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2016 MLB thread. THE CUBS HAVE BROKEN THE CURSE! Chicago Cubs are your 2016 World Series champions. - Page 607

post #18181 of 77571
Thread Starter 
Kev,

I miss the old days sometimes, when we disagreed on players more often.

Now, we just like all the same players.

Disgusting.

laugh.gif

Cardinals Continue Being Smart, Acquire Peter Bourjos.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
In the World Series, broadcasts from both TBS and Fox kept telling us how good of a center fielder Jon Jay was. In between plaudits, Jon Jay would inevitably get a poor jump, take a bad route, or just drop an easily catchable ball, sometimes all in the same game. It became something of a running joke, as Jay appeared to be a defensive disaster in the postseason, even while the networks kept insisting that he was terrific with the glove.

Well, the Cardinals clearly weren’t swayed by the rhetoric, and today, they’ve acquired Peter Bourjos from the Angels to be their new center fielder. And now TBS and Fox can properly say that the Cardinals have one of the best defensive center fielders on the planet, because Peter Bourjos is what Jon Jay was supposed to be.

Since 2010, here are the top 5 center fielders in UZR/150 among players who have spent at least 2,000 innings in center field.

Peter Bourjos, +20.2
Carlos Gomez, +18.2
Jacoby Ellsbury, +13.7
Michael Bourn, +9.9
Denard Span, +9.5

Defensive numbers have larger error bars than offensive numbers, but those error bars simply mean we’re asking if Bourjos is the best defensive outfielder in baseball or if he’s merely just very good. With a sample of 2,600 innings, you absolutely have to regress those numbers when projecting future defensive contributions, but even at a 50% regression, Bourjos would still rate as one of the very best defensive center fielders in baseball.

And given what we know about Bourjos’ skills — his speed, his baserunning, and the fact that the Angels pushed Mike Trout to left field because they preferred Bourjos in center — we shouldn’t regress Bourjos back towards a league average mean. We know enough about Bourjos-like players to know that these types of athletes are usually good defenders, and we shouldn’t be surprised that one of the fastest players in the game also rates as one of the most valuable in the field. You don’t want to count on Bourjos maintaining a +20 pace in CF, but a +10 projection isn’t crazy at all.

And when you field like Bourjos does, you can be a pretty terrific player even if you aren’t an amazing hitter. But unlike some other defensive specialists, Bourjos is not a total zero at the plate. For his career, he’s a .251/.306/.398 hitter while playing in a pitcher friendly ballpark, so that grades out to a 96 wRC+. And that’s just what he does at the plate. He’s also one of the game’s best baserunners, so for his career, Bourjos has actually been an above average offensive player, grading out at +4 runs over 1,136 plate appearances. Put him in the #8 spot in an NL line-up where he’ll get walked a decent amount in front of the pitcher, and he could even be more deadly, especially if he regularly steals his way into scoring position.

Add average offense to elite defense and baserunning and Bourjos grades out as a +3 to +4 WAR player over a full season, depending on how aggressive you are with his fielding projection. Steamer gives him a very conservative +5 defensive rating, and still sees him as a +3 WAR player, so it’s reasonable to call that something close to his floor. Well, his healthy floor anyway.

That’s the big rub with Bourjos: health. There’s a reason he’s only racked up 1,136 plate appearances over four seasons, despite being highly productive when on the field. He missed most of the 2013 season with a broken wrist, and it wasn’t the first time his wrists have given him problems. He’s also had some hamstring issues, and we’ve never seen his body hold up under the weight of a full season as a big league regular. To some degree, health is a skill, and it’s one Bourjos hasn’t yet shown, though at the same time, there’s not much reason to believe that Bourjos is fragile for having gotten beaned in the wrist by an errant fastball.

