Wednesday afternoon reports surfaced that GM Frank Wren of the Braves had sent an offer to the Arizona Diamondbacks for 25-year old OF Justin Upton. Thursday morning, reports have come out that GM Kevin Towers has accepted that offer. Finally, after months of speculation that Justin Upton be traded, he does. There was some speculation that the DBacks would try to trade Jason Kubel to the Baltimore Orioles but now that Justin has been traded, that possibility seems pretty much done.
The Braves get:
OF Justin Upton (Already 108 HR, but a change of scenery could do wonders)
3B Chris Johnson (traded from Houston to AZ last season, 15 HR, defense not his calling card)
The Diamondbacks get:
UT Martin Prado (plays all over the place, in my opinion a little underrated, fans should like him but doesn’t have Upton power)
SP Randall Delgado (92.2 IP in MLB in ’12, will enter age 23 season)
SP Zeke Spruill (Double-A in ’12)
SS Nick Ahmed (High-A in ’12)
CI Brandon Drury (Single-A in ’12)
There was speculation yesterday that Braves top prospect Julio Teheran would be in the deal, but apparently he was swapped out and Prado and Delgado were brought in. Looking at the deal, I can’t say I hate it too much for either side, and I assumed the Braves would “win” this deal on paper. There are some people like me that didn’t feel trading Upton was appropriate, but getting Prado and Delgado back isn’t bad of a return at all. Atlanta now has a platoon partner for Juan Francisco, a pair of Uptons in the outfield to join another young star in Jason Heyward, it’s hard not to love this trade for the Braves. The Diamondbacks get a great player in Prado, another guy that they could ease into the rotation in Delgado who can be around until the latter part of the decade, and they get three guys that were all Baseball America Top 30 prospects (Spruill being the only Top 10 at #9; Ahmed #11, Drury #27, per JJ Cooper), this isn’t the worst thing in the world done by Kevin Towers. Really! I mean, the Trevor Bauer trade was easily much worse than this trade if you’re looking for an axe to grind.
If you clicked on the links to MLBDepthCharts on the team names, you’ll notice at how the rosters might take shape. Funny how the Diamondbacks used to have guys like Chris Young (now with the A’s), Justin Upton (traded today), Trevor Bauer (now with the Indians), and could’ve stayed content with Jarrod Parker (also now with the A’s). Their replacements are Cody Ross, Jason Kubel, Adam Eaton (all this combined is a downgrade because Upton is a pretty good player), and Trevor Cahill, Randall Delgado (could we call this a “push” for the pitching in the short-term?).
Both teams after this trade are left in pretty good shape, sending a message to their fans that they want to compete in 2013, but after the offseason the Diamondbacks have had, I’m not sure if I can say they are in better shape than what they ended 2012 with.
Idea: Rank the best individual seasons of the 2012 MLB regular season (Spring Training, Minor Leagues, and Postseason are not included), while considering offensive and defensive facets of the game.
Consider: Using the individual metrics to measure individual performance; full avoidance of projecting results for shortened seasons, and past years performance to justify or dictate standings.
This is not: “Most Valuable” anything. Rather, this is “best,” like Baseball America does, so there is no confusion as to what I am ranking. It is also not a “this is a ranking of who I want in 2013, or wanted in any other year.”
This is: My opinion, and will be disagreed with by many.
40. Jimmy Rollins (23 HR, 30 SB, .322 wOBA, 4.9 fWAR, 2.3 rWAR) – You’ve got the picture now that I love HR and SB when put up in big bunches, and J-Roll, though 33 already, still’s puttin’ out.
39. Miguel Montero (15 HR, 25 2B, .364 wOBA, 5.0 fWAR, 3.7 rWAR) – Wouldn’t be surprised if Arizona fans feel MM is underappreciated. Definitely not talked about as much when we talk about “good catchers.”
38. Chris Sale (192.0 IP, 9 K/9, 4.06 tERA, 4.9 fWAR, 4.2 rWAR) – Turning 24 at the end of March, some scouts worry about this guy’s delivery, but hopefully Sale will continue to produce and not get injured.
37. Prince Fielder (30 HR, 33 2B, .398 wOBA, 4.9 fWAR, 4.4 rWAR) – Yea, defense kills him also, but that offense is just so hot, it’s no wonder he’s locked up through 2020.
36. Bryce Harper (22 HR, 18 SB, .352 wOBA, 4.9 fWAR, 5.0 rWAR) – Kid turned 20 in October. Really tried to not use his age to rank, but I might be guilty of that here.
35. Yu Darvish (191.1 IP, 10.4 K/9, 4.02 tERA, 5.1 fWAR, 4.0 rWAR) – Not a bad campaign for the “rookie” out of Sendai, and this is probably the guy I wish I would have watched more of. Maybe this year I’ll do that.
34. Joe Mauer (10 HR, 31 2B, .376 wOBA, 5.0 fWAR, 4.1 rWAR) – Just hoping Head & Shoulders is back in the game and ready to mash, especially with that monster contract of his.
33. Matt Holliday (27 HR, 36 2B, .378 wOBA, 5.1 fWAR, 3.9 rWAR) – Who’d have thunk that Holliday would be higher on this list than old buddy Pujols in 2013? Certainly not me.
32. Stephen Strasburg (159.1 IP, 11.13 K/9, 3.34 tERA, 4.3 fWAR, 2.7 rWAR) – Ranking SS was very tough because it’s not his fault the Nats shut him down, and I tried not to extrapolate what he was going to do and just take what he did and rank that. Could be too high, considering most everyone else got through the full season. Maybe it’s just right.
