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2016 MLB thread. THE CUBS HAVE BROKEN THE CURSE! Chicago Cubs are your 2016 World Series champions. - Page 65

post #1921 of 77453
proshares could you by any chance post keith laws updated top 50 prospects?
post #1922 of 77453
proshares could you by any chance post keith laws updated top 50 prospects?
post #1923 of 77453
Thread Starter 
^ Sure man, NP next time just shoot a PM IDK if they're still banning folks for requesting insider information.

Crazy about the Marlins.  They needed a winning/good year to draw fans since they're opening the new stadium next season.

Klaw's top 50 midseason prospects.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

With the Futures Game and more than half the minor league season in our rearview mirror, it's time to update the rankings of the top prospects in the minors.

This list doesn't include players who've graduated to the majors (Mike Trout, Domonic Brown, Jeremy Hellickson, etc.), who have exhausted or are on pace to exhaust their rookie eligibility for 2012, and there are no 2011 draftees on this list because the draftees who might be good enough to make the list haven't signed yet.

As always, I emphasize upside and favor players with the potential to be stars at their positions or to pitch at the top of a rotation.


Big Board Bar
1
Bryce Harper
OF
6-4
245
was.gif

Analysis: He's a future superstar with huge raw power and a constantly improving approach at the plate. And he won't turn 19 until October. Preseason Ranking: 2

2
Matt Moore
LHP
6-2
205
tam.gif

Analysis: He has three above-average to plus pitches and easy velocity, and has improved his control this year. All of that adds up to a No. 1 starter. Preseason Ranking: 16

3
Shelby Miller
RHP
6-1
190
stl.gif

Analysis: He's the best right-handed pitching prospect in the minors with a plus fastball, above-average to plus curveball and much better changeup. Preseason Ranking: 9

4
Carlos Martinez
RHP
6-0
165
stl.gif

Analysis: Another easy velocity guy who'll touch 100 and has a plus breaking ball. A native of the Dominican Republic, he originally signed with Boston in 2009, but the deal was voided because of incomplete documentation. Just wait for the flurry of stories on how the Red Sox should still have Martinez's rights once he reaches the big leagues and turns into a star. Preseason Ranking: 52

10
Manny Machado
SS
6-3
185
bal.gif

Analysis: It wasn't clear how advanced (or raw) his approach was when he was drafted No. 3 in 2010, but it's clear now. He has an .816 OPS across two levels, and it's looking more likely that he'll stay at short than it did last year. Preseason Ranking: 26

6
Devin Mesoraco
C
6-1
220
cin.gif

Analysis: A major league-ready offensive catcher who can catch and throw well. A potential All-Star. Preseason Ranking: 31

7
Hak-Ju Lee
SS
6-2
170
tam.gif

Analysis: He's a four-tool player with fringy power who profiles as a plus defensive shortstop who can hit and run. Preseason Ranking: 49

8
Desmond Jennings
OF
6-2
200
tam.gif

Analysis: He'll get his 1,000th plate appearance in Triple-A at some point in the next 10 days. The tools are still there.Preseason Ranking: 20

9
Brett Lawrie
3B
6-0
213
tor.gif

Analysis: Lawrie hasn't played since May 31 after he was hit on the hand by a pitch just a day before he was going to be called up to the majors. He still profiles as an impact bat who might have to move to right field. Preseason Ranking: 37

9
Martin Perez
LHP
6-0
178
tex.gif

Analysis: His stuff is intact and still slightly ahead of results, but lefties with this kind of velocity and plus changeup are extremely valuable. Preseason Ranking: 18

11
Arodys Vizcaino
RHP
6-0
189
atl.gif

Analysis: Vizcaino would have been the talk of the Futures Game if it wasn't for Moore -- electric stuff, great arm speed, better breaking ball than expected. He just needs to stay healthy. Preseason Ranking: 47

12
Julio Teheran
RHP
6-2
150
atl.gif

Analysis: He's still very highly regarded in the industry, but I'd like to see some improvement on his curveball, which has been stagnant for two years. He's still just 20 years old. Preseason Ranking: 6

12
Jacob Turner
RHP
6-5
210
det.gif

Analysis: Turner has an electric arm and shows above-average control as a 20-year-old in the Double-A Eastern League. He could see the majors later this month and would outperform Charlie Furbush. Preseason Ranking: 22

14
Jameson Taillon
RHP
6-6
225
pit.gif

Analysis: He has a plus fastball, flashes a plus slider and has just eight walks on the season (though four came in his past two starts). The Pirates have been very cautious with his workload, and he hasn't faced more than 22 batters in any outing this season, which isn't great for future durability. Preseason Ranking: 30

15
Aaron Hicks
OF
6-2
185
min.gif

Analysis: Hicks got off to a horrible start, but is now hitting .294/.414/.447 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) since May 1. He's a true center fielder who projects to have above-average defense, a plus arm, the ability to get on base and more power once he gets out of the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Preseason Ranking: 10

16
Wil Myers
OF
6-3
190
kan.gif

Analysis: Myers can be a little mechanical at the plate with a stiff front leg. But he has a great overall approach and is a good enough athlete to be a defensive asset in right field. Preseason Ranking: 8

17
Jarred Cosart
RHP
6-3
180
phi.gif

Analysis: I was dismayed to see how much he throws across his body, but the fastball/curveball combo is worthy of the front of the rotation. Preseason Ranking: 34

18
Manny Banuelos
LHP
5-10
155
Searcy H.S.

Analysis: He struggled with his command early after looking so good in the fall and spring. He has four walks against 24 strikeouts in his past four outings (19 2/3 IP), and that's a positive sign. Preseason Ranking: 12

19
Jarrod Parker
RHP
6-1
180
ari.gif

Analysis: He has top-of-the-rotation stuff, but command has been slow to return after Tommy John surgery in late 2009. Preseason Ranking: 25

20
Travis D'Arnaud
C
6-2
195
tor.gif

Analysis: The offensive breakout finally happened this year with a .315/.388/.552 line in New Hampshire -- and he's actually been better on the road. It's All-Star production at that position if he can just stay healthy. Preseason Ranking: NR

20
Jesus Montero
C
6-4
225
nyy.gif

Analysis: His bat still hasn't really come around, although I have to believe the power and patience are all still in there. For a guy who projects as a first baseman or DH, though, .289/.346/.418 isn't an inspiring offensive performance given his history. Preseason Ranking: 4

22
Jurickson Profar
SS
5-11
165
tex.gif

Analysis: Profar is an incredibly instinctive player who can run, hit, get on base, play short and throw. Preseason Ranking: 81

23
Miguel Sano
3B
6-3
195
min.gif

Analysis: This 18-year-old projects as an impact bat at first base or in left field with big raw power. Weird stat quirk: He's a right-handed hitter but has a reverse split in 2011, hitting .311/.368/.607 against right-handed pitchers in 21 games for rookie-level Elizabethton. Preseason Ranking: 29

24
Jonathan Singleton
1B
6-2
215
phi.gif

Analysis: He began his pro career as a first baseman, but since he's blocked in the big leagues by Ryan Howard, the Phillies moved him to the outfield. He struggled with the switch and is now playing first again. He also had issues with some mechanical tweaks that have since been undone. Like Hicks, he gets on base at a great clip for his age (19), and his power may be held down by the FSL. Preseason Ranking: 27

25
Jean Segura
SS
5-11
155
laa.gif

Analysis: He hasn't played since the last update because of a hamstring strain, but I still like his combination of speed and ability to square up the ball. Preseason Ranking: 35

26
Matt Harvey
RHP
6-4
225
nym.gif

Analysis: His transition to Double-A hasn't gone smoothly (13 runs allowed in 12 2/3 innings so far) but is up to 97 mph with a chance for three above-average secondary pitches. Preseason Ranking: 83

27
Oswaldo Arcia
OF
6-0
210
min.gif

Analysis: I have to think he would have been in the Futures Game if he'd been healthy. He's hitting .300/.345/.480 in a tiny sample in high-A as a 20-year-old who projects to stay in right field. Preseason Ranking: 74

28
Tyler Skaggs
LHP
6-4
195
ari.gif

Analysis: The Futures Game wasn't a great showing for him -- he's usually more like 90-94 with a plus curveball, and there's still projection left in that body. Preseason Ranking: 78

29
Casey Kelly
RHP
6-2
215
sdg.gif

Analysis: At some point, the results are going to have to come closer to the stuff. His 4.21 ERA at Double-A is underwhelming.Preseason Ranking: 19

30
Taijuan Walker
RHP
6-4
195
sea.gif

Analysis: He's pitching at 94 and touching 97-plus, with feel and plus fastball command. He's a great athlete, too. Preseason Ranking: NR

31
Zack Wheeler
RHP
6-3
180
sfo.gif

Analysis: There's some thought he could end up in the 'pen because the fastball command isn't there, but he barely pitched last year, and the lack of repetitions may be a reason. It's No. 1 or 2 starter stuff. Preseason Ranking: 36

32
Mike Montgomery
LHP
6-5
180
kan.gif

Analysis: In a holding pattern here -- he could end up in the big leagues if resuming long-tossing really is the key, or he could drop 30-40 spots if he continues to struggle to throw strikes. Preseason Ranking: 28

33
Zach Lee
RHP
6-4
190
lad.gif

Analysis: Lee is still mostly about projection and athleticism, but he will flash an above-average fastball with good shape on the curveball. Preseason Ranking: 91

34
Dellin Betances
RHP
6-8
245
nyy.gif

Analysis: Betances is a physical monster who doesn't repeat his delivery well because he's not that athletic but is missing bats this year on raw stuff. Preseason Ranking: 73

35
Drew Pomeranz
RHP
6-5
231
cle.gif

Analysis: Looks like his delivery is a little cleaner than it was when Cleveland drafted him, although he's still going to have to work to repeat it enough to have average fastball command. His three-pitch mix makes him death to lefties and solid against righties as well. Preseason Ranking: 60

36
A.J. Cole
RHP
6-4
180
was.gif

Analysis: Going pro may have been the best decision of Cole's life, as he's been more focused and aggressive and is commanding the fastball better than he did in high school. Since his first two starts, he has posted the following line for low-A Hagerstown: 39 1/3 IP, 34 H, 6 BB, 50 K, 2.75 ERA. Preseason Ranking: NR

37
Allen Webster
RHP
6-3
185
lad.gif

Analysis: Webster is a converted outfielder pitching with a grade-60 fastball. He shows a future-plus breaking ball and has an average changeup. Chattanooga teammate Nate Eovaldi would be somewhere in the next 50, too. Preseason Ranking: NR

38
Jonathan Schoop
3B
6-1
187
bal.gif

Analysis: He's looking a little overmatched at age 19 in high A but has all the elements to be an above-average regular at third base with power and defense. Preseason Ranking: NR

39
Henderson Alvarez
RHP
6-1
195
tor.gif

Analysis: Alvarez has No. 1 starter stuff, but as with Casey Kelly, the results don't quite line up with the scouting report. He's hit 100 mph as a starter and already has a plus changeup, but there's effort in that delivery, and he has to show he can miss more bats. Preseason Ranking: NR

40
Nick Franklin
SS
6-1
170
sea.gif

Analysis: This has been a disappointing follow-up to his breakout season in 2010, but the Mariners promoted him to Double-A in late June anyway only to see him hit the DL after four games when he was hit in the jaw by another player's bat. Preseason Ranking: NR

41
Christian Yelich
1B
6-4
185
fla.gif

Analysis: Yelich is more than holding his own as a true 19-year-old in low A with some pop, some plate discipline and 19 steals in 23 attempts. He's even played some center field, although left is his probable destination. Preseason Ranking: 79

42
Will Middlebrooks
3B
6-4
200
bos.gif

Analysis: He still has to work on recognizing off-speed pitches and working the count. Otherwise, he should be a plus defender at third who hits 25-plus homers. Preseason Ranking: NR

43
Nolan Arenado
3B
6-1
205
col.gif

Analysis: Arenado is a heavy-footed third baseman with great instincts and a great swing that should produce power. One red flag: He's doing most of his damage off left-handers, hitting .286/.332/.427 against right-handed pitchers and .377/.418/689 against lefties. Those numbers are in the hitter-friendly Cal League, so take them with a grain of salt. Preseason Ranking: 92

44
Yasmani Grandal
C
6-2
205
cin.gif

Analysis: Oddly enough, his receiving skills have been questioned this season, but he's throwing well and hit from both sides of the plate in high A, although the swing looks much better from the left side. Preseason Ranking: NR

45
Jake Odorizzi
RHP
6-2
175
kan.gif

Analysis: I'm still waiting for his off-speed stuff to take a step forward, and his high-A numbers reflect a favorable home park and the fact that he made two-thirds of his starts at home. But he's athletic with good control with some projection still remaining. Preseason Ranking: NR

46
Luis Heredia
RHP
6-6
205
pit.gif

Analysis: Early reports from the Gulf Coast League are positive -- he has a chance for three plus pitches with a body that's already built for durability. Preseason Ranking: NR

47
Tyrell Jenkins
RHP
6-4
180
stl.gif

Analysis: Jenkins is a tremendous athlete with a plus fastball, a plus curveball and feel for a changeup. Hitters do see the fastball well out of his hand, but he could be a top 25-30 starter in the majors if the command and control are there. Preseason Ranking: NR

48
Drew Hutchison
RHP
6-2
165
tor.gif

Analysis: He has run it up to 95 but is pitching with more of a solid-average fastball. He's more impressive because of his feel for pitching and fastball command, but he has the projection to throw harder. Preseason Ranking: NR

49
Jason Kipnis
2B
5-10
175
cle.gif

Analysis: He's a Kelly Johnson-type player but a better pure hitter than Johnson has been. Preseason Ranking: 56

50
Jose Altuve
2B
5-7
170
hou.gif

Analysis: The little man can hit. If he were 5-foot-10, the industry would be all over him. Preseason Ranking: NR

Honorable mentions: Bryce Brentz, OF, Boston; Wily Peralta, RHP, Milwaukee; Cheslor Cuthbert, IF, Kansas City; Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado (69 in preseason); Kaleb Cowart, 3B, L.A. Angels; Trevor May, RHP, Philadelphia (93 in preseason); Nate Eovaldi, RHP, L.A. Dodgers.


post #1924 of 77453
Thread Starter 
^ Sure man, NP next time just shoot a PM IDK if they're still banning folks for requesting insider information.

Crazy about the Marlins.  They needed a winning/good year to draw fans since they're opening the new stadium next season.

Klaw's top 50 midseason prospects.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

With the Futures Game and more than half the minor league season in our rearview mirror, it's time to update the rankings of the top prospects in the minors.

This list doesn't include players who've graduated to the majors (Mike Trout, Domonic Brown, Jeremy Hellickson, etc.), who have exhausted or are on pace to exhaust their rookie eligibility for 2012, and there are no 2011 draftees on this list because the draftees who might be good enough to make the list haven't signed yet.

As always, I emphasize upside and favor players with the potential to be stars at their positions or to pitch at the top of a rotation.


