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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 240

post #7171 of 73521
A's back at .500 nobody saw this before season started.
post #7172 of 73521
^ Which leaves only 3 teams in the AL under .500. Kind of ridiculous.
post #7173 of 73521

@jonmorosi Zack Greinke ejected in first inning? He had better apologize to the scouts who flew to see him.
smiley: laugh

post #7174 of 73521
That Greinke ejection was total bs.
post #7175 of 73521


What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
post #7176 of 73521
Originally Posted by RaWeX05 View Post


post #7177 of 73521
Originally Posted by RaWeX05 View Post



post #7178 of 73521
Thread Starter 

Not stickied anymore frown.gif.

post #7179 of 73521
Originally Posted by Proshares View Post

Not stickied anymore frown.gif .

post #7180 of 73521
Thread Starter 
I gotta figure out how to edit the thread title too. No way I'm going back to that dump SneakerTalk.
post #7181 of 73521
Clippard with another bad outing tonight, but it looks like Storen will be activated tomorrow. Also Jayson Werth took BP today and will start his rehab soon
post #7182 of 73521
Latos lost his first game since mid-April tonight.

The Reds offense is so bad right now. The only two left handers on the roster are Bruce and Xavier Paul, who was just called up today.
post #7183 of 73521
Nvm found it[
Edited by JumpmanFromDaBay - 7/18/12 at 8:55pm
post #7184 of 73521
Angels 2-4 since the break, or something similar.

Gotta get our starting rotation back in order mean.gif
"Nothing is wrong with letting the girls know that you're money, and you wanna party"
"Nothing is wrong with letting the girls know that you're money, and you wanna party"
post #7185 of 73521
Bump (for no reason other than to get this back to the top). Couldnt freakin find this thread yesterday.

Mods is it possible to sticky a thread on the new NT?
Edited by dland24 - 7/19/12 at 10:33pm
post #7186 of 73521
Thread Starter 
WAR is on ESPN now.

What we talk about when we talk about WAR.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
WAR is not the Holy Grail of statistics.

It's a conversation starter, not a conversation ender. It's important, it's useful and most of all it's fun. It's the best tool for comparing players across positions or across eras. It's a great tool for evaluating a player's contribution during a season. Maybe it doesn't settle debates; but it helps us get closer to answers.

A quick digression. WAR stands for wins above replacement. Many of you are familiar with it, of course, and the version of it is now available on's stat pages. (There is also a leaderboard available on the MLB home page.)

What is WAR? It attempts to evaluate a player's total contribution -- batting, fielding, baserunning, pitching -- to his team. It is expressed in terms of wins over the perceived value of a replacement-level player at each position, essentially a Triple-A player. (A team of replacement-level players would be expected to win about 50 games.)

Is it easy to calculate? No. It's true that you need an advanced degree in Programming and Ballpark Effects if you want to figure it out. But is it easy to grasp? I believe it is. Wins is a currency we can all understand. Compare it to, say, the original Holy Grail of baseball statistics: batting average. Do you really know the difference between what .326 means or what .289 means? (That's 20 hits over 550 at-bats, by the way, or less than one extra hit per week.)

But wins ... we know what those are. So WAR attempts to take everything a player does with all the complicating factors -- ballpark effects, different eras, different positions and so on. If we're comparing Carl Yastrzemski in 1968 (.301/.426/.495) to Larry Walker in 1997 (.366/.452/.720), how do you do that? Ten runs produced in Fenway Park in 1968 were much more valuable than 10 runs produced in Coors Field in 1997. Yaz played left field (very well) and Walker played right field (also very well). As it turns out, the two seasons were very similar: Yaz rates at 10.0 WAR, Walker at 9.6. So if you had a lineup of replacement-level players in 1968 and replaced one of them with Yaz, that team would go from roughly 50 wins to about 60.

Anyway, this piece isn't a straight primer on WAR. You can get that from Baseball Reference, which is providing us with WAR. (FanGraphs has a slightly different of WAR, which places a greater emphasis on peripheral stats.)

WAR isn't perfect. It shouldn't be taken as the dogmatic, absolute answer to questions. (Player A's WAR is 2.3 and Player B's is 2.1, ergo Player A is better!) It can certainly be too easy of a crutch in player evaluation at times, but use it wisely.

I've been asked a lot about WAR in my chats, and I figured I would expand on some of those questions to help further explain WAR.

Ben (Charlotte): How would you rate Prince Fielder's season? Power numbers seem a little bit low, but batting average is up and top 10 in OBP/RBIs.

Prince Fielder
#28 1B
Detroit Tigers
2012 STATS

.305Fielder is hitting .305/.388/.500 with 15 home runs, ranking seventh in the American League in on-base percentage and 20th in slugging percentage. That certainly makes him one of the better hitters in the league -- ninth in runs created and 11th in runs created per 27 outs. Yet his 1.5 WAR ranks him just 45th among AL position players, behind such luminaries as Brendan Ryan, Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders and Kyle Seager (yes, I just named four Mariners). Why? Remember, WAR judges everything. Fielder is a poor baserunner (one run below average), a lousy fielder (six runs below average) and Comerica Park rates as a slight hitter's park this season. Factor in that first basemen are expected to produce big hitting numbers and Fielder's bat alone isn't enough to make him a great player this season (as of now).

Wait, Josh Reddick rates as the No. 3 position player in the American League. Does that really pass the sniff test?

Josh Reddick
#16 RF
Oakland Athletics
2012 STATS

.272It does. Reddick rates at 3.9 WAR, behind Mike Trout's 5.2 and Robinson Cano's 4.8. No arguments with those two players. (The top three in the NL are David Wright, Andrew McCutchen and Joey Votto. Again, that makes sense.)

But what about Reddick? Well, he's hitting .272/.349/.531. That's nearly an identical OPS to Fielder, albeit with less on-base skill and more power. His raw batting stats are worth about the same as Fielder's, but then you adjust for putting up those numbers in Oakland, a tough park for hitters. And since he's a right fielder, his production is more valuable -- he's outhit his fellow right fielders more than Fielder has outhit his fellow first basemen. Reddick also rates as an excellent fielder (behind only Ichiro Suzuki in defensive runs saved among right fielders, the defensive metric Baseball-Reference uses). Here's a great catch, another great one (both off Nelson Cruz!) and an awesome throw. Hey, the A's are only a half-game worse than the Tigers; Reddick has been a big reason.

Speaking of Mike Trout, WAR could be used to determine how historical a season he's having, right?

Mike Trout
#27 CF
Los Angeles Angels
2012 STATS

.353Yes. This is what I mean when suggesting WAR is a terrific conversation starter. I wrote about the greatest rookie seasons of all time the other day. You can check out that list. Here's another one. Using Baseball-Reference's Play Index, we can search for the best seasons ever by a 20-year-old since 1901:

1. Alex Rodriguez, 1996 Mariners: 9.2 WAR
2. Al Kaline, 1955 Tigers: 8.0 WAR
3. Mel Ott, 1929 Giants: 7.3 WAR
4. Ted Williams, 1939 Red Sox: 6.6 WAR
5. Ty Cobb, 1907 Tigers: 6.6 WAR
6. Jason Heyward, 2010 Braves: 6.3 WAR
7. Vada Pinson, 1959 Reds: 6.3 WAR
8. Mickey Mantle, 1952 Yankees: 6.3 WAR
9. Frank Robinson, 1956 Reds: 6.2 WAR
10. Mike Trout, 2012 Angels: 5.2 WAR

As you can see, Trout is already 10th on the list even though we're still in July, moving past Ken Griffey Jr. and Johnny Bench. He's clearly having a historic season, even if he's merely replacement level the rest of the way (which, umm, seems unlikely). Anyway, WAR allows us to compare shortstop Alex Rodriguez playing in a big offensive era in 1996 to Trout, playing in more of a pitcher's era in 2012. Like I said: conversation starter. Begin your debate.