So the Cardinals will take a chance on Bourjos’ health for the chance to get a pretty terrific center fielder, and one that they control for the next three seasons. Bourjos is arbitration eligible for the first time this winter, and his lack of playing time should keep his price reasonable, so the Cardinals should have a productive player making basically peanuts for the next few seasons. This move also allows Jay to slide over to right field, replacing Carlos Beltran, until Oscar Taveras proves that he’s ready for regular action. While Jay is not a great center fielder, he should be a defensive asset in right field, and the Cardinals outfield defense will go from one of the worst in the game to one of the best.

To get Bourjos, the Cardinals sent Anaheim third baseman David Freese and reliever Fernando Salas. Salas is basically nothing, so this can be seen as essentially a Freese for Bourjos swap from the Cardinals perspective. And it’s hard not to love that exchange for St. Louis. Freese has value and is a decent buy-low candidate for the Angels, but his offensive performances have always been heavily driven by BABIP, and his defense went from okay to terrible last year. Even if you expect a nice rebound season, Freese still projects as an inferior player to Bourjos, he has one less year of team control, and will be more expensive in his final two seasons of arbitration. Oh, he’s also older, and not exactly the picture of durability himself.

It’s hard to see any area where Freese is better than Bourjos. This trade will be sold as speed-and-defense for power, but Bourjos actually has a higher career Isolated Slugging mark than Freese does. This is an average hitting elite defender for a slightly above average hitting meh defender, only the meh defender costs more and is closer to the end of his career.

Moves like this are why the Cardinals are one of the best run organizations in baseball. They get younger, cut costs, set up their team for the future, and get the better player in return. Oh, and they got the Angels to throw in a prospect, even if not a very good one, just for the fun of it. The Indians spent $48 million to buy this skillset in an aging Michael Bourn last winter, but the Cardinals figured out how to turn an aging third baseman coming off a bad year into a nearly free version of the same thing.

The Angels needed a third baseman, I guess, but they traded a good player for a worse player who costs more. Anaheim keeps spinning their wheels, while the Cardinals keep marching on towards sustained excellence. Some things really do stay the same.

Rockies’ Sign Hawkins, Teams Continue To Not Pay For Saves.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
This week, the Rockies signed relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins to bolster the back end of their bullpen. It’s an interesting move on two levels. First, it’s pretty remarkable just how long Hawkins’ career has lasted. Second, it’s another data point that shows that teams are less and less willing to pay big bucks for saves.

When Hawkins suits up for his second go-round with Colorado in 2014, it will be his 20th season in the major leagues. He has thrown at least 20 innings in each season since 1995. That’s pretty ridiculous if you ask me. Digging into the Play Index, I find that he really doesn’t have much company in this regard. Here is the list of the pitchers who have primarily been relievers during their careers and managed to pitch in 20 or more major league seasons:


PlayerSeasonsReliever ERA
Dennis Eckersley242.85
Jesse Orosco243.12
Rich Gossage222.77
Lindy McDaniel213.14
John Franco212.89
Rick Honeycutt213.36
Hoyt Wilhelm212.49
Tom Gordon213.29
Darren Oliver203.19
Arthur Rhodes203.43
Terry Mulholland204.85
Eleven players. There have been eight other pitchers who pitched in 20 or more seasons and were relievers by the time they reached their 20th season, but I don’t think that’s the same thing. Pitchers who are converted to relief work early in their career — or in John Franco’s case, at the very beginning of it — generally don’t last as long, because the theory goes that if you were really good, you’d be a starting pitcher.

Hawkins was a starter himself, once upon a time. In his earlier years, three of which were full(ish) campaigns, he was a back-end starter for the Twins. It wasn’t pretty. He never posted an above-average ERA- or FIP-, and for the period he posted a 6.16 ERA. A poor ERA doesn’t always tell the whole story, but it does a pretty nice job in this case. Hawkins simply wasn’t a very good pitcher at that point in time. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that most pitchers who post a 6+ ERA in their first 500 major league innings, don’t live to see another 500. Hawkins has, and is working on his third block of 500 innings because he has been much better as a reliever.