Big Board Bar
1
Bryce Harper
OF
6-4
245
was.gif

Analysis: He's a future superstar with huge raw power and a constantly improving approach at the plate. And he won't turn 19 until October. Preseason Ranking: 2

2
Matt Moore
LHP
6-2
205
tam.gif

Analysis: He has three above-average to plus pitches and easy velocity, and has improved his control this year. All of that adds up to a No. 1 starter. Preseason Ranking: 16

3
Shelby Miller
RHP
6-1
190
stl.gif

Analysis: He's the best right-handed pitching prospect in the minors with a plus fastball, above-average to plus curveball and much better changeup. Preseason Ranking: 9

4
Carlos Martinez
RHP
6-0
165
stl.gif

Analysis: Another easy velocity guy who'll touch 100 and has a plus breaking ball. A native of the Dominican Republic, he originally signed with Boston in 2009, but the deal was voided because of incomplete documentation. Just wait for the flurry of stories on how the Red Sox should still have Martinez's rights once he reaches the big leagues and turns into a star. Preseason Ranking: 52

10
Manny Machado
SS
6-3
185
bal.gif

Analysis: It wasn't clear how advanced (or raw) his approach was when he was drafted No. 3 in 2010, but it's clear now. He has an .816 OPS across two levels, and it's looking more likely that he'll stay at short than it did last year. Preseason Ranking: 26

6
Devin Mesoraco
C
6-1
220
cin.gif

Analysis: A major league-ready offensive catcher who can catch and throw well. A potential All-Star. Preseason Ranking: 31

7
Hak-Ju Lee
SS
6-2
170
tam.gif

Analysis: He's a four-tool player with fringy power who profiles as a plus defensive shortstop who can hit and run. Preseason Ranking: 49

8
Desmond Jennings
OF
6-2
200
tam.gif

Analysis: He'll get his 1,000th plate appearance in Triple-A at some point in the next 10 days. The tools are still there.Preseason Ranking: 20

9
Brett Lawrie
3B
6-0
213
tor.gif

Analysis: Lawrie hasn't played since May 31 after he was hit on the hand by a pitch just a day before he was going to be called up to the majors. He still profiles as an impact bat who might have to move to right field. Preseason Ranking: 37

9
Martin Perez
LHP
6-0
178
tex.gif

Analysis: His stuff is intact and still slightly ahead of results, but lefties with this kind of velocity and plus changeup are extremely valuable. Preseason Ranking: 18

11
Arodys Vizcaino
RHP
6-0
189
atl.gif

Analysis: Vizcaino would have been the talk of the Futures Game if it wasn't for Moore -- electric stuff, great arm speed, better breaking ball than expected. He just needs to stay healthy. Preseason Ranking: 47

12
Julio Teheran
RHP
6-2
150
atl.gif

Analysis: He's still very highly regarded in the industry, but I'd like to see some improvement on his curveball, which has been stagnant for two years. He's still just 20 years old. Preseason Ranking: 6

12
Jacob Turner
RHP
6-5
210
det.gif

Analysis: Turner has an electric arm and shows above-average control as a 20-year-old in the Double-A Eastern League. He could see the majors later this month and would outperform Charlie Furbush. Preseason Ranking: 22

14
Jameson Taillon
RHP
6-6
225
pit.gif

Analysis: He has a plus fastball, flashes a plus slider and has just eight walks on the season (though four came in his past two starts). The Pirates have been very cautious with his workload, and he hasn't faced more than 22 batters in any outing this season, which isn't great for future durability. Preseason Ranking: 30

15
Aaron Hicks
OF
6-2
185
min.gif

Analysis: Hicks got off to a horrible start, but is now hitting .294/.414/.447 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) since May 1. He's a true center fielder who projects to have above-average defense, a plus arm, the ability to get on base and more power once he gets out of the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Preseason Ranking: 10

16
Wil Myers
OF
6-3
190
kan.gif

Analysis: Myers can be a little mechanical at the plate with a stiff front leg. But he has a great overall approach and is a good enough athlete to be a defensive asset in right field. Preseason Ranking: 8

17
Jarred Cosart
RHP
6-3
180
phi.gif

Analysis: I was dismayed to see how much he throws across his body, but the fastball/curveball combo is worthy of the front of the rotation. Preseason Ranking: 34

18
Manny Banuelos
LHP
5-10
155
Searcy H.S.

Analysis: He struggled with his command early after looking so good in the fall and spring. He has four walks against 24 strikeouts in his past four outings (19 2/3 IP), and that's a positive sign. Preseason Ranking: 12

19
Jarrod Parker
RHP
6-1
180
ari.gif

Analysis: He has top-of-the-rotation stuff, but command has been slow to return after Tommy John surgery in late 2009. Preseason Ranking: 25

20
Travis D'Arnaud
C
6-2
195
tor.gif

Analysis: The offensive breakout finally happened this year with a .315/.388/.552 line in New Hampshire -- and he's actually been better on the road. It's All-Star production at that position if he can just stay healthy. Preseason Ranking: NR

20
Jesus Montero
C
6-4
225
nyy.gif

Analysis: His bat still hasn't really come around, although I have to believe the power and patience are all still in there. For a guy who projects as a first baseman or DH, though, .289/.346/.418 isn't an inspiring offensive performance given his history. Preseason Ranking: 4

22
Jurickson Profar
SS
5-11
165
tex.gif

Analysis: Profar is an incredibly instinctive player who can run, hit, get on base, play short and throw. Preseason Ranking: 81

23
Miguel Sano
3B
6-3
195
min.gif

Analysis: This 18-year-old projects as an impact bat at first base or in left field with big raw power. Weird stat quirk: He's a right-handed hitter but has a reverse split in 2011, hitting .311/.368/.607 against right-handed pitchers in 21 games for rookie-level Elizabethton. Preseason Ranking: 29

24
Jonathan Singleton
1B
6-2
215
phi.gif

Analysis: He began his pro career as a first baseman, but since he's blocked in the big leagues by Ryan Howard, the Phillies moved him to the outfield. He struggled with the switch and is now playing first again. He also had issues with some mechanical tweaks that have since been undone. Like Hicks, he gets on base at a great clip for his age (19), and his power may be held down by the FSL. Preseason Ranking: 27

25
Jean Segura
SS
5-11
155
laa.gif

Analysis: He hasn't played since the last update because of a hamstring strain, but I still like his combination of speed and ability to square up the ball. Preseason Ranking: 35

26
Matt Harvey
RHP
6-4
225
nym.gif

Analysis: His transition to Double-A hasn't gone smoothly (13 runs allowed in 12 2/3 innings so far) but is up to 97 mph with a chance for three above-average secondary pitches. Preseason Ranking: 83

27
Oswaldo Arcia
OF
6-0
210
min.gif

Analysis: I have to think he would have been in the Futures Game if he'd been healthy. He's hitting .300/.345/.480 in a tiny sample in high-A as a 20-year-old who projects to stay in right field. Preseason Ranking: 74

28
Tyler Skaggs
LHP
6-4
195
ari.gif

Analysis: The Futures Game wasn't a great showing for him -- he's usually more like 90-94 with a plus curveball, and there's still projection left in that body. Preseason Ranking: 78

29
Casey Kelly
RHP
6-2
215
sdg.gif

Analysis: At some point, the results are going to have to come closer to the stuff. His 4.21 ERA at Double-A is underwhelming.Preseason Ranking: 19

30
Taijuan Walker
RHP
6-4
195
sea.gif

Analysis: He's pitching at 94 and touching 97-plus, with feel and plus fastball command. He's a great athlete, too. Preseason Ranking: NR

31
Zack Wheeler
RHP
6-3
180
sfo.gif

Analysis: There's some thought he could end up in the 'pen because the fastball command isn't there, but he barely pitched last year, and the lack of repetitions may be a reason. It's No. 1 or 2 starter stuff. Preseason Ranking: 36

32
Mike Montgomery
LHP
6-5
180
kan.gif

Analysis: In a holding pattern here -- he could end up in the big leagues if resuming long-tossing really is the key, or he could drop 30-40 spots if he continues to struggle to throw strikes. Preseason Ranking: 28

33
Zach Lee
RHP
6-4
190
lad.gif

Analysis: Lee is still mostly about projection and athleticism, but he will flash an above-average fastball with good shape on the curveball. Preseason Ranking: 91

34
Dellin Betances
RHP
6-8
245
nyy.gif

Analysis: Betances is a physical monster who doesn't repeat his delivery well because he's not that athletic but is missing bats this year on raw stuff. Preseason Ranking: 73

35
Drew Pomeranz
RHP
6-5
231
cle.gif

Analysis: Looks like his delivery is a little cleaner than it was when Cleveland drafted him, although he's still going to have to work to repeat it enough to have average fastball command. His three-pitch mix makes him death to lefties and solid against righties as well. Preseason Ranking: 60

36
A.J. Cole
RHP
6-4
180
was.gif

Analysis: Going pro may have been the best decision of Cole's life, as he's been more focused and aggressive and is commanding the fastball better than he did in high school. Since his first two starts, he has posted the following line for low-A Hagerstown: 39 1/3 IP, 34 H, 6 BB, 50 K, 2.75 ERA. Preseason Ranking: NR

37
Allen Webster
RHP
6-3
185
lad.gif

Analysis: Webster is a converted outfielder pitching with a grade-60 fastball. He shows a future-plus breaking ball and has an average changeup. Chattanooga teammate Nate Eovaldi would be somewhere in the next 50, too. Preseason Ranking: NR

38
Jonathan Schoop
3B
6-1
187
bal.gif

Analysis: He's looking a little overmatched at age 19 in high A but has all the elements to be an above-average regular at third base with power and defense. Preseason Ranking: NR

39
Henderson Alvarez
RHP
6-1
195
tor.gif

Analysis: Alvarez has No. 1 starter stuff, but as with Casey Kelly, the results don't quite line up with the scouting report. He's hit 100 mph as a starter and already has a plus changeup, but there's effort in that delivery, and he has to show he can miss more bats. Preseason Ranking: NR

40
Nick Franklin
SS
6-1
170
sea.gif

Analysis: This has been a disappointing follow-up to his breakout season in 2010, but the Mariners promoted him to Double-A in late June anyway only to see him hit the DL after four games when he was hit in the jaw by another player's bat. Preseason Ranking: NR

41
Christian Yelich
1B
6-4
185
fla.gif

Analysis: Yelich is more than holding his own as a true 19-year-old in low A with some pop, some plate discipline and 19 steals in 23 attempts. He's even played some center field, although left is his probable destination. Preseason Ranking: 79

42
Will Middlebrooks
3B
6-4
200
bos.gif

Analysis: He still has to work on recognizing off-speed pitches and working the count. Otherwise, he should be a plus defender at third who hits 25-plus homers. Preseason Ranking: NR

43
Nolan Arenado
3B
6-1
205
col.gif

Analysis: Arenado is a heavy-footed third baseman with great instincts and a great swing that should produce power. One red flag: He's doing most of his damage off left-handers, hitting .286/.332/.427 against right-handed pitchers and .377/.418/689 against lefties. Those numbers are in the hitter-friendly Cal League, so take them with a grain of salt. Preseason Ranking: 92

44
Yasmani Grandal
C
6-2
205
cin.gif

Analysis: Oddly enough, his receiving skills have been questioned this season, but he's throwing well and hit from both sides of the plate in high A, although the swing looks much better from the left side. Preseason Ranking: NR

45
Jake Odorizzi
RHP
6-2
175
kan.gif

Analysis: I'm still waiting for his off-speed stuff to take a step forward, and his high-A numbers reflect a favorable home park and the fact that he made two-thirds of his starts at home. But he's athletic with good control with some projection still remaining. Preseason Ranking: NR

46
Luis Heredia
RHP
6-6
205
pit.gif

Analysis: Early reports from the Gulf Coast League are positive -- he has a chance for three plus pitches with a body that's already built for durability. Preseason Ranking: NR

47
Tyrell Jenkins
RHP
6-4
180
stl.gif

Analysis: Jenkins is a tremendous athlete with a plus fastball, a plus curveball and feel for a changeup. Hitters do see the fastball well out of his hand, but he could be a top 25-30 starter in the majors if the command and control are there. Preseason Ranking: NR

48
Drew Hutchison
RHP
6-2
165
tor.gif

Analysis: He has run it up to 95 but is pitching with more of a solid-average fastball. He's more impressive because of his feel for pitching and fastball command, but he has the projection to throw harder. Preseason Ranking: NR

49
Jason Kipnis
2B
5-10
175
cle.gif

Analysis: He's a Kelly Johnson-type player but a better pure hitter than Johnson has been. Preseason Ranking: 56

50
Jose Altuve
2B
5-7
170
hou.gif

Analysis: The little man can hit. If he were 5-foot-10, the industry would be all over him. Preseason Ranking: NR

Honorable mentions: Bryce Brentz, OF, Boston; Wily Peralta, RHP, Milwaukee; Cheslor Cuthbert, IF, Kansas City; Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado (69 in preseason); Kaleb Cowart, 3B, L.A. Angels; Trevor May, RHP, Philadelphia (93 in preseason); Nate Eovaldi, RHP, L.A. Dodgers.


post #1925 of 77453
eek.gif Holy +%*%!! Harper is already up to 245????
post #1926 of 77453
eek.gif Holy +%*%!! Harper is already up to 245????
post #1927 of 77453
Should Marmol still be the Cubs' closer or does Marshall get a chance soon from Quade? 
REAL MADRID - EAGLES - SIXERS - BRUINS
INDIANS - OHIO STATE FOOTBALL - ARIZONA BASKETBALL
Reply
REAL MADRID - EAGLES - SIXERS - BRUINS
INDIANS - OHIO STATE FOOTBALL - ARIZONA BASKETBALL
Reply
post #1928 of 77453
Should Marmol still be the Cubs' closer or does Marshall get a chance soon from Quade? 
REAL MADRID - EAGLES - SIXERS - BRUINS
INDIANS - OHIO STATE FOOTBALL - ARIZONA BASKETBALL
Reply
REAL MADRID - EAGLES - SIXERS - BRUINS
INDIANS - OHIO STATE FOOTBALL - ARIZONA BASKETBALL
Reply
post #1929 of 77453
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChampCruThik

Should Marmol still be the Cubs' closer or does Marshall get a chance soon from Quade? 

Marmol is absolutely our closer. 

The layoff got his arm slot off or whatever happens to their mechanics.  Keep throwin him out there, get his slot right, he'll be fine.  

Ain't like we tryna win the division anyways, need to let the kid pitch and grow in the role, not jerk him around everytime he has a bad game or 2.  Just look at what he did last year, he can do the job, just a rough patch hopefully caused by the all star break layoff. 

  
MIAMI DOLPHINS
LA LAKERS
CHICAGO CUBS
MIAMI HURRICANES
Reply
MIAMI DOLPHINS
LA LAKERS
CHICAGO CUBS
MIAMI HURRICANES
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post #1930 of 77453
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChampCruThik

Should Marmol still be the Cubs' closer or does Marshall get a chance soon from Quade? 

Marmol is absolutely our closer. 

The layoff got his arm slot off or whatever happens to their mechanics.  Keep throwin him out there, get his slot right, he'll be fine.  

Ain't like we tryna win the division anyways, need to let the kid pitch and grow in the role, not jerk him around everytime he has a bad game or 2.  Just look at what he did last year, he can do the job, just a rough patch hopefully caused by the all star break layoff. 

  
MIAMI DOLPHINS
LA LAKERS
CHICAGO CUBS
MIAMI HURRICANES
Reply
MIAMI DOLPHINS
LA LAKERS
CHICAGO CUBS
MIAMI HURRICANES
Reply
post #1931 of 77453
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleJs07

eek.gif Holy +%*%!! Harper is already up to 245????

thhat can't be true.

Harper710US.jpg

No chance, Mike Stanton is 250 no way harper is 245.

89025457_crop_340x234.jpg?1275496053

smiley: laugh Ducktales.
Instagram. | just my art and photography. #NT will follow back. Also Flickr.
Reply
Instagram. | just my art and photography. #NT will follow back. Also Flickr.
Reply
post #1932 of 77453
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleJs07

eek.gif Holy +%*%!! Harper is already up to 245????

thhat can't be true.

Harper710US.jpg

No chance, Mike Stanton is 250 no way harper is 245.

89025457_crop_340x234.jpg?1275496053

smiley: laugh Ducktales.
Instagram. | just my art and photography. #NT will follow back. Also Flickr.
Reply
Instagram. | just my art and photography. #NT will follow back. Also Flickr.
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post #1933 of 77453
Was just choppin it up with Torii Hunter. He's a good dude. laugh.gif
post #1934 of 77453
Was just choppin it up with Torii Hunter. He's a good dude. laugh.gif
post #1935 of 77453
Someone throw up those trade articles on ESPN...

Mid-season prospect rankings... pimp.gif Lots of talk that the Rangers could be back at the top of the list by the end of the year. pimp.gif
post #1936 of 77453
Someone throw up those trade articles on ESPN...

