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Category Archives: MLB

Trickle-Down of Bryce Harper signing (Or…the piece in which I trade Ender again)

Bryce Harper will sign soon…
Oh brother, how many times have we heard that uttered by a national baseball writer? It does look like we’re finally reaching the peak of his market with mentions of the Giants, Phillies, Dodgers, and even smaller mentions of Braves and Cubs *checking in*. In truth, I think it’s really down to the 3, and there’s 1 team out of that 3 that, if Bryce signed with them, it could be very beneficial for the Braves.
According to nearly everyone on the Internet, the Dodgers are seen as Bryce Harper’s first choice. It makes sense.

They compete on a regular basis.
They have money to spend.
The location is quite close to his Las Vegas home.
It’s a big stage.

On the outside looking in, it seems like a shorter term deal with less guaranteed $ would be less appealing and that is my thought process right now. If Bryce is handed a deal by the San Francisco Giants for 10+ years at 30-33MM/year, I think he’ll be choose them.  For me, the Giants are leading this rat-race, followed by the Dodgers, then the Phillies.
For the sake of my sanity and this piece, I want his landing spot to be the Dodgers.
How the Dodgers Landing Harper could make the Braves Better
A hypothetical inside a hypothetical…yes, I’m bored. If the Dodgers were to land Bryce Harper, 2 things happen:

There was already a logjam…but now there will be logs upon logs stacked up, wondering how they got there and how long it’ll take for them to rot on the bench.
If Dodgers want to avoid paying luxury tax, they’ll have to move $.

There have already been rumors of Braves checking in (or Dodgers checking in with the Braves) concerning Joc Pederson.  As of now, the fit isn’t there for either team as the Braves have no spot for semi-regulars at-bats for another left-handed OF bat, but that doesn’t mean that, through other moves, there couldn’t be.
Proposal Number 1
Dodgers acquire C.J. Alexander and Corbin Clouse
Braves acquire Joc Pederson and Rich Hill
News just broke that many of the Braves starting pitcher candidates are either
LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 01: Joc Pederson #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a grand slam home run in the second inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on May 1, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
experiencing elbow or shoulder soreness. Couple that with the Soroka news (although he’s about to start throwing again, so that’s good) and grabbing another starter, especially one that could slot in as numero uno, without making a huge commitment in years or prospects, seems incredibly smart.
Proposal Number 2
Braves acquire Kyle Tucker (Yup…again!)
Astros acquire Ender Inciarte (That’ll teach you to block me!!!!)
This is the quick and dirty proposal, but it doesn’t have to be this…rather it could be any high-end MLB-ready OF prospect in return for a CF needy team. Astros still have George Springer penciled in at CF, and that didn’t go well last year. Move him over to the corner and give Ender control of their OF. The Astros are fine on offense and could really use the defensive minded Inciarte in the outfield.
Defensive Breakdown
The Braves can afford to lose Ender Inciarte. Yes…this goes out to you “But what about the defense?” people. This is an experiment. An experiment of Ronald Acuna taking over CF for 1 year (at the minimum). I’ve watched him in CF in MiLB. I’ve watched him in CF in MLB. My below average baseball eye saw a kid that can track the heck out of the ball when squared up with the batter and has the speed to make up for mistakes as captain of the outfield. When he played the corner, it showed a different player. One in which the ball got on him too quickly and speed made up for mistakes….most of the time.While I’m not going to get too advanced stat-heavy here, Acuna’s small sample of advanced metrics agreed with the eye test, and if those ring true, moving Acuna to CF and trading Ender, will not be a dropoff in defense. If it doesn’t work out, it’s literally for 1 year as, hopefully, Cristian Pache (or Drew Waters) will be ready to patrol CF at some capacity in 2020.
Joc’s lack of above average foot-speed shows in the outfield, but he can still track with the best of them, just not as a CFer.  Joc slots into LF nicely against right-handed pitchers, where his above average defense (combined with Acuna’s above average defense in CF) actually makes the team better defensively, if the advanced metrics of a small sample ring true.
And then there’s Kyle Tucker (or someone equivalent) and pitching
Grabbing a future stud OFer should be the Braves top priority in any trade happening this offseason. Rich Hill provides a really good veteran stop-gap for a group of young pitchers that need MLB innings to prove/disprove their own worth, one of which could prove to be that as the Braves need.
Hope you enjoyed this quick piece. And hope it’s still relevant when I hit post!
Go Braves!

