President’s Day was for the Presidents and for the animals. Early in the morning, we were greeted by a raccoon at the Yankees Spring Training complex:
— Rob Tornoe (@RobTornoe) February 17, 2014
Absolutely adorable. Early nomination for Spring Training picture of the year. Then the photoshops started to come in. First, we had the return of our nightmares:
Then Grant Brisbee went to work:
and then Photoshop extraordinaire Nat put Grant Brisbee in it:
— Nat (@natt0) February 17, 2014
And then we go back to the Yankees organization, this time to their Double-A affiliate Trenton to see their new mascot:
— Trenton Thunder (@TrentonThunder) February 17, 2014
Looks like one of the little animals I see on that Too Cute! show because Rookie makes me want a puppy.
— Eric Lipsman (@E_Lipsman) February 17, 2014
— Eric Lipsman (@E_Lipsman) February 17, 2014
In other news, it looks like Ubaldo Jimenez is signing a 4-year contract for a $12 million average annual value. That’s all the analysis you’ll get from me on that because this post is about the animals.
On Friday while I was working, the internet was busy throwing around names and came up with the future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki as an option for the San Francisco Giants as they search for a Left Field platoon partner with Gregor Blanco that could hit LHP.
While Baseball Reference has both Ichiro and Brett Gardner hitting Free Agency at the same time (after the 2014 season), remember that Brett Gardner will be going into his age 30 season and is an everyday player while Ichiro is going into his age 40 season and is more of a platoon player, and is a bench player for the Yankees.
Looking at Ichiro’s overall numbers, you may be turned off right away:
|SEA (12 yrs)||1844||8483||295||79||99||438||97||513||792||.322||.366||.418||113|
|NYY (2 yrs)||217||795||28||4||12||34||9||31||84||.280||.310||.376||87|
Sub-.300 OBP, 75 OPS+, what really is there to see here? Remember that in this exercise we’re primarily looking for a platoon partner and someone that can play defense, and at least the arm of Ichiro has never been in doubt since he’s broken into the league. A look at his numbers against LHP in 2013:
Those are much more attractive numbers and ones that should make you feel better about bringing on an old guy to the team you love. For those wondering, his on base percentage against LHP the last four seasons from 2010: .340, .325, .291, .331 . His wOBA? .342, .290, .282, .329. If there’s anything we’ve established, it’s that you’re either getting a good platoon partner or a tolerable, maybe groan-worthy partner — and who says baseball isn’t easy to predict. The rumors as for whom the Yankees might want back for the aging Hall of Famer?
I wouldn’t trade Scutaro for Ichiro. They could probably get him for less.
— Dave (@gggiants) December 7, 2013
— Jed Weisberger (@jedleyq) December 7, 2013
Since Robinson Cano signed with Seattle and Eduardo Nunez becomes the starting 2B for the Yankees for the time being, the mallet-fingered Marco Scutaro becomes an option people are looking at. I think Dave’s right that the Giants could get the Yankees for less. Dare I say what kind of less — not really, because I’ve never been any good at that kind of predicting. What I know is two teams with money trading for a player, if it happens, you don’t have to be concerned about a team worrying about somebody willing to pick up the tab on the contract. As noted earlier, Ichiro is a bench player on the Yankees, so I think they’d be wise to unload him to a team that will use him to start 60-80 games and get some value out of him, even if that value happens to be some more bench players, or a bullpen arm.
My bias towards Ichiro is that I love him, so the heart says bring him on for maybe one last year for him, and get that Ichiro Giants jersey or shirsey I’ve always wanted to get. While I would have no worries about his defense, my only concerns would be about his offensive contributions in his starts, and with his consistency spoken about a little bit earlier, I am scared that he’s going to perform so poorly that the Giants take a waiver on a journeyman left fielder and waste at bats with him a la Jeff Francoeur. Nobody wants to relive Jeff Francoeur. I do want to experience Ichiro Suzuki, though.
The regular season begins this Sunday at 5:05PM PST when the Texas Rangers play the Houston Astros in that famous AL West rivalry, which means this week is all about previews, bold predictions, and message board put downs. I will say I am not good at predicting things, so let’s get that straight. Like everybody else though, I have an opinion on the matter of how events will play out. As I preview these divisions, I’ll tell you a little of what sport betting sites see, what computer simulations see, and what I see. The teams will be previewed in the reverse order I expect them to finish. Let us preview the AL East, which I am having an impossible time getting a read on, because you have so much talent on these rosters, but how does what happened last year translate to 2013? How will the players that won’t break with the club play a role with the big club in the summer? If you have an easy time predicting this division, I don’t think you’re looking at what this division’s got hard enough.
