4%). It should be a good summer for the Toddfather.

Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies

You should have probably targeted Arenado at the top of your draft, but, if you can deal for him, you need to find a way to get him on your team. He is tied for most homers in baseball after his shot on Wednesday afternoon and the 25-year-old could see additional growth over his 42 home run/130-RBI 2015 season. How is that possible? Well, his .260 BABIP is bound to increase closer to his career .287, and Arenado is striking out at the lowest rate of his career (10.5%) and walking at the highest rate of his career (10.5%). With Carlos Gonzalez slugging alongside him, at least until the trade deadline, the sky continues to be the limit for this young star.

Wacha looks pumped about being on this list. Courtesy: Washington Times

Wacha looks pumped about being on this list.
Courtesy: Washington Times

Michael Wacha, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

Wacha may fly under the radar because he won’t strikeout 200 batters per season in fantasy leagues, but he will win games (#killthewin) and post solid ERA and WHIP numbers. At least, that has been the case prior to this season. There’s nothing to say that he can’t get back on track. With a 2-6 record, 4.91 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, Wacha has many owners frustrated. However, his 3.48 FIP says that he can get things back on track. The fact that he plays on a perennial contender may help, but the Cardinals aren’t really the class of the NL Central any longer with the Cubs 9.5 games up going into Wednesday’s games. Grab Wacha from someone who is selling low and reap the benefits of reading my website. Thank me later.

Dallas Keuchel, LHP, Houston Astros

Last season’s AL Cy Young winner has struggled thus far, going 3-9 with a 5.54 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. He leads MLB in hits allowed and earned runs. It’s hard to say that he can improve on that line, but it appears that he may be able to do so. He does have a 3.82 FIP and he is still striking out a little over eight per nine innings; however, he’ll need to get his walks down in order for his overall numbers to improve. The Astros are still very good, despite their 31-35 record, and you don’t win 20 games and a Cy Young without some skills. Trust in his beard and abilities.

Players to Avoid

Call me a #hater if you want, but that BABIP makes Marte someone I wouldn't trust. Courtesy: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Call me a #hater if you want, but that BABIP makes Marte someone I wouldn’t trust.
Courtesy: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Starling Marte, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

Marte is having an excellent season, hitting a robust .335/.376/.502, with 26 extra-base hits and 19 stolen bases. At the age of 27, he is in the midst of the “Bill James prime” and has always been a gifted athlete; however, he hasn’t always been this lucky. Marte has a .416 BABIP, 56 points higher than his already impressive .360 career BABIP. He could certainly be “breaking out”, but this type of elevated statistic isn’t easy to keep up with all season. If you’re in a one-year re-draft, you may want to cash him in at this peak value.

Doug Fister, RHP, Houston Astros

Fister’s success is a feel-good story after battling through injuries and ineffectiveness in 2015 for the Nationals. The 32-year-old has a 7-3 record to go along with his 3.26 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. He’s back to his old self, like when he won 30 games over the 2013 and 2014 seasons, right? Wrong. His 4.75 FIP, 81.8 left on base percentage, .254 BABIP allowed, and career worst walk rate, scream regression. He has proven peripherals wrong for a number of years, due to his low strikeout totals, but he would need to prove it for another month before I’m buying. If you have him, sell high.

Walker has so much potential, but that is all that he has right now. Courtesy: Seattle Times

Walker has so much potential, but that is all that he has right now.
Courtesy: Seattle Times

Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners

Walker still has a lot of prospect hype surrounding him, but, at some point, the results need to catch up to that potential. To this point, the 3.69 ERA and 1.15 WHIP have hidden some ugly numbers for the 23-year-old. The 4.61 FIP is what screams regression, while the 18.4% FB:HR rate is terrifying as we enter the warmer months, especially when you consider the teams in the AL West and the way the ball flies out of those parks in the summer. Over his last seven starts, Walker is 1-4 with a 5.12 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, allowing a whopping 11 homers in 38.2 innings. His solid overall numbers are the result of his first six starts – when he was 2-2 with a 1.97 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, which he allowed just three home runs over 32 innings. He may be injured or the league made an adjustment. Either way, Walker isn’t as good as his statistics show right now – unless you can store him on your bench while he figures it out – if he ever does.

The Worst Reds Trade of My Generation

This was a bad trade, but my generation has its own Courtesy: Baseballhall.org

This was a bad trade, but my generation has its own
Courtesy: Baseballhall.org

When the Cincinnati Reds traded Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, Dick Simpson, and Jack Baldschun in December of 1965 because he was “old”, they were likely surprised when he went on to win the Triple Crown in the American League the next season for the Baltimore Orioles. It is a deal that still makes Cincinnati fans nauseous. However, for those who weren’t around then, we have our own version of that deal. It is a deal that rips out the heart of my generation of Reds fans, or, at least, it very well should.

The deal that has made me sick for the last several years was trading away Edwin Encarnacion AND Zach Stewart (who didn’t amount to anything but was a top ten prospect of the club’s at the time of the trade) along with Josh Roenicke (eh…he had a couple of solid seasons as a reliever) for one player – Scott Rolen.

At the time that the trade was made, the Reds were 45-57, 10 games out in the NL Central. They had Rolen under contract through 2012, and, after the 2009 season, Rolen restructured his contract, agreeing to a deferred signing bonus, to give the Reds some financial flexibility for spending. Still, what did they get in the deal?

Great glove. Great attitude. Great teammate. Courtesy: zimbio

Great glove. Great attitude. Great teammate.
Courtesy: zimbio

People who loved the trade will point to the 2010 season. The Reds won the NL Central and lost in the NLDS. Rolen was an All Star, he finished 14th in NL MVP voting, and he won his 8th and final Gold Glove award at third base. His leadership and personality were things that were mentioned often during his time with Cincinnati, and he was beloved by owner Bob Castellini and GM Walt Jocketty, who were both a part of the Cardinals during Rolen’s time in St. Louis.

However, for people who weren’t big fans of the deal – like me, I saw a player getting acquired on the downside of his career, adding payroll to a team that “couldn’t afford to sign” so many other talented players over the years. Then, my fears came true when Rolen played in a total of 157 games the next two seasons, posting a .244/.301/.397 line over 599 plate appearances. For all of the immeasurable positive things that he brought to the clubhouse, he wasn’t bringing it to the field. The Reds regressed immensely in 2011, going 79-83, before seeing Todd Frazier take over in 2012 and put up impressive numbers in his rookie season. Rolen’s career was over.

