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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 787

post #23581 of 73420
Braves and Nats just won't lose right now. Nats have the Cubbies coming into town this weekend with the Shark, Hammel, and Arrieta throwing while the Braves get to feast some more on the D-Backs after getting done with the Mets.
post #23582 of 73420

Hope the A's get this stadium situation figured out. It's a shame for a talented club like that to play in such a ****hole.
post #23583 of 73420
The whole situation is a ******* joke.
post #23584 of 73420
7 in a row!!!!

Let's goooo pimp.gifpimp.gif
post #23585 of 73420
Originally Posted by ii FLaSh ii View Post

7 in a row!!!!

Let's goooo pimp.gifpimp.gif

Did you see the Braves new pitcher Juan Jaime I like him hes a flame thrower 98mph with a kimbrel like curve. Braves on fire pimp.gif that La Stella play was nice.

Mets suck so bad they were saying theyre only 5 games back and now with the sweep theyre talking about competing next year laugh.gif they aren't going to be good for at least 5 years.
post #23586 of 73420
Thread Starter 
It's their own damn fault, they keep that ******* moron Collins managing and they expect to actually compete. I've never seen a guy do things that beg for his firing but still sitting on the bench.
post #23587 of 73420
Haven't watched a mets game in two weeks laugh.gif this season was a wash anyway. Trade colon n let those young arms pitch.
post #23588 of 73420

mean.gif He WOULD do something like this...
post #23589 of 73420

braves and nats win and lose at the same time :lol to atlanta though cause after losing all those arms I figured they were done 

post #23590 of 73420
Originally Posted by JJs07 View Post

mean.gif He WOULD do something like this...


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 #23591 of 73420

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 #23592 of 73420
Originally Posted by mfreshm View Post

Did you see the Braves new pitcher Juan Jaime I like him hes a flame thrower 98mph with a kimbrel like curve. Braves on fire pimp.gif that La Stella play was nice.

Mets suck so bad they were saying theyre only 5 games back and now with the sweep theyre talking about competing next year laugh.gif they aren't going to be good for at least 5 years.

We got some good young talent pimp.gifpimp.gif

I live in NY and all these Mets fans are so delusional... Irks me with the excuses they come up with laugh.giflaugh.gif
post #23593 of 73420
Lew Wolf threatens to move them f they don't get this lease extension. What a mess frown.gif

Oakland is going to lose the A's / Raiders because of these morons on the jpa
post #23594 of 73420
I will be pissed if the A's move. I went to a game in may and it was one of the most fun games I have been at.
PSN: Aiinatural
Go Hawks, Mariners, Ducks
PSN: Aiinatural
Go Hawks, Mariners, Ducks
post #23595 of 73420
If the A's leave Oakland, I hope the city loses all 3 sports teams.

Watch it turn into a third world country...mean.gif
post #23596 of 73420
Originally Posted by bbllplaya23 View Post

If the A's leave Oakland, I hope the city loses all 3 sports teams.

Watch it turn into a third world country...mean.gif

Warriors are already moving. It's most likely gonna be just the A's
post #23597 of 73420
It's been approved. A's have a 10 year lease
post #23598 of 73420
Raiders will pursue Los Angeles with renewed fervor. The A's may inherit the Coliseum site all to themselves.

Funny how things turn out.
A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

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

post #23599 of 73420
If they have the site all to themselves, can they build a new stadium on that property?
post #23600 of 73420
I imagine Wolff/Fisher would develop the land, yeah. It's a lot of property, and with the Raiders gone they could have their new stadium and all the hotels/shops they're wanting to build alongside it.
A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

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

post #23601 of 73420
Thread Starter 
What would it take to trade Huston Street?
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Player: Huston Street | RHP | San Diego Padres

Possible destinations: Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, Cincinnati Reds

Baltimore Orioles

Why? Orioles GM Dan Duquette told me that the bullpen and offense at second base were the two main areas that needed improvement. After Tommy Hunter failed in the closer role, Zach Britton has taken over and excelled, converting 10 of 12 saves with an ERA of 1.52. However, whether the sinker specialist will continue to succeed is questionable, and having a proven closer such as Street in the pen can only improve Baltimore’s chances of winning the division. Street has been one of the best in the game the last few years, and acquiring him would mean Britton could return to the setup role where he can pitch multiple innings.

Furthermore, Street has a reasonable team option for 2015 worth $7 million, so he wouldn't be a rental. Of course, the Padres don't have a GM right now after firing Josh Byrnes a few weeks ago, which complicates making any deal. They really need to put someone in place before the deadline.

Who? Matching up the Orioles and the Padres will be difficult, because San Diego is desperately seeking bats. They could start by offering Jonathan Schoop, who despite the slow start to his major league career, is expected to develop into a 15-homer-per-season second baseman. This would allow the Padres to move Jedd Gyorko back to third base when Chase Headley is finally dealt or leaves as a free agent. The Padres also could ask for 19-year-old outfielder Josh Hart, who was the Orioles' 2013 first-round pick. Despite his slow start in professional ball, he still is highly regarded.

Will it happen? Doubtful. The Orioles' farm system doesn't have a ton of depth, and I don't see them trading an elite guy for Street.

Detroit Tigers

Why? The Tigers are 29th in the majors in bullpen ERA, and closer Joe Nathan has an ERA of 6.28 as compared to 1.39 from a year ago. He has shown signs of turning it around, but if he doesn’t, the Tigers must have Plan B. Joba Chamberlain has been brilliant in the eighth inning, while Al Alburquerque and Ian Krol have been solid. However, they clearly need more depth in the setup role. Street not only could solve that but could be moved to closer if Nathan can't turn it around.

Who? The Tigers could offer Robbie Ray, the left-handed starter they received in the Doug Fister deal. The Padres then could use veteran starters Ian Kennedy and Tyson Ross as trade bait for bats. Or they could ask the Tigers for J.D. Martinez if they are believers in what he’s done over the past month. The Padres could also shoot younger and target guys such as second baseman Devon Travis and outfielder Steve Moya.

Will it happen? The Tigers match up well with the Padres in a Street deal, and it is the Tigers’ biggest need. General manager Dave Dombrowski historically has been one of the best in the business at the trade deadline, and I definitely think both sides can find a way to make a deal here. It will all depend on the incoming Padres GM.

Los Angeles Angels

Why? The Angels have converted just 20 of 32 save opportunities, which is the difference between first and second place. They have traded their failed closer Ernesto Frieri to the Pittsburgh Pirates for their ex-closer, Jason Grilli. If Grilli does not perform over the next month, they’ll have to trade for a closer if they want to get to the postseason.

Who? The Angels have infield prospects they can dangle to the Padres, led by second base prospect Taylor Lindsey, who is hitting .233 at Triple-A but is still well-regarded. The Angels can also offer second baseman Alex Yarbrough and third baseman Kaleb Cowart. It might take two of the three to get Street, but it will be worth it if it means getting the Angels back to October baseball.

Will it happen? It all depends on how Grilli pitches and what other teams can offer for Street. Regardless, they have an outside chance.

Cincinnati Reds

Why? The Reds might just be one impact set-up reliever away from getting back to the postseason. The Reds have one of the game’s most dominant closers in Aroldis Chapman, and if Cincinnati can get Street to close the door in the seventh or eighth inning, this team will be hard to beat in the second half. The Reds have one of the best rotations in the game, and with Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier emerging as All-Stars, their biggest need is in the pen.

Who: The Reds have a lot to trade even when you consider that right-hander Robert Stephenson is untouchable. The Padres will then demand outfielder Jesse Winker and a lower-level prospect. The Reds will probably still decline. Winker, 20, was the Reds’ first-round pick back in 2012, the 49th player taken overall. His minor league slash line is .299/.404/.491, with 35 home runs in a little more than 1,000 career plate appearances. Although he’s never hit more than 16 home runs in a season, he projects to be a 20 home run hitter from the left side and is probably two years away from the majors. This is one of the situations where the incoming Padres GM can tell the Reds: "No Winker, no Street."

Will it happen? Possible, but unlikely. I think it's more likely the two teams swing a deal for someone like Joaquin Benoit, but never bet against GM Walt Jocketty at the deadline.

Kershaw pitching historically well.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
If you're too young to know what Sandy Koufax's excellence looked like in 1965, watch Clayton Kershaw now.

If you need a reminder about how dominant Orel Hershiser was in September and October of 1988, watch Kershaw now.

Or if you're looking for a refresher on how Pedro Martinez controlled games in 1999, when a future Hall of Famer was at his absolute zenith, watch Kershaw now.

Kershaw is a historically great pitcher throwing better than he has at any stage of his career. He carries a streak of 28 consecutive scoreless innings into his start Friday against the Rockies, and he's coming off one of the best months of pitching ever. Kershaw faced 162 hitters in June, and he struck out 61 of them, with only four bases on balls. Of the remaining 97, 65 percent of them (63 batters) hit the ball on the ground, the highest rate for any pitcher in the majors. In other words, in Kershaw's six June starts, 34 plate appearances resulted in a batter hitting a ball in the air.

A.J. Ellis, Kershaw's catcher, traces the left-hander's current performance back to a start he made against the Diamondbacks on May 17, when he allowed seven runs in 1 2/3 innings. Most of the damage done in that game, Ellis noted, was against breaking pitches, and Kershaw came out of that performance angry and determined to throw his curveball and slider better.

With the way he's throwing his slider and curve now, Ellis said, "they look like they're strikes forever, and then bottom out."

Hitters cannot cover every possibility, so they work to reduce the ways in which a pitcher can beat them. They look for a fastball and ignore a pitcher's inconsistent breaking ball, for example. Or maybe they look on the inner half of the plate because the pitcher lacks command on the outer half. They try to corner the pitcher.

But these days, Kershaw is commanding three pitches brilliantly, meaning that the hitters' quandary grows exponentially against Kershaw, as Ellis explained. On June 24, Kershaw pitched in Kansas City, and in the midst of that game, he reached a 3-2 count on Alex Gordon and spun a slider. Gordon swung and missed, then looked back at Ellis and asked, "Really?" A slider? In that count?"

In the first inning of that same game, Eric Hosmer hacked at a fastball out of the strike zone and rolled a single to left field, and later mentioned to Ellis that he had intended to swing at the first fastball he saw in that at-bat -- any fastball, anywhere. "You think I'm getting to two strikes with that guy?" Hosmer asked rhetorically.

Kershaw has never mixed his pitches as much as he is now, with the percentage of fastballs at a career-low 55.4 percent and sliders at a career-high 30 percent, with the occasional curve (13.3 percent). His ratio of ground balls to fly balls has increased by about 60 percent compared to last season. He has never gotten a higher rate of swings outside the strike zone than this season, or a higher rate of swings for that matter, and at the same time hitters have their lowest rate of contact against him.

