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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 403

post #12061 of 72975
7 strong innings for Wacha, making the alma mater proud. Wacha Wacha Wacha!

post #12062 of 72975
Wacha, Shelby, Tavares, Wong.

Future is bright in STL.
post #12063 of 72975
Seriously, Yadi deserves baseball's first billion dollar contract.

You see all these rookies they have thrown out there this year? Doesn't even matter that they're young or how good they are. Results, always.
post #12064 of 72975
Matheny may be the most thankful man in St. Louis to Yadi.
post #12065 of 72975
Can't stand the Cardinals, but Yadi is one of my favorite players in the game smokin.gif
post #12066 of 72975
Hate posting because I'm so afraid to jinx it

Raise it!

From Smith to Friedman, we know what's up

Official Member of the Steeler Nation

From Smith to Friedman, we know what's up

Official Member of the Steeler Nation
post #12067 of 72975
Alex Wood's delivery. mean.gif
post #12068 of 72975
Everybody loves Yadi.

Champ, what's good with your boy Kemp? Still your choice for one of your top center fielders or just one of those years?
post #12069 of 72975
Kemp is "hurt" huh?
post #12070 of 72975
Matty won't admit it publicly, but it's the lead shoulder still bothering him. Also struggling with mechanics. Perhaps trying to tinker and overcompensate.

The year isn't lost if he can go on a tear after a short DL stint for the hammy (and shoulder). Doesn't help that Dre is worthless.

Still would only take Harper, Trout, and Braun over Kemp.
post #12071 of 72975
Matty's eventually going to be forced into a corner OF position to protect longevity. Probably when Puig becomes a regular fixture.

Kemp (LF) - CF - Puig (RF).
post #12072 of 72975
I think is messed up mentally. Also, I think he's lost a lot of strength
post #12073 of 72975

The ATLANTA BRAVES ARE (32-21) as of now. GO BRAVES

post #12074 of 72975
Originally Posted by Jewbacca View Post

7 strong innings for Wacha, making the alma mater proud. Wacha Wacha Wacha!

But unfortunately he didnt get the win because DAMN Matheny LOVES boggs for some STUPID reason, smdh. Dude was terrible in the big leagues, was terrible in the minors, came back and is STILL terrible!!!!!!!!!

Honestly hoping he gets released or traded in the next few days, he just isnt cutting it and we have better arms available.
Originally Posted by ChampCruThik View Post

Wacha, Shelby, Tavares, Wong.

Future is bright in STL.
Very.......Shelby is already looking like the rookie of the year, Wong is batting .336 or something like that in the minors this year. Tavares will do his thing when he overcomes this ankle injury.........wacha would be 1-0 if it were for boggs, smdh.

This team is going to be GREAT.........will definately be the best pitching STAFF in the next 2 years. (we already have the best starter stats overall in the league, but if we release boggs and get martinez back up here in the bullpen instead of grooming him to be a starter, then we`ll be the best pitching staff, period)

But i can see this getting REALLY expensive..........But i cant see how they wouldnt spend the money if we are perennial playoff contenders......they would be making plenty money to pay everybody.

Originally Posted by Kevin Cleveland View Post

Seriously, Yadi deserves baseball's first billion dollar contract.

You see all these rookies they have thrown out there this year? Doesn't even matter that they're young or how good they are. Results, always.

Originally Posted by ChampCruThik View Post

Matheny may be the most thankful man in St. Louis to Yadi.
its a tie between him and all these young pitchers........he is going to have a statue right next to musial at the end of his career!
post #12075 of 72975
Thread Starter 
The Cards 6-9 pitchers are better than most teams 3-5. The way they manage and groom their prospects is amazing.
post #12076 of 72975
Mujica had converted saves the Cardinals previous 4 games before last night and Rosenthal wasn't available either. So Boggs was thrown to the wolves lol
post #12077 of 72975
Thread Starter 
MLB mock draft 2.0.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
We're just one week away from the Rule 4 draft, and draft boards are starting to take shape. There will still be some adjustments before Thursday night, and I'll have two more mock drafts between now and then.

For now, here is my best projection for the top 33 picks in the draft -- the formal first round, plus the six compensatory picks teams received for losing free agents who received qualifying offers this offseason. You'll notice the absence of Indiana State lefty Sean Manaea, who was considered a top-five talent coming into the season. His performance all spring was uneven and he walked off the mound with a hip injury while warming up for his final start a week ago, and no one has a great feel for his status right now. Indiana State's season is over, so scouts won't get another chance to see him before the draft.

(To see my the first mock draft from two weeks ago, click here. For a complete look at my ranking of the top 100 draft prospects, click here.)

1Colin MoranPOS: 3BB/T: R/RHT: 6-3WT: 215School: North CarolinaAnalysis: I don't think the Astros will make a formal decision on this pick until Thursday, but the buzz within the industry has Houston leaning toward this scenario: Houston takes Moran, knowing his next-best alternative is to go No. 5 to Cleveland, whose slot value is $3,787,000. By doing this, the Astros could offer him $4 million or so and know he'd accept it.

The value of the No. 1 pick is $7.79 million, which means the Astros would then have sufficient savings to take first-round talents who fell at picks 40 and 74, something they've already shopped around to some prep players who aren't going in the top 33.

They could take Jonathan Gray but won't get as much of a discount if they do. They're not on Kris Bryant or Clint Frazier, and Mark Appel doesn't seem to be one of their top two options.


2Mark AppelPOS: RHPHT: 6-5WT: 215School: StanfordAnalysis: Appel or Gray. I've heard Theo Epstein loves Gray, but overall the Cubs have a real internal debate between the two options. Without a clear inclination toward either guy, I've assigned them the player I think is better.


3Kris BryantPOS: 3B/OFB/T: R/RHT: 6-5WT: 215School: San DiegoAnalysis: They've been linked to Bryant all spring, and the industry discussion has had them on hitters. But would they take Gray if he were here? I can't see Gray falling far, with a floor at No. 6. (No way does Miami scouting director Stan Meek, an Oklahoma native who played at OU, pass on a Sooner as good as Gray.)


4Kohl StewartPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 190School: St. Pius X (Houston)Analysis: This will be Stewart, Gray or Washington prep catcher Reese McGuire on a well below-slot deal.


5Jonathan GrayPOS: RHPHT: 6-4WT: 239School: OklahomaAnalysis: I've heard them on Bryant and Moran all spring, and Chris Antonetti flew to Georgia to meet with Clint Frazier earlier this week, but I think they'll take Gray if he falls to them.


6Braden ShipleyPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 190School: NevadaAnalysis: Gray won't fall further than this, but if he's gone, the Marlins are most likely to take Shipley, the next best college arm on the board. Also hearing Austin Meadows was superb at their workout the other day, while Hunter Renfroe was invited but didn't attend.


7Austin MeadowsPOS: OFB/T: L/LHT: 6-3WT: 200School: Grayson (Ga.) HSAnalysis: This is probably Appel's floor if he falls past the Cubs, only because of the number of teams up top that would think negotiations with him could get messy. Beyond that, the Red Sox are still considering a number of scenarios.

They'll take Bryant or Moran if here while also giving strong consideration to Meadows, Frazier, Kohl Stewart, Ryne Stanek and possibly Alex Gonzalez.


8Ryne StanekPOS: RHPHT: 6-4WT: 190School: ArkansasAnalysis: They want a college pitcher. The board may not give them one they like, with Meadows one of the backup options.

9Reese McGuirePOS: CB/T: L/RHT: 6-1WT: 190School: Kentwood HS (Kent, Wash.)Analysis: Neal Huntington flew to Washington to see McGuire twice -- not something a GM does unless his club is serious about taking a player. I've heard Meadows and Frazier here, as well as Trey Ball. They get to play the board a little, with another pick at 14.

Note: A compensation pick for failing to sign Mark Appel with No. 8 overall pick in 2012.


10J.P. CrawfordPOS: SSB/T: L/RHT: 6-2WT: 175School: Lakewood (Calif.) HSAnalysis: The biggest wild card of the top 10, as the Jays don't seem to be enamored with any of what's likely to be available for them -- McGuire, Shipley, Crawford, DJ Peterson or Dominic Smith.


11Dominic SmithPOS: 1BB/T: L/LHT: 6-0WT: 195School: Serra HS (Gardena, Calif.)Analysis: I've been hearing them consistently on Smith and DJ Peterson and a little on Hunter Renfroe for several weeks now.


12Clint FrazierPOS: OFB/T: R/RHT: 6-1WT: 190School: Loganville (Ga.) HSAnalysis: If Frazier and Meadows are gone, they'd likely take DJ Peterson or Ryne Stanek.


13Hunter RenfroePOS: OFB/T: R/RHT: 6-1WT: 216School: Mississippi StateAnalysis: Renfroe's tools are among the best in the draft, college or prep. The Padres would love Meadows here and would consider Alex Gonzalez. I've heard both the Mariners and Padres linked to Southern California prep righty Phil Bickford, who would likely be an overdraft/money-saving pick this high.