It was a slow progression, but after breaking through with a dominant 2003 campaign (38 shutdowns, seven meltdowns, 2.8 WAR), all of the goodwill nearly vanished after a disastrous 2005 campaign. He started the season as the Cubs closer, but lost the job and was dealt to the Giants, where he didn’t have any better luck in high-leverage situations. For the season, he posted 19 SD and 18 MD. Still, the Orioles liked him enough to bring him into the fold in 2006, and everything has been gravy since. From 2006 on, he’s posted 119 SD against 54 MD. Not the best ratio perhaps, but Hawkins has maintained that two-to-one ratio in just about every season, and is coming off a 20-8 season in 2013 with the Mets.

With a tandem of Hawkins and Rex Brothers, who himself posted 30 SD against seven MD last season, the Rockies could have a pretty good back end of the bullpen. And with Brothers making the league minimum and Hawkins making just $2.5 million, they’ll have it on the cheap.

It is that continual devaluation of the closer on a macro level that makes this deal so interesting. As Dave Cameron noted a couple of weeks ago, salaries keep rising, but there is a growing body of work that shows that teams can have success doing just the opposite with the back end of their bullpen. From Tampa Bay to Pittsburgh to Atlanta to Kansas City to Chicago to … you get the idea … teams are entrusting the supposedly most important role in the game to youngsters who haven’t yet reached arbitration, or castoffs who they signed for peanuts.

Over the past five years, the average salary for the top 25 in saves has declined:



Now, perhaps this isn’t the best way to look at this. It doesn’t include high-priced flops like Joel Hanrahan, Heath Bell or Brandon League. But then again, it also doesn’t include league minimum guys like Trevor Rosenthal, Danny Farquhar, Mark Melancon and Brothers. My feeling is that these things probably even out. Except for the part where the guys who have been most frequently trusted to get the save are plying their trade for less than they were before.

Back in 2009, seven of the 25 pitchers on this leaderboard earned $8 million or more. That number declined to three last year, and with Mariano Rivera now retired, this year that might be just two — Jonathan Papelbon and Rafael Soriano. Both of their contracts look like disasters, as do the contracts for Jonathan Broxton and Brandon League, especially since neither is now a closer. As Jerry Crasnick wrote on Wednesday, teams are wary of making big commitments because it reduces bullpen flexibility.

Seems simple. Don’t pay closers a ton of money, because they’re a crapshoot. Except that the game is awash in cash, so there is still a good chance that someone does get to that eight-figure payday. If David Murphy is suddenly worth $5 million a year coming off a 0.4 WAR season, then surely a closer is worth $10 million, right? Maybe. Or what about Craig Kimbrel, who the Braves just have to retain, right? They just have to sign him to a big-money deal! Well, not so fast. Just like the Red Sox haven’t missed Papelbon, we are already seeing some very smart people advocate for the Braves to trade Kimbrel. Longevity is most definitely an issue. Going back to that top 25 in saves from each of the past five years, the only name who shows up on it in each season is Papelbon, and with his saves rank dropping — not to mention his fastball velocity — it’s no longer a given that he is the cream of the crop.

In LaTroy Hawkins and Rex Brothers, the Rockies might end up with a closing tandem that costs roughly two-thirds of what they paid Rafael Betancourt last season — and at $4.25 million, they didn’t exactly pay Betancourt a mint. The duo may not look like world beaters on their face, but then, did Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon look like sure-fire relief aces at this time last year? Did Fernando Rodney look like one heading into 2012? The most uncertainty in this game is found in the bullpen, and more teams are beginning to realize that it isn’t worth paying a pretty penny for that uncertainty.

Mets Land Bargain in Chris Young.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Before free agency began, I ran down five potential bargains that I thought had a good chance to be worth more than the contracts that the FanGraphs Crowd projected them to sign for this winter. On that list was Chris Young — the outfield version — who the crowd forecast for $7 million per year over two years. Today, the Mets have signed for him $7 million for a single year, and I continue to believe that this will likely go down as one of the best free agent signings of the off-season.