Translation: They are swinging more because they're afraid of falling behind in the count against him, despite the fact that they are missing more often when they do swing.

Maybe you aren't sure what it meant to be as good as Walter Johnson was, or your memories of Greg Maddux's brilliance are fogging over. Well, just watch Kershaw. Now.

Around the league

• On Wednesday's podcast, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times and Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago ran through the current state of the trade situations for the Rays and Cubs, respectively; Tim Kurkjian discussed Bryce Harper and his manager, Matt Williams; and Karl Ravech and Justin Havens went "next level" on the AL West and Rick Porcello.

On Tuesday's podcast, Jayson Stark talked about the Nationals' lineup, and Ryan Divish offered up some great anecdotes about the change in leadership of Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez.

• As for the Dodgers as a team, some regulars were rested by manager Don Mattingly on Wednesday, and the team lost. … The Dodgers' Thursday opponent, the Colorado Rockies, are expected to get third baseman Nolan Arenado back today.

• Imagine Duke signing seven of the nation's top 10 basketball recruits in one class of players. That's sort of what the Yankees did in the international market Wednesday, spending big dollars to corner the market. Depending on which top prospect list you prefer, the Yankees signed either 10 of the top 15 prospects or 11 of the top 18, although, as we know, in baseball there is higher degree of uncertainty than in basketball about whether each teenager will develop into something worthwhile on the field.

The Yankees will face penalties for their spending this year and restrictions next year, but this was the latest attempt by the organization to inject talent into its system. Here's a partial rundown of who they landed, from Jesse Sanchez.

As for other international news, the Rays are set to sign a top prospect, as Marc Topkin writes. … The Twins signed a pitcher. … The Astros signed three guys, as Evan Drellich writes. … The Red Sox signed a couple of prospects.

• Yu Darvish could be available for the All-Star Game after all.

• Speaking of great pitchers, the Cardinals desperately needed the help of Adam Wainwright, and they got it, as Rick Hummel writes.

From ESPN Stats & Information on Wainwright's performance:

Adam Wainwright, 2014
Statistic No. MLB rank
ERA 1.89 1st
WHIP 0.90 2nd
IP per start 7.3 2nd
Opp. SLG pct. .277 3rd

A. It was the eighth game this season he pitched at least seven innings while allowing no earned runs. He had no more than six such outings in any previous season.
B. Wainwright kept the ball in the park for the fifth straight game, his longest streak without allowing a home run since 2012.
C. He didn't need his best velocity to beat the Giants: His maximum speed was 92.1 mph, 2 mph below his fastest for the season.
D. Wainwright's 51 fastballs tied his season high. It was the sixth time in 17 starts that he allowed one hit or fewer on fastballs.

And finally this, again from ESPN Stats & Info: That was Wainwright's 13th scoreless start of at least seven innings since the start of 2013, which is tied with Kershaw for the most in the majors. Darvish is next, with 10.

In the past five seasons, only four pitchers have more scoreless starts of at least seven innings, and they've all made considerably more starts in that span than Wainwright, who missed all of 2011:

Most Scoreless Starts Of Seven-plus IP, Past Five Seasons
Pitcher 7+ scoreless IP Total starts
Clayton Kershaw 29 143
Hiroki Kuroda 24 145
Cliff Lee 21 131
Felix Hernandez 21 149
Adam Wainwright 20 116

Also worth noting, after missing 2011 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Wainwright has gotten better and stronger each season:

Adam Wainwright, Past Three Seasons
Statistic 2012 2013 2014
ERA 3.94 2.94 1.89
WHIP 1.25 1.07 0.90
IP per start 6.2 7.1 7.3

• The Pirates beat the Diamondbacks on Wednesday to raise their record since May 2 to 34-22; the .607 winning percentage is the best in baseball. Gregory Polanco had another big game, and so far he has reached base at least one time in every game in which he has played. Ron Cook loves watching the top of the Pirates' lineup.

• The Mariners are nine games over .500 for the first time since 2007.

• You cannot stop the Braves, you can only hope to contain them: Their win streak has reached seven games.

• The Rays are rolling: That's seven wins in eight games. By the way, we have Tampa Bay and Detroit on "Sunday Night Baseball," David Price versus Rick Porcello.

• Giants manager Bruce Bochy plans a major lineup change: Hunter Pence may hit leadoff, with Brandon Belt batting second.

• Bryce Harper needs to grow up, writes Mike Wise.

• The Phillies seem to be in denial, writes Sam Donnellon. From his piece:
Nothing. No runs, no hits, lots of errors. Bad decisions, bad losses, bad baseball. The only people who don't seem to understand that the Phillies should already be deep in the throes of a rebuilding stage are, well, the Phillies president and his general manager.

If you believe them.

I do, and that's what really scares me. The key to fixing any problem is identifying the problem, but what if you are the problem? What if it's your decisions, your trades, your overpaid contracts that are in the way of any chance of "retooling" while maintaining a competitive team?

There are so many, but the miss they keep taking is their big swing on Dom Brown. If he was the player they projected him to be, no costly trade for Hunter Pence would have been made. If they had recognized sooner that he was not that player, or even a right fielder, they may have chosen to hold on to Pence, even re-up him.

Betting on Brown was that big of a swing and miss. And with no outfield prospect on the immediate or even distant horizon, and power-hitting outfielders the most sought-after entity among scouts today, it's hard to imagine anything but bad baseball here in the near and distant future. As bad even as those days back in the late '90s.
Moves, deals and decisions

1. There were informal conversations between various parties in the Jon Lester contract discussions Saturday evening and Sunday, as the Red Sox worked to rebuild a negotiating platform. But as written here before, it may well be too late, unless the team essentially capitulates, as the Phillies did in their talks with Cole Hamels.

There is concern on Lester's side that Boston's recent overtures will fall far short, again, of what his market value is, which was shifted markedly by Homer Bailey's $105 million deal with the Reds. That was 50 percent more, in total, than what the Red Sox offered Lester.

2. Billy Eppler, the Yankees' assistant GM, will interview today for the Padres' GM job.

3. There is more and more talk about Daniel Murphy's value. Unless the Mets intend to increase their payroll to something in the range of $120 million, it would make no sense for them to sign Murphy to a long-term deal. With an $85 million payroll, it'd be tough to justify another $10 million (or so) salary, along with what they're paying David Wright and Curtis Granderson.

4. Kevin Gausman could be recalled to pitch this Sunday.

5. The Tigers are interested in bringing back Joaquin Benoit. He'd be a great fit for the Angels, too.

6. Seth Smith's contract seems surprising, but at that kind of money, he represents good value, and he probably wouldn't have generated a ton of return in the trade market, given the fact that he might've been a free agent in the fall.

7. The Royals sent down a struggling reliever, writes Andy McCullough.

8. Jason Hammel is likely a quick-flip trade candidate for the Cubs, but as of last night, the team wasn't close to making a deal.

9. For the Nationals, Danny Espinosa is the odd man out.

10. Brad Hand will get an opportunity to be the Marlins' No. 5 starter.

11. Within this Nick Groke notebook, there is word that the Rockies have acquired Jair Jurrjens.

Dings and dents

1. Bud Norris likely needs a rehab start or two.

2. Mark Teixeira had his knee drained.

3. CC Sabathia was hit around in his first rehab start at Double-A.

4. Everth Cabrera has been placed on the disabled list.

5. Joe Mauer's placement on the disabled list likely ends any chance of him playing in the All-Star Game.

6. Matt Albers remains a candidate for the second half.

7. Another Braves catcher is dealing with an injury.

Wednesday's games

1. Edwin Encarnacion crushed the Brewers.

2. Tyson Ross and the Padres swept the Reds.

3. The Red Sox were wrecked by the Cubs and blown out Wednesday, as Peter Abraham writes. The Red Sox have stumbled into uncharted territory, writes Alex Speier.

4. The Orioles rallied.

5. The Yankees have fallen under .500. The Yankees' hopes are fading away, writes Bob Klapisch.

6. Raul Ibanez did something he hadn't done in more than a decade.

7. The Indians had a really, really nice series in Dodger Stadium, capping it off with a comeback win. Cody Allen worked overtime.

8. For the Phillies, the losing continues, as Ryan Lawrence writes.

9. The White Sox stopped the bleeding.

10. Tom Koehler was "the man" for the Marlins.

11. The Giants' hitters were shut down again.

12. Oakland faced its kryptonite, and lost.

13. Brian Wilson struggled to throw strikes.

NL Central

• The Cardinals have had no offense, and no answers yet.

• Alfredo Simon is quietly making his case to be an All-Star.

• The Cubs' offense exploded.

• The Brewers had a bad ninth inning. … K-Rod could be an All-Star.

NL West

• A Diamondbacks minor leaguer was cut for alleged theft.

AL East

• Mookie Betts' first homer was caught by a former opponent, as Kyle Brasseur writes.

• From ESPN Stats & Info: Edwin Encarnacion beat the Brewers with a three-run, walk-off home run. It was his 62nd home run since the start of the 2013 season, and only Baltimore's Chris Davis has hit more (66) during that span. … Richard Griffin writes about five Blue Jays who have made a difference.

• Joel Peralta is piling up appearances.

AL Central

• From the Elias Sports Bureau: Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to 17 games, the longest by a White Sox rookie since 1963, when Pete Ward had an 18-game hitting streak.

• Justin Verlander is determined to return to dominance, writes Jeff Seidel. The Oakland hitters saw a change in Verlander's approach, writes John Lowe.

• Chris Colabello is getting another chance.

AL West

• From Elias: Coming into this week, the A's led the majors with a walk rate of 10.4 percent, which over four games would equate to about 16 walks. However, they have drawn only one walk in the past four games, with none coming against a starting pitcher. The last time Oakland failed to draw a single base on balls against a starter in four straight games was in 1978.

• Those who have hit third for the Rangers have been historically bad.

• Dustin Ackley put together another three-hit game, writes Ryan Divish.

• Josh Hamilton homered, but the Angels lost.


• About any exemption that Alex Rodriguez received to use a particular substance otherwise banned: He would have been one among hundreds and hundreds of players to get an OK under the terms of the testing system negotiated by the league and the Major League Baseball Players Association. Every year, dozens of players receive permission to use Adderall and Ritalin. That context is important. In fact, that context really is most important.

• The Cubs are going to be more careful with their computer data.

• Andrew McCutchen is leading the outfielders in votes in the NL All-Star balloting.

• Barry Bonds is getting another chance to fight his conviction.

• A Vanderbilt infielder returned to class.

And today will be better than yesterday.