14DJ PetersonPOS: 3B/1BB/T: R/RHT: 6-1WT: 205School: New MexicoAnalysis: I've heard they would consider Peterson at No. 9 or Trey Ball at either pick, as well as McGuire, Meadows and Frazier.


15Alex GonzalezPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 200School: Oral RobertsAnalysis: Renfroe and J.P. Crawford are possibilities as well.


16Trey BallPOS: LHP/OFHT: 6-6WT: 180School: New Castle (Ind.) HSAnalysis: Also on Crawford, Ian Clarkin and Tim Anderson. Not hearing them with college names.


17Chris AndersonPOS: RHPHT: 6-4WT: 225School: JacksonvilleAnalysis: Mostly hearing them on college arms, although the pool isn't that deep after the first three or four names go. This might be the highest realistic spot for juco shortstop Tim Anderson.


18Ian ClarkinPOS: LHPHT: 6-2WT: 190School: Madison HS (San Diego)Analysis: They've also been eyeing Matt Krook, as well as Hunter Harvey, Devin Williams and, well, every other prep pitcher taller than 6 feet.


19Tim AndersonPOS: SSB/T: R/RHT: 6-1WT: 180School: East Central CCAnalysis: Hearing them mostly on more athletic types than whom they went after with early picks last year, including Anderson, Travis Demeritte and Ian Clarkin.


20Devin WilliamsPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 172School: Hazelwood (Mo.) West HSAnalysis: Hearing the Tigers will go after a power high school arm once they get over the shock of having a first-round pick, something they haven't had since 2010.


21Nick CiuffoPOS: CB/T: L/RHT: 6-1WT: 200School: Lexington (S.C.) HSAnalysis: There are no locks a week out in this (or just about any) draft, but most sources I ask seem to think the Rays will take Ciuffo if he is here and no major names fall this far.


22Josh HartPOS: OFB/T: L/LHT: 6-1WT: 185School: Parkview HS (Lilburn, Ga.)Analysis: Hearing them all over the place -- Aaron Blair and Alex Balog both came up in conversations, but I doubt either guy is the 22nd pick -- with Hart a more likely option to whom they've been linked for a while.


23Travis DemerittePOS: SSB/T: R/RHT: 6-1WT: 195School: Winder-Barrow HS (Winder, Ga.)Analysis: Like Ciuffo and Tampa, this rumor has been warm for several weeks.


24Hunter HarveyPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 175School: Bandys HS (Catawba, N.C.)Analysis: Another connection I've been hearing for a while. Other possibilities include prep pitchers Krook, Rob Kaminsky and Kyle Serrano.


25Matt KrookPOS: LHPHT: 6-2WT: 190School: St. Ignatius Prep (Hillsborough, Calif.)Analysis: Krook is right in their backyard, so of course they've scouted him heavily. But the interest is legitimate, and they do love large prep pitchers, especially those who can spin a breaking ball.


26Billy McKinneyPOS: OFB/T: L/LHT: 6-2WT: 195School: Plano (Texas) West HSAnalysis: Have also heard them on Austin Wilson, as well as the names I mention at picks 32 and 33.


27Jon DenneyPOS: CB/T: R/RHT: 6-2WT: 205School: Yukon (Okla.) HSAnalysis: Heard them heavy on Denney, as well as Tennessee prep workhorse Wil Crowe, who was sitting at 93-95 mph in his last outing of the spring.


28Aaron JudgePOS: OFB/T: R/RHT: 6-7WT: 255School: Fresno StateAnalysis: He's a huge (literally and metaphorically) risk/reward guy, the athletic type the Cards seem to be after, with improved performance this year as well.

Note: This pick is compensation for Kyle Lohse signing with the Brewers.


29Hunter DozierPOS: SSB/T: R/RHT: 6-4WT: 220School: Stephen F. AustinAnalysis: He might outgrow shortstop but is one of the better college bats in the draft. Have also heard the Rays linked to Marco Gonzales, but perhaps that's because of their history of taking kids from the Pacific Northwest -- although that hasn't always worked out so well.

Note: This pick is compensation for B.J. Upton signing with the Braves.


30Austin WilsonPOS: OFB/T: R/RHT: 6-5WT: 245School: StanfordAnalysis: This pick is hard to pin down, as I'm hearing the Rangers are all over the place -- hitters and pitchers, prep, college and junior college.

Note: This pick is compensation for Josh Hamilton signing with the Angels.


31Rob KaminskyPOS: LHPHT: 6-0WT: 190School: St. Joseph HS (Montvale, N.J.)Analysis: Have heard them on Tim Anderson for a while, as well as Cal catcher Andrew Knapp, Hunter Harvey and Chris Anderson.

Note: This pick is compensation for Michael Bourn signing with the Indians.


32Eric JagieloPOS: 3BB/T: L/RHT: 6-3WT: 215School: Notre DameAnalysis: He fits the Yankees' profile -- they like polished, physical, left-handed hitters -- and would dovetail nicely with a prep bat at 26.

Note: This pick is compensation for Nick Swisher signing with the Indians.


33Kyle SerranoPOS: RHPHT: 6-0WT: 185School: Farragut (Tenn.) HSAnalysis: Have also heard them with prep lefties Kaminsky and Hunter Green, juco southpaw Cody Reed and Bickford.

Note: This pick is compensation for Rafael Soriano signing with the Nationals.

Oakland sets the stage, again.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
A longtime evaluator went through some of the developments for each of the American League teams -- the strong outing by Jered Weaver on Wednesday, the Rays hanging in there despite the issues that have taken down David Price and Fernando Rodney, the pitching of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Oakland, he noted, keeps winning. “That’s my pick to win this year,” he said.

To take the AL West?

“No,” he said, “to win the league.”

You almost forget the A's won the American League West last season, overtaking the Rangers and Angels, but Oakland still escapes much attention outside of the scouts’ section. Yoenis Cespedes is the closest thing that the Athletics have to a major star -- if you don’t include Bartolo Colon, who won a Cy Young Award a decade ago.

But what the Athletics have is a whole lot of roster flexibility and depth, a shutdown bullpen and some starting pitching that is good and could get better when Brett Anderson comes back from his health trouble and as Jarrod Parker continues to rebound from his slow start. Oakland’s bullpen has been the best in the American League so far, with a 2.84 ERA, with Grant Balfour, Sean Doolittle and Jerry Blevins all posting ERAs under 2.

There are teams scrambling for starting pitching depth, but the Athletics have former No. 1 pick Sonny Gray in Triple-A with a 2.38 ERA waiting and ready to go for his shot at the big leagues. He has allowed one home run in 56 2/3 innings, and has issued only 19 walks.

When Athletics manager Bob Melvin chooses his lineups, he doesn’t have to concern himself with stature or salary, and can just go with the best matchups for the day. Oakland fields two of the top 32 hitters in OPS against left-handed pitchers in third baseman Josh Donaldson and first baseman Nate Freiman, a hitter they got for $20,000 on a waiver claim. Jed Lowrie is a switch-hitter, and so is Coco Crisp, and Melvin can run out a batting order stacked with left-handed hitters, from Brandon Moss to John Jaso to Seth Smith; Josh Reddick is expected back soon. Derek Norris can start against lefties, and Chris Young is another right-handed power hitter. As of this morning, these are the major league rankings for Oakland’s offense:

Runs: 5th
Walks: 1st
Home runs: 16th

The power numbers may well increase after Reddick returns, and Oakland continues to get better, as it has in the last months of a lot of seasons in the past decade.

To the field: The Athletics lost the last game of their series against the Giants, giving up a lead, as Susan Slusser writes.


• Long after Michael Wacha finished his outstanding debut, the Cardinals and Royals played on -- after a delay of more than 4 1/2 hours; the game resumed at 3:04 a.m. Central Time, as Derrick Goold writes. From his story:

In the 2013 rulebook, Rule 4.12 (b) (4) states that in such instances the game can be suspended at that moment -- Royals leading by two runs, bases loaded, no outs -- and completed at another date. There is a wrinkle. If it’s the last time the two teams will be playing each other in the season, then the game would revert back to the last full inning played. The Royals led by two, but if the umpires ruled for a suspended game, the Cardinals would win, 2-1. That new rule would have given Wacha his first win as well.

By waiting and waiting out the rain, the officials kept the Cardinals from winning in the rulebook after the Royals took the lead on the field.

“The way the rule reads had it ended as a suspended game, it would have reverted back and the Cardinals would have been the victors because they were ahead at the end of the previous inning,” crew chief Joe West said after the game. “In all cases when it’s the last trip in, the umpires make every effort to get the game played in its entirety so that the game itself determines the outcome.”