5. Boston Red Sox
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 11/2, 14/1, 28/1
Stuart sees: a team that gets to hit the “reset” button with a new field manager, and names like Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez going from Red Sox to Dodger Blue. Their lineup the way it is now isn’t bad, and their rotation after Lester and Clay Buchholz is where I wonder what happens. It is definitely more of a “I don’t know what will happen” feeling than a “this team is going to tank” one. The bullpen shouldn’t be horrible, and this club could have some big mid-season call-ups in guys like Jackie Bradley, Jr., Rubby De La Rosa, and Allen Webster. If this team got a playoff spot, I can’t say I’d be surprised, and I’ll be guilty of admitting that what they did in 2012 is playing into how I’ll think they do in 2013. This is not to suggest they will be an awful 5th place team, just the team that happens to be in that spot.
4. Baltimore Orioles
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 15/2, 18/1, 35/1
Stuart sees: a squad that probably over-achieved in 2012 and won’t see consistent success until that crop of pitchers graduate full-time to the majors. Yes, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, I am looking at you. Manny Machado was brought up last year to the surprise of many, but he is still there, and many are expecting he’ll be a force even if he’s not calling his position of SS home. It is good to hear Brian Roberts‘ name used in the day-to-day action, as opposed to about his recovering from a concussion. The bullpen is passable, and that lineup a little better than that with guys like Matt Wieters starting to come around. To get back to the playoffs, the Orioles will need that pitching staff to do better than they are projected to do, otherwise, it’s going to be the familiar role of cellar dwellers for them.
3. New York Yankees
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 7/2, 9/1, 20/1
Stuart sees: people freaking out over the Yankees because Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and Michael Pineda are all out for a while, even the Captain has been slowed down from his season-ending ankle injury. Giants fans know that they got their championships through their pitching (and timely hitting), so knowing the Yankees have Sabathia, and Hiroki Kuroda shouldn’t scare you off too much. Andy Pettitte, Ivan Nova, and David Phelps may not be the best money can buy, but you can do worse, and I think the Yanks have just enough bats to avoid getting into ALCS-bad shape. Then again, you’d have to be pretty bad to be in that shape. Again.
2. Tampa Bay Rays
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 5/2, 8/1, 16/1
Stuart sees: young, strong pitching leading the rotation, and more on the way . While Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore may not blow the doors off the scene, an improvement for Moore in 2013 would spell trouble for the AL East in getting after the Rays. If the lineup doesn’t scare you yet, that’s OK, but once Wil Myers gets penciled in, that sound you’ll hear is the American League pitchers groaning. While Myers isn’t a Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, he is still a potential All-Star for the outfield, and not one of those “hey we need a guy from a team” All-Stars. The bullpen is led by archery and plantain specialist Fernando Rodney, and after that, it’s an affordable group of arms… “If only they had more financial resources and played in a market that cared,” we cry. If this team struggles and falls out of contention, the asking price for ace SP Price should be most interesting, because he’s probably taking a raise that the Rays won’t be able to offer in the offseason.
1. Toronto Blue Jays
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 8/5, 15/4, 8/1
Stuart sees: a team that saw what the AL East was putting out and decided it was time to push the chips in. Like it or not, the Blue Jays gave up some pieces to get the guys they brought in, including R.A. Dickey. Taking a risk on Melky Cabrera was probably not looked upon favorably by the public, but I like the move that was made and hope it works out, especially with the naive optimism it could spur a “maybe we don’t have the right idea about PEDs,” but that really is a pipe-dream on my part. The rotation has the potential to be lights out with the bullpen being my question mark for the team. That lineup is not going to be fun to face, but I will say this: if you hear this club made out to be some sort of Washington Nationals-level super-club, I don’t buy into that. I think they’re a tick above what the Braves put out. A short-term gamble (but not like trading Wheeler for Beltran short-term) that should see the playoffs being played again in Toronto. Milk bags for everyone!
A crazy and difficult set of predictions for the AL East, what are yours for this division (that I think could go a lot of different ways)?
Eli Whiteside has been claimed off waivers by the New York Yankees. He was the third catcher in the depth chart behind Buster Posey and Hector Sanchez and over his time with the Giants will leave with two World Series rings. Something I didn’t pick up on probably because I didn’t visit his player page enough was that Whiteside played with the Orioles in 2005. He was also in the Minnesota farm system, then the Giants system. Dustin Eli Whiteside had 10 HR and 102 H with the G’s over the 2009-2012 seasons in 199 G. Not sure if this means it’s the end of Chris Stewart‘s time in New York, but I’d guess it will at least be one of the two guys fighting for the backup role in Spring Training if CS is held on to and/or extended a minor-league invite.
