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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 695

post #20821 of 73411
Giants have scored 15 Runs in 2 games in LA pimp.gif
post #20822 of 73411

BJ Upton just doubled off Strasburg :eek


shocked he got on base :lol

post #20823 of 73411

Ryan Zimmerman should not be allowed to play third base anymore :rollin


Dude just airmailed a throw over to first and had all the time in the world :{

post #20824 of 73411
Zimmerman gotta get moved SMH

and Strasburg gotta stop getting rattled so easily
post #20825 of 73411

any info on the bro-hio tee Kip had on the other day?

Team Cleveland OG member #5
Team Cleveland OG member #5
post #20826 of 73411
Enjoying this 5-1 start by my Marlins pimp.gif

That homerun by Stanton sick.gifeek.gif
post #20827 of 73411
2 things were reinforced today. 1. The Braves own the Nats soul. 2. Ryan Zimmerman is TOAST at 3b.

I feel for him because he's my boy and he used to be so money. The throw tonight just pissed me off though. Enough is enough. He's going for an mri on his shoulder. What do you honestly do if you're the the Nats?
post #20828 of 73411
Originally Posted by Jewbacca View Post

BJ Upton just doubled off Strasburg eek.gif

shocked he got on base laugh.gif

He finally did something productive plus gunned someone at the plate. Even Uggla was hitting. eek.gif
Originally Posted by J RAIN View Post

2 things were reinforced today. 1. The Braves own the Nats soul. 2. Ryan Zimmerman is TOAST at 3b.

I feel for him because he's my boy and he used to be so money. The throw tonight just pissed me off though. Enough is enough. He's going for an mri on his shoulder. What do you honestly do if you're the the Nats?

Teheran is so money pimp.gif How long has Zimmerman been throwing like that its an awkward throwing motion.
post #20829 of 73411
4-0 pimp.gif
Lookin to get a discover card? Contact me and sign up under me and $100 FREE when you get approved. GET 10-15% cashback on NDC FNL FTL, etc etc
Lookin to get a discover card? Contact me and sign up under me and $100 FREE when you get approved. GET 10-15% cashback on NDC FNL FTL, etc etc
post #20830 of 73411
Feels like CC just started the season yesterday, now he's on the mound again today. Season is flying by laugh.gif .
New York Yankees | New York Jets
New York Yankees | New York Jets
post #20831 of 73411
Originally Posted by Zyzz View Post

4-0 pimp.gif

JV on the mound today going for the sweep pimp.gif
Philadelphia Eagles | Michigan State Spartans | Detroit Tigers
Philadelphia Eagles | Michigan State Spartans | Detroit Tigers
post #20832 of 73411
Originally Posted by J RAIN View Post

2 things were reinforced today. 1. The Braves own the Nats soul. 2. Ryan Zimmerman is TOAST at 3b.

I feel for him because he's my boy and he used to be so money. The throw tonight just pissed me off though. Enough is enough. He's going for an mri on his shoulder. What do you honestly do if you're the the Nats?

Trade LaRoche...move Zimmerman to 1st and rendon to 3rd...put Danny at 2nd

Laroche swing is looking money so far though so idk...but Zimmerman gotta get off 3rd base...makes way too many mistakes
post #20833 of 73411
lets go tigs pimp.gif
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post #20834 of 73411
Originally Posted by Zyzz View Post

lets go tigs pimp.gif

post #20835 of 73411
You whole crew's ravishing, team's untouchable
In the jungle banging Nas, Mobb Deep and Wu
"My Ohhh My"
You whole crew's ravishing, team's untouchable
In the jungle banging Nas, Mobb Deep and Wu
"My Ohhh My"
post #20836 of 73411
i knew i shouldnt have posted in here before the game mean.gif
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post #20837 of 73411
That Zimmerman throw yesterday laugh.gif
you would of thought that was on purpose
PSN: Aiinatural
Go Hawks, Mariners, Ducks
PSN: Aiinatural
Go Hawks, Mariners, Ducks
post #20838 of 73411
Matty Kemp is going off! smokin.gif that second homer sick.gif
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Kemp pimp.gif
Hanley pimp.gif
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Thread Starter 
Exec: 'Games should be 7 innings'.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
LOS ANGELES -- A high-ranking executive melded all of the lingering issues of the era into one conversation, as if listing a recipe for change.
The games are often played too slowly, he noted. The audience of Major League Baseball is aging, with polls indicating that the youngest generation expects faster and fastest in what it consumes.

At the same time, the exec said, teams are struggling to find enough good pitching -- and, at the same time, the number of injuries is skyrocketing. If oblique strains was the prevalent injury of two years ago, ulnar collateral ligament strains are the ailment du jour. Top prospect Jameson Taillon of the Pirates is the latest pitcher to be headed for Tommy John surgery; maybe he'll bump into Bobby Parnell along the way.

The executive went for his punchline, a thought so far outside the box that it either represents the absurd, or the future.

"I think they ought to change the games to seven innings," he said.

Seven innings? You mean, in each game? Seven innings instead of nine?

"Seven innings," he said again, and he went on to explain that if baseball adopted this, it could represent tonic for all the problems he sees.

Seven innings instead of nine would mean the games would finish closer to two-and-a-half hours than three hours or longer. That would be a better fit for the common attention span in 2014.

A younger audience might be more attracted to a shorter, more intense product, he said.

Fewer innings would mean that teams would require less pitching.

Fewer pitchers to throw fewer innings would mean fewer injuries, he said.

We talked it out, and I started with this: It'll never happen. A huge share of fans are emotionally invested in the numbers built on the tradition of 27 outs: Three at-bats for each of nine hitters that make up a team, for 27 outs. Baseball folks like their numbers to fit neatly.

Twenty-seven outs represent a perfect game, and to change that ... well, it's not quite sacrilege, but you might need a constitutional amendment. The opportunity for 27 outs means more at-bats for hitters, and with those at-bats the most notable achievements are created.

Three thousand hits. Five hundred homers. Two hundred hits in a season. None of that could happen if the games were reduced to seven innings, and no era of seven-inning games could be compared with anything that happened in the past, which would be represent blasphemy for many, many followers of the sport. We know this because of how angry fans were over what they perceived as illicit violations of statistical achievements: Hank Aaron's record of 755 home runs being broken; Roger Maris's record of 61 homers being broken.

In some respects, baseball seasons of seven-inning games would be a lot different than what we've seen before, with managers yanking starters after one turn through the lineup, to go for matchups early.

"Nobody would have the guts to do it," I said.

"We need to change with the times," he countered.

It's an interesting thought, a radical thought.

For the readers: What significant changes would you want to see?

Around the league

• Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez put on a show on Sunday night. Kemp had an impact on the rest of the lineup, writes Ramona Shelburne. Matt Cain left the ball up. Yasiel Puig has a strained ligament in his left thumb.

From Elias: Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez each hit two home runs in the Dodgers' win over the Giants on Sunday. It's only the second time in the history of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry, which dates back to 1890, that two Dodgers players hit multiple homers in one game. Eddie Murray and Kirk Gibson each had a pair of homers in a win at Candlestick Park in 1990

• The yellowish seats that ring the field at Dodger Stadium can sometimes obscure the ball, in the eyes of infielders, as it leaves the bat. It's because of this that first baseman Adrian Gonzalez -- who knows first-hand how difficult to see the ball, against the backdrop of those seats -- switched from a black bat to a light color, figuring that it serve as a form of camouflage. "If I pick up two hits a year because of it," Gonzalez said with a half-shrug, "it'll be worth it."

• The contract negotiations for Pablo Sandoval have continued into Saturday, with the two sides exchanging proposals, and although no deal is close, there is some cautious optimism about where this could be headed. The Giants have a track record of signing their own players headed into free agency, from Aubrey Huff to Marco Scutaro to Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum.

• Giants Manager Bruce Bochy told a story about an awkward conversation he had with umpire Chris Guccione last week. Bochy walked out to Guccione, unsure of whether he would challenge a call, and he had his back to his own dugout.

Bochy was honest with Guccione, telling the umpire that he was just waiting until he got a signal from the bench after the video had been reviewed and a decision was made whether to challenge.

"You're not challenging," Guccione told Bochy. "They're giving you the thumbs down."

Sure enough, Bochy looked back, and bench coach Ron Wotus was indicating Bochy shouldn't challenge. And the Giants manager walked back to the dugout.

• You can't stop the Brewers, you can only hope to contain them.

• Mark Trumbo is off to a heck of a start for the Diamondbacks, and he put them on his back Sunday.

From ESPN Stats and Info: Don't make a mistake in the upper half of the strike zone to Mark Trumbo. This season, the Diamondbacks slugger is hitting .714 with a 2.571 slugging percentage on pitches in the upper half of the strike zone -- including four of his five homers.

Most homers since start of 2011
Miguel Cabrera: 119
Jose Bautista: 101
Mark Trumbo: 100

• Chris Sale shut down K.C.

From ESPN Stats and Info, how Sale dominated the Royals:

A) Royals hitters were 0-for-7 vs Sale's slider; last year opponents hit .142 off of Sale's slider -- fifth-lowest among qualified starters.

B) 50.5 percent of Sale's pitches were in or below the strike zone Sunday; last season only 39.1 percent of Sale's pitches were in or below the zone.

C) Royals lefties were 0-for-6 with two strikeouts against Sale; that's nothing new for Sale who held lefties to a .135 BA last season -- best among qualified starters

• Ryan Zimmerman avoided the disabled list. Now the Nationals have to figure out what to do with their franchise third baseman. The fact that they had him working out at first base in spring tells you they had an inkling which way this might play out.

• Aroldis Chapman is throwing again.

Sunday's games

1. Yu Darvish was really, really good in his return.

2. The Pirates capped an excellent series against the Cardinals with an Edinson Volquez victory. The Pirates saw something in Volquez, writes Jerry Crasnick.

3. Chris Colabello had a big day.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Nick Martinez greatly impressed the Rangers before he was optioned to the minors, as Evan Grant writes.

2. David Lough has served as the leadoff hitter the last couple of games.

3. The Rockies may have to trim an outfielder from their roster soon.

4. It looks like Oakland could have to make a difficult roster choice this week.

Dings and dents

1. Dexter Fowler will remain home indefinitely.

2. Chad Billingsley had to come out of his minor-league start a little sooner than expected.

3. Will Middlebrooks has a calf strain.

4. J.J. Hardy was scratched because of back spasms.

5. Michael Bourn is going to play a few more minor league games, as Ryan Lewis writes.

6. A Twins outfielder could land on the disabled list. And Josh Willingham was sent for X-rays on his wrist.

7. Josh Beckett could pitch Sunday.

NL West

• The Padres won with a pinch-hit homer.

• Nick Hundley is not sweating his playing time.

NL Central

• The Cardinals couldn't get anything going against the Pirates.

• This is a prospect who looks like he could move quickly for the Reds.

• Ryan Kalish came through with his parents in the crowd.

NL East

• The upstart Marlins are set to begin a series with the Nationals.

• Alex Wood had another good outing.

• Travis d'Arnaud is still waiting for his first hit.

• Bryce Harper admits that he is lost at the plate, writes James Wagner.

• A sloppy effort cost the Phillies.

• Jonathan Papelbon continues to lose velocity.

AL West

• Albert Pujols says he's fine.

• Brandon Moss powered Oakland.

• All things considered, the Mariners had a nice opening road trip.

AL Central

• James Shields was good; the other guy was better.

• The K.C. bullpen has gotten off to a rocky start.

The bullpen again looks like a trouble spot for the Tigers, writes Bob Wojnowski.

• Miguel Cabrera got high praise from an opposing manager.

• The Indians need Justin Masterson to excel, writes Bud Shaw.

• Robin Ventura doesn't think success will get into the head of Jose Abreu.

AL East

• After the Red Sox got their rings, they had a really bad weekend. The Red Sox aren't concerned, writes Steve Buckley.

• The Rays are set to play their first games on the road, in Kansas City.

• The Orioles still hope that Manny Machado can return later this month.

• Derek Jeter climbed the all-time hits ladder.

Most career hits with one team
Stan Musial: 3,630
Carl Yastrzemski: 3,419
Derek Jeter: 3,320

• Melky Cabrera is back.

Hanley Ramirez has pitchers figured out.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
LOS ANGELES -- Hanley Ramirez attends the meetings that the Dodgers hold for the hitters at the outset of every series to go over scouting reports, but he does this to be respectful and polite of the process and not because he actually gleans information. He does not study video, either.

“None,” he said Saturday as he waited his turn in batting practice.

He does not care to know the identity of the opponent's starting pitcher, Ramirez said, until he is preparing for his first at-bat -- and even then, as he watches the pitcher throw to the first batters of the game, what Ramirez only wants to know is how hard the pitcher is throwing, and how much his fastball moves.

Some hitters, like the Reds’ Joey Votto, want to know everything possible about a pitcher, like his typical choices in specific ball-strike counts. But Ramirez has worked alongside two of the greatest right-handed hitters of his era, Manny Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera, and decided that for him, less is more; Derek Jeter is the same way.

Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire says he likes to pick Ramirez’s brain about what pitchers are trying to do, because of his ability to read pitchers, to diagnose them, to understand how they will get hitters out. Adrian Gonzalez concurs: Ramirez has a strong sense of how pitchers are attacking.

“He’s like a lot of really good hitters in that way,” Gonzalez said.

Ramirez explained in detail one aspect of how his approach has worked for him versus relievers -- but didn’t want to go on the record with it, which is understandable but too bad, because it gives deep insight into just how much Ramirez observes.

He continues to express his love for Don Mattingly and the Dodgers, who host the San Francisco Giants on "Sunday Night Baseball" on ESPN2 at 8 ET.

“[Mattingly] always has my back,” Ramirez said. “The first time I walked into his office, he said to me, 'I've got 24 other players, and they play hard. I want you to play the same.’ And that was it.”

• Ryan Braun’s thumb is a problem again, Tom Haudricourt writes.

• Brandon Belt had great springs in the past, and then lousy starts. This year, he said, “I came to spring training getting ready for the season, not to tear up the league.” Belt got sick in spring training, lost a few pounds and struggled at the plate -- but he’s gotten off to a strong start, using the mechanical adjustment he implemented in the last couple of months of last season, loosening his grip on the bat handle and moving his hands away from his body. This has enabled him, he explained, to get to inside pitches more efficiently.

• There were more talks between Pablo Sandoval’s representative and the Giants, and there is an air of optimism within the organization that a deal can happen. Sandoval’s side is looking for a deal similar to that signed by Hunter Pence last summer (five years, $90 million), but given his history of conditioning issues, a four-year deal may represent the middle ground in these talks.

Chad Billingsley
Tony Medina/Getty Images
Chad Billingsley hasn't had any setbacks in his return from Tommy John surgery.
• The anniversary of Chad Billingsley’s Tommy John surgery will be in three weeks, and today he will make the first of what could be five minor league rehabilitation starts, at Rancho Cucamonga. So it’s possible that Billingsley, 29 years old and an All-Star in 2009, could be positioned to return to the big leagues next month. “I haven’t had any setbacks,” he said.

After Billingsley's surgery, then-teammate Chris Capuano -- who has had two Tommy John surgeries -- gave him advice: Don’t try to push your rehabilitation, and don’t get lazy. Billingsley listened and turned the process into his own Groundhog Day -- getting up early in the morning to go and do the work that was prescribed for him that day. Teammates who have seen Billingsley throw report that he looks as if he has a chance to help. His velocity in a recent live batting practice session was 89-90 mph, with his fastball touching 92 mph, and he is throwing all of his pitches.

• The Giants’ signing of Michael Morse to play left field was something of a gamble in light of his injury history; he had played a total of 190 games over the last two seasons. But San Francisco was able to land Morse on a one-year deal worth $6 million, a reasonable price for a hitter with some upside, and the Giants were intent on finding an upgrade over the left field production they got in 2013.

