Archive for the ‘ Baseball Rants ’ Category

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

Cincinnati and Jocketty Continue to Pass the Blame While Failing Their Rebuild

"Yes, I'll take whatever you're offering. I'm on my way out anyway." Courtesy: Redleg Nation

“Yes, I’ll take whatever you’re offering. I’m on my way out anyway.”
Courtesy: Redleg Nation

I spent time in December defending Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, and it is time to do it again. During the Reds recent caravan, the club’s manager, Bryan Price, dropped this zinger:

“It looks like Brandon is with us. Brandon, for me, is a second baseman of tremendous value and talent, it’s hard to just assign someone else that job. If Brandon’s with us, I expect him to be playing second base.”

Oh? It does appear that the player who the club offered an extension to, giving him 10-and-five rights, is still “stuck” with the club – or is it that the club is “stuck” with him? This, apparently, came after both Walt Jocketty and Price had praised the club’s new, future second baseman, Jose Peraza, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the three-team deal that sent fan favorite Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox.

Phillips didn't turn his back on the Reds - it's the other way around Courtesy:datdudebp.com

Phillips didn’t turn his back on the Reds – it’s the other way around
Courtesy:datdudebp.com

Oh? So, the team that has spent the whole offseason trading away their talent for lesser talent is now going to try to make the upcoming 90-plus loss season the fault of a 35-year-old who refused to move away. At one time, that was called loyalty. It was waiting out the horrendous contract that Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin was given to finish his career in Cincinnati, but, now…Phillips is the problem. He’s blocking the super prospect now.

The problem with this thinking, however, is that the Reds acquired a “ready” talent without knowing that they were going to be able to deal the veteran. This is the equivalent of the club dealing for young talent and acquiring the top first base prospect in baseball. Without the designated hitter, the kid would be riding the pine in favor of Joey Votto. So, why are the Reds pinning this stall in the rebuild on a player?

This fiasco is the fault of Walt Jocketty and Walt Jocketty only. Major League Baseball is not the NFL – you don’t need multiple, elite play-makers at a single position. You need to have a steady flow of talent within your minor league system, and you deal a player like Yasmani Grandal when you have a Devin Mesoraco ahead of him for the long-term. That made sense four years ago when the club was dealing young talent for proven talent and acquiring Mat Latos from the Padres. Now, Jocketty has a very unimpressive farm system that has a dearth of offensive producers, even after dealing Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, and Frazier since last July. Jesse Winker is the great hope for the future, and he profiles as a corner outfielder who is going to hit about 15 home runs, and if you think Peraza is the answer…you have that scum Phillips blocking him at second.

The problem continues to be the Baseball Operations side of things in Cincinnati. The organization continues to try to pass the blame elsewhere, but it starts and finishes there. For a positive change in Cincinnati, it is Jocketty who needs to go. Quit with the small-market nonsense. Get someone in there with a plan that can work.

 

CBA Hurting Players: All-Star Free Agents Unsurprisingly Remain

Cespedes is still a free agent...thanks to the CBA. Courtesy: Fox Sports

Cespedes is still a free agent…thanks to the CBA.
Courtesy: Fox Sports

The current MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement was put into place in 2011 and expires on December 1st of 2016. With the expiration, it is likely that players will find a way or work towards eliminating the current draft pick compensation. While the qualifying offer protects small-market teams and allows them to receive compensation for losing a player, it also comes with driving the price of free agents down. For that reason, players who receive qualifying offers need to truly be elite, or they pay the price in the open market.

From 2012 to 2014, all 34 players who received qualifying offers rejected them; however, after the 2015 season, a whopping 20 players received offers, with three players – Matt Wieters, Colby Rasmus, and Brett Anderson – accepting the one-year, $15.8 million deals (the average annual value of the top 125 salaries in baseball), while a fourth, Marco Estrada, agreed to a two-year deal with Toronto. Unfortunately, there are several others who are still seeking roster asylum.

Gallardo is still homeless due to draft pick compensation. Courtesy: MLB

Gallardo is still homeless due to draft pick compensation.
Courtesy: MLB

The market for Ian Desmond, Yovani Gallardo, and Dexter Fowler has been slow to develop, while we saw recent late signings for Ian Kennedy and Justin Upton, who, finally, received long-term deals with the newly popular opt-out clauses worked into those deals. In addition to Desmond, Gallardo, and Fowler, here are other names still available:

Cliff Lee, Mark Buehrle, Tim Lincecum, Doug Fister, Kyle Lohse, Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, Alex Rios, Greg Holland (Tommy John surgery), Marlon Byrd, David Freese, Pedro Alvarez, Mike Minor (coming off of shoulder surgery), Alfredo Simon, Matt Joyce, Ike Davis, Bronson Arroyo (Tommy John surgery), Juan Uribe, and superstar slugger Yoenis Cespedes.

