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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 435

post #13021 of 73425
Originally Posted by abovelegit1 View Post

Yup..and the relief pitching isn't doing this team any favors either. Johnson has been poor, but that's the nature of RP. Best bullpen one year can be one of the worst the very next year. Such a shame, though. Difference between first and second may come down to those blown opportunities.

Glad the O's finally have a power hitter opposing fans find worthy of PED accusations.

Starting pitching is the problem not relievers. You can't expect to repeat last season especially when our starters can't go more than 5 1/3. With bundy shut down for 2 years we gotta depend on wada and Chen to come back, but wada looks terrible in his rehab starts. Gausman can still help this season down the stretch.

And you can't really blame people for saying crush is on roids; Brady Anderson
post #13022 of 73425
Thread Starter 
Brady Anderson never showed any of the kind of promise that Davis did for years.
post #13023 of 73425
Originally Posted by Proshares View Post

Brady Anderson never showed any of the kind of promise that Davis did for years.

And he was a leadoff hitter. laugh.gif
post #13024 of 73425
Thread Starter 

I wouldn't keep Markakis that high. I'd drop him to 5th and move everyone up one. Especially Machado, he needs to be hitting second.

I personally think the O's should make a big push for Garza and Peavy. Take out that one game against Cincy from Garza and he's been pretty damn good so far. The velo will come back.
post #13025 of 73425
Originally Posted by Proshares View Post

Brady Anderson never showed any of the kind of promise that Davis did for years.

Players who worked with Brady and his people got caught with peds. That's what I meant sorry
post #13026 of 73425
Originally Posted by Proshares View Post


I wouldn't keep Markakis that high. I'd drop him to 5th and move everyone up one. Especially Machado, he needs to be hitting second.

I personally think the O's should make a big push for Garza and Peavy. Take out that one game against Cincy from Garza and he's been pretty damn good so far. The velo will come back.

Buck likes the left right left right with wieters switch hitting.

And I want cliff lee
post #13027 of 73425
Thread Starter 
Five trades for Matt Garza.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Chicago Cubs right-hander Matt Garza might end up being the best starting pitcher dealt at baseball’s July 31 trade deadline.

After beginning the season on the disabled list, Garza has returned to form as a top-of-the-rotation difference-maker. In his past three starts, he’s gone at least seven innings and given up less than a run per game with 23 strikeouts. It’s clear his stuff is all the way back and his command and control is phenomenal. As such so is his trade value.

The Cubs’ front office is concentrating on fixing its pitching in the long-term, and that’s what they’ll focus on in any trade talks for Garza. The preference will be acquiring young starting pitching which is either close to the big leagues or major league ready.

The Cubs match up well with the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies, as all can offer them major league-ready pitching either in the rotation or the bullpen. Garza’s injury history makes him somewhat of a risk, and perhaps that will temper some the return on Garza the Cubs are hoping for. So here are five trades the Cubs could realistically make for Garza:
1. Cleveland Indians

RHPs Cody Allen and Dylan Baker

The Indians don’t have any young starting pitching to surrender for a rental such as Garza, but they might be willing to sacrifice a significant bullpen arm if they can make a major acquisition for the pennant race. Allen’s velocity is now up to 94-97 mph and his hard 84 mph slider is nasty, with curveball-type tilt. Allen, 24, is striking out more than 10 per nine innings and could replace Kevin Gregg as the Cubs’ closer if Gregg is dealt as expected at the deadline, as well. Baker would be a solid throw-in for the Cubs. Baker was the Indians’ fifth-round draft pick in 2012 and currently has a 3.63 ERA in low Class A. He throws in the mid-90s with a hard slider that doesn’t break much and looks more like a cutter.

2. Texas Rangers

LHP Robbie Ross and IF Drew Robinson

It would be difficult for the Rangers to part with Ross, who’s been an integral part of the Rangers’ bullpen the past two years. However, Garza would be a solid No. 2 starter between ace Yu Darvish and No. 3 Derek Holland and would greatly improve their chances of winning the AL West and advancing in the playoffs.

The Cubs, on the other hand, could put Ross into the rotation -- he started in the minors -- and since he’s not eligible for salary arbitration until 2015, he would fit nicely in their long-term plans. Robinson would be a solid throw-in. He can play second or third and has some gap-to-gap power.

3. San Diego Padres

LHP Robbie Erlin and RHP Keyvius Sampson

Erlin originally was drafted in the third round by the Rangers in 2009. He was included in a 2011 trade deadline deal for setup man Mike Adams, who was one of the best in the business at the time. Erlin had a 5.25 ERA in 12 Triple-A starts this season, but has pitched very well since being promoted to the majors, posting a 3.60 ERA with 12 strikeouts and one walk in 15 innings. His fastball sits 88-91 mph with a slow 12-6 curveball and a solid change.

Sampson has a history of shoulder and elbow injuries but finally appears healthy. This season he has a 3.64 ERA between Double- and Triple-A with almost a strikeout per inning. He has a 90-94 mph fastball with late sink and a solid changeup.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers

RHPs Stephen Fife and Matt Magill

In Fife and Magill, the Dodgers can offer the Cubs two young major league-ready starters, both of whom have had time in the majors this year. Fife’s 88-92 mph fastball highlights a solid four-pitch mix that includes a curveball, changeup and slider. His repertoire doesn’t wow scouts, but he should be a solid back-of-the-rotation starter in time.

Magill’s fastball, however, is 92-95 mph and runs in on right-handed hitters. When his slider has optimum spin, it’s a wipeout pitch. His changeup needs more work to be effective. He has had trouble with control and command at the major league level, but in time he should settle down and improve. He also could become a back-of-the-rotation starter.

5. Colorado Rockies

LHP Drew Pomeranz and C Will Swanner

Pomeranz made his 2013 major league debut Sunday against the Giants after posting a 4.20 ERA in 85 2/3 innings pitched at Triple-A Colorado Springs. He was acquired two years ago for Ubaldo Jimenez, but struggled a year ago finishing with a 4.93 ERA in his first full season with the Rockies. Scouts have told me they like Pomeranz but question if he ever will be effective at Coors Field.

As a result, Colorado might deal him to get an arm like Garza to go with Jorge De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin at the top of its rotation. Pomeranz would be quite a coup for the Cubs’ Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, if they could get him for Garza.

Swanner, 21, is a big-framed, slow-legged catcher with power. He profiles as a backup catcher and first baseman, but because of the power would be a nice throw-in for the Cubs.

O's must trade for a starter.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
On a macro level, the Orioles have been fairly consistent this season. They've won at least 15 games in each month of the season, and their standing in the ESPN Power Rankings has been fairly well clustered. They have been ranked no higher than No. 4 and no lower than No. 13. Fresh off a sweep of the rival Yankees, they rank seventh this week, but that ranking might be their ceiling if they are unable to improve their starting pitching.

It's hard to know who's in and who's out on a daily basis, given how many pitchers the O's have shuffled through. Ten different pitchers have started games for Baltimore this season. Of them, only three -- Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman -- have pitched well enough to retain their starting spot as we move into the second half. The bottom line is that their starting rotation -- which ranks 28th in FIP- -- is not getting the job done.

Jason Hammel was the talk of the town in the first half of last season, but a knee injury killed his momentum, and he hasn't been the same since. He has tossed a quality start just 44 percent of the time this season, which is a below-average rate. With a significant drop in both his strikeout rate and ground ball percentage, he is seeing a lot more hard-hit balls fly off opponents' bats. When everything is firing on all cylinders for Hammel, he is a solid No. 3 starter, but that is definitely not the case this season.

There are a number of unpalatable options to go with Hammel. Zach Britton, who has a higher walk rate than strikeout rate, Jake Arrieta (6.46 BB/9), Steve Johnson (on the 15-day disabled list) and Tsuyoshi Wada, who was so bad during his rehab from Tommy John surgery (8.14 ERA in six outings) that the team out righted him to Triple-A. None of them should be trusted moving forward.

Then there are the two guys who pitched Friday, phenom Kevin Gausman and success story T.J. McFarland.