Bryce Harper already causing controversy.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Bryce Harper returned to the Nationals with an attitude, writes Thomas Boswell. From his column:
Instead of "Nothing But Natitude," Harper's box could've read, "Nothing But Attitude." The 21-year-old exposed the fissures that have gotten more public between the young star and the Nats. Being back in the Nats' lineup after two months wasn't enough for Harper; he wanted to write the lineup, too.

Manager Matt Williams put Ryan Zimmerman at third base, Anthony Rendon at second base, Harper in left field and benched Danny Espinosa. He also batted Harper sixth, exiled from the glamorous heart-of-the-order spots. Harper disagreed, on all fronts, and said so several hours before the game.

"I think [Zimmerman] should be playing left. Rendon's a good third baseman. He should be playing third. We've got one of the best second basemen in the league in Danny Espinosa," said Harper. "Of course, we want the best-hitting lineup in there. [But] I think Rendon playing third and Zim playing left is something that would be good for this team. I think that should be what's happening."

This Harper proposal would also put Denard Span on the bench and Harper himself in center field, the position he's politicked for weeks to play.

Williams has talked about daily designer lineups, constantly changing. Harper's suggestion amounts to a fixed lineup -- to his advantage. If Harper were 10 years more established in deeds, not dolls, it'd be audacious to manage a team after being on the DL for more than half of the Nats' previous 193 games. But to do it with one homer halfway into a season?

Anything else? How are those internal lines of communication working?

"I haven't talked to nobody about anything, so I have no clue," said Harper, who frequently mentioned how happy and excited he was to return but never smiled. "I know I'm playing left tonight, via Twitter. So I guess that's where I'm going."

And what about batting sixth?

"I'm in the lineup. That's all that matters. If I had the lineup, it would maybe not be the same. He's got the lineup card. He's got the pen. That's what he's doing," said Harper. "So there's nothing I can do about it. I'm hitting sixth tonight."

So, the manager has three players out of position, the wrong guy benched, Harper batting in the wrong spot and he has to learn about this stuff on Twitter.

"Hopefully, nobody kills themselves trying to get a bobblehead," said Harper, who knows just how central Nationals marketers have made him to the franchise's merchandising identity.

I cannot recall an example of a young major league player doing anything like this. We've seen it in basketball, when a very young Magic Johnson took on then-Lakers coach Paul Westhead, but in baseball? I've never seen nor heard of it. Bryce Harper is 21 years old.

What Harper said is potentially divisive, at the very least, in how he implicitly advocated for the benching of teammate Denard Span -- let alone that he disagreed with the decisions of his manager, Matt Williams, who benched him earlier this season for not running out a ball.

The tug-of-war appears to be on, already, in Harper's first day back: The Nationals' most prominent player vs. the team's manager.

Ryan Zimmerman moved back to third for a night.

Some trade stuff

1. It now appears all but certain that Red Sox ace Jon Lester will join Max Scherzer as the most prominent free agents in the market this fall. The Boston ownership -- which may have had its expectations skewed by Dustin Pedroia's team-friendly contract -- offered a Lester a well-below market value deal in the spring, at $70 million over four years.

And in recent weeks and days, the Red Sox have wanted to present another offer that will fall far below what Lester might expect to get in the market, particularly in light of Homer Bailey's $105 million deal. Given that, Lester's side wants to table the discussions until the fall.

Boston is still trying to climb back into the AL East race, but a question that faces the Red Sox front office now and into the months ahead is, how will it replace Lester?

This may create a hole that will turn out to be more expensive to fill, in prospects and/or salary, than if they had simply given Lester a $100 million offer in March.

2. Some officials believe that Seth Smith might be the most dangerous hitter traded before the July 31 deadline. Smith is hitting .273 for the Padres, with a .376 on-base percentage and an .861 OPS.

3. Brandon McCarthy has a $1 million assignment bonus in his contract, so if the Diamondbacks deal him, they'll likely have to eat that, as well as a lot of the salary owed to him for the rest of the season.

4. Rival officials say the Kansas City Royals don't appear to have a lot of financial flexibility in the last 31 days leading up to the trade deadline. If that's the case, the Royals would either have to look for bargains or creative trades. They signed Raul Ibanez for the minimum Monday, as Andy McCullough writes.

5. The Phillies appear to be ready to sell for prospects.

6. Yankees GM Brian Cashman is ready to rock and roll with trades. Some rival executives believe it's a sure thing that he will make a deal for a starting pitcher, given the uncertainty in the Yankees rotation. CC Sabathia continues to work his way back from knee trouble, but if he has a setback, it's possible that he would have to consider microfracture surgery.

Around the league

• After internal trade notes of the Houston Astros were published on Monday, most rival officials seemed to feel sorry for the team, rather than be angry that details of discussions with other clubs had been leaked.

A lot of executives in baseball maintain those types of logs. "It could have happened to anybody," one high-ranking official said.

• Oscar Taveras was summoned by the Cardinals.

• On Monday's podcast, Billy Beane talked about how Sean Doolittle transitioned from position player to reliever. Plus border collies.

• Doolittle walked only his second batter of the season Monday, and then gave up a walk-off grand slam to Rajai Davis in a playoff rematch.

• Logan White interviewed for the vacant San Diego GM spot.

• The sound of George Springer's homer last night distinguishes it.

• Jake Arrieta was four outs away from a no-hitter against the Red Sox. He became the first pitcher with consecutive no-hit bids of at least six innings since Dave Stieb in September 1988. He is 4-0 with a 0.94 ERA and 39 strikeouts in his past four starts. He has taken a no-hit bid into the fifth inning in three of those four starts.

From ESPN Stats & Information, how Arrieta came so close to throwing a no-hitter against the Red Sox:

A. The Red Sox were 0-for-11 with four strikeouts against Arrieta's cutter; he has thrown his cutter 32.7 percent of time in his past four starts (.140 batting average against), compared with 10.0 percent in his first seven starts this season.
B. Opposing batters were 1-for-21 against his fastball or cutter.
C. Season-high 48 pitches and five strikeouts on pitches on inner half (Red Sox 0-for-11 on such pitches).

• San Diego had one hit Monday (and coincidentally won) and finished batting .171 as a team for the month. That is the worst team batting average for a full month since 1920. Jesse Hahn was dealing.

• Alcides Escobar powered the Royals.

• From ESPN Stats & Info: Despite an 0-for-3 performance Monday, Jose Altuve finished June hitting .411 with 17 stolen bases. He's just the seventh player to hit .400 with 15 steals in a calendar month during the past 100 seasons. Three of the previous players to do it are in the Hall of Fame. The full list:

Jose Altuve: June 2014
Brett Butler: July 1992
Tony Gwynn: August 1987
Rickey Henderson: June 1985
Cesar Cedeno: September 1977
Joe Morgan: April 1975
Johnny Neun: July 1927

• Ubaldo Jimenez was dealing.

• The Yankees have lost three straight.

• Manny Machado is upset his suspension wasn't reduced. Chris Davis is filling in at third base.

• Greg Colbrunn is back with the Red Sox.

• Frank Cashen, who passed away Monday, built a powerhouse.

And today will be better than yesterday.

What would it take to trade for Alex Rios?
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Player: Alex Rios | RF | Texas Rangers
Possible destinations: Kansas City Royals, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox

Kansas City Royals

Why? The Royals are last in the AL Central in runs scored and have had very little offensive production from right fielder Norichika Aoki, who has yet to hit a home run and has a .326 OBP. Rios hasn't hit for much power either (just three homers), but he's hitting .304 and has more upside -- and a better track record -- than Aoki, who would be better off as a fourth outfielder.

Who? The Rangers should be satisfied by getting approximately $6 million off the books for the rest of the season, as well as the $1 million buyout on Rios' 2015 team option ($13.5 million). They'll expect one or two mid-level type prospects in return, and the Royals could offer left-hander Sam Selman and catcher Zane Evans.

Will it happen? The Royals must improve their offensive production from right field, and the market is not flooded with solid options. I would give it about a 30 percent chance that it happens.

Baltimore Orioles

Why? The Orioles lost Matt Wieters for the season after he underwent Tommy John surgery, and will now have to live with below-average offense at catcher with Nick Hundley and Caleb Joseph sharing the duties. They also are not getting the offense they'd like from rookie second baseman Jonathan Schoop. Their best spot to improve offense is at second base, but if they can’t trade for a Chase Utley, Ben Zobrist or Daniel Murphy, they could decide to add offense at the DH/corner outfield spots. Steve Pearce can't maintain his .900-plus OPS forever, and Rios would give them the depth their lineup currently lacks and allow them to put Nelson Cruz in a full-time DH role when Pearce cools off.

Who? The Orioles aren't blessed with a deep farm system, which will make it difficult for them to trade for the impact offensive second baseman they’d like. However, they do have enough to deal for Rios assuming they are willing to take on his salary, and could offer a low-level arm such as Steven Brault, a lefty having a nice year (4.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio) for low Class A Delmarva.

Will it happen? Doubtful. The Orioles would much rather upgrade second base or their bullpen depth and would prefer to save their prospects and dollars for those needs. However, if the Rangers expanded the deal to include bullpen help, it could happen.

Seattle Mariners

Why? The Mariners are 10th in the league in runs scored and second in ERA. If they could score more runs, they'd be a serious contender for a postseason berth, and right now they have three outfielders -- Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders and Corey Hart -- with OBPs hovering at or below .300. They have to improve their corner outfield production.

Who? The Mariners have soured on Jesus Montero and he could be in play, though that would be the definition of selling low.

Will it happen? The Mariners have to get offensive help, and if they can’t find a way to trade for Michael Cuddyer or Marlon Byrd, Rios might be their next best option. Furthermore, they are a club that might consider picking up his 2015 option, making him more than just a rental.

Boston Red Sox

Why? The Red Sox outfield has been the least productive of any American League team so far in 2014 and they have to find a way improve their corner outfield production. They could control Rios for another year, or decide to let him go at the end of the year with his buyout. The Red Sox like this type of short-term exposure and flexibility. With a loaded farm system, the Red Sox could easily outbid the field with a better prospect because of their depth.

Who? Like the Orioles, this would be because of a willingness to eat salary, and probably wouldn't cost much.

Will it happen? The Red Sox will have to put together a long winning streak between now and the trade deadline and get back in the division and/or wild-card race to make this type of trade. Otherwise, they might be selling instead of buying come deadline time.

Yanks, Sox big winners on July 2.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
July 2 -- which is the day 16-year-old international prospects are eligible to sign -- has come and gone, and what we saw can only be described as a wild day during which several clubs spent huge amounts of cash.

And while there are still several big names that haven't signed yet, here's a look at the three teams that did the most to improve their farm systems.