It is very easy to focus on Young’s warts. He hit just .200/.280/.379 last year. He doesn’t hit right-handed pitching all that well. Now 30, his defense probably isn’t what it used to be. These statements are all true, but they simply explain why Young was signing for 1/$7M instead of 5/$75M like B.J. Upton last winter. If Young was coming off a good year, and had historically better numbers against right-handed pitching, and was still in his defensive prime, he’d be signing a big money long term deal. For 1/$7M, you get warts. You just pick and choose which warts you’re okay with.

And the particular warts that Chris Young comes with are the kinds of warts worth trying to buy low on. Yes, he had a bad 2013 season, but his track record before last year shows a league average hitter with a consistent skillset. In order to try and maximize his power, he hits a crazy number of fly balls. He takes some walks and gives up some strikeouts in the process. The combination of low contact rates and high fly ball rates means that he’s going to post very low batting averages, but the walks keep the OBP respectable and the occasional home runs mean that he’s still contributing while hitting .230.

None of that changed last year. He still hit for power, drew walks, struck out, and hit fly balls. However, he posted a .237 BABIP that was the lowest of his career, so his wRC+ fell from 98 to 82. Other than that, he was basically the same hitter he’s always been, and while BABIP for hitters isn’t entirely random, there’s no reason to expect him to sustain a career low. Steamer projects him to post a .269 BABIP in 2014, a little below his career average, and that bump would push him right back to league average hitter status.

League average hitters who can also play the outfield pretty well and add some baserunning value are nifty pieces. Yes, Young’s league average hitting comes with a larger than usual platoon split, but he offers enough non-hitting value to still be worth putting in the line-up against right-handers, and the overall production matters more than how it is distributed. Observed platoon splits need to be fairly heavily regressed when projecting the future anyway, so one should not simply accept that Young is a part-time player at this point in his career. He’s more valuable against LHPs, but handing him a regular job is completely justifiable.

Because the Mets already have Juan Lagares, there’s a good chance that Young will spend a decent amount of time in a corner outfield spot. Traditionally, the thought has been that you want bats in the corners and defense up the middle, but that false dichotomy is falling away as teams realize that defense matters at all positions, and you can still extract value from a good glove player in a corner. While Young’s bat doesn’t stack up as well compared to LF/RF types, his defensive abilities don’t disappear when he’s not playing center field, and the diminishing returns of playing multiple center fielders side by side are overstated.

Steamer projects Young for +1.7 WAR over just 434 plate appearances, so the forecasting system actually believes Young is a slightly above average big league player. Because of his platoon splits, you can’t extrapolate his entire value over 434 PA out to 600 PA, but there’s nothing wrong with giving Chris Young a regular job and letting him play most days. And for $7 million, getting a roughly average regular OF is a nifty little bargain indeed.

Last year, Cody Ross – same basic overall skillset, though with less defensive chops — got $26 million over three years. Ryan Ludwick, another average hitting RHB without as much defensive value, got $15 million over two years. Even Jonny Gomes, strictly a lefty masher who should probably DH, got $10 million over two years. For the Mets to land Young with only a single year commitment, even though he projects to be better than guys who got more money for more years, makes this a pretty great little deal. If Young has a big bounce back season, they can either flip him for prospects at the deadline or potentially extend a qualifying offer next winter, and maybe reap a draft pick as reward for their faith in his skills.

Young isn’t a sexy addition, but this is the kind of solid low cost move that smart teams are making these days. If you just focus on what Young can’t do, you’ll ignore the fact that what he can do has value, and $7 million for what he brings to the table is one of the off-season’s better bargains.
post #18182 of 77571
Good riddance. I'm glad I won't have to watch Chris young play anymore.
post #18183 of 77571

Originally Posted by Proshares View Post

 

Cardinals Continue Being Smart, Acquire Peter Bourjos.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
In the World Series, broadcasts from both TBS and Fox kept telling us how good of a center fielder Jon Jay was. In between plaudits, Jon Jay would inevitably get a poor jump, take a bad route, or just drop an easily catchable ball, sometimes all in the same game. It became something of a running joke, as Jay appeared to be a defensive disaster in the postseason, even while the networks kept insisting that he was terrific with the glove.

