What Went Wrong
The decision to go with Robles in the WC game was a big mistake. I had hoped that Robles would be able to give us 6 innings and shut down the Cubs potent offense long enough to get to the pen and hope my offense would be able to generate some runs. It failed on both accounts.
My pitching staff ranked in the middle of the NL. My starters ranked 8th in runs against and my pen ranked 7th. Taking into account that I lost Ken Clark, my setup/closer for the year, my pen performed well, especially in the early part of the season. My starters, especially Gray performed admirably. The move to flip Poythress for Castillo was met with some success as Poythress didn’t perform on the same level in NY, but Castillo didn’t do as well as I hoped in Coors. I also lost Leon Echevarria for most of the year and he didn’t factor much into the team. I was able to move Wagner to the pen part time and I thought he was solid, but still underperformed. I had bigger expectations for Ray Davis this year and he rewarded me with an 11-11 W/L with a mid-to-low ERA of 4.28. I’m hoping for a sharper season next year like Gray had this year. Lastly, Danny Hultzen underpeformed in the first half of the year but was able to turn it around to a 13-12 W/L record with a high 4 ERA. He started the year as my most accomplished starter and will probably start next year as my 4th starter.
Offensively, we did mostly great things, as one would expect, but we had some holes. I’m really looking to improve my 2B as Jeff Grant hasn’t progressed as I had hoped he would. He’s strictly a platoon vs righties. He is a slick fielder but didnt really provide that great of a bonus on the field. Gavin Cecchini, my SS for the past few years, has seen his production drop recently. He plays solid defense, but his ZR has dropped of late. He’s probably a better hitter than a fielder and despite being just 24 years old, has seen his skills start to diminish. He did have a career high in HR’s with 17 this season.
What Went Right
Tim Gray was fantastic. He expressed his disappointment in not getting the ball in the WC round and we won’t be making that mistake again. He had a pretty nifty ERA of 3.12 and lead the majors in K’s this year with a 16-9 record. His road numbers are pretty impressive. Brady Hurt was a fantastic rookie this year and should have got more of a run for ROTY with 11 wins out of the pen. He was converted to a pitcher after a trade to Colorado, which probably has saved his career. Lastly, Jose Robles was great shutting down teams in the 9th with 37 saves and a mid 2ish ERA.
Offensively most of the team was great, as expected. Jorge Vargas had a fantastic run as a Rockie, leading the NL in multiple categories despite limited time in the league. Lawson was his solid self as was Matt Clark. Alex Avila, in his one year with the Rockies, posted 24 HR’s in his stint with the Rockies, however his defense behind the plate was pretty bad. Matt Hague was solid offensively despite being a disaster at third. Defensive whiz Antonio Muniz was solid at the plate with a respectable .274 BA, and had a ZR of 11.4 at multiple positions around the IF. He ranked 12th in the NL in assists despite playing in about 67% of the games alone. Lastly, Armando Moreno had a solid year by most standards, but the 2017 batting champion slipped a little this year and finished with a .317 BA.
Where We Go
Despite the pitching issues and Coors, I probably won’t be tinkering too much with my pitching staff. Clark *knock on wood* has actually improved his ability on the DL and despite the nearly two month setback, doesnt seem any worse for wear. I am looking to improve at both 2B (especially) and 3B if need be, but if 2B gets a dynamic player, I probably won’t mind the combo of Ocon/Hague playing there, depending on circumstances. I have an interesting quandary with Rosa and Little in the minors and Rosa isprobably a year away from being full time players on the roster while Little is probably a .285/35 HR hitter right now. Rosa is strictly power but has great speed and good defense while Little has a little more offense but not as good defensively. Both are lefties that I really could use on my roster, but I have Vargas and Lawson blocking them. Lawson is a decent RF, but cannot play anywhere else. Vargas can play the corners in the OF. That is also discounting Moreno who is a good CF, but a dynamic RF, if given the chance. Rosa can play LF great and RF well, while Little is mediocre at RF and nothing else. I have a logjam in the OF and need to get creative, even if it means moving Lawson, Vargas, and/or Moreno for the right players. I also will have a hole at Catcher with the impending departure of Alex Avila, but we drafted a great talent in Davis Kirkpatrick, but who is also likely a year away like Rosa is. Kirkpatrick is also a subpar defensive C so I have to decide if my plethora of backup catchers can fill the void until he is ready.
Source: Front Page News
Buster is too lazy to do this himself, so I’ll post it for him! (Dan, how about getting him a log-in?)
Ok, so today I’m going to continue the Top 5 series and take a look at the first 5 selected in the 2013 draft and how these guys are doing today.
Picking at 1.1 for the second straight year, the Houston Astros selected college left handed pitcher Soo-yeon “Man of Steal” Hwang and paid him 7 million dollars. He quickly blew through the Astros minor league system and debuted during the 2015 season. At the time, the selection was pretty divisive as several talent evaluators did not view him as a #1 starter. The results thus far are pretty mixed, as Hwang seems to be a slightly above average pitcher. He seems firmly slotted as a #2 or 3 arm.
At 1.2, the Toronto Blue Jays grabbed Emílio Espinoza, a high school pitcher who many felt was the top player in the draft. He made short work of the minors, also debuting in 2015 at age 20. Still only age 23, he appears to be on the verge of a monster breakout season in 2018. He’s been among the better starters in the AL the last two seasons, but this breakout could have him in consideration for being the best pitcher in the league. While many would view Espinosa as the far superior pitcher to Hwang, the dearth of lefty starting pitcher options more than makes the selection at #1 defensible.