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A Possible Impact Rookies for Every AL East Team in 2019

Despite the dozens of scouts watching, the thousands of MLB players who have played a substantial amount of games in the Minor Leagues, and the overage of statistics on every AAA player, it’s still incredibly hard to project a prospect’s MLB career before it happens. Although the top prospects, Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna, won the 2018 Rookie of the Year awards, there are always surprises such as Joey Wendle and Harrison Bader, as well as disappointing rookie seasons such as Scott Kingery and Lewis Brinson.
At this point in the offseason, it is slightly premature to look at what prospects will make the biggest difference in the upcoming season. Nobody has shown off in Spring Training, top prospects can still be traded, and a number of free agents have yet to sign and could ultimately take away a starting role from a rookie that currently slots into the lineup. Nonetheless, rookies can make a huge and unexpected impact on any team’s season, and it is important to know who can make a name for themselves.
Baltimore Orioles: DJ Stewart, RF

Stewart has never been ranked among the top prospects, and none of his tools particularly stand out. However, he’s been productive at every level, including a short 17 game stint in the MLB. He’s currently projected by Roster Resource to be the team’s starting right fielder. He won’t be a great defender as scouting reports say, but his bat is intriguing as a three-true-outcomes type hitter.
Stewart had walked over 10% of the time in each of the last 3 minor league seasons, and although he strikes out more than the average player, it has never been at unbearable rates. In his short MLB stint, Stewart had a 12.1% whiff rate, which is certainly playable. Considering his plate discipline and the fact that he sprays the ball all over the field, Stewart’s hit tool may translate better to the MLB than many had previously thought.
Whether Stewart’s raw power translates as well will make or break his career. He showed off his power with 3 home runs in his first 43 MLB plate appearances. His average batted ball distance in September of 2018 was 195 feet, and although that’s not always the best predictor for future home runs, it is notable that he sits around Jose Ramirez, Daniel Murphy, and Matt Kemp.
The Orioles are expected to play plenty of rookies this season, as they won’t be making a strong attempt to compete so they will put an emphasis on development. Not many of their top prospects will play a large portion of the season on the MLB roster, especially if they choose to manipulate the service time as many teams choose to do with their prospects.
1 2 …3

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2019 Angelswin.com Primer Series: Third Base

By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer
As you can see from the chart above the Angels received a dreadful amount of offense from the hot corner, for the 2018 season, split primarily between five players (Fletcher, Cowart, Ward, Valbuena, and Cozart).
Most of that offensive production came from David Fletcher (1.4 WAR) who also played elite defense in a limited sample size. Near the end of the season, on August 14th, the Angels promoted young Taylor Ward, our top 3B prospect, to man the hot corner. Although he struggled with the bat (60 wRC+) his defense was solid in a small sample size, giving hope that he can eventually be a good solution at the position.
Earlier in the Primer Series we discussed the Angels production needs and goals. It is clear that team offense needs to improve, particularly against left-handed pitching, and defense needs to remain stable or even improve at the hot corner. Third base, across all 30 teams in Major League Baseball (MLB), has been a position associated with offensive firepower as can be seen in the figure below:

It is because of Ward’s initial inexperience and poor offensive performance that will almost certainly lead the Angels to do one of the following: 1) find a one or two year temporary solution to man the hot corner until Ward is truly ready, 2) sign or trade for a long-term answer and use Taylor at 1B, long-term, or as depth at the corners, 3) find a platoon partner that can hit right-handed pitching well to compliment Taylor, or 4) obtain a long-term solution and use Ward as a trade chip.
It is the authors feeling that the Angels do envision Ward being part of their long-term outlook, as he carried, in Minor League AAA, a 167 wRC+ and a .446 on-base percentage (OBP) for the 2018 season. Because of that potential, finding a one or two year stopgap until Ward is ready makes some degree of sense unless the team really feels he can win the job outright or can be productive with a platoon partner. This would be consistent with Billy Eppler’s statement about affording some of the younger players an opportunity to win playing time. Notably, if you bring in a short-term asset, you not only increase production in 2019 and possibly 2020, but also deepen your roster by having Taylor get repetitions down in AAA and whom can be called upon in the case of an injury. This is the path that likely makes the Angels 40-man roster more robust.
In the end the team needs a regular, full-time guy, who can match and improve upon the 1.8 WAR bar that was set from last season. Based on the information above we can begin a player search utilizing FanGraphs.com to identify potential trade and free agent targets that match one or more of those parameters.
Below is a list of the Top 30, third basemen, set at a minimum of 50 plate appearances (PA’s), from 2016-2018, using a 3B split, and sorted by WAR per Game (WAR/G). The author uses WAR/G to better understand how much WAR a player is providing on a per game basis since this sample is taken over a 3-year period and some players have less total playing time than others:

As you can see there are a lot of familiar names on this list including Ramirez, Rendon, Bryant, Arenado, and Machado. Certainly the latter is available in free agency, although he will come with a potentially record-breaking price tag. Donaldson has already signed a high-value, one-year deal with the Braves and Beltre has retired from baseball.
Defense has always been important to Eppler in his short tenure as Angels GM. He will probably want a player who is at least league average, or above, defensively and in order to figure out who the Angels might target, we will take the table above and parse it out by ranking the players according to FanGraphs ‘Def’ metric and dividing by the number of games they have played over the same 2016-2018 time period (Def/G). Only those with a value greater than ‘0’ are listed and they are sorted from high to low:

You may be pleasantly surprised to find our very own David Fletcher at the top of this defensive leader board. David has always carried a good defensive reputation in the Minors and despite the small 80 game sample size, the number is consistent with his glove history.
Overall the list did not change too dramatically. The guys you expected to drop off the list such as Matt Carpenter and Nicholas Castellanos did so, leaving a candidate list of 21 players.
We can further parse this list by down-selecting only players that exceeded the League average of 107 wRC+ (then rank them highest to lowest) while also determining which players may actually be available in free agency or trade:

This leaves the following players:
Free Agents

Manny Machado

Trade Candidates

Nolan Arenado
Anthony Rendon
Jedd Gyorko
Kyle Seager
Justin Turner
Travis Shaw
Kris Bryant
Johan Camargo
Brian Anderson

Some of these names are potentially undesirable to the Angels for many reasons but we will discuss each, in turn.
First of all, we need to start with the elephant in the room Manny Machado. He would clearly fit at 3B for the Halos and has excellent wRC+ numbers against both left-handed and right-handed pitchers in his career.
However the only way that the Angels will sign him is if 1) Arte Moreno authorizes a significant increase in team payroll and exceeds the CBT threshold, 2) the Angels give him a huge multi-year deal, and 3) Eppler structures the contract so that Manny gets a lot of money in his early years (front-loading) and can opt-out after 2019, 2020, or 2021 (or all three). This is, for the most part, a dream scenario of converging events and thus has a very, very low probability of happening, but is not impossible.
When you move on to the trade candidates list, the options become a bit more intriguing.
Normally Colorado would probably not consider trading a key superstar when they plan to compete in 2019. However, Arenado has performed so well over the last few seasons that he now projects to make $26M in his last year of arbitration control next season. For the payroll-conscious Rockies, Nolan may be a luxury they cannot afford. If the Rockies do start the season with him on the roster he could potentially be a Trade Deadline target if the Rockies fall out of contention and, of course, the Halos are in it and need to upgrade at 3B.
Arenado would check off all the boxes for the Angels, too. He plays great defense, has a powerful bat (3-year average of 129 wRC+), and absolutely destroys left-handed pitchers (3-year average of 174 wRC+). The Angels could even potentially try to extend him to a mega-contract as we discussed above, regarding Manny Machado, where we front-load the contract with opt-outs after 2020 and 2021 but that, just like Manny, would be very difficult to pull off (but not unprecedented in modern day contractual structures). If he is available Moreno might jump, whether now or later.
Beyond Nolan, Rendon is in his last year of team control. However, in his case, the Nationals are more than capable of extending him and will likely do so this off-season, particularly because Washington should be quite competitive in 2019 and beyond, particularly after they added Patrick Corbin.
The Braves have a potential surplus situation with switch-hitter Johan Camargo at 3B (and possibly prospect Austin Riley in the Minors) so he might be in play at the right price but it will pull significant assets from our farm system in trade, making this an unlikely scenario.
One name that seems like a good fit further down the list is Jedd Gyorko. The Cardinals are supposedly considering moving him in trade to free up playing time for other players and acquisitions, particularly after they traded for Paul Goldschmidt to play 1B. He plays above average defense in the corner, has the versatility to play other positions, and has some thump and on-base skills that would compliment the roster. He also tattoos left-handed pitchers (3-year running average of 129 wRC+). The Padres are paying $5M of his 2019 salary, which means he would only add $8M to actual team payroll and approximately $4.3M to Average Annual Value (AAV) in 2019 plus he has a $13M team option for 2020, which allows the Halos to ease Ward into the full-time role, if needed. Jedd would probably cost us at least one quality prospect (think one of Chris Rodriguez, Kevin Maitan, or perhaps Jose Soriano for example) plus another lower-level type, maybe more.
Seager plays consistently good defense and has maintained relatively good offensive output, although he slid well below the League average last season. If Dipoto is willing to work with the Angels a deal could come about but Kyle’s asking price is probably a bit too high and his contract length does not fit well in a Ward-retention scenario, so this seems an unlikely course of action.
Kris Bryant is certainly a name that makes your ears perk up but his asking price would be something akin to acquiring Corey Kluber, making this one pretty much a non-starter from the get-go. He has a game changing bat but unless the Cubs are willing to accept Major League talent in return, in addition to one or more prospects, this would damage the Angels future too much in all likelihood, so it is extremely remote in the author’s opinion.
Justin Turner and Travis Shaw are probably not available but are noted here as possibilities anyway. Both however would have a high acquisition price, likely requiring the Angels to send back Major League talent (more so for Shaw), such as a Heaney for Shaw swap, making them long shots at best unless either of those teams were to acquire another third baseman.
The Marlins may be willing to move Anderson since they still have Prado and are not going to compete anytime soon. Brian would have a similar cost to Camargo though and Eppler has shied away from moving major prospects so this is doubtful too.
Of course the Angels could roll the dice and throw Taylor Ward into the fire. Certainly they could employ recently acquired Tommy La Stella in a platoon role if Ward falters against RHP or option Taylor down to the Minors and have David Fletcher replace him. This decision could have repercussions to the Angels 2019 season, if Ward, Fletcher, or La Stella fail to provide consistent, above average production but could prove to be a gamble the Angels feel comfortable taking.
Break the Bank ($151M+)