The ball takes flight off of his wing...a lot. Courtesy: Twitter

The ball takes flight off of his wing…a lot.
Courtesy: Twitter

Which brings me to the biggest problem with this trade – Edwin Encarnacion. Since the trade, this is all that Encarnacion has done:

  • 3,772 plate appearances
  • .868 OPS
  • 210 home runs
  • 600 RBI
  • wRC+: 134
  • Two-time All Star
  • Top 15 in AL MVP voting three times

Encarnacion turned 33 this past January. At the time of the trade, he was 26 years old, having come off of a productive season (2008 – 25 home runs and 68 RBI); however, he was struggling mightily in 2009 and had become a liability with the glove at third. Still, at just 26, it didn’t seem like a wise deal, and there was always the opportunity to move him to another position, such as the outfield.

When you add in the types of contracts that Encarnacion has had over the last several years, it stings more. He will have earned all of $48,175,000, including this season, since 2010. Since 2010, the Reds paid guys like Rolen $23,625,000 and Ryan Ludwick $17,000,000. Hindsight is 20/20 but when you acquire and trust aging players during a time that steroids aren’t able to be used due to stricter testing, these are the results.

I absolutely hated dealing Edwin Encarnacion in the deal for Scott Rolen, and I relive that deal each and every day like today – when Encarnacion knocks two homers and drives in five runs while Scott Rolen is retired…not playing baseball…and not helping the Reds become a better team.

Sure, we don’t know if Encarnacion would have blossomed on the Reds, but, if you’re a Reds fan, how nice would he look between Votto and Bruce today?

Statistically Scouting the Lower Minors – 6/11

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!)

Midwest League

This monster is a few years from crushing the ball in Wrigley Courtesy: Baseball Prospectus

This monster is a few years from crushing the ball in Wrigley
Courtesy: Baseball Prospectus

Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago Cubs

Signed as the No. 1 international prospect in 2013 for $2.8 million, the Cubs look to have another dynamic bat coming up through their system. The 6’4″, 200-pound right fielder is second in the MWL with eight home runs, while his 18 doubles show that the power is coming and will translate to future longballs. The rich are getting richer, though it will be at least a couple of more years before Jimenez is making it rain for the Cubbies.

Matt Hall, RHP, Detroit Tigers

The numbers speak for themselves with Hall, whose microscopic ERA and 10.24 K:9 scream that a promotion is needed, but not as much as his age. Though he is 22 – a bit old for the MWL, Hall was a 6th round pick in last year’s draft, so he just needed to get some innings in the minors. Still, he is ready for the Florida State League after dominating to this extent.

South Atlantic League

Brian Mundell, 1B, Colorado Rockies

Like Hall, Mundell was a 2015 college draftee (7th round), and, like Hall, Mundell is dominating his league as a 22-year-old. His 32 doubles are 11 more than the next closest player, while his .351 average is pacing the league by a whopping 26 points. Add in his solid approach (30:22 K:BB), and you have yourself a potential star in Colorado at first base…if he continues hitting like this as he moves up, which should happen soon.

Could Keller become the next homegrown talent for the Pirates? Courtesy: piratesprospects.com

Could Keller become the next homegrown talent for the Pirates?
Courtesy: piratesprospects.com

Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Keller could be creating his own version of “Mitchapalooza” by dominating and becoming the next big arm in the Pirates system. In his first taste of full-season ball, the 20-year-old, 6’4″ righty has a 69:6 K:BB and is holding opponents to a .195 BAA. When you strike out 10 per nine, don’t walk anyone, and don’t allow many hits, you can become a pretty valuable arm.

California League

Travis Demeritte, 2B, Texas Rangers

The Rangers don’t need much help up the middle, but Demeritte looks like a guy who can provide offensive production wherever he ends up playing. After ripping 25 homers in his age-19 season, Demeritte looks to be enjoying his time in the offensive heaven of the California league, having driven 15 bombs and 13 doubles in his first 58 games. There are some things he needs to work on, including his swing and miss, as his 80:31 K:BB in just 217 AB is grotesque. Plus, he was suspended for 80 games for PEDs last season. Still, power has value and Demeritte appears to have it.

Sam Howard, LHP, Colorado Rockies

Howard has received a promotion to Double-A after posting a 2.47 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over 65.2 innings, while holding opposing hitters to a .184 average. At 23, he is right where he needs to be now, and as a college arm, Howard could jump another level in 2016. He allowed a single run over 6.1 innings in his first Double-A start, so he doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Also, he’s left-handed and breathing, which is always useful.

Carolina League

Drew Ward, 3B, Washington Nationals

At 21, Ward is having his best season to date. He leads the Carolina League in OPS, matching his career-high with 10 homers this season. His 15 doubles show solid power, as well, but it is his 53:28 K:BB that shows the best improvement, as his 13% walk rate is, by far, his best in a full season league. At 6″3′, 215-pounds, Ward could continue to develop power and become a useful piece for the Nationals.

Matt Cooper, RHP, Chicago White Sox

At 24, you’re probably wondering why Cooper could be a prospect in Advance A-ball. Well, this is his first season as a starter and he has struck out 11.4 per nine. His 92 strikeouts, in 72.2 innings, top the league by 28 punchouts. The 2014 16th round pick out of Hawaii was dominant as a reliever prior to this season, and he looks like a solid late-round find by the White Sox.

Florida State League

Stewart could move quickly to Detroit Courtesy: MiLB.com

Stewart could move quickly to Detroit
Courtesy: MiLB.com

Christin Stewart, OF, Detroit Tigers

The Tigers’ 1st round pick last season, Stewart has shown impressive power (16 home runs and 12 doubles) and an advanced approach at the plate (60:43 K:BB) in his first taste of the FSL. As a college draftee out of Tennessee, he could move pretty quickly for the Tigers, who are in the middle of a “rebuild-while-winning” situation.

Chance Adams, RHP, New York Yankees

Adams was a 5th round pick last season by the Bronx Bombers. They eased him in as a reliever last season, but they have converted the 21-year-old to a starter this season. He has responded by striking out 11.4 per nine and holding opponents to a .196 BAA. At 6′, 215, he won’t intimidate, but you have to approve of the results.

 

 

Shocking Starts to 2016

With a little over a month of the season underway, there are several players at the top of the statistical leaderboards that would have been about as shocking as Leicester City winning the English Premier League, which I know absolutely nothing about, but it is apparently a big deal for soccer fans. For baseball fans, some of the players who have had incredible starts to the season are as recognizable as Leicester City and English Premier League. Get to know some players who have impressed in 2016!