New York Yankees
There were reports that the Yankees were going to make a mockery of their allocated bonus funds this year, and to say they did that is to say that water is wet. New York spent close to $20 million -- roughly 10 times its assigned allocated funds of $2.2 million. As a result, the Yankees must pay a 100 percent tax on the overage and can't sign a player for more than $300,000 over the next two signing periods.

The best of the players to sign with New York was Dermis Garcia, a shortstop with the potential for plus-plus power and an above-average hit tool.

The Yankees also picked up top 25 players in third baseman Nelson Gomez (one of the top pure offensive players in the class), four-tool outfielders Jose DeLeon and Jonathan Amundaray and slick-fielding -- but with offensive capability -- shortstops Wilkerman Garcia and Diego Castillo. The Yankees signed the best prospect in South Korea in Hyo-Jun Park, a shortstop who can fly on the bases and with quality bat-to-ball skills, and the best catcher in Venezuela in Miguel Flames. Scouts say he has average to above-average tools across the board, minus speed.

Add in quality depth pickups in outfielder Frederick Cuevas and right-hander Servando Hernandez -- and the fact they're still favorites to sign several other upper-echelon prospects -- and in terms of both quality and quantity, this is the most impressive class by a considerable margin. This also could be the class that pushes baseball into making massive changes to the international signing system, so it's got that going for it, too.

Boston Red Sox
Boston's class doesn't have the depth that New York's does (no one comes close), but when you sign the best two pitchers available this year, you're going to be listed among the winners.

Venezuelan right-hander Anderson Espinoza draws comparisons to Pedro Martinez because of his small stature and potential for a plus-plus fastball that already touches 93 mph. While he doesn't have anywhere near the future Hall of Famer's secondary stuff, he does have a curveball that flashes in that range, as well as impressive feel of an above-average change.

If they had just picked up Espinoza, the Red Sox's class would have been impressive. But they also picked up the next-best arm available in Dominican right-hander Christopher Acosta. He doesn't have Espinoza's pure arm strength, but he does have the potential for two plus pitches in a low 90s fastball and a change that has fade and deception from excellent arm speed. Add in above-average command and his ability to throw strikes, and the Red Sox picked up two of the arms who have a chance to be top-of-the-rotation starters.

Houston Astros
The Astros have arguably the best farm system in all of baseball right now, and though they've graduated a few of those players over the past two months, they've done as well as anyone on the international market. On July 2 they added three Venezuelan players to strengthen that system. Right-hander Franklin Perez isn't quite at the level of Espinoza and Acosta, but he's also newer to pitching than both of those guys and shows as much arm strength as any arm that was available this year. His curveball also flashes plus with 12-to-6 break, and his change -- though very much a work in progress -- should at least be an average offering in time.

Shortstop Miguel Angel Sierra doesn't have the offensive upside of the "big-name" shortstops like Garcia, Gilbert Lara and Adrian Rondon, but few players have impressed scouts more with their feel for the game than he has. There's a chance for an above-average hit tool to go along with speed that should be plus as he gets stronger. They also picked up catcher Brandon Benavente, who gets rave reviews for his makeup and work ethic. He's expected to be able to stick at catcher and has shown some improvement with the bat, as well.

Others that did well
Toronto Blue Jays

Juan Meza was the only other pitcher I heard mentioned in the same ilk as Espinoza and Acosta, and shortstop Kevin Vicuna may be the best defensive infielder in the class.

Chicago White Sox

Shortstop Amado Nunez got the most differing opinions in terms of upside of any prospect I spoke to scouts about, but everyone agrees that his offensive upside is impressive. They also picked up arguably the best power-hitting catcher in the class in Jhoandro Alfaro, brother of Texas Rangers top prospect Jorge.

Milwaukee Brewers

There's just one name here, but when that one name is Gilbert Lara, who most agree is the best offensive player in the class, you have to be included in the teams that did well section.
post #23602 of 73420
Thread Starter 
The Astros Pitchers Are Still Tinkering.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I’ve recently started taking golf lessons again. It’s the first time I’ve taken them in almost a decade, and in that 10 years I’ve developed a lot of bad habits. My shoulders over-rotate, my left knee collapses on the backswing, I release my wrists too early. I’m a mess, really. And working with a professional has shown me just how I got from being pretty good at something to fairly poor at it over 10 years.

It’s about creating a repeatable motion, really. Consistency is key. I can hit some dandy shots, but those are occurring less frequently. Inconsistency between rounds turn into inconsistency between holes turns into inconsistency between swings. Success comes from not only creating a good motion, but a dependable one. And getting there involves a long road of minor adjustments.

This didn’t start out as an Astros post. Technically, this started as a post about golf, but you know what I mean. I didn’t sit down to research the Astros at the outset. I was fiddling with PitchF/X numbers looking to see how pitchers were changing their positions on the rubber compared to last year. With some help from Jeff Zimmerman, I found the difference between x0 positions — essentially the horizontal position in feet where the PitchF/X cameras first pick up the ball. I sorted by the absolute difference, so that righties and lefties could be compared equally. Here’s how the top 30 shook out:
Name 2013 Release (ft.) 2014 Release (ft.) Difference
Esmil Rogers -2.15 -0.81 1.34
Sam Freeman 2.20 0.94 -1.26
Alex Wood 1.80 0.73 -1.08
Brian Flynn 2.15 3.21 1.06
Phillippe Aumont -3.52 -2.49 1.03
Jose Cisnero -2.44 -1.51 0.93
Jeff Samardzija -1.97 -2.89 -0.92
Tommy Milone 2.93 2.02 -0.91
CC Sabathia 2.07 1.17 -0.90
Jerome Williams -2.40 -1.50 0.90
George Kontos -0.98 -1.81 -0.83
Chris Leroux -2.90 -2.08 0.82
Jeff Beliveau 1.77 2.58 0.81
Jeurys Familia -1.96 -1.15 0.81
Mike Fiers -1.28 -2.06 -0.77
Jarred Cosart -2.15 -1.40 0.75
Kevin Chapman 2.01 1.25 -0.75
Collin McHugh -1.96 -1.21 0.75
Vance Worley -2.09 -2.82 -0.73
Brandon Workman -2.32 -1.61 0.71
Edwin Jackson -1.91 -2.60 -0.69
Hector Noesi -2.53 -1.84 0.69
Josh Wall -1.73 -2.42 -0.69
David Carpenter -3.02 -2.36 0.66
Xavier Cedeno 2.15 1.51 -0.64
Josh Zeid -1.59 -0.96 0.64
Ramon Ramirez -1.02 -0.39 0.63
Garrett Richards -2.33 -1.74 0.60
Kevin Gausman -1.60 -2.20 -0.59
Randall Delgado -1.56 -0.97 0.59
(So this needs to be read with the idea of 0 in mind. “Negative” movement means movement to the left. Positive means movement right. Basically, just picture a scatter plot with 0 right in the middle, like the one below. It’s not meant to be insulting. I just get turned around sometimes when thinking about this stuff.)

For the most part, these all seem like guys that would be tinkering — guys one would expect to try some new things. Samardzija seems like an odd one, considering his past successes. Alex Wood was pretty good last year, too, but is still very young and could be trying things out.

But something jumps out here. Six of the top 30 mound movers in 2014 are Houston Astros. Jose Cisnero hasn’t thrown a major-league pitch in a while, and Kevin Chapman just came back up. Perhaps some sample-size filters are in order, but it seems reasonable to assume that changes like this were worked on either in Spring Training or in the minors. I can’t imagine a pitcher deciding to just change things up for the heck of it when the make it to the big leagues. Regardless of the time spent in the majors, these are most likely changes that were instilled a while back.

Twenty percent of these pitchers belong to the same team, which seems abnormal. Even Jerome Williams, a veteran hurler, started shifting over a little bit. This could be pure coincidence, but I don’t see it that way. To me, this looks like a systematic shift for a group of pitchers who needed some fine tuning. Unfortunately, illicit Googling of the Internet did not come up with any quotes or news stories to substantiate my claim. A little video analysis did reveal something beyond the numbers however.

Remember, the x0 variable doesn’t look at feet or body position. It just looks at the ball. So while it can pick up movement on the rubber, like for Jarred Cosart:



Kevin Chapman’s change appears to come from a slight rotation of the shoulders before delivery (lines to approximate mound, as it didn’t pick up very well in the video):



Much has been made of Collin McHugh’s successes this season, and he appears on this list as well. The angles are a little funny here, but there seems to be a shift in his body position, as he seems to be a bit more upright in 2014.



This causes the arm side to shift a little to the right and a little up. And the scatter plots show that his slider has certainly seen an uptick in vertical position and all his pitches have slid to the right.



(Plots courtesy of

The Astros are tied for the highest number of pitchers used in games (23) and rank tenth lowest in weighted pitcher age (28.1). These are the Astros we know and talk about. Grab a group of young guys and see if you can turn them into something (Jerome Williams not withstanding). It’s been working for McHugh, it’s been working for Dallas Keuchel (who also moved a quarter of a foot this season). The coaching staff has ideas for making their pitchers better and they don’t seem to be afraid to fiddle with a significant group at once. Jose Cisnero might not turn into anything. Kevin Chapman may end up being serviceable at best. But enough meddling might produce another Keuchel or McHugh. Or at least prop up a guy long enough to make him trade bait. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to try. With so much information available to teams these days, sometimes you can’t wait to get lucky. You have to try and create your own luck.

The Greatest Pitcher of This Era.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
If you could build a prototypical pitcher, what would he be? The scout in you might emphasize size, physical projection, raw stuff, athleticism, endurance, and what the heck, let’s make him lefthanded. The analyst in you might focus on bat-missing ability, batted-ball mix and ability to manage contact. If you were lucky enough, and this pitching prototype turned out be everything you wanted, he might be as good as Clayton Kershaw. Every era has its greats, its true pitching giants, and this one is no exception. With apologies to Felix Hernandez, his closest competition, the current big man on campus is Mr. Kershaw.
It is said that a single draft selection can fundamentally change a franchise, and this was never more true than the first round of the 2006 draft. The Dodgers picked seventh overall from a class that has turned out to be less than stellar. Of the six clubs picking ahead of the them, only the Rays, who tabbed Evan Longoria in the three hole, can refrain from thinking what could have been when surveying the outcome of that early first round. The Royals selected Luke Hochevar first, the Rockies followed with Greg Reynolds, and then the Pirates, Mariners and Tigers followed up with Brad Lincoln, Brandon Morrow and Andrew Miller, respectively, with the three selections immediately preceding Kershaw.