Manny Machado
Eugenio Suarez

High Price to Pay ($101M-$150M)

Brian Anderson
Johan Camargo

Middle of the Road ($51M-$100M)

Anthony Rendon
Nolan Arenado
Whit Merrifield
Matt Carpenter

Bargain Basement ($1M-$50M)

Jedd Gyorko
Todd Frazier
Jonathan Villar

Author’s Choice
So if Arte Moreno opens his wallet and allows Eppler to exceed the Luxury Tax threshold and the Rockies decide not to start the year off with Nolan’s ~$26M on the books (three really big “if’s”), I love the idea of bringing Arenado aboard for 2019, particularly if we can extend him. Real long shot here so it is not my primary pick simply because it is pretty improbable to start the season.
Moving back to the more realistic side of 2019 I think that Jedd Gyorko represents a pragmatic target. He hits left-handed pitching well and has been getting on-base at a solid clip over the last couple of seasons. Jedd could even lead-off against LHP and move to the back of the order against RHP or hit in a platoon with a left-handed hitter. His salary ($8M in 2019, $13M next year) fits well on our books and it allows Taylor Ward to act as a depth piece and ease into the hot corner position at his own pace.
So, if pressed, I am going with Gyorko. He may cost more prospect-wise than we like, in trade, but his salary and AAV will give Eppler more to spend in other areas such as starting pitching and behind the dish. Billy could just as easily roll with Ward and then try to acquire a 3B at the trade deadline if Taylor, David, and Tommy falter in the first half.
Like I said earlier, Eppler has more options. They may not all be good ones but as the farm system grows, Billy is afforded greater recourse.

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Braves and Rangers A Good Pairing for Trades?

The Texas Rangers won 95 games in 2016 before losing in the ALDS to the Toronto Blue Jays.
In 2018, the Rangers lost 95 games and their manager, Jeff Banister, was fired. Their “ace” Cole Hamels was dealt to the Cubs while their most popular player, Adrian Beltre, announced his retirement. And with all of that in mind, the Rangers have embarked on a rebuild and as Braves fans can attest, you never really know when the rebuild will come to a close. In the mean time, the Rangers have a cadre of young position players who could pass through arbitration and reach free agency before their young pitching talent – much of which is concentrated in Double-A or below – is ready to contribute and turn the tide.
As a result, the Braves would make an interesting team to talk to this offseason for our friends from Texas. Guys like Jurickson Profar, Nomar Mazara, and Joey Gallo represent intriguing choices for the Braves as they look to find an outfielder and deepen their roster. Meanwhile, the Braves have a litany of arms to trade from to interest the Rangers. Could a deal be made?
There is a bit of smoke here, though obviously not from the tight-lipped Braves’ side. TR Sullivan, a MLB.com beat writer for Texas, indicated that the Braves, along with the Mets, are interested in the Rangers’ outfielders. Profar isn’t exactly an outfielder, though he has played some left field throughout his career (about 210 innings) and held up pretty well. He’s currently expected to take over for Beltre at third base, but could be traded before then. Gallo, who was forecasted to be a third baseman at once himself, has looked like a better fit in the outfield – even playing some center field last year. And Mazara is a typical outfielder, though carries some bad defensive metrics.
One thing all three of these players have in common is something I spoke of yesterday – they aren’t tied down to long-term contracts. In fact, none of them have a contract for 2019 yet. Profar will be in the third year of arbitration with a fourth year to follow in 2020 as a Super 2 player. Mazara is hitting arbitration for the first time this year while Gallo is a year away.
Where would these players fit? Profar is a fun mix of a guy who can play all over and likely would have an opportunity to compete, with Johan Camargo, Charlie Culberson, and Adam Duvall, for the primary job in left field with superstud Ronald Acuña Jr. moving over to right field. The Braves wouldn’t really need an everyday guy to come forward from the group and could play whomever is hitting the ball well at the time. Profar would also be able to provide even more depth around the infield. Since finally getting a clean bill of health last year, Profar hit .254/.335/.458 with 20 homers and 10 steals. The switch-hitter had an identical 108 wRC+ against both left-hand and right-hand pitching and turns just 25 in February.
Gallo and Mazara are both left-handed hitters, though Gallo would be more of an everyday option. While he does hold some worse walk and strikeout rates against left-handed arms, he still maintains a 102 career wRC+ against southpaws. Simply put – Gallo’s power holds up against any pitcher. Of course, the strikeouts and hyper-pull nature of Gallo’s game are typically the headliners, but he still has a .344 wOBA against major league pitching with back-to-back 40+ HR seasons. Not for nothing, but the 5.6 fWAR he has over the last two seasons is comparable to Marwin Gonzalez, David Peralta, Corey Dickerson, and Jose Abreu. And with Kevin Seitzer, could Gallo reach new levels of positive offensive production?
Mazara has, to this point, hit left-handers much worse than righties and likely would need a platoon partner (Duvall?). Despite his limitations, Mazara has hit 20 homers in each of the last three seasons and has a .335 wOBA against right-hand pitching. Again, the Braves hitting coach could make some big strides with the young power hitter.
Perhaps the Braves could think blockbuster here and also look to add reliever Jose Leclerc. After struggling to throw strikes in 2017, Leclerc found the strikezone a good deal more in 2018 and was one of baseball’s best relievers. Like Gallo, he’s a year away from arbitration.
Personally, my dream package is Profar, Mazara, and Leclerc. Mazara has options and could be kept for depth or used in a deal for a starter. Of course, the cost for such a package would be significant. Something along the lines of Austin Riley and Ian Anderson, probably. It would be a big hit, but for a team competing for a 2019 title, it makes a lot of sense. Further, the Braves would still have money left to go after a starting pitcher.
Meanwhile, the mix of players for left field should be sufficient enough to put up positive offensive production while Leclerc gives the Braves a shutdown arm at the end of games. And, as always, these players fit what Alex Anthopoulos is looking for: young and team-controlled. While diving into the roster the Rangers have might lack the name value of a Craig Kimbrel or Bryce Harper, it appears like the better fit.