Aledmys Diaz, SS, St. Louis Cardinals

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2016 25 STL 25 85 80 20 31 8 1 5 14 1 5 7 .388 .424 .700 1.124 56
1 Yr 25 85 80 20 31 8 1 5 14 1 5 7 .388 .424 .700 1.124 56
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/4/2016.
Diaz

Diaz – another example of the Cardinal way? Courtesy: Minor League Ball

Diaz has impressed in his first taste of the majors. It only took a torn thumb ligament in the left hand of Jhonny Peralta for the 25-year-old Cuban to get an opportunity. All that Diaz has done is lead MLB in OPS to this point. Diaz was better known for his glove when he was signed, and his results, all of 586 minor league at-bats, reiterated that. His .779 OPS in the minors screams that his production to this point will come back to earth; however, with Kolten Wong struggling and Peralta coming back at the beginning of June, Diaz could maintain enough playing time to continue to be productive, even if it isn’t at the incredibly high level that he has reached this season.

Chris Carter, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2016 29 MIL 25 101 87 17 25 10 0 9 21 0 11 29 .287 .356 .713 1.069 62
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/4/2016.

The Astros had Jon Singleton ready to go this spring, only to see him be really awful, resulting in his demotion to Triple-A. Of course, they didn’t have Carter any longer, as they didn’t tender him a contract. Now, Tyler White and Marwin Gonzalez top the depth charts for the Astros, as Carter has seen an impressive resurgence of his career with the Brewers. A one-year, $2.5 million deal looks like an absolute steal right now for Milwaukee, while this type of production from Carter may have helped Houston be where they were last season, rather than last place in the American League West; however, there’s no guarantee that he would be hitting at the levels that he is currently. He is just two years removed from a 37 homer season (albeit, with a .227 average).

Vincent Velasquez, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

Year Age Tm W L W-L% ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W Awards
2016 24 PHI 4 1 .800 1.44 5 1 1 31.1 18 8 5 2 10 39 296 2.45 0.894 5.2 2.9 11.2 3.90
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/4/2016.
Velasquez: Dominating for the Phillies Courtesy: phillymag.com

Velasquez: Dominating for the Phillies
Courtesy: phillymag.com

Velasquez was the prize of the trade that sent Ken Giles to the Astros, unless you think Mark Appel was that prize, and the 23-year-old has been as electric as his minor league numbers looked. Over 296.2 minor league innings, Velasquez averaged 10.7 K:9. This season, he has done wonderful things for Philadelphia. Velasquez has positioned himself as an anchor to a staff on the rebuild. After starting 16-11, the 100 loss season that PECOTA projected for the Phillies could be difficult to attain. Magically, Ruben Amaro, Jr.’s rebuild has done wonderfully to this point, even as he handles the first base coaching box for the Boston Red Sox.

Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners

Year Age Lg W L W-L% ERA G IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 BB9 SO9
2016 23 AL 2 1 .667 1.80 5 30.0 28 8 6 1 3 29 198 2.06 1.033 8.4 0.9 8.7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/4/2016.

Walker only had one good month in 2015 (July), and the rest of his season was what many young pitchers deal with – a roller coaster. The start of the 2016 season, however, has been a whole different story. All of those athletic-talented-future-dominant-starter labels that have been stuck to Walker seem somewhat reasonable now. In fact, they may not be strong enough labels. Walker is leading the AL in FIP, and his incredible walk rate screams “ACE”. He is putting it all together this season. Seattle is currently in first place, and with Felix Hernandez and Walker at the top of the rotation, the Mariners could be downright scary in a playoff.

Nomar Mazara, OF, Texas Rangers

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
2016 21 TEX 20 88 77 11 25 2 0 3 9 0 7 15 .325 .375 .468 .843 131 36
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/4/2016.
Mazara is a monster - and he will only get better!  Courtesy: Sporting News

Mazara is a monster – and he will only get better!
Courtesy: Sporting News

The Rangers seem to have a supply of talented players who rise up and become productive from their minor league system. What is most interesting about how things work out, however, is that players who are “can’t-miss” don’t seem to get a true opportunity with Texas. First, Jurickson Profar lost second base to Rougned Odor, and, now, it looks like Joey Gallo may have lost his opportunity to Mazara, who seems to have a stranglehold on the club’s right field job after a tremendous start to his major league career. The 6’4″ outfielder, who just turned 21 in April, has a body that could continue to fill out, and potential that seems about as limitless as any young player in baseball. While solid production from Mazara was to be expected, it certainly wasn’t expected this soon in his career.

Who did I miss? Who has been the most surprising player in baseball?

Hoover in a Vacuum

Chapman: A Reds' legend who can't be replaced.

Chapman: A Reds’ legend who can’t be replaced.

The Cincinnati Reds troubled themselves with the task of replacing a legend in 2016. With Aroldis Chapman heading towards free agency after this season and the team in rebuilding mode, the front office “cashed-in” by trading the dominant left-hander to the New York Yankees. Due to a pending domestic violence charge, some could argue that they received pennies on the dollar for the talented closer, but dealing Chapman was bound to leave a hole in the club in 2016, regardless of the immediate and future return on the players that the Reds received.

Chapman’s dominance is well documented. Along with Boston’s Craig Kimbrel, who was also acquired in an offseason deal, the closer role has been altered from a player capable of getting two-inning saves, like Mariano Rivera, into a player who has triple-digit, short-burst, maximum effort electricity, who strikes out the side on a nearly nightly basis. When Chapman was called upon in Cincinnati, his career 15.4 K:9 made the stadium light up with delight, while the cameras on everyone’s smartphones would turn to the radar reader to post his pitch-by-pitch brilliance to social media. Then, nine pitches later, after three hitters looked foolish, that one belonged to the Reds.

Hoover has an impossible task Courtesy: Rant Sports

Hoover has an impossible task
Courtesy: Rant Sports

For that reason, J.J. Hoover never had a chance.

Hoover was given the task of replacing a legend. On the heels of the NFL Draft, we saw the Denver Broncos replace the legendary Peyton Manning with Memphis’ Paxton Lynch, which was necessary after the heir apparent, Brock Osweiler, bolted for the Texans and loads of cash – which seems like a brilliant move after watching Matt Flynn and Nick Foles get rich off of a handful of starts, only to flame out as busts, but I digress. Perhaps it is too soon to call Chapman a legend, but his results are certainly worthy of that label. After all, he will certainly earn a spot in the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame if the “great” Chris Sabo was able to ride a couple of decent seasons and his rec-specs into the club’s lore.

Hoover won the quasi-competition for the closer’s role for the Reds in spring training, beating out the recently demoted Jumbo Diaz, to earn the role of replacing Chapman. Hoover was very good in 2015 in a setup role, at least on the surface, with a 2.94 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over 67 appearances and 64.1 innings; however, he posted a 4.41 FIP and the lowest K:9 of his career (7.3). This came after a disastrous 2014, when Hoover lost 10 games over 54 appearances, posting a 4.88 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 62.2 innings. Of course, he did strike out a career-high 10.8:9 that season, though his FIP was still 4.97. Still, taking out his 2014 season as the outlier, Hoover had been a very good relief pitcher for Cincinnati, including a 2.73 ERA over 164 appearances and 161 innings.