It didn’t take long for the Dodgers – and every other organization in baseball, for that matter – to see exactly what they had in the lean 6’3″ lefty from Highland Park HS in Texas. He steamrolled the rookie level Gulf Coast League to the tune of a 54/5 K/BB ratio in 37 innings immediately after signing, and then toiled less than two years – and 210 innings, featuring 261 strikeouts – in the minors before making his major league debut in late May 2008. To say the least, he hit the ground running.

Like many very young major league power pitchers, Kershaw struggled fairly significantly with his control in his early seasons, walking 4.2 batters per 9 IP over his first two and a half major league seasons, while striking out over a batter per inning. The scout in you surmised that this was only a temporary phenomenon, however. The athleticism was simply too good, the delivery too repeatable for this guy to be a walk machine over the long haul. Sure enough, Kershaw figured it out, maintaining and even enhancing his K rate while the walks went away in droves. Something to remember when evaluating amateur, minor league or even young major league pitching prospects – don’t sweat the walks, as long there is a foundation for strikethrowing present. That foundation is built upon athleticism, clean arm action and a fluid, repeatable delivery. Kershaw has always had each and every one of those boxes checked.

There are several pitchers in every era, who combine endurance, bat-missing ability and all of the other scouting and analytical measurables to a very high degree. It is exceedingly rare for any pitcher, however, to rank at the very top of the scale in every category. Greg Maddux‘ command was legendary, but he lacked elite bat-missing ability. Pedro Martinez was as great as a pitcher could be for a few seasons, but lacked the durability and endurance of other long-term greats. Perhaps Roger Clemens, fairly recently, and Walter Johnson, a very long time ago, come closest to top of the scale, across the board dominance. Don’t be surprised if Kershaw – with a clean bill of health and some luck – joins that pantheon before he’s done.

Exactly what might I be basing such a strong conclusion upon, you might ask. Well, let’s take a closer look at Kershaw’s 2013 and 2014 plate appearance outcome frequency and production by BIP type data to see how he gets it done. First, the frequency information:

FREQ – 2013
Kershaw % REL PCT
K 25.6% 131 90
BB 5.7% 74 24
POP 8.5% 108 76
FLY 24.0% 85 13
LD 23.2% 109 78
GB 44.3% 104 50

FREQ – 2014
Kershaw % REL PCT
K 34.7% 171 99
BB 3.6% 46 1
POP 5.6% 73 21
FLY 18.8% 67 1
LD 19.4% 93 13
GB 56.3% 129 99
The 2013 version of Clayton Kershaw was pretty darned good. A K and BB rate percentile ranks of 90 and 24, respectively, are quite impressive, and provide significant margin for error with regard to batted-ball mix. 2013 represented the fifth consecutive season that Kershaw posted an above MLB average popup rate (76 percentile rank), and the first time in five seasons he notched a below MLB average fly ball rate (13 percentile rank). This allowed him to easily weather the first above MLB average line drive rate (78 percentile rank) that he had allowed in four seasons.

In 2014, he has made major positive strides in multiple categories. You cannot do better than a 99 percentile rank in K rate (34.7%), and a 1 percentile rank in BB rate (3.6%). Those numbers are borderline unfathomable. His K rate places him approximately four standard deviations above the MLB average K rate. Going back to 1901, I found exactly six individual starting pitcher seasons that met that criteria – three by Dazzy Vance (1923-24-25), two by Rube Waddell (1902-03), and one by Pedro Martinez (1999). As an aside, Vance would make an excellent article topic someday. On top of that incredible K-BB spread, Kershaw has become an extreme ground ball generator this season, with a fly ball rate in the 1st percentile and a grounder rate in the 99th. His liner rate has corrected back down to the 13th percentile, more in line with his 2010-12 percentile ranks which ranged from 8 to 15. Over a relatively brief period of time, Kershaw has evolved from a high K, high BB guy with somewhat of a fly ball tendency, into an overpowering, precise ground ball machine. Scary stuff.

Now let’s take a look at the production by BIP type allowed by Kershaw in 2013 and 2014, both before and after adjustment for context:

PROD – 2013
FLY 0.190 0.469 42 57
LD 0.571 0.671 69 87
GB 0.203 0.244 80 97
ALL BIP 0.265 0.376 61 79
ALL PA 0.192 0.239 0.273 53 65 1.83 2.04 2.52

PROD – 2014
FLY 0.433 1.167 243 123
LD 0.677 0.968 110 94
GB 0.244 0.256 100 101
ALL BIP 0.333 0.520 105 84
ALL PA 0.205 0.235 0.320 60 48 2.04 2.28 1.85
The actual production allowed by Kershaw on each BIP type is indicated in the AVG and SLG columns, and is converted to run values and compared to MLB average in the REL PRD column. That figure is then adjusted for context, such as home park, team defense, luck, etc., in the ADJ PRD column. In the three right-most columns, his actual ERA, his calculated component ERA based on actual production allowed, and his “tru” ERA, which is adjusted for context, are all presented. For the purposes of this exercise, SH and SF are included as outs and HBP are excluded from the OBP calculation.

While Kershaw’s K and BB rates weren’t quite as stellar in 2013, he compensated by managing contact better than any NL starting pitcher. He held hitters to an amazing 42 REL PRD on fly balls, adjusted upward only slightly to 57 ADJ PRD for context. He similarly allowed well under MLB average production on liners and grounders (69 and 80 ADJ PRD), which were also both adjusted upward for context toward MLB average, to 87 and 97, respectively. He posted an amazing 61 REL PRD – or unadjusted contact score – on all BIP, and a 79 ADJ PRD. Add back the K’s and BB’s, and Kershaw’s ADJ PRD is even better at 65, for a “tru” ERA of 2.52, which while exceptional, doesn’t match up with his actual 1.83 ERA.

This season has been a different story on balls in play. Kershaw has been very unlucky on fly balls, allowing a 243 REL PRD, adjusted down to 123 ADJ PRD for context. There’s a whole lot of variability in what is essentially a 30 fly ball sample size. He is allowing roughly MLB average production on liners and grounders, before and after adjustment for context. Kershaw’s unadjusted contact score is a slightly worse than league average 105, but it plummets to 84 once adjusted for context, mostly based on his poor fortune on fly balls to date. In 2013, significant limitation of batted ball authority, particularly in the air, drove his contact management excellence. In 2014, it’s been all about the batted ball mix, and the huge increase in grounders.

When you add back his K’s and BB’s – and their historic spread – his overall ADJ PRD of 48 is materially better than his 2013 mark. This gives him a “tru” ERA of 1.85, better than his 2014 actual 2.04 mark and his 2013 “tru” ERA.

A little more about Kershaw’s contact management history…….he has an average unadjusted contact score – equivalent to REL PRD in the above tables – of 73.6. That is an incredible number, the best in MLB history (going back to 1938) for a five-year ERA qualifier. Who’s second? How about Tim Hudson, and he’s not particularly close, at 77.0. Kershaw is obviously an elite bat misser, and this year has become an elite control guy. He is also an elite contact manager, and has become one by mastering both batted-ball mix and limitation of BIP authority. I will be giving a presentation at this year’s Saber Seminar, in Boston on the weekend of August 16-17 on the best contact managers in history, and Kershaw will be discussed. It’s for a great cause, the Jimmy Fund, and it would be great to see some of you there. End of shameless plug.

About that bat-missing……how does a 14.3% swing-and-miss rate in 2014 grab you? That is way higher than his previous career high of 11.4%, set last season. He has an incredible 32.0% whiff rate on his slider, and also misses a representative number of bats with his curve (14.5%). Then there’s his four-seamer, which gets a healthy share of the weak grounder contact he generates. It’s a lethal combination that legislates lefty hitters out of the game completely, and turns every righty hitter into Bud Harrelson.

There are other historically great pitchers in the game today, who are likely headed to the Hall of Fame. Most of them possess top of the scale endurance, bat-missing ability and command. Among that group, Kershaw has a career 73.6 unadjusted contact score. Felix Hernandez has a career 93.0 unadjusted contact score, pitching half of his games in Safeco Field. Justin Verlander has a career 89.3 unadjusted contact score. Kershaw does everything that they do – and then suffocates contact, to boot. Whatever worries any of us had about the big lefty after his DL stint due to an inflamed back muscle earlier this season have been allayed. They simply don’t make them any better than Clayton Kershaw, circa 2014.

The International Spending Limits Are Not Limits At All.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Major League Baseball’s signing period for international prospects kicked off on Wednesday and will continue until June 15, 2015. Teams may sign players residing outside the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico who have or will turn 16 by September 1 of this year. Just a few years ago, teams were allowed to spend as much as they wanted to develop and sign international prospects. That all changed with the current collective bargaining agreement, which went into effect in 2012.

The CBA imposes bonus pool limits on international signings. The team with the worst winning percentage in the prior year receives the largest bonus pool for the next year. The team with the best winning percentage receives the smallest. The remaining 28 teams fall in between, again according to their winning percentage from the prior season. International players who are 23 years of age or older, and have played professional baseball for five or more years, are exempt from the bonus pool limits. Click here for the list of bonus pools by team, with the Houston Astros on top with $5,015,400 and the St. Louis Cardinals at the bottom with $1,866,300.

In additional to the bonus pools, MLB also assigns slot values for international prospects, even though there is no international draft. But the slot values are tradeable, and are therefore valuable for teams looking to spend more on international prospects than their assigned bonus pool would allow. A team can trade for up to 50% of its bonus pool, but it must trade for a specific slot value. For example, a team with a $4 million bonus pool can trade for up to $2 million in pool space, but it must receive in return specific slot values that add up to $2 million, or less. Click here for the list of 120 slot values assigned to each team. The Astros have the top slot value of $3,300,900 and the Cardinals have the lowest at $137,600.

Where there are bonus pools and slot values there are also penalties, which purport to incentivize teams to spend within their allotment. This year, teams face the following penalties:

Any spending over the bonus pool allotment is taxed at 100%.
A team that exceeds its bonus pool by more than 5% but less than 10% is prohibited from signing any international player the following year for more than $500,000.
A team that exceeds its bonus pool by more than 10% but less than 15% percent is prohibited from signing any international player the following year for more than $300,000.
A team that exceeds its bonus pool by more than 15% is prohibited from signing any international player for the following two years for more than $300,000.
Last year, the Chicago Cubs and the Texas Rangers spent more than $8 million on international amateur players, and thus exceeded their bonus pools by more than 15%. During the current signing period, those teams will be prohibited from signing any player for more than $250,000 (the penalty imposed in 2013). But both teams still have their bonus pools and slot values for this year and can trade any slot value that exceeds $250,000. The Cubs have slot values at $2,288,700, $458,000, $309,300, and $206,700. The Rangers have slot values at $543,000, $366,600, $247,600, and $158,300. That $2,288,700 Cubs slot value is going to be very difficult to trade, as only the Astros and the Marlins could add that much value to their bonus pools. The Rangers are in a much better position to trade their slot values.