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Look: Justin Verlander, beautiful wife Kate Upton show off new baby girl

Category : Astros , MLB

One of the hottest sports power couples just welcomed the newest addition to their family into the world.
Last year, just a few weeks after the Astros won the World Series, Astros ace Justin Verlander and his model girlfriend Kate Upton got married.
It was a bit different this go-around, as the Astros were eliminated in the playoffs by the Red Sox, but the two still had some huge news as it relates to their family. Upton and Verlander welcomed their first child (a daughter, Genevieve) into the world on Friday, apparently. She announced the news on Instagram on Saturday, via this post.

Genevieve is quite cute. Props to JV and Kate on the big news!

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Braves' Due Diligence on Josh Donaldson

(Previous profiles include Patrick Corbin, Bryce Harper, five free agent catchers, Manny Machado, Marwin Gonzalez, and Dallas Keuchel.)
Overview: It was not long ago that Josh Donaldson was finishing off his fifth consecutive 5-win season (in fWAR, at least). By “not long ago,” I’m referring to 2017. While limited to just 113 games that season, Donaldson slashed .270/.385/.559 with a .396 wOBA. Last season, though, didn’t go the way he planned. Sidelined for much of the year by shoulder inflammation and then calf issues, Donaldson played in just 52 games for the Blue Jays and, after a late-season deal, the Indians. While productive, he was not his normal self, posting a .345 wOBA while batting just .246. Hardly the way he wanted to hit free agency for the first time.
Predicting a Contract: Donaldson, who turns 33 on December 8, has a couple of options. He could sign for a year, hope to rebuild his reputation as a durable impact bat, and hit free agency once again for a three-year deal worth big bucks. Or he could take less money up front, but sign for security by getting the multi-year deal now. His salary for 2019 will likely differ based on which direction he takes.
Further, there is the time factor. If Donaldson inks a contract early in free agency, he gets security but risks losing out on money. If he signs late, he might not be able to get a long-term deal if that’s a desire much like Nelson Cruz in 2014 and Mike Moustakas last winter.
I believe teams will hedge their bets with Donaldson and the deals could get very creative. A team might offer him a big payday up front – say $20 million over one season – but might attach a condition that if he misses X amount of days, he is controlled for another season at a much smaller salary through a team option. For instance, if he were to miss 30 days, the team that signed him gets a $10 million option for 2020. The more time he misses, the less lucrative the option.
Conversely, he could go to the Moustakas route and sign for a smaller base salary, but a larger salary in 2020 as part of a mutual option. The Braves don’t give out player options, however.
Or, since deals with an opt-out are all the rage, perhaps Donaldson would sign an one-year deal with a few years tacked on at manageable rates for the Braves. Something along the lines of $20 million for 2019 and salaries of $15 million the following two years – salaries that could increase based on performance and health. For instance, if he played in 130 games, the option would be worth $18 million. If he played in 145 games, the option might increase to $22 million. Something to that effect.
Suffice it to say, Donaldson’s next contract could be boringly simple or quite complex. A lot depends on what Donaldson ultimately is looking for. Does he prioritize financial compensation, long-term security, or some combination of the two? For our purposes, let’s keep it pretty simple for the time being. One year, $21 million.
The Case For Signing Josh Donaldson: If healthy, Donaldson is an impact bat – the kind that is a difference maker for your lineup. He has a career .375 wOBA, which he out-produced in each of the three years before his injury-shortened 2018. To put that into perspective, Freddie Freeman has a career .374 wOBA. Donaldson is a gifted power hitter with a great eye.
Defensively, Donaldson worked tirelessly to improve at third base and remains a good fielder. While not the elite third baseman he was from 2013-15, the current Donaldson still compensates to some degree from a loss of range by having quick instincts and a strong, accurate arm.
And not for nothing, but Donaldson is a rare superstar that can be signed without relinquishing a draft choice. Because he was traded during the season, the Indians couldn’t extend a qualifying offer. And even if Donaldson is a one-year fill-in for the Braves, should the team keep him all season, they could give him a qualifying offer after the season to possibly recoup a draft choice should Donaldson play well.