MemeUnfortunately, the 2016 season has been hellacious for Hoover. He has faced 48 batters, allowing 16 hits, walking six of them, and giving up a whopping five homers over 10 appearances and 8.2 innings. His 15.58 ERA and 2.53 WHIP have helped pace the Cincinnati bullpen in ineptitude. The Reds’ bullpen ranks dead last in ERA by nearly a half a run (6.29) and they have given up 19 home runs in 83 innings. Even the Braves could hit home runs off of the Reds bullpen! In those 83 innings, the Reds’ bullpen has given up more home runs than eight teams entire pitching staffs.

The responsibility of replacing Aroldis Chapman fell on J.J. Hoover, but the Reds and their fans should have known that there wasn’t really a chance of that happening. There are very few times that greatness is immediately replaced by something similar or superior, even with recent replacements like Aaron Rodgers for Brett Favre or Andrew Luck for Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. The Reds had a similar task. The Reds also had the task of fielding a competitive team, compiling a group of 25 men who could lead them to a World Series. Instead, they took the business side of baseball and focused on bobbleheads, going into rebuild mode and saving money over putting a quality product on the field. That is not J.J. Hoover’s fault. The bullpen was in shambles all offseason and ownership chose to plug in parts instead of addressing the team’s true needs.

J.J. Hoover is struggling in a role that he wasn’t guaranteed to ever have success in. He has never been a closer, despite filling that role when Chapman needed a day off to earn five career saves going into the 2016 season. There have been plenty of excellent relievers who have moved to the closer’s role and failed in the past. Hoover has simply been miscast in a role that he isn’t fit to hold. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, there isn’t anyone better for that position. Hoover doesn’t need time in Triple-A, he doesn’t need to be cut, and he doesn’t need to be traded by Cincinnati. Hoover simply needs to be put back into the role that he had success in.

Hoover doesn’t “suck”, Hoover, in a vacuum, is an excellent middle reliever and setup man, but he isn’t a closer.

 

2016 Predictions and Useless Guesses

It is that time of year again – when I make a fool out of myself by guessing who will end up as the 2016 MVPs, Cy Young Winners, Manager and Rookie of the Year winners, and name some sleepers. Last season, I boldly guessed that Mike Redmond would win the NL Manager of the Year award…but he was fired on May 19 after starting 16-22. So much for that. I did have some decent predictions, like Nolan Arenado breaking out and…well, that’s about it. It wasn’t a great year for inferences for me.

However, 2016 is going to be very different! Without further ado…

Bautista may not be worth $150 million, but he can still carry the Jays

Bautista may not be worth $150 million, but he can still carry the Jays

AL East

1. Toronto Blue Jays

2. Baltimore Orioles

3. Tampa Bay Rays

4. New York Yankees

5. Boston Red Sox

Who will be better? Kluber or Carrasco?

Who will be better? Kluber or Carrasco?

AL Central

1. Cleveland Indians

2. Kansas City Royals

3. Chicago White Sox

4. Detroit Tigers

5. Minnesota Twins

He's great. Now.

He’s great. Now.

               AL West

1. Houston Astros

2. Texas Rangers

3. Los Angeles Angels

4. Seattle Mariners

5. Oakland Athletics

AL Wild Cards

Kansas City Royals

Baltimore Orioles

NL East

1. Washington Nationals

2. New York Mets

3. Miami Marlins

4. Atlanta Braves

5. Philadelphia Phillies

 NL Central

1. Chicago Cubs

2. Pittsburgh Pirates

3. St. Louis Cardinals

4. Milwaukee Brewers

5. Cincinnati Reds

                                                                          NL West

It's an even year...bet on the Giants!

It’s an even year…bet on the Giants!

1. San Francisco Giants

2. Arizona Diamondbacks

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

4. Colorado Rockies

5. San Diego Padres

NL Wild Cards

Pittsburgh Pirates

                                                                 New York Mets

World Series Prediction

Washington Nationals over Toronto Blue Jays in six games

Courtesy: Bleacher Report

Courtesy: Bleacher Report

AL Manager of the Year: John Gibbons, Toronto Blue Jays

This HAS to be the year for Toronto. Why? Because both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are free agents after the 2016 season, and early negotiations didn’t appear to go well, with rumors of “Joey Bats” wanting $30 million per year in his age 35 to age 40 seasons. Ask Nelson Cruz about being an aging slugger in the open market- how’d that go for him when he *settled* for a one-year deal for $8 million following the 2013 season? Still, Gibbons has a lot of talent to work with right now. With reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson, a full season (maybe – pending health) from Troy Tulowitzki, and the two mashing free-agents-to-be, the Jays will have the power and offense to outscore anyone, which is just what they’ll have to do with their patchwork pitching staff. Gibbons will work some magic there, however, and lead Toronto back to the ALCS and an eventual World Series appearance.

Courtesy: azcentral.com

Courtesy: azcentral.com

NL Manager of the Year: Chip Hale, Arizona Diamondbacks

Dave Stewart and Company have done some really wacky things since taking control of the Arizona front office; however, they have a really interesting team, quietly building around superstar Paul Goldschmidt with pieces and parts that could be All-Star caliber producers. After signing Zack Greinke and acquiring Shelby Miller, having Goldschmidt with A.J. Pollock and David Peralta provide punch in the lineup, along with a returning Patrick Corbin in the rotation, could lead to a sneaky breakout by the Snakes in a wide-open NL West. Hale, who has had success managing throughout the minors and led the Diamondbacks to a 16-game improvement from 2014 to 2015 in his first season. Arizona may miss the playoffs, but they’ll certainly be a thorn in the side of the league in 2016 thanks to talent and Hale’s management of the club.

Machado - getting even better.

Machado – getting even better.

AL MVP: Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore Orioles

Machado doesn’t turn 24 until July, but it seems like he has been around for a while already. Most of that time, he has been compared to the great Alex Rodriguez, and he proved that comparison was legitimate last season. Machado improved his strikeout and walk rates dramatically last season, while his hard contact rate also jumped – which was behind his 35 home runs – a whopping 21 more than his previous career-high (2013) – while he also stole 20 bases! More of the same should be expected, as Machado continues to fill out his body and fill up box scores. He’ll lead Baltimore to the postseason in 2016, with a bat that is as valuable as his glove, making him one of the most dominant players in the game.