Chipper Jones
#10 3B
Atlanta Braves
2012 STATS

.313Speaking of good debates ...

Brian (Mexico): In terms of total career (ignore fame and aura) I consider Chipper Jones the superior player to Derek Jeter. Jeter has more hits because he's been a leadoff batter and has fewer injuries, but Chipper gets on base more, has a lot more power and better defense. What do you think?

Before we get to their career WAR totals, let's look at their offensive totals. Chipper has created about 1,933 runs while using 6,502 outs; Jeter has created 1,801 runs while using 7,553 outs. So, fewer runs and more outs. While Chipper has been the better hitter, in terms of value, they're actually pretty similar. When adjusting for position, Jeter's offensive WAR is 89.3 and Chipper's 83.1. Position is everything. There's a reason teams never want to move a prospect to a less important defensive position unless forced to.

Derek Jeter
#2 SS
New York Yankees
2012 STATS

.311However ... Chipper's career WAR is 81.3 and Jeter's 67.9. As you may be aware the defensive metrics have never liked Jeter's defense, so he loses a lot of value there. Again, conversation starter. Maybe you believe Jeter's defense is unfairly rated, or you'd like to factor in his postseason accomplishments or some other intangibles (not that Chipper falls short there) or you just think having a first-ballot Hall of Fame shortstop is more important than having a first-ballot Hall of Fame third baseman.

OK, since you brought it up. Hall of Fame ... Jack Morris? In? Out?

Oh boy. Do we have time for this? Morris' career WAR is 39.3 (here's the leaderboard), below the standard of most Hall of Fame pitchers. I'm not going to debate Morris here, but this is a chance to opine on a couple of beefs I have with WAR.

One, it's my opinion that WAR shortchanges pitchers with durability. I'm not necessarily saying that applies to Jack Morris. But take, for example, Roy Halladay. When figuring his WAR, you're calculating his value over a replacement-level pitcher, maybe a pitcher with a 5.00 ERA or whatever that level is these days. But a Triple-A pitcher isn't going to give you seven or eight innings every start like Halladay does, and certainly not 233 innings like Halladay gave the Phillies in 2011. But WAR, the way I understand it, sort of assumes that's the case.

Another beef. While WAR is league, ballpark and context neutral, ultimately players are compared to their peers. This creates a minor issue in comparing players across generations. As Bill James once wrote when comparing the greatest outfields of all time, "There appears to be a bias in this method toward older teams, since baseball was less competitive a hundred years ago, and the best players were further from the average then they are now."

What James is saying is that it was easier for the early standouts -- Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth or Rogers Hornsby -- to stand out over their peers because the peers weren't as good. Yes, Ruth dominated his time more than Albert Pujols dominates his time. WAR can't account for the fact it's more difficult for Pujols to rise above his peers than for a star player 100 years ago. So I like to make a bit of a mental timeline adjustment when the debate warrants.

But that, I suppose, is a minor flaw. Mike Trout ... well, he's doing just fine rising above his peers.

How Brett Lawrie beat the numbers.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
We had a problem. Brett Lawrie's numbers looked too good to be true.

His defensive runs saved was inching higher and higher, seemingly on a daily basis. All-inclusive metrics such as Baseball-Reference's wins above replacement (WAR) -- which is now available on -- include defensive runs saved to gauge a player's overall value in terms of wins, and Lawrie's WAR was conspicuously high for a guy having a disappointing season at the plate. He was, in fact, leading the league, which certainly raised some eyebrows.

Lawrie's made more than his share of Web Gems at third base since his debut last summer -- his fearlessness in making great plays can also lead to scares like Wednesday's, when he flipped over a railing at Yankee Stadium and bruised his calf -- but his 2012 numbers put him among the best defensive third basemen in defensive runs saved history (dating back to 2003).

There have been many great defensive third basemen in that time, from Joe Crede and Scott Rolen to Ryan Zimmerman and Evan Longoria; is Lawrie truly in that upper echelon of great defenders, thus allowing him to rack up WAR without gaudy offensive statistics?

We began an investigation early this season and narrowed the issue down to one particular issue: shifts.

Top shifting teams
Teams with the most shifts in the past three seasons on balls in play only. (Note: 2012 figures are through July 17.)

Team 2010 2011 2012 2012 Pace
TB 238 234 371 660
BAL 140 64 252 454
CLE 145 176 249 448
TOR 87 123 248 441
OAK 33 78 168 302

Last year, Baseball Info Solutions documented 1,941 shifts on balls in play; this year, we've already documented 2,779 and are on pace for almost 5,000 shifts -- an increase of more than 150 percent compared to last year. It's not just one or two teams causing the spike: We're only 90 games into the season, but 17 teams have already shifted more times this year than all of 2011, and nine of the other 13 teams are also on pace to surpass last year's total.

With this explosion of shifts in 2012, there's also been an increase in the variety of shifts employed. The traditional "Ted Williams" shift usually involves a second baseman scooting over to cover the hole on the right side of the infield while the shortstop moves across the diamond to cover the second base side of the range vacated by the second baseman. In this alignment, the third baseman will shift over to essentially play shortstop and try to cover the entire left side of the infield.

However, the Toronto Blue Jays see it differently. Instead of moving shortstop Yunel Escobar to the right side, they leave him in his normal position, and move Lawrie over. Depending on the hitter and the situation, sometimes he plays on second baseman Kelly Johnson's right side, and other times he plays to his left. Lawrie played a lot of second base in the minor leagues; presumably, he is more comfortable on that side of the diamond than Escobar (a career shortstop) would be.

Out of place
Plays made by third basemen on the right side of the infield this season.

Third Baseman Plays Made
Brett Lawrie 22
Pedro Alvarez 3
Four tied with 1

As a result of this peculiar defensive alignment, Lawrie is making plays which no other third baseman makes. In fact, Lawrie has made 22 plays this year on that side of the infield, while the rest of the league's third basemen have collectively made just seven (see chart).

This posed a problem for the plus/minus and defensive runs saved systems. It saw Lawrie making plays that no other third baseman was making, and it rewarded him handsomely for it. This presented possibly the biggest challenge to the plus/minus system since its inception.

The research and development team at Baseball Info Solutions, along with BIS owner John Dewan, have invested many hours studying defense on shifts over the years, and in time we've realized that the best approach to handling shift plays is to remove them from individual defensive runs saved numbers. Any time the Baseball Info Solutions video scouts record a shifted defense, we are now removing the play from the system. Aside from pitchers and outfielders, individual fielders can no longer receive a credit or a penalty on such batted balls.

Because of the unique Blue Jays defensive alignments, Lawrie is the player most impacted by the change. He had pushed past 30 defensive runs saved at the All-Star break, but he drops to 17 runs saved after the adjustment. Ironically, Lawrie still comfortably rates as the best defensive third baseman after removing shift plays, though his WAR and similar metrics dropped to much more reasonable levels.

However, shifts are still an important strategic ploy, and we don't want to discount their importance by ignoring them altogether. Instead, we can measure the collective team defensive contribution on grounders and short line drives against shifted defenses. We derived a technique for measuring team shift runs saved very similar to the plus/minus system for individual players. Instead of looking at each fielder individually, however, it treats the entire infield as one collective unit.