One more thing – while I believe we often overvalue things like home/away records and especially records against right-hand or left-hand starters, the Braves did go 21-26 against southpaw starters in 2018. Donaldson has a career .967 OPS against lefties. I hear that’s good.
Finally, some might use this as a reason to not sign Donaldson, but I believe the presence of Johan Camargo is a good reason to sign Donaldson. I will keep hammering this home, but depth is a good thing. It’s part of the reason why the Dodgers had little trouble with the Braves in the NLDS. Ryan Flaherty was on the bench for the Braves. Brian Dozier and Matt Kemp were on the bench for the Dodgers. Depth makes a difference. Further, Camargo can help the Braves rest Donaldson, keeping him fresh while not sacrificing too much offense in the process.
If you’re worried about Camargo on the bench, if the Braves spot Donaldson once or twice a week – along with once a week for Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson, that’ll give Camargo about three or four starts a week. Let’s just round to 15 starts a month. That’s 90 over a full season – a number that’s very conservative and assumes no DL stints on the infield or the likely shift of Donaldson to DH during interleague road games. You can even give Freddie Freeman a day off against a very tough lefthander by moving Donaldson across the field, where he has some limited experience.
The Case Against: Age. It starts there. Donaldson turns 33 next month. He probably won’t post another 7-win season according to fWAR. That means Atlanta might invest in a guy who could fall off the cliff into a steep decline rather than add the guy who was a yearly MVP candidate for half-of-a-decade. Further, we already know there is some decline to Donaldson’s game. I mentioned his declining range defensively, but Statcast also points to something else. In 2015-16, Donaldson was one of the top hitters in terms of exit velocity. Obviously, that’s a good thing. Since 2016, he’s lost 2 mph in exit velocity. This isn’t a death sentence, but similar to a pitcher with decreased fastball velocity, lower exit velocity could be a sign of declining bat speed.
To be fair, we should expect Donaldson’s bat speed to be a little less. Again, he’s no longer in his upper 20’s. And it should be noted that his EV saw improvement when he finally finished his rehab and joined his new Indians teammates over the final month. While that’s too small of a sample size to call it a trend, it does give us some hope that his decline will be at a more traditional gradual pace rather than the sharp one that saw Donaldson post a .325 wOBA in 2018 as a Blue Jay.
But if age doesn’t give you pause, perhaps 165 major league games in two years ought to. The Braves aren’t the Yankees or Dodgers. They can ill-afford to make a splashy free agent signing and watch him miss half of the season. Donaldson supporters would counter by pointing out that Donaldson played in 150+ games in each of the previous four seasons before 2017. But it’s worth considering because with increased age comes increase risk of injuries.
One last argument will go back to Camargo, but not in a positive light. Depth is great, but do the Braves really want to send a player, after a .346 wOBA and 3.3 fWAR, back into a reserve role? Further, adding Donaldson doesn’t address the hole in right field. Some look at Austin Riley as a possibility out there. I will need to see him play the position first before considering it. But either way, adding Donaldson is an attempt to improve what is already a strength. And while it should both succeed at that and improve a weakness (the bench), it does not address any of the top priorities like a new right fielder, a new catcher, and an improved bullpen.
My Two Cents: For all the possible negatives that go with signing Donaldson, the positives outweigh them in my mind. Even if he’s a bit older, Josh Donaldson can turn a good lineup into a great one with his offensive output. While his defense is likely to never be Gold Glove-worthy again, it’s still good enough with the right analytics. He’s a complete difference maker who will cost a fraction of other difference makers in terms of investment and length of contract.
Of course, the reasons that Donaldson won’t sniff the contracts Manny Machado and Bryce Harper receive will give teams pause. But I don’t think those reasons should disqualify Donaldson from your mind or the Braves’ for that matter. While it a small sample, he showed that when healthy, he can still be a good player when he hit well down the stretch for the Indians.
Donaldson is the best of both worlds. He brings the kind of power the Braves desperately want while avoiding the kind of long-term deal Alex Anthopoulos is hesitant to give out. The concerns are there, but the fit is almost too good.
But what do you think? Am I way off on what it will take to sign Donaldson? Is it not the perfect fit I believe it can be? Let me know below or on twitter