NL MVP: Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals

Harper won the NL MVP in 2015 after posting a 9.5 WAR in his age-22 season. He put it all together, blasting 42 home runs and leading MLB with a 1.109 OPS and 197 wRC+. He’s going to be better in 2016. The only thing that would prevent that from happening would be an intensity that makes injury-risk a possibility for Harper on every play…or getting walked like Barry Bonds. The sky is still the limit for this young man, and he continue his ascension to greatness in 2016.

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AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, LHP, Chicago White Sox

After leading the AL in strikeouts and FIP on his way to setting career-bests in strikeout and walk rates, Sale could improve his overall numbers in 2016. The four-time All-Star will finally get the award that he has earned by posting a 2.95 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 10.3 K:9 over the last four seasons for Chicago. He’ll continue to look like he could be blown away due to his frame, while dominating the opposition on his way to his finest season yet. Perhaps he will even win this one for Drake LaRoche.

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Kershaw disappointed in 2015, seeing his ERA balloon to 2.13 on his way to a 3rd place finish for the NL Cy Young. That is, of course, sarcasm, as Kershaw led the league in complete games, shutouts, innings, strikeouts, and FIP. He will lead a depleted Dodgers rotation, taking on the innings that they won’t get from the other rotation members, as he continue being the Sandy Koufax of our generation. Enjoy it while it lasts!

AL Rookie of the Year: Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins

For purposes likely tied to free agency control, the Twins didn’t give Berrios a look at all in 2015, even though he could have been the club’s best starting pitcher the moment that he joined the rotation. He has tremendous command of his stuff, and he continues to improve as he rises up through the system, which is an excellent sign for the pitching-starved Twins. The knock on Berrios is his height, but after watching Johnny Cueto, Yordano Ventura, Marcus Stroman, and Tim Lincecum (not as much recently) over the last several years, no one will be looking down on this young man when he can pitch the way that he can.

The Dodgers are loaded with talent and Seager is a monster

The Dodgers are loaded with talent and Seager is a monster

NL Rookie of the Year: Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

Seager was the No.1 prospect on my prospect list this winter, after the 21-year-old followed up a roasting of the minors with 98 at-bat barrage on Major League pitching, posting a .337/.425/.561 triple-slash in his cup of coffee. He looks like the Dodgers’ Opening Day shortstop (pending injury news) and he could thrive in a lineup with so many other talented players around him. He could easily become one of the top two players offensively for this club immediately, especially with the questions surrounding Yasiel Puig after his down 2015 season. While he may not fit at shortstop for his entire career, Seager is capable of a 20/20 season at short in his first full season.

10 BOLD Predictions

  1. Jeff Samardzija rebounds in AT&T Park and the spacious parks out west to become a top 20 starting pitcher. He strikes out over 200 and logs 200 innings, becoming a tremendous compliment to Madison Bumgarner in the San Francisco rotation.
  2. Buxton could be special...as early as this season!

    Buxton could be special…as early as this season!

    Byron Buxton steals 40 bases and shows glimpses of power, topping out at 15 home runs, while showcasing elite-level defense. The Twins finish in last place in the AL Central, but Buxton and Miguel Sano are All-Stars.

  3. Joey Votto walks 130 times. There is no reason to pitch to him with the rest of the Reds lineup as incapable of producing as an army of ants.
  4. Starlin Castro becomes an All-Star at second base for the New York Yankees, leading the American League in hits. The change of scenery was necessary and helped him find his groove.
  5. Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco become as dominant together as Kershaw and Greinke were in Los Angeles in 2015…with slightly higher ERAs. They win 35 or more games, log 450 or more innings, and strike out 470 or more batters combined.
  6. A Rule 5 pick worth high fiving about! Blash can BASH! Courtesy: mighty1090.com

    A Rule 5 pick worth high fiving about! Blash can BASH!
    Courtesy: mighty1090.com

    Jabari Blash is the best Rule 5 pick since Johan Santana, as he becomes the Padres best position player in 2016. The Mariners weep as Nori Aoki starts 155 games in left with less than Blash-y production.

  7. Mike Trout finishes outside of the top 3 in AL MVP voting because his WAR declines due to Jared Weaver giving up 85 home runs in 115 innings, not allowing Trout to flash his glove, range, and UZR skills.
  8. Billy Hamilton loses the center field job to Phillip Ervin in June. Ervin starts hitting how he did at Samford and soars through Double-A and Triple-A. Hamilton is recalled in September to be a pinch-runner, stealing 25 bases in one month and winning fantasy leagues for those who stashed him.
  9. Pablo Sandoval goes on a hunger strike until he is given the third base job over Travis Shaw. He is never seen again. The Red Sox eat his contract and release him, which is funny because he ate his own contract and couldn’t let go of food. Irony.
  10. Lorenzo Cain is a top 5 WAR position player due to his great defense and his continued breakout. Cain finishes with 20 HR/30 SB and 100 runs scored.

10 BOLD Sleepers

  1. Patrick Corbin, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks: This guy is two years removed from Tommy John surgery, and he is throwing harder than he ever did before. Keep in mind, he won 14 games, struck out 178, and had a 3.41 ERA over 208.1 innings in 2013, his last full season, before looking very good over 16 starts last season.
  2. Carlos Rodon, LHP, Chicago White Sox: Rodon will either look as dominant as Sale or look like he hasn’t been on a mound before in his life. The stuff is there to be elite, but it is so strong that he has to figure out how to harness it still. This is the year that he does.
  3. "Pirates'Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: Polanco had a slight bump in ISO last year, but that slight bump should be a significant bump in his 2016 season. At the age of 24, Polanco will change some of those 35 doubles into home runs in 2016, as that long, lanky body begins to fill out. Look for 15 to 20 bombs in 2016 with a slight drop in his 27 steals – since he’ll be busier rounding the bases in a trot.
  4. Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers: A six-time All-Star and one-time Cy Young winner isn’t typically a sleeper, but Verlander sort of returned to form in the second half of last season, posting a 2.80 ERA over 103 innings and 15 starts. While the 8.30 K:9 over those starts isn’t his elite level, it also was much higher than his down 2014. Over 20 starts, Verlander had a 3.38 ERA and 3.49 FIP, while he is still below the league average in HR/FB%. If you can get him late, Verlander is worth a look in fantasy. If you don’t play fantasy, his girlfriend is worth a look in your own fantasy.
  5. Ian Kennedy, RHP, Kansas City Royals: After finishing 9-15 with a 4.28 ERA while pitching half of his games in San Diego, it seemed rather shocking that the Royals would give up a draft pick and pay $70 million over five years for Kennedy; however, Dave Eiland has worked miracles before, and Kennedy looked a bit more like himself in the second half, when he posted a 10.5 K:9. He can’t do any worse than Cueto did after K.C. acquired him from the Reds in the middle of the 2015 season. Count on Eiland, Kennedy, and an impressive defense to get his numbers back to respectability.
  6. Eduardo Escobar, SS, Minnesota Twins: Danny Santana had the Twins shortstop job going into 2015 after a breakout 2014. Then, he lost the job and Escobar ran away with it, ripping 31 doubles and 12 home runs over 127 games and 446 at-bats. While he isn’t going to do a whole lot more than that (he doesn’t run), he could, in his age-27 season, see those numbers improve over a full season where he isn’t sharing the job.
  7. Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Baltimore Orioles: I’ve been a Schoop fan for about four and a half years now. He has power and he has absolutely no plate discipline, as evidenced by his career 203:23 K:BB over 817 plate appearances. But we are in an offense-starved era, and the Orioles have other players with similar profiles who have developed into solid producers (see Jones, Adam). Schoop had 32 extra-base hits (including 15 homers) in just 86 games and 321 plate appearances. He’s capable of 25 home runs and 30 doubles…possibly even 15 walks…over 550 plate appearances. He turned 24 in October and is primed for further opportunities and a potential breakout.
  8. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies: Imagine a place with a high altitude where balls travel far. Now…imagine a shortstop who had 70 extra-base hits (20 HR) and 22 stolen bases between Double-A and Triple-A. That would be this 23-year-old, who, with Jose Reyes‘…ahem…issues, should be in line for plenty of playing time for the Rockies to start the season. He and Nolan Arenado could provide some pretty impressive numbers on the left side of the infield.
  9. Courtesy: federalbaseball.com