Gausman clearly has the tools, and with a .337 batting average on balls in play as well as a very high 21.2 percent HR/FB ratio, you could make the argument that he has been unlucky in his initial showings. However, he's far from a sure thing for 2013. McFarland, a Rule 5 pick from the Indians last winter, is even less of a sure thing.

Point is, if the O's want to make sure they don't waste one of the best lineups in baseball, a rotation upgrade is in order. Here's a look at who they should target as well as some possible trade chips.

Cliff Lee

The name at the top of everyone's wish list heading into July is going to be Cliff Lee. First off, there's no certainty that he will be on the market. But if he is, it will be a long shot for the O's to grab him. Yes, they could deal Dylan Bundy and Jonathan Schoop in a package for Lee, as they are two players the Phillies could certainly use. But with both on the mend -- Tommy John surgery for Bundy and a back injury for Schoop -- the deal would require quite a bit of faith on Philadelphia's part. Probably more faith than they're willing to show, even though Schoop might just be the perfect replacement for impending free agent Chase Utley.

Having both of their top prospects on the shelf will probably be enough to scare off more than just Philadelphia. As such, Baltimore may have to re-focus on different pitchers.

[+] Enlarge
Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports
Chicago's Jake Peavy would be a good get for Baltimore.
Jake Peavy

Jake Peavy would be a good get, but there are two potential problems with netting Peavy. First, he doesn't want to leave Chicago, and second, he still has a year left on his contract. Also complicating things is the fact he has a player option that kicks in if he hits certain innings limits in 2013 and/or '14. He isn't likely to hit them, but it's certainly something that needs to be taken into account.

There's also the fact Peavy is currently on the shelf, and hasn't been the most durable guy the past half decade. Finally, when he has been healthy this season, he has been allowing more than his fair share of home runs. It hasn't been a career-long problem, but since the Ballpark at Camden Yards is just as much of a bandbox as is U.S. Cellular Field, it's yet another thing that might make Peavy less than an ideal acquisition.

Bud Norris

One player who has kept his home runs down this season has been Bud Norris, who has successfully survived the Astros' migration to the American League. He may not keep his HR/FB percentage as low as his current 5.7 percent mark, but even if it comes up some, he should still be a pretty effective pitcher. And with the Astros in the process of a long-term rebuild and in need of pitching, a Norris-for-Eduardo Rodriguez swap could make a lot of sense.

The fourth-ranked prospect in the O's system and 100th-best prospect in the game overall entering the season, Rodriguez offers a lot of potential. The southpaw is currently at high Class A in his age-20 season, so he is still probably at least a year away. If the Astros could be convinced to throw Jose Veras or Wesley Wright into the deal, as well, that might help even out the potential of losing out on the lefty with the potential to have plus velocity.

Matt Garza

An option with more experience than Norris would be Matt Garza. Garza is older than is Norris, and while Norris is probably a more attractive option given that he still has a couple of years of team control left, Garza might be the better option for just this year. For one thing, the soon-to-be free agent might not cost as much. For another, he has the experience of pitching in American League East ballparks, given his history with the Rays.

He's also been hot as of late. He's allowed just two runs in his past three starts. Rodriguez would be a good fit in a deal for Garza, as the Cubs need pitching.

The rest

Whoever Baltimore targets, the bar is so low for the final spots in its rotation that there are a number of other guys who could fit the bill, as well. The best options outside of Lee, Peavy, Norris and Garza include Ricky Nolasco, Scott Feldman and Joe Blanton, who has thrown quality starts in six of his past seven outings. Shaun Marcum might be a good choice, but he has a tendency to fade down the stretch and has already been hurt this season. Yovani Gallardo might be an option if the Brewers put him on the block, but like with Lee and Peavy, the cost might be prohibitive.

If the O's are able to land one dependable starter, they could be a force come the postseason, should they reach it. They won't need five starters in the postseason, and could conceivably shift Gausman into a high-leverage role similar to how the Rays used David Price in 2008. This would strengthen an already solid bullpen. But first the O's need to get to the postseason, and they must upgrade their rotation to make it there.

Zimmer, Cole impress in Wilmington.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I made my first trip to Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, Del., on Saturday night, receiving a wonderful welcome from the Blue Rocks' staff and catching a few famous pitching prospects in the process, thanks to a doubleheader against the Potomac Nationals.

Wilmington Game 1 starter, Kyle Zimmer, was the Royals' first overall pick in the 2012 rule 4 draft, a converted position player who showed a big fastball and curveball and had a very easy, athletic delivery that pointed to a top-of-the-rotation ceiling. All of that was on display on Saturday night, as he threw a seven-inning shutout. It was a game in which he gave up just two hits and one hard-hit ball while punching out six batters.

Zimmer showed three plus pitches on Saturday, led by a 93-97 mph fastball that he moved around the zone well and was willing to elevate to get swings and misses. He held that velocity into the final innings, still hitting 95-96 regularly as the game wound down. His curveball is still a thing of beauty, 78-83 with depth and angle to it, and he's comfortable throwing it to both sides of the plate.

The changeup was less consistent but flashed plus at 85-86, with some late action, but was more effective because he sells it so well out of his hand. The only below-average pitch he threw was his 85-87 mph slider, by far his worst offering with barely any tilt to it. However he used it far more often than was justified. Throw that out and you can easily project him as a starter who works with three pitches graded 60 or better if he just develops more feel for the changeup.

Of course, I'm burying the lede a little by omitting the fact that Zimmer had been terrible so far in 2013 before Saturday night, bringing a 5.92 ERA into the game while allowing eight homers in 65 innings, even though Wilmington is a pitchers' park where it's very difficult to homer. I can only speculate on why the guy I saw look so dominant on Saturday has given up so much solid contact, with a .341 BABIP before that outing, in high Class A. One possibility is overuse of the slider -- largely at the expense of the changeup, a pitch with more promise right now -- and that he needs to throw more to get more consistent with it.

A stronger theory is that Zimmer tends to rush through his delivery, which produces inconsistent results from pitch to pitch because he's not always releasing the ball at the same point. His tempo varies too wildly, and I think it starts because he drifts off the rubber too soon rather than staying tall and striding forward in a way that would let him control his body more. I haven't seen the “bad” Kyle Zimmer, so these are just my own hypotheses, but they're two things that could fairly easily be tested without much risk of harming Zimmer for the short or long term.

• The Potomac Nationals aren't exactly the '27 Yankees on offense, but they did roll out two legitimate prospect arms as starters in the two games on Saturday. A.J. Cole was the more impressive of the two, working at 93-97, mostly at the higher end of the range with very little effort and a very quick arm. Cole was originally drafted by the Nats, traded to Oakland in the Gio Gonzalez deal, then reacquired a year later in the Michael Morse trade after a disappointing year in the A's system.

Cole's main problem is that he's about a pitch and a half away from a starter's arsenal. In high school, he had a true curveball, but that's now become a slurvier breaking ball anywhere from 77-84, and he's getting on the side of the pitch, producing a flatter break and making it easier to see when he's throwing that rather than the fastball. (A Nats source told me that in Cole's previous outing, he was on top of the ball more and getting more depth, so I appear to have seen a lesser version.)

He barely uses his 80-82 mph changeup, and used it only versus lefties. He cuts off his delivery and comes across his body a little bit to get to his glove side, which isn't great for long-term shoulder health or for command. I loved Cole as a potential No. 2 starter after his huge 2011 season, but the Cole I saw on Saturday night is going to end up a reliever unless he gets that depth back on the breaking ball and develops a third pitch.

• Lefty Robbie Ray started the first game for Potomac, showing a four-pitch arsenal with nothing plus but some potential as either a fifth starter or a middle reliever. Ray's fastball sat 90-93 but played down because his delivery is all slow and his stride is so short. He gave up two homers to right-handed batters on the pitch, bringing his season totals to eight allowed to righties versus just one to a lefty. That's the result of the straight fastball and fringe-average changeup, which is behind the spike curveball that breaks sharply downward but is usually out of the zone. There's a little more in there than he's showing now, and speeding up the delivery or extending his stride might tap into it enough to make him a solid fourth or fifth starter in the majors at some point.