With the third pick, the Minnesota Twins selected Frank Vanman. The 2017 Best Supporting Actor Nominee for the movie, “My Brother is My Sister”, Vanman is a legit Hollywood A-List talent. He, along with Logan Morrison and Homer Bailey, have formed an acting troupe known as the “Bat Pack.” As alluded to in this great article from 2016 Vanman had a short but brilliant career before tearing his labrum and retiring at age 24. Apparently the injury was so severe that doctors almost had to amputate his arm on the operating table. Vanman was recently slated to play Spiderman in the reboot of the rebooted franchise. In his short 812 AB career, Vanman hit .312.
With pick 4, the Cincninnati Reds selected 2017 NL MVP Cameron Chase, paying him 9 million, which is believed to be the largest bonus in PCJBL History. So much has been discussed about Chase, and he’s considered by most to be the best player in baseball. Instead of further analyzing this, we instead will look at a couple what-ifs.
What if Chase goes to the Astros at 1.1? Garza and Chase are easily the best 1-2 punch in the league. Although the Astros have never seemed to have a problem scoring runs, this potent combo would further destroy AL pitching.
What if Chase goes #3 to the Twins? Maybe Vanman goes #4 and doesn’t get hurt? Perhaps Rory Culkin is the new new Spiderman instead?
Finally at pick five, the Orioles selected college SS Rafael Santos. Santos quickly outgrew that position, however, and was moved to third. In 2017, at age 24, he blasted 37 homers and finished fifth in the MVP race. He’s easily in consideration for the best player at his position.
Barring the freak injury and thespian turn, this would have been a top 5 that would have been in contention for the best ever.
Top 5 power rankings-To be updated each year as a new column is written.
2012 Top 5 updates
1.Jorge Garza is still a stud.
2. Joaquin Hernandez still has frustrating control issues, but he is saved by a crazy ability to keep the ball in the park.
3. Josh Christopher finally broke in with the Mariners, but has looked pretty bad thus far. Wouldn’t be surprised if he goes back to AAA for some seasoning yet again.
4. Carlos Martinez still is a great SS and his bat is all a bonus. He’s likely the best player that most people have never heard of.
5. Ken Heath had a breakout 2017 season for the Angels and the Chisox. He then got a severe concussion in the early part of 2018. We hear he’s working with an acting coach.
5a. Chris Boone was technically a member of the 2013 class, but we’ll mention him here. He’s consistently around a .300 hitter and plays a great left field. Many wish he had more power or speed, but the 3 tools he does have are all way above average.
Source: Front Page News
As I feared, a busy lazy Sunday prevented me from completing this 2018 PCJBL season preview. And there was another thing I was worried about on Sunday afternoon that also proved true later on in the day. Very much a latecomer to Game of Thrones, I only saw the show for the first time last summer, a month or so after the second season ended. I wound up watching both seasons in a week or two, then ordered the books and read all five of them. So it’s the first time watching where the material is not new and last night I found myself thinking too much about the differences between the show and the books, getting annoying because of the way certain things were changed for brevity’s sake, stupid stuff really. I need to just try and enjoy the show like I did before.
But I should get over that and get on with previewing the Junior Circut, so here we go, by division:
Last year the Blue Jays did something unprecedented in PCJBL history by scoring the most runs in the American League and allowing the fewest. With that stat in mind it’s no surprise that they had the best record in the league at 100-62 and won their division with ease. At only 23 years old, ace Emilio Espinoza is already one of the best pitchers in the game. The rest of the staff is okay but perhaps Blue Jay fans should not count on all three of Alvarez, Hernandez, and Hellickson matching their 2017 performances. Shortstop Tyler Green bounced around a bit earlier in his career but perhaps he’s found his place in Toronto. His hitting skills make him one of only a few Blue Jays who are fixtures in the starting lineup as opposed to platoon players. The squad has excellent depth to support so much platooning and also has a number of great defenders. It’s very impressive how they scored so many runs last year without any real huge bats (“Black Mike” callup pending) but the kind of season this team had last year could well prove hard to duplicate. I mean don’t get me wrong, they are still quite good and should make the playoffs but 100 wins again, I don’t know.
The new Orioles regime made headlines in the offseason with big contracts thrown at big name pitchers to go alongside ace Dylan Bundy. The Yu Darvish contract seems fine but one has to wonder if that fourth year player option on the Tim Linecum deal could be anything other than a rookie mistake. Third baseman Rafael Santons has been one of the best players in the American League over the past two seasons and if Juan Acosta can take his AAA production to the majors as well as his ratings suggest he might, Santos will have a little more help this year. The rest of the lineup is just okay but Manny Machado and Carlos Martinez could well be the best double play combo in all of baseball. If only they had been able to make that Alfredo Ortiz deal… but as it is they could push the Blue Jays and should at least contend for a wild card spot with their improved pitching.
Tampa Bay has struggled in recent seasons compared to the high standards set over three straight division titles from 2013-5 and a 2014 World Series win. But it’s probably not management’s fault that Matt Moore’s talent died, among others. They still have David Price despite him being shopped around in recent times and the five time All-Star iremains very good pitcher. Most of the best remaining pitching talents are still on the farm. Perhaps a return to form for Miguel Velazquez will do the same for his club, in all his best seasons Tampa Bay did well, then when he stopped hitting his team stopped winning. But truthfully it is a weak lineup and this team could struggle regardless of Velazquez’s production.