Interestingly enough, the players above do not require draft pick compensation; however, many clubs now value the cost effective, team control mantra that comes with youth movements, while refraining from the over-inflated, under-performing, declining veteran deals, which causes the shelf period for players in free agency to continue to lengthen.

It certainly makes sense for clubs to give young players additional opportunities, especially if they have very little chance to succeed in a given year. Many teams will likely attempt to match the Houston Astros complete, disgraceful collapse and eventual successful rebuild, rather than giving $8 million to a 38-year-old infielder. The perfect example of this would be my hometown Cincinnati Reds plugging last year’s shortstop, Eugenio Suarez (who gives way at short after Zack Cozart‘s return from a knee injury), in at third base instead of signing David Freese or Juan Uribe to give mediocre production at a much greater cost.

Giancarlo Stanton is guaranteed $318.5 million by the end of the 2027 season - if he doesn't opt-out after 2020.

Giancarlo Stanton is guaranteed $318.5 million by the end of the 2027 season – if he doesn’t opt-out after 2020.

Free agency for the elite players continues to be lucrative. Free agency for large market clubs continues to be a bountiful way to reload a roster quickly. However, free agency for small-market clubs and lesser players continues to be a battle of patience, as offers are slow to develop until desperation sinks in.

All of this goes back to ways that clubs and owners are able to manipulate the market. Qualifying offers and compensation picks protect clubs, but there is still no true protection for the players – outside of that whole guaranteed contract thing. There is so much money in baseball. Though some people complain about how much players are paid, they certainly are due their fair share of the pot. That isn’t happening right now. If players continue to sit out deep into the offseason, it is fair to cry collusion among the owners. Billionaires battling millionaires. You have to love first world problems.

Early Projections Show Cubs Potential Dominance

Remember that time that the Chicago Cubs won 97 games and weren’t even that good. Yeah…that was last year. Only, it wasn’t that they weren’t that good, it was more that they didn’t have their best players out there for the entire season. A full season of OF Kyle Schwarber and 3B Kris Bryant could be enough to get the team to 100 wins. Then, you have to factor in the addition of OF Jason Heyward, and this team is downright scary.

You don’t believe me? Just visit the 2016 Steamer projections over at Fangraphs.

Based on Steamer, the Cubs have three of the top 11 overall position players (based on WAR), as Bryant ranks 7th (5.6), with 1B Anthony Rizzo (5.1) and Heyward (4.8) coming in at 10th and 11th, respectively. If that wasn’t enough, RHP Jake Arrieta (5th, 5.2) and LHP Jon Lester (14th, 4.4) give the Cubs two of the top 15 most valuable starting pitchers in baseball.

With all of this top-tier talent, Fangraphs has the Cubs projected to lead MLB in wins, using their crystal ball to estimate that the lovable losers will earn 95 wins in 2016.

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

However, it isn’t just the top-tier talent that the Cubs possess. They also signed 2B Ben Zobrist to take over second base, trading 2B/SS Starlin Castro to the Yankees for RHP Adam Warren, who is can fill a role in the bullpen or the rotation, while opening up shortstop for SS Addison Russell, who turns 22 later this month and will offer improved defense at short and another player with a full season of production, as Russell spent a brief amount of time in the minors in 2015 – similar to Bryant. RHP John Lackey was also added to the rotation, adding another veteran arm to the rotation, solidifying that group for another possible postseason run. If Chicago keeps OF Jorge Soler, since he was rumored to be on the move for pitching earlier this winter, and actually have a full, healthy season out of him, that give the Cubs a 24-year-old who could blast 25 or more home runs from right field.

The front office may not be done with re-working the club for 2016, as they hope to build a consistent winner. Even with a loaded MLB roster, the Cubs possess an incredibly talent group of players in the minors, several of which made my 2016 Top 100 Prospect List, including: SS Gleyber Torres, OF Billy McKinney, RHP Duane Underwood, RHP Carl Edwards, Jr., OF Albert Almora, OF Ian Happ, and RHP Pierce Johnson.