Several teams are reportedly planning to spend well beyond their bonus pools during the current signing period. The New York Yankees, in particular, haven’t been shy about their plan to spend between $10 million and $12 million on international amateur talent between now and next June 15. With the 100% tax on any spending beyond their bonus pool of $2,193,100, the Yankees look prepared to spend up to $25 million this signing period. Baseball America reported in May (subscription req’d) that the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers also are expected to spend big money in the international market this year.

That report bore fruit on Wednesday. Ben Badler of Baseball America tweeted that the Red Sox had inked deals with two top prospects.

Red Sox will pay penalties, but they get the No. 1 pitcher available (Anderson Espinoza) and the top Dominican pitcher (Christopher Acosta).

— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) July 2, 2014

Two hours later, the Red Sox had exceeded their bonus pool.

Red Sox are already well over their bonus pool, add a Dominican shortstop for $300,000 (via @DPLBaseball): — Ben Badler (@BenBadler) July 2, 2014

For big-market, well-financed teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, spending $20 million or so in the international amateur market looks like a smart investment, even if it restrains them from spending big in the next two years. A $20 million investment in future talent that would be under team control for a long time is a drop in the bucket for franchises valued at more than $2 billion. It’s certainly less than those teams pay annually for top free agents.

Even for the smaller-market teams like the Rays and the Brewers, the plan can make sense. Maybe those teams’ scouts view this year’s 16-year-old international talent as exceptional, and more likely to yield eventual major league players than the younger players who will be available in 2015 and 2016. But even if the talent pool gets better — even if the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Brewers miss out on an incredible talent next year — they’ll have stockpiled a lot of young talent.

In fact, once a team decides to exceed its bonus pool by more than 15%, there’s no reason other than the 100% overage tax not to spend and spend. The maximum penalty — no slot values greater than $300,000 for the next two seasons — has already been triggered. Might as well get as much good young talent as you can while you can. Just like the good ol’ days before 2012.

The Worst of the Best: The Month’s Wildest Pitches.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Hey there everybody, and welcome to the first part of the year’s third edition of The Worst Of The Best. Something I’ve been thinking about lately is that so much of what we do is baseball analysis, and so much of baseball analysis is trying to see into the future. Future-seeing is a noble goal, to be sure, and we’d all like to know which players have truly turned the corner and which teams are truly dropping out of the race, but analysis is educated guesswork, and so often the analysis is left looking wrong. So often baseball doesn’t go as it’s expected to, and on top of that, looking forward leaves less time for looking back — for just acknowledging and appreciating what’s already most definitely happened. History is the only thing we’re certain of. You can consider this series an expression of appreciation for recent baseball history. Here is a link to all of said appreciation.

So in this post we’re going to look at the wildest pitches thrown in June, following the same methodology as always. As always, it’s based on PITCHf/x. As always, wild pitches are determined by distance from the center of the strike zone. As always, it’s possible I’m missing something because of the limitations of the research process. As always, I’ll indicate to you that I don’t care, even though secretly I really do care, and it pains me to see evidence of a wild pitch I’ve somehow missed. All I ever want is to be absolutely perfect and my mom says I can do anything I desire. I’m sure I’ll get there at some point. Featured in detail: a top-five list. Also featured in detail — but in less detail: a next-five list.


Pitcher: Jesse Chavez
Batter: David Freese
Date: June 9
Location: 60.9 inches from center of zone


Pitcher: Justin Grimm
Batter: Jeff Mathis
Date: June 8
Location: 62.0 inches from center of zone


Pitcher: Joe Saunders
Batter: Mike Trout
Date: June 20
Location: 62.4 inches from center of zone


Pitcher: Tyler Clippard
Batter: Hunter Pence
Date: June 11
Location: 62.5 inches from center of zone


Pitcher: Gavin Floyd
Batter: Mike Trout
Date: June 14
Location: 64.6 inches from center of zone

Now let’s generate some paragraphs. Which of the following were generated by me? Which of the following were generated by an automated program written by a Harvard grad in 1986? It’s a game within a post about a game! I didn’t tell you it would be a fun game.


Pitcher: Rick Porcello
Batter: Gordon Beckham
Date: June 9
Location: 65.2 inches from center of zone

I don’t know how many times you’ve ever been in a pool. Of those times, I don’t know how many times you’ve ever imagined what it would be like if the pool were filled with Jell-O or applesauce or pudding. I know I’ve personally imagined that on several occasions, although the closest I’ve come to the experience is swimming in a pool with the cover on. You, of course, wouldn’t be able to swim so much as you’d be able to trudge. Now, watch Alex Avila, as his picks this ball and turns to look at third base. In catching, Avila looks like he’s wading in a pool filled with Jell-O. I’d say that’s the hallmark of a bad pitch, but the true hallmark of a bad pitch is a pitch going somewhere really bad. The rest is just fallout.

Somebody asked me a question on Twitter the other week about Erasmo Ramirez. Ramirez was running an extended scoreless streak despite putting far too many batters on base, with a particular focus on unintentional walks. The question, I assume, was intended in jest, but it asked if perhaps hitters were caught off guard by strikes because Ramirez was ordinarily throwing pitches so poorly and wildly. Troubling to me is how intuitive that is. You look at a pitch like this and you figure it’s a wasted pitch. We’re always told they’re wasted pitches. But they have to do something within a hitter’s mind. Everything biases. I bet Gordon Beckham wouldn’t have expected a curveball strike. I bet he wouldn’t be prepared to hit one, after this.

When it comes to baseball, luck is always an uncomfortable conversation topic. We want to believe that everything is deliberate, that these are the best players in the world performing more or less as they deserve to all of the time. But then you see a play like this. Avila prevented a runner from scoring by picking an awfully wild curveball. He didn’t block it by getting his body in front of it — he just reached over and picked it, with his body parallel to the ball’s path. I’ll never be convinced this isn’t at least partly luck. Watching the United States play Belgium on Tuesday, Tim Howard played out of his mind. But I got the distinct impression some of his saves were practically accidental. I feel like this pick was practically accidental. Looking back, sure, Avila should get full credit for pulling it off. But with runners on third, Rick Porcello probably shouldn’t make a habit of throwing these curveballs.

Beckham: A squirrel on the field!
Avila: I’m gonna peg that squirrel in the head.
Fan in front row: Don’t do it, man.
Avila: Can’t f***in’ stand squirrels.

Because of Rick Porcello, there was a runner on third. Because of Alex Avila and all the work he did, the runner on third remained on third and didn’t score on a wild pitch. Moments later, Gordon Beckham hit a returner to the mound, but Porcello opted against fielding it cleanly, and Beckham reached and the runner scored anyway. Porcello really wanted that runner to score, and Avila was once again reminded of something someone once told him about good deeds. Alex Avila’s new policy: “Why try?”


Pitcher: Alfredo Simon
Batter: Michael Morse
Date: June 28
Location: 67.7 inches from center of zone

These posts, because of what they are, always feature catchers doing things they don’t usually do. But this makes two consecutive successful blocks involving particularly unusual movements. Above we had Alex Avila swimming in Jell-O, and here we have Devin Mesoraco lining up to blitz the quarterback.

I’m always a fan of these pictures out of context. Removed completely from context, it would appear that Simon, Mesoraco, Morse and the umpire were having a chat, and then someone in the vicinity of first base threw a ball that hit Mesoraco in the head. So everyone’s looking over there while Mesoraco stumbles and suffers, and when asked why he did it, the thrower would respond, presumably, “I wanted to see if Mesoraco would hit it for a dinger.” Have you noticed how many dingers he’s hit? It’s out of this world! This paragraph isn’t funny, but neither is pitching to Mesoraco these days, which I guess nobody in the images above was in the process of doing.

Look at how low the umpire is. The top of his head is below Michael Morse’s shoulders, and he’s almost mirroring Mesoraco blocking a pitch in the dirt. People always talk about the toll it takes on a body to catch for nine innings, but now imagine umpiring both halves of nine innings. The activity’s less intense, of course, but exertion is very much present, and so there’s no reason to think umpiring can’t be a solid lower-body workout. “Now I don’t even have to go to the gym!” many umpires apparently think, as if the lower body were their only body.

This is presented as a reminder of how far in front of the plate bounced pitches can bounce sometimes. It all looks so close on TV, but then TV is constantly lying to you. It’s lying to you about these bounces. It’s lying to you about true pitch location. It’s lying to you about celebrities. It’s lying to you about companies caring about anything other than the money you’ve personally earned. It’s lying to you about what gets you sex. To be honest, televisions are pretty much always lying, yet we continue to invite them into our lives, like they’re troubled blood relatives. It’s not the TV that’s troubled. It’s you that’s troubled, for trusting the TV. The TV isn’t your friend. The TV doesn’t want you to see the world around you. The TV wants you to eat and drink and burn oil. The TV wants you to kill yourself and the planet. The TV is a real jerk.

“Keep your eye on the ball,” coaches would say, ignorant of the impossibility of the task. You’ve probably read this before, but you literally can’t watch a pitch from the hand into the zone. You just don’t work that fast, and so you swing at a pitch you last truly saw several yards in front of you. Just look at this screenshot: Look at where the ball is, and look at where Michael Morse is looking. There’s nothing wrong with this — this is nothing unique to Morse. It’s the same for everyone. But the human brain is a miracle, and hitting a well-pitched baseball is miraculous. Or lucky. Never count out lucky.

wait a-



Pitcher: Jeff Samardzija
Batter: Casey McGehee
Date: June 17
Location: 68.1 inches from center of zone

Look up at No. 8, in the next-five list. That’s a terrible pitch, but the amazing thing is that, immediately after the .gif cuts off, the catcher guns a runner down at third. So while a terrible pitch was thrown, had it not been thrown, the bases wouldn’t have been emptied. In that way, the terrible pitch led to an extremely favorable result. Without the pitch, that’s still a runner in scoring position for Mike Trout. O.K., so, now, let’s pause this, just so:

It’s different, but this missed the bat by mere inches. As Casey McGehee bailed, he kept his bat up, and Jeff Samardzija nearly hit it with probably his worst pitch of the season. Odds are, it wouldn’t have led to an out, but it would’ve at least spared Samardzija a ball, instead yielding a foul. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wonder if this could ever be a pitcher’s strategy. The answer is, no, probably not, and not only because of the constant ejections.