By the way, Yankees, you like Giants catchers? Mind if we sign Bengie Molina for a day so you can acquire him and give the Giants a useful reliever?
Lastly, this is the time where you fondly remember Eli for his hop-fest in front of Shane Victorino and has face slide into second base.
While we know all ten teams that are going to the postseason, we do not know the seeds of six of the ten teams, and that’s pretty crazy going into the last game of the season. We could have some things unfold early on in the day, while we will have to wait until the East Coast begins their nightcaps to see if there’s going to be even something like a Game 163.
Seeds we know: #3 Giants, #4 Braves, #5 Cardinals
Philadelphia @ Washington — 10:05AM PST — If Washington wins, they’re the #1 seed in the NL. They would travel to the winner of the Braves/Cardinals for Sunday’s Game 1. If Washington loses, they will have to wait for the outcome of the Cincinnati-St.Louis game to see where will travel.
Cincinnati @ St. Louis — 5:15PM PST — Cincy needs Washington to lose if they want this game to matter in terms of seeding. Should the Nationals lose and Cincy wins, they will travel to the Wild Card winner’s site for Sunday’s Game 1, and Washington will go to San Francisco. If Cincy loses, they’ll head to SF for Saturday’s Game 1.
Seeds we know: #3 Tigers
Texas @ Oakland — 12:35PM PST — The winner wins the AL West, and the loser will be the wild-card team. Where this gets dicey is Texas, Oakland, and Baltimore are all 93-68, with the Yankees being 94-67. If Texas wins and the Yankees lose, the Yankees will be the #1, and Texas the #2. If Oakland wins and the Yankees lose, Oakland will be the #1, and the Yankees will be the #2 — all this assuming Baltimore loses their game today. If Baltimore loses, the loser of this game will be the #4 seed, Baltimore the #5.
Boston @ New York — 4:05PM PST — The Yankees can make things easy by winning their game and clinching the East, and the #1 seed. If they lose and Baltimore wins, there will be a tie atop the AL East and a Thursday Game 163 in Baltimore will be put on the schedule.
Baltimore @ Tampa Bay — 4:10PM PST — If the Orioles and Yankees will be playing at the same time, much like they were last year, except they were helping Boston’s meltdown and the Yankees were unable to close the door on the Rays. The Orioles would definitely prefer a best-of-five to a winner-take-all then a best-of-five. They will have to win, see the Yankees lose, and face off with them on Thursday. Winner of that game should be the #1 seed, having a half game lead over the AL West winner.
That’s all there is to it today to decide who will be going where. Simple, right?
Look into those eyes. What are they saying to you? Do they say, “I’ve played with 4 different teams in the last 4 seasons?” Are they trying to tell you he’s on pace for 225 hits? Do they also question you when you endlessly cite BABIP to predict his inevitable fall? Maybe.
Sometimes we don’t appreciate what The Melky does. Other times, we dress up as deliverymen from a different decade and go on instagram to see pictures of his newborn baby. I don’t do either, because 1) I don’t have a costume like that and 2) I don’t have an Instagram account or even know how to take an Instagram (is that what the Instagrammers say?). This article is to show you in numbers that I appreciate what he does. I should make this perfectly clear to my readers though that you should never just rely on numbers for every argument you make about a player’s performance. I feel like a lot of guys that argue with the beat writers live and die by the number… don’t do that.
Anyway, you may be wondering how Melky Melkethed last year in KC while the trade idea for him for Dirty was not even a glimmer in Brian Sabean’s eye.
My conclusions: Skinny Melky is putting up some fat numbers. If you rolled your eyes at that joke, you’re welcome. Take it and use it.
Interesting numbers and differences to look at though, like May of 2011 vs. May of 2012 as Melky went from mediocre in 5/2011 to out of his mind in May ’12, and is probably one of the biggest reasons why his 2012 numbers may be so much more ballooned relative to ’11 and thus may lead to so many more green rectangles for the Melk Man come contract time. I mean, unless August and September/October see Melky tank like Emmanuel Burriss, then Melky’s looking like all his numbers across the board should be what I’ll estimate to be around 20 points better if his numbers stay somewhat close to what he did in 2011. It’s looking like an over-.300 BABIP is not difficult for him to replicate now since he only couldn’t do it within the last 2 seasons in May of 2011. (Disclaimer: This is not saying Melky can do it for the easy majority of the next five-six years, I’m not willing to blindly guess that far into the future.)
So look into those eyes again:
Do they tell you he’s 11th in OBP in the bigs? 17th in wOBA? 5th in BABIP? Whether you think I made those numbers up or not, what those eyes should tell you is Melky’s here to produce, and here to hit, and should continue to do so over the final 64 games of the season for the Giants of San Francisco.
I hope those images don’t give you nightmares.
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)