For example, let's say the Blue Jays are playing the Lawrie Defense against David Ortiz. Big Papi hits a hard ground ball that averages 70 miles an hour through the infield at an angle 17 degrees off the first base line. This play might be made only 25 percent of the time across all of baseball; however, the Blue Jays have Lawrie standing right there, and he makes the play easily. In our new system, the Blue Jays' infield will get a collective credit for making the play, which we then convert to runs saved.

Effective team shifts
Teams with the most shift runs saved this season (through July 17).

Team Shift RS
Toronto Blue Jays 11
Tampa Bay Rays 8
Boston Red Sox 7
Baltimore Orioles 6
Chicago Cubs 5

On the other hand, Ortiz could push a ground ball down the third base line, right where Lawrie would make a routine play if he wasn't on the other side of the infield. We penalize the Blue Jays for that. If the shift is working, the former will outweigh the latter and we'll be able to measure how many runs each team has saved on shifts.

As you can see, the Blue Jays' style of shifting has been very effective, even topping Joe Maddon's Rays in shift runs saved. You'll notice that four AL East teams top the shift runs saved standings, and that's not by accident. Those teams also happen to shift more than most of the other teams, in large part due to the concentration of pull-heavy sluggers in the division. However, plenty of other teams outside of the AL East (including the Oakland Athletics, Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs) have aggressively implemented shifts and benefited from them.

Collectively, all 30 teams have saved an estimated 58 runs on grounders and short liners hit against the shift through the first 90 games of 2012. That may not seem like much, but for a team such as the Blue Jays or Rays that uses the shift regularly, it has saved them around 10 runs already this season. Research suggests that every 10 runs adds up to roughly one win in the standings.

Considering the tight divisional races and the extra wild-card spot in play, every extra win is crucial for contending teams. If you could improve your team by one game without making a single change to the roster, why wouldn't you do it?

And now, we believe we have found a way to accurately measure the impact of the shift, and advanced metrics are better for it.

New Sox, new Youkilis.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
In July 2004, the Boston Red Sox traded Nomar Garciaparra, one of their longest-tenured and most popular players, to the Chicago Cubs. Garciaparra was still productive, but he'd just turned 30, and both his bat and his glove had slipped. Worse, he'd been wounded by Boston's attempt to trade for Alex Rodriguez the previous winter and had reportedly become a distraction in the clubhouse. With Garciaparra a few months away from free agency, the Sox made the bold decision to ship him to Chicago for Orlando Cabrera, improving both their defense and their chemistry with a single swap.

We know how that trade turned out. The Red Sox won the World Series, and Garciaparra continued to decline, turning in a subpar season for the Cubs in '05 and remaining only marginally effective until his retirement in 2010.

Late last month, the Red Sox made a similar midseason swap with a Chicago club, trading another over-30 fan favorite and impending free agent who'd become a divisive force in the clubhouse and a diminished one on the field. This time, the team was the White Sox, and the player was Kevin Youkilis.

New Youk, Old Youk
Youkilis has rediscovered his old approach with the White Sox.

Period K% BB% GB% BABIP
'09-'11 19.0 13.2 38.2 .328
'12/BOS 23.6 8.5 50.9 .288
'12/CWS 16.3 12.8 46.7 .339

From 2006, his first full year, through 2010, Youkilis was Boston's most valuable player, averaging nearly five WARP per season. But in 2011, Youkilis was worth just over two wins, as separate DL stints for lower back tightness and a sports hernia sapped his strength and limited his availability. He had surgery for the hernia last October, but this season, the back problems returned, sending him to the DL for 23 days. When he was able to play, he played poorly, hitting just .233/.315/.377. Thirty-three years old, with a balky back and a below-average bat, Youkilis looked like he might be approaching the end of the line. And with rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks thriving and Youkilis feuding with manager Bobby Valentine, Boston decided to bail on Youkilis, sending him to the White Sox on June 24 for roughly $2.5 million in salary relief, since-released utility man Brent Lillibridge, and Zach Stewart, a low-ceiling right-handed starter now pitching for Triple-A Pawtucket.

In 19 games and 86 plate appearances after the trade, as Youkilis is making the Pale Hose happy by hitting .315/.407/.534. Middlebrooks, whose .326/.365/.583 line at the time of the trade seemed to make Youkilis expendable, has slumped to .192/.204/.346 since, as poor plate discipline has taken its toll. (His 5.7 strikeouts-to-walk ratio is the third-worst of any AL batter with at least 200 PAs.) On a team level, the Red Sox have gone 9-11, while the White Sox have won 12 of 19.

The third baseman's walk and strikeout rates, as well as batting average on balls in play, are much closer to his earlier years since joining the Pale Hose, and his True Average (TAv) is .321 since joing the White Sox. It was .319 in 2009-11 and just .248 with Boston this year. Given his reputation for patience, one might expect that Youkilis' resurgence would have been a result of improved plate discipline. In fact, the opposite has been the case. Youkilis has actually been much more aggressive since switching socks.

Swinging away
Youkils has been far more aggressive at the plate since joining the Sox. (ZONE_RT is percent of pitches in the zone, while Z_SWING_RT is percent of pitches he swung at in the zone. O_SWING_RATE referes to pitches he offered at outside of the zone.)

'12/BOS 4.58 51.7 36.9 55.0 17.5 82.4
'12/CWS 4.27 51.7 44.0 64.6 21.9 90.2

With the White Sox, Youkilis has seen fewer pitches per plate appearance. He's been thrown the same percentage of pitches inside the strike zone, but he's swung at many more of them. And even though he's swinging much more often, he's missing less often. Although he's swung at more pitches in every section of the strike zone, the biggest increase has come on pitches over the middle third: With the Red Sox he was swinging at 61.2 percent of pitches of the zone, while in Chicago he is swinging at 84.2 percent of them. Those are the pitches against which hitters are supposed to do the most damage, and rather than letting them go by, Youkilis is now targeting and touching them up.

Youkilis' White Sox hits haven't been cheap, either. On video, only two of his 23 safeties for Chicago -- a seeing-eye grounder on June 25 that found outfield grass to the left of second bag and a blooper to the right side of the infield that he barely beat out on July 8 -- appear playable or weakly hit. There is, however, one reason to be slightly skeptical about his resurgence: Although the trade didn't take him out of the American League, it did take him to a weaker division. The pitchers Youkilis faced before leaving Boston allowed a collective .260 TAv, a league-average figure. The pitchers who've opposed him since he joined the White Sox have allowed a .271 TAv as a group, and the 19 hurlers he's had hits off have a collective 4.61 ERA, almost half a run above league average. No other hitter with at least 80 plate appearances in the majors this season has faced a less successful group of pitchers than Youkilis has with the White Sox.

However, weaker competition can explain only part of Youkilis' post-trade bounceback. According to Valentine, Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan said "he had no doubt that if (Youkilis) went somewhere else he'd play better." Thus far, Youkilis has made Magadan look smart (if not quite as smart as he might have looked had Youk hit better for Boston). Youkilis isn't getting any younger, and his back (or another body part) could cause trouble at any time. But on a pure performance basis, the White Sox have made out like bandits, as Youkilis seemed to demonstrate with a 3-for-4 performance in his return to Fenway on Monday night. PECOTA projects Youkilis to be worth almost 1½ wins more than Middlebrooks over the rest of the season, and with Boston sitting just a game away from a wild-card spot, a one- or two-win swing could prove decisive.