One time, waiting by a subway stop in Boston, I thought about what it would be like to be afflicted with a condition that causes you to just randomly fall over. You’d be standing, and without warning, you’d just collapse to the ground. This would be a part of you, incurable and untreatable. In the specific instance, I thought about how such a person would have to keep well back of the tracks, just in case. You wouldn’t want to risk falling onto the third rail, or in front of the train. Such a person probably wouldn’t live particularly long. There are just too many hazards. Such a person probably wouldn’t live to be Casey McGehee’s age, whatever it is.

And here is Casey McGehee doing exactly what I would do if a flame-throwing major-league pitcher threw a ball behind me and super close to my head. “Nope.”

Catcher: My bad.
Catcher: Shouldn’t have called for that.
Umpire: You called for that?
Catcher: I wasn’t thinking.
Umpire: What was that?
Catcher: That was the really bad splitter.
Umpire: You have a sign for a really bad splitter?
Catcher: You can never have too many signs.
Umpire: You can have too many signs.


Pitcher: Marco Gonzales
Batter: Corey Dickerson
Date: June 25
Location: 70.4 inches from center of zone

And that’s basically how you’d expect a rookie to throw when he’s making his major-league debut in Coors Field. Everyone in the professional ranks understands what can happen in Colorado. Colorado is the No. 1 example when trying to explain to somebody else the concept and significance of park factors. Marco Gonzales knew what he was up against, even though he’d never before pitched at this high a level. So Marco Gonzales figured out the one sure way he wouldn’t allow a massive dinger. Technically he wasn’t wrong.

The broadcast noted that Gonzales is still working to hone the breaking ball, as he’d made other mistakes earlier. That much isn’t a shock — Gonzales is 22, and he was pulled straight from Double-A, where he’d made just seven appearance. Of course Gonzales is a work in progress. If he weren’t, he would’ve made the Cardinals out of camp. But I think it’s easy to forget what an under-developed pitch can look like sometimes. We seldom see them in the majors because, in the majors, pitchers are much better, and they also don’t usually take a new pitch straight into a game. They work on new pitches in bullpens until they develop sufficient confidence. Gonzales made an easy mistake. He released a breaking ball too early. Consider how rarely we see this. Our understanding of a bad pitch is a pitch that misses a target by six or so inches. Big-league pitchers are pretty terrific. Not at hitting spots precisely, but at staying in the rough vicinity of spots, almost all the damn time.

I’m pretty tall, which means I have to duck under a lot of things. I have to duck on the staircase to the garage in my uncle’s house, for example, and I have to duck under the occasional beam or pipe in my building’s basement. Being the age that I am, and given that I’ve stopped growing taller, I have a good sense of what will and will not require a ducking maneuver. I can subconsciously run the calculations that figure out what’s going to clip my forehead. Dickerson might’ve run the calculations, but he got the wrong answer. This came nowhere close. So either Corey Dickerson thinks he’s a lot taller than he actually is, or he has something wrong with his brain, for which I’d recommend a CT scan to rule out pathology. Gotta catch these things early. You never know what’s a symptom.

That was the target. Low-away slider. Predictable 0-and-2, low-away slider. Hitters are very frequently fed 0-and-2 and 1-and-2, low-away sliders but the thing about anticipating targets is sometimes pitchers don’t hit their targets. Sometimes a hitter and pitcher can both be surprised. Sometimes, even when you guess right, you guess wrong, which might be the maximum kind of frustrating.

And Yadier Molina nearly turned this into an out at third base. Marco Gonzales threw one of the worst pitches he’s probably ever thrown and Molina nearly turned it into an out. You can see why Cardinals pitchers are confident working with Molina, because they have every reason to believe that Molina is magic. “Guess I’ll just get these outs myself.”


Pitcher: Juan Carlos Oviedo
Batter: Brock Holt
Date: June 1
Location: 72.8 inches from center of zone

A good promotion for Giant Glass would be installing glass panels behind home plate, so that on occasions like this, viewers could see how durable the glass really is. And then viewers could buy the glass and put it in their doors and rest easy with the confidence that their front doors are strong enough to withstand a Juan Carlos Oviedo changeup, just in case he’s in the neighborhood throwing baseballs at doors. Odds are no door will be hit by a Juan Carlos Oviedo changeup, but how many trucks do what trucks do in TV commercials? You’re not selling a real-world use. You’re selling an idea.

A few years ago, MLB suspended Oviedo — then Leo Nunez — for fraud. It seems he was busted for impersonating a major-league pitcher!

The legend of Brock Holt is such that he compels opposing pitchers to intentionally walk him, even when they’re specifically trying not to intentionally walk him. A bolder move would be to compel opposing pitchers to throw meatball after meatball, but then that leaves room for embarrassment, and Holt would just as soon take the perfect OBP. Thinking like a sabermetrician.

I’m imagining a curveball that passes through this spot, then breaks all the way back and dots the target perfectly in the low-away corner. Such a curveball probably isn’t possible. Oviedo, I’m sure, isn’t capable of throwing such a curveball. It’s a curveball we’ll never see in real life, but, how’s your imagination? Is this working? Can you see it? I can see it. It’s spectacular. It’s the most beautiful pitch I’ve seen all season. If I imagine this enough, in time it’ll blend in with the rest of my actual memories, and in 20 years I’ll be convinced I actually saw this happen, and, dangit, I can’t seem to pull up the footage on Google. But I’ll swear by it. What a pitch! Even Brock Holt was flummoxed. This assumes that in 20 years we’ll still remember Brock Holt. I, at least, will remember him for being the batter staring at the best curveball of all-time. The best curveball of all-time.

This is not the expression of a man who just witnessed the best curveball of all-time. I don’t know what his problem is.

The Fringe Five: Baseball’s Most Compelling Fringe Prospects.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Fringe Five is a weekly regular-season exercise, introduced last April by the present author, wherein that same ridiculous author utilizes regressed stats, scouting reports, and also his own heart to identify and/or continue monitoring the most compelling fringe prospects in all of baseball.

Central to the exercise, of course, is a definition of the word fringe, a term which possesses different connotations for different sorts of readers. For the purposes of the column this year, a fringe prospect (and therefore one eligible for inclusion in the Five) is any rookie-eligible player at High-A or above both (a) absent from all of three notable preseason top-100 prospect lists* and also (b) not currently playing in the majors. Players appearing on the midseason prospect lists produced by those same notable sources or, otherwise, selected in the first round of the current season’s amateur draft will also be excluded from eligibility.

*In this case, those produced by Baseball America, ESPN’s Keith Law, and our own Marc Hulet.

In the final analysis, the basic idea is this: to recognize those prospects who are perhaps receiving less notoriety than their talents or performance might otherwise warrant.

Alex Claudio, LHP, Texas (Profile)
This May, bearded strongman Nathaniel Stoltz referred to the left-handed Claudio as a “changeup artist” — a statement which naturally leads one to ask “What is art?” and a question, that, which compels any reasonable person immediately to perform Japanese ritual suicide on his own body. Despite fantastic defense-independent numbers (like 29.5% K and 4.7% BB) and a changeup that has been described posthumously by Roger Ebert as the film of the year, Claudio has remained absent from the Five, on account of he’s worked almost exclusively in relief. Not only was the 22-year-old promoted last week to Double-A Frisco, however, but he was also deployed as a starter in his first appearance with that same club. The results: 5.0 IP, 17 TBF, 4 K, 0 BB, 0 HR. Decidedly competent that — in particular for one who works with a fastball at 84-86 mph.

Here’s what Claudio’s first Double-A strikeout looked like to someone probably sitting in the press box of Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas:

Seth Mejias-Brean, 3B, Cincinnati (Profile)
This week marks Mejias-Brean’s fourth within this column so far in 2014 — and his second appearance in the two weeks following a promotion to Double-A from the High-A California League. While the latter of those leagues is known for its inflated run environment, Mejias-Brean’s numbers — both the slash and fielding-independent variety — have actually been better thus far in the Southern League. Through 54 plate appearances with Pensacola, the third baseman has produced a 142 wRC+ plus also walk and strikeout rates of 18.5% and 5.6%, respectively — all superior, those, what he’d recorded in Bakersfield.

Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto (Profile)
Most of what’s written above with regard to Seth Mejias-Brean is also relevant to the left-handed Norris. First, Norris was proficient at High-A. Now, for some reason, he producing better numbers at the next-highest level. In his most recent start, against Twins’ Double-A affiliate New Britain, the 21-year-old left-hander struck out six of the 19 batters he faced, or roughly 32% of them. That said mark represents the lowest single-game strikeout rate he’s produced since his promotion is indicative of his performance there over that brief interval.

Jose Ramirez, 2B, Cleveland (Profile)
Probably because he was absent from the relevant preseason prospect lists and certainly because he’s produced pretty miserable numbers (in a limited sample) at the major-league level this season, Cleveland prospect Jose Ramirez has received little attention of late. Still, his minor-league achievement continues to deserve recognition — insofar, that is, as he’s recorded an exactly level walk-to-strikeout ratio and a not entirely insignificant home-run total over 206 Triple-A plate appearances as a middle infielder who’s also just 21 years old. After losing about two weeks to a hamstring injury, Ramirez returned on Saturday and has compiled a 2:0 walk-to-strikeout ratio over 12 plate appearances since then.

Here’s Ramirez singling recently to lead of a game against Detroit minor-league Derek Hankins:

Steven Wright, RHP, Boston (Profile)
Selected originally by Cleveland out of the University of Hawaii in the second round of the 2006 draft, the right-handed Wright began integrating a knuckleball into his repertoire in 2010 and became a full-time knuckleball pitcher in 2011. At no point following his conversion, however, has he recorded defense-independent numbers such as those that he’s produced over his six starts with Triple-A Pawtucket this season (a season whose beginning was delayed, one notes, by a hernia injury). Over 37.0 innings, the 29-year-old Wright has posted strikeout and walk rates of 25.7% and 5.6%, respectively.

Here’s footage from his most recent start of Wright striking out Tampa Bay prospect Ali Solis:

The Next Five
These are players on whom the author might potentially become fixated.