31. Carlos Ruiz (16 HR, 32 2B, .398 wOBA, 5.5 fWAR, 4.4 rWAR) – For how long he was using a substance to help him focus is unknown to me, and maybe it was helping him all year, but that’s not something I feel comfortable speculating on.
30. Torii Hunter (16 HR, 24 2B, .356 wOBA, 5.3 fWAR, 5.5 rWAR) – I do feel kind of bad for him with how things ended in Anaheim, but I think he’ll be happy in Detroit.
29. Austin Jackson (16 HR, 10 3B, .371 wOBA, 5.5 fWAR, 5.2 rWAR) – Someone said to me in the midst of the World Series the Tigers only had two guys in their lineup to fear. Austin Jackson then started his Rodney Dangerfield act, pointing to his regular season numbers.
28. Ian Desmond (25 HR, 21 SB, .362 wOBA, 5.4 fWAR, 3.2 rWAR) – Really difficult to decide between him, Jackson, and Hunter, but the 20-20 thing is just too sexy.
27. Giancarlo Stanton (37 HR, 30 2B, .405 wOBA, 5.8 fWAR, 5.4 rWAR) – He will enter his age 23 season in 2013, and he did all that in 501 plate appearances. Scary to think that he could get stronger.
26. Martin Prado (10 HR, 17 SB, .345 wOBA, 5.9 fWAR, 5.4 rWAR) – Often overlooked because he doesn’t clear the fence more often, Prado is a solid utility player that hasn’t quite seen his payday yet, but hopefully he will get his.
25. Alex Gordon (14 HR, 51 2B, .357 wOBA, 5.9 fWAR, 6.2 rWAR) – I could see people having a beef with me ranking Gordon too low, but if he gets stronger, those doubles might be going down and turning into dingers.
24. Zack Greinke (212.1 IP, 8.48 K/9, 3.58 tERA, 5.1 fWAR, 3.3 rWAR) – The lefty has a new home in LA, but made due with the Milwaukee and other “LA” team he worked for in 2012
23. Ben Zobrist (20 HR, 14 SB, .365 wOBA, 5.9 fWAR, 5.5 rWAR) – Another year of Ben playing multiple positions, and he still churns out the numbers that make him a solid attribute to the club. Good thing they have two team options on him for 2014 and 2015.
22. Joey Votto (44 2B, 19.80% BB%, .438 wOBA, 5.9 fWAR, 5.6 rWAR) – Even if he wasn’t 100%, he still ended up being a big contributor to the NL Central Champs.
21. Gio Gonzalez (199.1 IP, 9.35 K/9, 3.34 tERA, 5.4 fWAR, 4.5 rWAR) – Homey needs to bring that walk rate down, but to have this guy and him not be the #1 in your staff is pretty telling of what the Nationals have.
Two teams with very different winning streaks — the Giants at 3, and the Braves at 7 — meet up in Hotlanta in what’s a battle between two teams with very similar post-season aspirations, and only a one game apart in the loss column. All winning streaks have to come to an end sometime, right? So why not force them to start a brand new one after they leave Georgia? Problem is obviously, this team is much better than the Houston squad that got swept by the Giants. Leaving 26 men on base in the last two games of the series like the Giants did will not likely warrant positive results in the Win column should that continue on this roadtrip.
Tuesday, July 17th: LHP Barry Zito vs. RHP Jair Jurrjens
One sentence summary: Two guys with a tERA over 5 means this game could have both fanbases putting their hands to their heads for five to six innings at the very most.
Wednesday, July 18th: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. LHP Mike Minor
One sentence summary: 19 HRA for Mike Minor and the count for those HR and the pitches they were hit on: fastball (10), changeup (5), slider (3), and the curveball (1).
Thursday, July 19th: LHP Madison Bumgarner vs. RHP Tim Hudson
One sentence summary: Tim Hudson really can give you a bunch of different looks and the sinkerballer should be the biggest challenge of a starting pitcher the Giants see in the Southeast.
A pretty decent team the Braves are, as they’ve shown this season with four guys (assuming qualified PA) with over a .350 wOBA (Giants have three), but you may hear the broadcast booth talk about three of them have batting averages over .300, which is also impressive. Chipper (.383 wOBA), Martin Prado (.363), Jason Heyward (.363), and Michael Bourn (.359) are the wOBA guys, and the Braves also have four guys with double digit HRs. Heyward actually leads all with 14, McCann has 13, and Uggla along with Freeman both have 12. Three — Bourn (25), JHey (12), and Prado (11) — have double digit steals. So a team that hits, can hit for power, and can run. Any questions as to why they’re in the hunt?
Sure, the Giants have their own speed in Pagan (16), Blanco (15), and Melky (10), and two different guys from Melky (.387 wOBA) have high wOBA like the Braves gang in Pablo (.367), and Buster (.364), but still only have Buster (11) as a representative from the double digit big bomb club. A lot of talk has also come about the Giants hitting with RISP, and it gets your attention because they’re one of the worst in the league. The most AB with RISP coming into tonight’s games at 805 AB for the Giants, yet they have the 2nd lowest batting average (.225, Padres lowest at .209), the lowest OBP (.302), the 2nd lowest SLG% (.328, Padres lowest at .300), the 2nd lowest BABIP (.260, Yankees the lowest at .241) and the 2nd lowest wOBA (.270, Padres at .268). Leaves you to wonder how many close games can be avoided if the RISP will come in at a higher rate this second half of the season.
I’m not going to predict better RISP batting, although you’d think it should happen since it’s been so bad so far. The Giants can win this series, but will they let the heat get to them like they let it last time?
Tuesday: Giants win (Jurrjens gets hit harder than Zito)
Wednesday: Giants win (Hit Mike Minor hard)
Thursday: Braves win (RISP problems)