In 2016, the Chicago Cubs are capable of much, much more than they accomplished in 2016. After signing Heyward away from the division-rival St. Louis Cardinals, they are the front runners for the NL Central and the World Series championship. Sure, there are 162 games to play, health to maintain, and possible regression and decline for some of their veterans, but with so many young, gifted, and talent players on their roster, and continuing through the minors, it will be a new team dealing with a new curse, as the billy goat sacrifices will finally come to an end around Wrigley Field.

 

 

 

Mariners Almost Didn’t Draft Griffey Jr.

Griffey Jr

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Ken Griffey Jr. was the number one overall selection by the Seattle Mariners in the 1987 amateur draft. After a career in which he slashed .284/.370/.538 including 630 homers and winning nine gold gloves he received 99-percent of the votes for enshrinement into Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

Coming out of high school the baseball world was well aware of the five tool potential of Junior as he starred for Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati Ohio.

Despite the glowing scouting reports former Seattle Mariners General Manager Chuck Armstrong tells Major League Baseball Network Radio that he Junior wasn’t the clear cut choice for the Mariners.


Hear the full interview with Armstrong here:


Back in 1987 Mariners owner George Argyros was attempting to purchase the San Diego Padres; therefore, then Commissioner  Peter Ueberroth put the Mariners in trust and made Chuck Armstrong the Chief Executive Officer.

One caveat to the arrangement was that Armstrong and company still had to get permission for all moves from Argyros.  As the draft approached in the M’s had four players targeted (Junior, Mike Harkey, Mark Merchant, and Willie Blanks).

According to Armstrong the choice to select Junior with the overall number one pick was met with resistance by Argyros who preferred the team select Harkey who was a college player and closer to the big leagues than the raw high schooler Junior.

Drafting players in baseball requires thorough scouting but there is also a certain amount of luck involved. The Mariners front office was able to convince Argyros that Junior was the better selection than Harkey and the rest is history.

Incentives and Risk: How Kenta Maeda Could Change MLB

Could Maeda change the way MLB teams negotiate contracts? Courtesy: Yahoo Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers struck out on re-signing Zack Greinke, allowing the 32-year-old to take his NL-leading 1.66 ERA and 0.84 WHIP to the division-rival Arizona Diamondbacks, who locked up Greinke’s golden locks with a massive six-year, $206.5 million deal. The Dodgers added some rotation depth by taking a risk on Scott Kazmir, whose career rebound hit a snag when he hit a wall in September, going 0-2 with a 6.93 ERA and 1.74 WHIP over his final five starts and 24.2 innings; however, the 3.10 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 183 innings over the 2015 season may have spoken louder to the Dodger brass than his collapse in Houston. Then, the Dodgers added Japanese, right-handed sensation Kenta Maeda, who signed an eight-year, $25 million deal, which was loaded with incentives, leading to a possible $100 million-plus deal.

Maeda, who had a 2.39 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over eight seasons and 1,509.2 innings in Japan, was given an incentive-laden deal due to some issues that came up with his physical. While the Dodgers still paid the $20 million fee to negotiate with, and eventually land, the 27-year-old, the elbow issues that scared Los Angeles into this type of offer may have been worrisome to other teams, as well.

This deal speaks to Maeda’s willingness to prove himself, but it also could speak volumes for teams and players in the future. The “Prove-It” contract has been around for quite some time, as the good ol’ “never-met-a-bad-one-year-contract” folks will approve of. It’s why the Indians giving Kazmir a look for much less than the three-year, $48 million that the Dodgers paid was so brilliant back in 2013. But there is brilliance on both sides of this contract.

For the player, you are guaranteeing yourself much less than the market value; however, if you are healthy and productive year after year, you are handsomely rewarded. Additionally, for those who are locking up years of arbitration, there is no risk of being non-tendered due to an injury, as your team would have to release you and eat the remaining guaranteed seasons if they didn’t want to maintain your spot on the 40-man roster.