Dario Pizzano, OF, Seattle (Double-A Southern League)
Robert Refsnyder, 2B, New York AL (Triple-A International League)
Luigi Rodriguez, OF, Cleveland (High-A Carolina League)
Kyle Smith, RHP, Houston (Double-A Texas League)
Darnell Sweeney, 2B/SS, Los Angeles NL (Double-A Southern League)

Fringe Five Scoreboard
Here are all the players to have appeared among either the Fringe Five (FF) or Next Five (NF) so far this season. For mostly arbitrary reasons, players are assessed three points for each week they’ve appeared among the Fringe Five; a single point, for each week among the Next Five.
Thomas Shirley Astros LHP 6 1 19
Jace Peterson Padres SS 5 2 17
Jose Ramirez Indians 2B 5 1 16
Josh Hader Astros LHP 4 2 14
Robert Kral Padres C 3 5 14
Seth Mejias-Brean Reds 3B 4 1 13
Daniel Norris Blue Jays LHP 4 0 12
Taylor Cole Blue Jays RHP 4 0 12
Billy Mckinney Athletics OF 2 5 11
Ben Lively Reds RHP 3 1 10
Andrew Aplin Astros OF 1 3 6
Bryan Mitchell Yankees RHP 1 3 6
Francellis Montas White Sox RHP 2 0 6
Michael Reed Brewers OF 2 0 6
Wesley Parsons Braves RHP 1 3 6
Aaron West Astros RHP 1 2 5
Adam Duvall Giants 3B 1 2 5
Dario Pizzano Mariners OF 1 2 5
Luigi Rodriguez Indians OF 1 1 4
Shawn Zarraga Brewers C 1 1 4
Alexander Claudio Rangers LHP 1 0 3
Blake Treinen Nationals RHP 1 0 3
Cameron Rupp Phillies C 1 0 3
David Rollins Astros LHP 1 0 3
Kyle Hendricks Cubs RHP 1 0 3
Marco Gonzales Cardinals LHP 1 0 3
Ryan Rua Rangers 3B 1 0 3
Steven Wright Red Sox RHP 1 0 3
Tsuyoshi Wada Cubs LHP 1 0 3
Brian Johnson Red Sox LHP 0 2 2
Chris Taylor Mariners SS 0 2 2
Darnell Sweeney Dodgers 2B/SS 0 2 2
Kyle Smith Astros RHP 0 2 2
Roberto Perez Indians C 0 2 2
Tommy La Stella Braves 2B 0 2 2
Aaron Blair D-backs RHP 0 1 1
Billy Burns Athletics OF 0 1 1
Brett Eibner Royals OF 0 1 1
Conrad Gregor Astros 1B 0 1 1
Danny Winkler Rockies RHP 0 1 1
Edwar Cabrera Rangers LHP 0 1 1
Jesse Winker Reds OF 0 1 1
Robert Refsnyder Yankees 2B 0 1 1
Stephen Landazuri Mariners RHP 0 1 1
Tim Cooney Cardinals LHP 0 1 1
Ty Kelly Mariners 2B/3B 0 1 1
Tyler Goeddel Rays 3B 0 1 1

Prospect Watch: Christian Colon, Nick Ahmed.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Nick Ahmed, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks (Profile)
Level: MLB Age: 24.3 Top-15: N/A Top-100: N/A
Line: (Triple-A) 366 PA, 12.5 K%, 8.9 BB%, .324/.390/.431 (wRC+ 119)
With Chris Owings on the Disabled List with a left shoulder strain, Ahmed will fill in at short.

Ahmed’s current stint with Arizona will be short. Currently, his job is to keep Owings’ seat warm until he returns from the Disabled List. Ahmed is suited a replacement role on a last place team with little ambition. At a time, he held in higher regard. Recall the 2011 amateur draft where the Atlanta Braves reached outside of Georgia to draft Ahmed out of Connecticut in the second round. Then, after a season and a half with Atlanta, he was shipped to Arizona with others in the Justin Upton trade.

At that time, the Diamondbacks thought they were getting a better player. On paper, Ahmed reads well with cliches abound. Wiry. Athletic frame. Strong arm. Projectable. The University of Connecticut product was and is all of these buzz words, but he’s a few steps too slow to be an everyday shortstop and doesn’t have the bat for third. Without a better stick, Ahmed won’t be more than a utility infielder for a second division team. Though, that may be optimistic.


Christian Colon, UT IF, Kansas City Royals (Profile)
Level: MLB Age: 24.3 Top-15: N/A Top-100: N/A
Line: (Triple-A) 344PA, 7.5 K%, 8.4 BB%, .296/.360/.384 (wRC+ 98)

The former first round pick has acclimated to life as a utility infielder.

An interesting discussion could be had with regard to Christian Colon’s success. In 2010, Colon was drafted fourth overall out of California State University Fullerton. Fourth. After Harper, Taillon and Machado, at the time, there was said to be a drop off. Of course, of all teams, the Royals were in the unenviable position of selecting fourth. Colon’s pre-draft video, in hindsight, is uninspiring.
Instincts. Leadership. Average (or worse) tools… Yikes.

Still, outside of the two super-stars — Matt Harvey (7th, Mets) and Chris Sale (13th, White Sox) — drafted shortly after Colon, the rest of the first round is littered with non-prospects and underachievers (as usual). It is this, in my eyes, that makes Colon is a success story. Yes, the Royals would be better off with Harvey or Sale, but Colon is a major leaguer. Sometimes we lose sight of how difficult an accomplishment that truly is.

Colon is an adequate defender on the left side of the diamond and second base. He’s only recently started at third, but his soft hands and instincts will transfer over. While he won’t hit for power, a versatile bench bat who can work the count and put balls in play has value, especially when earning the league’s minimum salary. This year, expect Colon to spell the 32-year-old Omar Infante at second and Escobar at short. While Danny Valencia is on the roster, he, not Colon will play against tough left-handed starters in place of Moustakas.

Colon will not be an all-time great fourth overall pick — Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and should-be Hall of Famer Kevin Brown are 1-2 in bWAR — but his versatility could be a valuable asset for a long time.

Padres Continue To Be Weird, Extend Seth Smith.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Over the last couple of years, the Padres have done some weird things. Despite being a lower revenue club, they spent a decent amount of money to have Huston Street close games, and then spent a decent amount more money to have Joaquin Benoit pitch in front of Huston Street. Instead of either extending or trading Chase Headley, they’ve done neither, and are now primed to either sell when his value is lowest or just let him leave as a free agent. They acquired and then extended Carlos Quentin, despite his health problems and their inability to offer him a designated hitter role.

All the way through, it has appeared as if the team couldn’t decide whether they were building for the future or trying to win now. They planted one foot firmly in both camps and ended up going nowhere, which is why they just fired Josh Byrnes and are looking for a new GM to provide direction to a franchise that has been swimming upstream for a while now.

Generally, firing your GM mid-season is a pretty good sign that you’re not a contender. And the Padres certainly are not. Despite having acting-GMs in place, they have a large for sale sign in the yard, and will likely be one of the more active sellers in July. But despite all this, the Padres are apparently not done being weird.

Today, the Padres signed Seth Smith to a two year, $13 million contract extension, and it’s very likely that Smith was also promised that he would not be traded over the next month if he signed the contract. Had he not agreed to the deal, he almost certainly would have been traded, as he was headed for free agency at the end of the season, but it seems that the Padres prefer to keep him rather than move him for younger talent.

But it is basically incomprehensible to think that Seth Smith’s value will ever be higher than it is right now. He’s in the midst of the best season of his career, posting a 155 wRC+ that dwarfs the 113 mark he’s posted over the entirety of his career. Coming into this season, Smith had 2,300 career plate appearances and a 108 wRC+, which is fine but nothing special. He’s basically a platoon guy who doesn’t offer a ton of defensive value, so even with his strong recent performance, he projects as roughly an average player going forward.

In a vacuum, signing an average player for $6 million a year would be a nifty little move. He almost certainly would have gotten more than that as a free agent this winter, and so Smith took a discount to stay in San Diego. This contract isn’t going to be any kind of financial hardship on the Padres, and he’ll likely outperform the deal even if he regresses back towards his career norms.

But the Padres are not a good team, and they’re not going to be a good team by the team Seth Smith is done being a productive big league player. Their horizon for contention needs to be measured in years, not months, and while keeping Smith around will make a bad team less bad, it won’t make them good. The salary is low enough that the contract won’t be a problem, but there’s an opportunity cost involved with not trading Smith that a rebuilding team shouldn’t be looking to pay.

Sure, Smith wasn’t going to bring back a top prospect. Teams will see the career numbers and limited upside just as we can, and their offers would have reflected that. But rebuilding teams need to throw as many darts as they can, because once in a while, trading away a few months of a decent but unspectacular rent-a-veteran gets you Jake Arrieta in return. Whatever prospect Smith would have brought back in return would have been likely to fail, but you get enough of these likely-to-fail prospects and one or two of them will make it. And when they do, now you have a nice young core player to build around.

Passing on one of those lottery tickets won’t kill the Padres, and hey, maybe they’ll just end up keeping Smith for another year and flipping him for a similar lottery ticket next year. After all, it’s unlikely that he got full no-trade protection for the length of the deal, and the new GM might well feel okay with trading him in 12 months without feeling like the organization is breaking any promises. There are enough possible ways for this to work out for San Diego that this isn’t any kind of disaster.

But it’s just weird. A rebuilding team without a GM extending an aging, limited player over a timeline in which they won’t win anyway doesn’t really fit the idea that the Padres do understand that they need a new direction. Hopefully, for their sake, the new General Manager is given enough free reign to make the kinds of decisions that will push the Padres forward eventually. Keeping the status quo of making lateral moves just isn’t going to lead the team to the promised land.
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bryce needs to shut the hell up and play......dude been sitting for 2 damn months, chill.

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I predict the Cubs will call up Arismendy Alcantara soon. He's the one prospect flying under the radar for them IMO...
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Steve Pearce - you da real MVP.

Seriously, how great has he been? He's put the O's on his back as of late. Big series vs. the Sox this weekend and a HUGE series vs. the Nats starting Monday.

I have no doubt that Miguel Gonzalez will get shelled tonight. mean.gif O's need to stop ******* around and get Gausman in the rotation permanently.
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Midseason AL awards:

Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
MVP: Robinson Cano
ROY: James Jones
COY: Lloyd McClendon
post #23607 of 73420
Originally Posted by 651akathePaul View Post

Midseason AL awards:

Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
MVP: Robinson Cano
ROY: James Jones
COY: Lloyd McClendon

Sounds about right pimp.gif
post #23608 of 73420
Jair Jurrjens getting the start for the Rockies today, eh? Where the hell has he been?
post #23609 of 73420

Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
MVP: Jose Bautista
ROY: Masahiro Tanaka
COY: Lloyd McClendon


Cy Young: Adam Wainwright
MVP: Jonathan Lucroy
ROY: Billy Hamilton
COY: Ron Roenicke
post #23610 of 73420

Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
MVP: Mike Trout
ROY: Jose Abreu
COY: Lloyd McClendon


Cy Young: Johnny Cueto
MVP: Mike Stanton
ROY: Billy Hamilton
COY: Ron Roenicke

Watching this Nats/Cubs game. I love these Nats unis especially with the July 4 hat. I hope the Giants make a trade for Denard Spahn, I've just about given up on Angel Pagan.
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