I’m at home recovering from the stomach flu and I’ve still got some lingering pain so I figure I’m still contagious. Well enough to blog, though, so that means a lot of MLB Network and social media hanging out. In hanging out and tweeting about Hot Stove this morning, a follower dropped a question my way:
— Randy Boyles ⚾ (@lord_randall) December 11, 2013
As I responded to Randy, there are really a select few players that probably are essentially off-limits. I mean, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are probably going to command a farm in their current position, and I’m not sure it would make sense for any team involved. Anyway, I digress. Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reported that Colby Rasmus is on the trading block and Toronto has asked for starting pitching in return from two teams to date. Are the Giants one of those teams? I sure as heck don’t know. The Giants have been reportedly been asked about starting pitcher in the minors Edwin Escobar, so if a team came calling about pitching, he’s probably more likely a guy Toronto would ask about than someone like Mike Kickham.
So let’s say a Rasmus deal happens and he comes over to the Bay Area, how does he fit in with the Giants? Platoon partner with Gregor Blanco or full-time starter? First thing’s first, Colby Rasmus is a left-handed hitter, so we can take away the platoon idea, so he would either be a starter or a bench player. He has been playing center field for the last few years, which would spar some interesting thought bubbles as to whether he can force Angel Pagan over to left. As for Rasmus’ numbers, let’s go to the spreadsheets:
|162 Game Avg.||162||626||28||4||23||6||4||55||151||.248||.317||.436||103|
|STL (3 yrs)||385||1440||64||11||50||20||11||144||320||.259||.334||.444||110|
|TOR (3 yrs)||304||1223||57||6||48||4||4||89||323||.237||.298||.428||95|
|AL (3 yrs)||304||1223||57||6||48||4||4||89||323||.237||.298||.428||95|
|NL (3 yrs)||385||1440||64||11||50||20||11||144||320||.259||.334||.444||110|
Included in Rasmus’ better 2013 was his .365 wOBA and 130 wRC+, his best numbers since 2010 when he had a .369 wOBA and 130 wRC+. So Rasmus clearly has had his years when he has hit. Fangraphs has his fielding in 2009 and 2013 as well above average, although other year have been less than stellar. Talk about a hot and cold player. When he’s hot, he’s your starter. When he’s cold, he’s a bench player — although to be fair, that describes a lot of players at any level. Anybody the Giants acquire in a trade or use from their system — be it Juan Perez or Roger Kieschnick — will have their flaws. Just a matter of finding whose you can live with most. Rasmus played more than 150 games for the first time in 2012, played more than 143 games three times in his five years of play, so there is a little worry with can he play a whole season. A more 2010/2013 Colby Rasmus would help any club, and so Toronto selling high on him that they themselves don’t seem to be sure that Rasmus can repeat this performance in 2014, the last year of his team control, should make you think a little bit, for sure. Joel Sherman on MLBN just mentioned, and I’ve heard this as well, the outfield crop for the next offseason doesn’t look too great, and maybe the Giants get a jump on it by getting Rasmus. MLB Trade Rumors has Rasmus’ projected arbitration earnings for 2014 at $6.5 million.
So Colby Rasmus being on the Giants? He would be a full-time starter, and I’m hoping he would force Angel Pagan to the left field spot. Now it’s just a matter of if it happens or not. The Giants have said they’ll either look in-house or through a trade for their next outfielder, and if they can spend $6MM on Jeremy Affeldt, I don’t see why they can’t spend that kind of money on Rasmus if it comes to it. The savings for the budget will have to come elsewhere (the bullpen).
The 2012 World Champion San Francisco Giants head out to pre-season 2013 World Series favourite Toronto to square off against the Blue Jays who haven’t started the ’13 season the way they had hoped (last place in the AL East), but have gathered a little confidence in them as they come off of a two game win streak to finish a series in Boston. Like the Giants, they had a day off yesterday, but unlike the Giants, they have a day off on Thursday so they have a lot of freedom to use a lot of pitchers here and there. The Giants will be heading to Colorado for a four game series right after they’re done in Canada.
Here’s what the Giants are sending out:
Tonight’s #SFGiants lineup: Pagan cf, Scutaro DH, Sandoval 3b, Posey c, Pence rf, Belt 1b, Blanco lf, Noonan 2b, Crawford ss, Zito p
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) May 14, 2013
Buster Posey will be DH-ing tomorrow, per Boch’s interview with Jim Bowden. The Blue Jays, cellar dwellers of the AL East bring you:
Tonight’s @bluejays lineup:Cabrera-DHBautista-RFEncarnacion-1BDeRosa-2BLawrie-3BIzturis-SSRasmus-CFBlanco-CBonifacio-LFDickey-P
— Blue Jays-Official(@BlueJays) May 14, 2013
Old friend and World Champion Mark DeRosa batting cleanup, and other old friend and kinda sorta World Champion Melky Cabrera leading off and DH-ing. Also, this is a reminder that Henry Blanco is still playing at age 41 — wow.