West’s crew is due to call an afternoon game at Wrigley Field this afternoon. For the five hours the delay persisted, a limousine waited outside of Busch Stadium, ready to drive the umpires to Chicago. West said his crew would “worry about that game when we get to that one.”

The umpires contacted league officials for advice and to discuss their approach. The Cardinals also contacted the league office to determine what they could do. The answer was essentially to wait and wait and wait because the Royals rallied in the top of the ninth.

The delay started at 10:32 p.m.

The game resumed at 3:04 a.m.

“There’s no real protest to file,” Matheny said. “It’s a game that is in the hands of the umpires to determine if it could be played, and apparently it was.”

Said Francoeur: “We owe Joe (West) a lot of credit for sticking through this with us tonight and giving us an opportunity. Major League Baseball changed a rule this year and maybe this game will make them think how to do it again. But you’ve got no choice. Joe knew, A, we’d been struggling and, B, when you come back and do that it’s not fair to the team to just can the game and go back to the last inning.”

The win was only the Royals’ fifth in their past 20 games and it ended an eight-game losing streak. The umpires and Royals officials twice checked on the condition of the field during the lengthy delay. When the rain slowed, several Royals players, who obviously had a vested interest in finishing the game, helped the grounds crew ready the field. The crew drew praise from the Royals, umps and Cardinals for getting a soaked field in playing condition.

The whole situation drew a warning from Matheny, who did go to the Royals officials to make clear what was possible because of the delay and field conditions.

“I explained to the other team too that if this comes down to one of my guys getting hurt, it’s a big deal,” Matheny said. “They got it to where we could play.”

In my opinion: The umpires handled this exactly the right way, given all the circumstances in place. The ninth inning had started, the Royals had rallied, and scheduling a continuation of the game would have been extremely problematic. It was better to just wait for the game’s completion.

• Before the game, the Royals reassigned their hitting coaches and summoned George Brett to fill the role. It’s hard to imagine Brett doing this without some sort of direct appeal or involvement of the Kansas City ownership. Brett’s status will be reassessed in another month or two, he said.

From **** Kaegel’s story:

The addition of Brett, if only on an interim basis, is sure to prove immensely popular in Kansas City where he's a revered link to the Royals' successful past. He's in the Royals' front office as vice president of baseball operations and annually serves as a hitting instructor during spring training.

The move also tends to reduce pressure on Yost, who has been under intense scrutiny during the Royals' recent slide in which they've lost 19 of their last 23 games including the last eight in a row.

No further staff changes are planned, according to Moore.

"This is the last move we're making," he said.

It’s on the players to turn it around, said Eric Hosmer.

• The Mets swept the Yankees in the Subway Series for the first time, led by Dillon Gee, as Anthony McCarron writes.

Per ESPN Stats & Information. In 2011-12, the Mets went 3-9 with a minus-26 run differential against the Yankees, not to mention a team ERA of 5.02. In this four-game sweep, they were plus-9 and had a 1.75 ERA.

• Following Travis Wood's grand slam yesterday in another win over the White Sox, the Cubs now have four homers and 19 RBIs by their pitchers this month. From Elias: The Cubs' 19 RBIs by their pitchers this month is the most in a calendar month since the 1940 Tigers (20 in August), and is 15 more than any other team's pitchers. Travis Wood (7) and Scott Feldman (6) alone each have more RBIs than pitchers on any other team. The 19 RBIs from their pitchers this month is more than their No. 3 hitters have (17) and matches their total from their No. 4 hitters (19).

• The Yankees need for CC Sabathia to rediscover his old form, writes Joel Sherman.

Some other notable numbers:

• Miguel Cabrera became the eighth player in live ball era (since 1920) with at least 400 doubles in his first 11 seasons (Albert Pujols, Todd Helton, Wade Boggs, Stan Musial, Joe Medwick, Paul Waner and Al Simmons).

• Elias: Manny Machado had 44 hits in May, the most in a calendar month by a player under the age of 21 since Mickey Mantle had 46 for the Yankees in July 1952.

• Jacoby Ellsbury set the Red Sox record with five stolen bases, breaking the mark he shared with Jerry Remy (Remy had four in 1980; Ellsbury had four in 2010).

• The Pirates are 19-8 in May (most wins for the team in May since 1972).

Dings and dents

1. Matt Kemp landed on the disabled list.

From ESPN Stats & Information: His numbers have been down across the board this season, especially his power numbers. Kemp hit a home run once every 17.5 at-bats last season but has just two home runs in 191 at-bats this season. He's also hitting for a far worse average than in 2012 (.303 to .251), slugging less (.538 to .335), and has seen his OPS plummet (.906 to .640).

2. Eric Chavez is hurting, writes Christian Corona.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. If the Rangers traded for Cliff Lee, they would be World Series favorites, writes Tim Cowlishaw. A Lee trade would be extremely problematic -- and probably unlikely -- for a host of reasons. Among those:

A) The Phillies, who currently sit 6 1/2 games out of first place in the National League East standings, would have to agree to blow up their season in July, knowing they have tickets to sell and honor in August and September. And generally speaking, the Phillies’ ownership is relatively conservative and glass-half-full in its thinking.

B) While Lee bears a huge salary obligation, with a $12.5 million buyout after $25 million annual salaries for 2013-2015, the Phillies would presumably want significant return in prospects for him. Such as Jurickson Profar. And it would be very difficult for the Rangers to take on a contract like Lee’s, for a pitcher in his mid-30s, and at the same time have to give up a major package of talent.

2. Chris Archer is getting the ball for the Rays Saturday.

Positive signs for Jered Weaver.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Carl Crawford was the first hitter who Jered Weaver faced in his start Wednesday night, Weaver’s first since breaking his left (non-pitching) elbow in the first week of the season. When the count reached two strikes, Weaver fired a fastball high and outside at 91 mph. Crawford chased it, for the strikeout.

Weaver continued to throw like this, with his fastball velocity consistently in the 87-89 mph range, much higher than the 84-85 mph he showed before getting hurt. Check out this data from Brooks Baseball, from his start against the Dodgers.

Compare that with the numbers from his previous start, on April 7.

On Wednesday night, he clearly had more velocity. Weaver didn’t maintain that peak velocity for his entire outing, but at least he’ll have the peace of mind to know that he’s capable of throwing harder than 85 mph.

The return of Weaver gives the Angels their stability, writes Lyle Spencer.

Weaver and the Angels beat the Dodgers 4-3, and the news for Don Mattingly was not good: Matt Kemp strained a hamstring and is likely headed to the disabled list.

Around the league

• That’s eight straight losses and counting for the Royals. Ned Yost says he doesn’t listen to speculation about his job security. Eric Hosmer was benched Wednesday.

• Wrote here the other day about the Braves’ need for more flexibility in their bullpen and about Double-A prospect Alex Wood, a left-hander who has been dominant this season in the minors. He has been called up to the big leagues, as Mark Bowman writes.

Meanwhile, the Braves are targeting June 18 for the return of Brandon Beachy.

• Here’s something to remember about the Oakland Athletics: They often get better as the season progresses, as they did last year, as their young players gain experience and as their roster is honed. And right now, they are playing well: They took down the Giants and Tim Lincecum on Wednesday, for their 11th win in their last 12 games.

• Joba Chamberlain is just four months from free agency, which is the probably the most significant reason why it would make sense for the Yankees to trade him in the next 63 days. If they keep him through the end of the season, they obviously would not make him a tender offer in an effort to get a draft pick in return if he signs elsewhere. Chamberlain is making $1.9 million this year, and there is no way they would risk paying him 10 times that much were he to accept a qualifying offer.

But the fact that the Yankees have enough right-handed depth in their bullpen to view Chamberlain as tradeable surplus is another factor. Preston Claiborne has excelled since being called up from the minors, issuing zero walks and striking out 11 in 14 1/3 innings, and after a couple of rocky outings in the first part of the season, Shawn Kelley has thrived, striking out 22 in his last 12 innings. And, of course, they have David Robertson and Mariano Rivera for the eighth and ninth innings

So the Yankees could try to take advantage of what is a very weak reliever market and swap Chamberlain for a second-tier prospect or a usable veteran. Chamberlain, 27, was activated from the disabled list Tuesday, and before he got hurt, his fastball velocity was a strong 94 mph.

• Ryan Zimmerman hit three homers Wednesday but was somewhat upstaged by Chris Davis, who clubbed two of his own in a comeback win for the Orioles. Davis now has 18 homers through 53 games, which is the most by an Oriole since Brady Anderson had 20 through 53 games in 1996. Check out the Stats & Info blog for a complete breakdown.

• Dioner Navarro was "the man" for the Cubs, mashing three home runs, and Scott Feldman won again.

• Jerry Crasnick was on the podcast Wednesday and explained how red hair, duck walking, square shoulders and weak chins are a factor for clubs in draft planning. On Tuesday, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos was on to talk about the Blue Jays, and Jayson Stark and I agree about the future of the designated hitter.