Mid-season prospect rankings... pimp.gif Lots of talk that the Rangers could be back at the top of the list by the end of the year. pimp.gif
post #1937 of 77453
Thread Starter 
On The Verge of Major Deals.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

The dam is about ready to burst on the trade market, a high-ranking executive said Friday afternoon. The phone calls from team to team are multiplying; the conversations between scouts have more substance. Everybody is getting more serious.

"I think that once July 24 hits, that's when you're going to see a bunch of things happen," one AL official said. "There's a lot of talk."

For example:

The Tigers are asking around about pitching -- but they don't seem to be targeting the third- and fourth-tier guys that make up the bulk of this trade market. Rather, they're asking about high-end starting pitchers, and it was duly noted by other teams that the Tigers had two scouts at Ubaldo Jimenez's start on Thursday. Keep in mind that Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski is known as an aggressive deal-maker who is not afraid of aiming high and moving fast, as he demonstrated with the rapid-fire Miguel Cabrera trade.

[+] EnlargeBell
Jody Gomez/US PresswireHeath Bell could be a trade target of the Phillies.

The Phillies have shifted their focus from a right-handed hitter, rival GMs believe, and are now locking in on relief pitching; they have been talking about the Padres' trio of Heath Bell, Mike Adams and Chad Qualls, who each have different price tags. Maybe Philadelphia's change has been related to the recent play of John Mayberry Jr.

The Diamondbacks are focused on relief pitching, and are looking for the less expensive guys, like Oakland's Brad Ziegler and the Mets' Jason Isringhausen.

The Mariners are increasingly pitching-rich, in the majors (with Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda) and the minors (with pitchers including James Paxton, who was dominant in Double-A on Thursday, striking out 11 and walking 1 over five innings), and they are willing to listen to offers. Keep in mind that Erik Bedard's knee is getting better and may get two starts before the trade deadline, to audition for other teams -- or maybe just for the Mariners, who could keep him as a starter at their price in 2012.

The Pirates -- the first-place Pirates, that is -- have been calling around asking about veteran hitters who could bolster an offense that has been propped up by the team's strong pitching. Jeff Karstens threw a shutout on Friday; Clint Hurdle says the Pirates won't be sellers at the deadline.

• With the left-handed relief market so thin, some teams have started to evaluate the large market of right-handed relievers who fare well against left-handed hitters, figuring that they would rather have a second-tier right-hander who is good against lefties than a third-tier left-hander.

Some of the top right-handers -- perhaps available -- who have had success against left-handers:

David Pauley, Seattle -- .368 OPS vs. lefties, second-best in the majors
Mike Adams, San Diego -- .501 OPS vs. lefties
Koji Uehara, Baltimore -- .536 OPS vs. lefties
Tyler Clippard, Washington -- .565 OPS vs. lefties
Joel Peralta, Tampa Bay -- .584 OPS vs. lefties

Ubaldo Jimenez is miffed at the trade rumors.

Josh Willingham, who is going to be traded at some point, opened his second half with a bang.

• Here's more on Karstens' win, from ESPN Stats & Info: Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens needed only 83 pitches to record his second career shutout, a 4-0 victory Friday against the Astros. He had six 1-2-3 innings, and a seventh in which he retired a leadoff single on a double play.

Fewest pitches in a nine-inning shutout, since 2000:
2001 -- Jon Lieber, CHC -- 78
2008 -- Aaron Cook, COL -- 79
2005 -- Rich Harden, OAK -- 81
2011 -- Jeff Karstens, PIT -- 83
2001 -- Roy Halladay, TOR -- 83

Karstens' 83-pitch shutout by the numbers:
2.77 -- Pitches per plate appearance, Karstens' fewest in 66 career starts.
8 -- Pitches to Jeff Keppinger in the first inning, the longest at-bat of the game. Keppinger was the only hitter to have a plate appearance that lasted longer than five pitches.
14 -- The most pitches Karstens threw in an inning, done twice (6th, 7th).
6 -- Innings in which Karstens threw nine pitches or less.
15 -- Hitters whose at-bat ended on the first or second pitch.
2 -- Double plays induced.

At 48-43, the Pirates are still in first place by percentage points, even though Milwaukee (49-45) has one extra win.

It's the latest date in a season the Pirates have been in first place since 1997. They were tied atop the NL Central at 47-47 as late as July 17 that year.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Orioles have made progress on a three-year deal with J.J. Hardy, and if concluded, it's expected to be for somewhere in the range of $25 million, sources say.

The two sides are working on a no-trade provision, writes Jeff Zrebiec.

2. The Brewers and Francisco Rodriguez have a new structure to his contract which will enable them to pitch him any way they'd like without getting locked in to a $17.5 million deal for next year. The agreement will take pressure off both sides, says K-Rod, within this Todd Rosiak piece.

3. The D-backs are recalling Barry Enright to start Tuesday.

4. The Giants didn't call up Brandon Belt when they had a chance. The bottom line on all that: For Belt, it's a round hole-square peg situation. Their available playing time is in the outfield, not at first base, because Aubrey Huff isn't really an outfielder anymore and to call up Belt would mean burying Huff, who just got a pricey two-year deal. That won't happen, yet.

5. Oakland demoted its top power-hitting prospect.

6. The Rangers' top prospect is moving closer to reaching the big leagues.

7. Chase Headley injured his calf.

Dings and dents

1. Jose Tabata had a rehab setback.

2. Mark DeRosa continues in his effort to try to come back.

3. Casey Blake isn't sure when he'll be back.

4. David Aardsma is going to have Tommy John surgery.



Best Trade Fits by Ballpark.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

In September, I examined how the Colorado Rockies had custom-built their team to take advantage of their home park, Coors Field. With a pitching staff reliant on keeping the ball on the ground and a lineup that excelled at lofting the ball into the thin Colorado air, the Rockies finished with a 52-29 record at home (.642 winning percentage) despite a poor 31-50 (.383) showing on the road.

The Rockies didn't actually pitch better at home (4.25 ERA at Coors vs. 4.02 on the road); the key was that their opponents had a much bigger split (5.76 ERA at Coors vs. 3.22 against the Rockies on the road). Thanks to a staff full of ground-ball artists like Aaron Cook, Jorge de la Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Ubaldo Jimenez, the Rockies weren't as affected by Coors Field as their opponents were. Colorado went 12-6 against the division-rival San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks, who had the two biggest fly-ball pitching staffs in the National League.

As the 2011 trading season heats up, teams in extreme ballparks can look to gain the same sort of advantage in their home games. And as the trading activity heats up in the coming weeks, teams should steer clear of players who don't fit their home ballpark. Three-year park factors give a reasonably accurate indication of which types of hitters tend to thrive in each team's ballpark.

For example, Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field has been the biggest home run park since the beginning of 2009 with a park factor of 1.36. This means that White Sox home games featured 36 percent more home runs than their road games over the past 2½ seasons.

As we saw with the Rockies, not all hitters or pitchers are affected the same. Potential trade targets Jimenez and Matt Garza are ground-ball pitchers who can pitch in any park. This makes them especially valuable to teams like the Yankees, Reds and Diamondbacks, who play in hitters' parks (three-year home run park factors of 134, 119, and 104, respectively); however, for the same reasons, the Rockies (home run park factor of 124) would have a hard time parting with Jimenez.

Padres reliever Chad Qualls has had a nice bounce-back season in Petco Park, and his high ground-ball rate suggests that he will retain much of his value even in homer-friendly parks. The Yankees, who might be on the lookout for an extra bullpen arm, would be wise to keep tabs on a groundballer like Qualls.

San Diego's Aaron Harang, on the other hand, should come with a bright orange warning label. Like Qualls, Harang has also had a good comeback season in the cozy confines of Petco Park. With a career 38 percent ground-ball rate (below the league average of 45 percent), Harang is perfectly suited for the league's most pitcher-friendly stadiums. Sticking him in a homer-friendly park would be like lighting a match in a room full of dynamite.

Javier Vazquez, who has regained some velocity and been much more effective in the past month after a brutal start to the season, could also become trade bait for Florida. Like Harang, however, Vazquez is a fly-ball pitcher and would be especially effective in stadiums where deep fly balls turn from home runs into easy fly outs. If the Braves look to exchange Brandon Beachy for a powerful bat, suitors should be aware of his high fly-ball rate (49 percent, compared to the league average of 37 percent).

Relievers Kerry Wood and Leo Nunez, both fly-ball pitchers, would be good targets for St. Louis, as Busch Stadium has the second-lowest three-year home run park factor in the National League (82, behind Petco's 78).

Hitters can be particularly suited for certain ballparks as well. Ryan Ludwick and Josh Willingham are fly-ball hitters stuck in pitchers' parks. Both are corner outfielders who could be a tremendous boost to a contending lineup in the right ballpark. San Francisco's AT&T Park is not friendly to left-handed power hitters (lefty HR park factor of 85), but the right-handed Ludwick and Willingham could thrive there.

Carlos Beltran, Miguel Olivo, and Colby Rasmus are also trade candidates who hit a lot of fly balls. All three currently play their home games in parks that severely depress home runs. Beltran is the most highly sought-after corner outfielder on the trade market; a trade to a homer-friendly ballpark might provide the same boost the Astros got when acquiring Beltran from the Royals and Kauffman Stadium in 2004.

On the other hand, players like Kosuke Fukudome, Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn and Jamey Carroll hit more ground balls and line drives; as a result, their offensive value is less affected by the park they're playing in. For contending teams playing in pitchers' ballparks, these players would be a better fit than a one-dimensional slugger whose home runs would turn into fly outs.



Internal Solutions.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

I do a lot of radio, and the most frequent question I've received this week is, "Now that we are at the break, who is going to win Division X?" We can try to answer the question as best we can, but the most difficult factor is that we don't know what the contending teams will look like down the stretch.

For the next two weeks and an additional weekend, contending teams (and some that only think they are in contention) will be burning up the phones looking to add an impact player, or maybe just that small piece to help put them over the top.

Still, there are plenty of teams that have an answer to their problems right under their noses, and all it will take is a phone call and a bit of paperwork to get an instant upgrade from their minor-league system. Here are five problems for contending teams, easily solved.


cws.gif

Chicago White Sox

The Problem: Left Field. Juan Pierre has been hitting of late, but all that means is that his season average is up to a whopping .269/.330/.314. Adding to the problems are sudden and mysterious defensive lapses that have changed him from a decent left fielder with a horrible arm, to a bad left fielder with a horrible arm.

The Solution: Dayan Viciedo. The 22-year-old Cuban is having a breakout year at Triple-A Charlotte, hitting .325/.374/.535 in 87 games. Possessing some of the best bat speed in the minors, he has the ability to hit for both average and power and he's made tremendous strides in his approach. Trust me, his 25 walks over 342 at-bats might not look like much, but they actually represent a massive step forward. He's not better defensively than Pierre, as at 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds he's more of a round mound of bat pound (sorry, Charles Barkley), but he could add much-needed life to a White Sox lineup that currently scares opponents with just two players -- Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin.


cin.gif

Cincinnati Reds

The Problem: Left Field. Jonny Gomes has great energy and an equally great haircut, but he's also regressed for two straight years, sitting at just .218/.345/.417. He still can hit lefties, but that's the absolute limit of his value, and his 190 plate appearances against right-handers with a .173/.305/.365 line is one of the reasons the Reds are still under .500.

The Solution: Yonder Alonso. Critics were confused when the Reds used the seventh overall pick of the 2008 draft on a first baseman with Joey Votto in the fold, but they've slowly converted Alonso to left field, where he's become nothing special. But he's at least adequate, and to damn with faint praise, he's certainly no worse than Gomes. He has never developed the power normally associated with a 1B/LF type, but he makes up for it with a high batting average, walks and plenty of doubles, not to mention no platoon issues which would give Dusty Baker some much-needed lineup flexibility.


cle.gif

Cleveland Indians

The Problem: Second Base. Look, Orlando Cabrera is a great human being whose contributions to a young team on a clubhouse level cannot be accurately calculated. He also has a .279 on-base percentage, and Mother Teresa couldn't make up for that with her saint-like makeup.

The Solution: Jason Kipnis. The Indians took care of their third base problem by bringing up Lonnie Chisenhall before the All-Star break, so what's Kipnis still doing in Columbus? He's hitting .297/.380/.506 without a weakness in an offensive game than includes walks, speed and at least average power, and he proved on Sunday that he can hit good stuff by turning on a Julio Teheran fastball on the inner part of the plate for a home run to give the U.S. an early lead in the Futures Game. He does everything (playing-wise) better than Cabrera, and his bat can lead the Indians to much-needed, second-half victories.


nyy.gif

New York Yankees

The Problem: Starting Pitching. Freddy Garcia has been fantastic, but he's also thrown more than 100 innings only once in the past five seasons. Bartolo Colon has been equally surprising, in a good way, but he's also 10 innings away from his highest season total since winning a Cy Young in 2005, his medical records are currently being reviewed by Major League Baseball and he's coming off a brutal outing during which it looked like he was injured. When the Yankees last needed an extra starter, they went out of their way to acquire Brian Gordon, who is now starting for the SK Wyverns. In case you are wondering, that's in South Korea.

The Answer: Adam Warren. Warren is not a savior. He's not even a star, nor does he project to ever be one. What he does do is keep his team in the game with an average-to-plus fastball, two average secondary pitches and the ability to throw strikes. He's the kind of pitcher that is unlikely to throw a shutout, but equally unlikely to get rocked, as he's gone five-plus innings in all but three starts this year for Triple-A Scranton, while never allowing more than four earned runs in a single outing. If Colon ends up on the shelf, that spot belongs to Ivan Nova, but Warren deserves to be Plan B over another overwrought roster shuffle.


tb.gif

Tampa Bay Rays

The Problem: Left Field. Sam Fuld has his own Twitter hash tags, a highlight reel loaded with exciting diving catches, giveaway capes and even a feature piece in a recent issue of the New Yorker. It's too bad he's just not very good at baseball, as after setting the world on fire in one of the flukiest Aprils in recent memory, he's since been flirting with the Mendoza Line to drop his season numbers to .238/.299/.351, which would be unacceptable even for a noncompeting team. It was a great story, but it's time to close the book on this one, as he was in the minor leagues until his late 20s for a reason.

The Answer: Desmond Jennings. Jennings seemed to be on the verge of getting his chance before a finger injury landed him on the disabled list, but it shouldn't be long after his return for him to get the call. One of the better all-around athletes in the minor leagues, Jennings has 12 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 18 attempts over 83 games for Triple-A Durham while also hitting .275 with plenty of walks. He projects as a 20/20 player in the big leagues, and will likely be an everyday player in 2012, but he's also ready to replace Fuld now.

post #1938 of 77453
Thread Starter 
On The Verge of Major Deals.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

The dam is about ready to burst on the trade market, a high-ranking executive said Friday afternoon. The phone calls from team to team are multiplying; the conversations between scouts have more substance. Everybody is getting more serious.

"I think that once July 24 hits, that's when you're going to see a bunch of things happen," one AL official said. "There's a lot of talk."

For example:

The Tigers are asking around about pitching -- but they don't seem to be targeting the third- and fourth-tier guys that make up the bulk of this trade market. Rather, they're asking about high-end starting pitchers, and it was duly noted by other teams that the Tigers had two scouts at Ubaldo Jimenez's start on Thursday. Keep in mind that Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski is known as an aggressive deal-maker who is not afraid of aiming high and moving fast, as he demonstrated with the rapid-fire Miguel Cabrera trade.

[+] EnlargeBell
Jody Gomez/US PresswireHeath Bell could be a trade target of the Phillies.

The Phillies have shifted their focus from a right-handed hitter, rival GMs believe, and are now locking in on relief pitching; they have been talking about the Padres' trio of Heath Bell, Mike Adams and Chad Qualls, who each have different price tags. Maybe Philadelphia's change has been related to the recent play of John Mayberry Jr.

The Diamondbacks are focused on relief pitching, and are looking for the less expensive guys, like Oakland's Brad Ziegler and the Mets' Jason Isringhausen.

The Mariners are increasingly pitching-rich, in the majors (with Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda) and the minors (with pitchers including James Paxton, who was dominant in Double-A on Thursday, striking out 11 and walking 1 over five innings), and they are willing to listen to offers. Keep in mind that Erik Bedard's knee is getting better and may get two starts before the trade deadline, to audition for other teams -- or maybe just for the Mariners, who could keep him as a starter at their price in 2012.