The last five years of Yankee history has not quite matched up with 1949-53′s run of five straight World Series titles but there is hope this spring, mostly generated by a group of young sluggers who could in time bring New York back into the postseason. Gold Glove catcher Black Swihart is the reigning AL MVP and lead the league with 42 homeruns, while both 3B Zachary Wilson and RF Yeicok Calderon seem capable of breakout seasons. Manuel Rubio hit 60 homers for AAA Syracuse last year and it will be interesting to see how well he transitions to the majors. I don’t think they have enough pitching to get too far this season though. And could you ever imagine both the Red Sox and Yankees both missing the playoffs four years in a row? It’s happened here. IIRC the Red Sox owner has not been too attentive of late and in general this team is not particularly good. But CF Luiz Gomez could be a possible Rookie of the Year candidate, he reminds me of a young Kenny Lofton.
Blue Jays, Orioles (wc), Yankees, Rays, Red Sox
Last year the White Sox won 99 games on the way to a third consecutive playoff appearance. They should hit well again this season with a number of guys who get on base and run well, supported by the power of Miguel Cabrera (an obvious Hall of Famer at this point and still a very good hitter) and Michael Shepard. Carlos Sanchez is an ace, Kevin Berthelot is quite good, but behind those two, well, it’s good that the White Sox generally score a lot of runs. But they are still a formidable team. One thing I’ve noticed going through the league is that unlike some of the top young National League pitchers (Raymond, Arnold), some of the AL guys like Sanchez and Espinoza on the Blue Jays have elite stamina to go with the great pitching ratings.
Formerly perennial contenders, the Tigers have been just a .500 club in recent years. Perhaps it will be different this year with a (hopefully) full year of Jorge Vargas and the continual improvement of a young team, as Detroit has a number of young hitters already in the bigs that seem likely to develop even further. Jacob Turner is pretty good #2 starter headlining just an average staff though, that might hold them back. The Royals are a very quiet team on the forums but historically have fielded competitive teams. I don’t really think that is going to be the case in 2018, this team won’t score many and should give up quite a few. But at least they do have some good prospects in the minors. Like Kansas City, Cleveland does not look very good but does have young talent coming up soon. Minnesota also looks to be in rebuilding mode but they do have get to enjoy watching young Joaquin Hernandez on every fifth day, a lefty fireballer who reminds me of a young, much shorter Randy Johnson. And if “Chappie” improves his control over time like the Big Unit did, he could go on to be one of the greats. After the top two this division seems pretty weak really.
White Sox, Tigers, Royals, Twins, Indians
Last year’s pennant winners acted aggressively late in free agency, signing outfielders Cameron Maybin and Andrew McCutcheon while also trading for the ex-Reds slugger Alfredo Ortiz. They were already returning the core of last year’s team and should be one of the best teams in the league. Their fourth and fifth starters could be #2′s on many staffs. Ortiz joins RBI generator Johnathan Singleton (top ten in all four of his full seasons, 124-129-127 last three years) and All-World outfielder Jorge Garza (last two seasons – his steals and homers were ≥ his strikeouts) to form a potent attack, supported by solid players throughout the lineup like Deven Marrero, Marwin Gonzalez, and the aforementioned free agent outfielders. In my research this just might be the strongest team I’ve come across.
Seattle is coming off their best season in ages and should push to make the playoffs once again. King Felix should rebound from an atypical season and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the running for a fourth Cy Young. Rookie catcher Ruben Majia had scouts saying the phrase “next Mike Piazza” in ballparks all over Arizona this spring. 2B Dustin Ackley and SS Elvis Andrus are among the best around at their positions. Porter Jackson provides the main power threat but Mejia can be a 25+ HR guy in time. A good team but the Astros are tough to beat.
Similarly to a few other teams with abnormal ballparks, it can be hard to get a read on the A’s. You might wonder what kind of numbers Pete Black could put up elsewhere or think that perhaps your data is wrong and maybe he isn’t a huge power guy. Or if there are other reasons that Tyson Ross pitched over 200 innings with a 2.81 ERA last season. And what on earth happened to A.J. Cole last season anyway? It’s like the exact opposite of what you’d expect. That makes no sense. Can a .367 BABIP against do that much to a man? Young starter Angel Valdez has a lot of skill but could struggle with that weak third pitch. Black is definitely the standout here but Lorenzon Collazo is a fine player, great on base skills, great defense, and last season he stole 54 bases and was only caught four times. Like Seattle, a pretty good team but I’d be surprised if they finished ahead of Houston.
The most interesting thing about the Angels is their first baseman Juan Cabrera. A former teen pop star who still refers to himself as the “Freshest Man on Earth,” he shocked the music world when he quit the game at the height of his popularity to play baseball at San Jose St. And given that not many former teen pop stars become Justin Timberlakes, it seems like he made the right call becuase he’s one hell of a hitter. Depending on playing time the aging Albert Pujols might get his 3000th hit this season, he’s at 2890 coming into the year. Jeez, his contract lasts until 2021… at least he still gets on base pretty well. It could be a tough season for the Angels, the pitching is not bad but the other hitters’ lack of freshness really cramps Juan’s style. A power laden Ranger squad looks to avoid 2017′s last place finish and four time All-Star catcher Tomas Telis leads a strong lineup which includes Jurickson Profar, Luis Ramos, and Nomar Mazara. If they had more pitching they might give Houston a scare but they’ll be fighting Seattle and Oakland for second.