MLB rankings of San Francisco left fielders:

OPS: .651, 30th
Runs: 56, 30th
Hits: 154, 23rd
Homers: 5, 30th

To put that home run number in perspective:

Fewest team homers in 2013, by position:

1. (tied) New York Mets shortstops: 3
Miami third basemen: 3

3. (tied) Kansas City second basemen: 4
Oakland second basemen: 4
Miami shortstops: 4
Washington center fielders: 4
St. Louis shortstops: 4
Kansas City shortstops: 4
Giants second basemen: 4

10. (tied) Giants left fielders: 5
Houston second basemen: 5
Texas shortstops: 5
Yankees shortstops: 5

Among outfield rankings: Home runs by position

1. Washington center fielders: 4

2. San Francisco left fielders: 5

3. (tied) Philadelphia center fielders: 6
Kansas City center fielders: 6

5. SF center fielders: 7

6. Houston right fielders: 9

• When A.J. Ellis began catching Zack Greinke, he found that Greinke was well armed with statistical and scouting information. “He’s got a great baseball mind,” Ellis said. At times, when Ellis suggested a way to pitch to a particular hitter, Greinke would challenge him -- not in a way to prove he was smarter, but as a way to test a theory. He wanted Ellis to defend his reasoning.

Their pitcher-catcher relationship has evolved since then, and with Ellis and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt doing a lot of the preparation and scouting for a start and Greinke mostly following the script they generate for him.

But Ellis has found that Greinke knows himself well and is willing to deviate when circumstances dictate. “He’s really good at improvising,” Ellis said.

Greinke had struggled somewhat with his slider and went into his first start of the year casting that as his fourth-best pitch. But in the third inning, he threw some sharp sliders against the Padres. “We’re going with my slider,” he told Ellis after the inning was over. “It’s my best pitch.”

Giving the Dodgers the blues
Last three seasons

Record vs. LAD vs. rest of MLB
W-L 5-1 25-19
ERA 1.50 3.20
K/BB 11.5 3.2
Greinke starts against Matt Cain on Sunday night.

• Madison Bumgarner started Saturday, and he owns the Dodgers. Bumgarner has a 1.50 ERA against Los Angeles in the last three seasons, significantly better than his mark against everyone else.

He's gone 5-1 over that stretch, with five of those starts on the road.

• Yasiel Puig got hurt.

• We all need to understand that Puig doesn’t understand, writes Dan Le Batard.

If Puig doesn’t understand, then why is he apologizing over and over to teammates after each time he makes a mistake?

I covered Orlando Hernandez and Rey Ordonez and other players from Cuba, and have written here before that, in my opinion, among all the players joining Major League Baseball from other countries, the Cuban defectors have had the most difficult transition. Puig might be having the same sort of trouble that some other players have had.

Yasiel Puig and Don Mattingly
Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports
Yasiel Puig continues to learn from Don Mattingly and his Dodgers teammates.
But a lot of Puig's teammates don't think the issue is a cultural transition. It’s about someone struggling to change behavior, rather than a lack of understanding that the behavior needs to be changed. It’s clear from his actions and words that Puig deserves a lot more credit than that.

And I’d be willing to bet that Vin Scully’s characterization of Puig as “Wild Horse” -- at issue in this piece -- is about his size, athleticism and playing style. Andres Galarraga was known as the "Big Cat." Adam Dunn is known among teammates as the "Big Donkey," Evan Gattis of the Braves is called "El Oso Blanco" -- the White Bear. Basketball great Dan Issel was called "Horse," and Lou Gehrig was called the "Iron Horse." Wade Boggs was the "Chicken Man," Rich Gossage was (and still is) called "Goose." Jim Hunter was referred to as "Catfish," Ralph Garr was "Roadrunner," the Rockies’ Wilin Rosario is "Baby Bull," Lance Berkman was the "Big Puma," Rick Burleson was "Rooster," Kevin Appier was "Ape," Freddie Patek was "Flea," Fred McGriff was "Crime Dog," Frank Crosetti was "Crow," Dave Parker was "The Cobra," etc., etc., etc. Puig is not the first player given a nickname linked to an animal, and the guess here is that he probably won’t be the last.

If you want to find fault in any of those characterizations, I guess you could, if you dig deep; I don’t think anybody really meant to suggest that Patek was dirty like a flea, and needed to be eradicated. I don’t think anybody thought Dave Parker had a venomous personality; they just thought he had a really quick bat.

This is all pretty simple. Puig can be a really great player, and the energy he brings to the field is tremendous -- and teammates just want him to show up on time, do the work that needs to be done and stop making the same mistakes over and over. He understands that; he’s told them as much.

• Jose Fernandez is crazy good, and he shut down the Padres on Saturday.

From ESPN Stats and Info: Fernandez has allowed two or fewer earned runs in 13 straight starts. That's tied with Babe Ruth for the second-longest streak by a pitcher before his 22nd birthday over the last 100 years.

From ESPN Stats and Info, how Fernandez won:
• He had 11 ground ball outs, tied for the most in his career.
• He threw his slider 30.6 percent of the time, second highest in any game of his career.
• Hitters were 1-11 in at-bats ending with the slider, with seven strikeouts (tied for second-most K's in his career).
• Hitters chased nine of his sliders out of the zone (most in his career) and had eight swing-and-misses (tied for second most in his career).

• Ryan Zimmerman has a throwing issue. He’s getting his shoulder checked, but as written here before, rival scouts believe he's fighting the yips. Here’s Zimmerman’s throw.

• Joe Saunders is waiting to hear whether he’s going to get another start. The Rangers have Yu Darvish coming back today, they should have Colby Lewis sometime in the next week, and Matt Harrison later in the month.

• The contracts for Pirates GM Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle were extended by three years. Well earned.

Saturday’s games

1. Cliff Lee was dominant.

2. Michael Pineda was good, but the other guy was better, writes David Waldstein.

3. Clay Buchholz was not good, and the Red Sox have lost the first two games of their series against Milwaukee.

4. The Orioles couldn’t dig themselves out of an early hole.

5. J.J. Hoover and the Reds were stunned.

6. The Rangers got the matchup they wanted, but still lost.

7. The Braves, whose pitching has been tremendous, have won four in a row.

8. James Loney had a big day, Joe Smith writes.

9. Andrew Cashner couldn’t match Jose Fernandez. These days, who can?

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Closers are having a tough time finding deals.

2. The signings of Chris Archer and Yunel Escobar will help the Rays sustain success.

Marc Topkin has more on the history of the Rays’ trades. Tampa Bay has had a lot more recent success through trades than drafting.

3. John Farrell shuffled his lineup.

4. Ervin Santana is set to pitch Wednesday for Atlanta.

Dings and dents

1. Billy Hamilton is nursing an injured finger.

2. Mark Teixeira was placed on the disabled list.

3. Will Middlebrooks might be headed to the DL. At some point, Garin Cecchini will get the call if the Red Sox are looking for someone to step in at third base. The Red Sox front office really, really likes him.

4. Jason Motte pitched a rehab game.

5. Oswaldo Arcia had his hand checked out.

6. Jurickson Profar will remain with the Rangers.

7. Dexter Fowler was released from the hospital.

8. Taijuan Walker could be back in 10 days.

NL East

• Ike Davis had a really good day.

• Ryne Sandberg will use his bench liberally.

NL Central

• Patience pays off for Anthony Rizzo.

• Frank Coonelly’s passion has paid off, writes Dejan Kovacevic.

The Pirates have emerged as a worthy rival for the Cardinals, writes Bernie Miklasz.

• Bryan Price is feeling the heat of second-guessers, writes Hal McCoy.

NL West

• Sergio Romo keeps working on his changeup, writes Henry Schulman.

• The Diamondbacks could make some changes in their seating, as Nick Piecoro writes.

Here’s what scouts are saying about the Diamondbacks.

• Nolan Arenado is off to a great start.

AL East

• Ryan Flaherty is hitless.

• R.A. Dickey was sharp.

• Alex Anthopoulos is confident in his arms.

AL Central

• Mike Moustakas is hitless.

• The Detroit bullpen had its issues Saturday.

• Tigers fans could fall in love with Ian Kinsler.

• Ron Gardenhire has 1,000 wins.

Avisail Garcia is swinging at everything so far, Daryl Van Schouwen writes.

AL West

• The Astros honored Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman.

• Felix Hernandez pitched well.

• Josh Hamilton continues to look great.

Stadium woes continue for Rays, A's.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
On one side of the country, the mayor of St. Petersburg, Fla., met with Tampa Bay Rays president Matt Silverman to discuss the team’s lingering unhappiness with the current ballpark situation, as detailed by Christopher O'Donnell. On the other side of the country, the Oakland Athletics postponed a game, despite the fact there was no rain falling and no rain in the forecast: The field had been left uncovered the night before and was deemed unplayable, as John Hickey writes.

The Athletics’ situation could have happened in just about every other park in the sport. In the time I covered the New York Yankees, I remember a similar situation developing at Legends Field before a spring training game, with the groundskeepers scrambling to prepare the dampened field early in the morning before George Steinbrenner arrived. They had left the tarp off the field overnight, and a passing shower had thoroughly drenched it.

But between this and the ongoing sewage issues, and the field conditions that develop when the NFL's Raiders start playing games, Oakland’s park situation continues to be an embarrassment for all of Major League Baseball, not just the Athletics. As Bill Shaikin noted on Twitter on Friday, it’s now been five years since commissioner Bud Selig formed a committee to study Oakland’s ballpark options, and nobody -- not the other owners, not the commissioner -- have deemed it important enough to make it a priority item for the industry.

Which is their prerogative. If baseball’s owners and Selig don’t feel the need to strong-arm the Giants into making the best possible territory deal they can make and carve out a home for the Athletics in San Jose, Calif., that’s their choice. Until Major League Baseball -- the teams and the central office -- places the Athletics’ status at the top of its to-do list and prepares all the necessary horse-trading, nothing will change.

But when stuff like this happens -- when sewage is running under the feet of players, coaches and umpires -- the fault lies with the whole of MLB, not just plumbers or groundskeepers. This is a glaring case of benign neglect.

The Rays’ situation with St. Petersburg is like a marriage that is all but over besides the legal union. After their Opening Day spread of 31,042 fans, the Rays have drawn crowds of 11,113, 10,808, 9,571 and 14,304 in keeping with the recent tradition of support. Some small-market and mid-market teams have seen their attendance rise and fall according to how much the fans believe in ownership's investment in the team -- the Padres are a perfect example of this -- but the Rays have been a model of consistency in their incredible and improbable success, and yet the attendance continues to drift downward.

The franchise vies with the St. Louis Cardinals for the title of best-run baseball operations department, having won at least 90 games in all but one of the past six seasons, despite working on a shoestring budget while maintaining residence in the hyper-competitive American League East. The team has tried to reboot the fan experience at Tropicana Field, repeatedly. The Rays have tried to make the marriage with St. Petersburg work, but it’s not working.

From O’Donnell’s story:

The Rays are under contract to play at the Trop through 2027 but say they need to explore sites for a new stadium because of low attendances at the city-owned facility. The city has so far refused, saying it has to protect the investment of taxpayers who paid millions of dollars to bring Major League Baseball to St. Petersburg.

“I think we made good progress today,” Kriseman said. “We’re having very open and honest dialogue with each other.”

The hourlong unannounced meeting, the second Kriseman has had with the team since taking office in January, was at the Trop ahead of the Rays’ game against the Texas Rangers.

Kriseman said both sides have agreed to keep talks confidential. Talks in 2013 between the Rays and former Mayor Bill Foster stalled after city leaders claimed that Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig had instructed the Rays not to offer the city any compensation if it broke its contract.

“Both sides have agreed we are going to keep our conversations in confidence and private so we can continue to have a solid element of trust in each other, so we can make progress,” Kriseman said.

Despite a winning team in recent years, the Rays’ average attendance of just more than 18,000 was the lowest in the league in 2013.

Principal owner Stuart Sternberg has suggested several times in recent years that baseball’s other 29 owners were growing restless with the Rays’ lingering stadium problem. Richer teams such as the New York Yankees have to subsidize less profitable teams, including the Rays, through revenue-sharing payments.

Maybe there’s a more tenable site in the Tampa area. Maybe Montreal could be an option. Maybe Portland, or Nashville. But the Rays want better, and even if St. Petersburg won’t sign the divorce papers, that doesn’t mean the franchise won’t be looking for something better.

The field in Oakland was definitely unplayable, said Lloyd McClendon.

Around the league

• Giancarlo Stanton: frightening. The Marlins are playing well, and they have a new leadoff hitter.

• Masahiro Tanaka showed why he can be a difference-maker. He struggled early in his start against the Blue Jays but found his way.

From ESPN Stats & Info:

Masahiro Tanaka's Pitch Repertoire on Friday
Fastball: 42
Splitter: 23
Slider: 20
Curveball: 7
Splitter: 5

• Strikeouts by pitch type: Splitter, 4; Slider, 3; Fastball, 1
• All seven of his curveballs were thrown on the first pitch (five for strikes)
• Threw 77 percent strikes when behind in the count
• Went to five 3-ball counts, but did not issue a walk, and his only double play came in a 3-1 count
• Average velocity of fastball was 91.7 mph ... hardest thrown was 94.4 mph

Tanaka showed he was worth every penny, writes Ken Davidoff.

From the Elias Sports Bureau: Tanaka is the seventh pitcher since 1900 to earn a win in his major league debut in which he pitched at least seven innings without a walk and had at least eight strikeouts. The last to do it was Stephen Strasburg in 2010 (7 IP, 14 SO, 0 BB).

• Miguel Cabrera’s 2,000th hit was a home run. He joined a very exclusive list of players who have 2,000 hits, 300 home runs and 1,200 RBIs in their first 12 MLB seasons:

The 2,000-300-1,200 in 12 Club
Player Seasons Played
Miguel Cabrera 2003-14
Albert Pujols 2001-12
Frank Robinson 1956-67
Hank Aaron 1954-65
Joe DiMaggio 1936-50*
*Missed three seasons serving in military in WWII

• Mark Teixeira strained his hamstring. He is not optimistic about his return, as Wallace Matthews writes.

Last year, losing Teixeira was a body blow for the Yankees because they didn't have a lot of alternative power sources. But this year, the impact of Teixeira’s injury is mitigated by a few other things:

1. The talent the Yankees acquired during the winter to bolster the lineup, from Brian McCann to Jacoby Ellsbury to Carlos Beltran.
2. The emergence of 26-year-old infielder Yangervis Solarte. He has bounced around the minors for years, and he doesn’t hit a lot of home runs. But Solarte will make contact, he will put the ball in play and he may turn out to be a pretty good stopgap guy.
3. Besides his typically strong defense at first base, it’s not entirely clear anymore what Teixeira provides for the offense. As he mentioned recently, his surgically repaired wrist may never be the same, and his numbers have been in decline.

Teixeira OPS, year by year
2008 1.081
2009 .948
2010 .846
2011 .835
2012 .807
2013 .609 (15 games)

So far this season, Teixeira -- who turns 34 on April 11 -- is 2-for-11 with no extra-base hits. This comes after having a rough spring in which he went 3-for-35 with a double and no homers.

• Yasiel Puig was late in his arrival at the park Friday, and for that, Don Mattingly benched him. Puig said it was his fault.

Magic Johnson says that Puig needs to make better decisions. It’s time for Puig to cut the chaos, writes Ramona Shelburne.

• Joe Torre doesn’t want on-site replay officials.

• The Diamondbacks are off to a terrible start, but they’re not pushing the panic button yet, writes Nick Piecoro.

Dings and dents

1. Chad Billingsley is set to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment.

2. Dexter Fowler is dealing with a stomach bug.

3. Ryan Cook threw in a minor league game.

4. Ryan Braun's thumb ailment has popped up again.

5. Martin Prado's finger injury is not as bad as initially feared.

6. Gordon Beckham was scratched from his rehab stint.

Friday’s games

1. Garrett Richards righted the world for the Angels, for a day. Mike Trout helped turn things around.

2. The Braves continue to get great starting pitching, and Evan Gattis homered.

3. Bruce Bochy won a pivotal replay challenge.

4. Danny Salazar powered through a rough start.

5. Prince Fielder and the Rangers dug an early hole. Ron Washington was blunt in assessing a decision by Fielder.

6. The Cardinals cannot stop Pedro Alvarez.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Indians took another step in the right direction by investing in Jason Kipnis, writes Terry Pluto.

2. Hector Noesi was designated for assignment.

3. This just in: The Blue Jays bumped up against their payroll limit. This was also the case with a whole lot of other teams, such as the Yankees, who declined to re-sign Russell Martin last season because of their budget, or the Dodgers, who didn’t spend a little extra money to retain Mark Ellis or Nick Punto.