The Pirates -- the first-place Pirates, that is -- have been calling around asking about veteran hitters who could bolster an offense that has been propped up by the team's strong pitching. Jeff Karstens threw a shutout on Friday; Clint Hurdle says the Pirates won't be sellers at the deadline.

• With the left-handed relief market so thin, some teams have started to evaluate the large market of right-handed relievers who fare well against left-handed hitters, figuring that they would rather have a second-tier right-hander who is good against lefties than a third-tier left-hander.

Some of the top right-handers -- perhaps available -- who have had success against left-handers:

David Pauley, Seattle -- .368 OPS vs. lefties, second-best in the majors
Mike Adams, San Diego -- .501 OPS vs. lefties
Koji Uehara, Baltimore -- .536 OPS vs. lefties
Tyler Clippard, Washington -- .565 OPS vs. lefties
Joel Peralta, Tampa Bay -- .584 OPS vs. lefties

Ubaldo Jimenez is miffed at the trade rumors.

Josh Willingham, who is going to be traded at some point, opened his second half with a bang.

• Here's more on Karstens' win, from ESPN Stats & Info: Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens needed only 83 pitches to record his second career shutout, a 4-0 victory Friday against the Astros. He had six 1-2-3 innings, and a seventh in which he retired a leadoff single on a double play.

Fewest pitches in a nine-inning shutout, since 2000:
2001 -- Jon Lieber, CHC -- 78
2008 -- Aaron Cook, COL -- 79
2005 -- Rich Harden, OAK -- 81
2011 -- Jeff Karstens, PIT -- 83
2001 -- Roy Halladay, TOR -- 83

Karstens' 83-pitch shutout by the numbers:
2.77 -- Pitches per plate appearance, Karstens' fewest in 66 career starts.
8 -- Pitches to Jeff Keppinger in the first inning, the longest at-bat of the game. Keppinger was the only hitter to have a plate appearance that lasted longer than five pitches.
14 -- The most pitches Karstens threw in an inning, done twice (6th, 7th).
6 -- Innings in which Karstens threw nine pitches or less.
15 -- Hitters whose at-bat ended on the first or second pitch.
2 -- Double plays induced.

At 48-43, the Pirates are still in first place by percentage points, even though Milwaukee (49-45) has one extra win.

It's the latest date in a season the Pirates have been in first place since 1997. They were tied atop the NL Central at 47-47 as late as July 17 that year.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Orioles have made progress on a three-year deal with J.J. Hardy, and if concluded, it's expected to be for somewhere in the range of $25 million, sources say.

The two sides are working on a no-trade provision, writes Jeff Zrebiec.

2. The Brewers and Francisco Rodriguez have a new structure to his contract which will enable them to pitch him any way they'd like without getting locked in to a $17.5 million deal for next year. The agreement will take pressure off both sides, says K-Rod, within this Todd Rosiak piece.

3. The D-backs are recalling Barry Enright to start Tuesday.

4. The Giants didn't call up Brandon Belt when they had a chance. The bottom line on all that: For Belt, it's a round hole-square peg situation. Their available playing time is in the outfield, not at first base, because Aubrey Huff isn't really an outfielder anymore and to call up Belt would mean burying Huff, who just got a pricey two-year deal. That won't happen, yet.

5. Oakland demoted its top power-hitting prospect.

6. The Rangers' top prospect is moving closer to reaching the big leagues.

7. Chase Headley injured his calf.

Dings and dents

1. Jose Tabata had a rehab setback.

2. Mark DeRosa continues in his effort to try to come back.

3. Casey Blake isn't sure when he'll be back.

4. David Aardsma is going to have Tommy John surgery.



Best Trade Fits by Ballpark.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

In September, I examined how the Colorado Rockies had custom-built their team to take advantage of their home park, Coors Field. With a pitching staff reliant on keeping the ball on the ground and a lineup that excelled at lofting the ball into the thin Colorado air, the Rockies finished with a 52-29 record at home (.642 winning percentage) despite a poor 31-50 (.383) showing on the road.

The Rockies didn't actually pitch better at home (4.25 ERA at Coors vs. 4.02 on the road); the key was that their opponents had a much bigger split (5.76 ERA at Coors vs. 3.22 against the Rockies on the road). Thanks to a staff full of ground-ball artists like Aaron Cook, Jorge de la Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Ubaldo Jimenez, the Rockies weren't as affected by Coors Field as their opponents were. Colorado went 12-6 against the division-rival San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks, who had the two biggest fly-ball pitching staffs in the National League.

As the 2011 trading season heats up, teams in extreme ballparks can look to gain the same sort of advantage in their home games. And as the trading activity heats up in the coming weeks, teams should steer clear of players who don't fit their home ballpark. Three-year park factors give a reasonably accurate indication of which types of hitters tend to thrive in each team's ballpark.

For example, Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field has been the biggest home run park since the beginning of 2009 with a park factor of 1.36. This means that White Sox home games featured 36 percent more home runs than their road games over the past 2½ seasons.

As we saw with the Rockies, not all hitters or pitchers are affected the same. Potential trade targets Jimenez and Matt Garza are ground-ball pitchers who can pitch in any park. This makes them especially valuable to teams like the Yankees, Reds and Diamondbacks, who play in hitters' parks (three-year home run park factors of 134, 119, and 104, respectively); however, for the same reasons, the Rockies (home run park factor of 124) would have a hard time parting with Jimenez.

Padres reliever Chad Qualls has had a nice bounce-back season in Petco Park, and his high ground-ball rate suggests that he will retain much of his value even in homer-friendly parks. The Yankees, who might be on the lookout for an extra bullpen arm, would be wise to keep tabs on a groundballer like Qualls.

San Diego's Aaron Harang, on the other hand, should come with a bright orange warning label. Like Qualls, Harang has also had a good comeback season in the cozy confines of Petco Park. With a career 38 percent ground-ball rate (below the league average of 45 percent), Harang is perfectly suited for the league's most pitcher-friendly stadiums. Sticking him in a homer-friendly park would be like lighting a match in a room full of dynamite.

Javier Vazquez, who has regained some velocity and been much more effective in the past month after a brutal start to the season, could also become trade bait for Florida. Like Harang, however, Vazquez is a fly-ball pitcher and would be especially effective in stadiums where deep fly balls turn from home runs into easy fly outs. If the Braves look to exchange Brandon Beachy for a powerful bat, suitors should be aware of his high fly-ball rate (49 percent, compared to the league average of 37 percent).

Relievers Kerry Wood and Leo Nunez, both fly-ball pitchers, would be good targets for St. Louis, as Busch Stadium has the second-lowest three-year home run park factor in the National League (82, behind Petco's 78).

Hitters can be particularly suited for certain ballparks as well. Ryan Ludwick and Josh Willingham are fly-ball hitters stuck in pitchers' parks. Both are corner outfielders who could be a tremendous boost to a contending lineup in the right ballpark. San Francisco's AT&T Park is not friendly to left-handed power hitters (lefty HR park factor of 85), but the right-handed Ludwick and Willingham could thrive there.

Carlos Beltran, Miguel Olivo, and Colby Rasmus are also trade candidates who hit a lot of fly balls. All three currently play their home games in parks that severely depress home runs. Beltran is the most highly sought-after corner outfielder on the trade market; a trade to a homer-friendly ballpark might provide the same boost the Astros got when acquiring Beltran from the Royals and Kauffman Stadium in 2004.

On the other hand, players like Kosuke Fukudome, Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn and Jamey Carroll hit more ground balls and line drives; as a result, their offensive value is less affected by the park they're playing in. For contending teams playing in pitchers' ballparks, these players would be a better fit than a one-dimensional slugger whose home runs would turn into fly outs.



Internal Solutions.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

I do a lot of radio, and the most frequent question I've received this week is, "Now that we are at the break, who is going to win Division X?" We can try to answer the question as best we can, but the most difficult factor is that we don't know what the contending teams will look like down the stretch.

For the next two weeks and an additional weekend, contending teams (and some that only think they are in contention) will be burning up the phones looking to add an impact player, or maybe just that small piece to help put them over the top.

Still, there are plenty of teams that have an answer to their problems right under their noses, and all it will take is a phone call and a bit of paperwork to get an instant upgrade from their minor-league system. Here are five problems for contending teams, easily solved.


cws.gif

Chicago White Sox

The Problem: Left Field. Juan Pierre has been hitting of late, but all that means is that his season average is up to a whopping .269/.330/.314. Adding to the problems are sudden and mysterious defensive lapses that have changed him from a decent left fielder with a horrible arm, to a bad left fielder with a horrible arm.

The Solution: Dayan Viciedo. The 22-year-old Cuban is having a breakout year at Triple-A Charlotte, hitting .325/.374/.535 in 87 games. Possessing some of the best bat speed in the minors, he has the ability to hit for both average and power and he's made tremendous strides in his approach. Trust me, his 25 walks over 342 at-bats might not look like much, but they actually represent a massive step forward. He's not better defensively than Pierre, as at 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds he's more of a round mound of bat pound (sorry, Charles Barkley), but he could add much-needed life to a White Sox lineup that currently scares opponents with just two players -- Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin.


cin.gif

Cincinnati Reds

The Problem: Left Field. Jonny Gomes has great energy and an equally great haircut, but he's also regressed for two straight years, sitting at just .218/.345/.417. He still can hit lefties, but that's the absolute limit of his value, and his 190 plate appearances against right-handers with a .173/.305/.365 line is one of the reasons the Reds are still under .500.

The Solution: Yonder Alonso. Critics were confused when the Reds used the seventh overall pick of the 2008 draft on a first baseman with Joey Votto in the fold, but they've slowly converted Alonso to left field, where he's become nothing special. But he's at least adequate, and to damn with faint praise, he's certainly no worse than Gomes. He has never developed the power normally associated with a 1B/LF type, but he makes up for it with a high batting average, walks and plenty of doubles, not to mention no platoon issues which would give Dusty Baker some much-needed lineup flexibility.


cle.gif

Cleveland Indians

The Problem: Second Base. Look, Orlando Cabrera is a great human being whose contributions to a young team on a clubhouse level cannot be accurately calculated. He also has a .279 on-base percentage, and Mother Teresa couldn't make up for that with her saint-like makeup.

The Solution: Jason Kipnis. The Indians took care of their third base problem by bringing up Lonnie Chisenhall before the All-Star break, so what's Kipnis still doing in Columbus? He's hitting .297/.380/.506 without a weakness in an offensive game than includes walks, speed and at least average power, and he proved on Sunday that he can hit good stuff by turning on a Julio Teheran fastball on the inner part of the plate for a home run to give the U.S. an early lead in the Futures Game. He does everything (playing-wise) better than Cabrera, and his bat can lead the Indians to much-needed, second-half victories.


nyy.gif

New York Yankees

The Problem: Starting Pitching. Freddy Garcia has been fantastic, but he's also thrown more than 100 innings only once in the past five seasons. Bartolo Colon has been equally surprising, in a good way, but he's also 10 innings away from his highest season total since winning a Cy Young in 2005, his medical records are currently being reviewed by Major League Baseball and he's coming off a brutal outing during which it looked like he was injured. When the Yankees last needed an extra starter, they went out of their way to acquire Brian Gordon, who is now starting for the SK Wyverns. In case you are wondering, that's in South Korea.

The Answer: Adam Warren. Warren is not a savior. He's not even a star, nor does he project to ever be one. What he does do is keep his team in the game with an average-to-plus fastball, two average secondary pitches and the ability to throw strikes. He's the kind of pitcher that is unlikely to throw a shutout, but equally unlikely to get rocked, as he's gone five-plus innings in all but three starts this year for Triple-A Scranton, while never allowing more than four earned runs in a single outing. If Colon ends up on the shelf, that spot belongs to Ivan Nova, but Warren deserves to be Plan B over another overwrought roster shuffle.


tb.gif

Tampa Bay Rays

The Problem: Left Field. Sam Fuld has his own Twitter hash tags, a highlight reel loaded with exciting diving catches, giveaway capes and even a feature piece in a recent issue of the New Yorker. It's too bad he's just not very good at baseball, as after setting the world on fire in one of the flukiest Aprils in recent memory, he's since been flirting with the Mendoza Line to drop his season numbers to .238/.299/.351, which would be unacceptable even for a noncompeting team. It was a great story, but it's time to close the book on this one, as he was in the minor leagues until his late 20s for a reason.

The Answer: Desmond Jennings. Jennings seemed to be on the verge of getting his chance before a finger injury landed him on the disabled list, but it shouldn't be long after his return for him to get the call. One of the better all-around athletes in the minor leagues, Jennings has 12 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 18 attempts over 83 games for Triple-A Durham while also hitting .275 with plenty of walks. He projects as a 20/20 player in the big leagues, and will likely be an everyday player in 2012, but he's also ready to replace Fuld now.

post #1939 of 77453
Thread Starter 
Tampa Bay's offense hurt by the Trop.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Tropicana Field is a pitchers' park. It doesn't have the reputation of Safeco Field or Petco Park, but when it comes to scoring runs, the dome can be just as tough.

Visiting fans and media cannot help but mention Tropicana Field's unique rings, the catwalk structures that have their own special ground rules. To the visitor, it may seem like these dangling obstructions could take over a game -- donating runs to whichever team can pop the ball high enough -- but in truth, these homer- and double-giving structures affect only a handful of games each year.

What does affect every game, however, is the expansive outfield foul territory. Unlike most stadiums, where the foul ground tapers away dramatically near the outfield, Tropicana's foul ground barely shrinks at all as it approaches the far wall. Stadiums like Safeco, Petco and O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. -- stadiums reputed for their run-less-ness -- all have considerably or moderately less foul ground than the Trop.

The net result of increased foul territory appears significant. Over the past four years, Tropicana has played very similarly to Seattle's Safeco Field. This makes sense given their relatively similar dimensions. The extended outfield foul territory in Tropicana, however, seems to make the Trop an even more difficult environment for hitters.

Foul territory in the outfield is unlike infield foul territory for many reasons. First of all, infield foul balls come either on grounders (which the foul ground does not affect) or pop ups (which are rare relative to the other batted ball results -- flies, liners and grounders). Moreover, the infield foul ground rarely provides an in-play ball beyond the reach of the infielders' collective range.

In the outfield, expanded foul territory means that not only are more balls in play, but also outfielders have the ability to run full force at balls near the line. In O.co, where outfielders have a sheer wall and a bloody nose waiting for them at the foul line, they cannot and do not run with absolute abandon at those near-chalk hits.

In the Trop, rangy outfielders from Carl Crawford to Gabe Gross to Ben Zobrist have taken full advantage of this extra space. Moreover, with this added outfield space, pitchers can happily pitch to fly ball contact, knowing that if the ball stays out of the greasy paws of a fan, it will have a great chance of going for a fly out.

Using ESPN's Park Factors, we can get a clue as to how much the different dimensions and environments change run scoring. Over the past three years, the Trop has been the second most pitcher-friendly stadium, trailing only Dodger Stadium (which has so much foul territory it basically has a second outfield behind home plate).

Since 2008, hitters are nearly 12 percent less likely to score runs in the Trop. By comparison, Safeco hitters have a 9 percent disadvantage, while hitters parks like Coors Field and Rangers Ballpark have respective 30 percent and 20 percent advantages.

Trop1.jpgFanGraphs

The 2011 season has been no exception to the Trop's stinginess. The Rays have hit .231/.301/.383 at home this year and .258/.325/.416 away from the dome. One player in particular who has felt the sting of Tropicana is recently DL'd catcher John Jaso. Since his debut in 2008, Jaso has hit a respectable -- if not impressive -- .278/.386/.405 slash outside of Tampa Bay. In St. Pete, he's cobbled together a putrid .219/.305/.319 slash.

At the same time, both Matt Joyce and Zobrist have enjoyed more success away from home. In Joyce's young career, he has hit a solid .264/.336/.483 slash at home, but an All-Star-like .261/.363/.510 away. And since 2006, Zobrist has hit .237/.345/.417 at home, and .272/.351/.445 on the road.