Astros, Mariners (wc), Rangers, Athletics, Angels
Astros, White Sox, and Blue Jays figure to be the class of the league once again, each could win their division by a half dozen games or more. Tigers, Yankees, Rangers, and A’s will all keep the heat on in the wild card race which could be excellent.
MVP: Jorge Garza, Astros
Cy Young: Emilio Espinoza, Blue Jays
Source: Front Page News
Here we go gentlemen, it’s finally baseball time.
While there may not have been as many blockbuster trades as in previous PCJBL offseasons it was still an eventful one if only for the Met contract controversy. An issue with contract extensions for pre-arb. players had been known about for quite awhile and a few seasons ago a proposal to reform contract abuse was narrowly defeated in a leaguewide vote.
But this offseason, on one fateful Friday morning, things finally came to a boiling point when the league’s owners woke up, went on the forum, and saw that talented Met starting pitcher Joe “Handsom Ransom” Krause and his agents were either drugged, tortured, blackmailed, or otherwise intimidated into signing a truly ridiculous seven year contract extension worth around $1.6m per year. The Mets, one of the main teams whose actions had brought about the previous vote in the first place, had simply gone too far, too blatantly “not real baseball” this time.
In the end most owners seemed to accept the action taken unilaterally by the commissioner’s office (rescinding the offensive contracts with Bob quitting the league) as nobody spoke out in favor of the previous owner or his actions. And I feel it was for the best. One might say that strictly speaking, there should have been a new vote on the issue and that would affect all contracts going forward (and not undoing the previous deals), but in a situation like this where the fix is obvious and it’s clear that a vote on it would pass I believe this executive action was justified and that this is reflected in the lack of complaints from the league owners.
And now for a brief look at the National League divisions:
We’ll start in the NL East with world champion Phillies, who added Aaron Crow to be a solid #3 alongside Zack Grienke and ace Trevor Arnold in what should be one of the National Leauge’s top rotations. The infield of Fielder, Mejia, Martinez, and Longoria hits about as well as anyone else’s around and Longoria is also a perennial Gold Glover. They should have enough power and walks to support their strong pitching on the way to 90+ wins.
Last year the Phillies were pushed all the way by Atlanta and New York and the NL East had three of the four best teams in the league. Atlanta will put out pretty much the same team as last year with the hope that shortstop prospect Benjamin Jones is ready to become an MLB regular. However it might be asking a lot of top starters Julio Teheran and the veteran Hisashi Iwakuma to duplicate last year’s numbers. Teheran in particular is a curious case as last year he seemed to be in a premature decline ratings-wise but put up a great year and was a runner-up in the Cy Young voting. Their lineup should be pretty strong top to bottom once again. The Mets had a quiet offseason with the timing of the ownership change, losing catcher Jason Castro and not bringing in anyone. They have some great starting pitching but other than superstar second baseman Luis Alonza their hitting figures to be mediocre.
The Marlins’ hitting should be good with the 1-2 punch of Manuel Trujillo and Giancarlo Stanton plus some other solid bats. It’s unfortunate that FA pitcher Aroldis Chapman will miss more than half the season, it was going to be interesting seeing how he might do adjusting back to being a starter. The Nationals are coming off two losing seasons and have not exported since late February. But they still have Strasburg and Harper, and a good thing too because those might be two of the only reasons for the local fans to get out to the ballpark this summer.
Prediction: Phillies, Braves (wc), Marlins, Mets, Nationals
Last year a revitalized Cubs team won the division ahead of the slow-starting Pirates, making the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and St. Louis all struggled, the Cardinals in particular put up a very poor 57-105 record.
The Cubs should be a great hitting team with three legit 35 HR threats plus the newly acquired Starlin Castro, a great catcher in Buster Posey, and slew of young, talented, improving players to round out the lineup and depth chart. The bullpen looks pretty strong but the starters only so-so, however the bats should keep them among the contenders again this season. Really, you could almost change a few words and put out a similar prognostication for the Pirates. Gerrit Cole is a bright spot in an otherwise questionable Pirate rotation but nobody can compete with the three headed offensive monster of catcher
Dave Bell, 1B Angel Hernandez, and 3B Dan Gamache (2017 being an aberration for him I suspect), those are three of the best hitters on the game, all on one team, all still a few years away from 30.
The Reds made a strong effort to improve themselves this offseason, landing arguably the biggest free agent of them all, Pablo Sandoval in addition to a good starter in Niese and a smart bargain signing in catcher Jason Castro while they wait for uberprospect Robero Salazer to eventually take over. They still have Justin Verlander and most importantly they have Cameron Chase, the best baseball player in the world. There’s not much I can say about him that his ratings or statistics couldn’t, he’s just great. Maybe this will be the year Bob Goodfellow joins him in the outfield. The rest of the team might not have enough for the Reds to challenge the Cubs and Pirates but they shouldn’t be so far back as they were last season. Honestly I don’t see much hope for the Brewers but they do at least have some good players unlike the Cardinals, who could well be awful once again. They don’t have many players who could start for even an average team.
Prediction: Pirates, Cubs (wc), Reds, Brewers, Cards
Last season the NL West was the most even of all MLB’s six divisions from top to bottom, the champion Padres (making their sixth postseason appearance in six PCJBL seasons) finishing one game ahead of Colorado, two ahead of the Dodgers, and only eleven ahead of last place Arizona.