This would be a really big deal if the Blue Jays had actually been willing to give up salary to pursue a player, but that wasn’t the case, and anyway, the union wouldn’t allow that to happen, as Alex Rodriguez learned from his flirtation with the Red Sox in the offseason of 2003-04.

The bottom line is that the Jays spent aggressively going into 2013, adding salaries in Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey, and now that credit card bill has come due, limiting their flexibility. They have a record payroll of about $140 million -- or almost $60 million more than they spent two years ago -- and besides Reyes' contract, they have no real contractual obligations beyond 2015. Context is important.

4. MLB is reviewing Matt Adams' contact with a fan.

5. Travis Ishikawa keeps getting chances to play.

NL West

• Charlie Blackmon had six hits in the Rockies’ win, as Troy Renck writes. From Elias: Blackmon is the first player in MLB history to have three doubles and a homer in a six-hit game.

Blackmon joined Andres Galarraga as the only players in Rockies history with six hits in a game. Since 2009, Blackmon is only the fifth player to go a perfect 6-for-6 in a game.

Six Hits in Six At-Bats Since 2009
2014 Charlie Blackmon
2013 Alex Rios
2009 Ian Kinsler
2009 Adrian Gonzalez
2009 Freddy Sanchez

• Dodgers fans let their feelings be known on Opening Day, writes Kevin Baxter.

• Justin Morneau is fitting in just fine.

• The Padres have struggled early.

NL Central

• The Cubs may be six years away from big-market spending, writes Gordon Wittenmyer.

• The Pirates sent a message to the Cardinals, writes Gene Collier.

NL East

• New manager Matt Williams is sometimes aggressive to a fault, writes Thomas Boswell.

• Mark Lerner says the Nationals are beyond topped out in their payroll.

• Ervin Santana started in Triple-A.

• Lucas Duda won the job as the Mets’ first baseman and clubbed a couple of homers.

• The disputed replay in Washington on Friday shows that this won’t solve all issues.

• Chase Utley has gotten hot.

• Ryne Sandberg has learned some hard lessons.

AL West

• The Angels are aiming to turn data into wins, writes Jeff Fletcher.

• Yu Darvish is not concerned about his stiff neck.

AL Central

• The Tigers are more aggressive on the bases.

• Some decisions didn’t work out for the Twins’ third-base coach.

• Adam Eaton relishes his role with the White Sox.

• Salvador Perez deserves some credit.

• Wade Davis' excellence was heartening.

AL East

• The pressure is on for Michael Pineda, writes George King.

• Sean Rodriguez had a really big day.

• Even in defeat, it was a glorious day for the Red Sox, writes Dan Shaughnessy.

• Clay Buchholz is all stretched out and ready to go.

Young stars I'd lock up long term now.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
As baseball’s revenues continue to break records year over year, clubs are well aware that, based on baseball history, those revenues normally get passed right down to the players.

Indeed, we’ve recently seen a flurry of six-year contract extensions by clubs for non-arbitration-eligible players in the past few months, including:

• Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels, $144.5 million
• Yan Gomes, Cleveland Indians, $23 million
• Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves, $32.4 million
• Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays, $25.5 million
• Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians, $52.5 million

In addition to those six-year deals, there was also Freddie Freeman's eight-year, $135 million extension, which is the longest contract in Braves history.

This proactive method benefits the team and the player. For the teams, they get to pre-emptively buy out some of the player's free-agent years, which should save them millions of dollars considering the ridiculous pace at which free-agent salaries are escalating. In exchange, the players receive lifetime security yet are still able to test the free-agent market again at a reasonably young age.

The Trout deal broke records at almost every aspect, and the Teheran and Archer deals were riskier because of pitchers’ greater chance of landing on the disabled list at some point in their six-year contract.

Gomes was the biggest gamble because he hasn’t established the track record the others did to justify committing those types of dollars. Regardless of the risk, clubs cannot ignore the opportunity to save so much money, making contracts such as these no-brainers.

When I look around the league, I see a number of other candidates for these kind of long-term deals. Here are nine pre-arbitration players I think teams would have a chance to lock up, plus four Boras Corp. clients who probably have very little chance to sign now -- Scott Boras almost always recommends his players hold out for free agency ASAP -- but should try anyway.

As always, agents will use recent deals as a framework when negotiating, and I've noted some recent deals that would provide a guideline for each player in question.

Non-arbitration-eligible players clubs should extend now

1. Manny Machado | 3B | Service time: 1+056 | Agent: MVP Sports

Note: Service time is as of Opening Day, and "1+056" means one year, 56 days.

Machado had offseason knee surgery and started the year on the disabled list, so of course the Orioles will need to make sure he is 100 percent upon his return before doing a deal. However, once he is back to full strength, they should be aggressive in getting him locked up. The time will never be better, the price and value never lower. The price could go up dramatically with a single impact season.

Machado has let his agent, Dan Lozano, know he would like a long-term deal, and Lozano has never been shy to pull the trigger. However, Lozano was spoiled by Joey Votto’s 10-year, $225 million extension with the Reds, and it’s unlikely the Orioles would go more than seven or eight years. Machado will be a superstar, but for now he doesn’t yet have the stats or respect he’ll eventually have in time. Machado’s injury was a sober reminder how precious health is, and the game is so much easier to deal with when you have the security of a long-term contract.

Comparable deal: Freddie Freeman

2. Wil Myers | OF | Service time: 0-104 | Agent: CAA Sports

Myers had a solid first year with the Rays, belting 23 doubles, 13 home runs and 53 RBIs in just 88 games while hitting .293/.354/.478. There is no doubt he eventually will develop into a middle-of-the-order impact bat. The Rays -- who are known for locking guys up early -- will be as aggressive as they can to lock him up because he and Evan Longoria give the Rays their Nos. 3 and 4 hitters for years to come.

Comparable deal: Jay Bruce (six years, $51 million), with an increase added based on market inflation since that deal was signed in 2012.

3. Michael Wacha | RHP | Service time: 0+062 | Agent: CAA Sports

Everyone in baseball talks about the downward plane and angle of his 95 mph fastball and the deception of his changeup. But as his cutter and curveball improve, watch out. His performance and value is only going to skyrocket the next few years.

Comparable deal: Between Teheran and Archer -- in the ballpark of six years, $31 million

4. Josh Donaldson | 3B | Service time: 1+158 | Agent: MVP Sports Group

Donaldson had his breakout season last year when he finished fourth in the AL MVP voting after hitting .301/.384/.499 with 24 home runs while playing Gold Glove-caliber third base. He was one of the most pleasant surprises in baseball last year, developing into a complete player. Some might be cautious because he has shown it but one year. However, based on how he handled the entire strike zone, his special defensive skills, work ethic and extraordinary focus, I think it would be lower risk than most "one-year wonders."

Comparable deal: He’d fall under Kipnis and Matt Carpenter (six years, $52 million) because he has done it only once.

5. Jean Segura | SS | Service time: 1+065 | Agent: Bouza, Klein & Kaminsky

The Brewers and Segura started negotiations on a long-term deal during spring training, but those talks broke off quickly because the two sides were so far apart it didn’t make sense to continue. Segura will need to either repeat last year’s performance or improve for these two sides to get back to the table.

Comparable deal: He’d get less than Andrelton Simmons (seven years, $58 million) because he's not as good a defender (who is?), likely around six years, $47 million

6. Shelby Miller | RHP | Service time: 1+030 | Agent: CAA Sports

The market for Miller is set by the Teheran deal. So, if that deal works for the Cardinals and Miller, this should be an easy extension. Teheran, 23, was 14-8 last year with a 3.20 ERA and 1.174 WHIP in 30 starts and 185 2/3 innings pitched, and Miller, 23, was 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.206 WHIP in 31 starts and 173 1/3 innings pitched.

Comparable deal: Teheran

7. Jedd Gyorko | 2B | Service time: 1+000 | Agent: Aces

Gyorko belted 26 doubles and 23 home runs in his rookie season, pretty impressive power numbers for a second baseman. There is a chance he will move back to third base next year after Chase Headley departs via free agency. His prime years are the next six years, and middle infielders with power will get overpaid in the arbitration process. So an early signing definitely would behoove the Padres.

Comparable deal: He’d come in under Carpenter and Kipnis, around six years, $45 million

8. Sonny Gray | RHP | Service time: 0+061 | Agent: Bo McKinnis

With Bartolo Colon gone to the Mets and Jarrod Parker out for the year, suddenly Gray became the Opening Day starter for the A's and the ace of the staff for this year and beyond. The A’s should try to lock him up while he’s still affordable and before he puts up big numbers.

Comparable deal: A deal between Archer's and Teheran’s would make sense at six years, $31 million.

9. Kyle Seager | 3B | Service time: 2+085 | Agent: Jet Sports Management

Seager, 26, has had two pretty consistent seasons for the Mariners with a career slash line of .260/.325/.418 averaging 33 doubles and 21 home runs and playing above-average third base. Seager’s production should be trending upward the next few years, and signing him now could result in significant savings from the arbitration system, which often gives considerable spikes for single-year breakouts.

Comparable deal: Considerably less than Simmons, Carpenter and Kipnis

Boras clients teams should try to sign

Scott Boras does not have a long history of extending non-arbitration players through the arbitration process and into free agency unless it’s for considerably more than his client’s present market value. The eight-year, $120 million extension he got for Elvis Andrus in 2013 -- when he was two years from free agency -- being a prime example.

For his best players, Boras almost always makes sure they make it to free agency. It’s highly unlikely any of the following clients would sign long-term deals at this point in their careers, but the clubs must do their due diligence and at least try.

Jose Fernandez | RHP | Service time: 1+000 | Agent: Boras Corp.

Fernandez is the best young starting pitcher in baseball. He’s so dominant I even predicted he would win the NL Cy Young Award this year. Despite the Marlins’ philosophy of not extending non-arbitration-eligible players, this is the one player for whom they should try to make an exception. Eventually, if he stays healthy, Fernandez has the potential to be the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history. Until then, the cost should be a lot less.

Comparable deal: No one. He has a chance to be on his own island like Trout.

Bryce Harper | OF | Service time: 1+159 | Agent: Boras Corp.

Mike Trout has set the bar, but it’s unlikely Boras would have any interest in a deal of that magnitude. His history of record-breaking contracts will only continue with Harper at some point. Don’t be surprised if he looks for a contract of 12-15 years for the 21-year-old to even consider extending in his non-arbitration years.

Comparable deal: Under Trout. He’s still in the Justin Upton/Bruce category until he puts up the superstar numbers we all expect.

Gerrit Cole | RHP | Pittsburgh Pirates 0+111 Agent: Boras Corp.

Teheran’s deal set the market for Cole if he’s willing to take a deal like Tehran’s six-year pact. I strongly doubt Boras would be willing to give up key arbitration years at these dollars, though.

Comparable deal: Same as Gray and Wacha, real close to Teheran: In the ballpark of six years, $31 million.

Nolan Arenado, 3B Colorado Rockies 0+155 Agent: Boras Corp.

Arenado won the Gold Glove Award last year and has a chance to develop into a middle-of-the-order impact bat. This would be the best time to extend him -- before he shows what he’s capable of doing with the bat.

Comparable deal: Will have to overpay his bat like Machado, but a lot like Simmons for his Gold Glove. In the neighborhood of six years and $47 million or seven years and $58 million.

Scouting Yankees and Jays prospects.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Happy baseball!

Thursday night was Opening Day in Trenton, New Jersey, for the Thunder (the Yankees' Class AA affiliate) and the New Hampshire Weasels ... er, Fisher Cats (the Blue Jays' AA affiliate), with both teams throwing their best starting pitchers in Game 1. I was there for the matchup and here's my report.

• Aaron Sanchez started for New Hampshire and his raw stuff was the best I've seen from him. His fastball was an easy 94-96 mph with explosive late life, with hitters flinching twice, once at how quickly it got in on them (especially right-handers) and again when it seemed to find another gear over the plate (an illusion, but an effective one). Sanchez paired it with a plus curveball, mostly 80-81, very sharp with late bite, breaking down hard, with curveball rotation but the timing of a slider's break. His changeup was between average and fringe-average, 88-91, a little too firm with some arm-side run but not enough action to make it truly effective. I'd worry about a pitch like that playing more like a BP fastball in the majors.

Sanchez' delivery has been a concern in the past and it's not much different now -- he still takes a short stride and is rather upright at his release, with a little violence involved because of how stiff he is when he lets the ball go, even though he appears to exert no effort with his arm. That kind of delivery is more highly correlated with arm problems, like Taijuan Walker (who has a similar finish) has had this spring, and it also makes it harder to command the ball and to locate down in the zone. Sanchez was effective at the second part, working down in the zone most of his five innings, missing up less often than he has for me in the past. He walked two, one on a questionable ball/strike call, but was more "around the plate" than filling up the zone. I'd call it average command, average control, but I can't project more on either unless he gets looser and smoother at release.

• Trenton starter Bryan Mitchell showed nearly as much velocity as Sanchez, 92-95, mostly 94-95 from the stretch, but didn't have the same degree of fastball movement or any secondary pitch that could miss bats. Mitchell's fastball is a four-seamer with no movement, just a little downhill plane from his 3/4 arm slot, so he tries to offset it with a cutter at 91-93 that I think will probably end up his best pitch, especially if he shifts to a relief role. His curveball is short with mostly downward break, 81-83, occasionally getting slurvier up to 85, but he didn't command it well and put a number of pitches of all varieties in the dirt. The Fisher Cats' lineup isn't good -- actually, it's pretty terrible -- but they were on Mitchell's fastball all night and racked up his pitch count quickly because he had to try to work away from contact. In a relief look, though, he might add a tick of velocity and could just go fastball/cutter to move once through a lineup, junking the curveball if he just can't throw it consistently.

• The Trenton lineup is a little light at the moment, with outfielders Slade Heathcott and Tyler Austin still rehabbing in Tampa. Catcher Gary Sanchez was in the lineup, batting fourth, but had a rough night at the plate, including a three-pitch strikeout when Sanchez put two fastballs right by him, and struck him out on a sharp curveball, with Gary looking completely lost. He walked in his only other plate appearance against the Fisher Cats' starter, although ball four looked like a blown strike two call to me. Sanchez' defense behind the plate has always been the main question around his game, but last night Mitchell was in the dirt so often that I'd ascribe most of the blame for Sanchez' trouble back there (which wasn't actually that bad overall) to the pitcher.

• Mason Williams hit a pair of pitches hard, including a line drive single the other way on a 95 mph fastball, but as usual was too aggressive for his own good, seeing a total of seven pitches in his four at bats; he keeps jumping on the first fastball near the zone he sees rather than trying to work the count to get a more favorable pitch or location. The tools are there -- bat speed, running speed, plus defense in center -- but it's been two-plus years now where the aggressiveness has been a known issue, and he's getting to the age where we need to see him make an adjustment.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Twins to lose outfielder to DL?
April, 7, 2014
By AJ Mass |
The Minnesota Twins are calling up Chris Herrmann from their Triple-A affiliate in Rochester, fueling speculation that at least one of their pair of injured outfielders may be headed for the disabled list.

As Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune writes, Oswaldo Arcia saw a hand specialist on Saturday, who said that his condition appears minor. "Arcia said he will try to take batting practice on Monday to test the wrist, though he won't play, in hopes of returning after Tuesday's day off."

Meanwhile, Josh Willingham got hit by a Justin Masterson pitch in the first inning of Sunday's game and eventually left to get X-rays. The verdict was no break in his left wrist and the team was hopeful that the injury wouldn't keep Willingham out of the lineup for long.

However, manager Ron Gardenhire said that "we can't play short. We're just not going to do that this year," hence the call-up of Herrmann. Chris Fee of says that Herrmann can play three different positions -- first base, catcher and outfield -- and the versatility he brings to the Twins is the reason he was selected to join the team.
Tags:Josh Willingham, Oswaldo Arcia, Chris Herrmann
Dodgers hoping SP stays healthy
April, 7, 2014
By AJ Mass |
The Los Angeles Dodgers may have to wait a little bit longer than they had expected to get their planned 2014 starting rotation completely healthy again after Chad Billingsley suffered a setback in his first rehab appearance of the year.

As Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles reports, Billingsley was lifted for precautionary reasons after only one inning with manager Don Mattingly saying that the pitcher "felt a little sensation" in an outing for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.

Although the Dodgers are not calling it a setback, as team doctors said Billingsley passed all tests after the appearance, there's a chance that the right-hander's return date might be pushed back from the current mid-May target.