• There were no bats of note in either lineup, with Wilmington's Jorge Bonifacio on the DL and Cheslor Cuthbert recently promoted to Double-A. The Nats' lineup included Michael Taylor (not the former Phillies farmhand) who looks like he hasn't gained a pound since high school and was blown up by velocity all night. He needs to get a lot stronger before he can regain any sort of prospect status. Right now he's all looseness and athleticism but can't translate any of it into production.

How Davis developed into an elite hitter.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
BALTIMORE -- Chris Davis was anxious at the plate against CC Sabathia on Friday, chasing pitches out of the strike zone, perhaps in the way that he did in those frustrating days when he was with the Texas Rangers. During that game, Robinson Cano reached first base and he turned to Davis.

"Man, slow down," he said. "You've got 28 homers and it's not even the All-Star break." "Yeah, I know," Davis said, acknowledging that he had been hyper-aggressive. "Our pitchers know it, too," said Cano.

So Davis slowed down on Saturday and clubbed two more homers, becoming only the eighth player in major league history to reach 30 by the end of June -- and he's still got one day to go, with the Orioles set to face the Yankees on "Sunday Night Baseball," looking for a sweep.

Davis sat down in the Orioles' dugout Saturday and talked about all the elements that have gone into his remarkable start: The adjustments on his swing, the change in his bat, the lowest moments of the past.

Cano is again the captain for the American League in the Home Run Derby, and I asked him during the Yankees' batting practice if he had finished picking the guys to make up his team. He said that he's close. Based on what he's seeing in Davis, it's hard to imagine that he won't pick the Orioles first baseman.

From the Elias Sports Bureau: Davis is the eighth player in MLB history -- and only the third in American League history -- to have 30 homers before the end of June.

30-plus HRs before end of June

Chris Davis -- 2013
Albert Pujols -- 2009
Barry Bonds -- 2001
Luis Gonzalez -- 2001
Sammy Sosa -- 1998, 1999
Mark McGwire -- 1998
Ken Griffey Jr. -- 1994, 1998
Babe Ruth -- 1928, 1930

Davis is the only one of those eight players to also have at least 25 doubles before the end of June. Saturday was his 81st game of the season. He's now on pace for 117 runs, 49 doubles, 59 homers and 156 RBIs. Nobody in MLB history has ever finished a season with those numbers.

From ESPN Stats and Information: How has Davis developed into one of the elite hitters in baseball this season? Improvement in three key areas:

More contact: During his first two seasons in the majors, Davis struck out 32.3 percent of the time he came to bat. No player, age 23 or younger, in MLB history struck out more often over the course of his first two seasons. This season: 26.3 percent, an enormous improvement.

More fly balls: Last season, Davis hit 33 home runs while hitting fly balls only 39 percent of the time, just slightly above the league average of 36 percent. This season? He's hitting fly balls 48 percent of the time (sixth in MLB).

Better plate discipline: Over the previous four seasons, Davis swung at 36 percent of pitches out of the zone. This season: 29 percent. This has allowed him to get into better counts -- counts he can do damage in. From 2009 to '12, Davis saw a 2-0 or 3-1 count in 14 percent of his plate appearances. This season, he's seeing those counts in 23 percent of his plate appearances and hitting .490/.679/1.163 with a MLB-leading 10 homers in those situations.

Both of Davis' home runs Saturday came against curveballs. He leads the majors with 10 homers versus breaking balls this season.

Most HR versus breaking balls
Chris Davis -- 10
Miguel Cabrera -- 9
Robinson Cano -- 8
Ian Desmond -- 8

In the Orioles' clubhouse before the game, it was a loud atmosphere, as players and coaches took turns battling it out in pool and pingpong. The Yankees' clubhouse was much more reserved. The respective environments probably mean nothing, but on the other hand, the Yankees' players privately acknowledge how much they're struggling: They rank 29th in the majors in runs scored this month, and they are drifting in the standings. On the other hand, Baltimore is playing well, with a lot of confidence, and the Orioles blasted the Yankees on Saturday night.

This was an embarrassing loss, even by the Yankees' recent standards, writes David Waldstein.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman is not ready to throw in the towel.

The Orioles bashed their rivals, writes Dan Connolly.

Some trade stuff:

1. The Rays are still in evaluation mode -- not targeting anything specific -- knowing that they will be getting help from within as David Price and Alex Cobb return to the rotation from the disabled list.

2. I wrote here last week how the Diamondbacks, seeking starting pitching, have interest in the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo, a Mexican-born player who could be a marketable player for Arizona. In their conversations with the Cubs about Jeff Samardzija, Chicago asked for top pitching prospect Archie Bradley as well as Tyler Skaggs. That ended those very brief discussions.

The perception of at least one rival evaluator is that the Diamondbacks are open to moving Skaggs, and that when Arizona gets a starting pitcher, Skaggs is likely the guy who will be at the center of that deal.

3. The Giants are not only looking for pitching, but a right-handed-hitting outfielder. San Francisco's offense has faded, and on Saturday, Matt Cain's strong outing was wasted. They've scored 18 runs in their last nine games.

4. Matt Garza has allowed just two runs over his last three starts and is throwing well, and rival evaluators believe the Cubs will move him quickly. They should be able to get more than the value of a first-round draft pick, given Garza's history of pitching successfully in the AL East. Besides the NL West teams, the clubs interested are said to be the Rangers and Orioles. Keep in mind that anytime the Padres engage with the Cubs, they could have a slight advantage because some of Chicago's front office -- most notably, GM Jed Hoyer -- came from San Diego and knows the team's farm system well.

5. For the Cardinals and other teams, the trade deadline is coming into focus, writes Derrick Goold.

6. The phone of Brewers GM Doug Melvin is ringing, writes Tom Haudricourt.

7. Henderson Alvarez is ready to rejoin the Miami rotation, and Ricky Nolasco could be the guy he replaces.

Around the league

1. The Pirates are the first team to reach 50 victories. They're 20 games over .500 and in first place.

From Elias: The Pirates are the first team to 50 wins for the first time in more than 50 years (1902, 1903, 1908, 1909, 1921, 1960 were the previous seasons). The Pirates haven't made the playoffs since 1992. In the 20 full seasons since then, Pittsburgh had, on average, earned its 50th win of the season in Game No. 113.

The Pirates still have a long way to go, says Clint Hurdle.

2. Bruce Rondon got a chance to pitch in a close game, and it didn't go well. The Tigers have the front-runner for the AL Cy Young Award in Max Scherzer and the likely front-runner for the MVP in Miguel Cabrera. They have so many great parts to their team -- and as of this morning, they are slogging along at 43-36, 14-16 over their last 30 games. Detroit's lead over Cleveland is one game.

As one executive mused the other day: The Indians are a dangerous team, in spite of their flaws, because they play with a ton of energy and have a good offense. Nick Swisher got a big hit for them Saturday.

There's pressure on these five Tigers, writes Bob Wojnowski.

3. Matt Harvey could be headed for an early shutdown. Which makes sense, given his importance in the Mets' world and the fact that the team figures to be playing meaningless games in September. Save the bullets for when they really count.

4. Oakland suffered a key loss when Jarrod Parker went down with a hamstring injury. Presumably, this could open the door for Dan Straily or Sonny Gray to be promoted.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Orioles are not close to signing catcher Matt Wieters, and unless something changes dramatically, the expectation within the Baltimore organization is that Wieters will play out his time with the team before becoming a free agent after the 2015 season. Wieters is represented by Scott Boras, whose clients almost always go into free agency rather than sign a long-term deal once they get within range of the open market.

2. Jeff Francoeur was designated for assignment.

3. Cole Hamels is getting a mental break.

4. Kevin Gregg's success could lead to a headache for Dale Sveum, because it's likely Gregg will get traded and the manager will have to find another closer.