Still, there's more to the story. Earlier this week, Valentine pinned some of the blame for Boston's beleaguered clubhouse on Youkilis, acknowledging that some teammates had issues with him and claiming that Youkilis "made a big issue out of" and didn't want to move past the critical comments Valentine made about him in April. If true, it's possible that the Red Sox will benefit more from improved chemistry than they will suffer from lesser stats in the post-Youkilis era. It's also impossible to say whether Youkilis would have had the same hot streak in Boston, since some of the improvement could stem from his fresh start and the added motivation/weaker competition that the trade may have provided.

All we can say for sure is that the Youkilis who starred in Boston the last several years has been back for the past few weeks. Unfortunately for his former team, if his comeback continues, the beneficiaries -- and quite possibly the proud owners of a playoff berth -- will be the White Sox.

Most aggressive trade deadline teams.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Some teams are evaluating whether to buy or sell during the next 13 days, trying to decide whether to throw in their hand or increase their bet on 2012.

But there are a handful of teams so deeply committed to winning this year that they figure to be among the most aggressive teams between now and the 4 p.m. ET trade deadline July 31.

Here are the top three clubs that figure to be most aggressive at the deadline:

1. Detroit Tigers

They are to the AL Central what the New York Yankees used to be to the AL East. The Tigers' payroll of about $133 million is about 33 percent more than that of the Chicago White Sox ($97 million), 30 percent more than the Minnesota Twins ($100 million) and twice as much as the Cleveland Indians ($65 million) and Kansas City Royals ($64 million). When Victor Martinez got hurt last January and the Tigers needed a stopgap at designated hitter, 82-year-old owner Mike Ilitch committed $214 million for Prince Fielder.

So now that the Tigers need a starting pitcher and perhaps a second baseman, does anybody really think they're going to take a conservative route?

Nope. Rival executives report that the Tigers are (not surprisingly) one of the most active teams in the trade market, as they scour the landscape for help; Detroit appears poised to add.

Jacob Turner lasted only two innings Tuesday, exacerbating Detroit's need to add a starting pitcher.

Drew Sharp writes that the Tigers must trade for Cole Hamels or Zack Greinke.

Here's the problem: Hamels isn't necessarily available yet -- although the Tigers certainly could get the Phillies' attention if they agreed to put Nick Castellanos in any trade proposal, because Philadelphia seeks a top third base prospect; the Tigers are saying they won't trade Castellanos. And Greinke missed his start this week, raising questions about his condition. You can't trade assets for a two-month rental like Greinke unless you're reasonably certain he's good to go.

Ryan Dempster is probably the best pitcher the Tigers can get today, but John Lowe writes that Detroit has found the Cubs' asking price for Dempster to be too high.

2. Boston Red Sox

The AL East title is almost out of the question now that Boston is 10½ games behind the Yankees. But the Red Sox have a whole lot at stake after investing a club-record $175 million in payroll this season. If the Red Sox fail to make the playoffs, this would extend their streak of postseason-less baseball to three seasons. Messrs. John Henry and Tom Werner have a product they are selling to their customers, and another season of sitting out October would be a serious problem.

But the Red Sox could completely alter the prism through which they will be viewed if they were to make the playoffs. The internal dysfunction that has plagued this organization this year would be viewed as semi-tolerable if Boston won a wild-card berth -- and perhaps even the most unhappy folks in the organization would have a different perspective if the Red Sox had a chance to spray each other with champagne and celebrate.

If the Red Sox don't make the postseason, you might see firings, trade requests, reactionary deals, amid a whole lot of media review about what went wrong.

So yes, if the Red Sox have roster problems that can be fixed before the trade deadline, you can bet Boston will get 'er done.

Franklin Morales was sent to the Red Sox bullpen.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

In my opinion, the Dodgers' new ownership shouldn't feel pressure to make the playoffs. The question that should be asked, in the midst of L.A.'s month-long slump, should not be "What the hell is wrong with this team?" Rather, it should be, "How the heck did these guys win so many games early?"

It's a flawed team, and the new ownership really hasn't had much time to apply its vision of roster reformation. Overpaying to improve the 2012 Dodgers feels like an overreaction.

But L.A. is being aggressive in trying to make the team better. Other execs continue to view the Dodgers as the front-runners to land Dempster. The club's new owners seem intent on bolstering the team after its improbable early success.

Chad Billingsley landed on the disabled list.


• Kevin Youkilis is physically and emotionally into the game for the White Sox, and he had a big moment in Fenway Park. He has 18 RBIs in 18 games. He's been showing off (in a good way), as Robin Ventura says.

• The Arizona Diamondbacks are not close to a Justin Upton deal, and to this point, a lot of the interest in him is coming from non-contenders, which increases the likelihood that Arizona will wait until the offseason to trade the right fielder.

Chris Young is showing signs of breaking out of his slump.

• The Atlanta Braves will try to sign Martin Prado to a multiyear deal and view him as the heir apparent to Chipper Jones at third base, sources say.

• The Yankees are in a wait-and-see mode on Brett Gardner, writes Pete Caldera. New York is not hyped up right now to add an outfielder, and in the end, it may not add an outfielder. But the Yankees will monitor the market and if they can get a good outfielder for a good price, they'll consider that.

• The Philadelphia Phillies now have four straight victories and have pulled to within 9½ games of the wild card after getting a nice outing from Roy Halladay.

From ESPN Stats and Info, how Halladay pitched:

A) Halladay threw his fastball/sinker 30 percent of the time, his highest percentage of the season but still short of his 40 percent average from last year.
B) Only four at-bats ended with his fastball/sinker, but all four were grounders -- three groundouts and an error. One of the groundouts was a double play.
C) Halladay worked the ball inside to lefties and righties. Overall, a season-high 44 percent of Halladay's pitches were inside, and five of his six strikeouts came on those pitches.
D) Dodgers hitters were 5-for-7 in at-bats against Halladay ending before two strikes but 0-for-12 in at-bats ending in two-strike counts.
E) Dodgers hitters struck out three times against Halladay's cutter but managed three hits on the five cutters they put in play. All five cutters put in play were hit in the air.

• Jay Buhner says he'd vomit if Ichiro Suzuki gets a pricey multiyear deal.

• At a time when the Marlins' front office is trying to decide whether the team is good enough to support, Miami thumped the Chicago Cubs.

• Watched a lot of Trevor Bauer's outing Tuesday, and came away with this thought: If Bauer is sent back to the minors, which seems to be a possibility, then there needs to be a greater symbiosis between the pitcher and his catcher when he comes back. There were a lot of square peg/round hole moments in this game. From Nick Piecoro's story:

"I don't know what I can do," [Miguel] Montero said after Bauer struggled in his fourth big league start, giving up four runs (three earned) in three innings of a 4-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

"I'm just trying to help in some way, but I'm guessing myself what pitch should I call to help him out, to get him out of the jam. It's tough to catch like that."

The Reds started nine right-handed hitters against the right-handed Bauer.

From Elias Sports Bureau: It's the first time since April 22, 2005, that any team started nine right-handed hitters against a right-handed pitcher. The Astros started nine righties against the Cardinals' Jason Marquis in that game. Regardless of the handedness of the pitcher, it's the first time the Reds have started nine righties, none of whom were switch-hitters, since May 8, 2001, a game in which Randy Johnson struck out 20 hitters.