Not all of the pitching news is bad for the Dodgers, as Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Josh Beckett "threw a bullpen session Sunday, two days after hurting his ankle in a start with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga." Beckett might be called on to start as early as this week against the Detroit Tigers.

"The Dodgers have a day off Thursday, so if Beckett can pitch Wednesday, Hyun-Jin Ryu wouldn't have to start until Friday," Hernandez writes. Ryu has already made three starts due to the early start to the season in Australia, and got roughed up in the team's 8-4 loss in their home opener on April 4. Giving him an extra day of rest before his next few starts might be the best course of action to help prevent any more days like that one.
Tags:Chad Billingsley, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Josh Beckett
Could Rays be headed to Montreal?
April, 6, 2014
By AJ Mass |
On Friday afternoon, Tampa Bay Rays president Matt Silverman once again met with local officials in an effort to figure out a long-term stadium solution that would keep the team in the Tampa Bay area.

As Christopher O'Donnell of the Tampa Bay Tribune writes, "the Rays are under contract to play at the Trop through 2027 but say they need to explore sites for a new stadium because of low attendances at the city-owned facility. The city has so far refused, saying it has to protect the investment of taxpayers who paid millions of dollars to bring Major League Baseball to St. Petersburg."

Despite being in first place in their division to start the season, the team has averaged just 17,867 fans in their first six games, the lowest by far of any team who has hosted a series thus far this season. The team did have a sellout on Opening Day, drawing 31,042 fans -- but the capacity of the stadium has been severely reduced after offseason renovations to the ballpark.

Compare that to the over 96,000 fans who came to Montreal's Olympic Stadium to showcase the city's desire to bring baseball back to town during the pair of exhibition games played there between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets and there's no wonder that the idea of the Rays moving north of the border is starting to gain some traction.

If the Rays can't make any headway in their current negotiations for a new stadium, and Montreal is able to find someone to fund one, perhaps a rebirth of the Expos might well end up coming to pass. For now, Silverman says there's a simple way for the Rays to stay where they are -- those attendance numbers have to rise.

"Our home is Tampa Bay and we're gonna make it work here and we appreciate every single fan who comes out and enjoys the game. If each fan came to one more game per year it would make a big difference and we wouldn't be having these conversations," Silverman says.

Buster Olney
Stadium woes continue for Rays, A's
"Some small-market and mid-market teams have seen their attendance rise and fall according to how much the fans believe in ownership's investment in the team -- the Padres are a perfect example of this -- but the Rays have been a model of consistency in their incredible and improbable success, and yet the attendance continues to drift downward."
Tags:Tampa Bay Rays
Gibson on the hot seat?
April, 6, 2014
By AJ Mass |
In February, the Arizona Diamondbacks gave manager Kirk Gibson a contract extension so that he would not be entering 2014 as a lame duck. However, they did not reveal the terms of that extension, so it's unclear exactly how much job security Gibson actually has.

At the time, team president Derrick Hall said that Gibson asked that the length of his deal be kept secret but stressed that he was confident with his current skipper. "There's constant distraction and a labeling of who's on the hot seat," Hall said, "Are they feeling the pressure?"

After a 1-7 start to the season -- the worst in franchise history -- one has to belive the pressure is already starting to mount. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote just prior to the start of the season that "the D-backs are coming off back-to-back .500 seasons. (Hall) told the Arizona Republic that the payroll will be about $115 million, a franchise record" and named Gibson as one of his managers on the hot seat.

It's early, but Arizona is currently hitting just .237 on the season and their team ERA is last in the majors at 6.69. Starting Tuesday, they play three games at San Francisco and then six of their next nine versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. If the team hasn't righted the ship at least a little bit after that stretch of games, there's a good chance Gibson will be the first manager to be out of a job this season -- regardless of what the terms of that new contract might have been.
Tags:Arizona Diamondbacks, Kirk Gibson
Middlebrooks headed for the DL?
April, 6, 2014
By AJ Mass |
As reported on ESPN Boston, third baseman Will Middlebrooks of the Boston Red Sox "will receive an MRI on a strained right calf Sunday, according to manager John Farrell. Middlebrooks was scratched from the lineup Saturday night minutes before first pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers. He was replaced by Jonathan Herrera. Farrell said Middlebrooks strained the calf during sprints prior to the game."

According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, Middlebrooks may be headed to the disabled list as a result, which could leave the team with no choice but to play Herrera at the hot corner on a regular basis. "The only third baseman on the roster is Jonathan Herrera, who has limited experience at the position. The Sox, who are carrying five outfielders, have Herrera as their only infield backup. Brandon Snyder and 22-year-old Garin Cecchini are the third basemen at Triple A Pawtucket. Neither player is on the 40-man roster."

If Middlebrooks does have to miss a few weeks and Herrera doesn't quite fill the void while he's gone, expect another round of Stephen Drew rumors to build momentum. However, keep in mind that Drew decided against attending the ceremony held on Opening Day to get his World Series ring and at this point may not be interested in a return to Boston, even at his asking price.
Tags:Stephen Drew, Jonathan Herrera, Will Middlebrooks
Will Puig miss Sunday's game?
April, 6, 2014
By AJ Mass |
It's already been an up-and-down season for Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. After being benched for the home opener against the San Francisco Giants as punishment for being late for batting practice, Puig was back in action on Saturday -- only to end up getting picked off first base in the third inning and jamming his thumb in the process.

Although he stayed in the game and played all nine innings, Puig was clearly bothered a bit by his thumb following the contest. According to Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times, "Puig didn't think the injured thumb was serious, but the Dodgers did have X-rays taken after the game. A team spokesman said the X-rays had not been reviewed by a doctor and the results would not be made available until Sunday. Puig did not have the thumb taped after the game, but kept moving it in circles as he spoke with reporters."

It's quite possible that Puig will sit out Sunday's game as a precaution, regardless of the results, a luxury that the Dodgers have at the moment. "If Puig can't play, it's not as serious a problem as it would be to other teams," Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times writes. "The inevitable has finally happened. With Matt Kemp back from the disabled list, the Dodgers have their long-awaited surplus of outfielders. Now, as long as Kemp, Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier remain healthy, at least one of them will be sitting at the start of a game."

Ramona Shelburne
Yasiel Puig needs to cut the chaos
"The prevailing thought in the Dodgers' clubhouse and front office is that Puig will eventually figure this stuff out. If not completely, then enough so there aren't days like this very often. He cares about winning and he cares about his teammates. If that was the litmus test, he passed it a long time ago. What everyone with the Dodgers is hoping, is that days like Friday make him realize that the chaos he creates actually does affect other people sometimes. That it isn't just something to charge him up or push him to another next level."
Tags:Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig
Zimmerman's shoulder cause for concern?
April, 6, 2014
By AJ Mass |
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals had to leave Saturday's game against the Atlanta Braves after feeling pain in his right shoulder -- the same shoulder on which he had surgery in October of 2012 -- and the team is, unsurprisingly, concerned.

According to Andrew Simon of, "Zimmerman made an awkward throw for an error after fielding Andrelton Simmons' ground ball in the fourth inning, and he came out after the fifth. Manager Matt Williams said the club is trying to schedule him for an MRI in the morning."

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post says the team is trying to stay positive about the situation and that all parties are hoping that the problems are simply a result of the chilly April temperatures. "Early in the season, cold weather has been a factor. Zimmerman does not want to admit it, because it sounds like an excuse," Kilgore writes.

"But Nationals coaches have observed him during games constantly loosening up his shoulder. He has not needed to this year, but in the past he has sometimes sneaked to the clubhouse between innings and placed a heat pad on his shoulder."

Kilgore points out that Zimmerman has looked good throwing the ball under certain situations. "(He) has not had many chances to make across-the-diamond throws from a standstill. On plays when he charges and makes sidearm throws, he's been perfect. Consternation remains. Warming up between innings, Zimmerman frequently bounces the ball or pulls Adam LaRoche off first base."

If Zimmerman can't throw, he might still be able to be an everyday starter by moving across the diamond to first base. Either Kevin Frandsen could play third or Anthony Rendon could move to the hot corner with Danny Espinosa taking over at second base. However, that would leave LaRoche and his .478 OBP without a home and would be less than ideal.
Tags:Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, Adam LaRoche
Fiscal limits in DC?
April, 5, 2014
By Doug Mittler |
No one can accuse Mark Lerner of pinching pennies, but the Washington Nationals owner may have reached a payroll limit.

“We’re beyond topped out,” Lerner told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. “Our payroll has skyrocketed to like $140 million. It’s in the papers. I don’t think we can go much further with the revenue streams that we have.”

Lerner says the Nationals do not have room in their budget to add salary during this season and the team will proceed “smartly” with future payrolls.

The Nats have not been shy when it comes to handing out lucrative contracts to core players – Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Rafael Soriano all make $11 million or more in 2014.

It will be interesting to see if Lerner sticks by that mantra if the Nationals suffer a notable injury and need to add a player by the July 31 deadline. The Nats are built to win now and there would be pressure to come up with more cash, especially after the 2013 season fell well short of expectations.
Tags:Washington Nationals
Could a Masterson deal be next?
April, 5, 2014
By Doug Mittler |
The Cleveland Indians have aggressively pursued multi-year contracts with their core players, the latest coming Friday when second baseman Jason Kipnis agreed to a six-year, $52.5 million deal. Since the start of spring training, GM Chris Antonetti has inked Kipnis, outfielder Michael Brantley and catcher Yan Gomes and Kipnis to lengthy pacts.

So where does that leave the biggest fish in the pond – ace righthander Justin Masterson?

Masterson, projected to be one of the top starters in free agency next offseason, is seeking a multiyear deal worth about $17 million annually, according to reports. The two sides broke off talks in late March.

Antonetti continues to keep the door open. “There is a sincere desire to have Justin here long-term,” Antonetti said in an interview with

One benchmark in the negotiations is likely the six-year, $105 million extension the Cincinnati Reds gave Homer Bailey in February. Bailey was eligible for free agency after this season and has comparable numbers to Masterson. But Masterson could elect to take the same calculated gamble as Max Scherzer, who recently turned down a substantial offer from the Tigers.

At the very least, Antonetti has demonstrated to Masterson a sincere effort to put a solid team behind him. That should count for something.
Tags:Cleveland Indians, Justin Masterson
Will Astros stick with Harrell?
April, 5, 2014
By Doug Mittler |
Lucas Harrell, like many of his Houston Astros teammates, struggled through the 2013 season. The righthander lost 17 games with a 5.86 ERA, but pitched well enough in spring training to earn one of the final two rotation berths.

But Harrell did little to impress the front office Friday when the Angels roughed him up for five runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts in three innings. Seven times in 2013, Harrell allowed five runs or more in starts that lasted fewer than five innings.

There already are some question as to how many more opportunities the Astros give Harrell, who is out of options. But, as the Houston Chronicle points out, the Astros have limited options since Jerome Williams, a loser in the race for a rotation berth, fared poorly pitching out of the bullpen Friday.

If the Astros do make an immediate move regarding the pitching staff, it could be to add a long reliever after Brad Peacock and Williams were used heavily Thursday and Friday.
Tags:Houston Astros, Lucas Harrell
Filling in for Teixeira
April, 5, 2014
By Doug Mittler |
A wrist injury limited Mark Teixeira to just 15 games in 2013. Less than a week into the season, the New York Yankees may again have some issues at first base.

Teixeira left Friday’s 7-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays after suffering a strained right hamstring while chasing a foul ball in the second inning. "We'll see how it feels in the morning, but I'm not super optimistic about it," Teixeira tells Wallace Matthews of

The Yankees could have a problem on their hands if Teixeira, who will undergo an MRI on Monday, lands on the disabled list. They spent millions on free agency, but none of those dollars went to a viable backup first baseman.

Kelly Johnson moved over from third base following Teixeira’s injury and is expected to start at first base in the final two games of the Toronto series. Rookie Yangervis Solarte could get some extra time at third base.

A possible roster addition could be utility infielder Russ Canzler, who is at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Tags:Mark Teixeira
Blackmon the regular CF in Denver?
April, 5, 2014
By Doug Mittler |
After trading Dexter Fowler to the Astros, the Colorado Rockies spent all of spring training trying to decide on a center fielder. Manager Walt Weiss could not make up his mind by the end of camp, so Charlie Blackmon, Corey Dickerson, Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes all came north with the club.

Blackmon is making his case to keep the job. He tied a team record with six hits and drove in five runs, helping the Rockies to a 12-2 win over the D-backs Friday. The only other Rockies player with six hits in a game was Andres Galarraga against Houston on July 3, 1995.

One huge game will not clinch an everyday job for Blackmon, but it can’t hurt. Blackmon has made three starts. Stubbs started the second game, even though a right-hander was pitching. Dickerson made the other start.

Where will the Rockies go from here?’s David Schoenield gives his take:

David Schoenfield
Who is Charlie Blackmon?
"While he may be the best combo of offense and defense, whether Blackmon will ultimately hit enough remains a question. While he hit .309 last year, he also drew just seven walks while striking out 49 times. His ratio in Triple-A was better -- 35 walks, 41 strikeouts -- but his .288 average paled in comparison to what Dickerson hit at Colorado Springs (.371). Blackmon is 27, so he's not likely to improve much going forward, but it's hard to maintain success with a 49-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Rockies never seem to have a game plan, but Weiss and the front office do seem to prefer defense, and that gives Blackmon the edge over Dickerson."
Tags:Colorado Rockies
Is 3B a possibility for Nick Franklin?
April, 4, 2014
By Joe Kaiser |
Nick Franklin is one of Seattle's top young bats, yet he has no place to play on the big league club based on the way the Mariners' roster is currently constructed. Robinson Cano means second base is no longer an option, and Brad Miller's defensive edge means shortstop is unlikely a fit, either.

What options are left for Franklin? He'll be used at shortstop as he starts the year in Triple-A, but beating out Miller, himself a powerful infield bat, is probably not going to happen any time soon. That means Franklin will either have to learn to play in the outfield, as he tried for a time late in the spring with long-time major league outielder and current M's first base coach, Andy Van Slyke, or entertain a move to a position nobody has talked about thus far -- third base.

Yes, Kyle Seager is there, and he's manned the position well as one of the team's best hitters in recent years. But if Franklin is going to find a spot for himself in the infield, the hot corner may be his best bet going forward.

The left-handed hitting Seager has consistently been a .260/20 HR type of hitter in his first two full seasons in the bigs, and is much more established than Franklin with 1561 plate appearances to his credit. At 26, his best years could very well be ahead of him.

However, Franklin is over three years younger, is a switch-hitter who could help out the M's lefty-heavy lineup against southpaws, and is someone with All-Star potential.

Would the M's consider moving Seager to make room for Franklin? Should they? I reached out to ESPN Insider Jim Bowden for his take.

Jim Bowden
Seattle should hold on to Franklin
"I am a Seager fan and think he's going to keep getting better. I like the starting infield of Smoak, Cano, Miller and Seager and would let them develop together. I also think that Nick Franklin should be kept as the 5th infielder so he protects them from injuries at 2B, SS AND 3B going forward. He's as important as a 4th outfielder or as a 6th starting pitcher. The A's have won back-to-back divisional titles, partly because they had more depth than the other teams in the division. Franklin is an important 'depth' player."
Tags:Nick Franklin, Kyle Seager, MLB, Insider
No room in Toronto for Happ?
April, 4, 2014
By AJ Mass |
Pitcher J.A. Happ is throwing bullpen sessions as he attempts to make his way back from lower back discomfort that landed him on the disabled list to start the season, rather than in the starting rotation for the Toronto Blue Jays. However, when he is finally ready to step on the mound again, there may not be an opening for him.

According to Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun, "unless an injury claims one of the current five starters, by the time Happ is ready to contribute there doesn't appear to be any room at the inn. It certainly won't be the first time that Happ has found himself on the outside looking in. After being acquired in a trade with Houston on July 20, 2012, Happ initially was placed in the bullpen, a situation that didn't sit well with him."

Toronto's general manager Alex Anthopoulos said that while Happ was expected to be a "really good performer" for the Blue Jays when healthy, he would not guarantee that he'd be performing as a starting pitcher. "No, certainly, the same way there's no guarantee with every single starter over time, things can happen, performances, things like that," Anthopoulos said.