After a quiet offseason, the Padres will try to maintain their playoff streak with their typical mix of pitching, defense, speed, and Rymer Liriano. The Padres left fielder has consecutive 35+ HR and 40+ SB seasons, plays great defense, and has no real weaknesses. When healthy Mike Minor is one of the best lefty starters around but he is a bit fragile. Starter Francisco Gonzalez will be a Rookie of the Year candidate if he’s eligible, but since I don’t know how the rules work on OOTP, maybe he won’t be. However, the staff is really going to have to rely on their home ballpark and team defense beyond those two.
Colorado has their usual group of very good power hitters who will put up fantastic numbers and very good starting pitchers who might put up any kind of numbers one could imagine. Other than those two important and impressive aspects of the team, the Rockies look a bit thin otherwise. To be in the hunt this year they can’t afford for more than one or two of their stars to get hurt or have a down year.
If you were to take all of the Dodgers’ 2.5 to 3.0 star middle relievers and had them hold hands to form a chain, it could possibly span the entire Great Wall of China. Otherwise known as the team that has Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp, there isn’t much else to say about the Dodgers really. They should finish around .500 thanks to this being a weak division. The Giants have a promising young starter in Chris Beck and some great arms in the pen but there is a dearth of talent overall and I expect them to struggle. Arizona has a lot of young talent that is a year or two away, they’ll be good soon but perhaps not this year. Not enough pitching and not much power in the lineup.
Prediction: Rockies, Padres, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Giants
The Phillies, Pirates, Cubs, and Braves all might all duke it out for the best record, I think any NL West team could find it very hard to win the East or Central if things were aligned differently. Miami, New York, possibly Cincinnatti and whoever of COL/SD doesn’t win the West are possible wild card contenders.
MVP: Cameron Chase, Reds
Cy Young: Trevor Arnold, Phillies
I was going to try and get one of these out for the American League but with the college basketball, Easter family time, Game of Thrones, and my reemerging Europa Universalis III addiction that probably won’t happen until tomorrow maybe.
Source: Front Page News
My friend Buster sent me this article because he’s been a little too hard-pressed to log in! Hopefully we’ll see more of his work!
Today I’m going to take a good look back at the top 5 picks of the 2012 first round and see how these players are performing today.
At pick 1.1, the Houston Astros selected CF George the Phenom Garza out of the University of Missouri. He signed for 8.5million dollars at the deadline, in a deal brokered between the commissioner’s office and his agent because the Houston ownership was on Vacation. Garza received only 11 pro at bats in 2012. In 2013 he tore up the minors for 30 homers and earned a promotion to the Bigs. With 3 straight 30+ homer seasons, a Rookie of the Year and the 2016 AL MVP trophy, the sky is the limit for Garza.
With pick #2, the Minnesota Twins selected big armed high school left hander Joaquin Hernandez and paid him the sum of 8million dollars to sign. Hernandez battled arm injuries early in his career, and has had a history of awful control. In 2016, he walked 133 batters. Scouts feel that he has potential to fix his control issues, however until that happens he will be nothing more than a frustrating low end starting option. Many scouts are reminded of Francisco Liriano when the talk about Hernandez.
At #3, The Seattle Mariners selected Utah high school Center Fielder Josh Christopher. Christopher has been an enigma from the start. He was the #1 prospect in the minors in 2013 and 2014. In 2015/16/17 he has continued to be labeled as a top 5 prospect. Scouts loved his power coming out of high school, yet he has never hit 20 homers over a full minor league season. Scouts loved his eye, but his highest OBP in the past 3 years is only .308. His ability to hit for average is a serious question mark. He is viewed as a superior glove talent in left field, but his skills in center look to be below average. Now in his third season in AAA, the Mariners have to wonder if he will ever be anything more than a fourth outfielder type in the majors. His power numbers in 2017 look promising, but it’s a bit early to see if he will be able to make the leap to elite everyday hitter.
SS Carlos “Jailhouse” Martinez was drafted out of UNLV by the Baltimore Orioles with the 4th pick in the draft. His glove is unquestionable, as he fields 2b/3b/ss and RF at a gold glove level. In his first 273 MLB games, he has posted a .756 OPS, hitting 27 homers in 2016. He looks to be one of the top young SS in the league, and his 4.1 WAR season in 2016 is something that can be built upon. He still needs to elevate his on base game, as a .325 OBP should relegate him to hitting in the bottom 3rd of many lineups.
The final selection of the 2012 draft was OF/P Ken Heath by the Chicago Cubs. He went unsigned due to questionable ownership of the Cubs franchise. Heath was selected 31st overall by the Angels in the 2013 draft, and looks to be a solid MLB outfielder with a unhealthy platoon split vs left handed pitching. While he’s shown the ability to reach base and play excellent corner outfield, he is not looking to be one of the better players in the game as many thought he could be. His pitching skills have deteriorated, but some in baseball still think that he could have value as a LOOGY. Heath is also 26 years old at this point.
As far as the Cubs go, their 2013 #6 pick(replacement for not signing Heath) was LF Chris Boone. Boone has hit .302 and .306 the previous 2 years and looks to be a great option for the Cubs, though not much different from what Heath may have given them.
Now that 5 years have passed from the initial draft, look for a new “top 5″ highlight each summer as the draft approaches.
Source: Front Page News
Looking at the preseason predictions during a conversation with an owner, I noticed some teams fared much worse and much better than expect.
Blue Jays +7
Tampa Bay – 15
New York +3
Minnesota – Even
Kansas City +1
Detroit – 22
New York -20
St. Louis -4
San Diego +2
Los Angeles +7
San Francisco – 11
Source: Front Page News
Welcome to part 3 of my offseason musings. While we wait for the next sim, I spoke with three more GM’s about a few different topics. Covered today will two areas known for terrible but popular beer, Milwaukee and Colorado, and a third known for a large Naval yard.