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Watch: Red Sox players ride on duck boat into Gillette Stadium with World Series trophy

Category : MLB , Red Sox

The Patriots had some friendly faces at Gillette Stadium for Sunday’s game against the Packers, and they really fired up the crowd.
A duck boat rolled onto the field before the game against the Packers kicked off, and they were carrying Red Sox players — namely JD Martinez, Brock Holt, Steve Pearce and Joe Kelly.
The Red Sox players rolled onto the field on the duck boat, holding the World Series trophy. And, as you might imagine, they received quite the ovation from Patriots fans.

An iconic moment in Boston sports history. pic.twitter.com/WDYJxwGPDG
— NESN (@NESN) November 5, 2018

It’s safe to say that none of the guys on that duck boat will never have to pay for a drink in Boston again.

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The best MLB player at each position in 2018

If you could put together a starting lineup full of baseball’s best players, who would be included?
The answer to that question will vary depending on who is asked, and there’s no right or wrong here. There are tons of terrific players in today’s game, and there are a countless number of permutations that could lead to a dominant squad.
Although fWAR is far from perfect, it’s the only stat that considers all of a player’s contributions while packing it neatly into one number. Who accumulated the most fWAR at their respective positions in 2018? To be considered for this list, players had to be qualified for the batting title, along with playing the majority of their games at the specific position in question.
Catcher: J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins
2018 fWAR: 4.8
He didn’t want to be playing for Miami in 2018, but Realmuto did a good job of not letting those desires impact his actual performance. The 27-year-old set new single-season career highs in home runs (21), runs scored (74), RBI (74), walk rate (7.2%), OPS (.825), wRC+ (126), and fWAR (4.8).
Outside of wRC+, this is the third consecutive year in which his numbers in each of the other categories improved. Realmuto’s batted-ball profile underwent a change, too. Entering 2018, his ground-ball rate had never been lower than 47.0%, but it dropped all the way down to 39.8% this past year. His line-drive rate (22.8%) and fly-ball rate (37.4%) both increased as a result.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 …11

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Braves Interest in Free Agents Affected by Qualifying Offer?

Seven players received a qualifying offer before today’s deadline and many of them could be targets for the Braves this offseason. But will the fact that they received a qualifying offer potentially limit Atlanta’s interest? I definitely think it could for most of them.
First, let’s go into the qualifying offer (or QO) process as briefly as I can. After an old system of offering arbitration to earn draft pick compensation eventually led to several middle relievers being left frozen out of the process, baseball changed to the simple compensation process that we now have. Well, comparatively simpler. In it, teams must offer a player a one-year contract for the mean salary of the 125 highest-paid players in the game in order to receive compensation should the player via free agency. This year, that means a one-year, $17.9 million contract. Hardly chump change. The player then has ten days to decide if he wants to accept the deal.
Imagine being offered nearly $18 million and saying “no.” I need to teach my girls to throw left-handed.
There are several new rules that affect the compensation a team receives for losing a QO free agent and the price a team signing a QO free agent must “pay.” Since the Braves didn’t offer a player a QO, I’m going to link to this explanation of the rules that affect the team losing a QO free agent. Now, let’s look at what the Braves might give up to sign one of these seven free agents.
In the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that went into effect last winter, the Braves were moved off the non-market disqualified list. For revenue reasons, this is better for Atlanta but it also hurts them more for signing a QO free agent. Had they remained on the non-market disqualified list, they would have only had to give up their third-highest pick for signing a QO free agent. But since they are on the market disqualified list, they will surrender their second highest draft choice along with $500,000 of their international signing bonus pool.
If your head is spinning, you’re not alone. But let’s try to investigate this completely.

The international signing bonus pool won’t be a problem because of the previous penalties already levied against the Braves last winter as part of former general manager John Coppolella’s ban. Atlanta’s signing bonus pool was already zero for the 2019-20 class. The Braves are limited to bonuses of $10,000 or less when the new class becomes eligible to sign on July 2, 2019. So, no big deal here.
The second-highest draft pick of next June’s draft is still a first round pick for the Braves. Because Atlanta failed to sign Carter Stewart, they receive the ninth pick of the 2019 draft. Because of that, their second first round pick, currently #21, would be surrendered by signing a QO free agent. It should be said that Stewart’s camp has argued that the Braves didn’t offer at least 40% of the pick’s slot value. If found true, the Braves would lose that #9 pick and would then lose their second-round pick while keeping the #21 selection if a QO free agent is added. I don’t believe that’s going to happen because Alex Anthopoulos’s professional standards give me faith that the Braves wouldn’t have risked such an embarrassment.
If the Braves sign a second QO free agent, they would lose their third highest draft pick. And so on and so forth.