Well, the Cardinals clearly weren’t swayed by the rhetoric, and today, they’ve acquired Peter Bourjos from the Angels to be their new center fielder. And now TBS and Fox can properly say that the Cardinals have one of the best defensive center fielders on the planet, because Peter Bourjos is what Jon Jay was supposed to be.

Since 2010, here are the top 5 center fielders in UZR/150 among players who have spent at least 2,000 innings in center field.

Peter Bourjos, +20.2
Carlos Gomez, +18.2
Jacoby Ellsbury, +13.7
Michael Bourn, +9.9
Denard Span, +9.5

Defensive numbers have larger error bars than offensive numbers, but those error bars simply mean we’re asking if Bourjos is the best defensive outfielder in baseball or if he’s merely just very good. With a sample of 2,600 innings, you absolutely have to regress those numbers when projecting future defensive contributions, but even at a 50% regression, Bourjos would still rate as one of the very best defensive center fielders in baseball.

And given what we know about Bourjos’ skills — his speed, his baserunning, and the fact that the Angels pushed Mike Trout to left field because they preferred Bourjos in center — we shouldn’t regress Bourjos back towards a league average mean. We know enough about Bourjos-like players to know that these types of athletes are usually good defenders, and we shouldn’t be surprised that one of the fastest players in the game also rates as one of the most valuable in the field. You don’t want to count on Bourjos maintaining a +20 pace in CF, but a +10 projection isn’t crazy at all.

And when you field like Bourjos does, you can be a pretty terrific player even if you aren’t an amazing hitter. But unlike some other defensive specialists, Bourjos is not a total zero at the plate. For his career, he’s a .251/.306/.398 hitter while playing in a pitcher friendly ballpark, so that grades out to a 96 wRC+. And that’s just what he does at the plate. He’s also one of the game’s best baserunners, so for his career, Bourjos has actually been an above average offensive player, grading out at +4 runs over 1,136 plate appearances. Put him in the #8 spot in an NL line-up where he’ll get walked a decent amount in front of the pitcher, and he could even be more deadly, especially if he regularly steals his way into scoring position.

Add average offense to elite defense and baserunning and Bourjos grades out as a +3 to +4 WAR player over a full season, depending on how aggressive you are with his fielding projection. Steamer gives him a very conservative +5 defensive rating, and still sees him as a +3 WAR player, so it’s reasonable to call that something close to his floor. Well, his healthy floor anyway.

That’s the big rub with Bourjos: health. There’s a reason he’s only racked up 1,136 plate appearances over four seasons, despite being highly productive when on the field. He missed most of the 2013 season with a broken wrist, and it wasn’t the first time his wrists have given him problems. He’s also had some hamstring issues, and we’ve never seen his body hold up under the weight of a full season as a big league regular. To some degree, health is a skill, and it’s one Bourjos hasn’t yet shown, though at the same time, there’s not much reason to believe that Bourjos is fragile for having gotten beaned in the wrist by an errant fastball.

So the Cardinals will take a chance on Bourjos’ health for the chance to get a pretty terrific center fielder, and one that they control for the next three seasons. Bourjos is arbitration eligible for the first time this winter, and his lack of playing time should keep his price reasonable, so the Cardinals should have a productive player making basically peanuts for the next few seasons. This move also allows Jay to slide over to right field, replacing Carlos Beltran, until Oscar Taveras proves that he’s ready for regular action. While Jay is not a great center fielder, he should be a defensive asset in right field, and the Cardinals outfield defense will go from one of the worst in the game to one of the best.