What happened this year? Do you feel that Andrus managed to live up to his contract and expectations?
Brewers – It’s obviously been a very disappointing year. When you look at the year some of these guys had in 2015 and then look at what they did this year, it’s fairly obvious. Taylor Green being an example of a guy that had a tremendous year last year that really never got it going this year. Logan Shafer being a guy that’s been great for us for a number of years, starts the year off hot but really struggled from June on. Ryan Braun missed over a month with an ankle injury.
As far as Andrus goes, he’s everything we expected him to be. He had a .797 OPS in 2015 and had a .798 OPS for us this year. Shortstop has been area where we’ve struggled to find anything for years. Elvis is a premium offensive shortstop and also gives us premium defense. He was almost a six win player for us this year. I’m extremely pleased with how he’s performed as an individual. Shortstop is the least of my worries going forward.
Where do you go from here? Do you bite the bullet and just cut Braun? Try to move him?
Brewers – Going forward, I don’t believe we are as bad as our record indicated. Yes, win and loss record is all that matters at the end of the day, and we were terrible in that regard. We really took a pretty big leap in terms of player salaries. $142 million is not a payroll you associate with the Milwaukee Brewers. We did lose money this year, but I have to give the fans credit for still coming out to the ballpark. 2.6 million showed up to watch a team that never was in the race. That tells you the fans are passionate, but this goodwill won’t continue if we continue to put a losing ball club out there. I’m a little confused as to the question about cutting Braun. He had an ankle injury. His performance when he was playing may not have been up to the standard he and we expect, but the possibility of cutting him seems absurd at this point. He’ll be starting on opening day. There is the possibility that we might have him play some first base in spring training to see how he looks over there. All contingent on what we do this offseason. I know we will be shedding some salary. Certainly not a firesale. We also plan on sitting down with Ralph Wardle to see to that he doesn’t leave Milwaukee anytime soon.
Let’s go back two years to the great draft debate. The White Sox and Rockies were sitting 1-2 in the draft order. Everyone had Davis as the top guy. What would you do now?
Rockies – It’s really hard to argue with what Gray has done for me and is probably my third best starter in his almost full first season. Had I started him from the beginning, we’d be talking about Rookie of the Year Gray. As for Davis, I’m not sure what to expect for him so far. He was good in AA and average in AAA. Maybe one more year of seasoning, but I’m going to hope he doesn’t take anymore talent hits.
You’ve been pretty proactive in the trade market over the past few seasons and have netted a few key players. Your draft record is spotty and you haven’t made too many FA signings, not that there have been a lot. What do you look for on other teams?
Rockies – It’s hard for me to pry pitchers because they need to be better than average and that makes them even harder to acquire because pitching is so important to everyone. I made the Clark trade as I had three great mashers and was able to get a few pitchers that I’m hoping gel, though one already has. As far as hitters go, I tend to look for talented hitters who are under-performing for their current team. Everyone has parts they look for and if a hitter is obviously talented and not getting it together, I gamble that Coors Field can get them going. Matt Clark was a noticeable move in that regards and had an MVP season for us before being moved on for different pieces. My draft has been horrible lately and I decided that it was a huge risk this year with a high pick and nothing that caught my eye. I loved Lowe, but was afraid I was grabbing too high. He fell all the way to the Tigers at #19, so I feel somewhat vindicated on that front. The draft with Davis in has Davis as my third best player from that class right now, behind Moreno and Gray. My best draft pick has been Matthus Wagner in the second round in 2012 while my second best has been Jose Robles and he is a reliever who was drafted at #5 overall, probably a tad too high. No other draft pick has much of an impact.
Colorado Rockies Owner MrBug708 recent made statements about your starting pitching staff. Is there really another team, that you know of, with such a stark difference of a team foundation/philosophy than both of your teams? Or is this more of an instance where you both are playing very much to the strengths of your respective stadiums?
Bhlloy – I think definitely, that we are both playing to the strengths of our stadiums. My first season in San Diego we had some guys who could really hit the longball and their talents were wasted. If I was in Colorado, I’d be building around the HR as much as I could as well. You could call our strategy moneyball I guess – look for guys that get on base at a good clip, play great defense and if they can run as well that is a bonus. We’ve fallen off a lot in terms of getting guys on base but we still have the best defensive efficiency in the league.
After a good battle all year, you found yourself finishing second in the West and a loss in the Wildcard round. What areas of your team do you see yourself improving in the offseason?
Bhlloy – We’re really going to try and find a second baseman in the offseason – the young guys we’ve rotated there the last couple of years just haven’t got the job done and even though we dealt for Francis, he’s more of a utility guy than a guy you plug in at one position every day. Other than that, we’ll take it as it comes. We have some free cash but we’re a small market and we can’t give the kind of deals that have been thrown around the last couple of years in free agency to the top few players.
I see you gave Luebke a three year deal. I see you have not given Zambrano an extension despite a better season. Will there be one forthcoming? Looking back, you traded Francis for Zambrano and he’s made it back to you after a stop with the White Sox. You have respect for his talents, will we see him on the 25 man roster full time next season?