We must imagine that, had these hitters played their home games in Fenway Park -- where hitters have had an average advantage of 12 percent since 2009 -- their perception around the league might differ vastly. In Chase Field in Arizona (roughly a 13 percent hitters' advantage), Jaso might be an everyday starter rather than a platooner. In Wrigley Field (9 percent hitters' advantage), Zobrist might be a three- or four-year All-Star veteran.

The net effect of the Trop has been twofold: (a) The Rays appear more run-anemic than they really are, and (b) the Rays' front office has used its expansive outfield to its advantage, plugging in elite, fast defenders to great effectiveness. Altogether, the Rays appear like a low-to-no-runs team, but this perception may source largely from their stadium.

Tropicana Field may not have the reputation of the other "pitchers' parks," but maybe it's time for that to change. It's time to recognize there is a Safeco South and the hitters there need their due respect.


Trading for Ubaldo worth the risk.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

That the Rockies are willing to talk about Ubaldo Jimenez at all is raising eyebrows in rival front offices, who wonder if Colorado's we'll-listen stance is a reflection of Jimenez's diminished first-half performance, or diminished fastball, or something related to Jimenez's health or happiness.

From the Rockies' perspective, Jimenez is a 27-year-old top-of-the-rotation guy currently on a team-friendly contract -- a pitcher who will eventually become very expensive for Colorado, which has already made the decision to build around Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. The Rockies say Jimenez is a good guy -- an off-the-charts great guy, in fact -- who has bounced back from his first-half struggles, and that the trade inquiries are merely a reflection of the paucity of starting pitching on the current market, and that they have an obligation to look at what might be some great offers.

The Rockies are telling interested teams that the price will be high, and that if Colorado deals him, the extraction of prospects needed in return will be painful. One evaluator's current odds of Jimenez being traded: 25 percent. "It has to be something that makes sense for the Rockies [right now]," said the evaluator.

The Rockies are targeting players who could help in the big leagues right now, or in the very near future. The Tigers have interest, but might not have the right prospects to satisfy Colorado; a third team would probably be required for a deal. The Yankees have the players who would be required for a deal -- including Ivan Nova -- but it's not clear what their level of interest is, and whether their interest will change, given the recent struggles of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia.

Jimenez has a very unique contract, along the lines of those signed by Fausto Carmona and Joakim Soria. He's set to make $4.2 million next year, and then the team holds options on him for 2013, at $5.75 million, and for 2014, at $8 million. If he's traded, the option for 2014 goes away, but whether he's with the Rockies or any other team, there is virtually no financial risk involved with his deal; if his performance falls apart, his team could simply dump or deal him with little loss.

But that small-risk contract is also part of why the Rockies are placing a high value on Jimenez in their conversations with other teams. Some of the interested teams -- which include clubs that are not currently contending -- firmly believe that if Colorado doesn't strike a deal between now and the trade deadline, they are virtually certain to trade him in the winter, when the starting pitching market will again be scarce and when more teams might get involved.

At his best, in the first half of 2010, Jimenez was as dominant as any pitcher we've seen in the last decade. At his worst, he's an experienced starter who doesn't cost that much in salary. So the Rockies are getting calls, and rival evaluators are trying to determine, for themselves, why Colorado is considering this move right now, before names are exchanged in trade proposals.

On Saturday, the Rockies lost a lead and blew their cool, writes Patrick Saunders.

• The way the Mets look at Carlos Beltran's remaining salary is this: The team has already committed to spend the dollars, so why not eat the money and get a better prospect in return? Still, Andrew Baggarly writes that the Giants are not close to making a deal on Beltran. With the Mets demonstrating a willingness to eat the money, the field of landing spots opens dramatically, with Cleveland and Pittsburgh intriguing possibilities. "They've got the prospects to get a deal done," said a rival evaluator. "If the Indians were to get him, their lineup would be pretty tough."

Over the next couple of weeks, we'll see if the Mets say yes, writes Joel Sherman.

• The Red Sox will probably give Josh Reddick and their other outfielders seven to 10 days before deciding to move on an outfielder. Josh Willingham is among the best of the current available veterans, but for Boston, he would probably have to play right field, which is not a good fit. Ryan Ludwick could play right field, as could Jeff Francoeur, although there is a perception among interested teams that the Royals are inclined to keep Francoeur.

• The Rays continue to weigh interest in B.J. Upton, and maybe -- speculation alert -- he would be a good fit for the Giants, who don't seem to have access to the full range of the outfield market. San Francisco doesn't typically make deals with the Padres, who have Ludwick, or with the Athletics, who have Willingham, and they might not want to pay the necessary price for Beltran. Upton would fit the Giants' park with his defense, and he would be under control for San Francisco through next year.

And on paper, the Rays would seem to have an excellent partner to trade Upton (and a pitcher) to if the Cardinals seriously follow through in conversations about Colby Rasmus -- and keep in mind that a lot of the talk seems to be driven from the St. Louis clubhouse.

• The Twins, who drew within six games of first place Saturday, are telling teams that they are intent on trying to win the division and that for now, they have no interest in dumping players like Michael Cuddyer. On Saturday, Cuddyer got the big hit, and Joe Nathan got the save. Matt Capps is OK with the bullpen flip-flop.

• Rival executives say this is absolutely the right time for the Padres to take advantage of Mike Adams' trade value, given his extensive injury history and his age; he turns 33 at the end of this month. The Rangers are thought to be a favorite to land at least one of the San Diego relievers; the Phillies are also in play.

• The Legend of Sam Fuld grows: He went to high school with Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. Although he doesn't really remember Zuckerberg.

• The Pirates are the feel-good story of the first half, writes Larry Stone. We'll have more on them tomorrow.

CC Sabathia is on a serious roll -- he picked up win No. 14 on Saturday, as Mark Feinsand writes. How he beat the Blue Jays, from ESPN Stats and Info:
A. A dominant slider. Sabathia threw 27 sliders Saturday, and Blue Jays hitters swung at 18, missing 10, the second most misses among his starts this season. Toronto hitters were 1-for-11 in at-bats ending with Sabathia's slider, including six strikeouts. Sabathia got the Blue Jays to swing at 10 of the 16 sliders he threw out of the strike zone, resulting in four of the strikeouts.
B. Sabathia was successful keeping the ball down, especially with the slider. Toronto hitters were 0-for-11 in at-bats ending with pitches down, including 0-for-8 with all six strikeouts against the slider.

From the Elias Sports Bureau: Sabathia is the second pitcher in Yankees history with five or more straight starts of seven-plus innings pitched and one or fewer runs allowed. Steve Kline had six such straight starts in 1972.

In 10 starts following a Yankees loss this season, Sabathia is 8-2 with a 3.24 ERA. He's now 23-9 with a 3.40 ERA following a Yankees loss in his career with the team. Sabathia lowered his ERA to 2.64 following his start Saturday. No Yankees pitcher (minimum 25 starts) has produced a sub-3.00 ERA in a season since David Cone (2.82) and Andy Pettitte (2.88) did it in 1997.

• Joe Girardi suggested that the Jays are stealing signs in an untoward manner.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The empty seats in the Trop won't affect the Rays' push to make the playoffs.

2. These next 16 days could be Ed Wade's finest hour, writes Richard Justice.

3. The Orioles completed the J.J. Hardy contract negotiations.

Dings and dents

1. Nick Punto is headed back to the disabled list.

2. Denard Span has been cleared to start a rehab assignment.

3. Ryan Braun could be out of the lineup today.

4. There is no timetable for Clay Buchholz's return.

Saturday's games

1. The Diamondbacks got a big hit from Brandon Allen.

2. Barry Zito was shelled, Ron Kroichick writes.

3. The Mariners' losing streak is at eight games, and counting.

4. Oakland split a doubleheader.

5. C.J. Wilson dismissed the Mariners, and Texas won again. From ESPN Stats and Info, how he won:
A. He held righties in check. Mariners right-handed hitters were just 1-for-13 against Wilson on Saturday, including all six of Wilson's strikeouts. The one hit ties the fewest Wilson has allowed to righties in a start over the last two seasons.
B. He had success when behind in the count. Wilson threw first-pitch strikes to only 13 of the 28 hitters he faced, but reached just four 2-0 counts and no 3-0 counts. In at-bats ending with Wilson behind in the count (1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1), Mariners hitters were just 1-for-7, with six of the at-bats ending on fastballs.

For the second straight season, the Rangers are the first team to win at least 10 straight games. According to Elias, they're the first team since the Indians in 2001 and '02 to be the first to post 10-game win streaks in consecutive seasons.

6. Cole Hamels lost to the Mets, again, Jim Salisbury writes. From ESPN Stats and Info: Cole Hamels has dominated the NL East in his career -- if you exclude the Mets. Hamels is just 3-10 lifetime against the Mets, and his ERA against the Mets is nearly a run and a half higher than his ERA against the rest of the division.

7. Albert Pujols homered again in the Cardinals' win over Cincinnati. From ESPN Stats and Info: Pujols hit his 428th career home run Saturday, passing Mike Piazza for 41st on the all-time list. It was his 20th home run this season; he has now hit 20-plus in each of his first 11 seasons. Pujols is the third player to hit 20-plus homers in each of his first 11 seasons. Eddie Mathews did it in 14 straight to start his career and Frank Robinson did it in 12 straight.

By the way: Pujols is doing exactly what he needed to do in the aftermath of his wrist injury, hitting with power.

8. The Dodgers were hit back to reality by the Diamondbacks, writes Dylan Hernandez.

9. The Angels split a doubleheader, and lost ground in the standings.

10. The Padres broke out in a big way.

11. James Shields got pounded.

12. John Lackey wound up getting the win on Saturday despite a rocky start. The rest of the Red Sox position players deserve some kind of award for not reacting to Lackey's body language, which is the worst I've ever seen in a starting pitcher. Marco Scutaro made mistakes twice in the first inning, and as the Tampa Bay rally moved along, Lackey's gestures to bad moments got worse and worse; twice he threw his hands up in the air in frustration. Can you imagine how a pitcher would respond if an outfielder threw his hands up in disgust while watching a home run ball soar over his head, after Lackey hung a breaking ball?

And in a separate incident, Lackey barked at Terry Francona when the manager took him out of the game, arguing with the decision.

Really, it's something that Lackey should strive to change, and if he doesn't, the Red Sox position players should all make a pact to physically react to every mistake Lackey makes on the mound.

Dustin Pedroia has been heating up, writes Scott Lauber.

13. The Tigers dropped another game, and another series.

14. Tommy Hanson struggled.

15. Mike Stanton clubbed a couple of homers, Juan Rodriguez writes.

16. The Indians' late rally wasn't enough.

17. The momentum from Brandon Phillips' homer on Friday was lost on Saturday.

18. John Lannan's first hit of the season proved to be pivotal.

19. Sign-stealing wouldn't have helped the Jays on Saturday, writes Richard Griffin.

20. The Astros brought a temporary end to their losing streak.

21. Scott Hairston had a career day.

22. Rickie Weeks clubbed a big homer, after major changes were made to the Milwaukee lineup.

23. Edwin Jackson went the distance.

24. Carlos Zambrano was back on the mound, but got hit around
post #1940 of 77453
Thread Starter 
Tampa Bay's offense hurt by the Trop.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Tropicana Field is a pitchers' park. It doesn't have the reputation of Safeco Field or Petco Park, but when it comes to scoring runs, the dome can be just as tough.

Visiting fans and media cannot help but mention Tropicana Field's unique rings, the catwalk structures that have their own special ground rules. To the visitor, it may seem like these dangling obstructions could take over a game -- donating runs to whichever team can pop the ball high enough -- but in truth, these homer- and double-giving structures affect only a handful of games each year.

What does affect every game, however, is the expansive outfield foul territory. Unlike most stadiums, where the foul ground tapers away dramatically near the outfield, Tropicana's foul ground barely shrinks at all as it approaches the far wall. Stadiums like Safeco, Petco and O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. -- stadiums reputed for their run-less-ness -- all have considerably or moderately less foul ground than the Trop.

The net result of increased foul territory appears significant. Over the past four years, Tropicana has played very similarly to Seattle's Safeco Field. This makes sense given their relatively similar dimensions. The extended outfield foul territory in Tropicana, however, seems to make the Trop an even more difficult environment for hitters.

Foul territory in the outfield is unlike infield foul territory for many reasons. First of all, infield foul balls come either on grounders (which the foul ground does not affect) or pop ups (which are rare relative to the other batted ball results -- flies, liners and grounders). Moreover, the infield foul ground rarely provides an in-play ball beyond the reach of the infielders' collective range.

In the outfield, expanded foul territory means that not only are more balls in play, but also outfielders have the ability to run full force at balls near the line. In O.co, where outfielders have a sheer wall and a bloody nose waiting for them at the foul line, they cannot and do not run with absolute abandon at those near-chalk hits.

In the Trop, rangy outfielders from Carl Crawford to Gabe Gross to Ben Zobrist have taken full advantage of this extra space. Moreover, with this added outfield space, pitchers can happily pitch to fly ball contact, knowing that if the ball stays out of the greasy paws of a fan, it will have a great chance of going for a fly out.

Using ESPN's Park Factors, we can get a clue as to how much the different dimensions and environments change run scoring. Over the past three years, the Trop has been the second most pitcher-friendly stadium, trailing only Dodger Stadium (which has so much foul territory it basically has a second outfield behind home plate).

Since 2008, hitters are nearly 12 percent less likely to score runs in the Trop. By comparison, Safeco hitters have a 9 percent disadvantage, while hitters parks like Coors Field and Rangers Ballpark have respective 30 percent and 20 percent advantages.

Trop1.jpgFanGraphs

The 2011 season has been no exception to the Trop's stinginess. The Rays have hit .231/.301/.383 at home this year and .258/.325/.416 away from the dome. One player in particular who has felt the sting of Tropicana is recently DL'd catcher John Jaso. Since his debut in 2008, Jaso has hit a respectable -- if not impressive -- .278/.386/.405 slash outside of Tampa Bay. In St. Pete, he's cobbled together a putrid .219/.305/.319 slash.

At the same time, both Matt Joyce and Zobrist have enjoyed more success away from home. In Joyce's young career, he has hit a solid .264/.336/.483 slash at home, but an All-Star-like .261/.363/.510 away. And since 2006, Zobrist has hit .237/.345/.417 at home, and .272/.351/.445 on the road.

We must imagine that, had these hitters played their home games in Fenway Park -- where hitters have had an average advantage of 12 percent since 2009 -- their perception around the league might differ vastly. In Chase Field in Arizona (roughly a 13 percent hitters' advantage), Jaso might be an everyday starter rather than a platooner. In Wrigley Field (9 percent hitters' advantage), Zobrist might be a three- or four-year All-Star veteran.

The net effect of the Trop has been twofold: (a) The Rays appear more run-anemic than they really are, and (b) the Rays' front office has used its expansive outfield to its advantage, plugging in elite, fast defenders to great effectiveness. Altogether, the Rays appear like a low-to-no-runs team, but this perception may source largely from their stadium.

Tropicana Field may not have the reputation of the other "pitchers' parks," but maybe it's time for that to change. It's time to recognize there is a Safeco South and the hitters there need their due respect.


Trading for Ubaldo worth the risk.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

That the Rockies are willing to talk about Ubaldo Jimenez at all is raising eyebrows in rival front offices, who wonder if Colorado's we'll-listen stance is a reflection of Jimenez's diminished first-half performance, or diminished fastball, or something related to Jimenez's health or happiness.

From the Rockies' perspective, Jimenez is a 27-year-old top-of-the-rotation guy currently on a team-friendly contract -- a pitcher who will eventually become very expensive for Colorado, which has already made the decision to build around Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. The Rockies say Jimenez is a good guy -- an off-the-charts great guy, in fact -- who has bounced back from his first-half struggles, and that the trade inquiries are merely a reflection of the paucity of starting pitching on the current market, and that they have an obligation to look at what might be some great offers.

The Rockies are telling interested teams that the price will be high, and that if Colorado deals him, the extraction of prospects needed in return will be painful. One evaluator's current odds of Jimenez being traded: 25 percent. "It has to be something that makes sense for the Rockies [right now]," said the evaluator.