    Courtesy: federalbaseball.com

    Joe Ross, RHP, Washington Nationals: The younger brother of Padres pitcher Tyson Ross, Joe Ross is in a great situation in Washington. At 22, he seems unlikely to be bumped from the rotation when Lucas Giolito is ready – that is likely going to be Tanner Roark, who pitched out of the bullpen most of the 2015 season. Ross did a really nice job in his 76.2 innings last year, posting an 8.1 K:9 and walking just 2.5 per nine. It is quite possible that he outperforms Gio Gonzalez in the Nationals’ rotation in 2016.

  10. Colin Rea, RHP, San Diego Padres: Rea had eye-popping numbers in Double-A last year (1.08 ERA, .185 BAA in 75 innings), which promptly elevated once promoted to El Paso (a hitter’s paradise). He held his own in his taste of the majors last season, posting a 4.26 ERA and holding opponents to a .246 average. Now, he’ll have an improved defense behind him, Rea, 25, is ready to take his fastball that can touch 95 to a pitcher’s paradise. Let’s hope he can do better than Ian Kennedy did last year. He is capable of Kennedy’s production – minus the strikeouts.

Were Pirates Unfair To Gerrit Cole?

The more things change the more they seem the same. In 1987 the Cleveland Indians mistreated the face of their franchise causing the player to walk out of camp. Now, 29 years later the Pittsburgh Pirates have followed the Tribe’s lead and mishandled a simple pre-arbitration contract with Gerrit Cole.

Gerrit Cole.png

After leading all of Major League baseball in RBI in 1986 the Cleveland Indians Senior Vice President Dan O’Brien made the decision to ignore Carter’s request of a modest raise ($437,000) and renewed his contract at a salary of $250,000 (up from $190,000 in 1986). The renewal led Carter to walk out of camp stating that “he’d been pushed too far.”

Unfortunately for Carter the Super 2 system was not in place (part of the 1990 Basic Agreement) and he was still 29 days shy of three years of service time. “Next year I’ll have three years in and I’ll set the rules.” Carter said. “What goes around comes around, I’ve dealt with them fairly but they haven’t done the same with me and my agent.”

The move was a public relations nightmare for the Indians and the negotiations eliminated any chance the Indians had of developing a long term relationship with one of their brightest young stars. It worked out well in the end for the Indians as prior to the 1990 season Carter was dealt to the San Diego Padres in a trade that paid dividends as they acquired Sandy Alomar Jr., Carlos Baerga, and Thomas Howard in the deal.

On Saturday afternoon n Bradenton Florida Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Rob Biertempfel reported that Gerrit Cole grudgingly signed a deal renewing him at the same $541,000 ($531,000 base + $10,000 bonus for All-Star game) that he made in 2015. (Even Joe Carter received a $60,000 raise in his salary that left him unhappy.)

Last season Cole delivered 208 high quality innings posting a 19-8 mark with a 2.60 ERA. Although not arbitration eligible he, like Carter before him, is just short of a big boost in salary ending the 2015 campaign just 29 days short of Super 2 status (2 years, 140 days).

According to Cole the Pirates initial offer was actually $538,000 which is less than his total compensation in 2015 and they refused to go above the $541,000 mark. “They even threatened a salary reduction to the league minimum if I did not agree.” Cole said.

According to Biertempfel, General Manager Neal Huntington did not respond to a request for comment about the situation but club officials said that the $538,000 represented the maximum raise a player can be awarded in the pre-arbitration salary negotiations.

Cole’s agent Scott Boras asked “What kind of message is that send to players?” Adding that if Cole played for the Mets he’d get well over $650,000. If he played for the Marlins he’d get more than the Pirates will pay.”

It does seem rather peculiar that a team with a commodity as dynamic and important as Gerrit Cole is would want to take every opportunity to keep him happy and reward him for his performance.

On the other hand, Cole is a Scott Boras client and the odds of a Chris Archer/Corey Kluber type long term extension are slim and none. The most likely outcome for the Pirates is that Cole is healthy and productive with them for the next two years and then he’s dealt for a package or players that lay the foundation for the future.

It could be said that the Indians ruined the chance at signing Carter to a long term extension when they renewed him as they did while the only side effect for the Pirates will be having a disgruntled player on their hands.

It should be noted, that however unhappy Carter may have been with the salary negotiations that led to him walking out of camp he was productive in 1987 batting .264/.304/.480 with 32 homers. Over the next three seasons with the Tribe he hit .259/.303/.474 with 94 homers.

Cole may be an unhappy Pirate but this most likely will not translate to a decline in performance on the mound. It will however lead to a very interesting exchange of arbitration numbers following the season.

Do the Pirates believe that the $8MM signing bonus paid to Cole after drafting him as the overall #1 pick in 2011 is the most reward he’s going to see? As if that $8MM is part of this pre-arbitration package?

In the end, the odds of extending Cole to a contract extension were slim and none prior to this fiasco but they could have handled the process with a lot more class than they did.