5. Drew Pomeranz will start for the Rockies today, writes Patrick Saunders.

6. The Dodgers' outfield is about to get crowded with the return of Carl Crawford.

Dings and dents

1. Bryce Harper is set for his final rehab game.

2. Johnny Cueto was placed on the disabled list.

3. For now, Evan Longoria isn't going on the disabled list, writes Marc Topkin.

4. Derek Jeter must run the bases before taking the next step in his rehabilitation.

5. Peter Bourjos got hurt again.

6. Josh Beckett is going to have surgery.

7. Evan Gattis is waiting for clearance.

Gausman learning as he goes.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
BALTIMORE -- Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman has a gift for speaking anecdotally, remembering details as if he was drawing from a mental picture. Which is really great for him, because he may be a witness to history, in his first year in the major leagues.

First of all, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado is chasing Earl Webb's single-season doubles record. He doesn’t turn 21 for another five days, but he only needs 29 more after raking his 38th double of the season on "Sunday Night Baseball." And Chris Davis is beyond the midway point of, perhaps, breaking the American League’s single-season record for homers, which is still held by Roger Maris; Davis smashed his 31st homer on Sunday.

Somewhere out in the Baltimore bullpen, Gausman watched it all. He is 22 years old with six appearances in the big leagues, and in one of those, he faced Miguel Cabrera, who is on his way to being one of the greatest hitters of all time. However, it was a gesture that Cabrera made during one of his at-bats against Gausman that seems to have stuck with the young pitcher -- a sign of affirmation.

Before this season, Gausman had never thrown a circle changeup. Instead, he only threw a split-fingered change, with the velocity reading about 10-12 miles per hour slower than his fastball. But Gausman soon found that big-league hitters weren't fooled by that pitch. He needed a circle change that would be closer in velocity to his fastball, aiding its deceptiveness.
In the midst of an at-bat against Cabrera on June 2, Gausman threw a fastball down and in with the count 1-1 to make Cabrera move his feet. As Fernando Rodney learned over the weekend, Cabrera can take offense to having fastballs in the area of his head, but he seemed to understand what Gausman was doing, and why: He looked out at the rookie and nodded.

Then Gausman threw him an off-speed pitch, and Cabrera -- with his extraordinary eye-hand coordination -- managed to foul it off with an emergency hack, and again, he looked out at Gausman and nodded.

The count reached 3-2, and Gausman aimed a fastball at the outside corner, mid-90s paint. Cabrera took it for strike three to end the top half of the sixth inning, and as Gausman walked off the mound, he saw it again --Cabrera giving him a little nod: Nice job, Kid.

Something to remember, forever. Contact with greatness. Or, in this case, no contact.

• Because Gausman is the youngest member of the bullpen, he is expected to carry the bag of baseballs to the pen at the outset of each game. However, during the weekend series against the Yankees, he realized he also forgot to take sunflower seeds. One of the other relievers noticed Mariano Rivera nearby in the Yankees’ bullpen. "Why don’t you ask Rivera for some seeds?" his teammate said, cajoling.

Gausman knew better than to take that bait. He hopes to have a conversation with the all-time saves leader sometime this summer.

• On Saturday, Gausman was sitting in the bullpen when Chris Davis came up for his first at-bat in the first inning, and he remembers thinking to himself: "What if he hit a ball right at me?"

A second later, Davis crushed a long home run to the back of the Baltimore bullpen -- the ball landed inches away from Gausman.

Moments in time for a rookie pitcher. Moments to remember. And there were more on Sunday Night, when the Orioles closed out a sweep of the Yankees.

From ESPN Stats and Info: Chris Davis hit his 31st homer of the season Sunday, the seventh-most by a player through June and the most since Barry Bonds (39) and Luis Gonzalez (32) in 2001.

Davis is one of baseball’s best stories, writes Kevin Cowherd.

It seemed like everybody was in the building at Camden Yards -- including owner Peter Angelos -- and the Orioles responded, writes Eduardo Encina. Brian Roberts was back in the lineup for Baltimore.

The loss dropped the Yankees into fourth place in the AL East.

Alex Rodriguez will have a workout today and then will determine his next course of action. Joe Girardi is staying away from the A-Rod fray, writes Ken Davidoff.

Around the league

• The Pirates waited and waited before winning again, adding to their streak and MLB-best record of 51-30, as Jenn Menendez writes.

• As we all know, the Pirates are looking for their first winning season since 1992. While they're unlikely to continue at this pace and win 102 games, history says they're a lock to get that winning season.

From ESPN Stats and Info: The Pirates won their ninth straight game Sunday, their longest win streak since winning 10 straight in 2004. The win moved the Pirates to a MLB-best 51-30 on the season, tied for their best record through 81 games in more than 40 years. Each of the previous two times the Pirates won 51 games by the halfway point, they made the playoffs.

From Elias: Since MLB went to a 162-game schedule in 1962, 57 teams have been 21 or more games over .500 through 81 games. None of those 57 finished below .500.

But are they a lock for the playoffs? In the Wild Card era (since 1995), three teams (2002 Mariners, 2003 Mariners and 2006 White Sox) missed the playoffs despite being 20 or more games over .500 at the end of June.

A five-day break has been beneficial for Jason Grilli, writes Rob Biertempfel.

• The Indians have tied the Tigers in the AL Central, after their win over the White Sox and the Tigers loss to the Rays. As John Lowe writes, the Tigers have scored in only five of their last 36 innings.

However, it’s still really early in this race, as Paul Hoynes writes.

Joe Maddon was upset that the Tigers targeted Ben Zobrist. Maybe it’s a good thing these two teams don’t face each other again this season, writes Tom Gage. The Rays got the final say, writes Marc Topkin.

We had Cleveland GM Chris Antonetti on the podcast Thursday, and on Friday, Tim Kurkjian and I talked a whole lot about Yasiel Puig.

• The NL West is awesome: five teams within four games of each other, including the hard-charging Dodgers, who got four more hits from Yasiel Puig on Sunday.

From Elias: Puig, who debuted in the majors on June 3, went 4-for-5 with a double and a triple in the Dodgers’ 6–1 victory against the Phillies to improve his batting average to .436 (44-for-101). That’s the highest average for any player in baseball’s modern era (1900 to date) in the calendar month of his major-league debut (minimum: 60 at-bats). Only one other player who debuted in the majors since 1900 collected as many hits during his first calendar month in the big leagues as Puig. That was Joe DiMaggio, who went 48-for-126 (.381) in May 1936.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. White Sox GM Rick Hahn sounds as if he’s ready to begin selling, writes Toni Ginnetti.

2. Cliff Lee may be available, but the question for the Red Sox is whether they are willing to pay the price, writes Tim Britton,

3. It would make sense for the Phillies to trade Chase Utley, writes David Murphy. I agree completely. Ruben Amaro indicated that Utley is not untouchable.

The question is going to be whether the Phillies can get anything worthwhile in return, because there doesn’t appear to be a high volume of teams that would move aggressively to get him. The Orioles might, depending on whether Brian Roberts can stay healthy, but Ryan Flaherty has played well offensively and defensively of late, and Baltimore and Philadelphia had a tough time agreeing on deals last summer. Even if the Orioles had Roberts and Flaherty, they could still use Utley as a designated hitter.

None of the NL Central contenders need a second baseman, nor do most of the NL West teams. Atlanta wouldn’t push for a deal, and neither would Washington. Oakland could be a good landing spot, but the Phillies would presumably have to eat some money to make it happen, which would greatly complicate any deal.

I wrote here in April that the Royals would be the perfect fit, but we don’t know whether K.C. would surrender something decent. They are certainly winning enough to be in the conversation, standing 4 1/2 games out of first place.

There’s no question about this point: Trading Utley in midseason would allow the Phillies to move on gracefully from his time with the team and give them a chance to play Freddy Galvis daily.

4. Larry Beinfest isn’t talking about any Ricky Nolasco deal. But it’s coming, soon, and the Dodgers have been right in the middle of the talk.