In terms of pitch usage for both of these fellows, one may seem more obvious than the other, but here goes:
This one, as you guessed, is for Barry Zito, who throws many pitches, and many sliders and curveballs, too! Loves throwing in that extra pitch to right handers as well.
R.A. Dickey will mix in his fastball every now and then, but definitely more when the batter is ahead, and RHH will definitely be aware of that when they face off in less than a couple hours. That scouting report may not be good enough, so here’s Dickey’s game log for this year:
Five homers in his last three starts, but none in his last start, so that’s an improvement. He’s had two solid starts this year, while being not-so-Cy-Youngish in the rest. The Giants hope they get that version today, and maybe Zito can mystify the Blue Jays.
It’s the first time the Giants are playing a game in the Eastern Standard Time Zone tonight, so you can catch the game starting at 4:07PM PST, then get ready for your Sharks-Kings hockey game when the baseball concludes.
Hot starts don’t necessarily dictate the results of May through October, because that’s only one month of baseball done, and even one month’s worth of goodies is a small sample size of information. Still, it’s not like it’s not fun to look at some of the numbers that were a little unexpected.
Win and Losses Division
The AL East really was, and still is anybody’s division to win, and so maybe Boston’s 18-8 record — and the best in baseball — shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. What is the bigger surprise can be found at the bottom of the division where the Toronto Blue Jays reside at 10-17. There are three teams with a worse record than that, two won’t surprise you, one may: Astros, Marlins, Angels.
Another unexpected positive performance has come from the NL West leading Colorado Rockies, and second place Kansas City are only a half game back of the 2012 AL Champs. Different league, but still the Central, the top four teams in the NLC are all within one game of each other.
Position Players Division
Surprising that Justin Upton has 12 homers? Probably not. Surprising that New York Mets catcher John Buck is tied for second with 9? Very! We always knew Chris Davis had power, just wondered if his contact rate would get in the way. You expected him to have more of a slash line like Anthony Rizzo than one like Bryce Harper.
This may not surprise you, but I did not think Carl Crawford would have as solid of an April as he’s had. 1.3 fWAR with a .390 wOBA, including 4 HR and SB. You do that every month and that gets you MVP votes.
Players in the bottom 15 of fWAR include players like Melky Cabrera (0 HR), Matt Kemp (84 wRC+), and Josh Hamilton (51 wRC+). I’m sure Melky’s place there doesn’t surprise the PED skeptics, but bottom 15 bad?
Starting Pitchers Division
Continuing with the bottom, it surprises me that two of the bottom seven fWAR performances belong to starters on the Giants staff, and neither of them are Barry Zito (Matt Cain, and Ryan Vogelsong). Brandon McCarthy may sport a horrible 7.48 ERA, but his 3.67 FIP is better than league average, and that 3.82 residual is pretty astounding for anybody.
In a shocking development, Stephen Strasburg and Jeff Samardzija‘s 1-4 W-L record may not tell you that they’ve actually done quite alright for their team, it’s just, you know, that whole run support thing.
Sergio Romo, Jason Grilli, Mariano Rivera, and Jim Johnson may have ten saves, but your leader for relievers in fWAR is James Russell of the Cubs and Craig Kimbrel, Matt Belisle, and four others at 0.6.
Speaking of Sergio, no “closer” has been brought into more games than him. 15. Brad Ziegler leads in appearances with 17. That’s a pretty healthy dose of usage early on.
I know John Axford was on the decline, but that 8 ERA and 7 FIP are more of a fall from grace than just a “decline.”
If you added Brandon League and Huston Street‘s K% (I know it doesn’t work like that, but work with me here), it would be 20.0%. Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Bailey, and Greg Holland would still have more than double that K%.
So there are some of your surprises from this month, definitely varying on the spectrum of surprisability, but those are some of the things that got my attention. What surprised you this month?
The regular season begins
this Sunday tomorrow 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. Let us preview the postseason, where the best team doesn’t always win due to the randomness of how the short series will go. It’s a first team to eleven wins once the DS begins, and normally the team that catches fire tends to do the celebrating. Also in my analysis, the team that scores more runs tend to win games. I’ll start with who I have going into the playoffs, then the predictions of the resulting postseason series. After that, I’ll go into regular season awards.
NL Playoff Seeding
1. Washington Nationals
2. Cincinnati Reds
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Atlanta Braves
5. San Francisco Giants
Wild-Card Play-in Game
Atlanta beats San Francisco
Atlanta beats Washington
Cincinnati beats Los Angeles
Cincinnati beats Atlanta
AL Playoff Seeding
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Toronto Blue Jays
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. Texas Rangers
Wild-Card Play-in Game
Tampa Bay beats Texas
Detroit beats Tampa Bay
Toronto beats LA of A
Detroit beats Toronto
World Series (game will be in AL Park when AL wins ASG)
Detroit beats Cincinnati
Don’t worry Tiger fans, I’m sure my predictions won’t be correct!
Regular Season Awards
I will go into who the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year for both leagues will be. These will also probably be wrong.