To get Bourjos, the Cardinals sent Anaheim third baseman David Freese and reliever Fernando Salas. Salas is basically nothing, so this can be seen as essentially a Freese for Bourjos swap from the Cardinals perspective. And it’s hard not to love that exchange for St. Louis. Freese has value and is a decent buy-low candidate for the Angels, but his offensive performances have always been heavily driven by BABIP, and his defense went from okay to terrible last year. Even if you expect a nice rebound season, Freese still projects as an inferior player to Bourjos, he has one less year of team control, and will be more expensive in his final two seasons of arbitration. Oh, he’s also older, and not exactly the picture of durability himself.

It’s hard to see any area where Freese is better than Bourjos. This trade will be sold as speed-and-defense for power, but Bourjos actually has a higher career Isolated Slugging mark than Freese does. This is an average hitting elite defender for a slightly above average hitting meh defender, only the meh defender costs more and is closer to the end of his career.

Moves like this are why the Cardinals are one of the best run organizations in baseball. They get younger, cut costs, set up their team for the future, and get the better player in return. Oh, and they got the Angels to throw in a prospect, even if not a very good one, just for the fun of it. The Indians spent $48 million to buy this skillset in an aging Michael Bourn last winter, but the Cardinals figured out how to turn an aging third baseman coming off a bad year into a nearly free version of the same thing.

The Angels needed a third baseman, I guess, but they traded a good player for a worse player who costs more. Anaheim keeps spinning their wheels, while the Cardinals keep marching on towards sustained excellence. Some things really do stay the same.

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post #18184 of 77571
Thread Starter 
Yea, I'm not sold on CY being a bargin...but that new TV deal adding so much money to every team is gonna drive everything up.
post #18185 of 77571
Good trade for Angels if Freese can get back on track

Cards keeping making the right decisions pimp.gif

It's a funny world we live in

 

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post #18186 of 77571
Quote:
Originally Posted by Proshares View Post

Kev,

I miss the old days sometimes, when we disagreed on players more often.

Now, we just like all the same players.

Disgusting.

laugh.gif
You're still a Yankees fan, so... laugh.gif
post #18187 of 77571

BoSox expressing interest in Matt Kemp?

 

post #18188 of 77571
I know Kemp hasn't been healthy in two years but trading Kemp would be stupid...

An outfield of Crawford, Ethier and Puig... laugh.gif... mean.gif
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post #18189 of 77571

kemp is garbage.

Dallas Cowboys. Boston Red Sox. Los Angeles Lakers. Anaheim Ducks.

 

 

 

 

 

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Dallas Cowboys. Boston Red Sox. Los Angeles Lakers. Anaheim Ducks.

 

 

 

 

 

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post #18190 of 77571
Crazy that Grichuk was included in the trade. I just played softball against him on Tuesday haha
post #18191 of 77571

wow at the trade!!

 

Blue Jays couldn't have try and get my boy Prince?

post #18192 of 77571
Thread Starter 
post #18193 of 77571
Quote:
Originally Posted by FIRST B0RN View Post

Good trade for the Cards nthat.gif
Hell yea it was.

Very happy with the trade, and i honestly think Grichuk is only a trade piece or will replace one of the potential trade pieces for a Shortstop. We already have a bunch of outfielders that could potentially be in the majors in the next 3 years and if they dont trade Adams, Craig will hold down right field with Tavares pushed to Center. (or next year, they`ll look at Matt Hollidays value and determine if they should trade him or give him more days off and swap players around the outfield all year)
post #18194 of 77571
Curious how Robbie fits with Detroit. Even with Infante and Peralta gone, and Prince shipped out with 1B open. I don't see enough at bats for Kinsler, Robbie, Iglesias, Miggy, Vic, Avila, Castellanos.
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post #18195 of 77571
Yankees close on 5/80 for McCann.
post #18196 of 77571
McCann and Abbott ruled out Texas at some point yesterday or today. Despite being the Rangers' top priority.

His preference for NYY at $16M-per requires 25 HR minimum in Yankee Stadium if not 30+ given his swing and the grounds.