• CC Sabathia picked up career victory No. 186 in a strong start off the disabled list. Sabathia has 10 wins for the 12th time in his 12 MLB seasons. This is also his age 31 season (age as of June 30).

Most 10-win seasons through age 31 season (since 1900)
Sabathia: 12
Milt Pappas: 12
Don Drysdale: 12
Walter Johnson: 12
Christy Mathewson: 12

• The Los Angeles Angels won a laugher and naturally, Mike Trout was right in the middle of it, writes Bill Plunkett.

Trout was promoted April 28. From Justin Havens of ESPN Stats and Info, the most hits in the big leagues since that day:

Trout: 100
Melky Cabrera: 100
Andrew McCutchen: 99
Miguel Cabrera: 97

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Francisco Rodriguez was installed as the Brewers' closer and got it done in his first chance.

2. The Tigers' biggest need is second base, writes Lynn Henning. Omar Infante would be a perfect solution if the Marlins made him available for trade.

3. The Jonathan Sanchez era is over in Kansas City.

4. Evan Grant would like to see the Texas Rangers target Carlos Ruiz.

5. Matt Capps landed on the disabled list.

There have been a ton of injuries lately.

Dings and dents

1. Matt Joyce was back in the Tampa Bay lineup.

2. It appears that the season of Juan Carlos Oviedo is over, as Joe Capozzi writes.

3. Jonny Venters is feeling good.

4. Jed Lowrie will miss 4-6 weeks.

5. Alexi Ogando is back.

6. A Colorado Rockies player had his heart shocked back into rhythm.

7. Hector Sanchez sprained his knee.

8. Some San Diego Padres had surgery.

9. Joey Votto's surgery went well.

10. Ryan Braun tweaked his groin.

11. Carl Pavano hopes to be back in August.

12. Matt Holliday suffered a contusion.

13. As expected, Jose Bautista landed on the disabled list.

14. Jayson Werth is still aiming to come back in early August.

15. David Ortiz will likely miss a week.

AL East notes

• Carlos Pena and Luke Scott gave the Rays a badly needed lift.

• Anthony Gose made his debut in the Jays' loss.

• The Red Sox were beaten by a former teammate. Jon Lester threw 91 pitches in the first four innings; there is no excuse for his season, writes Dan Shaughnessy.

• Zach Britton and the Orioles' bullpen got knocked around, as Eduardo Encina writes.

NL East notes

• Jair Jurrjens had a really bad day.

• The Washington Nationals won a wild and crazy game.

• The Mets' bullpen blew it twice.

NL West notes

• Buster Posey had a really big day, and Barry Zito won.

• The Dodgers' bullpen let them down.

NL Central notes

• With Votto down, the Reds are in survival mode, and they won with some help from Ryan Ludwick.

• The St. Louis Cardinals weren't efficient.

• Erik Bedard picked up the Pittsburgh Pirates, writes Michael Sanserino.

AL West notes

• Roy Oswalt got the job done for the Rangers.

• The Seattle Mariners got a nice effort out of their bullpen.

• Bartolo Colon lost on Tuesday.

AL Central notes

• The Indians had some chances but lost, writes Terry Pluto.

• A Royals' starting pitcher got roughed up.

By The Numbers
From ESPN Stats and Info

3: Runs or more scored in 41 straight games for the Yankees, tied for second-longest single-season streak in live-ball era ('94 Indians had 48, '30 Athletics had 41).
6: Home winning streak for the Cubs snapped with the loss to the Marlins (was their longest win streak since 2009).
8: Walk-off wins for the Nationals this season, tied with the Athletics for most in majors.
14: Hitting streak snapped for Justin Morneau; every other Twin had a hit Tuesday.
20: Hitting streak for Robinson Cano, longest active streak in MLB and longest of his career.
158: Games since the Tigers were last shut out (July 16, 2011). They were the last MLB team to be shut out this season before losing 13-0 to the Angels on Tuesday.
442: Distance of Trout's home run Tuesday, the second-longest opposite-field home run in the majors this season.

Prospects to sell high on.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
With a little less than two weeks before the trade deadline, teams are evaluating their own prospects as much as prospective acquisition targets. It's important to not only understand how good your own organization is, but also the industry perception of your players. It's never easy for a team to send off players they draft, develop and put so much time into, but here are some who might generate more trade value than they are actually worth. These are the prospects for likely buyers whose trade value may never be higher than it is right now.

Cody Buckel, RHP, Double-A Frisco

One has to wonder if the Rangers shouldn't have bumped Buckel up to Double-A in mid-June. He's been perfectly fine in the Texas League, limiting batters to a .212 batting average while striking out 22 in 27 1/3 innings, but the 21-year-old was putting up some of the best numbers in the minors at High-A Myrtle Beach, with a 1.31 ERA in 13 starts and nearly twice as many strikeouts (91) as hits allowed (49) in 75 2/3 innings.Those are ace-level numbers, and while Buckel is a prospect, he's far from a future ace. Like many Rangers pitching prospects, Buckel is small (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) but athletic, and he has three average to slightly above-average pitches that play up due to outstanding location. He's a very safe bet to be a big leaguer, but not a future star.

C.J. Cron, 1B, High Class A Inland Empire

Last year's first-round pick has been a streaky hitter, currently sitting at .286/.323/.460, and that's in the hitter-friendly California League. His power has been a little less than expected, his patience at the plate all but disappeared, but he still has the pedigree of a first-round pick who, despite his defensive limitations, was seen by some as the best college hitter in the draft. To be a first-base prospect, you have to look like a future middle-of-the-order hitter, and the Angels might be best-served by finding a team that still believes in this 22-year-old.

Wilmer Flores, 3B/1B, Double-A Binghamton

In the world of finance it's called a "dead cat bounce" -- a small, brief uptick in what is an otherwise declining stock. While a .301/.346/.483 line across two levels has brought his stock back as a hitter, the 20-year-old continues to slide the wrong way on the defensive spectrum. He previously was a shortstop, but began the year as a third baseman, and now he's been seeing some time at first base since his promotion to Double-A. He's the ugly combination of being both slow and poor defensively, and if the Mets can find a team that believes in him as a left-side infielder, it's time to sell.

Miles Head, 3B/1B, Double-A Midland

Head, 21, was one of the best hitters in the minors during the first half of the season, hitting .382/.433/.715 for High-A Stockton, and while he's slowed down a bit since his promotion (how could he not), he's still producing at Double-A. Two issues: No. 1, he's not a third baseman; and No. 2, he just doesn't profile well. He's a short, squat, right-handed hitter, and while it might sound a bit strange, how many short, right-handed hitting first basemen can you name who make an impact in the big leagues? It's hard to call him a big prospect because it's hard to find other players like him who were in the past, but if I'm the A's, I'm trying to find a taker.

Ryan Lavarnway, C, Triple-A Pawtucket

Lavarnway got off to a slow start, but after hitting .405 in June, his .297/.385/.452 line looks awfully good for a major-league ready catcher. The key word in that sentence is the last one. Some teams believe he can be acceptable behind the plate, and others believe he's more of a first baseman/designated hitter type. If the Red Sox can find the former, they could get value for the 24-year-old. If they don't deal him, he's the type whose value slips as he stagnates at Triple-A.