5. The Dodgers designated a reliever for assignment.

Dings and dents

1. The Reds are going to slow down Johnny Cueto’s rehab, writes Mark Sheldon.

2. The Nationals are excited to have Bryce Harper back.

3. Lance Berkman’s knee continues to be sore.

4. Buster Posey is dealing with some aches, which means Brandon Belt sits.

5. Jarrod Parker may be able to make his next start, writes John Hickey.
post #13028 of 73425
#Harpgod has risen
post #13029 of 73425
Damn that's crazy first ab in ages and boom gone
post #13030 of 73425
1. The effects of steroids on players I think is vastly overstated.
2. I do not belive that they effect all player equally or positively, guys with linear swings IMO wont be helped by roids.
3. I belive there true value lies in recovering from injury.
4. I think if I was a baseball player and I had to shoose between amphetamines and steroids I choose amphetamines 100 times out of 100.

100% mentall alertness and coordination > theoretical benefits of steroids.
Instagram. | just my art and photography. #NT will follow back. Also Flickr.
Instagram. | just my art and photography. #NT will follow back. Also Flickr.
post #13031 of 73425
Harper also went yard in his first at bat of the season, right?

He should just act like every AB is his first... Word to Happy Gilmore saying he should try to make a hole in one every time cause its easier lol
post #13032 of 73425
4. I think if I was a baseball player and I had to shoose between amphetamines and steroids I choose amphetamines 100 times out of 100.

100% mentall alertness and coordination > theoretical benefits of steroids.
Strongly agree.

I don't even think Adderall should be illegal in sports. You're just getting better use of what you already have, not adding foreign components to yourself. That should be encouraged, not lambasted.
post #13033 of 73425
J Zimmerman is gettin in on the action it's a wrap
post #13034 of 73425
Originally Posted by Osh Kosh Bosh View Post

4. I think if I was a baseball player and I had to shoose between amphetamines and steroids I choose amphetamines 100 times out of 100.

100% mentall alertness and coordination > theoretical benefits of steroids.

And I think a lot of major leaguers would agree with you. Used to be a huge part of the game.

post #13035 of 73425
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by SCuse7 View Post

Originally Posted by Osh Kosh Bosh View Post

4. I think if I was a baseball player and I had to shoose between amphetamines and steroids I choose amphetamines 100 times out of 100.

100% mentall alertness and coordination > theoretical benefits of steroids.
And I think a lot of major leaguers would agree with you. Used to be a huge part of the game.

laugh.gif don't tell that to a lot of fans who belittle Bonds and the rest of them...bring up some of those names associated with amphetamines and they lose their minds.
post #13036 of 73425

marlins been cooking

post #13037 of 73425
Originally Posted by CASH MONEY 1999 View Post

marlins been cooking

Second best record in the National League during June.


Jose Fernandez threw a gem tonight; albeit against the Padres, he's been dealing for a while. He was out there throwing gas tonight in the 6th inning, hitting 96-98.

post #13038 of 73425

Dodgers are trying to acquire Marmol. sick.gif


Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)




post #13039 of 73425
Originally Posted by SCuse7 View Post

Second best record in the National League during June.


Jose Fernandez threw a gem tonight; albeit against the Padres, he's been dealing for a while. He was out there throwing gas tonight in the 6th inning, hitting 96-98.

maddon was talking about him after his abysmal showing against them , said he

had the toolset to be the best pitcher in the league

post #13040 of 73425

what happened to my boy Gincarlo Stanton?

post #13041 of 73425
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by CASH MONEY 1999 View Post

Originally Posted by SCuse7 View Post

Second best record in the National League during June.

Jose Fernandez threw a gem tonight; albeit against the Padres, he's been dealing for a while. He was out there throwing gas tonight in the 6th inning, hitting 96-98.
maddon was talking about him after his abysmal showing against them , said he
had the toolset to be the best pitcher in the league

He's a 20 year old who went from High A ball to the majors. What he's doing is phenomenal.
post #13042 of 73425
Originally Posted by CASH MONEY 1999 View Post

marlins been cooking


stros gotta get that #1 pick
Houston Rockets | Houston Texans | Houston Astros | Texas Aggies
Houston Rockets | Houston Texans | Houston Astros | Texas Aggies
post #13043 of 73425
I'm not saying Amphetamines don't help tremendously because I've played ball on Adderall before and I definitely saw a difference...but at the same time you guys slay me with the steroids don't help. If you are stronger, your going to be able to hit the ball harder and farther, how does that not help tremendously?
post #13044 of 73425
Thread Starter 
^ That's just assuming an equal level of skill across the board (hand/eye, contact rate, fly ball rate, etc).

I'd hate to be an MVP voter in the AL this year.

Miguel Cabrera Tigers 81 373 118 25 64 82 2 12.90% 15.50% 0.303 0.391 0.369 0.456 0.672 0.472 203 -9.6 0.9 5.3
Mike Trout Angels 81 380 104 13 57 52 20 11.10% 16.80% 0.23 0.353 0.315 0.392 0.545 0.399 159 0.4 5.9 4.7
Chris Davis Orioles 82 342 99 31 60 80 0 10.20% 26.60% 0.396 0.378 0.332 0.406 0.728 0.467 199 -1.9 1 4.6
post #13045 of 73425
Pretty amazing that with all the info anout steroids the amount of ignorance ppl still have on the subject.

Anything that helps your muscles recover andgrow will increase your atrength and athletic ability. Does it make your swing more linear lol No. Will it turn warning track fly balls into home runs? YES.

will it allow pitchers to throw harder qith more torque for more innings yes

will it let baserunners run faster, yes.

Will it improve all of your quick twitch muscles, yes.

Will it shorten your reaction time, yes.

So yeah i see why people would say steroids ddont effect baseball players, I mean it was only rampantly used in the most offensove era in baseball history.

[/ends douche bag reply]
post #13046 of 73425
How is that a Dbag reply it's true.
A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

post #13047 of 73425
Originally Posted by Proshares View Post

^ That's just assuming an equal level of skill across the board (hand/eye, contact rate, fly ball rate, etc).

I'd hate to be an MVP voter in the AL this year.

Miguel Cabrera Tigers 81 373 118 25 64 82 2 12.90% 15.50% 0.303 0.391 0.369 0.456 0.672 0.472 203 -9.6 0.9 5.3
Mike Trout Angels 81 380 104 13 57 52 20 11.10% 16.80% 0.23 0.353 0.315 0.392 0.545 0.399 159 0.4 5.9 4.7
Chris Davis Orioles 82 342 99 31 60 80 0 10.20% 26.60% 0.396 0.378 0.332 0.406 0.728 0.467 199 -1.9 1 4.6

Miggy is just so good. Davis is having the best numbers in the post Mitchell report era tho. Cut down around 10% of his k's and is also hitting a lot of doubles
post #13048 of 73425

Orioles acquire Scott Feldman and Tony Clevenger from the Cubs for Jake Arrietta, Pedro Strop, and int'l bonus slots.
post #13049 of 73425
Thread Starter 
All-Star Ticket Prices Are High, But There’s Free Stuff Too.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
New York City hosts this year’s All-Star festivities, just five years after hosting the 2008 summer classic. The Mets are in charge this year, with the All-Star Game, Home Run Derby, Futures Game and All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game all taking place at CitiField. Five years ago, Yankee Stadium was the site for these activities in its last year of existence. In 2009, the Yankees moved across the street to the new Yankee Stadium.

Everything, it seems, is more expensive in New York City — and tickets for the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby are no exception. Tickets for this year’s game range from $195 to $715, according to Major League Baseball. In 2008, the range was $150 to $725. That’s a nearly 33% increase for the least expensive ticket, with a slight decrease at the upper end. By comparison, ticket prices for last year’s All-Star Game in Kansas City ranged from $125 to $400.