• Today is Michael Wacha day in St. Louis. He arrives with a lot of expectations and hype, as Tom Timmermann writes.

About Wacha, from Stats & Information: The right-hander, who was the 19th overall pick in the 2012 draft, will become just the fourth starting pitcher in the past 10 seasons to debut before June the season after being drafted, joining Kevin Gausman, Mike Leake and Tim Lincecum.

Wacha will become the first Cardinals pitcher to reach the majors within one year of being drafted in 25 years. He also will become the seventh rookie pitcher used by the Cardinals this season, which leads all MLB teams.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals continue to win about two-thirds of their games.

Dings and dents

1. A Cubs reliever needs Tommy John surgery.

2. Chris Sale will be back Sunday.

3. Kris Medlen is expected to make his next start, after getting whacked by a ball in his start Wednesday.

4. Danny Espinosa is playing through a fracture.

5. Clay Buchholz’s next start is being delayed.

6. Derek Jeter played catch at Yankee Stadium.

7. Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis are on the verge of coming back.

8. Brett Lawrie landed on the disabled list.

9. Alex Cobb is hurting, and so Alex Colome will step into the Rays’ rotation today, with Chris Archer expected to pitch Saturday, writes Marc Topkin.

10. Aaron Hill is aching to come back.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Robin Ventura appears close to shaking up his lineup, writes Mark Gonzales.

2. Ryan Flaherty was recalled by the Orioles.

3. The Mets have talked to Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada about possible demotion, though Tejada could be headed to the DL with a quad injury he suffered in the ninth inning last night, which would change the equation.

4. Jeremy Bonderman is the leading candidate to start Sunday for Seattle, as mentioned at the end of this Larry Stone notebook.
post #12078 of 72975
Thanks for the articles Pro. Much appreciated.
post #12079 of 72975
Thread Starter 
No doubt. I try to get around to as much as I can at work.

Chris Archer coming up to face Cleveland tomorrow. He'll strike out 8, walk 4 and give up 5 runs laugh.gif
post #12080 of 72975

Man that was hilarious last night. I will never see a baseball game like that again. laugh.gif




post #12081 of 72975
Thread Starter 
Who’s The No. 1 Prospect?: June Edition.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Entering May, Minnesota Twins Byron Buxton was my favorite to seize the label of number one prospect in baseball entering 2014. Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley ranked second as he pushed through High-A and finished April in the Southern League. Shortstop Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indians debuted in the third spot after a dominant month offensively. Twins’ Miguel Sano, claimed the fourth spot, as well as the label of best power hitting prospect in the game. Rounding out the top five was Boston Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts, who received a partial mulligan for a weak April due to his being the highest rated prospect in baseball entering 2013 not expected to surpass rookie at bats/innings pitched limits.

Remember, May’s edition broke down the anatomy of the number-one prospect. If you need a refresher, or are new to this series, it’s a great starting point. This month, “Opening Acts” will include players deserving of top-five consideration. “Headliners” will feature last month’s top five and what they have, or have not done to stay there.

Opening Acts (listed alphabetically)

Carlos Correa (SS-HOU) – With a May line of .338/.418/.425 including a 11/11 strikeout to walk ratio, Correa is showing command of the strike zone beyond his years. His .183 average with the bases empty versus .409 with runners on base makes me to wonder if the 18-year old is having difficulty maintaining focus. If this is the case, then experience and maturity will lead to a spike in offensive production.

Kevin Gausman (P-BAL) – Readers questioned my exclusion of Gausman from May’s list, and he was honestly the odd man out after the decision was made to discuss the Mets’ dilemma with Zack Wheeler. This month, I still don’t consider Gausman one of the top five prospects in baseball, but wanted to come to his defense after a couple of poor starts in Baltimore.

On paper, there’s really no way to spin his first two starts in a positive light. However, Gausman taking his lumps now will lead to better results later on. As prospect followers, it’s easy to view a 49/5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in Double-A as a sign of pending greatness. And while those numbers are impressive, Gausman’s tendency to elevate his fastball was going to cause him problems at the major league level. It’s likely the reason why he’d allowed nearly a hit per inning in the Eastern League as well. The pure stuff is there for Gausman to become a force with additional refinement. These things take time. Of course, if Gausman remains in Baltimore for the remainder of the season, he won’t qualify for prospect lists next year.

Yasiel Puig (OF-LAD) – With a .315/.400/.596 May, Dodgers outfield prospect Yasiel Puig continues to dominate Double-A competition. More impressive than his combination of speed and power has been Puig’s ability to limit strikeout totals while learning to handle offspeed pitches on the outer half. He’s a star in the making, but Joc Pederson may be the first to receive the call to Los Angeles because of his ability to play center field. Puig will eventually displace Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford, forcing Los Angeles to shed a productive veteran, but I’m not sure it happens in 2013.

Taijuan Walker (P-SEA) – In five May Starts, Walker has halved his walk total from April while maintaining an impressive strikeout rate. However, some of those walks have turned into hits, redistributing his WHIP instead of lowering it. And while his ERA for the month was up more than two runs from his 1.55 April, his peripherals were more conducive to long-term success.

Christian Yelich (OF-MIA) – Yelich was having an excellent May before his production fell off a cliff. Overall, his .262/.361/.583 line for the month is impressive considering the 21-year-old’s power is often brought into question. His streaky start leaves Yelich on the periphery of the top five, but a strong June may be enough to force inclusion. Additionally, the promotions of Jose Fernandez and Marcell Ozuna have me thinking that Yelich may not be prospect eligible next spring.

I’m also of the impression that the Cardinals’ Oscar Taveras will receive enough at bats at the major league level to lose rookie eligibility for 2014. If he has zero big league plate appearances at the end of June, then it will be time to reevaluate.

Headliners (listed in reverse order of last month’s top five)

Xander Bogaerts (SS-BOS) – After a disappointing April, Bogaerts has rebounded to post a triple-slash line of .276/.371/.510 in May. In his last ten games, the Red Sox prospect has been even better. What’s interesting about his season from a statistical standpoint is his having five stolen bases and triples in the early going. Is he adding speed to the profile? If so, then this is a positive development and will only help him stick at shortstop defensively.

Miguel Sano (3B-MIN) – Miguel Sano had nowhere to go but down after an all-world April. In May, his .307/.430/.545 triple-slash line is still awfully impressive for a player who recently celebrated his 20th birthday. Prospect followers are already clamoring for a promotion, but the Twins are likely to take it slow with Sano. The third baseman still strikes out too much, but the fact his rates have come down each season is a positive sign he’ll be able to maintain, if not improve them even more.

Francisco Lindor (SS-CLE) – With a .287/.368/.376 May, Francisco Lindor continues to find success in High-A. Compared to last season, the 19-year-old increased both his speed and power production. At his current pace, Lindor has a legitimate chance of surpassing both his extra base hit and stolen base totals from 2012 by the end of July. This, while maintaining elite defense at the shortstop position.

Archie Bradley (P-ARI) – In six May starts, Bradley has dissected Double-A hitters to the tune of a 0.79 ERA. With 37 strikeouts and 22 hits allowed in 34 innings pitched, the right-hander has cemented his status as the best pitching prospect in baseball for me. My brief glimpse at him in Chattanooga earlier in the month included Bradley striking out Puig looking with a mid-90′s fastball on the inner half. Just as he was settling into the flow of the game, an ill-timed slide into second base led to Bradley being removed for precautionary reasons.

Byron Buxton (OF-MIN) – Like organization-mate Miguel Sano, Buxton’s production had to come back to earth after a dominant April. A .298/.386/.465 May, including 16 steals, was the result. At 19, it was another fantastic month for the center fielder, who has been nothing short of magnificent. With seven home runs and 25 steals overall, can Buxton produce a 20 home run, 60 steal season? If he remains in Single-A, yes, but it will be difficult to keep him from the Florida State League given his level of dominance.

Blame it on the ongoing excellence by the “headliners,” or the ups and downs of the “opening acts,” but my projected top five for 2014 remains unchanged as we head into June. Bradley’s continued dominance at the upper levels is certainly worthy of the top spot, but my temptation to swap him and Buxton is offset by my appreciation for five tool talents. A shakeup may come in July should Taveras remain in Triple-A and/or if Orioles Dylan Bundy return from injury, but for now, Buxton stays on top.

John Jaso is a Catcher First.
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There’s a reason catchers often make great managers and coaches. The mindset that you get from watching every play unfold from behind the plate can inform practically every play. And so, when you find out that John Jaso is an asset with the bat and on the basepaths, it’s no surprise that you can trace these things back to his training behind the plate.

Like when Jaso talks about his plate discipline — his walk rate is seventh in the league since the beginning of last season — the first thing he says it’s that he’s “always thinking of the situation.” Like a catcher, he’s wondering who’s on the basepaths, what the count is, and how things have been going for the pitcher.