Starling Marte, OF, Triple-A Indianapolis

Marte, 23, is the best prospect on this list, and one has to wonder if one of the reasons the Pirates have kept him at Triple-A is to keep him putting up numbers as opposed to risking having his aggressive approach exposed by big league pitching. He's got plenty of tools, including plus speed, plus defense, good hitting ability and a bit of power, but his value is far higher to nearly every team in baseball other than Pittsburgh. As a center fielder, Marte is a star, but the Pirates have Andrew McCutchen, and in a corner outfield spot, Marte might look more like Juan Encarnacion. Position is everything, and Marte just doesn't have an ideal fit with his current organization.

Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, Double-A Springfield

The Cardinals have been very aggressive with their prospects, especially Rosenthal. After pitching in the Low-A Midwest League last year, Rosenthal was double-jumped to the Texas League, and as of this week, he's in the big leagues, which might be a showcase as much as a reward. The 22-year-old has two-plus pitches in his fastball and slider, but his changeup still lags behind his other offerings, and the Cardinals are almost showing their cards by putting him in the bullpen. His ceiling as a starter is a No. 3, but more likely a No. 4 or a very good reliever. He'll certainly be asked about in the next two weeks, but putting him in the big leagues now is a risky maneuver in terms of how it could affect his external value.

Matt Skole, 3B, Low-A Hagerstown

A 2011 fifth-round pick out of Georgia Tech, Skole has some of the best numbers in the South Atlantic League, hitting .280/.434/.553 for the Suns. He ranks second in the minors with 79 walks, and has 21 home runs in 282 at-bats. And while he looks like a stathead's dream, there are all sorts of red flags. For starters, 22-year-old products of major college programs are supposed to kill Low-A pitching, and with 94 strikeouts in 83 games, his batting average doesn't seem sustainable. Chances are good he'll never put up numbers anything close to this again.

Multi-year pitching trade targets.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Alex Gordon's early-season slump is over, Salvador Perez and Lorenzo Cain are back from injuries, Wil Myers is preparing for his debut, and it's easy to imagine a time, within the next two or three years, when the Kansas City Royals might have the American League's best lineup.

LF Gordon, 28: His on-base percentage has climbed from .320 in late May to .377 currently.
SS Alcides Escobar, 25: His on-base percentage has climbed from .288 to .351 in two years.
1B Eric Hosmer, 22: Struggling in his first full year in the majors.
DH Billy Butler, 26: Hitting .300 this season.
CF Cain, 26: Has a .901 OPS in his first 11 games this season.
3B Mike Moustakas, 23: He's headed for a 25-homer, 80-RBI season.
C Perez, 22: He's got an OPS higher than 1.000 this year.
RF Myers, 21: He's got 28 homers in the minors already.
2B Johnny Giavotella, 25: Currently in the minors.

The Royals' problem, of course, is their starting pitching is horrendous, with the third-worst ERA in the majors; Ned Yost's starting pitchers have averaged barely more than five innings per outing. You can have a great, young, dynamic lineup, and it would still be like building a house on quicksand. The composition of the rest of the team really won't matter unless the Royals' starting pitching gets better.

The Royals have indicated to other teams they believe they are about two years away from being serious contenders -- two years to put together a credible rotation.

So as the trade deadline nears, the Royals will be perusing the market, looking for rotation pieces that can be installed now but will have more practical value to them in 2013 and/or 2014. Kansas City is not alone in thinking like this, by the way; the Boston Red Sox are less interested in two-month rentals and more interested in adding starting pitchers who can help them beyond this year. Part of the Tigers' motivation in adding Doug Fister last season was that they could control him through 2016.

With that in mind, here are some of the multi-year pitching options on the trade market, beyond the short-term options such as Ryan Dempster and Francisco Liriano:

James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays: He has contractual options for 2013 ($9 million) and 2014 ($12 million).

Josh Johnson, Miami Marlins: He's signed through the 2013 season, with a $13.75 annual salary.

Jon Lester, Red Sox: WARNING: SPECULATION ALERT. There is no indication that Boston is willing to trade the 28-year-old Lester any time soon, but even the Red Sox have to wonder if he might benefit from a change of scenery. Lester's command has regressed, and old friend Peter Gammons -- who knows him far better than I do -- has suggested that Lester might be more comfortable someplace else. If the Red Sox could land a starting pitcher and create some depth, they could flip Lester elsewhere for good value. Lester is making $7.625 million this year, will earn $11.625 million next year and has a $13 million team option for 2014.

Wandy Rodriguez, Houston Astros: He's making $10 million this year, $13 million next year and has a $13 million club option for 2014. He's 33 and not having a strong year, so ... nevermind.

Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs: Chicago is expected to market the right-hander in earnest later this month, and the Red Sox will be among the teams involved in the discussions. At 28 years old, Garza has a 4.02 ERA, and he will be under team control through the 2013 season.

Jeremy Hellickson, Rays: Tampa Bay will listen to offers for him, as the Rays will for all players not named Longoria. He's 25 years old, a Midwesterner, and has only a couple of years in the big leagues, so he would be a perfect fit for the Royals in many ways -- but he would cost, big-time. It's hard to imagine Kansas City prying Hellickson away from Tampa Bay without sacrificing one of their core young position players, and to date, the Royals have rejected all overtures about Moustakas, etc.

To summarize: Kansas City will probably have to defer its search for rotation anchors to the winter.

Billy Butler lifted the Royals, writes Bob Dutton.

L.A. makes sense for Dempster

About Dempster: He has been gracious in his public statements, saying that he would waive his no-trade clause in order to help the Cubs do what they need to do. But some rival general managers and agents wonder if Dempster would actually embrace a trade to a team like the Red Sox.

"He's about to hit free agency," said one GM. "He's never pitched in the American League. It doesn't make any sense for him to go there before he reaches the market."

"If he gets hit hard, it'll cost him," said an agent.

The Cubs are expected to trade Dempster very soon, and the Los Angeles Dodgers continue to be viewed as the favorites to land him. Pitching in the relatively weak National League West, in a pitcher's park, would probably be a good thing for Dempster.


• Tony La Russa went to Yankee Stadium to deliver a World Series ring to Colby Rasmus, but somehow a meeting failed to happen.

• Scouts went to see Wandy Rodriguez, and he was terrible. Rodriguez has a 5.65 ERA in his last 10 starts.

• Francisco Liriano threw well but lost.

• Trevor Bauer was returned to the minors. The Arizona Diamondbacks will walk a fine line in steering his development. Bauer is self-motivated, self-assured (by all accounts) and in many respects, he is self-made; he has reached the big leagues a year after he was drafted because of what he has done. On the other hand, Arizona is going to want him to make changes in how he does his work, and it will be interesting to see how those alterations affect him.

From Nick Piecoro's story:

Manager Kirk Gibson pointed to several factors other than a dropoff in stuff to explain Bauer's struggles. He said veteran hitters weren't chasing pitches that minor-leaguers might have. He said Bauer fell into predictable patterns. He said he didn't field his position or hold runners well.

"I just chalk it up as he needs more seasoning," Gibson said. "I think he'll be back."

Bauer believes the same, and he doesn't think he has to change the way he attacks hitters or the way he prepares for starts in order to do so.

"There's nothing wrong with my process," he said. "When I can execute it, I'm fine. It's not like, 'I executed my process and got hit around and so where do I go?' I executed my process once since I've been up here. And for the first two innings of the Braves game I was able to throw everything where I needed to before my groin went."

• The New York Mets continue to be in wait-and-see mode, as they determine what action to take before the trade deadline; they are not close to any deals for relief help. They have crumbled coming out of the All-Star break, losing six straight games, as Andrew Keh writes.