The economy’s certainly picked up since 2008, which may have contributed to the ticket price increase. There’s also the issue of supply and demand. Yankee Stadium could fit more than 56,000 fans. CitiField’s capacity, including standing room only, is only 45,000. Not every seat in the ballpark is for sale, either. MLB uses quite a few seats for TV and corporate sponsors and players get seats for their friends and family.
The most direct route to All-Star tickets was through the Mets. Fans who purchased full season tickets or a 40-game plan from the Mets were offered the same number of seats for the game, the derby, the futures game and celebrity softball game, plus a commemorative program and two tickets to the All-Star Fanfest. Fans who purchased 20-game or 15-game packages from the Mets — and paid a deposit by last July — were also eligible to purchase the full All-Star ticket strip. Neither the Mets nor MLB sold tickets to individual events at CitiField; fans could purchase only a strip with tickets for the game, the derby, the futures game and the celebrity softball game. Ticket prices for the Home Run Derby start at $157 and go up to $585. The Sunday games (futures, celebrity) are more affordable: Those tickets range from $35 to $130.

With high base ticket prices and a limited supply, the secondary ticket market is heating up. As of yesterday afternoon, the least expensive ticket strip (for all the events at CitiField) available on StubHub was $396.50 for standing room only. Other SRO ticket strips were selling for nearly $700. Box seats behind home plate were listed at more than $8,000. For just the All-Star Game, you can still get SRO tickets for less than $300. The least expensive “seat” — in the promenade outfield section — was selling for $400. You want to see just the Home Run Derby? You can get in and stand for $155 or sit behind home plate for $16,000. Yes, $16,000! For that price, you should get to cuddle with the participants’ small children while the guys are taking their swings.

If you want to feel the excitement of All-Star Week but don’t have that kind of cash lying around, there’s plenty for you, too. The All-Star Fanfest starts next Friday, July 12 at the Jacob Javits Center on the west side of Manhattan. This year’s All-Stars won’t be there, but many former players will, including 12 Hall of Famers. Adult tickets are selling for $35; kids and seniors pay less.

For the more active-minded, MLB is sponsoring an All-Star 5K run on Saturday, July 13 in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. The entrance fee is $35 for adults and $30 for kids, and all proceeds will benefit Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Frank Robinson, Doc Gooden, Ed Kranepool and Eric Byrnes will be among the former major-leaguers running in the race. Mr. Met will also be running, along with mascots from nine other teams.

If Fan Fest or the 5K run don’t excite you — or you’re on a tight budget — there will be two free events during All-Star Week. You don’t even have to a baseball fan to enjoy the first event: a concert in Central Park on Saturday night, July 13, with the New York Philharmonic and Mariah Carey. Then on Tuesday, the National League and American League All-Stars will parade through midtown Manhattan on 6th Avenue, starting at 42nd Street and ending at 59th Street. Eighty-thousand feet of red carpet will line the parade route. Players will ride in the back of pickup trucks. It will look similar to the 2008 All-Star Parade, which also followed a route up 6th Avenue (photo courtesy of the New York Daily News).


There’s something for everyone during All-Star Week, but the more cash you have, the more festivities you can enjoy. Just like it is for most other sports spectaculars, be it the World Series, the Super Bowl or the Kentucky Derby.

The Most Wrong Called Ball of June.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Imagine, for a second, that Major League Baseball had an automated strike zone, and there weren’t any bugs in the system. Imagine that the zone were specifically defined, changing consistently for each hitter, such that there couldn’t ever be any dispute. The zone would be perfect, and any given pitch would be either a definite strike or a definite ball. What you have imagined doesn’t exist. Instead, we have human brains doing everything, and sometimes human brains fall for magic tricks and infomercials. Umpires make mistakes, and because of that, any pitch could conceivably be called either way. There’s always some probability, however small, that a bad pitch might be called a strike, or that a good pitch might be called a ball. This is the way it is, and for now the rate of mistakes is low enough that we haven’t had a bloody revolt.

Because there are mistakes, there is a spectrum of mistakes, with some being the most understandable and some being the most wrong. The most wrong strike-zone call would be a call with the greatest difference between the actual call and what the call should’ve been. Imagine a fastball down the middle. If it’s taken, and called a ball, that would be a big mistake on the umpire’s part. With all this in mind, the month of June is over, so I thought we’d take a look at the month’s most wrong ball call. In part out of curiosity; in part to see what we can learn. Get ready for a little Edwin Jackson.

Before we advance to the pitch, I want to note something about the wording. My first instinct was to say “worst,” instead of “most wrong.” It’s stronger, it’s a better raiser of eyebrows. But sometimes a bad call can have explanations that lessen the magnitude of the badness, and so I didn’t want to come off as overly critical. What you’re going to see is a bad call, but you can sort of understand how it happened, so odds are there was a worse call in the month. But there was no more wrong call, by the rule book and the probabilities. There are subtleties here but I wanted to address them.

Now then, for the most wrong ball call of June, we head to St. Louis on Wednesday, June 19. The Cardinals are hosting the Cubs in a game that means something to the former and little to the latter. In the bottom of the sixth, it’s knotted up at one apiece, and Edwin Jackson is pitching to Yadier Molina. There’s one out and a runner on first.

Jackson’s first pitch is a called strike on the edge. It’s not easy to work against Molina, but it gets easier when you have the count advantage. Jackson comes back with a second-pitch fastball, also taken.


93 miles per hour, right down the middle. According to the PITCHf/x information, the ball was 1.1 inches from the center of the strike zone. One inch to the right side of the middle, right between Molina’s lower and upper limits. This should be the easiest strike to call in baseball, and that’s why I went after video confirmation. Sometimes PITCHf/x just has a little glitch that makes something into something else. In this case, no glitch. But in this case, partial explanation!

Screenshots will tell you, first, that Jackson missed his intended low-inside location:


But that’s still a fastball over the middle, and fastballs over the middle don’t need any interpretation. This is just a flat-out wrong call by the umpire. Yet the .gif makes clear just why this happened in the way that it happened. Maybe you’ve already figured it out.


Over at first, Allen Craig took an optimistic lead. Welington Castillo had the idea that he’d try to pick him off by surprise. Castillo turned his body to prepare to throw down as he was receiving the fastball, but Craig sniffed it out and Castillo thought better of throwing and risking an error. Castillo didn’t give up any bases on the play, but he did basically give up a strike, turning a centered fastball into a virtual pitch-out.

Castillo stabbed forward at the baseball, and his entire body shifted position, so to whatever extent a call depends on a catcher’s body, the location of this pitch was exaggerated and the umpire didn’t see a textbook fastball down the middle, even though he did. The pitch looked more outside, and if anyone had any complaint, the call wasn’t noted on either team’s television broadcast. Neither Jackson nor Castillo seemed perturbed, as the attention instantly shifted from home plate to first. It’s meaningful that this was a fastball down the middle, called a ball, and no one came away upset. Because it’s understandable why it was called the way it was. It’s a bad call with a somewhat legitimate excuse.

Incidentally, here’s how the showdown later ended:


Yadier Molina hit a home run on that 1-and-2 fastball. It’s the pitch Jackson wanted to throw, but it’s also the pitch Molina was looking for, and just like that the Cardinals went ahead 3-1. They won 4-1, with Molina’s at-bat being the turning point. On one hand, the at-bat would’ve likely ended differently had Jackson been given the second strike. On the other hand, it’s not like Jackson was burned because he threw a bad pitch or wound up in a bad count. He threw his pitch in a pitcher-friendly count and still he got beat. Yadier Molina is amazing and a potential MVP.

What have we learned? In June, a fastball an inch away from the center of the strike zone was called a ball. Even though it happened in a tight spot, it didn’t make anyone visibly upset, and the call went basically unacknowledged on the broadcasts. The probable reason for the call is the catcher’s behavior, as he prepared to attempt a pick-off throw down to first while in the act of catching the pitch. There still exist out there some pitch-framing skeptics, who don’t believe calls have anything to do with the catchers. They say the umpire makes his decision before the ball gets to the glove. That would be swell if true, but consider this evidence to the contrary, because pointing to the catcher’s behavior is the only way we can explain this, aside from “well the umpire is just stupid.” It’s pretty clear, based on this, that the way a pitch is received matters. There exists a way a fastball down the middle can be caught, such that the pitch is turned into a ball. The body movement in this case is extreme, but if umpires can respond to this movement, it suggests umpires might respond to any movement, if to a lesser degree. The catcher makes a difference, and that’s why pitch-framing researchers keep finding information and correlations.