Having some depth in the rotation certainly would not be a bad thing for Toronto, but if Happ ends up in the bullpen and unhappy, it may ultimately prove better for the team to see if they can't find the pitcher a new home where he can fit into the starting role he prefers.
Tags:J.A. Happ
Could Braun's season be in jeopardy?
April, 4, 2014
By AJ Mass |
Adam McCalvy of says that Ryan Braun is dealing with numbness in his thumb due to a nerve problem that prevents him from being able to tell how hard he's gripping things. As a result, Braun has developed bad blisters and the only remedy may be surgery.

Although Braun will certainly attempt to figure out a way to deal with the numbness in his thumb without having to resort to going under the knife -- a decision that would certainly cause him to miss a large chunk, if not all of the season -- last season found the outfielder unable to find such a solution.

As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote in February, "before being caught by the Biogenesis investigators, Braun battled a right thumb issue with little success. He went on the disabled list for the first time in his career in mid-June and when he did play, he was sapped of his power by being unable to properly grip the bat."

Manager Ron Roenicke was worried that this issue might arise, and he can't be too thrilled it has come up so soon into the season. "We fought with that thumb for two months (last year)," Roenicke said. "The trainers are working to pad up either the (batting) gloves he puts on or the bat itself in trying to get a little pressure off that."

"I know he doesn't like that, because he really likes to feel the bat on his fingers, and you lose a little bit of feeling (when you pad the bat). Hopefully, they come up with something that will help that and we won't fight with that all year."
post #20841 of 73411
It may just be me, but baseball games don't really seem that long to be. Basketball games are what seem to drag on for ages.
post #20842 of 73411

I don't think making games 7 innings is the way to go. They need to figure out a way to get younger fans to the ballpark. Maybe make games more affordable. Watching a 3 hr game on tv feels like its an eternity. But when you're at the ballpark those hours fly by and don't feel long at all. Unlike the NFL, you don't get the same experience watching at home as you do at the actual game.

post #20843 of 73411
Games would be a lot better if batters didn't step out of the box for 15 seconds after every pitch
PSN: Aiinatural
Go Hawks, Mariners, Ducks
PSN: Aiinatural
Go Hawks, Mariners, Ducks
post #20844 of 73411
^like someone said, if you are at the ball park, time flies. 4 hrs is nothing when youre watching the gm and eating/drinking. youre always engaged with the foul balls going to the stands. i swear every pop up seems like a homer run laugh.gif
post #20845 of 73411
Originally Posted by DMan14 View Post

^like someone said, if you are at the ball park, time flies. 4 hrs is nothing when youre watching the gm and eating/drinking. youre always engaged with the foul balls going to the stands. i swear every pop up seems like a homer run laugh.gif

people ooh and aah at 200 foot fly ball outs laugh.gif

being at the park >>>>
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Houston Rockets | Houston Texans | Houston Astros | Texas Aggies
post #20846 of 73411
also, jhonny peralta, is 2-21 on the season. both hits are homers though laugh.gif
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post #20847 of 73411
Originally Posted by PhillyzPhan View Post

Unlike the NFL, you don't get the same experience watching at home as you do at the actual game.

I know this is the MLB thread, but I wholeheartedly disagree that you get the same experience watching an NFL game at home as you do when you are actually at the game.

post #20848 of 73411
Thread Starter 
White Sox's rebuild is working.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Chicago White Sox are almost certainly not going to contend this year. That was the prevailing opinion entering the season, and one week of baseball -- despite a respectable 3-3 record -- has done little to change that notion, as they rank 25th in's latest power rankings.

The team is rebuilding, but thanks to the busy offseason of general manager Rick Hahn and his baseball operations staff, the path back to contention may not be as long as we think. The White Sox have done or are doing five things correctly that bode well for the future and make them worth following this year.

1. Stockpiling assets
The White Sox have a pretty poor farm system, but they're moving the needle in the right direction. After having only one player in Keith Law's top 100 prospect ranking in 2013, the team put three players on it in 2014, including Matt Davidson, who was acquired over the winter for closer Addison Reed. In addition to that, they have acquired an impressive number of players that are major league ready.

In the past year, the team has traded for Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia and Leury Garcia. The latter two are 23, Eaton is 25, and all three are contributing at the major league level right now. (In addition, they used the player they acquired from Boston last season for Matt Thornton -- outfielder Brandon Jacobs -- as one of the three players they sent to Arizona in exchange for Eaton). Now, not all of these guys are going to be stars -- in fact it's likelier that none of them will be. But what it shows is that the team is willing to find solutions that will help their future.

To get these guys, they gave up Hector Santiago (age 26), Jake Peavy (age 32), and Alex Rios (age 32). The latter two are past their respective primes, make a lot of money, and were not a part of the long-term plan. Santiago has promise, but he's a back-end guy, and Eaton fills a more glaring need as speedy outfielder with OBP skills.

The Sox haven't just been stockpiling potential building blocks though, the team has also made a habit of taking fliers on under-the-radar or down-on-their-luck players. That list includes players like Casper Wells, Felipe Paulino, Mitchell Boggs and Eric Surkamp. Pluck enough of these kinds of players, and one of them will make you look very smart.

2. Playing the kids
[+] EnlargeAdam Eaton
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports
Adam Eaton has a .360 OBP leading off for Chicago this year.
Many teams look to restrict the playing time of their younger players, for fear that they will lose them to free agency sooner than they would like. Prospects Erik Johnson and Marcus Semien were called up late last year, and have started the season with the big club. Davidson wasn't cut until late March, and shouldn't be down for long, especially if Jeff Keppinger remains on the shelf.

You could perhaps make the argument that they are doing so out of necessity, but it doesn't hold up. They could easily sign retreads on league minimum deals if they wanted to just cover the positions, but they aren't doing that -- they're giving the kids valuable experience, and that will give them a better opportunity to hit the ground running when the time comes. It also makes them a lot more fun to watch.

3. Showcasing trade assets
While they are mixing in younger players, the White Sox seem to get that the way to keep piling up talent is to let potential trade chips play. Alejandro De Aza and Adam Dunn have each started five of the first six games, and Alexei Ramirez started each of the first six. They represent the three 30-or-older players who should draw interest at the trade deadline.

Like Peavy, Rios and Thornton, they are unlikely to garner significant packages, especially Dunn, who is in the final year of his contract. Ramirez, however, is a surprisingly good player, particularly if he hits, and the Sox don't need to trade him, so as a result he is likely to fetch the highest price.

4. Not beholden to the past
Playing the kids and showcasing trade assets can only happen if the team is willing to admit it's time to move players that don't fit either bill. Paul Konerko may be the most beloved player on the South Side since Frank Thomas, but that has not stopped the team from doing the right thing when it comes to his playing time. They are not letting him wade out onto the field every day in his final season, in a vain pursuit of 450 homers (he is currently at 434).

They are taking the same approach with Dayan Viciedo. Viciedo never really made his mark as a full-time player. The only season in which he really played full time was 2012, when he compiled a grand total of 0.3 WAR. Still, he got to take 473 turns at the dish last season, a number which he probably won't get anywhere near this season. At least, not as long as De Aza remains on the team.

Viciedo only started two of the team's first six games, and if that ratio continues, he probably won't reach 300 plate appearances. Back in 2008, the White Sox made a decent investment in Viciedo, giving him a major league deal and a four-year contract following his defection from Cuba. But it didn't really pan out, and while the Sox haven't yet cut him loose, they're not stubbornly trying to shoehorn him into an every day role for which he is not qualified.

5. Spending money
Many teams that are going through a rebuilding phase are reticent to spend money. They would rather sit around and count their fat revenue-sharing checks. The White Sox, however, struck when an opportunity presented itself. The team correctly realized that slugging first basemen in their 20s don't come around all that often. So when the bidding opened for Jose Abreu, they made sure they didn't lose out, signing him to a six-year, $68 million deal. Now, they may have a monster on their hands.

The Steamer projection system only pegged seven hitters to post a better wOBA than Abreu this season -- Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Giancarlo Stanton, Prince Fielder, Troy Tulowitzki and Paul Goldschmidt. The ZiPS projection system has him pegged for the 13th-highest wOBA overall. Anecdotally, he's been compared to Albert Pujols. He hasn't started in dominant fashion, but he did pick up three extra-base hits in the season's first week, and should he become the player that forecasts expect, the 27-year-old Cuban native should still be very productive when the rest of the White Sox get up to speed around him.

FanGraphs has the squad pegged at 75.3 wins, with just a 5.2 percent chance of reaching the wild-card game. But as long as the team continues to make the right decisions with the talent it does have the team may have a shorter rebuilding cycle than most.
post #20849 of 73411
Originally Posted by dland24 View Post

Originally Posted by PhillyzPhan View Post

Unlike the NFL, you don't get the same experience watching at home as you do at the actual game.
I know this is the MLB thread, but I wholeheartedly disagree that you get the same experience watching an NFL game at home as you do when you are actually at the game.

in what way, because honestly, i feel like i get a better experience watching it at home. (mostly because of personal pet peeves)

i like being at the games because i get to watch warmups, and see little things players do, catch interactions i wouldn't see on tv.

i like being at home because I HATE being surrounded by drunks who feel like sporting events are a venue to act like uncivil human beings.
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post #20850 of 73411
Thread Starter 
Position Player Contracts, Classified.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
In February, I estimated each team’s likely Opening Day payroll and broke down each payroll into discreet parts: the percentage of payroll that would be spent on the starting rotation, starting lineup, bullpen and bench. If you missed those posts, you can find them here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).

Today, we take a step back and look at how each team arrived at the position-player portion of their current 40-man rosters. What type of contract does each position player have? Is he a pre-arbitration player going year-to-year? Is he a pre-arbitration player with a contract? An arbitration-year player with an extension into free agency? A free agent with his old team or a new team? And so on.

This was a substantial undertaking, as there were 577 position players on a 40-man roster as of Sunday night, April 6th. Later this week, I’ll roll out a similar post on pitchers.

Below you will find 30 tables, one for each team, with a list of the position players on the 40-man roster and a description of each player’s current contract.

Before we get to the tables, here are the highlights:

There are 291 pre-arbitration position players with year-to-year contracts.
There are three position players with pre-arbitration, multi-year contracts that cover only their pre-arbitration years (Dustin Ackley, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon).
There are eight position players with pre-arbitration, multi-year contracts that extend into free agency (Jason Kipnis, Yan Gomes, Anthony Rizzo, Andrelton Simmons, Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig, Paul Goldschmidt and Evan Longoria).
There are four position players with pre-arbitration, multi-year contracts that extend to the end of their arbitration years with club options into the free agent years (Salvador Perez, Denard Span, Starling Marte and Carlos Santana).
There is one position player in his final pre-arbitration year with a multi-year contract that extends through the end of his arbitration years and into his free agent years (Mike Trout).
There are 84 position players with year-to-year arbitration contracts.
There are three position players with contracts extending through the end of the arbitration years (Pablo Sandoval, Ian Desmond and Asdrubal Cabrera).
There are 10 position players with contracts extending through the end of the arbitration years with a club option into the free agent years.
There are 37 position players with contracts that began during their arbitration years and extend into free agency years.
There are nine position players now on contract extensions based on original contracts during the arbitration years (Chase Utley, Dustin Pedroia, Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Kinsler, Jimmy Rollins, Derek Jeter, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun and Adrian Gonzalez).
There are 107 position players with free agent contracts who switched teams for that contract.
There are 10 position players with free agent contracts who remained with the same team for that contract.
There are 10 position players who defected from Cuba and then signed free agent contracts.
There are two position players who signed a free agent contract after playing professionally in Japan (Norichika Aoki and Hiroyuki Nakajima).
Team-by-team contract classification (in alphabetical order):


David Freese Angels Arb contract
Howie Kendrick Angels Arb contract + Ext into FA
Chris Iannetta Angels Arb contract + Ext into FA
Erick Aybar Angels Arb contract + Ext into FA
Josh Hamilton Angels Free agent contract
Albert Pujols Angels Free agent contract
Raul Ibanez Angels Free agent contract
John McDonald Angels Free agent contract
Ian Stewart Angels Free agent contract
Grant Green Angels Pre-arb
Kole Calhoun Angels Pre-arb
Hank Conger Angels Pre-arb
J.B. Shuck Angels Pre-arb
Tommy Field Angels Pre-arb
Luis Jiminez Angels Pre-arb
Efren Navarro Angels Pre-arb
Colin Cowgill Angels Pre-arb
Mike Trout Angels Pre-arb + arb contract + extension into FA

Jason Castro Astros Arb contract
Dexter Fowler Astros Arb contract
Jose Altuve Astros Arb contract + club options into FA
L.J. **** Astros Pre-arb
Matt Dominguez Astros Pre-arb
Chris Carter Astros Pre-arb
Carlos Corporan Astros Pre-arb
Robbie Grossman Astros Pre-arb
Jonathan Villar Astros Pre-arb
Marc Krauss Astros Pre-arb
Marwin Gonzalez Astros Pre-arb
Max Stassi Astros Pre-arb
Jesus Guzman Astros Pre-arb
Jon Singleton Astros Pre-arb
Domingo Santana Astros Pre-arb
Alex Presley Astros Pre-arb

Alberto Callaspo Athletics Arb contract
Jed Lowrie Athletics Arb contract
Josh Reddick Athletics Arb contract
Brandon Moss Athletics Arb contract
John Jaso Athletics Arb contract
Daric Barton Athletics Arb contract
Craig Gentry Athletics Arb contract
Coco Crisp Athletics Free agent contract
Nick Punto Athletics Free agent contract
Yoenis Cespedes Athletics Free agent contract (Cuba)
Hiroyuki Nakajima Athletics Free agent contract (Japan)
Sam Fuld Athletics Free agent contract after release
Josh Donaldson Athletics Pre-arb
Derek Norris Athletics Pre-arb
Eric Sogard Athletics Pre-arb
Stephen Vogt Athletics Pre-arb
Nate Freiman Athletics Pre-arb
Jake Elmore Athletics Pre-arb
Kent Matthes Athletics Pre-arb
Shane Peterson Athletics Pre-arb
Blue Jays

Colby Rasmus Blue Jays Arb contract
Josh Thole Blue Jays Arb contract
Adam Lind Blue Jays Arb contract + club options into FA
Jose Bautista Blue Jays Arb contract + Ext into FA
Jose Reyes Blue Jays Free agent contract
Melky Cabrera Blue Jays Free agent contract
Maicer Izturis Blue Jays Free agent contract
Dioner Navarro Blue Jays Free agent contract
Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays Free agent contract + extension
Brett Lawrie Blue Jays Pre-arb
Ryan Goins Blue Jays Pre-arb
Moises Sierra Blue Jays Pre-arb
Kevin Pillar Blue Jays Pre-arb
Anthony Gose Blue Jays Pre-arb
A.J. Jimenez Blue Jays Pre-arb
Erik Kratz Blue Jays Pre-arb
Kenny Wilson Blue Jays Pre-arb

Jason Heyward Braves Arb contract
Chris Johnson Braves Arb contract
Jordan Schafer Braves Arb contract
Ramiro Pena Braves Arb contract
Freddie Freeman Braves Arb contract + Ext into FA
Justin Upton Braves Arb contract + Ext into FA
Dan Uggla Braves Arb contract + Ext into FA
Gerald Laird Braves Free agent contract
B.J. Upton Braves Free agent contract
Ryan Doumit Braves Free agent contract
Evan Gattis Braves Pre-arb
Joey Terdoslavich Braves Pre-arb
Christian Betancourt Braves Pre-arb
Ernesto Mejia Braves Pre-arb
Tyler Pastornicky Braves Pre-arb
Elmer Reyes Braves Pre-arb
Jose Constanza Braves Pre-arb
Todd Cunningham Braves Pre-arb
Andrelton Simmons Braves Pre-arb contract + Ext into FA

Jonathan Lucroy Brewers Arb contract
Carlos Gomez Brewers Arb contract + Ext into FA
Rickie Weeks Brewers Arb contract + Ext into FA
Ryan Braun Brewers Arb contract + Ext into FA + Add’l ext
LyleOverbay Brewers Free agent contract
Mark Reynolds Brewers Free agent contract
Aramis Ramirez Brewers Free agent contract
Jean Segura Brewers Pre-arb
Scooter Gennett Brewers Pre-arb
Khris Davis Brewers Pre-arb
Jeff Bianchi Brewers Pre-arb
Caleb Gindl Brewers Pre-arb
Logan Schafer Brewers Pre-arb
Martin Maldonado Brewers Pre-arb
Elian Herrera Brewers Pre-arb
Hunter Morris Brewers Pre-arb
Jason Rogers Brewers Pre-arb