The Rockies are targeting players who could help in the big leagues right now, or in the very near future. The Tigers have interest, but might not have the right prospects to satisfy Colorado; a third team would probably be required for a deal. The Yankees have the players who would be required for a deal -- including Ivan Nova -- but it's not clear what their level of interest is, and whether their interest will change, given the recent struggles of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia.

Jimenez has a very unique contract, along the lines of those signed by Fausto Carmona and Joakim Soria. He's set to make $4.2 million next year, and then the team holds options on him for 2013, at $5.75 million, and for 2014, at $8 million. If he's traded, the option for 2014 goes away, but whether he's with the Rockies or any other team, there is virtually no financial risk involved with his deal; if his performance falls apart, his team could simply dump or deal him with little loss.

But that small-risk contract is also part of why the Rockies are placing a high value on Jimenez in their conversations with other teams. Some of the interested teams -- which include clubs that are not currently contending -- firmly believe that if Colorado doesn't strike a deal between now and the trade deadline, they are virtually certain to trade him in the winter, when the starting pitching market will again be scarce and when more teams might get involved.

At his best, in the first half of 2010, Jimenez was as dominant as any pitcher we've seen in the last decade. At his worst, he's an experienced starter who doesn't cost that much in salary. So the Rockies are getting calls, and rival evaluators are trying to determine, for themselves, why Colorado is considering this move right now, before names are exchanged in trade proposals.

On Saturday, the Rockies lost a lead and blew their cool, writes Patrick Saunders.

• The way the Mets look at Carlos Beltran's remaining salary is this: The team has already committed to spend the dollars, so why not eat the money and get a better prospect in return? Still, Andrew Baggarly writes that the Giants are not close to making a deal on Beltran. With the Mets demonstrating a willingness to eat the money, the field of landing spots opens dramatically, with Cleveland and Pittsburgh intriguing possibilities. "They've got the prospects to get a deal done," said a rival evaluator. "If the Indians were to get him, their lineup would be pretty tough."

Over the next couple of weeks, we'll see if the Mets say yes, writes Joel Sherman.

• The Red Sox will probably give Josh Reddick and their other outfielders seven to 10 days before deciding to move on an outfielder. Josh Willingham is among the best of the current available veterans, but for Boston, he would probably have to play right field, which is not a good fit. Ryan Ludwick could play right field, as could Jeff Francoeur, although there is a perception among interested teams that the Royals are inclined to keep Francoeur.

• The Rays continue to weigh interest in B.J. Upton, and maybe -- speculation alert -- he would be a good fit for the Giants, who don't seem to have access to the full range of the outfield market. San Francisco doesn't typically make deals with the Padres, who have Ludwick, or with the Athletics, who have Willingham, and they might not want to pay the necessary price for Beltran. Upton would fit the Giants' park with his defense, and he would be under control for San Francisco through next year.

And on paper, the Rays would seem to have an excellent partner to trade Upton (and a pitcher) to if the Cardinals seriously follow through in conversations about Colby Rasmus -- and keep in mind that a lot of the talk seems to be driven from the St. Louis clubhouse.

• The Twins, who drew within six games of first place Saturday, are telling teams that they are intent on trying to win the division and that for now, they have no interest in dumping players like Michael Cuddyer. On Saturday, Cuddyer got the big hit, and Joe Nathan got the save. Matt Capps is OK with the bullpen flip-flop.

• Rival executives say this is absolutely the right time for the Padres to take advantage of Mike Adams' trade value, given his extensive injury history and his age; he turns 33 at the end of this month. The Rangers are thought to be a favorite to land at least one of the San Diego relievers; the Phillies are also in play.

• The Legend of Sam Fuld grows: He went to high school with Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. Although he doesn't really remember Zuckerberg.

• The Pirates are the feel-good story of the first half, writes Larry Stone. We'll have more on them tomorrow.

CC Sabathia is on a serious roll -- he picked up win No. 14 on Saturday, as Mark Feinsand writes. How he beat the Blue Jays, from ESPN Stats and Info:
A. A dominant slider. Sabathia threw 27 sliders Saturday, and Blue Jays hitters swung at 18, missing 10, the second most misses among his starts this season. Toronto hitters were 1-for-11 in at-bats ending with Sabathia's slider, including six strikeouts. Sabathia got the Blue Jays to swing at 10 of the 16 sliders he threw out of the strike zone, resulting in four of the strikeouts.
B. Sabathia was successful keeping the ball down, especially with the slider. Toronto hitters were 0-for-11 in at-bats ending with pitches down, including 0-for-8 with all six strikeouts against the slider.

From the Elias Sports Bureau: Sabathia is the second pitcher in Yankees history with five or more straight starts of seven-plus innings pitched and one or fewer runs allowed. Steve Kline had six such straight starts in 1972.

In 10 starts following a Yankees loss this season, Sabathia is 8-2 with a 3.24 ERA. He's now 23-9 with a 3.40 ERA following a Yankees loss in his career with the team. Sabathia lowered his ERA to 2.64 following his start Saturday. No Yankees pitcher (minimum 25 starts) has produced a sub-3.00 ERA in a season since David Cone (2.82) and Andy Pettitte (2.88) did it in 1997.

• Joe Girardi suggested that the Jays are stealing signs in an untoward manner.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The empty seats in the Trop won't affect the Rays' push to make the playoffs.

2. These next 16 days could be Ed Wade's finest hour, writes Richard Justice.

3. The Orioles completed the J.J. Hardy contract negotiations.

Dings and dents

1. Nick Punto is headed back to the disabled list.

2. Denard Span has been cleared to start a rehab assignment.

3. Ryan Braun could be out of the lineup today.

4. There is no timetable for Clay Buchholz's return.

Saturday's games

1. The Diamondbacks got a big hit from Brandon Allen.

2. Barry Zito was shelled, Ron Kroichick writes.

3. The Mariners' losing streak is at eight games, and counting.

4. Oakland split a doubleheader.

5. C.J. Wilson dismissed the Mariners, and Texas won again. From ESPN Stats and Info, how he won:
A. He held righties in check. Mariners right-handed hitters were just 1-for-13 against Wilson on Saturday, including all six of Wilson's strikeouts. The one hit ties the fewest Wilson has allowed to righties in a start over the last two seasons.
B. He had success when behind in the count. Wilson threw first-pitch strikes to only 13 of the 28 hitters he faced, but reached just four 2-0 counts and no 3-0 counts. In at-bats ending with Wilson behind in the count (1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1), Mariners hitters were just 1-for-7, with six of the at-bats ending on fastballs.

For the second straight season, the Rangers are the first team to win at least 10 straight games. According to Elias, they're the first team since the Indians in 2001 and '02 to be the first to post 10-game win streaks in consecutive seasons.

6. Cole Hamels lost to the Mets, again, Jim Salisbury writes. From ESPN Stats and Info: Cole Hamels has dominated the NL East in his career -- if you exclude the Mets. Hamels is just 3-10 lifetime against the Mets, and his ERA against the Mets is nearly a run and a half higher than his ERA against the rest of the division.

7. Albert Pujols homered again in the Cardinals' win over Cincinnati. From ESPN Stats and Info: Pujols hit his 428th career home run Saturday, passing Mike Piazza for 41st on the all-time list. It was his 20th home run this season; he has now hit 20-plus in each of his first 11 seasons. Pujols is the third player to hit 20-plus homers in each of his first 11 seasons. Eddie Mathews did it in 14 straight to start his career and Frank Robinson did it in 12 straight.

By the way: Pujols is doing exactly what he needed to do in the aftermath of his wrist injury, hitting with power.

8. The Dodgers were hit back to reality by the Diamondbacks, writes Dylan Hernandez.

9. The Angels split a doubleheader, and lost ground in the standings.

10. The Padres broke out in a big way.

11. James Shields got pounded.

12. John Lackey wound up getting the win on Saturday despite a rocky start. The rest of the Red Sox position players deserve some kind of award for not reacting to Lackey's body language, which is the worst I've ever seen in a starting pitcher. Marco Scutaro made mistakes twice in the first inning, and as the Tampa Bay rally moved along, Lackey's gestures to bad moments got worse and worse; twice he threw his hands up in the air in frustration. Can you imagine how a pitcher would respond if an outfielder threw his hands up in disgust while watching a home run ball soar over his head, after Lackey hung a breaking ball?

And in a separate incident, Lackey barked at Terry Francona when the manager took him out of the game, arguing with the decision.

Really, it's something that Lackey should strive to change, and if he doesn't, the Red Sox position players should all make a pact to physically react to every mistake Lackey makes on the mound.

Dustin Pedroia has been heating up, writes Scott Lauber.

13. The Tigers dropped another game, and another series.

14. Tommy Hanson struggled.

15. Mike Stanton clubbed a couple of homers, Juan Rodriguez writes.

16. The Indians' late rally wasn't enough.

17. The momentum from Brandon Phillips' homer on Friday was lost on Saturday.

18. John Lannan's first hit of the season proved to be pivotal.

19. Sign-stealing wouldn't have helped the Jays on Saturday, writes Richard Griffin.

20. The Astros brought a temporary end to their losing streak.

21. Scott Hairston had a career day.

22. Rickie Weeks clubbed a big homer, after major changes were made to the Milwaukee lineup.

23. Edwin Jackson went the distance.

24. Carlos Zambrano was back on the mound, but got hit around
post #1941 of 77453
Thread Starter 
Trade Value #30-#1.

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Rank – Player – Position – Team – Past 3 Calendar Year WAR

#30 – Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas: +12.9

While Kinsler is overshadowed by teammates such as Josh Hamilton, he has quietly become one of the best second baseman in baseball. Always a good contact hitter, he’s reduced his strikeout rate even further, and now he’s just a low BABIP away from being a legitimate MVP candidate. The Rangers might only have him under team control for another two seasons, but at a total salary of $17 million, he provides a lot of value for minimal cost. He’s an under-the-radar star, but the Rangers would have to be bowled over in order to move him.

#29 – Kevin Youkilis, 3B, Boston: +16.2

Everything that was just said about Kinsler is true of Youkilis with the exception of the under the radar stuff. Youkilis is an established star and one of the best hitters in baseball, and yet the Red Sox owe him just $25 million over the next two seasons. As an older player who might not age all that gracefully, almost all of his value is tied up in the here and now, but his performance relative to his salary is tremendously valuable.

#28 – Ben Zobrist, 2B, Tampa Bay: +18.0

Sure, he’s 30-years-old and a lot of people still don’t understand how it happened, but Zobrist has established himself as one of the best players in the game. The power is back, the defense is still terrific, and there really aren’t any weak parts of his game. But, really, he’s here because of the contract. The Rays owe him just $10 million combined in 2012 and 2013, and then they hold a $7 million option for 2014 and a $7.5 million option for 2015. It remains to be seen how much long term value he’ll have, but there’s a ton of value in his present performance and the price tag that he’s locked in at.

#27 – Buster Posey, C, San Francisco: +5.2

He was a tough guy to place because of the injury. Obviously he provides no present value in terms of 2011 performance, and he’s essentially going to surrender one of his cheap years of team control, but he’s a good enough talent that teams would still be lining up to have Posey as their catcher going forward if the Giants put him on the block. Had he not been run over, he’d probably have been another 10 spots higher on this list. There just aren’t that many good young catchers who can also hit in the big leagues right now.

#26 – Jaime Garcia, SP, St. Louis: +5.3

It was nice of the Cardinals to announce Garcia’s extension before I wrote this post, as he slid up a couple of spots based on the deal. St. Louis was able to lock up his arbitration years and first year of free agency at the bargain price of $28 million, and they got two team options tacked on to the end of the deal. For a pitcher of his abilities, this is a team-friendly contract. Garcia might not have the pedigree or the raw stuff of some of the other elite young lefties in the game, but he’s performed almost as well as any of them, and the Cardinals should be thrilled that he’ll be in St. Louis for at least the next half decade.

This is the point where it got really tough to put players in particular spots. Every team in baseball would love to have every guy on the list from here on out – the warts are now much more minor or the potential is so high as to make it seem like a risk worth carrying. Even in this section, you’re looking at some of the best young talents in baseball. If you want to move a guy a few spots up or down here, I won’t begrudge you at all. These guys are all very, very good.

Rank – Player – Position – Team – Past 3 Calendar Year WAR

#25 – Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Colorado: +16.4

Compared to last year, Jimenez’s fastball is down nearly 3 MPH and his ERA is up over 4.00, but in reality he’s not pitching all that much worse. The spike in runs allowed is about runner stranding, and his peripherals are pretty much in line with his career norms. There would be a bit less demand for him this year than last, but teams will still look at Jimenez as a young front-line starter. Toss in his insanely team-friendly contract ($21 million over the next four years if both team options are picked up), and even without the premium fastball that he had last year, the Rockies would still be able to command a ransom for Jimenez.

#24 – Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington: +2.6

By far, the hardest player to put on this list. Some teams would still value him as a top 10 guy, while others would take every other guy on this list and a few dozen more before they took Strasburg. Both the risk and reward markers on him are off the charts. On one hand, he could end up as the next Mark Prior, offering nothing but false hope and becoming a story of what-could-have-been. On the other hand, Tommy John surgery is hardly a career-killer, and if he’s back on the mound next spring, he could easily be the best pitcher in baseball in 2012. He doesn’t offer much in the way of 2011 value, but he’s not a long ways off from contributing again, and the upside is just too high to ignore.

#23 – Tommy Hanson, SP, Atlanta: +9.0

Hanson isn’t quite as good as his career 2.99 ERA would indicate, but even if you factor in some regression going forward, he still projects as one of the best starting pitchers in the National League. At 24, he’s shown significant improvement this year, and is now using his stuff to it’s full potential. He still throws too many balls to be a true ace, but he’s not far off from that, and there’s still room for growth. Still in his pre-arb years and under team control through 2016, Hanson is a terrific combination of present and future value.

#22 – Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati: +9.5

While Bruce might seem like something of an enigma, it’s worth keeping in mind that he’s only three weeks older than Danny Espinosa, and he already has nearly 1,800 career plate appearances under his belt. There has been a learning curve, to be sure, but Bruce has settled in as a good player already, and he still has the physical tools to become a superstar. There just aren’t many players with his athleticism in the outfield and his abilities at the plate. The long term contract he signed with the Reds will pay him just $48 million over the next five years and should buy out most of his prime years, so any team trading for Bruce would not only get a good player with star potential, but get one at a bargain rate as well.

#21 – Mike Trout, OF, Anaheim: -0.1

Yes, he’s still basically a prospect with no proven success in the big leagues, but Trout is not your average prospect. He’s the epitome of a five tool player, only he’s developed at years beyond his age. While he might not yet be ready for stardom in the big leagues, it’s worth remembering that guys who destroy AA-ball at age 19 usually turn out to become good big league hitters. When those guys are also center fielders with enough speed to be elite defenders and add a lot of value on the bases, you’re looking at a guy who could be the best player in baseball. There’s really nothing wrong with Trout beyond a lack of MLB experience, and yet he’s still good enough to start for a number of Major League teams right now. Few players offer as much future value as Trout, and the Angels won’t have to wait much longer for it to start paying off in the big leagues.

#20 – Bryce Harper, OF, Washington: +0.0 WAR

I have a feeling Harper and Mike Trout will be linked together for most of their careers, and while I did not set out to put them next to each other on this list, I’m not overly surprised that they ended up side by side. Both are extremely good young talents, and while Harper’s probably the higher upside guy, he is just in Double-A, and his game is raw enough that he might not provide value at the big league level for a few more years. But talents like Harper don’t come along often, and even contending teams would give up the farm to have Harper in their system.

#19 – Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit: +20.4

If the list was just players coveted for their on field abilities, I’m not sure how many pitchers would rate ahead of Verlander. He’s the classic ace with a power fastball and a big knockout breaking ball. He’s exactly what scouts want in a pitcher, and there’s no mystery to how he’s able to dominate or concern that it might go away any time soon. At 28, he’s in the prime of his career and getting better. Only Roy Halladay has been significantly better over the last three years. At $20 million per season for each of the next three years, his contract isn’t an anchor, but the salary is high enough to knock a lot of teams out of the running. He’d still command a huge return from the teams who could afford him, however.