As a final thought, it would be interesting to look at the called strike zone when the catcher subsequently throws or pump-fakes to a base. I guess PITCHf/x doesn’t designate the latter, but it certainly makes note of the former, and I suspect the zone would be relatively little, with lots of strikes called balls because of the distracting body movement. Well now I know the answer so I don’t need to see the actual data. Stand down, PITCHf/x nerds.

Breaking Down the Futures Game Pitching Prospects.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
In less than two weeks the best prospects from the United States will square off against the top young players from around the world at the MLB Futures Game on the all-star weekend. We’ve already taken a look at the offensive side of each exhibition team and you can read that here.

As mentioned in the previous piece, the biggest name missing from the Futures Game rotations is Jameson Taillon of the Pirates. Other absentee names that I would pay to see include Robert Stephenson of the Reds, and Aaron Sanchez of the Blue Jays. The two most surprising additions were Taylor Jordan of the Nationals (who was recently promoted to the Majors) and Chen-Chang Lee of the Indians.

Without further ado, let’s have a look at the arms that earned roster spots for this year’s Futures Game.

Yordano Ventura (Royals) vs Archie Bradley (Diamondbacks)

Ventura is the top pitching prospect on the world team. The electric but diminutive right-hander has split 2013 between Double-A and Triple-A, and is not far from receiving his first taste of big league action. He secondary stuff still needs some polish and his control has been off at Triple-A, as witnessed by 15 walks in 23.2 innings. Pitchers with Ventura’s frame rarely hold up to the rigors of starting at the big league level (and almost never fire bullets into the triple digits) so it will be interesting to see if he can stay healthy.

Bradley has passed boyhood buddy Dylan Bundy (mainly due to the latter’s injury) to become one of the Top 3 arms in the minor leagues. The big, strong right-hander has a 1.79 ERA through 16 starts split between High-A and Double-A. His emergence (as well as the development of Patrick Corbin) has lead to rumors suggesting that Arizona is open to trading fellow prospect Tyler Skaggs — although that could turn out to be a mistake. Bradley could be ready for big league action before the 2014 all-star break.

Future Edge: Bradley (U.S.)

Rafael De Paula (Yankees) vs Taijuan Walker (Mariners)

De Paula has been a revelation for the Yankees in 2012. The hard-throwing right-hander is only in his second pro season but he’s already had a career’s worth of drama after getting caught lying about his age and being suspended by Major League Baseball for an entire year. With that behind him, he’s been able to focus on baseball and has split his first North American season between two A-ball levels. If everything clicks, De Paula has the ceiling of a top-shelf arm.

Walker won’t turn 21 until mid-August, making him almost a year and a half younger than De Paula — and he’s already reached Triple-A. The Mariners’ top pitching prospect has electric stuff but he doesn’t always command or control it. On the plus side, he has strong athleticism, which suggests he’ll eventually figure it out and — when he does — watch out.

Future Edge: Walker (U.S.)

Rafael Montero (Mets) vs Noah Syndergaard (Mets)

New York fans are clammoring for the two org-mates to earn the starting nods for their respective Futures Game squads. Syndergaard’s prospect value is currently ahead of Montero’s, but the 22-year-old Dominican Republic native is coming on strong. A year ago, both pitchers were enjoying the bus rides in Low-A ball. Today, Montero has leap-frogged over Syndergaard on this way to Triple-A, while the tall Texan is at Double-A. For now, Mets fans can dream of a future starting rotation that has Syndergaard and Montero placed in the third and fourth slots behind Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.

Future Edge: Syndergaard (U.S.)

Miguel Almonte (Royals) vs Kyle Crick (Giants)

Almonte entered the season as a fringe Top 100 prospect with a wave of hype slowly building behind him. Now, he’s a sure-fire Top 100 talent. Just 20 years old, he’s overpowered A-ball hitters with a strikeout rate of 9.04 K/9. The emergence of Almote helps compensate for the loss of value from Kyle Zimmer, Sam Selman, and Jason Adam. On the downside, he’s probably three to four years away from reaching the Majors.

Unlike Almonte, Crick has been a top-tiered talent since before signing his first pro contract. Unfortunately, his 2013 season was interrupted by a trip to the disabled list in mid-April. In nine innings (two starts) since returning, the 20-year-old hurler has struck out 18 batters. Crick has a lot of polish to add to his game but he has immense potential.

Future Edge: Crick (U.S.)

Enny Romero (Rays) vs Taylor Guerrieri (Rays)

Not to be outdone by the Mets, the Rays also feature outstanding arms in both dugouts, although they’re not quite as high profile. The Dominican southpaw has taken a very deliberate track through the minor leagues over the past six season, playing at a new level each season and finally reaching Double-A in 2013. He’s getting closer to realizing his mid-rotation potential. Guerrieri, 20, is a couple of steps behind Romero on the depth chart but he projects to have a higher ceiling thanks to his plus stuff and above-average ground-ball rates. After getting roughed up a bit in late May, he hasn’t allowed a run in his past three starts.

Future Edge: Guerrieri (U.S.)

Eduardo Rodriguez (Orioles) vs Jesse Biddle (Phillies)

Rodriguez, a Venezuelan southpaw, is on the cusp of becoming Baltimore’s top healthy pitching prospect — once Kevin Gausman officially loses his prospect status. Just 20 years old, he’s held right-handed hitters to a .222 batting average thanks in part to an improving changeup. He has an outside shot of reaching the majors in 2014.

One of the main things holding Biddle back from becoming one of the top left-handed arms in baseball is his lack of control. He’s currently walking almost five batters per nine innings. Perhaps describing him as effectively wild is appropriate given his strikeout rate of 9.58 K/9 and ERA of 3.19.

Future Edge: It’s a toss up…

Michael Ynoa (Athletics) vs Eddie Butler (Rockies)

Word came down Monday that Ynoa — a former mega-bonus, 16-year-old international free agent– had received a promotion from Low-A to High-A ball. It’s exciting news for the former big-bonus arm who originally signed in 2008 but missed significant time due to injuries. Now 21, youth is still on his side, although his diminishing number of minor league options could eventually become a problem depending on how quickly he continues to develop.

Butler is almost the exact opposite of Ynoa because he’s developed much quicker than anticipated since signing as the 46th overall selection from the 2012 amateur draft. He’s split the season between Low-A and High-A ball. There is some debate over his ability to stick as a starter but it’s hard to argue with his results to date.

Future Edge: Butler (U.S.)

Carlos Contreras (Reds) vs Anthony Ranaudo (Red Sox)

Not every top prospect becomes a star over night and Contreras is the perfect example of this statement. During his first four pro seasons, the right-hander’s ERA never fell below 5.00 and he finished the season above 6.00 on two separate occasions. Something clicked last year, though, after he was shifted to the bullpen. And that success continued when he was moved back to the starting rotation at the High-A level in 2013.

Like Contreras, Ranaudo has experienced a renaissance in 2013. Finally healthy (hopefully for the foreseeable future), the right-hander is finally showing the talent that lead him to be a projected first round draft pick while playing for Louisiana State University. After making just nine starts in 2012, he may have tired a bit in June when he posted a 4.91 ERA — three full runs higher than May and more than four runs higher than April.

Future Edge: Ranaudo (U.S.)

Andre Rienzo (White Sox) vs Jimmy Nelson (Brewers)

Rienzo’s strikeout numbers are eye-catching but the majority of his numbers are modest and he’s been quite hittable. Despite that, he has solid stuff and needs to improve both his command and his control. He’s definitely made some adjustments, as witnessed by his month-by-month improvements. He has the raw talent to be a 3/4 starter but he could also end up in the bullpen.