Bhlloy – The Zambrano question, that really goes back to the first question you asked about Petco and our philosophy. Carlos had a great year this year, no doubt, but we can’t afford to pay any one player the kind of money he’s looking for. And especially not when we play in Petco and put great defense behind our starters, no offense to Zambrano but we can probably find someone off the street to produce at 80% of the level, as great as he was this year. We love the kid Britton we picked up from the Cubs, he’s looked great in the bullpen this year so he’s the frontrunner to take that starting position. We’ll evaluate our options in free agency as well. We love Big Z and we’ll be sad to see him go, but it’s just not economical to keep him on.
As for Luebke, we feel his skills are perfect for Petco and he’s been nothing but consistent for us. It was a no brainer to bring him back at that price. He’s still relatively young for a starter as well.
Francis – I hope he’ll be on the 25 man roster next season. He needs to hit over the Mendoza line at AAA before we can do that though.
Source: Front Page News
We have another round of owners to discuss with! Tonight, it will be with a current last place divisional team, a second to last place divisional team, and a current wildcard winning team.
The Mets have some really nice pieces. Any idea what went wrong? Some compare your team to the Rockies last year and the White Sox the year before, where they have a lot of nice pieces, they just weren’t ready to compete quite yet.
Mets – Hey Rob, love your work at SB Nation.
While Zach Wheeler and Jeurys Familia both had subpar years statistically, the real problem lied in the offense. 2B Daniel Murphy had a .592 OPS in 170 AB before being claimed off waivers by Milwaukee. 1B Ike Davis went from a .823 OPS in 2015 to .694 in 2016. SS Asdrubal Cabrera, acquired by trade, saw his batting AVG drop by 100 points, and his HR total from 20 to 6 from last year. Finally, David Wright, who averaged a 4.3 WAR the last three years, had a -0.7 WAR, and it seems age has caught up to him. While he is still a good fielder, David Wright was horrible at the plate, and his .175 batting AVG was a career low.
Editors Note – I totally forgot about the 2014 run. That certainly is not the Rockies/White Sox model
Any chance Krause and Raymond are dealt to acquire more pieces for your team? It seems like they might felt a nice ransom in return. What is your biggest concern for next year?
Mets – It is unlikely we will trade Krause or Raymond, unless we get blown away by an offer. SP Stephen Cummings (#24 prospect in ML) should join the rotation next year, moving Matt Harvey back to the bullpen where he did well last year.
The main concern for next season will be rebuilding the offense. Mets finished last in the majors in team AVG, OBP, and HRs. We will be aggressive in both free agency and trades. The main trade candidates will be 1B Ike Davis, LF Lucas Duda, CL Sergio Romo.
What do you suppose was the downfall of the previous ownership? How do you hope to change that so it doesn’t affect the Dodgers moving forward?
Dodgers – The previous ownership was completely underwater and was manning a sinking ship that wouldn’t stay afloat without a massive undertaking of getting payroll under control. That is why the first order of business was trading away players that would be valuable to other teams, especially since without any money for additional payroll there was going to be no chance of making the playoffs. This enabled us to resign the most important piece, our ace starter Clayton Kershaw. With Kershaw and Kemp signed for the upcoming season that gives us a nice nucleus to build on with an improving farm system. We just signed an impressive kid out of the Dominican Republic named Hector Diaz, lightning quick with 30 HR a year power.
Is there a package you would move for Kershaw?
Dodgers – Considering we just signed Kershaw to a nice 5 year contract at a reasonable price for one of the top pitcher in the league I don’t there there is much that would convince us to move him. We are the sign and trade type of team.
Is Dave Bell the best player in baseball?
Reds – Yes
How comfortable are you with your roster for the future? I would say you have a decent sized hole in the OF. The FA class next year seems a little light on OF prospects with Andre Either, Jeff Francouer, and Peter Bourjas as the main guys.
Reds – I would say comfortable, but there is always room for improvement. We anticipate losing Cole Hamels to Free Agency. We are one short of a quality OFer, but that all could change easily if Bob Goodfellow quickly improves to ML ready. Also, keep in mind our 1B is Alfredo Ortiz, who played his first two years at RF. With 2 young prospects at catcher who could soon be ready, we may slip one to 1B and move Ortiz back into the OF
Source: Front Page News
I’ve decided to start early on the thoughts of some of our owners. Thoughts on the past season, the future, and sometimes on anything. I plan on keeping it brief and fairly to the point. I encourage others to step up and write a few league articles. It’s always fun to see thoughts on different aspects of our league, not just a writeup on your own team!
In this brief, I talked to three different owners. The Fighting Phil’s, Managed by our beloved Commish, the team of the 90′s, the Atlanta Braves, and our find friends to the north, the Blue Jays!
Was it painful to see your team fight so much near the end and fall just short? What steps are you looking to make for next year?
Phillies – All year we had under performed. We were scoring more runs than we gave up, but we blew a ton of close games. we embodied the true “$tar$ and scrubs” philosophy. The problem was that several high dollar players weren’t as good as their pay. We had the baserunners but not the runs. We spent 0$ on our pen and I think it ultimately cost us. We got some great performances from young guys.
Trevor Arnold is already one of the best pitchers in the league. Aurelio Meija is only 20 and one of the best young hitters in the game. Michael Tucker will hit 40 homers at some point.
I heard your owner is buying a new Yacht for each day of the week. Care to comment on the frivolous spending and tax shelter known as the Montgomery Family?
Phillies – No Comment
Do you feel like you are playing as bad as you can right now at the worst possible moment? Or did the law of averages just catch you at an inconvenient time?