Texas will be a larger player for Ellsbury, Choo, or Beltran. They believe Alfaro will be ready in a year as their contingency plan. Soto regular catcher in the interim. Lewis signed to a minor league deal.

Royals are rumored to be a dark horse for Beltran.

Peralta to Baltimore gaining steam. To play LF. He has a four-year, $52M deal on the table, maybe from the Mets. But he's holding out for a fifth year or more money.
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post #18197 of 77571
McCann agreed to 5/$85 mil. 6th year option with Yankees
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post #18198 of 77571
What will he do when Papi pimps a homer.
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post #18199 of 77571
Quote:
Originally Posted by Essential1 View Post

McCann agreed to 5/$85 mil. 6th year option with Yankees


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The Evil Empire is on its way back.
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post #18200 of 77571
Next piece Tanaka or an OF.
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post #18201 of 77571
Perfect scumbag fit there.
post #18202 of 77571
Damn I'm hurt... I'll miss you McCann!
post #18203 of 77571
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Cleveland View Post

Perfect scumbag fit there.

laugh.gif

Sounds like Peralta is close to St. Louis.

I like the deal. Don't think he finishes at C though.
post #18204 of 77571
any truth to the Cano-Tigers rumor?

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post #18205 of 77571
God luck to Mac hes gonna be missed
post #18206 of 77571
Guess the Cards didn't want to trade anyone for a shortstop, huh?

Seems like kind of a strange fit. And makes me like them less.
post #18207 of 77571
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zyzz View Post

any truth to the Cano-Tigers rumor?

nerd.gifnerd.gifnerd.gifnerd.gifnerd.gifnerd.gif

Might be.

Kev, Profar-Tavares was thrown out...I guess they want Jay to man a corner until he's ready or can show he's healthy.

You know how it is, teams value their prospects so highly and think other teams' top prospects aren't worth jack laugh.gif

Brian McCann fills Yankees' biggest void.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The New York Yankees' move to sign Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract might be the easiest, best upgrade any contender could make this offseason. They played a variety of offensive ciphers at the position in 2013, getting just 0.9 WAR (per FanGraphs) in total from the four players who took at bats for them as catchers, although Chris Stewart, their primary receiver, added significant value as one of the best pitch-framing catchers in baseball.

McCann is an above-average framer as well, so what the Yanks lost on defense here will be more than covered by the boost in McCann's offense, especially if the left-handed pull hitter takes advantage of Yankee Stadium's hilariously short right-field porch. Sixteen of his twenty homers in 2013 were to dead right field, as were fifteen of his twenty bombs in 2012.
[+] EnlargeBrian McCann
AP Photo/John Bazemore
McCann is an obvious upgrade for the Yankees behind the plate.


McCann has a patient approach and solid recognition of off-speed stuff, and has good hip rotation for power, hitting 20 to 24 homers in each of the past six seasons. Behind the plate, he's a terrible throwing catcher, but among the better framing catchers in the majors, delivering a lot of extra value to his teams that current defensive metrics don't adequately capture, in McCann's case possibly adding a win a year of value.

Five years is insanely long for a catcher -- and there is a vesting option for a sixth year -- but $17 million for him seems like a great deal for the Yankees, who are at the point on the win curve where the marginal value of two to three added wins is extremely high. There is reportedly a full no-trade clause could come back to bite the Yankees, but it seems far more likely that McCann ends the deal as a first base/DH type who's still somewhat productive than it is that he ends up so bad the Yanks have to ship him out. Other than the innate injury risk of the position, this looks like one of the most sensible deals we'll see this offseason.

Prospect impact

The Yankees have two catching prospects in the upper levels of their system who could become trade bait or candidates for a position switch. The more famous one is Gary Sanchez, to whom the Yanks gave a $3 million signing bonus in 2009, and whose bat is way ahead of his glove at this point, although there are holes in several parts of his game and he doesn't seem likely to be ready for any significant major league role until 2016.