Would Trout have taken an incentive-based deal? Courtesy: Sports on Earth

Would Trout have taken an incentive-based deal?
Courtesy: Sports on Earth

For example, if Mike Trout was offered a ten-year, $75 million deal after his first season with incentive multipliers for various Triple Crown stats that could have made the deal worth up to $140 to $150 million, wouldn’t he have taken it? Imagine a 20-year-old who could guarantee himself $7.5 million over the next ten seasons, while protecting himself in case of a Grady Sizemore or Tony Conigliaro type of catastrophic, injury-related collapse…

Sure, the guaranteed money is what makes the Major League Baseball contract so welcoming to the player and so damning to the teams, but, in today’s financial market, isn’t $7.5 million chump change? Teams are willing to give lesser players $14.8 million per year on one-year deals as qualifying offers to land an additional draft pick.

Incentives could end of suffering of teams and fans over declining players with long-term deals.

Incentives could end of suffering of teams and fans over declining players with long-term deals.

The teams, while taking the financial risk, also protect themselves from paying someone, like Ryan Howard, huge annual salaries when they aren’t producing at the levels necessary to be worthy of such a deal. Yes, teams are content with getting a WAR of 28 from the first three seasons of a Mike Trout-type of player for roughly $1.8 million dollars in salary, but wouldn’t it be nice to know that you could have that player into his prime on agreed to incentives into his early 30s? Imagine if the Braves had given Jason Heyward, who just received $184 million over eight years from the Cubs, a deal similar to this. During his productive seasons, he would have earned more money, while the arbitration period wouldn’t have been able to look at one or two very good seasons to say that he was worthy of such significant raises to price him out of the team’s future.

With the top players in the league earning more than $30 million per season, there is certainly a reason for the Player’s Union to avoid this type of commitment. There isn’t a reason for the top players to earn $20 million with incentives when they could guarantee $30 million per year, right? This would give teams and owners too much power; however, there are positive risks involved on both sides.

Can Maeda’s contract change the way that teams negotiate contracts? I think it may be better for the game to reward players for production in this way, while not forcing fans of the Phillies to watch Ryan Howard collapse for $25 million per season and strangle the financial side of the franchise for years to come. With so much money available through television contracts and MLB Advanced Media, maybe it is time for the league, the owners, and its players to find new, creative ways to utilize it…without a salary cap.

Hall of Fame Vote

The 2016 MLB Hall of Fame class is another group that could lead to an overflowing crowd of supporters in Cooperstown, New York next summer. After watching Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio give lengthy speeches last summer, it could (and should) be a much larger group of inductees, as the museum and its voting privileged try to come to grips with the reality in the backlog, logjam, and cluster&%$# of names, due to their own stupidity, has led to.

Luckily, many of the writers are becoming more credible by making their ballots public, which leads to the early favorite for the worst ballot: Earl Bloom, who is the only person to have publicly voted for Garret Anderson.

Of course, I was ridiculed publicly, and privately, for my own vote last season, after having said that David Ortiz is the greatest DH of all-time, and I will be redeeming myself with my vote this season and detailing why Edgar Martinez is that man. I have this wonderful opportunity due to the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA). Here is some free advertising:

The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) was created July 4, 2009 to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).

The IBWAA seeks neither to replace nor disparage the BBWAA, but does offer distinctions. While the BBWAA requires ten years and hundreds of dollars of paid membership for writers to earn a Hall of Fame vote, the IBWAA has no waiting period, with a $20 annual membership fee ($35 lifetime).

In the vast majority of cases, the BBWAA requires the tying of a writer’s online work to a print publication for admission; the IBWAA does not. The IBWAA believes that the hoops an applying writer has to jump through to join the older organization are too many and too narrow, and welcomes all Internet baseball writers. Those with his or her own baseball website of any kind or scope are invited to join, as are those who contribute the written word anywhere within the baseball blogosphere.

Enough of that. Below, you’ll see my 15 votes for the 2016 MLB Hall of Fame.

NOTE: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Mike Piazza were elected by the IBWAA and do not appear on the list for that reason.

Barry Bonds:

The all-time home run king (asterisk if you’d like) was the most feared hitter of his era, and possibly of all-time when you consider his career intentional walks, also a MLB record. He juiced…so did most of the top players. Say what you want about integrity of the game, but Bonds still had to hit the ball, and he did it better than anyone else.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB IBB
22 Yrs 2986 12606 9847 2227 2935 601 77 762 1996 514 2558 1539 .298 .444 .607 1.051 5976 688
162 Game Avg. 162 684 534 121 159 33 4 41 108 28 139 83 .298 .444 .607 1.051 324 37
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Roger Clemens:

Another “juicer” who prolonged his career with the help of medicine, Clemens was a workaholic well before the steroids became his enhancer. The career that Clemens had is Hall worthy, and he was a master of his craft and dominant during an era that was dominated by the juicing hitters.