Braves I think the current team is an 88-90 win group. For most of the season we were on that pace or slightly ahead but then the starting pitching had a bad September. And even when we did pitch well late in the year, the offense stunk. When the pitchers got rocked, they’d get five runs or more but not enough to win.
Where previously we’d been great in one-run games (I think at one point in the summer we were 7-8 games above .500 in those), thanks in part a bullpen that finished 2nd in the NL for ERA, by the end of the season our record in such games had plummeted to 28-29.
I think it was just a rough patch, once we really got into “we might actually blow this” territory the team won 5 of 6 in the last week of September to pretty much wrap things up. So I think maybe our worst play is behind us.
What are your concerns heading into 2017? Any position you are hoping to upgrade?
Braves – As for next season I think the starting eight, four of the starting pitchers, and a few key bullpen guys are already in place and most of them are either in their primes or are due to hit them shortly. While we don’t have any true superstars I think we put out a bunch of average to very good players out there every night and for most of the last two seasons it has worked.
I’d love to get a 35 HR type of player or an ace pitcher but trading for such players would be tough, they don’t become available in free agency (and if they did I’d get outbid in all likelihood), and generally I don’t pick low enough in the draft to get some of these brilliant young players that are beginning to populate the league.
Most thought trading away Bautista meant a rebuild year. You seemed to exceed expectations fairly easily; though Tyler Greene was probably still a disappointment in his first year with you. Any thoughts on the trade and the season?
Jays – First off, trading Bautista had to be done. He wasn’t going to return after the 2016 season. He would either have a bad year, and a decline would start, or he would have a great year and price himself out of Toronto.
We got Tyler Greene. Truth be told, I insisted on one of Tampa’s young SS as the return. I felt middle infield was a weakness for us. I’ve seen alot of young prospects not just mature with MLB playing time, but flourish. I was very happy to give that chance to a young, potentially strong SS like Greene.
I am not disappointed with Tyler Greene at all. Sure, he hit .232, but he got on base enough to help the team. He showed a little pop, and stole a few bases. He had a OPS+ rating of 101, which is a hair above average. Infact, in September, he hit .280, with a 11 walks. So maybe things have clicked. I’ll take it, with the thought that the best is yet to come.
Who was your MVP this year? You seemed to have lots of JAG’s (Just a Guy) on your roster, yet you performed well, so it’s hard to pick someone who stands out.
Jays – I think the JAG is a pretty accurate description for this team. A bunch of guys who don’t stand out, but did the job. I feel like my MVP is Anthony Gose. He’s the leadoff hitter and did everything for us. He hit for average, he drew walks, he hit for power, produced runs, stole 62 bases and played great defense in CF. It was his first season as a full time starter, and he excelled. We would not be in the playoffs without a strong year from Mr. Gose.
Pitching wise, I have to point out Chad Billingsley. Now Emilio Espinoza is fantastic, he’s been impressive and will only get better, but Billingsley is the guy that really gave us that consistant arm to throw out there every 5th day. Other then July, Chad was an all-star every month. He probably should have won more then 13 games. We are gonna miss him in Toronto next season. He’s pitched his way out of our price range. He’ll be one of the most sought after pitchers on the market. Hopefully, we can give him a World Series ring as a parting gift.
Thanks alot for the interest Rob, anything you need, let me know, be glad to help out. Looking forward to reading what you have in store for everyone!
Source: Front Page News
In 2013 Frank Vanman was the Minnesota Twins 1st draft pick. Vanman was the 3rd overall player drafted, born and raised in New York City, Vanman wasn’t drafted out of high school and moved to Los Angeles with a chip on his shoulder to pursue an acting career while taking drama classes at Whittier College. Frank longed to be an actor and after a couple years decided to also try out for the Whittier College Poet’s baseball program. Vanman was a superb talent and excelled on the field while landing a couple commercial acting gigs in Hollywood for an erectile dysfunction product.
Vanman ripped up the NCAA Division III, Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, leading the league if nearly every offensive statistical category with a .426 batting average, 11 HR, 75 RBI, 32 SB, and a 1.149 OPS, while winning the 2013 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award.
After being drafted by his favorite childhood team the Minnesota Twins, Vanman decided to forgo his acting passion and immediately reported to the Twins AAA affiliate Rochester where in 19 at-bats the organization had seen enough and promoted him to the major league club. Vanman ended the 2013 season with a respectable 10 VORP and 1.3 WAR in only 161 at-bats, which unfortunately prohibited him from being a likely Rookie of the Year candidate but convinced the Twins that Vanman would be their starting center-fielder for years to come.
(click on this picture for his profile page)
2014 brought more of the same for Vanman, although still slightly a raw talent at only 23, batting .308 in his first full season, along with a .833 OPS, 41.4 VORP and 4.9 WAR. Vanman was becoming a superstar. 2015 started off with a bang as Vanman hit .356 through the first 33 games when it all came crashing down in one horrific play on 5/12/2015. Vanman was making a routine play in centerfield and as he threw the ball back in to the shortstop he heard a pop in his shoulder, and fell to the ground writhing in pain. Play was stopped and the trainer called for a cart as Vanman passed out from the pain of a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. 5/12/2015 was the last day of the young Frank Vanman’s budding baseball career. When Vanman came to, the Twins medical staff and trainers told him the bad news, he would never play again! So he retired that day and moved back to Los Angeles to continue pursue his passion of acting.
Vanman can currently be seen staring in the blockbuster action film Gone But Not Forgotten, directed by Michael Bay coming out in theaters today. Purchase your tickets at Fandango.Com.
Source: Front Page News