Image Credit: (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

 

 

 

Top 300: 2016 Fantasy Baseball Rankings

It’s that time of year! Teams are reporting for Spring Training, and baseball is alive and well, taking its rightful place from February through October, developing excitement for those with the creative, poetic minds necessary to appreciate it. With that being said, there are also many who like to lay down their cash and try to win their fantasy leagues. While fantasy baseball will never be as popular as the once-per-week lineup construction for fantasy football, it still has its place. For those who love it, here is this season’s Top 300:

NOTE: Don’t forget to check out the Top 100 Prospects for 2016 while you’re here!

1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

He's still number one Courtesy: Sports on Earth

He’s still number one
Courtesy: Sports on Earth

2. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

4. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays

5. Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

6. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins

7. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

8. Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore Orioles

9. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies

10. Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros

11. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

12. Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

13. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays

14. A.J. Pollock, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

15. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers

16. Dee Gordon, 2B, Miami Marlins

17. Max Scherzer, RHP, Washington Nationals

18. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox

19. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs

20. Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

21. Chris Sale, LHP, Chicago White Sox

22. Jake Arrieta, RHP, Chicago Cubs

23. Mookie Betts, OF, Boston Red Sox

24. Chris Davis, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles

25. Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

26. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, San Francisco Giants

27. David Price, LHP, Boston Red Sox

28. Todd Frazier, 3B, Chicago White Sox

29. J.D. Martinez, OF, Detroit Tigers

30. Starling Marte, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

31. Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado Rockies

32. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins

33. Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets

34. Carlos Gomez, OF, Houston Astros

35. Matt Carpenter, 2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals

36. George Springer, OF, Houston Astros

37. Corey Kluber, RHP, Cleveland Indians

Cleveland ace Corey Kluber

Cleveland ace Corey Kluber

38. Robinson Cano, 2B, Seattle Mariners

39. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

40. Yoenis Cespedes, OF, New York Mets

41. Buster Posey, C/1B, San Francisco Giants

42. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers

43. Jacob deGrom, RHP, New York Mets

44. Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners

45. Lorenzo Cain, OF, Kansas City Royals

46. Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies

47. Brian Dozier, 2B, Minnesota Twins

48. Nelson Cruz, DH, Seattle Mariners

49. David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox

50. Prince Fielder, 1B, Texas Rangers

51. Dallas Keuchel, LHP, Houston Astros

52. Jason Heyward, OF, Chicago Cubs

53. Kenley Jansen, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

54. Justin Upton, OF, Detroit Tigers

55. Carlos Carrasco, RHP, Cleveland Indians

56. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Toronto Blue Jays

57. Wade Davis, RHP, Kansas City Royals

58. Kyle Schwarber, C/OF, Chicago Cubs

59. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox

Bogaerts may be on his way to a top 20 finish - this spot is a steal if you get him here.

Bogaerts may be on his way to a top 20 finish – this spot is a steal if you get him here.

60. Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Boston Red Sox

61. Adam Jones, OF, Baltimore Orioles

62. Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

63. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins

64. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers

65. Zack Greinke, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

66. Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington Nationals

67. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets

68. Ian Kinsler, 2B, Detroit Tigers

69. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

70. Aroldis Chapman, LHP, New York Yankees

71. Sonny Gray, RHP, Oakland Athletics

72. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves

73. Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle Mariners

74. Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

75. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

76. Cody Allen, RHP, Cleveland Indians

77. Jon Lester, LHP, Chicago Cubs

78. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals

79. Matt Kemp, OF, San Diego Padres

80. Hunter Pence, OF, San Francisco Giants

81. Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels

82. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

83. Ken Giles, RHP, Houston Astros

84. Johnny Cueto, RHP, San Francisco Giants

85. Adam Eaton, OF, Chicago White Sox

86. Jose Reyes, SS, Colorado Rockies

87. Michael Brantley, OF, Cleveland Indians

88. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, New York Yankees

89. Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers

90. David Peralta, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

91. Ben Revere, OF, Washington Nationals

92. Brandon Belt, 1B/OF, San Francisco Giants

93. Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers

94. Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians

95. Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins

96. Danny Salazar, RHP, Cleveland Indians

97. Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

98. Kole Calhoun, OF, Los Angeles Angels

99. Corey Dickerson, OF/DH, Tampa Bay Rays

100. Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles DodgersYasielPuigBatFlipSide

101. Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

102. Brian McCann, C, New York Yankees

103. Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

104 Adam Wainwright, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

105. Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals

106. DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Colorado Rockies

107. Mark Melancon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

108. Zach Britton, LHP, Baltimore Orioles

109. Tyson Ross, RHP, San Diego Padres

110. Evan Gattis, DH, Houston Astros

111. Garrett Richards, RHP, Los Angeles Angels

112. David Robertson, RHP, Chicago White Sox

113. Drew Smyly, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

114. Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies

115. Hanley Ramirez, 1B, Boston Red Sox

116. Jeurys Familia, RHP, New York Mets

117. Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Texas Rangers

118. Randal Grichuk, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

119. Jeff Samardzija, RHP, San Francisco Giants

120. Cole Hamels, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies

121. Hector Rondon, RHP, Chicago Cubs

122. Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds

Reds OF and speedster, Billy Hamilton

Reds OF and speedster, Billy Hamilton

123. Khris Davis, OF, Oakland Athletics

124. Neil Walker, 2B, New York Mets

125. Francisco Rodriguez, RHP, Detroit Tigers

126. Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas Rangers

127. Daniel Murphy, 2B/3B, Washington Nationals

128. Jordan Zimmermann, RHP, Detroit Tigers

129. Ender Inciarte, OF, Atlanta Braves

130. Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays

131. Byung Ho Park, 1B, Minnesota Twins

132. Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF, Chicago Cubs

133. Kendrys Morales, DH, Kansas City Royals

134. Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds

135. Brett Gardner, OF, New York Yankees

136. Russell Martin, C, Toronto Blue Jays

137. Jose Quintana, LHP, Chicago White Sox

138. Francisco Liriano, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

139. Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, Washington Nationals

140. Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals

141. Shawn Tolleson, RHP, Texas Rangers

142. Michael Wacha, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

143. Kevin Pillar, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

144. Michael Pineda, RHP, New York Yankees

145. Jonathan Papelbon, RHP, Washington Nationals

146. Dellin Betances, RHP, New York Yankees

147. Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers

148. Raisel Iglesias, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

149. Brett Lawrie, 2B/3B, Chicago White Sox

150. Billy Burns, OF, Oakland Athletics

151. Carter Capps, RHP, Miami Marlins

152. Justin Turner, 3B, Los Angels Dodgers

153. Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, New York Yankees

154. Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP, Seattle Mariners

155. Jake McGee, LHP, Colorado Rockies

156. Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Mets

157. Scott Kazmir, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

158. Ian Desmond, SS, FREE AGENT

159. Wei-Yin Chen, LHP, Miami Marlins

160. Brandon Crawford, SS, San Francisco Giants

161. Huston Street, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

162. Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves

163. Steven Souza, Jr., OF, Tampa Bay Rays

164. Delino DeShields, Jr., OF, Texas Rangers

165. Lucas Duda, 1B, New York Mets

166. Jaime Garcia, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals

167. John Lackey, RHP, Chicago Cubs

168. Mike Fiers, RHP, Houston Astros

169. Jung-Ho Kang, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates

170. Brad Ziegler, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

171. Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Baltimore Orioles

172. Matt Duffy, 3B, San Francisco Giants

173. Mark Teixeria, 1B, New York Yankees

174. Logan Forsythe, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays

175. Josh Harrison, 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates

176. Steven Matz, LHP, New York Mets

177. Travis d’Arnaud, C, New York Mets

178. Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs

Russell is a star in the making, who won't be overshadowed by Bryant and Schwarber for too long.  Courtesy: My Cubs Today