Peter Bourjos Cardinals Arb contract
Jon Jay Cardinals Arb contract
Daniel Descalso Cardinals Arb contract
Yadier Molina Cardinals Arb contract + Ext into FA
Matt Holliday Cardinals Free agent contract
Mark Ellis Cardinals Free agent contract
Johnny Peralta Cardinals Free agent contract
Aledmys Diaz Cardinals Free agent contract (Cuba)
Matt Adams Cardinals Pre-arb
Shane Robinson Cardinals Pre-arb
Pete Kozma Cardinals Pre-arb
Tony Cruz Cardinals Pre-arb
Kolten Wong Cardinals Pre-arb
Audry Perez Cardinals Pre-arb
Greg Garcia Cardinals Pre-arb
Randal Grichuk Cardinals Pre-arb
Mike O’Neill Cardinals Pre-arb
Rafael Ortega Cardinals Pre-arb
Oscar Tavares Cardinals Pre-arb
Matt Carpenter Cardinals Pre-arb contract + Ext into FA + club option
Allen Craig Cardinals Pre-arb contract + Ext into FA + club option

Luis Valbuena Cubs Arb contract
Nate Schierholtz Cubs Arb contract
Darwin Barney Cubs Arb contract
Justin Ruggiano Cubs Arb contract
Starlin Castro Cubs Arb contract + Ext into FA
John Baker Cubs Free agent contract
Emilio Bonifacio Cubs Free agent contract
Jorge Soler Cubs Free agent contract (Cuba)
Ryan Sweeney Cubs Free agent contract + extension
Ryan Kalish Cubs Free agent contract after non-tender
Welington Castillo Cubs Pre-arb
Junior Lake Cubs Pre-arb
Arismendy Alcantara Cubs Pre-arb
Mike Olt Cubs Pre-arb
Christian Villanueva Cubs Pre-arb
Josh Vitters Cubs Pre-arb
Logan Watkins Cubs Pre-arb
Brett Jackson Cubs Pre-arb
Matt Szczur Cubs Pre-arb
Anthony Rizzo Cubs Pre-arb contract + Ext into FA + club option

Mark Trumbo Diamondbacks Arb contract
Gerardo Parra Diamondbacks Arb contract
Cliff Pennington Diamondbacks Arb contract
Martin Prado Diamondbacks Arb contract + Ext into FA
Miguel Montero Diamondbacks Arb contract + Ext into FA
Cody Ross Diamondbacks Free agent contract
Eric Chavez Diamondbacks Free agent contract
Aaron Hill Diamondbacks Free agent contract + extension
A.J. Pollock Diamondbacks Pre-arb
Didi Gregorius Diamondbacks Pre-arb
Chris Owings Diamondbacks Pre-arb
Roger Kieschnick Diamondbacks Pre-arb
Tony Campana Diamondbacks Pre-arb
Tuffy Gosewisch Diamondbacks Pre-arb
Ender Inciarte Diamondbacks Pre-arb
Alfredo Marte Diamondbacks Pre-arb
Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks Pre-arb contract + Ext into FA + club option

A.J. Ellis Dodgers Arb contract
Drew Butera Dodgers Arb contract
Hanley Ramirez Dodgers Arb contract + Ext into FA
Andre Ethier Dodgers Arb contract + Ext into FA
Matt Kemp Dodgers Arb contract + Ext into FA
Adrian Gonzalez Dodgers Arb contract + Ext into FA + Add’l ext
Juan Uribe Dodgers Free agent contract
Chone Figgins Dodgers Free agent contract
Justin Turner Dodgers Free agent contract
Carl Crawford Dodgers Free agent contract
Yasiel Puig Dodgers Free agent contract (Cuba)
Erisbel Arruebarrena Dodgers Free agent contract (Cuba)
Alex Guerrero Dodgers Free agent contract (Cuba)
Scott Van Slyke Dodgers Pre-arb
Nick Buss Dodgers Pre-arb
Tim Federowicz Dodgers Pre-arb
Dee Gordon Dodgers Pre-arb

Brandon Belt Giants Arb contract
Gregor Blanco Giants Arb contract
Joaquin Arias Giants Arb contract
Buster Posey Giants Arb contract + Ext into FA
Hunter Pence Giants Arb contract + Ext into FA
Pablo Sandoval Giants Arb contract through arb years
Michael Morse Giants Free agent contract
Brandon Hicks Giants Free agent contract after release
Marco Scutaro Giants Free agent contract with same team
Angel Pagan Giants Free agent contract with same team
Brandon Crawford Giants Pre-arb
Juan Perez Giants Pre-arb
Hector Sanchez Giants Pre-arb
Nick Noonan Giants Pre-arb
Ehire Adrianza Giants Pre-arb
Adam Duvall Giants Pre-arb
Gary Brown Giants Pre-arb
Angel Villalona Giants Pre-arb

Mike Aviles Indians Arb contract + club options into FA
Michael Brantley Indians Arb contract + club options into FA
Asdrubal Cabrera Indians Arb contract through arb years
Elliot Johnson Indians Free agent contract
Nyjer Morgan Indians Free agent contract
Nick Swisher Indians Free agent contract
Michael Bourn Indians Free agent contract
Jason Giambi Indians Free agent contract
David Murphy Indians Free agent contract
Ryan Raburn Indians Free agent contract + extension
Lonnie Chisenhall Indians Pre-arb
Jesus Aguilar Indians Pre-arb
Erik Gonzalez Indians Pre-arb
Jose Ramirez Indians Pre-arb
Justin Sellers Indians Pre-arb
Carlos Moncrief Indians Pre-arb
Carlos Santana Indians Pre-arb contract through arb years + club options
Jason Kipnis Indians Pre-arb contract through arb years + Ext into FA + club options
Yan Gomes Indians Pre-arb contract through arb years + Ext into FA + club options

Michael Saunders Mariners Arb contract
Justin Smoak Mariners Arb contract
Logan Morrison Mariners Arb contract
Willie Bloomquist Mariners Free agent contract
John Buck Mariners Free agent contract
Robinson Cano Mariners Free agent contract
Corey Hart Mariners Free agent contract
Kyle Seager Mariners Pre-arb
Brad Miller Mariners Pre-arb
Nick Franklin Mariners Pre-arb
Abraham Almonte Mariners Pre-arb
Mike Zunino Mariners Pre-arb
Jesus Montero Mariners Pre-arb
Jesus Sucre Mariners Pre-arb
Ji-man Choi Mariners Pre-arb
Julio Morban Mariners Pre-arb
James Jones Mariners Pre-arb
Stefen Romero Mariners Pre-arb
Dustin Ackley Mariners Pre-arb contract

Giancarlo Stanton Marlins Arb contract
Jeff Mathis Marlins Arb contract + Ext into FA
Greg Dobbs Marlins Free agent contract
Jeff Baker Marlins Free agent contract
Rafael Furcal Marlins Free agent contract
Garrett Jones Marlins Free agent contract
Reed Johnson Marlins Free agent contract
Casey McGehee Marlins Free agent contract
Jarrod Saltalamacchia Marlins Free agent contract
Marcell Ozuna Marlins Pre-arb
Christian Yelich Marlins Pre-arb
Ed Lucas Marlins Pre-arb
Derek Dietrich Marlins Pre-arb
Donovan Solano Marlins Pre-arb
Jake Marisnick Marlins Pre-arb
Rob Brantly Marlins Pre-arb
Adeiny Hechavarria Marlins Pre-arb
J.T. Realmuto Marlins Pre-arb
Kyle Jensen Marlins Pre-arb
Brent Keys Marlins Pre-arb

Eric Young Mets Arb contract
Daniel Murphy Mets Arb contract
Lucas Duda Mets Arb contract
Ike Davis Mets Arb contract
Ruben Tejada Mets Arb contract
David Wright Mets Arb contract + Ext into FA
Chris Young Mets Free agent contract
Curtis Granderson Mets Free agent contract
Omar Quintanilla Mets Free agent contract after non-tender
Juan Lagares Mets Pre-arb
Josh Satin Mets Pre-arb
Kirk Nieuwenhuis Mets Pre-arb
Anthony Recker Mets Pre-arb
Andrew Brown Mets Pre-arb
Matt den Dekker Mets Pre-arb
Travis d’Arnaud Mets Pre-arb
Wilmer Flores Mets Pre-arb
Juan Centeno Mets Pre-arb
Zack Lutz Mets Pre-arb
Wilfredo Tovar Mets Pre-arb
Cesar Puello Mets Pre-arb

Wilson Ramos Nationals Arb contract
Jose Lobaton Nationals Arb contract
Kevin Frandsen Nationals Arb contract
Ryan Zimmerman Nationals Arb contract + Ext into FA + Add’l ext
Ian Desmond Nationals Arb contract through arb years
Scott Hairston Nationals Free agent contract
Jayson Werth Nationals Free agent contract
Adam LaRoche Nationals Free agent contract
Nate McLouth Nationals Free agent contract
Jhonatan Solano Nationals Pre-arb
Danny Espinosa Nationals Pre-arb
Tyler Moore Nationals Pre-arb
Sandy Leon Nationals Pre-arb
Zack Walters Nationals Pre-arb
Jeff Kobernus Nationals Pre-arb
Eury Perez Nationals Pre-arb
Steven Souza Nationals Pre-arb
Michael Taylor Nationals Pre-arb
Anthony Rendon Nationals Pre-arb contract
Bryce Harper Nationals Pre-arb contract
Denard Span Nationals Pre-arb contract through arb years + club option

Chris Davis Orioles Arb contract
Matt Wieters Orioles Arb contract
Steve Pearce Orioles Arb contract
Nolan Reimold Orioles Arb contract
Adam Jones Orioles Arb contract + Ext into FA
J.J. Hardy Orioles Arb contract + Ext into FA
Nick Markakis Orioles Arb contract + Ext into FA
Delmon Young Orioles Free agent contract
Nelson Cruz Orioles Free agent contract
Henry Urrutia Orioles Free agent contract (Cuba)
David Adams Orioles Pre-arb
Manny Machado Orioles Pre-arb
Ryan Flaherty Orioles Pre-arb
Steve Clevenger Orioles Pre-arb
Michael Ohlman Orioles Pre-arb
Michael Almanzar Orioles Pre-arb
Jonathan Schoop Orioles Pre-arb
Jemile Weeks Orioles Pre-arb
David Lough Orioles Pre-arb
Francisco Perguero Orioles Pre-arb
Steve Lombardozzi Orioles Pre-arb

Seth Smith Padres Arb contract
Chris Denorfia Padres Arb contract
Chase Headley Padres Arb contract
Everth Cabrera Padres Arb contract
Will Venable Padres Arb contract
Nick Hundley Padres Arb contract
Kyle Blanks Padres Arb contract
Cameron Maybin Padres Arb contract + club options into FA
Carlos Quentin Padres Arb contract + Ext into FA
Xavier Nady Padres Free agent contract
Jedd Gyorko Padres Pre-arb
Yonder Alonso Padres Pre-arb
Yasmani Grandal Padres Pre-arb
Tommy Medica Padres Pre-arb
Rene Rivera Padres Pre-arb
Alexi Amarista Padres Pre-arb
Ryan Jackson Padres Pre-arb
Alex Castellanos Padres Pre-arb
Reymond Fuentes Padres Pre-arb
Yeison Asencio Padres Pre-arb
Rymer Liriano Padres Pre-arb

Ben Revere Phillies Arb contract
John Mayberry Phillies Arb contract
Carlos Ruiz Phillies Arb contract + Ext into FA
Ryan Howard Phillies Arb contract + Ext into FA
Chase Utley Phillies Arb contract + Ext into FA + Add’l ext
Jimmy Rollins Phillies Arb contract + Ext into FA + Add’l ext
Wil Nieves Phillies Free agent contract
Tony Gwynn Jr. Phillies Free agent contract
Jayson Nix Phillies Free agent contract
Marlon Byrd Phillies Free agent contract
Domonic Brown Phillies Pre-arb
Darin Ruf Phillies Pre-arb
Freddy Galvis Phillies Pre-arb
Cody Asche Phillies Pre-arb
Cesar Hernandez Phillies Pre-arb
Zach Collier Phillies Pre-arb
Tommy Joseph Phillies Pre-arb
Cameron Rupp Phillies Pre-arb
Aaron Altherr Phillies Pre-arb
Kelly Dugan Phillies Pre-arb
Tyson Gillies Phillies Pre-arb

Pedro Alvarez Pirates Arb contract
Neil Walker Pirates Arb contract
Gaby Sanchez Pirates Arb contract
Travis Snider Pirates Arb contract
Chris Stewart Pirates Arb contract
Jose Tabata Pirates Arb contract + club options into FA
Andrew McCutchen Pirates Arb contract + Ext into FA
Russell Martin Pirates Free agent contract
Travis Ishikawa Pirates Free agent contract
Clint Barmes Pirates Free agent contract
Jordy Mercer Pirates Pre-arb
Josh Harrison Pirates Pre-arb
Tony Sanchez Pirates Pre-arb
Chris McGuiness Pirates Pre-arb
Brent Morel Pirates Pre-arb
Jaff Decker Pirates Pre-arb
Andrew Lambo Pirates Pre-arb
Alen Hanson Pirates Pre-arb
Gregory Polanco Pirates Pre-arb
Starling Marte Pirates Pre-arb contract through arb years + club options into FA

Donnie Murphy Rangers Arb contract
J.P. Arencibia Rangers Arb contract
Mitch Moreland Rangers Arb contract
Alex Rios Rangers Arb contract + Ext into FA
Elvis Andrus Rangers Arb contract + Ext into FA
Adrian Beltre Rangers Free agent contract
Shin-Soo Choo Rangers Free agent contract
Josh Wilson Rangers Free agent contract
Prince Fielder Rangers Free agent contract
Leonys Martin Rangers Free agent contract (Cuba)
Geovany Soto Rangers Free agent contract with same team
Jurickson Profar Rangers Pre-arb
Robinson Chirinos Rangers Pre-arb
Andy Parrino Rangers Pre-arb
Luis Sardines Rangers Pre-arb
Jim Adduci Rangers Pre-arb
Engel Beltre Rangers Pre-arb
Michael Choice Rangers Pre-arb

Matt Joyce Rays Arb contract
Sean Rodriguez Rays Arb contract
Ben Zobrist Rays Arb contract + club options into FA
Ryan Hanigan Rays Arb contract + club options into FA
Yunel Escobar Rays Arb contract + Ext into FA
David DeJesus Rays Free agent contract with same team
James Loney Rays Free agent contract with same team
Jose Molina Rays Free agent contract with same team
Logan Forsythe Rays Pre-arb
Desmond Jennings Rays Pre-arb
Wil Myers Rays Pre-arb
Tim Beckham Rays Pre-arb
Vince Belnome Rays Pre-arb
Hak-Ju Lee Rays Pre-arb
Brandon Guyer Rays Pre-arb
Kevin Kiermaier Rays Pre-arb
Evan Longoria Rays Pre-arb contract + Ext into FA + Add’l ext
Red Sox

Mike Carp Red Sox Arb contract
Jonathan Herrera Red Sox Arb contract
Dustin Pedroia Red Sox Arb contract + Ext into FA + Add’l ext
A.J. Pierzynski Red Sox Free agent contract
Shane Victorino Red Sox Free agent contract
Mike Napoli Red Sox Free agent contract
Jonny Gomes Red Sox Free agent contract
David Ross Red Sox Free agent contract
Grady Sizemore Red Sox Free agent contract
David Ortiz Red Sox Free agent contract with same team
Daniel Nava Red Sox Pre-arb
Will Middlebrooks Red Sox Pre-arb
Ryan Lavarnway Red Sox Pre-arb
Xander Bogaerts Red Sox Pre-arb
Jackie Bradley Red Sox Pre-arb
Bryce Brentz Red Sox Pre-arb
Brock Holt Red Sox Pre-arb
Dan Butler Red Sox Pre-arb
Christian Vazquez Red Sox Pre-arb
Garin Cecchini Red Sox Pre-arb
Alex Hassan Red Sox Pre-arb