AL MVP — Mike Trout
Asking me if I’m mad, bro? Nah, not mad, but let’s say Mike Trout does even 80% of what he did in 2012 in 2013, and his team gets to the playoffs, the voters are going to give him his “redemption,” and feel good that “see, we don’t hate advanced stats,” as we roll our collective eyes together. Sophomore slump? Maybe a little, but the only thing that will stop this fish is if he gets hurt playing the game.
NL MVP — Justin Upton
They say a change of scenery can do wonders for a player, and how about playing with an organization that wants you? I’d say that’s a good start. I think Upton will have a career year, players like Braun and Posey will regress a little, and Upton will find his team in the playoffs. Justin Upton may not have the best year of everybody, but I think he gets the award.
AL Cy Young — Justin Verlander
Kind of like Trout, he’s only going to get stopped by an injury. He should continue to rack up the pitcher wins, satisfying the old school, and his team will make the playoffs all with lots of money, and lots of strikeouts. Probably not many multi-homer against games though. Verlander is just excellent.
NL Cy Young — Clayton Kershaw
Dickey was a great story in 2012, but I still side with the overall metrics a bit on Kershaw, believing he got snubbed by just a little bit, nothing too controversial. Kershaw, like Verlander, will be getting plenty of pitcher wins behind a boosted offense, and he’s still really, really good. Oh, and his team will be going to the playoffs so that equals instant votes.
AL Rookie of the Year — Jackie Bradley Jr.
Shot up the prospect lists in 2012 into 2013, and is projected to start with the team. For the kid, the defense will be getting peoples attention, while the stick may not be able to do anything super special, it’ll be enough. Lots of names for both RoY awards, JBJ just happens to be my guess right now.
NL Rookie of the Year — Zack Wheeler
Wheeler will not come up until June and he’ll still get the award. Dominating the minors, and yes, I understand the pain he’s going to cause Giants fans, but the kid is good, and will be going after his opposition from the get-go with heat and curveballs and breaking balls and strikeouts.
Let’s hear what your predictions are! Pretty much anything goes before the season gets going.
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)?
Melky Cabrera spoke today with the Blue Jays about his 2012 season and how he’s going to stay quiet about the drug use that happened, but at the same time he did acknowledge his mistake in trying to break the rules while he was on the squad that would eventually win the 2012 World Series. We also probably won’t know for a while if and for how long in 2011 while Melky was in Kansas City that he was doing some un-allowed activities that led KC to try and trade high for him. For most that have read my stuff over the course of time it’s been around, you know my stance will not only be that he should get a ring, but even like Melky has said, he deserves one. Did he break the rules set out by both MLB and the MLBPA? Yes. Do we know anything about how much PEDs aid performance? Ehhhhhhh, all we know about PEDs is MUSCLES and how it’s so unnatural and then slippery slope from there about what’s “natural.” So I understand if the general sentiment is something like this:
@bnightengale cheaters don’t deserve anything f him
— hangonsloopy (@hangonsloopyosu) February 15, 2013
@bnightengale deserves a ring? No. He already got what he deserves.
— John Bunn (@johnnybunn) February 15, 2013
Which is fine, they’re entitled to their opinion (probably the majority opinion, also), but I very much disagree. In any case, there’s also this:
@bnightengale He’s protected by the CBA to get his full share. Seems like a moot argument.
— Bhavin (@bhavinforapples) February 15, 2013
Melky already got his full share from the Giants, so what makes anyone think he’s not getting a ring? While there would be a sizable number of pitchfork and torch holding fans eager to cheer on the organization not to give the trophy to Melky, drug-aided or not, he helped the Giants get to where they ended up going. (Don’t worry, I can hear you’re “yea, but he cheated” responses.) It would also set up a nightmare precedent for discussion of taking away World Series rings from proven PED users, which would lead into discussion of erasing stats, and even from the first suggestion, to me it’d be nauseatingly dumb and unnecessary. Debate is fine and cool and everything, but as to advancing the sport, I fail to see how this would do that.
Unbelievable. Fire sale. Betrayal. Whatever you want to call it, a trade of epic proportions happened. The universal emotion could be summed up in understandable anger and/or embarrassment. You didn’t come here for me though.
The first big name reaction came from superstar Giancarlo Stanton:
This led to a slew of people demanding their team trade for Stanton. Please. That won’t happen… for a couple years. Next, new ace Ricky Nolasco:
Pretty much what we were saying, too.
May just be a bad couple days not to have one since this deal won’t be official until tomorrow, apparently.
Yea, Joey Bats feelin’ good. He should be feelin’ good because look at that rotation he’ll get to play behind:
Pretty good rotation in a normally tough AL East. Here’s Bryce Harper telling Mr. Stanton everything will be alright if he played for an organization that didn’t have fire sale tendencies:
Beat writer for the Marlins Juan Rodriguez letting us know the Marlins are supplying some relief to the Jays:
Phew! Now the Blue Jays are only on the hook for… more than $150MM. The overall picture of the trade:
We’re getting spoiled with these blockbuster trades involving long-term deals after the first year we’re going to be feeling something is missing next year if it doesn’t happen.
Don’t be surprised if this isn’t the last time some of the involved members in this trade get dealt again this offseason. It’s a good day to be a Blue Jay.