Year W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
24 Yrs 354 184 3.12 709 118 46 4916.2 4185 1885 1707 363 1580 4672 143 3.09 1.173 7.7 2.9 8.6 2.96
162 Game Avg. 17 9 3.12 34 6 2 236 201 91 82 17 76 224 143 3.09 1.173 7.7 2.9 8.6 2.96
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Ken Griffey, Jr.:

The smile, the swing, the glove…”The Kid”. Griffey has a clean image in a tarnished era. No one truly knows who was using and who wasn’t, but the assumption is that Griffey was the one who was doing it the right way. Injuries derailed his chance of holding Hank Aaron’s record that Bonds now has, but Junior certainly has a long-lasting legacy of greatness that will, quite possibly, earn him the highest Hall vote in history.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
22 Yrs 2671 11304 9801 1662 2781 524 38 630 1836 184 1312 1779 .284 .370 .538 .907 136 5271 246
162 Game Avg. 162 686 594 101 169 32 2 38 111 11 80 108 .284 .370 .538 .907 136 320 15
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Trevor Hoffman:

Hoffman and his changeup held the record for all-time saves until Mariano Rivera and his cutter took it away shortly after his retirement. His long-term success and dominance help his case, even if he closed out his career in less-than-Rivera-fashion.

Year W L ERA G GF SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
18 Yrs 61 75 2.87 1035 856 601 1089.1 846 378 347 100 307 1133 141 3.08 1.058 7.0 2.5 9.4 3.69
162 Game Avg. 4 5 2.87 68 56 39 72 56 25 23 7 20 74 141 3.08 1.058 7.0 2.5 9.4 3.69
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Jeff Kent:

Kent was similar in his success at the keystone position as Cubs’ great Ryne Sandberg. He may have been helped by having Bond hit in front of him for several seasons, but he still had to complete his job, and he did so tremendously. He was a force, a five-time All-Star, and an MVP. He didn’t have the defensive chops of Ryno, but the bat was much more impressive for a longer period of time.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
17 Yrs 2298 9537 8498 1320 2461 560 47 377 1518 94 801 1522 .290 .356 .500 .855 123 4246 61
162 Game Avg. 162 672 599 93 173 39 3 27 107 7 56 107 .290 .356 .500 .855 123 299 4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Edgar Martinez:

The greatest DH of all-time. Edgar at his peak was a monster, earning a 39.8 WAR from 1995-2001 while playing all of 33.1 innings over seven games in the field. Add in his impressive WAR from 1990-1992 (17.2) while manning third base, and you can see that he was a pretty special player before moving to DH. Sure, he may not have the home run totals of David Ortiz, but he was a far superior player, especially his peak seasons.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
18 Yrs 2055 8674 7213 1219 2247 514 15 309 1261 49 1283 1202 .312 .418 .515 .933 147 3718 113
162 Game Avg. 162 684 569 96 177 41 1 24 99 4 101 95 .312 .418 .515 .933 147 293 9
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Fred McGriff:

“The Crime Dog” was a monster for several clubs, and his constant changing of teams makes him an intriguing case for the Hall, as he didn’t spend more than five years with any team over his 19 seasons. Additionally, he fell just short of the once-impressive 500 home run club. When you consider his career stats are most similar to Hall of Famers like Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, and Frank Thomas, you can see why McGriff belongs alongside his peers in Cooperstown, especially since he hasn’t been connected to any steroid stories.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
19 Yrs 2460 10174 8757 1349 2490 441 24 493 1550 72 1305 1882 .284 .377 .509 .886 134 4458 171
162 Game Avg. 162 670 577 89 164 29 2 32 102 5 86 124 .284 .377 .509 .886 134 294 11
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Mark McGwire:

McGwire helped save the game after the 1994 strike with his incredible home runs. He couldn’t stay healthy, and it could be due to all of the steroids in his system, but his numbers and production are just as valuable as the PED-based shoulders that carried the game back into some semblance of respectability – until the league decided to frown on the same things that lifted it up.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
16 Yrs 1874 7660 6187 1167 1626 252 6 583 1414 12 1317 1596 .263 .394 .588 .982 163 3639 150
162 Game Avg. 162 662 535 101 141 22 1 50 122 1 114 138 .263 .394 .588 .982 163 315 13
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Mike Mussina:

“Moose” was a workhorse and a winner for a team that never won in Baltimore. While he only won 20 games once (his final season), he was a model of consistency and won 117 more games than he lost due to his efforts.