Nelson, 24, has operated in near obscurity as a members of the Brewers organization, and he hasn’t received as much press as Wily Peralta or Taylor Jungmann. He’s not flashy, but the big-bodied Florida native has struck out 91 batters in 89.1 innings of work while also producing above-average ground-ball rates. After making 12 starts in Double-A, Nelson was promoted to Triple-A where he’s made another four appearances and could be ready for a shot at The Show.

Future Edge: Nelson (U.S.)

Chen-Chang Lee (Indians) vs Taylor Jordan (Nationals)

Major League Baseball likes to get as many countries in the game as possible and the addition of Lee ensures a good showing for Taiwan. He’s the only true reliever on the two teams and he’s missed a significant amount of time in both 2012 and 2013 due to injury. When healthy, he has big-league stuff.

Jordan, 24, has had an inconsistent career to date and has battled injuries — at least until 2013. The right-hander has split his time between both High-A and Double-A while posting a 1.00 ERA in 15 appearances (90.1 innings). The hot start earned him a promotion to the Majors but he has a rough first start. His presence on the 25-man roster means he’ll likely have to pass on the exhibition game.

Future Edge: Jordan (U.S.)

The U.S. squad has a clear advantage here, winning nine of the 10 pairings. The 10th one was just too close for me to call although I almost picked Rodriguez over Biddle before second-guessing myself.

Prospect Notes from a Bowling Green-West Michigan Game.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The author attended on Sunday a Class-A Midwest League game between Rays affiliate Bowling Green and Tigers affiliate West Michigan, at the latter’s home park just outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

What follows are some brief comments on notable players from same.

Regarding Jeff Ames
Entering the season, writes Marc Hulet, right-handed Tampa Bay prospect Jeff Ames was known for possessing a mid-90s fastball with excellent life, but less in the way of command or secondary offerings. On Sunday, in fact, Ames’ fastball never exceeded 92 mph — or, at least, not so’s the author noticed. Ames worked at 88-92 mph for the duration of his start and demonstrated an inability to find his release point, sometimes jerking the ball towards the left-handed batter’s box, sometimes opening up his left shoulder too early and pushing the ball to the right-handed batter’s box.

While he ultimately conceded no runs over 4.0 innings, there was considerable labor involved. So far as the slider is concerned, Ames had much the same sort of trouble with it as with the fastball. On those occasions when Ames found his release point, the pitch was effective, at 83-87 mph with nice shape (as demonstrated in the animated GIF, a slider to Lance Durham, below). The changeup — which sat at about 81-83 mph — had little of the depth or fade that one associates with the best versions of that pitch.


Regarding Andrew Toles
Speed merchant Andrew Toles had the most impressive batting practice of any of the rather talented Bowling Green club — not insofar as it was full of home runs (it wasn’t), but for the quality of the contact Toles made and backspin he produced. It surprised the author to find that Toles’ bat has been one of the concerns regarding that player, the core of whose game is based on speed and defense.

In fact, it would be more accurate to say that concerns (from analysts such as Mark Andersen, for example) regarding Toles’ offensive ability haven’t centered on the quality of Toles’ contact, but rather his approach. Indeed, the center fielder has recorded walk and strikeout rates of 3.8% and 19.9%, respectively, this season through 300-plus plate appearances.

Ideally, a player of Toles’ age relative to the level would be demonstrating more control of the strike zone. If he’s to succeed offensively, it will likely require the sustainment of high BABIPs — which is possible, of course, given his speed and line-drive approach.

Brief Notes
• Tigers second-base prospect Harold Castro, recently demoted to West Michigan from High-A Lakeland following the promotion of Devon Travis to same, demonstrated impressively fluid movements and quick hands defensively — both in-game and during infield practice. While no demotion is regarded as a particularly great sign, Castro is still just 19 years old.

• In an interview with the author before the game, recently drafted Vanderbilt star Connor Harrell noted that he’d like to make the base-on-balls a more significant part of his game. He walked twice against Bowling Green, and struck out looking in a third plate appearance. Coincidence? Very likely, yes.

• Patrick Leonard, acquired from Kansas City along with Mike Montgomery, Wil Myers, and Jake Odorizzi, started at first base for Bowling Green. The 20-year-old has had some difficulty in the Midwest League — having recorded a 26:62 walk-to-strikeout ratio and just four home runs in 278 plate appearances — after having posted one of the top regressed offensive lines in all of Rookie-level baseball last season. He had probably the hardest-hit ball of the game, a long fly ball to the left-field wall in the second inning.

• Brandon Martin is compelling as a prospect insofar as he’s (a) a supplemental-round pick by the Rays from 2011, (b) a shortstop, and also (c) a 19-year-old in the Midwest League. He produced what the author is prepared to describe as two “competitive at-bats” against Whitecaps starter Charlie Gillies — two at-bats which saw him face a total of 11 pitches and resulted in a walk and then strikeout.

• The author can personally vouch for the quality of the macaroni-and-cheese with barbecue pulled chicken available from a cart behind the home-plate area.

J.B. Shuck: Discarded Astro, Valuable Angel.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
J.B. Shuck is the type of player the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim need. Whether he is the type of player the Houston Astros could use is another question. Eight months ago, the answer — in the opinion of the Astros’ front office — was no. They released the 26-year-old outfielder in November.

Houston’s sixth-round pick in 2008, Shuck has emerged as a valuable contributor in his new environs. A veritable no-name on a star-studded Angels’ roster, he is providing energy and solid OBP skills in a part-time role. Despite a recent 2 for 16 skid, the former Ohio State Buckeye is hitting .288/.341/.362.

Shuck was surprised the Astros let him go, and pleased the Angels came calling.

“It was a situation where I just didn’t fit in Houston,” said Shuck, who profiles as an undervalued asset. “When they brought in the new group, they talked a lot about sabermetics, and I thought that was kind of what I played towards. They simply wanted to go a different route. Sometimes that happens; sometimes things just don’t work out.

“As soon as I got released, Anaheim called and said, ‘Hey, we need a lefty off the bench and like how you play. We’re going to bring in a few guys, but we think you have a good shot at making our team.’ I jumped on that right away. It’s worked out. Being around guys like Hamilton and Pujols — even younger guys like Trout — you learn so much from them.”

One thing Shuck hasn’t had to learn is a patience approach. He logged a .382 OBP in five minor league seasons and — unlike some on his current team — consistently puts up a quality at bat.

“That’s always been part of my game,” said Shuck. “I’m always trying to get deep into counts. I don’t mind hitting with two strikes. If I can make the pitcher throw more pitches than normal, that’s only going to help our ball club. I try to have as many walks as I can. A walk gets you on base, and if you’re on base you have a chance to score.”

With limited power — the Westerville, Ohio native has seven home runs in just over 2,000 professional at bats — he can’t rely on the fear factor to draw his free passes.

“With a player like me, it’s a different kind of walk,” explained Shuck. “For a Pujols or a Hamilton, it’s usually them getting pitched around, because they’re afraid of their power. Guys like that can do a lot of damage with one swing. For me, it’s a matter of making sure they’re going to throw strikes. Like I said, I’m not afraid to hit with two strikes. If I can make him throw a strike and then nibble, maybe I can get into a situation where’s it’s 3-2. Then he’s most likely going to throw a heater, or maybe he’ll miss.”

Whether or not the Astros miss what Shuck brings to the table is open to debate. As for the Angels, they’re pleased with his contributions.

“You always want on-base skills throughout your lineup — guys setting the table for other guys,” said manager Mike Scioscia. “We have Mike Trout hitting either one or two, so for him to get RBI opportunities, we need to be able to feed into his group in the lineup. That’s where a guy like J.B. Shuck can be important to us. He can get on base and feed our lineup.”

Will Shuck get on base enough to become a long-term big-league regular? Chances are he won’t — especially on a team with top-flight talent — but that doesn’t mean he can’t provide value. He’s doing that in Anaheim, just as he would have in Houston.

post #13050 of 73425
Originally Posted by JJs07 View Post

Not bad. Gettin rid of arrieta is great he had too many chances not just from us and strop has plenty of pitches and good speed if he can get consistent it's a good deal for both teams
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