Chris Heisey Reds Arb contract
Joey Votto Reds Arb contract + Ext into FA
Jay Bruce Reds Arb contract + Ext into FA
Brandon Phillips Reds Arb contract + Ext into FA
Roger Bernadina Reds Free agent contract
Ramon Santiago Reds Free agent contract
Skip Schumaker Reds Free agent contract
Brayan Pena Reds Free agent contract
Ryan Ludwick Reds Free agent contract + extension
Todd Frazier Reds Pre-arb
Zack Cozart Reds Pre-arb
Devin Mesoraco Reds Pre-arb
Donald Lutz Reds Pre-arb
Tucker Barnhart Reds Pre-arb
Neftali Soto Reds Pre-arb
Billy Hamilton Reds Pre-arb
Juan Duran Reds Pre-arb
Ryan LaMarre Reds Pre-arb
Yorman Rodriguez Reds Pre-arb

Carlos Gonzalez Rockies Arb contract + Ext into FA
Troy Tulowitzki Rockies Arb contract + Ext into FA + Add’l ext
Justin Morneau Rockies Free agent contract
Michael McKenry Rockies Free agent contract
Michael Cuddyer Rockies Free agent contract
Brandon Barnes Rockies Pre-arb
Drew Stubbs Rockies Pre-arb
Nolan Arenado Rockies Pre-arb
Wilin Rosario Rockies Pre-arb
Charlie Blackmon Rockies Pre-arb
DJ LeMahieu Rockies Pre-arb
Corey Dickerson Rockies Pre-arb
Charlie Culberson Rockies Pre-arb
Josh Rutledge Rockies Pre-arb
Jordan Pacheco Rockies Pre-arb
Christian Adames Rockies Pre-arb
Rosell Herrera Rockies Pre-arb
Ryan Wheeler Rockies Pre-arb
Kyle Parker Rockies Pre-arb

Justin Maxwell Royals Arb contract
Eric Hosmer Royals Arb contract
Brett Hayes Royals Arb contract
Billy Butler Royals Arb contract + club options into FA
Alcides Escobar Royals Arb contract + club options into FA
Alex Gordon Royals Arb contract + Ext into FA
Omar Infante Royals Free agent contract
Norichika Aoki Royals Free agent contract (Japan)
Danny Valencia Royals Pre-arb
Lorenzo Cain Royals Pre-arb
Jarrod Dyson Royals Pre-arb
Mike Moustakas Royals Pre-arb
Francisco Pena Royals Pre-arb
Christian Colon Royals Pre-arb
Johnny Giavotella Royals Pre-arb
Jimmy Paredes Royals Pre-arb
Cheslor Cuthbert Royals Pre-arb
Lane Adams Royals Pre-arb
Salvador Perez Royals Pre-arb contract through arb years + club options

Austin Jackson Tigers Arb contract
Andy Dirks Tigers Arb contract
Alex Avila Tigers Arb contract
Don Kelly Tigers Arb contract
Miguel Cabrera Tigers Arb contract + Ext into FA + Add’l ext
Ian Kinsler Tigers Arb contract + Ext into FA + Add’l ext
Alex Gonzalez Tigers Free agent contract
Rajai Davis Tigers Free agent contract
Torii Hunter Tigers Free agent contract
Victor Martinez Tigers Free agent contract
Andrew Romine Tigers Pre-arb
Brayan Holaday Tigers Pre-arb
Hernan Perez Tigers Pre-arb
Ramon Cabrera Tigers Pre-arb
Nick Castellanos Tigers Pre-arb
Jordan Lennerton Tigers Pre-arb
Francisco Martinez Tigers Pre-arb
Eugenio Suarez Tigers Pre-arb
Daniel Fields Tigers Pre-arb
Steven Moya Tigers Pre-arb
Tyler Collins Tigers Pre-arb

Trevor Plouffe Twins Arb contract
Joe Mauer Twins Arb contract + Ext into FA
Kurt Suzuki Twins Free agent contract
Jason Bartlett Twins Free agent contract
Josh Willingham Twins Free agent contract
Jason Kubel Twins Free agent contract
Brian Dozier Twins Pre-arb
Pedro Florimon Twins Pre-arb
Josmil Pinto Twins Pre-arb
Chris Herrmann Twins Pre-arb
Chris Colabello Twins Pre-arb
Oswaldo Arcia Twins Pre-arb
Eduardo Escobar Twins Pre-arb
Aaron Hicks Twins Pre-arb
Eric Fryer Twins Pre-arb
Danny Santana Twins Pre-arb
Jorge Polanco Twins Pre-arb
Kennys Vargas Twins Pre-arb
Max Kepler Twins Pre-arb
White Sox

Alejandro De Aza White Sox Arb contract
Gordon Beckham White Sox Arb contract
Dayan Viciedo White Sox Arb contract
Tyler Flowers White Sox Arb contract
Adam Dunn White Sox Free agent contract
Jeff Keppinger White Sox Free agent contract
Jose Abreu White Sox Free agent contract (Cuba)
Alexei Ramirez White Sox Free agent contract (Cuba) + extension
Paul Konerko White Sox Free agent contract with same team
Matt Davidson White Sox Pre-arb
Adam Eaton White Sox Pre-arb
Avisail Garcia White Sox Pre-arb
Leury Garcia White Sox Pre-arb
Conor Gillaspie White Sox Pre-arb
Marcus Semien White Sox Pre-arb
Jordan Danks White Sox Pre-arb
Josh Phegley White Sox Pre-arb
Adrian Nieto White Sox Pre-arb
Carlos Sanchez White Sox Pre-arb
Jared Mitchell White Sox Pre-arb
Trayce Thompson White Sox Pre-arb

Francisco Cervelli Yankees Arb contract
Brett Gardner Yankees Arb contract + Ext into FA
Derek Jeter Yankees Arb contract + Ext into FA + Add’l ext
Brian Roberts Yankees Free agent contract
Jacoby Ellsbury Yankees Free agent contract
Brian McCann Yankees Free agent contract
Carlos Beltran Yankees Free agent contract
Alfonso Soriano Yankees Free agent contract
Mark Teixeira Yankees Free agent contract
Kelly Johnson Yankees Free agent contract
Yangervis Solarte Yankees Free agent contract
Brendan Ryan Yankees Free agent contract with same team
Ichiro Suzuki Yankees Free agent contract with same team
Zoilo Almonte Yankees Pre-arb
Austin Romine Yankees Pre-arb
John Ryan Murphy Yankees Pre-arb
Gary Sanchez Yankees Pre-arb
Dean Anna Yankees Pre-arb
Ramon Flores Yankees Pre-arb
Slade Heathcott Yankees Pre-arb

Melky Cabrera And The Wonder Of Clean Health.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
As we start the second week of April, it’s that fun time of year where individual stats really and truly don’t mean anything yet — unless you think that Charlie Blackmon is a true-talent .542/.560/.792 player, in which case, seek help immediately — and yet we are baseball writers on a baseball site, so we still need to digest what’s happening and try to put some meaning to it. As Jeff said the other day, the games still matter, even if the slash lines don’t, really.

So in looking at some of the absurd early season hitting lines, it’s less about what is “best” and more about what is interesting. It’s great that Mike Trout and Chase Utley and Freddie Freeman have killer early lines, because they’re great players. It’s fun to see that Emilio Bonifacio and Dee Gordon and Yangervis Solarte have great early lines, because it’s fun to see BABIP above .500 and to see how skewed tiny samples can make all of this. None of this fundamentally changes our understanding of what those players are.

That being the case, Melky Cabrera‘s .323/.323/.613 may not look like much. It’s a wOBA that’s barely in the top 45, and obviously he’s not going to slug .613 all season long. (One would hope he draws a walk at some point, too.) Yet this one stands out to me among the rest of the noise, because one thing you can glean something meaningful from in the early days of the season is health. You can watch a recovering pitcher and see how his velocity is coming along. You can check out an injured hitter and see how he’s moving. We may not know for sure that the shoulders of Matt Kemp and Michael Pineda will hold up, but based on what they showed us this weekend, we can feel a lot more confident about it then we did a week ago.
In Cabrera’s case, he didn’t injure a shoulder or a knee or a foot. He had a tumor in his back, and as unbelievable as it seems to say, somehow that seemed to fly completely under the radar last year. Maybe it’s because he was terrible all season until he was shut down; maybe it’s because the 2013 Blue Jays were such a flaming disaster that it was hard to stand out; maybe it’s because too many people enjoyed seeing a guy suspended in 2012 for PED usage struggle so badly after signing a free agent deal.

Most likely, it’s all of those things. But after hitting .405/.423/.595 in the spring — meaningful less for the numbers than the sense of “hey, maybe this guy is healthy again” — Cabrera has hit in each of Toronto’s seven games. The three homers he hit off of CC Sabathia, David Phelps and Masahiro Tanaka this weekend equal the total he had all of last year. And then you remember that he was a four-win player in 2011 with Kansas City and again in 2012 with San Francisco (despite not playing after Aug. 14), and you wonder if there’s something worth watching here.

Remember, these were the kind of ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING things being written about Cabrera’s spinal tumor:

The source of Cabrera’s constant discomfort had been a mystery to both himself and the Blue Jays organization for several months prior to the frightening discovery. Cabrera was only 29 years old and supposedly in the prime of his career, yet he was moving around like someone who was at least 10 years his senior.

The power in the lower half of his body had completely disappeared. On the rare occasion that Cabrera actually drove the ball with some authority, he often had to stop at first base because he simply wasn’t mobile enough to make it to second.

Or this:

Hobbled by persistent leg injuries every time he took the field, the Blue Jays’ 29-year-old left fielder was a defensive liability and painfully slow on the basepaths. The injuries — ranging from tendinitis in his knees, to inflammation in both quadriceps and hamstrings — seemed mysteriously incurable and relentless, confusing the team’s training staff.

Or this, from just yesterday:

Making a rare start in centre field, Cabrera perfectly gauged the ball’s flight path and galloped forward to make a fine running catch for the second out of the inning.

That was not something that Cabrera would have been able to manage last season in a year where he could have used a walker to navigate the outfield, his gait severely compromised by leg and back issues.

For example! This play from last May, a ball marked by Inside Edge as being a play made 90%-100% of the time. Cabrera takes forever to get over to it, then stumbles as the ball gets behind him, and suddenly Angel Pagan has a double, all while the Toronto commentators chalk it up to Cabrera “not being right.”

Two innings later, Bonifacio would move from second to left field to replace him. Cabrera has never really been an elite defensive outfielder, but in only half a season, his Defense rating here on the site was -11.5. Only a very few left fielders managed to put up worse numbers last year, and they all had considerably more playing time in which to compile it and/or were Raul Ibanez. Suddenly, at 28, Cabrera was an old man.

You can see it on the offensive side of the ball, too. Here he is grounding out weakly on August 1 against Garrett Richards, in what would be his final game of the season. (He would leave the game in the bottom of the fourth with what was termed a “knee injury,” later referred to as an “ankle injury,” but ultimately all believed to be related to the pressure the tumor was causing.) It’s just one plate appearance, but Cabrera looks stiff. He really throws the bat at the ball rather than swinging through it. He looks, to my eye, very much like a 38-year-old Bobby Abreu did when he was hitting .209/.325/.302 over the final four months of the 2012 season with the Dodgers.

Now compare that to Friday, when he took Tanaka out of the park in the first inning. Cabrera looks flexible. He’s able to turn on the ball. He’s able to drive it:

Obviously there’s a bit of selection bias here, because had I chosen a clip of Cabrera making an out this year, maybe he wouldn’t have looked so good either. But the point isn’t that Cabrera is suddenly going to be a superstar, because he wasn’t before. It’s that he was a very valuable player in 2011, and an even more valuable one in 2012, and when he fell apart completely in 2013, it was so, so easy to point to the PED suspension and assume that all of his success came from a foreign substance. We’ll never really know how much that did or didn’t help him, but it seems clear that his 2013 troubles were far more related to the tumor on his spine (!) than from the lack of outside helpers.

It’s still only April 7, so it’s not even worth digging into his numbers, or caring about line-drive rate or BABIP or any of it, because again, they don’t matter yet. What does matter is that a player with success in his recent past is playing well, and with a very specific reason that he didn’t play well last year. It doesn’t hurt, also, that each of Cabrera’s 10 hits have come off of pretty quality MLB pitching — David Price, Alex Cobb (2), Matt Moore (2), Chris Archer, Tanaka, Pineda, Phelps and Sabathia.

As for the Blue Jays, so much went wrong last year that it was easy to forget how little Cabrera provided. When you look back on that 2013 mess, you remember Jose Reyes destroying his ankle and missing several months, and Bonifacio & Maicer Izturis combining to be terrible at second base, and Brett Lawrie playing in only 107 games, and J.P. Arencibia hitting .194/.227/.365, and R.A. Dickey not replicating his 2012 Cy Young season, and Josh Johnson & Brandon Morrow & Ricky Romero being various combinations of “hurt” and “awful” to the point that 13 different pitchers started and Esmil Rogers started 20 times.

A healthy Cabrera wouldn’t have changed that. The 2013 Jays were a wreck in so many ways that just one of those things going right wouldn’t have put them into the playoffs, and the same may be true this year. (They never did upgrade their rotation, and Reyes is already injured.) But if the Jays are to have a chance, this is one of those things that has to turn out well. Cabrera going from -0.9 WAR to, say, 3 WAR won’t earn a playoff spot by himself. It’s just one of the many smaller things that add up to a successful season, and based on what we’ve seen in the first few days of the season, a healthy Cabrera can still be a productive one — or, at the very least, a nice trade asset to have in July should the Toronto season collapse again.

The Games are Already Mattering.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
One of my favorite tools we have here is our Playoff Odds page. I used to make frequent use of Cool Standings, and I keep track of hockey playoff odds at Sports Club Stats. I like looking at the playoff odds because they give the clearest sense of where things stand, and in theory, the whole point is getting to October, so why not monitor how likely that is in real time? Of course, we’re not just in it to see the playoffs — if that were the case, most baseball fans would be pissed off all the time, if they’d be fans at all — but getting to the postseason is at the core of most of what we talk about. Why do we care about player analysis? Good players make teams better. Better teams are more likely to go to the playoffs and win the World Series. And so forth.

Eventually, on our Playoff Odds page, you’ll be able to click through and see how the odds have changed over time. That hasn’t rolled out yet, though, nor are people probably even thinking about it in the first week of April. The season is so new we’re all still trying to find our baseball-fan footing, and it feels like the whole thing is in front of us. Most of it is, to be sure, but what’s already happened counts. And it turns out, what’s already happened for a few teams is pretty significant.

This graph is going to say pretty much everything:

If you want to know where teams stand today, go to the Playoff Odds page. This graph shows how much the odds have changed, in percentage points, from just the start of the year. Note that this is through Thursday, and doesn’t consider Friday games already complete. Note also that I’m pretty sure the Dodgers/Diamondbacks games in Sydney are excepted, so, for them, this is showing the Dodgers’ change since being 2-0, and the Diamondbacks’ change since being 0-2. That’s why the Dodgers have lost a tiny bit of ground, and there’s also the Clayton Kershaw injury factor. Also, these come with error bars, because the odds aren’t based on enough simulations to completely eliminate the noise.

But at either end, there are some really interesting data points. The Mariners are already up eight percentage points, despite having lost in extras Thursday night. The Giants are right there with them, having taken three of four from a division rival. It’s never too early for higher-leverage games, and not only does beating a rival give you wins and give them losses — it reduces the number of opportunities for those games to be taken back. Arizona has lost ground to San Francisco, and the two now have four fewer scheduled head-to-head games to play.

Over on the right, we could talk about Colorado or Arizona, but really, this should be about the Angels. In three games — three games! — the Angels’ playoff odds have dropped by ten percentage points. They were swept at home by a rival, and now the Angels have the worst playoff odds of the AL West foursome. They have lower odds than the Indians, and lower odds than the Braves. A few days ago, it was entirely reasonable to think of the Angels as the most likely team to win the division. This quickly, they’ve fallen behind, and whatever you thought of the Angels before, now you have to include in that projection an 0-3 start.

The best way to think of what’s happened to the Angels? On average, if you allow a leadoff home run in the top of the first, you lose about ten percentage points of win expectancy. There’s still a lot of game to go — pretty much all the game to go — and people are stunned more than anything else, but from that point forward, you have to outscore the opponent by two instead of one. That run goes on the scoreboard immediately and it doesn’t come off, and just because it happened quickly doesn’t mean it matters less. The winning process can start out of the gate, and the same is true of the opposite.