• Watched a lot of the Phillies-Dodgers game, which must have been excruciating for Philadelphia. The Phillies were within a few outs of extending their winning streak to five games, as they came off a western road trip, and instead, they had a long flight back after a loss. In this game, Mike Winter made one of the best calls you will see: Dodgers down by a run in the bottom of the ninth, a bang-bang play at first on Matt Kemp with the would-be tying run, and Winter correctly called him safe.

• At this rate, the Toronto Blue Jays will finish the season with two-and-a-half healthy players. Now Brett Lawrie is hurt.

You love Lawrie's passion, and competitiveness, but on this play, he probably should've chosen discretion instead of valor.

Dings and dents

1. Drew Storen could be activated today.

2. Jayson Werth is ready for his rehab assignment.

3. Jonny Venters is going to have minor-league rehab appearances over the weekend.

4. Brandon McCarthy is making progress.

5. A Seattle Mariners pitcher went on the disabled list, as Geoff Baker writes.

6. David Ortiz landed on the disabled list.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Pittsburgh Pirates added an extra draft pick for 2013, writes Rob Biertempfel.

2. Nate Schierholtz is not happy and is open to a trade, writes Henry Schulman. He would be a nice addition for the New York Yankees, because he would give them some coverage during Brett Gardner's absence, and because he would be under team control for the next few years.

3. The Marlins and Red Sox were never close to a Carl Crawford/Hanley Ramirez deal; it was a concept suggested and then immediately rejected. Here's more.

4. Jerry Dipoto says he's not shopping outfielder Peter Bourjos.

5. Vernon Wells' playing time will not come at the expense of Mike Trout or Mark Trumbo.

6. The Cubs are looking for some pitching.

7. The Detroit Tigers are looking for help at second base.

8. Jacob Turner is scheduled to get the ball for the Tigers Sunday.

9. The Baltimore Orioles did well in a lottery.

By The Numbers
From ESPN Stats and Info

4: Career home runs for Juan Rivera off Cliff Lee, his most against any pitcher. Only Paul Konerko (six) has more home runs against Lee.
8: Career walk-off hits for Matt Kemp (six are home runs, including both of his walk-off hits this season).
10: Runs for the Red Sox on Wednesday, all coming from Cody Ross (six) and Adrian Gonzalez (four).
21: Hitting streak for Robinson Cano, one shy of longest in majors this season (Michael Brantley).
25: Strikeouts for Francisco Liriano in his last two starts, a career-high in a two-start stretch.
1,596: Career RBIs for Chipper Jones, which ties George Brett for the most ever by a primary third baseman.

AL East notes

• The Yankees continue to be more than the sum of their parts.

From ESPN Stats and Info: Just three batters into the game, the Yankees extended their streak of scoring at least three runs to 42 straight games, the longest single-season streak in franchise history. The '94 Indians have the most consecutive games of at least three runs scored at 48 (live ball era).

Bronx Bombers
The Yankees in their last 50 games.

Stat Last 50 G
Record 36-14
Homers 85
OPS .822
Starters' ERA 3.22
From ESPN Stats and Info: On May 21, the Yankees were 21-20, 5.5 games out of first place in the AL East. In the 50 games since, they have gone 36-14 (.720 winning percentage), hitting 85 home runs in the process. That's more home runs than 10 teams have all season (Indians, Mariners, Twins, Astros, Cubs, Royals, Mets, Padres, Dodgers, Giants).

• Tommy Hunter gave the Orioles a big lift, as Eduardo Encina writes.

• Cody Ross had a really big day.

• Tampa Bay suffered an ugly loss.

AL Central notes

• Doug Fister restrained the Los Angeles Angels, writes John Lowe.

From ESPN Stats and Info, how Fister dominated the Angels:

Fister's breaking ball
How hitters have fared against Doug Fister's curveball since 2010.

Season BA against Strikeouts
2012 .159 18
2011 .231 29
2010 .368 9

A) Fister had a career-high three strikeouts on his changeup. Fister had three strikeouts on his changeup in his previous four starts combined. His changeup was effective because of its break; on Wednesday, his changeups had an average vertical break of 5.5 inches, the most break he's had on the pitch this year.
B) Fister dominated once he got ahead in the count. The Angels went 0-for-14 with eight strikeouts when they were behind in the count to Fister.
C) As Fister got ahead of Angels' hitters, he started to incorporate his curveball. Fister threw 19 of his 22 curveballs when he was ahead or even in the count, without allowing a hit off the pitch. Opponents are batting .159 against Fister's curveball this season, the third straight year hitters have done worse against Fister's curveball. Fister has not allowed a home run off his curveball this season.

• A Chicago White Sox rookie was hit hard.

• Carlos Santana broke out.

• Ubaldo Jimenez is excited to get the ball today, writes Terry Pluto.

AL West notes

• Colby Lewis threw well, but the Texas Rangers still lost.

• Brandon Hicks' first home run in the big leagues was an event he'll never forget.

NL East notes

• Jordan Zimmermann was The Man for the Washington Nationals, as Adam Kilgore writes.

• The Marlins suffered an ugly loss.

• Mike Minor was really good, but the Atlanta Braves collapsed in extra innings.

NL Central notes

• The Pirates prevailed, which is all you can do in Coors Field.

• Jeff Samardzija threw well.

• Francisco Rodriguez got it done.

• Lance Berkman is looking for more bat speed.

• The Cincinnati Reds failed to do the little things, writes John Fay.

NL West notes

• Jason Kubel gave the Diamondbacks a badly needed lift, writes Nick Piecoro.

• The San Francisco Giants closed out a nice win against the Braves, with Brandon Crawford and Gregor Blanco getting big hits.

• Matt Kemp provided a badly needed home run for the Dodgers.

• Clayton Richard flirted with a complete game.
post #7187 of 73521
Thread Starter 
DLand, I'm trying to find out about that. Gonna PM Meth sometime today.
post #7188 of 73521
Keith Law recently wrote an article regarding farm systems that moved up/down this season.


post #7189 of 73521
Thread Starter 
I got you String.

Farm systems rising and falling in 2012.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
With more than half of the minor league season in the books and the signing deadline for drafted players also behind us, the relative positions of most teams' farm systems have changed significantly compared to where I ranked them back in February. I'll do another full ranking in the offseason, but in the meantime, here's a look at the three most improved systems since the last rankings and at the three systems that have suffered the most.

Rising systems

Houston Astros (preseason ranking: 27)

The Astros, long one of the worst farm systems in baseball, started to improve with some significant trades last season, but took a huge leap forward with their draft class this year, landing four of the top 51 talents in the class, including shortstop (future third baseman) Carlos Correa and hard-throwing right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. They've also seen a solid step forward this season from Jonathan Singleton; a good (although slightly whiffy) debut from George Springer; bounce-back years from 2010 first-rounders Delino DeShields, Jr. and Mike Foltyniewicz; and a major velocity uptick from 2011 fifth-rounder Nick Tropeano, who was just promoted to the more age-appropriate Cal League.

They don't have a lot of major league assets to potentially convert into prospects this month -- Jed Lowrie would have been an ideal candidate until he hit the disabled list -- but even without that they probably have had the biggest six-month improvement of any farm system in the game.

Oakland Athletics (preseason ranking: 9)

The A's drafted heavily for upside this year and found a lot of it, including first pick Addison Russell and surprise second-rounder Bruce Maxwell, drafted from a Division III school (Birmingham Southern) because of his plate discipline and raw power. They've also had one of the biggest surprises in the minors this year as former 24th-round pick Dan Straily is leading the minors in strikeouts with 154 across two levels in 118 innings. Straily has a four-pitch mix with a 92-94 mph fastball; none of the off-speed pitches is plus, but he changes speeds well and has seen his fastball command improve along with his velocity.