Year W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
18 Yrs 270 153 3.68 537 536 57 23 3562.2 3460 1559 1458 376 785 2813 123 3.57 1.192 8.7 2.0 7.1 3.58
162 Game Avg. 17 10 3.68 34 34 4 1 226 219 99 92 24 50 178 123 3.57 1.192 8.7 2.0 7.1 3.58
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Gary Sheffield:

The bat speed, the production, the attitude…Sheffield had it all. He, like McGriff, never found a long-term home. It doesn’t change the fact that his prime and peak seasons were seasons for the ages. He dominated the opposition and was feared for a long period of time. Who knows if he was a juicer – even if he was, he was one of the best players of the era.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
22 Yrs 2576 10947 9217 1636 2689 467 27 509 1676 253 1475 1171 .292 .393 .514 .907 140 4737 130
162 Game Avg. 162 688 580 103 169 29 2 32 105 16 93 74 .292 .393 .514 .907 140 298 8
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Lee Smith:

Smith redefined the closer role and if the Hall has room for Bruce Sutter, it certainly has room for Smith for the same reason. It’s actually baffling that Smith, who has 178 more saves and a much longer, successful career, isn’t in and Sutter is…but that’s just my opinion.

Year W L ERA G GF SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
18 Yrs 71 92 3.03 1022 802 478 1289.1 1133 475 434 89 486 1251 132 2.93 1.256 7.9 3.4 8.7 2.57
162 Game Avg. 5 6 3.03 68 53 32 85 75 31 29 6 32 83 132 2.93 1.256 7.9 3.4 8.7 2.57
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Sammy Sosa:

As mentioned above with McGwire, Sosa was loved by all during the home run barrage of the late 90s and early 2000s, but baseball turned their back on him and the other juicers once the Mitchell Report was released. Sure, he’s tainted, but he was an incredible talent whose love of the game and long tenure with the lovable losers in Chicago made him an easy person to root for. He has blemishes but so did MLB during his time. He deserves to be in Cooperstown.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
18 Yrs 2354 9896 8813 1475 2408 379 45 609 1667 234 929 2306 .273 .344 .534 .878 128 4704 154
162 Game Avg. 162 681 607 102 166 26 3 42 115 16 64 159 .273 .344 .534 .878 128 324 11
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Alan Trammell:

Trammell was ARod, Ripken, Larkin, Garciaparra, and Tejada before those guys happened. His ability to hit and field at shortstop helped lay the path for talented sluggers like Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Correa today. Although Lou Whitaker will not ever get in the Hall, Trammell can still afford the dynamic duo from Detroit one seat in Cooperstown.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
20 Yrs 2293 9376 8288 1231 2365 412 55 185 1003 236 850 874 .285 .352 .415 .767 110 3442 48
162 Game Avg. 162 662 586 87 167 29 4 13 71 17 60 62 .285 .352 .415 .767 110 243 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Billy Wagner:

Wagner was one of the most dominant relievers in MLB history. He never posted a full season with an ERA higher than 2.85 and a K:9 less than 10.1 (that injury-shortened 2000 season can be scrapped). He doesn’t have Hoffman or Rivera’s save totals, but everything else lines up similar or better to the two greatest relievers in history – which begs the question…is Wagner better than Rivera or Hoffman?

Year W L ERA G GF SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
16 Yrs 47 40 2.31 853 703 422 903.0 601 262 232 82 300 1196 187 2.73 0.998 6.0 3.0 11.9 3.99
162 Game Avg. 4 3 2.31 68 56 34 72 48 21 18 7 24 95 187 2.73 0.998 6.0 3.0 11.9 3.99
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Larry Walker:

The power, the speed, the arm…Walker had it all. The only thing he didn’t have was pain tolerance or health. If he had stayed on the field, this would be a no brainer. As is, he’s a borderline candidate who did more than enough to warrant consideration.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
17 Yrs 1988 8030 6907 1355 2160 471 62 383 1311 230 913 1231 .313 .400 .565 .965 141 3904 117
162 Game Avg. 162 654 563 110 176 38 5 31 107 19 74 100 .313 .400 .565 .965 141 318 10
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

 

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