When it comes to the first pitch, he doesn’t mind being a little passive. The league, which has been swinging less at the first pitch (down under 30% according to Dave Cameron’s great piece on the subject), has nothing on Jaso, who swings at 15% of the first pitches he sees in an at-bat. He points out that it was fine if he missed a good pitch — “you’ve seen the pitcher’s release point and you’ve gotten a better sense of timing.” It’s hard to get the timing right without good knowledge of a pitcher’s arsenal. There’s a catcher, gathering information for the memory banks.

Jaso’s patience is not all catcher-related. He says that part of being a disciplined hitter is “being comfortable hitting with two strikes.” If he can trust that the pitcher can’t overpower him on pure stuff, he needs to get as many chances to see a good pitch as possible, and sometimes that means going to the brink. Once again, according to Cameron’s piece, the league swings at close to 50% on 0-2 counts, 60% on 1-2, 65% on 2-2, and over 70% on 3-2. Jaso must get to a lot of 3-2 counts (that would make sense), because his swing percentage with two strikes is 74.7%.

Part of that process is natural, and Jaso might actually have some insight on the question of why batters are swinging less at the first pitch, even as pitchers are throwing more first pitches for strikes. “Your picture of the strike zone on the first pitch is really small, and then it gradually starts expanding as you get more strikes,” he says. That makes total sense intuitively, and it follows with Cameron’s conclusions about the changes in swing rates on different counts. Batters are being more selective at which strikes they swing at on the first pitch, and Jaso is an extreme example of that.

It’s not all good news for Jaso this year. His strikeout rate is the worst of his career. He sounds a little frustrated — “I don’t really know what to blame it on,” he says, and “I’m beating myself.” He talks of reaching too much and swinging at balls in the dirt, but it goes beyond his reach rate — which is slightly higher according to PITCHf/x — and into the ‘small strike zone’ he referenced earlier. Between 2008 and 2010, Jaso only swung at pitches on the edge of the strike zone 36% of the time. Now that’s up to 40%. Perhaps he has to “find himself again” as he put it, or at least find his small strike zone again.

But if anyone has a good sense of that zone, it’s the catcher. And that catcher mentality follows him out to the basepaths, too. Jaso leads all catchers since 2010 in baserunning value. That’s a bit of a strange thing, considering he’s sixth in stolen bases and isn’t a gazelle. But he credits his work in the Tampa org — “I was hitting leadoff for them and I always had to look how I could get to the next base” — as having stayed with him today.

What are his steps to taking the extra base whenever possible? First, he runs on guys in the outfield. He takes note of all the arms in the outfield, and if he sees a stumble, he’ll push it. But the second might be the most important. “When I’m on first base, I’m always looking for a ball in the dirt to go to second on,” he says. He’ll read the trajectory of the ball coming out of the pitcher’s hand and anticipate that ball in the dirt: “I’ll take off before I even know if it’s actually in the dirt.”

“I know how hard it is to block a ball, get up and scramble for it and make an accurate throw to second base — that’s hard even on a baserunner that read it after it hit the dirt, so if I get a jump, it’s even harder.” – John Jaso

Being a catcher is about keeping track of the count as well as the tendencies of the hitters, pitchers and defenders on the field at any given time. It’s a lot of knowledge, but when put to good use, it can lead to small advantages in important facets of the game. John Jaso is a catcher first, and then a baserunner and batter second, but really it’s all part and parcel of the same approach.

Understanding Your Patterns.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Sometimes, when I’m supposed to be working, I read things that don’t have anything to do with baseball. Sometimes I’m able to salvage that lost time by twisting my new information into a vaguely baseball-y angle. So it’s been today, when, this morning, I scanned Erik Klemetti’s Eruptions blog. There’s a good new post up, focusing on the matter of trying to predict earthquakes around the globe. (Hint: don’t do it.) I can’t think of a way to write about baseball-y earthquakes. But within that post, toward the start, is a discussion about patterns, and the perception of them where they sometimes don’t exist. Now this — this could be something to put up on FanGraphs.

Contained within the post is a link to this piece at Scientific American. The author talks about “patternicity,” or, as he puts it, “the tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise.” This might be a pretty familiar concept to you, and the author advances an evolutionary argument for its existence. There’s a reason, it’s asserted, that we’re so good at finding patterns. There’s a reason we try to find patterns where no patterns exist.

I don’t need to review everything — the post isn’t long, and you should just read it. But we know that the human brain looks for patterns, all the time. The ability to spot patterns is selected for, on account of the benefits with regard to reproduction and healthy living. We’re all pattern-seekers, but we can’t and don’t really seek them selectively. We’re not just wired to look for significance when dealing with matters significant. We’re wired to look for trends everywhere, sometimes when it matters and sometimes when it doesn’t.

We might accept or reject a pattern, but we’ll accept most, because it’s better to accept too many than not enough. As Klemetti puts it:

Or, in other words, it is better to believe wrong and right things (and thus get all the right things) than accidentally miss some of the right things.

This is the terrible segue into talking about baseball. You’ve probably heard before about how eager we are to look for patterns in baseball data. It’s easy and inviting, because baseball generates so much information, and so many repetitions. There’s virtually limitless information for every player and every team, and plenty of people consider much of that information. In it, they see things. They see patterns, they see trends, they see “streaks” as we might call them. They see data that might be significant. Sometimes, it is significant. Sometimes, it is not.

In a way, you could define sabermetrics as the identification of baseball patterns, and the testing of their significance. That might be too narrow, but it’s a lot of what takes place. This guy’s streaking. This team’s underperforming. The league is doing more of this and less of that. What does it mean? Does it mean anything?

The reality is that we all look for patterns all the time, and we think of patterns as being meaningful, as being indicative of something. The reality is also that, at least with baseball, so much is just random noise. The reality is that we need to learn to accept randomness. The reality is that we’re wired not to.

It’s weird to talk about an evolutionary concept and relate it to baseball, since baseball doesn’t matter with regard to survival, but again, we’re not selective. We don’t only look for patterns in potential mates and when we’re picking out food. When confronted with information, we’ll look for an arrangement, and we’ll accept the pattern if the benefit outweighs the cost. Say Player X is on a hot streak. We can either accept the pattern or reject it. The cost of accepting it as legitimate is minimal; you don’t stand to lose anything by being wrong. By being right, you might experience some sense of satisfaction.

This could probably stand to include a better, real example. I don’t mean to pick on Ken Rosenthal, but I’m going to use him here. Rosenthal wrote about how the Angels should keep Mike Trout in center field, even when Peter Bourjos is healthy. Part of his argument is that, this year, Trout has posted a .738 OPS from left field, but a 1.055 OPS from center. Rosenthal has accepted this pattern as meaningful. If he’s wrong, it’s not a big deal; it’s just baseball stats being funny, and it doesn’t destroy his whole argument. If he’s right, Rosenthal has a more solid argument, and it’s fairly original, and it reflects well on him. The benefit outweighs the cost.

And it’s probably just randomness. Randomness that Rosenthal has interpreted as non-random. Last year, Trout posted a 1.040 OPS from left, and a .946 OPS from center. For his career, the OPS split is 62 points, based on small samples, and it’s almost entirely BABIP. Trout, probably, is not a meaningfully better hitter when he gets to play center, but the numbers are arranged in such a way that it’s appealing to us to see something. We want there to be something — that’s how we’re programmed, and it’s not our fault.

It’s interesting to apply the costs and benefits to people actually within the game of baseball itself. Take, for example, old-school managers, who love batter-vs-pitcher splits. It’s been demonstrated that batter-vs-pitcher splits are meaningless, in terms of predicting future events. But managers will sometimes make objectively wrong decisions because of what that data says to them. They’ll start the wrong guy or sit the wrong guy, based on the history against a given arm. We’re terrible at determining what’s actually significant, so we err on the side of pattern acceptance. You could argue that a manager might upset a player if he, say, doesn’t play him against a pitcher he’s hit in the past. That’s a clubhouse issue. If a manager listens to the numbers and it backfires, though, he has security in the data. Only a subset of fans would be upset, and to the manager, the fans don’t matter. This can all get very complicated and fascinating.

Stepping back, more generally: we all look for patterns. This is how we are, and there’s no getting around it, because it’s coded into us. The reason you’re sick of hearing about small sample sizes is because people love to point out patterns they observe over small sample sizes. This is why, every year, we have to write about the relative meaninglessness of spring-training stats. So much is random, and people refuse to see it that way. It’s critical, in baseball and in everything, to be willing and able to accept randomness. It might not be your first instinct — it won’t be your first instinct — but seldom should you just react instinctively. Be aware of the fact that you’re looking for the patterns you observe. You won’t be aware at the time, because it’s built right into you, but remind yourself before you try to draw conclusions. Any conclusions. Nobody lies to you more than you.