After a slow start a year ago, the Angels were a better-than-average baseball team. After a slow start the year before, the Angels were one of the best baseball teams in the majors. In neither year did the Angels make the playoffs, so they understand better than most the importance of not doing what they’ve already started doing. The good news is they get the Astros on Friday, but then the Astros are much improved and our playoff odds account for schedule strength.

Hit a leadoff home run and you know you still have a full game to play. Allow a leadoff home run and you know the same thing. But a leadoff home run does change the dynamic, and sometimes games end 1-0. Just because you might not be ready for baseball yet doesn’t mean baseball hasn’t already started happening, and there’ve already been a few plot-changing twists.

Minor-League Umpires are Prospects Too.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Just yesterday, I was writing about pitches down the middle called balls, and I identified one from the other day thrown by Gio Gonzalez to Josh Satin. The umpire who called the ball was Clint Fagan, and I haven’t heard that name much before, but I didn’t think much of it, until a commenter pointed out that the strike zone was off all game. That one call, of course, was the worst, but Fagan called a zone that wasn’t the ordinary, familiar zone, and we can only speculate on the impact it had. There’s nothing to be done about it now.

Then last night, I started getting tweets to the effect of, “there’s another ball on a pitch down the middle.” That pitch was thrown by Roenis Elias (Seattle Mariners baseball player) to Nick Punto, and the umpire was Sean Barber, which is another name I’m unfamiliar with. Barber, like Fagan, had a weird zone all game, outside of the one call. Barber aggravated some players and his zone became a story, even in a tight game that went 12 innings. Barber and Fagan called strange zones on consecutive days, and it turns out the two of them are linked, besides just being included in the introduction of this post.

From an AP brief several days ago:

Eight Triple-A umpires have [been] called up to work all or part of the opening week of the big league season: Sean Barber, Clint Fagan, Hal Gibson, Pat Hoberg, Will Little, Mark Ripperger, John Tumpane and Quinn Wolcott.

Barber’s a minor-league umpire. Fagan’s a minor-league umpire, too. Stands to reason they’re considered two of the better minor-league umpires, but it also stands to reason minor-league umpires can be evaluated only so analytically. And it stands to reason minor-league umpires are inferior to major-league umpires, the same way minor-league players are inferior to major-league players. Transitioning to the majors is a learning curve, for everybody.

This was Fagan’s ball call, again:

From Brooks Baseball, this was Fagan’s strike zone:

Strikes were taken, and strikes were given. It’s not that Fagan called a miniature zone — it’s that he called an unusual zone. He essentially shifted it downward, and it isn’t easy for players to adjust on the fly. The Mets broadcast caught on quick.

Here now is Barber’s most controversial call, where by “controversial” I actually mean “non-controversial”. Being wrong isn’t a controversy.

The entire Mariners infield started to walk off. Even Punto responded as if he thought he’d struck out. On the next pitch, Elias allowed his first hit of the game. He had had better experiences before in his life.

Barber didn’t confine his impact to that single at-bat. The bottom of the tenth saw him irritate both sides in consecutive plate appearances.

I suspect it isn’t often that a catcher ******* out a home-plate umpire during the flow of the game. But then, Mike Zunino has more big-league experience than Barber does. Here’s the Barber strike zone:

As with Fagan, it’s more weird than tiny. Barber took strikes from the Mariners, and he granted a more or less equal number of strikes to the Mariners. But it’s hard to play regular baseball when the very foundation of the game goes **** up, and given the experiences with both Fagan and Barber, you have to wonder about the guys making calls after coming up from Triple-A.

I do want to note Pat Hoberg. Hoberg is the other of the Triple-A umpires to have been behind the plate so far this year, and his strike zone wasn’t particularly bad:

So it’s not like every minor-league umpire is a disaster. And we’re dealing with really, really small samples. But it wouldn’t be a surprise if minor-league umpires call meaningfully worse strike zones. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they’re inconsistent, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if there’s a bigger gap between Triple-A umps and big-league umps than ever. The process in the minors hasn’t changed very much. In the bigs, umpires have been subject to PITCHf/x feedback, and they’ve made progress ever since 2008 to call a better and slightly bigger zone.

There are a lot of questions you can wonder about, even going so far as to question minor-league strikeout and walk rates. How bad are those zones, really? Is anybody keeping track? Why were Barber and Fagan selected? What are they going to be like from this point forward? How quickly can umpires change for the better, and how do umps in the minors get feedback?

As much as people complain about umpires in the bigs, those are also, probably, the best umpires in the world, and probably by a lot. So if you’re one of those people who wants the worst umpires to get demoted and replaced by guys from Triple-A, understand that the guys from Triple-A might be even worse, at least for the first while. It’s not so much a question of umpiring talent. There are probably some very talented umpires coming up, waiting for a shot. But there’s also converting talent into performance, and that’s where big-league experience provides a massive edge. They’ve all been trained to be umps in the major leagues. The ones who haven’t, haven’t, and it must take some time for a minor-league ump to get himself to big-league speed.

Not a fan of the umpires we have? They’re probably better than the alternative umpires. At least, when it comes to calling balls and strikes. At least, for as long as it takes for a minor-league umpire to adjust. Relief from bad calls won’t be provided by any human being. It can only be provided by cold, heartless robots. Whether that’s a thing you want is entirely up to you.

Angel Pagan Looks Like His Old Self.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
One of the unsung heroes of the 2012 San Francisco Giants team was Angel Pagan, who had come to San Francisco in trade in December, 2011. In fact, Pagan was so unsung that towards the end of the 2012 regular season, our very own Dave Cameron touted him for the tag of “most underrated player in baseball.” After the World Series trophy came back to the Bay, Pagan got a nice little contract, but unfortunately 2013 didn’t really go as planned. As such, he has gone back to being underrated. At least, for now.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to tear a hamstring muscle. I bet it hurts. It sure sounds like it hurts. Like, a lot. Unfortunately for him, Angel Pagan knows this feeling intimately, as he tore his right hamstring last season. Reading back through the Rotoworld injury news briefs, it may have been on this play:
(side note: I’ve never seen a third base coach run as far down the line as Tim Flannery did here)

It also might have come a month later, when he limped to and then collapsed at first base while on a rehab assignment in Triple-A. In between, he received both a cortisone shot and a platelet-rich injection of blood, neither of which worked. Pagan would succumb to surgery, and not return until late August.

When I went back to search for the video, one thing I expected to see was a man in pain. After all, after this was Pagan’s last major league action for more than three months. Instead, the only emotion I could read on Pagan’s face, or in his movements, is elation. He was nothing but excited, and that is certainly understandable — walk-off inside-the-park home runs aren’t exactly commonplace. But it got me to wondering about pain tolerance. If Pagan could make that full sprint around the bases when he was in so much pain, perhaps he had been playing in pain for awhile. It might help explain his underwhelming start to the season. In fact, if we keep scrolling through Rotoworld’s player notes, we find that Pagan had indeed been dealing with hamstring or groin pain as early as May 4.

In the interim three weeks, Pagan didn’t exactly tear the cover off the ball, as from May 4 through May 25, he hit just .239/.286/.394. This wasn’t all that different from the .276/.331/.362 line that he had put up from the start of the season through May 3, so you might dismiss his injury as a reason for the poor performance entirely. Or you might wonder if he had been hurt all along, and May 4 just happened to be the first time it was reported. Clouding the issue even further is that in April, Pagan battled a sore wrist.

Either way, Pagan’s 2013 season didn’t get off to a great start, and with the surgery it went from bad to worse. But he atoned when he returned to the lineup in late August. In 101 plate appearances from August 30 to the end of the season, he hit .323/.376/.495, good for a 149 wRC+. That’s pretty good, and it’s likely that optimistic Giants fans have been dreaming on that Pagan the entire offseason. In the season’s opening series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he certainly didn’t do anything to dissuade them from that vision.

Let’s start with this — the Dbacks don’t have a great pitching staff. There are only five teams with starting rotations projected to be worse than Arizona’s in our depth charts at the moment. In addition, Chase Field can be a launching pad. Furthermore, it’s four games. Anyone can look good over four games. Hell, Casey McGehee beat the Rockies like the redheaded stepchild of a rented mule to the tune of .667/.800/1.333 in the Marlins’ first four games. Still, given Pagan’s lost season, and what he means to the Giants, his performance was still noteworthy.

Pagan has hit safely in each of the team’s first four games, and he collected multiple hits in three of the four. He stole a base, always a good sign for confidence in one’s hamstrings, and found the time to make a nice diving catch as well:
Finally, he pushed the Giants ahead in yesterday’s ballgame with a three-run homer that completed a comeback win. It got out in a hurry:
Now, this isn’t to say that Pagan is BACK, or that the Giants are now destined to pummel the Kershaw-less Dodgers into oblivion. No, what we’re doing here is illustrating that Pagan looks healthy. He’s doing all the things you would expect a healthy center fielder to do, and that is terrific news. Whether or not that translates into another four- to five-win season obviously remains to be seen. As mentioned earlier, Pagan did hit well down the stretch last season. Perhaps some took that with a grain of salt since the Giants weren’t in playoff contention. If you look though, you’ll notice that Pagan had the same 114 wRC+ in 2013 as he had in 2012, so maybe we shouldn’t discount his hot September after all.

Certainly, the Giants need this from Pagan if they’re going to get back to October. Yes, they have Gregor Blanco backing him up as the fourth outfielder, but they need Blanco more in left field, where Michael Morse‘s defense will likely be choose-your-own-adventure crazy. The Giants are already trying to paper over second base — poorly, I might add — and the hole there puts into focus just how little usable depth they have. With Pagan at the top of the lineup, and Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval filling in behind him, San Francisco has a pretty nice lineup, but it’s one that gets exposed fast if one or more of those five are felled by injuries.

Pagan has been dismissed before, so it should come as no surprise that he has flown under the radar once again. Now in his age 32 season, he should be sliding down the slippery slope of the aging curve, but this week at least he looked like he was back to being the breadwinner that earned himself a $40 million contract. If he continues to play to those expectations, it could be a very entertaining summer by the Bay.

Jason Kipnis or Matt Carpenter: A Preference Test.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
A few weeks ago, the Cardinals signed Matt Carpenter to a six year, $52 million contract. Today, the Indians have signed Jason Kipnis to a six year, $52.5 million contract. Both players were four years from free agency, and in essence, they both signed the same basic contract. Which makes sense, because they’re pretty similar players. Here are their career performances, side by side:

Jason Kipnis 1,494 10% 19% 0.153 0.316
Matt Carpenter 1,089 10% 16% 0.161 0.351
—- —- —- —- —- —-
Jason Kipnis 0.270 0.348 0.423 0.338 117
Matt Carpenter 0.305 0.380 0.466 0.368 137
—- —- —- —- —- —-
Name BsR Fld Off Def WAR
Jason Kipnis 7 -10 36 -5 8.5
Matt Carpenter 4 -7 51 -7 8.2
Kipnis was an outfielder in college, but the Indians turned him into a second baseman, and he’s become solid enough defensively that there’s no real thought of moving him off the position any time soon. Carpenter was a third baseman in college, and the Cardinals turned him into a second baseman last year, though he’s moved back to third for this year to accommodate the presence of Kolten Wong. Carpenter was good enough to keep playing the position, however, and could probably move back if the need arose. While they won’t play the same position this year, they are pretty similar defensive players, and I’d be hard pressed to give a strong edge in the field to either one.

At the plate, Carpenter’s results have been better to date, but that’s mostly BABIP-driven. Carpenter does make better contact and has a high BABIP partly as a result of his almost-never-hit-pop-ups batted ball profile, but because he’s come to the plate 400 fewer times, we also have to bake more regression into his numbers. Maybe even with that adjustment, you still prefer Carpenter’s bat, but the gap isn’t going to be huge.

From a performance standpoint, Kipnis and Carpenter are very comparable, and it should be no surprise that they basically signed the same contract. But there are some real differences between the two, and those differences present an interesting opportunity to measure our own personal preferences.

For one, Kipnis’ physical tools are quite a bit more obvious; it’s why he was a second round pick out of Arizona State, while Carpenter was a 13th round pick out of Texas Christian. Kipnis rated as high as the 54th best prospect in the game according to Baseball America; Carpenter never even rated in the top 10 of the Cardinals own system. And while they have performed somewhat similarly as Major League players, they get there in different ways.

For his career, Kipnis has hit a home run once every 27 times he’s put the bat on the ball, while Carpenter is at one home run per 47 contacted balls. However, Carpenter has made up for the lack of home runs by being a doubles machine; he gets a non-HR extra base hit once every nine contacted balls, while Kipnis is at one every 13. Because of the frequency of his doubles and triples, Carpenter actually has a higher percentage of his total hits go for extra bases (37% to 33%), but he distributes them heavily towards doubles and triples while Kipnis turns a few more of those into balls that fly over the wall.

In terms of Isolated Slugging, Carpenter’s profile actually comes out a little ahead, though I think most would describe Kipnis has having more power, thanks to the fact that he hits the ball over the wall with a lot more frequency. Carpenter is a classic “doubles power” guy, and it’s a bit surprising when he gets into one and trots around the bases. Kipnis isn’t exactly a cleanup hitter, but by traditional evaluation methods, he’s the guy with more power.

And then there’s the speed. Kipnis has 68 career stolen bases; Carpenter has four. And Kipnis isn’t just running himself into outs, as he has a career 83% success rate on his attempts, making him one of the game’s most efficient base stealers. Over the last two years, Kipnis rates #7 in all of baseball in wSB, which is the value (in runs) added from his stolen base attempts. During that same time, Carpenter has been thrown out trying to steal just as often as he has been successful.

Again, by any kind of traditional method you want to use, Kipnis is both faster and a more dangerous weapon on the bases. If he gets a single, there’s a real threat of him taking second base, while Carpenter is just going to stand there and wait for someone to drive him in. But note the last few rows of the first table; the gap in total BsR — our measure of total baserunning value added — is actually not all that large, especially once you consider the playing time differences. And that’s because Carpenter trounces Kipnis on baserunning plays that are not stolen base attempts.

According to the calculations from Baseball-Reference, Carpenter has taken an extra base — more than one on a single, more than two on a double, when not blocked by a runner in front — 47% of the time, while Kipnis has done the same just 41% of the time. That extra aggressiveness hasn’t turned into a wave of extra outs, either; Carpenter has taken 40 extra bases and made 11 outs on the bases, while Kipnis has taken 35 bases and made 14 outs on the bases.

These extra bases and fewer outs made add real value, and by our UBR calculation (+5.9 to +0.7), Carpenter has made up most of the baserunning difference that he loses by not stealing bases. In fact, per 600 plate appearances, the gap in total career BsR between the two amounts to about half a run. Kipnis gets his baserunning value in the way that everyone notices, but based on all facets of running, there isn’t actually a huge advantage there for either player.

Kipnis is a toolsy athlete; Carpenter is one of the least physically gifted high-level players in MLB today. Kipnis is strong and fast; Carpenter is good at hitting line drives and makes up for his lack of speed with savvy aggressiveness. From a scouting perspective, it is very easy to prefer Kipnis, and history says that athletic players like Kipnis age particularly well. From a performance standpoint, though, Carpenter has actually been the better of the two.

Both are terrific players. The Indians and Cardinals both did well to sign away their prime years for roughly $50 million in total commitments, and these two will likely remain cornerstone building blocks for their organizations for the next few years. Kipnis is a year and a half younger and is staying at second base, while Carpenter has already transitioned back to third, where his line drives and contact profile is a little less traditional. But, again, Carpenter has a career wRC+ 20 points higher, and even if you deflate the BABIP difference by a large degree, he grades out as a slightly better hitter.

Going forward, I think I’d take Kipnis; the age and athleticism do matter, and all things equal, I think you’d rather have a physically gifted guy than someone who has probably already maxed out his tools. But, right now, Carpenter may very well be the better player, especially if we’re viewing them outside of the context of their current organizations and give Carpenter credit for being able to play second base at a reasonable level. So, I don’t choose Kipnis with any kind of strong conviction. Both are terrific, and the Indians and Cardinals should be glad that they each have one of the game’s better young players under team control for the next six years.
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