#18 – Jon Lester, SP, Boston: +16.1

Premium pitching continues to be in high demand, and there are few better southpaws in the game than Lester. He’s established himself as a consistent front-of-the-rotation guy, and at just 27-years-old, he’s showing no signs of slowing down. His contract includes two more years at a total of $19 million guaranteed and then a $13 million club option that is a lock to be picked up unless his arm falls off. If he were a free agent, he’d get double the AAV for twice as many years as he’s currently getting paid, and the Red Sox know that they have one of the game’s best bargains in terms of starting pitching.

#17 – Brian McCann, C, Atlanta: +13.7

It’s taken awhile (and an injury to Joe Mauer), but we can finally anoint McCann as the best catcher in baseball. He has a terrific all-around game, hitting for average and power, taking his walks, and being an asset behind the plate for the Braves. With the downturn in offense output over the last few years, a guy like McCann is even more valuable because of the relative difference between what he can give you and what other teams are getting from their catchers. Even though he only has two years left on his contract after 2011, he’s owed only $20 million over those two years, and his present value is extremely high. The Braves won’t part with him, but it would take a monster offer to even get them to not hang up the phone.

#16 – Mike Stanton, OF, Florida: +5.2

Yes, Stanton strikes out a lot. Yes, he’s a corner outfielder with a career on base percentage of .328. If you focus on Stanton’s flaws, you might just miss the fact that he’s already a good big league player at the same age that most of his peers are trying to break into high-A ball. His prodigious power and athleticism help him overcome the raw aspects of his approach at the plate. As he gets older and learns to control the strike zone a bit more, Stanton has the potential to be one of the game’s best hitters. Given his current usefulness and his upside beyond what he is now, the line would be out the door to acquire Stanton’s services for the next five years. He’s one guy you can be pretty sure the Marlins aren’t going to trade, however.

#15 – Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida: +16.4

Ramirez was another tough one to place. On the one hand, he’s a 27-year-old shortstop with a career 136 wRC+, nearly an impossible combination to find anywhere else in the sport. On the other hand, a lot of teams don’t think he’s going to stay at shortstop much longer, his power has been going in reverse for the last four years, and he’s fought with just about every manager he’s had down in Florida. There is some feeling in the game that Ramirez’s best days are behind him, even despite his young age, and that any team who traded for the 3 years and $47 million left on his deal would be getting a guy who should move to the outfield but might not be willing to put in the work to make it happen. He’s too good to be any lower than this, but realistically, Ramirez’s perceived attitude problems have probably cost him 5-10 spots from where he should be based on his talent level.

#14 – Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle: +17.7

Perhaps the key number here is 25 – Felix’s current age. Despite being the reigning AL Cy Young winner and a guy with over 1,300 career innings in the big leagues, Felix is still one of the youngest guys on this list. He’s matured into an all-around ace and has shown he can handle a Halladay-esque workload. The only thing that will stop Felix from being one of the best pitchers in baseball for a long time is an injury. He’s no longer cheap at $58 million for the next three seasons, but that’s a fraction of his market value, and if the Mariners ever do decide to trade their ace, the haul will be astronomical.

#13: Carlos Santana, C, Cleveland: +4.3

In the first 134 games he’s played in the big leagues, Santana has racked up +4.3 WAR, a fantastic total for any player. That he’s done it while posting a .260 BABIP is even more incredible, and suggests that his still-terrific batting line might be underselling just how good he really is at the plate. He’s a switch-hitting catcher with power and patience who still makes good contact, and he’s a good enough defender to stay behind the plate for some time as well. Santana has the skills to be an MVP candidate going forward, and he’s already in the discussion for best catcher in the American League. Oh, and the Indians control his rights for another five years.

#12: David Price, LHP, Tampa Bay: +9.0

After a couple of years of struggling with the strike zone, Price has finally found his command and has developed into the ace that everyone expected him to be as the #1 pick in the draft. He’s dominating primarily with just his fastball, and if he improves his secondary stuff, he has best-pitcher-in-the-game potential. His salaries will begin to shoot northward once he becomes arbitration eligible, but with four more years of team control, he’s a cost-controlled asset that every team in baseball would love to have.

#11: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles: +14.0

The highest rated pitcher on the list, Kershaw has become a true front-line starting pitcher at age 23. He’s cut his walk rate, upped his strikeout rate, and continues to maintain his below average rates on BABIP and HR/FB. The flaws that could be nitpicked the last few years are mostly gone, and now Kershaw is just a lights-out left-hander who is legitimately one of the best pitchers in baseball. As an arbitration eligible guy this winter, he’s going to start to get paid for his success, but his salaries will still just be a small fraction of what he would get on the open market. Given his age and current performance, I don’t think any other hurler in baseball has more trade value than Kershaw.

#10 – Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington: +16.4

Zimmerman is one of the game’s best players, but also one of the game’s best kept secrets. He is consistently ignored in things like All-Star placement and MVP voting despite the fact that he’s one of the best players in baseball. Because he’s not a premier power guy or an up-the-middle player and his value is largely tied to his defensive excellence, his excellence gets lost in the crowd, but it shouldn’t. He’s awesome. At $26 million over the next two years, he’s also one of the cheapest elite players in baseball, though the lack a true long term deal drags him down a bit. Still, his present value is sky high, and offsets most of the lack of value beyond 2013.

#9 – Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee: +13.4

After a somewhat slow start to his career, Weeks has blossomed into a fantastic player. He’s one of the premier power hitting middle-infielders in the sport, and while many projected that he’d have to move off of second base as he aged, he’s actually improved defensively to the point where he’s now legitimately good there. His injury history is still something of a concern, but at 28, Weeks hasn’t had any health problems the last few years, and the long term contract the Brewers signed him to ($42 million over the next four years) is so cheap that he’s a massive bargain even if he misses time each season.

#8 – Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta: +6.0

It seems like there’s a race to see who can get off the Heyward bandwagon the fastest, as injuries and a .224 batting average have soured a lot of people on the Braves young outfielder. But if you look past BA, he’s showing all the same skills he did last year. His power is still there, as his ISO and HR/FB rates are basically unchanged. He’s still walking and he’s still making contact when he does swing. But instead of the .335 BABIP he posted last year, he’s at .251 this year. When balls start falling in again, Heyward will remind everyone that he’s still one of the best young hitters in baseball, and, remember, he’s only 21. There’s serious long term upside as long as he can stay healthy.

#7 – Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati: +18.5

There’s no question that Votto is a premier player in baseball, and if the Reds could have gotten him locked up sooner, he’d be several spots higher on this list. But with just two years and $27 million left on his deal after 2011, it’s tough to put him any higher than this. Breakouts like Votto are exactly why teams are becoming so aggressive in trying to get their young stars locked up early, because the Reds are now facing the reality that they might lose him in a few years. His next contract is going to be nutty, and it might not come from the Reds.

#6 – Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh: +11.8

Already a terrific all-around player, McCutchen has added power this year and made himself into a legitimate MVP candidate at age 24. His broad base of skills suggests that he’ll age extremely well, there’s no injury history to worry about, and the Pirates control his rights for four more years after this one. They haven’t yet locked him up to a long term deal, but even if he goes through the arbitration process, he’ll still be a tremendous bargain. If you want to start handing out praise for why baseball is relevant in Pittsburgh again, start with McCutchen.

#5 – Justin Upton, OF, Arizona: +11.4

When Arizona put Upton on the block this winter, it seemed like they might questioning whether he was ever going to be able to get his contact rates under control to become the star slugger that he was expected to develop into. Well, it’s a good thing they held onto him, because that’s exactly what he’s done this year. With all his other skills holding steady, he’s drastically reduced his strikeout rate and taken his game to the next level, becoming one of the best all-around hitters in baseball in the process. It’s easy to forget that he’s just 23-years-old, and while he might not be the best hitter in the game, he has that kind of upside, and he’s plenty good right now.

#4 – Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston: +17.2

Boston’s second baseman continues to be overshadowed by larger players who take a disproportionate share of the credit for the team’s success, but Pedroia has been their best player for several years now. At 27, he’s now having the best year of his career, and the idea of his elite performance being a fluke should be all but forgotten. Over the next three seasons, he’s guaranteed just $28 million, and the Red Sox hold an $11 million team option for 2015 as well, so Pedroia’s going to be massively underpaid for his prime years. While Adrian Gonzalez is getting the love this year, don’t forget Pedroia – the engine that drives the Red Sox success.

#3 – Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado: +17.9

There just aren’t any flaws in Tulowitzki’s game. He’s a premium defensive shortstop who can really hit, drives the baseball, doesn’t strike out anymore, and is generally just excellent at nearly every aspect of the game. There are some teams who would balk at giving a guy with his injury history a 10 year deal, but the Rockies clearly believe in their franchise player, and unlike his last contract, this one can actually be traded (he could void the last one if dealt to another franchise) if they decide to move him at some point. It’s nearly impossible to think of a scenario where Colorado would give him up, but if they did put him on the market, the demand would be absurd.

#2 – Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto: +15.7

I debated putting Bautista at #1 for quite a while. No player in baseball has more present value than the Blue Jays slugger, who is currently in the midst of one of the best seasons we’ve ever seen. At just $14 million per year for each of the next four years, he’s producing at a best-player-in-baseball level while getting paid a little less than Jason Bay or Adam Dunn. The Blue Jays saved themselves at least $100 million with the extension they gave Bautista last winter, which now looks like one of the best decisions any GM has ever made. But, in the end, as good as Bautista is he just couldn’t quite reach the top spot on this list. He’s fantastic, but he’s also 30-years-old, and there’s still some lingering question about how long he can keep this up. The package is good enough to be the second most valuable asset in baseball, but he’s not quite at the level where he could pass…

#1 – Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay: +18.9

Yes, this is getting old. Even I would love to see someone else at the top of the list. But, the reality is that he’s one of the best players in the game (third in baseball in WAR over the past three calendar years) being paid like a utility infielder. He makes $2 million this year, $4.5 million next year, $6 million the year after that, and then the team options kick in; $7.5, $11, and $11.5 million respectively. If (when) all the options are picked up, the Rays will owe him $40 million over the next five years. He might not be as good as Bautista right now, but the age and salary difference make up for the gap in performance, and so Longoria retains his spot at the top of the list. This contract will eventually run out, and someone will dethrone him as the King Of All Trade Value, but it didn’t happen this year.



How Hunter Pence fits in Pittsburgh.

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There’s an adage regarding the trade deadline I heard recently, but can’t remember the source. The idea, essentially, is that if you require additional players in order to contend, you shouldn’t play the role of buyer. The trade deadline is a time for contenders to shore up their rosters for the final third of the season, not for pretenders to sell the farm for a prayer. This year the Pirates might have reason to eschew that logic. They’re playing better than their talent indicates — about seven wins better, according to Baseball Prospectus’s third-order wins — and could come crashing down at any time. But they’re currently just a half game back of first, and without a standout team in the NL Central they could stay in the race with the right upgrades. A rental, however, might not be the way to go.

On Friday David covered ways the Pirates could improve their offense. They have three main areas of concern, but it would appear easiest to fill their first base or outfield vacancy. David mentioned rentals such as Carlos Pena and Josh Willingham, both of whom would certainly improve the Pirates’ offense. But both become free agents after the season. For a team fortifying its roster for the stretch run, a prospects-for-rentals deal might make sense. The Pirates aren’t fortifying, though. They’re covering up major weaknesses, and even then they might regress from contention. If they’re going to upgrade, they should look to the long term.

This morning Pittsburgh Tribune-Review beat writer Rob Biertempfel brought us an interesting tidbit. Apparently the Pirates have scouted Astros RF Hunter Pence “with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline in mind.

post #1942 of 77453
Thread Starter 
Trade Value #30-#1.

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Rank – Player – Position – Team – Past 3 Calendar Year WAR

#30 – Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas: +12.9

While Kinsler is overshadowed by teammates such as Josh Hamilton, he has quietly become one of the best second baseman in baseball. Always a good contact hitter, he’s reduced his strikeout rate even further, and now he’s just a low BABIP away from being a legitimate MVP candidate. The Rangers might only have him under team control for another two seasons, but at a total salary of $17 million, he provides a lot of value for minimal cost. He’s an under-the-radar star, but the Rangers would have to be bowled over in order to move him.

#29 – Kevin Youkilis, 3B, Boston: +16.2

Everything that was just said about Kinsler is true of Youkilis with the exception of the under the radar stuff. Youkilis is an established star and one of the best hitters in baseball, and yet the Red Sox owe him just $25 million over the next two seasons. As an older player who might not age all that gracefully, almost all of his value is tied up in the here and now, but his performance relative to his salary is tremendously valuable.

#28 – Ben Zobrist, 2B, Tampa Bay: +18.0

Sure, he’s 30-years-old and a lot of people still don’t understand how it happened, but Zobrist has established himself as one of the best players in the game. The power is back, the defense is still terrific, and there really aren’t any weak parts of his game. But, really, he’s here because of the contract. The Rays owe him just $10 million combined in 2012 and 2013, and then they hold a $7 million option for 2014 and a $7.5 million option for 2015. It remains to be seen how much long term value he’ll have, but there’s a ton of value in his present performance and the price tag that he’s locked in at.

#27 – Buster Posey, C, San Francisco: +5.2

He was a tough guy to place because of the injury. Obviously he provides no present value in terms of 2011 performance, and he’s essentially going to surrender one of his cheap years of team control, but he’s a good enough talent that teams would still be lining up to have Posey as their catcher going forward if the Giants put him on the block. Had he not been run over, he’d probably have been another 10 spots higher on this list. There just aren’t that many good young catchers who can also hit in the big leagues right now.

#26 – Jaime Garcia, SP, St. Louis: +5.3

It was nice of the Cardinals to announce Garcia’s extension before I wrote this post, as he slid up a couple of spots based on the deal. St. Louis was able to lock up his arbitration years and first year of free agency at the bargain price of $28 million, and they got two team options tacked on to the end of the deal. For a pitcher of his abilities, this is a team-friendly contract. Garcia might not have the pedigree or the raw stuff of some of the other elite young lefties in the game, but he’s performed almost as well as any of them, and the Cardinals should be thrilled that he’ll be in St. Louis for at least the next half decade.

This is the point where it got really tough to put players in particular spots. Every team in baseball would love to have every guy on the list from here on out – the warts are now much more minor or the potential is so high as to make it seem like a risk worth carrying. Even in this section, you’re looking at some of the best young talents in baseball. If you want to move a guy a few spots up or down here, I won’t begrudge you at all. These guys are all very, very good.

Rank – Player – Position – Team – Past 3 Calendar Year WAR

#25 – Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Colorado: +16.4

Compared to last year, Jimenez’s fastball is down nearly 3 MPH and his ERA is up over 4.00, but in reality he’s not pitching all that much worse. The spike in runs allowed is about runner stranding, and his peripherals are pretty much in line with his career norms. There would be a bit less demand for him this year than last, but teams will still look at Jimenez as a young front-line starter. Toss in his insanely team-friendly contract ($21 million over the next four years if both team options are picked up), and even without the premium fastball that he had last year, the Rockies would still be able to command a ransom for Jimenez.

#24 – Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington: +2.6

By far, the hardest player to put on this list. Some teams would still value him as a top 10 guy, while others would take every other guy on this list and a few dozen more before they took Strasburg. Both the risk and reward markers on him are off the charts. On one hand, he could end up as the next Mark Prior, offering nothing but false hope and becoming a story of what-could-have-been. On the other hand, Tommy John surgery is hardly a career-killer, and if he’s back on the mound next spring, he could easily be the best pitcher in baseball in 2012. He doesn’t offer much in the way of 2011 value, but he’s not a long ways off from contributing again, and the upside is just too high to ignore.