Chris Bostick, my sleeper prospect for their system this year, is off to a solid start in the New York-Penn League, and former bonus baby Renato Nunez looks good in the Arizona Rookie League, although the statistical samples are tiny for both players.

Boston Red Sox (preseason ranking: 18)

The Red Sox gained more from internal improvements than from the draft, although I did think they had a solid class, led by a personal favorite of mine, Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero, who had a miserable junior year at the plate but had a long history of offensive performance prior to that. Xander Bogaerts has jumped into the upper echelon of hitting prospects because of his effortless power, and while he won't stay at short he's shown enough athleticism that we can talk about his potential to be a good glove at third. Right-hander Matt Barnes has taken several steps forward; we can discount much of what he did in the Sally League, but he's continued to perform in high-A and looks like a solid mid-rotation starter.

Jackie Bradley, Jr.'s transformation this season might be the most impressive, with a new approach at the plate and plus defense in center that put him on my top-50 ranking. Even Drake Britton, apparently a lost cause after last season, has shown flashes of his old self this year. And 2011 first-rounder Blake Swihart has recovered from a lost April, hitting .302/.337/.430 since May 1 for low Class A Greenville with surprisingly good defense behind the plate. One negative this year: Anthony Ranaudo hasn't been the same since a groin strain in spring training and is currently back on the DL with "dead arm."

Falling systems

Tampa Bay Rays (preseason ranking: 2)

Long one of my top-ranked systems, the Rays' farm has been hurt by promotions and some high draft picks developing slower than expected or not at all. Matt Moore and Chris Archer reached the majors. Enny Romero and Alex Torres have struggled badly with control. Tim Beckham hasn't hit and was suspended 50 games for marijuana use.

Mikie Mahtook, a favorite of mine in last year's draft, has hit well and gotten on base for high Class A Charlotte, but his power output has been very disappointing. Wilking Rodriguez's shoulder has him on the DL for the second season in a row. Hak-Ju Lee had a terrible start, although a tweak to his hand position in late May has helped him hit .315/.373/.423 since June 1, with normal small-sample caveats applying. (He's also a perfect 18-for-18 on stolen bases in that span, although I'm guessing that's a coincidence.) Bright spots include Josh Sale recovering from a washout 2011 to hit well and get on base when not on the DL this year for low Class A Bowling Green, and possible top-15 pick Richie Shaffer falling to them at 25 after he had a poor finish to his junior year.

Colorado Rockies (preseason ranking: 13)

Their top prospect coming into 2012, third baseman Nolan Arenado, has taken a big step back in performance at Double-A Tulsa and provoked questions about his effort level from numerous scouts who've seen him this year. Right-hander Chad Bettis is out for the season due to injury. Lefties Drew Pomeranz and Christian Friedrich graduated, although neither looks like a rotation building block; since Friedrich's first two starts, against the Padres and Giants away from Coors, he has a 6.55 ERA.

Catcher Wilin Rosario and shortstop Josh Rutledge have graduated to the majors. Their first-round pick this year, David Dahl, is a high-upside outfielder who adds some athleticism to the more polished, lower-upside prospects in the organization's lower levels. Two modest bright spots from within the system: Outfielder Kyle Parker has played well in about a half-season in high Class A Modesto, although he's old for the level; catcher Will Swanner has emerged as a potential impact bat even if (or when) he moves out from behind the plate.

Washington Nationals (preseason ranking: 21)
Los Angeles Angels (preseason ranking: 15)

The Nats and the Angels each lost an irreplaceable prospect to the big leagues this year in Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, which would put a dent in any farm system.

The Nats have also taken a hit with the season-long injury to Anthony Rendon, his third major injury to an ankle in four years, and steps backward from outfielder Destin Hood (non-performance) and lefty Matt Purke (injury). I thought their draft strategy was superb, grabbing a top-10 or even top-five talent in Lucas Giolito, but the cost to doing so under the new system was eschewing upside for the rest of the draft; the team only signed one other player under the age of 20 1/2: sixth-rounder Hayden Jennings, who has 29 strikeouts in 58 at-bats in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League so far. The Angels were hurt by their lack of any picks before round three, although third baseman Kaleb Cowart has made himself a top-100 candidate and middle infielder Jean Segura has at least managed to stay healthy all year.
post #7190 of 73521
post #7191 of 73521
Is this ever gonna get re-stickied?

*mouse hovers over add bookmark*

Edited for redundancy
"Nothing is wrong with letting the girls know that you're money, and you wanna party"
"Nothing is wrong with letting the girls know that you're money, and you wanna party"
post #7192 of 73521
Thread Starter 
I asked Meth about it and he said Huddler doesn't have the same methods (no pun) for getting a thread stickied. He mentioned something about each forum having a main thread that links you to the major threads in the forum. Looking into that now. I'll just keep updating every morning and during the day with articles to keep it on the first page.
post #7193 of 73521
Greinke offered 5 yrs/100 Million extension by Brewers.
Hip Hop is dead. There is no "savior".
Hip Hop is dead. There is no "savior".
post #7194 of 73521
Can't believe the Nats blew that game last night...that makes today's doubleheader huge.
post #7195 of 73521
White Sox acquire Brett Myers from the Stros
post #7196 of 73521
Originally Posted by GotHolesInMySocks View Post

Greinke offered 5 yrs/100 Million extension by Brewers.
Why waste their time? That's not close to what it will take to get him to sign, so it's not like you're fooling your fans.
post #7197 of 73521
Report, Marlins/Red Sox talking a Hanley/Bell For Crawford deal.

Saw it on Sportscenter.
Hip Hop is dead. There is no "savior".
Hip Hop is dead. There is no "savior".
post #7198 of 73521
Originally Posted by Proshares View Post

I asked Meth about it and he said Huddler doesn't have the same methods (no pun) for getting a thread stickied. He mentioned something about each forum having a main thread that links you to the major threads in the forum. Looking into that now. I'll just keep updating every morning and during the day with articles to keep it on the first page.
Basically, if I understand it right, we have the top section in gray, right above the threads, that we can use to link people to pre-made threads. As you can see, the last link I inserted in that section today was a link to this thread.
4L 8O 15S16 T23 !42
L. A. A N G E L S, L. A. L A K E R S, U K W I L D C A T S, L. A. R A M S, L. A. S P A R K S.
"This game is in the refrigerator! The door is closed, the lights are out, the eggs...
4L 8O 15S16 T23 !42
L. A. A N G E L S, L. A. L A K E R S, U K W I L D C A T S, L. A. R A M S, L. A. S P A R K S.
"This game is in the refrigerator! The door is closed, the lights are out, the eggs...
post #7199 of 73521
A's 4 Game Sweep the Yankees pimp.gif
post #7200 of 73521
the jays likely ended our season this past weekend. i would assume we just became heavy sellers as the deadline approaches now.

although...of all teams, we're the ones that know a 9 game lead isn't safe come september laugh.gifeyes.gifindifferent.gif
Boston Bruins | New England Patriots | Boston Red Sox | Georgetown Hoyas | Michigan Wolverines |
Arsenal FC | Huevos Rancheros Hockey | USMNT
Boston Bruins | New England Patriots | Boston Red Sox | Georgetown Hoyas | Michigan Wolverines |
Arsenal FC | Huevos Rancheros Hockey | USMNT
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