For Prospects, Age Can Be More Than Just A Number.
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The importance of prospects’ ages is frequently debated. Comparing one’s age to the age of to his competition adds significant context, but age is just a number. Age alone hardly provides enough context to discern its true relevance to an individual’s performance.

In one instance, a player’s age without further evidence is meaningful — when a player is young for his league, it demonstrates his organization’s confidence in his abilities. Each player development department knows its players best. They monitor their players’ development daily on and off the field. Over time, an organization builds the largest observation sample of its own talent and it is in the best position to evaluate its players. To be clear, a player’s age relative to his league does not make him a prospect. His abilities do. When a prospects is placed in an advanced league it is a confirmation of his abilities by his organization.
Examine the case of Carlos Tocci. At 17, the Philadelphia Phillies’ outfielder is the youngest player in the South Atlantic League. Last season, Tocci earned rave reviews while in the instructional league before he was aggressively advanced to Rookie Ball at 16 years old. In 107 Gulf Coast League plate appearances Tocci hit .278/.330/.299/.629 and his OPS was .027 points below the league average. The league average age? 19 years, 7 months. Tocci’s age does not make him a prospect, his abilities do. He was assigned to the South Atlantic League after the Phillies determined he could handle advanced placement.

Frequently, age is used as a proxy for to physical immaturity. The rationale is if a young player holds his own against stiff competition, his performance will improve as he physically matures. At times this theory holds true, but not always.

Compare Tocci to Cheslor Cuthbert, 20, a Kansas City Royals third base prospect who is seventh youngest position player in the Carolina League. Look at the physical maturation each has left.

It’s easy to envision Tocci’s body developing further as he ages. He is 6-foot-2 and lean and projects to add muscle throughout his frame as he matures. Cuthbert, however, does not. His body is its peak and he could age poorly if he isn’t careful. The purpose of this example is not to compare Tocci to Cuthbert, they are nearly three years apart. Rather, it is to demonstrate that when a player is one of the youngest players in his league, that does not imply he possess physical projection. That is a quality is evaluated by scouts on an individual basis.

Further, when a player is younger than his competition, it should be assumed that he is less experienced. However, inexperience comes in variety of ways other than youth.

A prospect’s background can provide important context. There are stark differences between a collegiate draftee, a high school draftee and international free agents depending on the countries where they were developed.

For an extreme example, once again we turn to Cuthbert. The Royals signed him from Big Corn Island, an island located 43 miles off the coast of Nicaragua with a population of 6,200. To foster his abilities, his father created a local four-team league. It’s safe to assume Cuthbert did not get the same amount of repetitions, nor did he face the same quality of competition that other international free agents did to develop his beautiful swing.

For young and talented players, inexperience can be profound. As experience is gained one would expect talent will turn into production, if it hasn’t already. For other, less conventional talents inexperience cuts in two directions. An obvious point is worth repeating. Every day one spends not developing one’s abilities is detrimental to one’s growth. However, inexperience may also mean a player has not had the same opportunity to develop as others. It is the job of scouts and front office personnel to determine whether a player’s present abilities can grow at an accelerated rate as makes up for lost experience.

There are several instances where a player’s old age may be deceiving.

For some international free agents the legal system has hindered their development. Orioles’ prospect Henry Urrutia, a 26-year-old Cuban defector, is a perfect example. In 2010, Urrutia was suspended in Cuba after a failed defection. An attempt to flee to Haiti in 2011 was successful, but visa issues prevented Urrutia from debuting in the United States. Now, a rusty and inexperienced Urrutia is tearing up Double-A with the Bowie Baysox and scouts are raving about his raw ability.

Will he develop into a quality major leaguer? Most prospects fail, so it’s hard to say, but Urrutia’s tools have earned him praise regardless of his birth date.

Henry Urrutia’s story is far different than the stories of Evan Gattis and Josh Hamilton, but get down to the heart of it and you will find similarities. Three individuals’ promise was overcome by off the field forces and kept them on the sports’ sidelines for years. They collected dust and gained no experience, but scouts believed their aptitude could be unlocked once they returned to the field.

Outside of youth one of the most obvious causes of inexperience is injury. In May of his first full season, Anthony Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma which caused him to miss roughly 400 plate appearances during the season, off-season workouts, instructional league ball and forced his return to the South Atlantic League. At 19, Rizzo finally had the opportunity to eclipse 100 games played. Jon Lester has a similar story. The Red Sox’s lefty debuted in the summer of 2006 but was diagnosed with anplastic large cell lymphoma just before the close of the season. Lester spent the remainder of the year and the first half of his age 23 season treating his disease and fighting way back to Boston from Single-A Greenville.

The minor leagues are filled with individuals from an array of backgrounds, with equally diverse skill sets. While age is an important indicator, prospect evaluation requires deep, individual analysis to identify unconventional talents and build stronger projections.

It’s Time to Take the Pirates Seriously.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
As I write this, the Pittsburgh Pirates are tied for the second best record in baseball. They also happen to be tied for second place in their own division, because the Cardinals are the only team with a better record while the Reds have matched Pittsburgh’s 33-20 start, making the NL Central the most competitive and most interesting division in the sport right now. The Cardinals are Reds are both excellent teams, and we should expect both to continue to win at a good clip over the rest of the year, but what about the Pirates? Is this another first half mirage that will lead to a second half collapse, or do Pittsburgh fans finally have a contender to root for?

I think the answer to both of those questions is probably yes; the Pirates are playing over their heds and will likely regress over the next four months, but their strong start and their overall talent level should keep them in the race to the very end.

Let’s start with the playing-over-their-heads aspect of things. Pretty much any team that is on pace to win 101 games is probably having a few things go their way, so we could look at nearly any team at the top of the standings and say that they should be expected to play worse over the rest of the year. This is just how regression to the mean works. Find someone or something that is doing better than anyone else at that thing and suggest it won’t keep doing that thing as well as it has been; you’ll be right more often than not.

But, what we really care about isn’t whether or not the Pirates will regress, but how far they will regress. It’s the magnitude, not the direction, of the regression that really counts. So, how far over their heads have the Pirates been playing?

The most common way of answering that question is to look at pythagorean expected record, which judges a team based on runs scored and runs allowed rather than wins and losses. By RS/RA, the Pirates “should be” 30-23, not 33-20, as they’ve wracked up an extra three wins because of the timing of when they’ve scored and allowed their runs. However, I’m not really a fan of using pythagorean record as some kind of indicator of how many wins a team “should have had”, since it really only goes halfway in stripping out unsustainable sequencing. If we’re going to acknowledge that the timing of runs is mostly random, why not also acknowledge that the timing of the things that lead to runs are also mostly random, and use those individual events rather than the sequencing-included runs scored and runs allowed totals?

If we really want to strip out timing and just focus on the actual events that a team has been involved with, we’re better off going all the way down to the value of the individual plays, rather than stopping at RS/RA and deciding that the runs scored and allowed are a good measure of luck-free performance. And, perhaps the easiest way to sum up all the of events a team has been involved in without taking any sequencing into account is to just look at their wOBA differential. We did this last week with the Cubs, but let’s focus it on the Pirates this time.

(Run Differential is on a per game basis, by the way.)

Team Batting wOBA Pitching wOBA wOBA Differential Run Differential Winning %
Tigers 0.338 0.290 0.048 1.25 0.569
Rangers 0.333 0.299 0.034 0.98 0.615
Cardinals 0.319 0.292 0.027 1.42 0.673
Rockies 0.332 0.308 0.024 0.55 0.528
Reds 0.322 0.299 0.023 1.26 0.623
Red Sox 0.336 0.313 0.023 0.80 0.593
Braves 0.322 0.302 0.020 0.81 0.596
Pirates 0.306 0.288 0.018 0.53 0.623
Rays 0.329 0.313 0.016 0.33 0.539
Athletics 0.323 0.308 0.015 0.54 0.574
Cubs 0.309 0.295 0.014 0.02 0.412
Indians 0.336 0.322 0.014 0.42 0.539
Diamondbacks 0.316 0.303 0.013 0.50 0.577
Orioles 0.341 0.332 0.009 0.36 0.547
Giants 0.318 0.313 0.005 -0.09 0.528
Dodgers 0.306 0.306 0.000 -0.71 0.431
Yankees 0.312 0.313 -0.001 0.33 0.577
Angels 0.323 0.326 -0.003 -0.17 0.453
White Sox 0.293 0.299 -0.006 -0.48 0.480
Nationals 0.294 0.301 -0.007 -0.40 0.509
Mariners 0.304 0.315 -0.011 -0.81 0.415
Brewers 0.311 0.325 -0.014 -0.90 0.373
Padres 0.307 0.324 -0.017 -0.40 0.462
Blue Jays 0.325 0.343 -0.018 -0.62 0.434
Phillies 0.301 0.319 -0.018 -0.75 0.491
Mets 0.296 0.318 -0.022 -0.70 0.420
Royals 0.301 0.323 -0.022 -0.14 0.420
Twins 0.303 0.339 -0.036 -0.50 0.440
Marlins 0.265 0.321 -0.056 -1.64 0.245
Astros 0.305 0.370 -0.065 -1.83 0.302

By run differential, the Pirates are hanging out with the A’s, Rockies, and Diamondbacks, and they rate #9 overall in MLB. And maybe that’s the group that it feels like, based on pre-season forecasts, they belong in. None of those teams were expected to make the playoffs based on most forecasts, and each one seems to be playing a bit over their heads at the moment.