#23 – Tommy Hanson, SP, Atlanta: +9.0

Hanson isn’t quite as good as his career 2.99 ERA would indicate, but even if you factor in some regression going forward, he still projects as one of the best starting pitchers in the National League. At 24, he’s shown significant improvement this year, and is now using his stuff to it’s full potential. He still throws too many balls to be a true ace, but he’s not far off from that, and there’s still room for growth. Still in his pre-arb years and under team control through 2016, Hanson is a terrific combination of present and future value.

#22 – Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati: +9.5

While Bruce might seem like something of an enigma, it’s worth keeping in mind that he’s only three weeks older than Danny Espinosa, and he already has nearly 1,800 career plate appearances under his belt. There has been a learning curve, to be sure, but Bruce has settled in as a good player already, and he still has the physical tools to become a superstar. There just aren’t many players with his athleticism in the outfield and his abilities at the plate. The long term contract he signed with the Reds will pay him just $48 million over the next five years and should buy out most of his prime years, so any team trading for Bruce would not only get a good player with star potential, but get one at a bargain rate as well.

#21 – Mike Trout, OF, Anaheim: -0.1

Yes, he’s still basically a prospect with no proven success in the big leagues, but Trout is not your average prospect. He’s the epitome of a five tool player, only he’s developed at years beyond his age. While he might not yet be ready for stardom in the big leagues, it’s worth remembering that guys who destroy AA-ball at age 19 usually turn out to become good big league hitters. When those guys are also center fielders with enough speed to be elite defenders and add a lot of value on the bases, you’re looking at a guy who could be the best player in baseball. There’s really nothing wrong with Trout beyond a lack of MLB experience, and yet he’s still good enough to start for a number of Major League teams right now. Few players offer as much future value as Trout, and the Angels won’t have to wait much longer for it to start paying off in the big leagues.

#20 – Bryce Harper, OF, Washington: +0.0 WAR

I have a feeling Harper and Mike Trout will be linked together for most of their careers, and while I did not set out to put them next to each other on this list, I’m not overly surprised that they ended up side by side. Both are extremely good young talents, and while Harper’s probably the higher upside guy, he is just in Double-A, and his game is raw enough that he might not provide value at the big league level for a few more years. But talents like Harper don’t come along often, and even contending teams would give up the farm to have Harper in their system.

#19 – Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit: +20.4

If the list was just players coveted for their on field abilities, I’m not sure how many pitchers would rate ahead of Verlander. He’s the classic ace with a power fastball and a big knockout breaking ball. He’s exactly what scouts want in a pitcher, and there’s no mystery to how he’s able to dominate or concern that it might go away any time soon. At 28, he’s in the prime of his career and getting better. Only Roy Halladay has been significantly better over the last three years. At $20 million per season for each of the next three years, his contract isn’t an anchor, but the salary is high enough to knock a lot of teams out of the running. He’d still command a huge return from the teams who could afford him, however.

#18 – Jon Lester, SP, Boston: +16.1

Premium pitching continues to be in high demand, and there are few better southpaws in the game than Lester. He’s established himself as a consistent front-of-the-rotation guy, and at just 27-years-old, he’s showing no signs of slowing down. His contract includes two more years at a total of $19 million guaranteed and then a $13 million club option that is a lock to be picked up unless his arm falls off. If he were a free agent, he’d get double the AAV for twice as many years as he’s currently getting paid, and the Red Sox know that they have one of the game’s best bargains in terms of starting pitching.

#17 – Brian McCann, C, Atlanta: +13.7

It’s taken awhile (and an injury to Joe Mauer), but we can finally anoint McCann as the best catcher in baseball. He has a terrific all-around game, hitting for average and power, taking his walks, and being an asset behind the plate for the Braves. With the downturn in offense output over the last few years, a guy like McCann is even more valuable because of the relative difference between what he can give you and what other teams are getting from their catchers. Even though he only has two years left on his contract after 2011, he’s owed only $20 million over those two years, and his present value is extremely high. The Braves won’t part with him, but it would take a monster offer to even get them to not hang up the phone.

#16 – Mike Stanton, OF, Florida: +5.2

Yes, Stanton strikes out a lot. Yes, he’s a corner outfielder with a career on base percentage of .328. If you focus on Stanton’s flaws, you might just miss the fact that he’s already a good big league player at the same age that most of his peers are trying to break into high-A ball. His prodigious power and athleticism help him overcome the raw aspects of his approach at the plate. As he gets older and learns to control the strike zone a bit more, Stanton has the potential to be one of the game’s best hitters. Given his current usefulness and his upside beyond what he is now, the line would be out the door to acquire Stanton’s services for the next five years. He’s one guy you can be pretty sure the Marlins aren’t going to trade, however.

#15 – Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida: +16.4

Ramirez was another tough one to place. On the one hand, he’s a 27-year-old shortstop with a career 136 wRC+, nearly an impossible combination to find anywhere else in the sport. On the other hand, a lot of teams don’t think he’s going to stay at shortstop much longer, his power has been going in reverse for the last four years, and he’s fought with just about every manager he’s had down in Florida. There is some feeling in the game that Ramirez’s best days are behind him, even despite his young age, and that any team who traded for the 3 years and $47 million left on his deal would be getting a guy who should move to the outfield but might not be willing to put in the work to make it happen. He’s too good to be any lower than this, but realistically, Ramirez’s perceived attitude problems have probably cost him 5-10 spots from where he should be based on his talent level.

#14 – Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle: +17.7

Perhaps the key number here is 25 – Felix’s current age. Despite being the reigning AL Cy Young winner and a guy with over 1,300 career innings in the big leagues, Felix is still one of the youngest guys on this list. He’s matured into an all-around ace and has shown he can handle a Halladay-esque workload. The only thing that will stop Felix from being one of the best pitchers in baseball for a long time is an injury. He’s no longer cheap at $58 million for the next three seasons, but that’s a fraction of his market value, and if the Mariners ever do decide to trade their ace, the haul will be astronomical.

#13: Carlos Santana, C, Cleveland: +4.3

In the first 134 games he’s played in the big leagues, Santana has racked up +4.3 WAR, a fantastic total for any player. That he’s done it while posting a .260 BABIP is even more incredible, and suggests that his still-terrific batting line might be underselling just how good he really is at the plate. He’s a switch-hitting catcher with power and patience who still makes good contact, and he’s a good enough defender to stay behind the plate for some time as well. Santana has the skills to be an MVP candidate going forward, and he’s already in the discussion for best catcher in the American League. Oh, and the Indians control his rights for another five years.

#12: David Price, LHP, Tampa Bay: +9.0

After a couple of years of struggling with the strike zone, Price has finally found his command and has developed into the ace that everyone expected him to be as the #1 pick in the draft. He’s dominating primarily with just his fastball, and if he improves his secondary stuff, he has best-pitcher-in-the-game potential. His salaries will begin to shoot northward once he becomes arbitration eligible, but with four more years of team control, he’s a cost-controlled asset that every team in baseball would love to have.

#11: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles: +14.0

The highest rated pitcher on the list, Kershaw has become a true front-line starting pitcher at age 23. He’s cut his walk rate, upped his strikeout rate, and continues to maintain his below average rates on BABIP and HR/FB. The flaws that could be nitpicked the last few years are mostly gone, and now Kershaw is just a lights-out left-hander who is legitimately one of the best pitchers in baseball. As an arbitration eligible guy this winter, he’s going to start to get paid for his success, but his salaries will still just be a small fraction of what he would get on the open market. Given his age and current performance, I don’t think any other hurler in baseball has more trade value than Kershaw.

#10 – Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington: +16.4

Zimmerman is one of the game’s best players, but also one of the game’s best kept secrets. He is consistently ignored in things like All-Star placement and MVP voting despite the fact that he’s one of the best players in baseball. Because he’s not a premier power guy or an up-the-middle player and his value is largely tied to his defensive excellence, his excellence gets lost in the crowd, but it shouldn’t. He’s awesome. At $26 million over the next two years, he’s also one of the cheapest elite players in baseball, though the lack a true long term deal drags him down a bit. Still, his present value is sky high, and offsets most of the lack of value beyond 2013.

#9 – Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee: +13.4

After a somewhat slow start to his career, Weeks has blossomed into a fantastic player. He’s one of the premier power hitting middle-infielders in the sport, and while many projected that he’d have to move off of second base as he aged, he’s actually improved defensively to the point where he’s now legitimately good there. His injury history is still something of a concern, but at 28, Weeks hasn’t had any health problems the last few years, and the long term contract the Brewers signed him to ($42 million over the next four years) is so cheap that he’s a massive bargain even if he misses time each season.

#8 – Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta: +6.0

It seems like there’s a race to see who can get off the Heyward bandwagon the fastest, as injuries and a .224 batting average have soured a lot of people on the Braves young outfielder. But if you look past BA, he’s showing all the same skills he did last year. His power is still there, as his ISO and HR/FB rates are basically unchanged. He’s still walking and he’s still making contact when he does swing. But instead of the .335 BABIP he posted last year, he’s at .251 this year. When balls start falling in again, Heyward will remind everyone that he’s still one of the best young hitters in baseball, and, remember, he’s only 21. There’s serious long term upside as long as he can stay healthy.

#7 – Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati: +18.5

There’s no question that Votto is a premier player in baseball, and if the Reds could have gotten him locked up sooner, he’d be several spots higher on this list. But with just two years and $27 million left on his deal after 2011, it’s tough to put him any higher than this. Breakouts like Votto are exactly why teams are becoming so aggressive in trying to get their young stars locked up early, because the Reds are now facing the reality that they might lose him in a few years. His next contract is going to be nutty, and it might not come from the Reds.

#6 – Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh: +11.8

Already a terrific all-around player, McCutchen has added power this year and made himself into a legitimate MVP candidate at age 24. His broad base of skills suggests that he’ll age extremely well, there’s no injury history to worry about, and the Pirates control his rights for four more years after this one. They haven’t yet locked him up to a long term deal, but even if he goes through the arbitration process, he’ll still be a tremendous bargain. If you want to start handing out praise for why baseball is relevant in Pittsburgh again, start with McCutchen.

#5 – Justin Upton, OF, Arizona: +11.4

When Arizona put Upton on the block this winter, it seemed like they might questioning whether he was ever going to be able to get his contact rates under control to become the star slugger that he was expected to develop into. Well, it’s a good thing they held onto him, because that’s exactly what he’s done this year. With all his other skills holding steady, he’s drastically reduced his strikeout rate and taken his game to the next level, becoming one of the best all-around hitters in baseball in the process. It’s easy to forget that he’s just 23-years-old, and while he might not be the best hitter in the game, he has that kind of upside, and he’s plenty good right now.

#4 – Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston: +17.2

Boston’s second baseman continues to be overshadowed by larger players who take a disproportionate share of the credit for the team’s success, but Pedroia has been their best player for several years now. At 27, he’s now having the best year of his career, and the idea of his elite performance being a fluke should be all but forgotten. Over the next three seasons, he’s guaranteed just $28 million, and the Red Sox hold an $11 million team option for 2015 as well, so Pedroia’s going to be massively underpaid for his prime years. While Adrian Gonzalez is getting the love this year, don’t forget Pedroia – the engine that drives the Red Sox success.

#3 – Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado: +17.9

There just aren’t any flaws in Tulowitzki’s game. He’s a premium defensive shortstop who can really hit, drives the baseball, doesn’t strike out anymore, and is generally just excellent at nearly every aspect of the game. There are some teams who would balk at giving a guy with his injury history a 10 year deal, but the Rockies clearly believe in their franchise player, and unlike his last contract, this one can actually be traded (he could void the last one if dealt to another franchise) if they decide to move him at some point. It’s nearly impossible to think of a scenario where Colorado would give him up, but if they did put him on the market, the demand would be absurd.

#2 – Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto: +15.7

I debated putting Bautista at #1 for quite a while. No player in baseball has more present value than the Blue Jays slugger, who is currently in the midst of one of the best seasons we’ve ever seen. At just $14 million per year for each of the next four years, he’s producing at a best-player-in-baseball level while getting paid a little less than Jason Bay or Adam Dunn. The Blue Jays saved themselves at least $100 million with the extension they gave Bautista last winter, which now looks like one of the best decisions any GM has ever made. But, in the end, as good as Bautista is he just couldn’t quite reach the top spot on this list. He’s fantastic, but he’s also 30-years-old, and there’s still some lingering question about how long he can keep this up. The package is good enough to be the second most valuable asset in baseball, but he’s not quite at the level where he could pass…

#1 – Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay: +18.9

Yes, this is getting old. Even I would love to see someone else at the top of the list. But, the reality is that he’s one of the best players in the game (third in baseball in WAR over the past three calendar years) being paid like a utility infielder. He makes $2 million this year, $4.5 million next year, $6 million the year after that, and then the team options kick in; $7.5, $11, and $11.5 million respectively. If (when) all the options are picked up, the Rays will owe him $40 million over the next five years. He might not be as good as Bautista right now, but the age and salary difference make up for the gap in performance, and so Longoria retains his spot at the top of the list. This contract will eventually run out, and someone will dethrone him as the King Of All Trade Value, but it didn’t happen this year.



How Hunter Pence fits in Pittsburgh.

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Spoiler [+]

There’s an adage regarding the trade deadline I heard recently, but can’t remember the source. The idea, essentially, is that if you require additional players in order to contend, you shouldn’t play the role of buyer. The trade deadline is a time for contenders to shore up their rosters for the final third of the season, not for pretenders to sell the farm for a prayer. This year the Pirates might have reason to eschew that logic. They’re playing better than their talent indicates — about seven wins better, according to Baseball Prospectus’s third-order wins — and could come crashing down at any time. But they’re currently just a half game back of first, and without a standout team in the NL Central they could stay in the race with the right upgrades. A rental, however, might not be the way to go.

On Friday David covered ways the Pirates could improve their offense. They have three main areas of concern, but it would appear easiest to fill their first base or outfield vacancy. David mentioned rentals such as Carlos Pena and Josh Willingham, both of whom would certainly improve the Pirates’ offense. But both become free agents after the season. For a team fortifying its roster for the stretch run, a prospects-for-rentals deal might make sense. The Pirates aren’t fortifying, though. They’re covering up major weaknesses, and even then they might regress from contention. If they’re going to upgrade, they should look to the long term.

This morning Pittsburgh Tribune-Review beat writer Rob Biertempfel brought us an interesting tidbit. Apparently the Pirates have scouted Astros RF Hunter Pence “with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline in mind.

post #1943 of 77453
Per Heyman:


The Rockies suggested to the Yankees in conversations Saturday and Sunday that they seek the four prospects generally considered the best in an organization full of good pitching and catching prospects: catcher Jesus Montero plus pitchers Manuel Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Ivan Nova, people familiar with the talks told SI.com. That fits with Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd's comment to theDenver Post that "it would take a Herschel Walker deal" to move Jimenez.



Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/jon_heyman/07/18/ubaldo.jimenez.rockies/index.html#ixzz1SV2FPzHE




smiley: roll
post #1944 of 77453
Per Heyman:


The Rockies suggested to the Yankees in conversations Saturday and Sunday that they seek the four prospects generally considered the best in an organization full of good pitching and catching prospects: catcher Jesus Montero plus pitchers Manuel Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Ivan Nova, people familiar with the talks told SI.com. That fits with Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd's comment to theDenver Post that "it would take a Herschel Walker deal" to move Jimenez.



Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/jon_heyman/07/18/ubaldo.jimenez.rockies/index.html#ixzz1SV2FPzHE




smiley: roll
post #1945 of 77453
Hunter Pence requires what kind of compensation?
post #1946 of 77453
Hunter Pence requires what kind of compensation?
post #1947 of 77453
Thread Starter 
That's a lot to ask for but I could see where he's coming from. He's definitely no AJ Burnett as I've heard a lot of people say lately laugh.gif

Besides, that is one of the best contracts in baseball.
post #1948 of 77453
Thread Starter 
That's a lot to ask for but I could see where he's coming from. He's definitely no AJ Burnett as I've heard a lot of people say lately laugh.gif

Besides, that is one of the best contracts in baseball.
post #1949 of 77453
As Boston's interest in Ubaldo heightens, how much would it realistically take for the Red Sox to land his services? 
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post #1950 of 77453
As Boston's interest in Ubaldo heightens, how much would it realistically take for the Red Sox to land his services? 
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