Russell is a star in the making, who won’t be overshadowed by Bryant and Schwarber for too long.
Courtesy: My Cubs Today

179. Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals

180. Jhonny Peralta, SS, St. Louis Cardinals

181.Gio Gonzalez, LHP, Washington Nationals

182. Kenta Maeda, RHP, Los Angels Dodgers

183. Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds

184. Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Chicago Cubs

185. A.J. Ramos, RHP, Miami Marlins

186. Shelby Miller, RHP, Atlanta Braves

187. Alex Wood, LHP, Los Angels Dodgers

188. Carlos Santana, 1B, Cleveland Indians

189. Anibal Sanchez, RHP, Detroit Tigers

190. Mike Leake, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

191. Darren O’Day, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

192. Stephen Vogt, C/1B, Oakland Athletics

193. Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore Orioles

194. Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati Reds

195. Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles

196. Howie Kendrick, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers

197. Alex Rodriguez, DH, New York Yankees

198. Andrew Miller, LHP, New York Yankees

199. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City Royals

200. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox

201. Tony Watson, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

202. Erick Aybar, SS, Atlanta Braves

203. Victor Martinez, DH, Detroit Tigers

204. Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit Tigers

205. Wil Myers, 1B/OF, San Diego Padres

206. Billy Butler, DH, Oakland Athletics

207. Derek Norris, C/1B, San Diego Padres

208. Justin Bour, 1B/OF, Miami Marlins

209. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Washington Nationals

210. Starlin Castro, 2B/SS, New York Yankees

211. Brad Boxberger, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

212. Brad Miller, 2B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays

213. Denard Span, OF, San Francisco Giants

214. Alcides Escobar, SS, Kansas City Royals

215. Josh Reddick, OF, Oakland Athletics

216. Roberto Osuna, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

217. Lance McCullers, RHP, Houston Astros

218. Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Pederson collapsed after the HR derby in Cincinnati. He'll get back on track in 2016. Courtesy: lockerdome.com

Pederson collapsed after the HR derby in Cincinnati. He’ll get back on track in 2016.
Courtesy: lockerdome.com

219. Ketel Marte, SS, Seattle Mariners

220. Sean Doolittle, LHP, Oakland Athletics

221. Patrick Corbin, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

222. Steve Cishek, RHP, Seattle Mariners

223. Joe Panik, 2B, San Francisco Giants

224. Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

225. Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs

226. Luis Severino, RHP, New York Yankees

227. Collin McHugh, RHP, Houston Astros

228. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners

229. Joe Ross, RHP, Washington Nationals

230. Jesse Hahn, RHP, Oakland Athletics

231. Phil Hughes, RHP, Minnesota Twins

232. Carson Smith, RHP, Boston Red Sox

233. Brett Anderson, LHP, Los Angeles Dogers

234. Doug Fister, RHP, Houston Astros

235. Drew Storen, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

236. Danny Duffy, LHP, Kansas City Royals

237. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Los Angeles Angels

238. Pedro Alvarez, 1B/DH, FREE AGENT

239. Alex Gordon, OF, Kansas City Royals

240. Danny Valencia, 3B, Oakland Athletics

241. Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

242. Yu Darvish, RHP, Texas Rangers

243. R.A. Dickey, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

244. Aaron Altherr, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

245. Aaron Nola, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

246. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Boston Red Sox

247. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

248. Tyler Lyons, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals

249. Will Smith, LHP, Milwaukee Brewers

250. Stephen Piscotty, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

251. Joey Gallo, OF, Texas Rangers

252. Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

253. Adam Conley, LHP, Miami Marlins

254. Tommy Milone, LHP, Minnesota Twins

255. Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets

256. Kevin Jepsen, RHP, Minnesota Twins

257. J.T. Realmuto, C, Miami Marlins

258. James Shields, RHP, San Diego Padres

259. Glen Perkins, LHP, Minnesota Twins

260. Domingo Santana, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

261. Jayson Werth, OF, Washington Nationals

262. Vincent Velasquez, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

263. Santiago Casilla, RHP, San Francisco Giants

264. Dexter Fowler, OF, FREE AGENT

265. Anthony DeSclafani, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

266. Rick Porcello, RHP, Boston Red Sox

267, Avisail Garcia, OF, Chicago White Sox

268. Cesar Hernandez, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies

269. Matt Holliday, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

270. Wilson Ramos, C, Washington Nationals

271. Keone Kela, RHP, Texas Rangers

272. Clay Buchholz, RHP, Boston Red Sox

273. Joakim Soria, RHP, Kansas City Royals

274. Joe Mauer, 1B/DH, Minnesota Twins

275. Jason Hammel, RHP, Chicago Cubs

276. Derek Holland, LHP, Texas Rangers

277. Jean Segura, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks

278. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins

Twins OF Byron Buxton is ranked low right now, but won't be next season

Twins OF Byron Buxton is ranked low right now, but won’t be next season

279. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

280. Devon Travis, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays

281. Josh Tomlin, RHP, Cleveland Indians

282. Ryan Madson, RHP, Oakland Athletics

283. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Cleveland Indians

284. Mitch Moreland, 1B/DH, Texas Rangers

285. Marco Estrada, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

286. Henderson Alvarez, RHP, Oakland Athletics

287. Ian Kennedy, RHP, Kansas City Royals

288. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Atlanta Braves

289. Koji Uehara, RHP, Boston Red Sox

290. Robbie Ray, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

291. Erasmo Ramirez, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

292. Rich Hill, LHP, Oakland Athletics

293. Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

294. Marcus Semien, 3B, Oakland Athletics

295. Kevin Siegrist, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals

296. Welington Castillo, C, Arizona Diamondbacks

297. Seung-Hwan Oh, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

298. J.J. Hoover, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

299. David Wright, 3B, New York Mets

300. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

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