The bat could be elite; he has very strong hands and great hip rotation, with plus-plus raw power to his pull side and doubles power the other way. His approach needs work, as does his blocking and receiving, although he dose have a 70-grade arm and nailed 44 percent of opposing runners this year. If the bat develops as expected, he'll profile at any position, including first base or DH if the catching thing doesn't work out -- although he's a potential MVP candidate if he stays behind the plate as well. The Yankees could use him as trade bait now if they don't believe in his future hitting potential, or if his history of attitude questions has them doubting his commitment to improving his defense.

The other prospect is J.R. Murphy, who got a cup of coffee in September for the team but would have likely spent 2014 at Triple-A even without a McCann signing; he'll turn 23 in May and has developed into a potential everyday catcher with solid catch-and-throw skills, with on-base and power skills that both project now as solid-average.

While he could become trade bait, another scenario has him serving as McCann's backup in 2015 and 2016, gradually taking over catching duties if McCann transitions to first base as he gets into this 30s. I'd probably look to trade him rather than bank on so many variables in that long-term plan, but I don't think it's unrealistic if they choose to go that way.

Atlanta, McCann's former team, gets a compensatory draft pick for losing him, and will apparently roll with Evan Gattis as the team's primary catcher in 2014, even though the slugger doesn't hit right-handed pitching at all (a .284 OBP on the year, and still dropping as the season ended) and doesn't seem durable enough for the everyday job.

The team does have one of the best defensive catching prospects in the game in Christian Bethancourt, a Panamanian backstop with an incredible arm and plus hands but awful plate discipline. He did hit .300/.338/.512 in the second half of 2013 while repeating Double-A, getting his plus raw power into the game because he made so much more contact, striking out in less than 11 percent of his plate appearances. I'd rather see him get the bulk of the playing time in the majors, knowing his defense alone will be worth over a win, maybe close to two wins, and let Gattis resume the bench role where he backs up Bethancourt and plays some left field.

Market impact

McCann's signing leaves very little catching on the market, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia the only one worthy of a multi-year deal, after whom suitors are looking at guys like Dioner Navarro and A.J. Pierzynski. The two reported bidders on McCann who lost out, Boston and Texas, both have high-end catching prospects racing to the majors and may have been unwilling to commit to a deal of this length with a no-trade clause, given what they have in their systems.

The Red Sox have defensive wizard Christian Vazquez heading to Triple-A this year, and former first-rounder Blake Swihart, a good defender with bigger offensive upside, heading for Double-A, so they can probably do just fine with David Ross and a partner like a Navarro.

Texas could do a lot worse than give Geovany Soto everyday duty for a year and see how Jorge Alfaro, a Colombian-born rifleman with 70-grade raw power and plate discipline just slightly better than Bethancourt's, handles high Class A in 2013.

The Rockies may have made a late push for McCann, which makes a ton of sense -- in that ballpark, he'd challenge for an MVP award, and they need a better defender to let them slide Wilin Rosario to a position he can handle. Their options are limited, due to their budget, and I think it's more likely they try to fill the spot via trade.
post #18208 of 77571
ESPN columnist was pushing Profar for Tavares. Tulo would be the costly big splash.

STL has seemingly won the Peralta sweepstakes. I didn't love him in Cleveland (or Detroit), and I don't love him now. Turning 32 in May. Just served a lengthy suspension.

I believe the Mets offered the 4/52 which drove up his price and suitors. Cards likely give him that fifth year for $56M. He even pushed/wanted 6/76.

I preferred Baltimore overpay for Peralta. Next to Hardy at third until Machado's fully healed. Then moved to LF. One or two year deal for McLouth. Roberts gets a one year to man second.
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REAL MADRID - EAGLES - SIXERS - BRUINS
INDIANS - OHIO STATE FOOTBALL - ARIZONA BASKETBALL
Reply
post #18209 of 77571
Thread Starter 
It made such perfect sense for both of them. But like I said, guys value their prospects more than others and find any fault they can in other prospects mean.gif
post #18210 of 77571
Glad the Mets didn't overpay for Peralta.
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