By wOBA differential, the Pirates don’t move that much — jumping from #9 to #8 — but their company changes. Now, they’re in the mix with the Rays and Braves, teams that were expected to be contenders, and are generally seen to have playoff caliber rosters. This isn’t a case where the Pirates run differential overstates how many extra wins they’ve earned through timing, but I do think it’s helpful to know that, in terms of the plays the teams have been involved in, the Pirates have performed in a roughly similar manner to teams that everyone believes can keep on winning.

By either run differential or wOBA differential, the Pirates have played like a team that should win about 57% of their games, now 62%, so, again, regression is almost certainly coming. And, of course, we shouldn’t just regress a team’s winning percentage in two months back to their underlying performance over the first two months of the season, since even things like wOBA are subject to sample size issues. For instance, the Pirates lead the league in wOBA allowed at .288, but a large part of that is based on holding opponents to a .265 BABIP.

Even if we think that the Pirates terrific defense is a big reason why they’re turning so many balls in play into outs, that’s the kind of number that is less likely to be sustained over the rest of the season than, say, the Tigers starter’s strikeout rate. The Pirates have a pretty decent pitching staff — and an excellent if perhaps overworked bullpen — and a good group of defenders, but that .288 wOBA allowed is probably going up.

That’s why, on our standings page, we don’t use season-to-date numbers to forecast a team’s projected record over the rest of the year, but we instead lean on the rest-of-season projections from ZIPS and Steamer and playing time forecasts from updated depth charts. These numbers take 2013 performance into account, but also adjust for a player’s historical norms and where he is on the aging curve, which allows for a better future forecast than just looking at two months worth of data.

Here, you can see the expected coming regression. The Pirates offense is likely to perform a little bit better, jumping from 3.92 runs per game up to 4.18 runs per game, but the run prevention gets a lot worse, rising from 3.40 runs per game to 4.08 runs per game. Overall, those forecasts see the Pirates going just 56-53 the rest of the way, if they don’t make any changes to their roster.

But, here’s the thing; because the Pirates are already 33-20, going 56-53 the rest of the way would cause them to finish with 89 wins, and the full season forecast on the standings page has them ending the year with the sixth best record in all of baseball, and their final record would be good enough to earn them a spot in the Wild Card play-in game against the Reds. And these records don’t take into account the future upgrades that contending teams will make this summer, so you can probably add some additional wins to the teams at the top of the pile. If I had to guess a final record with the expectation that the Pirates will be buyers this summer, I’d probably pick them to finish with somewhere in the 90-92 win range.

In other words, we can regress the Pirates early season performance heavily, note that they’re playing well over their heads, and that their pitching can’t keep up their current levels while still also acknowledging that they’ve put themselves in pretty good playoff position. Right now, the Pirates should probably be favored to join the Reds as the NL Wild Card teams.

It’s been a long time since Pittsburgh had a winning season. It’s been a long time since Pittsburgh had a baseball team as good as this one. They won’t keep winning at their current pace, but this team should not only be good enough to break the streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons, it might just break the playoff drought as well.

post #12082 of 72975
Thread Starter 
A Few Good PawSox.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
When I realized that the Pawtucket Red Sox were coming into town, I was actually pretty excited. There was a chance to see pitchers Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa and position players Jackie Bradley Jr., Jose Iglesias, and Bryce Brentz, and that’s quite a bit of quality on a Triple-A team. By the time the PawSox rolled into town, however, only three of those players were still with the team. De La Rosa had a mild injury to his side the Tuesday before the team came to Louisville, and he would skip his next start. And Jose Iglesias was promoted before the games I intended to watch. Three solid prospects remained.
The headliner was Allen Webster. He’s had a rough start to his major-league career, but he’s still an interesting arm to watch. Everything starts with his six-foot-three-inch frame. Webster doesn’t carry a lot of weight on that frame, but despite being quite lean, he has plenty of arm strength and was able to maintain it throughout the start.

Webster’s delivery looked improved from what I had seen in video. In the various pieces of video, I worried that he threw a bit too much like Tommy Hanson – mostly using pure arm strength instead of incorporating his lower body – and would put himself at increased risk for shoulder problems. In his start in Louisville, Webster was able to stay on a straighter course to the plate, and he incorporated his lower body more by pushing off with his back foot instead of simply “falling” off the rubber.

As for Webster’s stuff, you can see why he’s so exciting and yet why he also had trouble against major-league competition. His fastball ranged from 92 mph-to-99 mph, but he mostly sat in the 93 mph-to-95 mph range. When he did reach back for the upper-90s heat, it was nowhere near the zone. The bright spots to the pitch are the velocity with a little arm-side run, but he still can’t locate it very well, often missing the zone or staying in hittable parts of the zone. I expected more swings-and-misses from the pitch, but if he’s not locating it better, batters can square it up.

Moving on to the secondary pitches, Webster added a slider and change-up. The slider was okay, ranging from 84 mph-to-88 mph, but while it had some late movement, it didn’t really miss any bats. That job was left to the change-up that sat in the 82 mph-to-85 mph range, and it had fastball-like arm speed, adding to the deception. I preferred the change-up in this one, but both are strong pitches that would be more productive if he located them better. Webster also tried a couple high-70s curveballs, but they were badly telegraphed and ended up in the dirt.

I definitely like Webster as a starter because of the three solid-to-better pitches and his ability to maintain his velocity, but the control/command is an issue. His walk rate has slowly risen as he’s moved up the ladder, and while he’s still striking hitters out – even at an increased rate so far at 29% – major-league hitters just simply aren’t going to swing at all of the pitches out of the zone. Webster is only 23 and could probably benefit from a long stint in Triple-A, but there’s definitely a high ceiling here.

Before Jackie Bradley was called up yesterday, I saw a few at-bats from the diminutive switch-hitter lefty. He looked a little lost the first at-bat of the night against Armando Galarraga, but he adjusted well in the next at-bats to draw a walk and single to right. Bradley had a rough start to his major-league career, but I’m not entirely sure what he learned in Triple-A as he mashed the competition, but the Red Sox are out to win and couldn’t simply afford to let Bradley work out his problems in the majors. Whether Bradley learned what he needed to remains to be seen.

Bryce Brentz was the other interesting prospect in this one. His stature and stance at the plate along with his facial hair reminded me of Dustin Pedroia, and he certainly took a cut at the ball when he swung. Brentz’s swing was quite noisy with a lot of moving pieces prior to the ball being thrown, and he drifted forward severely during his first at-bat of the night. He seemed to adjust in later at-bats and stayed back better, leading to a couple of hard hit balls. Brentz can definitely make some hard contact, but the swing is long and has a noisy load, meaning he probably will continue to swing-and-miss in the majors.

The most interesting part of this game wasn’t the prospects, though. In the top of the sixth, the first base umpire came to the mound to look at Armando Galarraga’s glove and the mound area. It was definitely odd, and no one seemed to understand exactly what was going on, though we could infer the purpose. When Brock Holt stepped in the box, Galarraga promptly hit him, and everyone began to understand what had probably happened – an inquiry from Holt or another Pawtucket Red Sox player as to whether Galarraga was receiving artificial aid of some kind. As Holt went down the first base line, he and Galarraga exchanged pleasantries before the benches cleared. No punches were thrown, but more pleasantries were certainly exchanged in the brouhaha. During the next half-inning, the fans were clearly anticipating retaliation. Webster pitched to Felix Perez and got him out, and while Denis Phipps turned away from Webster’s pitches as he seemingly expected to get plunked, Webster pitched to him as well. Mike Hessman didn’t fare so well, however, as he took a fastball off the hip, and Webster and his manager were ejected.

It’s Wacha Time.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
You can knock ‘em down, but you can’t knock ‘em out.

The St. Louis Cardinals’ pitching staff has been decimated by injuries early on in 2013, but the club continues to receive strong performances from rookie pitchers thanks to one of the deepest minor league systems in the game. The next pitching prospect to throw his hat into the ring will be 2012 first round draft pick Michael Wacha, who will face the Kansas City Royals in his big league debut tonight.

If you read my pre-season Cardinals Top 15 prospect list (where Wacha was ranked second behind outfielder Oscar Taveras, and one spot ahead of fellow RHP Shelby Miller) or my overall Top 100 MLB prospects list (where he was ranked 24th overall) you already know I’m a big fan of the 6’6” hurler. In fact, here’s a quote that I wrote after watching him pitching during his pro debut in 2012, albeit in shorter stints out of the bullpen:

His fastball, which was hitting 96-98 mph out of the bullpen, showed late movement – including arm side run – and he commanded it on the corners. I saw him throw a nasty changeup with good arm speed and outstanding fade, which K’d Top 100 prospect Nolan Arenado of the Rockies. Wacha’s breaking ball remains a work-in-progress.

Earlier this season, I watched Wacha’s first start of the 2013 season and, while I came away impressed with his long-term potential, I did temper my enthusiasm for the here-and-now.

He constantly worked up in the zone and survived thanks to the overpowering stuff. Although he attacked the zone early in the… Because he was behind in the count so often, he was unable to utilize his changeup as a strikeout weapon. The breaking ball has a long way to go to become a go-to pitch against big league hitters. …Wacha has a ways to go before he’ll be ready to assume a regular big league job.

Fast-forward through May and Wacha has continued to work up in the zone with his fastball and he’s been an extreme-fly-ball pitcher at Triple-A. The right-hander has the stuff to survive up in the zone if his command and control are working but it will be important for him to have a go-to pitch to change hitters’ eye levels. Wacha’s curveball doesn’t have enough of a consistent break right now to get the job done but he does a nice job of placing his changeup at hitters’ knees.

His lack of strikeouts (5.81 K/9) tells us that he’s not overpowering Triple-A hitters even with his two plus pitches (fastball-changeup), so he’s not going to suddenly start dominating hitters in The Show. Hitters are putting a lot of balls in play against him and — with most of them in the air — Wacha is going to be susceptible to the long-ball.

For another opinion on the prospect, I asked Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider and for an opinion on Wacha’s potential. He recently saw the hurler take on the Seattle Mariner’s Triple-A club in Tacoma.

“I believe he can contribute at the big league level, but the key for these young arms and their chances to stick is staying out of the middle of the plate, keeping the ball down, and having more than one major-league caliber pitche to offer. You can’t have off nights with command in the big leagues and survive for very long, and Wacha is certainly no exception to that,” he explained. “He doesn’t have the raw stuff of [Baltimore's] Kevin Gausman, but he has improved his breaking ball, flashing an above-average curveball when I saw him a few starts back in Triple-A. His 90-94 mph fastball had life, too, and he knew which hitters he could challenge with it up and rarely left it up in a dangerous quadrant. The changeup is a weapon, too — it’s his best pitch — which will help him get through the lineup and battle versus good left-handed pitching.”

I believe Wacha has the body, actions and athleticism to eventually develop at least an average breaking ball, which will give him a sufficient weapon to combat big league hitters, when mixed in with his other two weapons. He has the potential to eventually develop into a No. 2 starter but, currently, he should be able to hold his own as a No. 4 starter.

post #12083 of 72975
Thread Starter 
An Inning with Carlos Marmol’s Command.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Carlos Marmol doesn’t have the highest career walk rate in baseball history. That honor belongs to Mitch Williams, who walked one of every six guys he faced. But Marmol isn’t far behind, and he’s the leader among actives. Marmol has a higher career walk rate than Jason Giambi. He has a higher career walk rate than Brian Giles and Mike Schmidt and Jeff Bagwell. Walks are just part of the package, and Marmol isn’t some kid anymore, so it’s not like they’re about to go away with a mechanical tweak. This is in part due to the fact that Marmol is hard to hit, so he ends up in a lot of deep counts. This is more in part due to the fact that Marmol has had really lousy command.

Control is said to be the ability to throw strikes. Command is said to be the ability to hit spots. We don’t have a measure of command, but we can assume that a guy with Marmol’s walk rate doesn’t list it as a strength on his hypothetical English-language pitcher resume. The walks are part of the reason the Cubs see Marmol as expendable. They’re part of the reason he doesn’t have much of a market, and they’re part of the reason he’s no longer closing. Everybody knows command is a Carlos Marmol weakness. And now we have fun with a quick project.

Marmol pitched on Wednesday, against the White Sox. He was handed the eighth inning, and he allowed a run on 19 pitches, 14 of which were strikes. He allowed a groundball double and he generated a pair of strikeouts. For no reason other than pure curiosity, I decided to investigate his command on the afternoon. How well was Marmol locating against his four opposing batters? Following, you are going to see 19 screenshots. The red dot indicates the catcher’s target, set before pitch release. The assumption is that the catcher was indeed setting a target with his glove. This isn’t always true, but we can’t do any better. And this isn’t science-science. This is just casual science. So, whatever. Follow along, and be thankful I made 19 screenshots instead of 19 .gifs.

We don’t know what Marmol usually looks like. We don’t know what an average pitcher usually looks like, or what a gifted pitcher usually looks like. I went into this not knowing what I’d see, and I’m still kind of tackling it blind. Let’s explore Carlos Marmol’s eighth-inning command.

Fastball, good spot. Good job!

Fastball, pretty good spot. Pretty good job!

Slider, bad miss. A little too high to crush, but nowhere close to down and away.

Slider, good miss, if a miss at all. After Dioner Navarro caught the pitch, he looked at Marmol and nodded, as if to say “good execution, good pitch.”

Slider, bad miss over the plate in a 1-and-2 count. Alexei Ramirez hit this pitch for a double.

Fastball, bad miss. Immediately, Marmol is behind.

Slider, perfect! All right, Carlos Marmol!

Slider, perfect again! Why even throw fastballs!

Slider, bad miss in the middle of the zone in a 1-and-2 count. Alex Rios fouled it off. It could’ve gone much worse.

Slider, perfect! Strikeout!

Fastball, bad miss on the opposite side of the plate. This is an inside fastball at the belt. This is not an outside fastball at the thigh.

Fastball, dreadful miss.

Slider, bad miss again. Adam Dunn is Marmol’s first lefty of the afternoon.

Slider, decent. The pitch was only on the edge of the zone, and Dunn swung through it, but it’s dangerous to throw a low, inside breaking ball to an opposite-handed hitter with pull power if you don’t keep it low enough.

Slider, good. It was a borderline strike in the low-away quadrant, and Dunn flew out.

Fastball, bad miss. Certainly don’t want to groove a heater to Hector Gimenez with no one on in a six-run ballgame.

Slider, perfect! Only throw sliders!

Slider, pretty good. It’s another low-inside breaking ball to an opposite-handed hitter, but Gimenez isn’t a Dunn-type threat, and the pitch stayed on the edge.

Slider, pretty good. Ahead 1-and-2, Marmol could’ve and should’ve buried it, instead of throwing a borderline strike, but Gimenez whiffed, and that was right in the corner. That’s what Navarro signaled for.

This has been an inning with Carlos Marmol. Marmol inherited a seven-run lead, and he threw 19 pitches. All of them were either fastballs or sliders. I subjectively characterized eight of them as bad misses, based on approximate intended locations and approximate actual locations. Some of the misses were worse than others, and again, I don’t know Marmol’s actual, true intent with each pitch. This is all guesswork, but it sated my curiosity. One thing I noticed was that there wasn’t much variation in Navarro’s targets. Maybe this is because the Cubs were up by seven. Maybe this is just how Navarro is. Maybe the Cubs realize it’s pointless to try to set targets for Carlos Marmol. Maybe the goal is to get Marmol to look down the middle, and then see where the pitch ends up. It usually isn’t down the middle.

In his Wednesday appearance, Marmol didn’t walk anybody. Was his command unusually good? Was his command actually unusually bad? Was his command more or less normal? What would another pitcher look like, given the same sort of examination? There’s more that could be done here. You’re next, Mariano Rivera, probably.

post #12084 of 72975
Chris Archer coming up to face Cleveland tomorrow. He'll strike out 8, walk 4 and give up 5 runs laugh.gif
He put up awful numbers in the Indians' organization, but I saw him pitch and about cried when they traded him for DeRosa. His stuff was way too good to give up on a fifth-round pick after two years. And he was young for those leagues.
post #12085 of 72975
Thread Starter 
It was the walks. Even now it's still a bit of a problem. Logic I've heard is that the K upside will make up for it but that gives you what, a 5 inning starter?
post #12086 of 72975
I'm worried about Jered Weaver's velocity.
post #12087 of 72975
His velocity was higher than it was before he got injured and is at the same range as it was last year when he had arguably his best season. I'm not too concerned.

We have real problems to worry about laugh.gif
post #12088 of 72975
My mistake then. Read he was hitting 85-87 on the gun. Seemed low.
post #12089 of 72975
He's been back for one start.

And he threw 22 four-seams.
Edited by Kevin Cleveland - 5/31/13 at 12:49pm
post #12090 of 72975

Can someone post that? I didn't see it on here yet. Appreciate it.
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