It should be noted that I’m not a collective bargaining agreement expert and I’m merely going by my interpretation and those of respected publications like the Wall Street Journal, Baseball America, and others. If I’m wrong, I welcome the correction.
11/2/18, 11:00 PM EST edit: I could be wrong about my understanding of the CBA rules. As the appropriately-named Braves Options Guy pointed out via the Knockahoma Nation twitter account, an explanation at MLB.com points out that the Braves remain non-market disqualified. Many articles at the time the CBA was signed suggested otherwise. If true, both of the Braves’ first rounders would be safe – pending the Carter Stewart situation – and Atlanta would lose, at most, its third-highest pick (currently their choice in the second round). Who to believe? It’s hard to say. I will continue to try to find clarification on this point. 
Let’s move on to the more intriguing discussion. Did a team extending a qualifying offer to a free agent hurt Atlanta’s interest in that player? For most of the free agents, I believe so. Guys like pitchers Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel, along with outfielder Bryce Harper were already predicted to receive a qualifying offer. That leaves just four other players and I think in each case, it hurt the chances of the Braves signing them.

Yasmani Grandal – As I wrote before, I am not all that fond of getting into a long-term deal with Grandal in the first place. Signing catchers to deals of at least four years rarely works out for the team, especially when the player will be at least 30-years-old when the deal starts. With other options already on the market – namely Wilson Ramos – I believe the Braves will definitely pass on Grandal.
Craig Kimbrel – A popular pick for many Braves’ fans, Kimbrel is another player I long felt the Braves would pass on. Kimbrel had his second “down year” during his three-year run to finish an extension he originally signed with Atlanta. While he was still wonderful (2.74 ERA, 3.13 FIP), you search for signs of decline from closers and in those two bad seasons sandwiched around a tremendous 2017 campaign, Kimbrel has the two worst walk rates of his career. That’s not to say Kimbrel will stop being a great pitcher, but closers are often overpaid based on what they ultimately do for the team. Long-term deals for 30-year-old closers, like those for catchers, rarely work out for the team. Having to surrender a first-round pick just makes it more likely Atlanta passes.
A.J. Pollock – In 2015, Pollock was one of the best players in baseball. He was the rare example of a true five-tool player who had all tools working at the major league level. 2015 was also the last time he played in at least 115 games. Pollock might be better off with a move to a corner outfield spot, but the soon-to-be 31-year-old has put up a fWAR of 4.2 in the 238 games since posting a 6.8 fWAR in 2015. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Pollock accept this qualifying offer, actually. But I would be shocked to see the Braves be interested in an injury-prone outfielder who will also cost them a first-round pick.
Hyun-Jin Ryu – Another guy I think could sign his qualifying offer, Ryu was excellent in a limited 15-start run after coming back from a groin strain. He struggled in the NLCS and World Series, but that shouldn’t hurt his market much. However, the qualifying offer might. Since a 30-start rookie season in 2013, Ryu has made 66 starts (and one relief appearance) in the four years since. Again, he was tremendous in 2018, but turns 32 next March. If Atlanta had interest before, I think that interest was squashed by news Ryu received a qualifying offer.

What do you guys think? Will Atlanta even consider a player with a QO? Will they still be interested in Grandal, Kimbrel, Pollock, and/or Ryu? Let me know below. Also, I’ve previously gone over the free agent cases for Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel, and Patrick Corbin.

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An inside pitch on Doug White

Category : Angels , Featured , MLB , The Sports Daily

By Rob MacDonald, AngelsWin.com Contributor
We learned that Doug White, the Astros bullpen coach in 2018, will replace Charles Nagy as pitching coach on Brad Ausmus staff.   I had mixed emotions about the news.  I liked Nagy’s knack for rehabilitating pitchers that other teams gave up on and I really liked the fact that a visit to the mound wasn’t going to pour gas on the fire like in the Butcher era.  Besides the note from Jeff Fletcher that Doug White may be a surf bro’ of Ausmus, a possible reason given for his selection was to find a way to keep the staff healthy.
LA Times’ Maria Torres tweeted about White’s expertise in Z-Health.   Per bengreenfitness.com, Z-Health is a training method that strengthens the nervous system through efficient movement patterns which in turn maximizes the body’s efficiency.   My optimism on White’s selection was the fact that he was coming from the Astros organization.
For the past four years, I was an assistant coach at Catalina High School (Tucson, AZ), where my son played.   Our program made arm health a priority using a mix of the Driveline’s weighted baseball and Jaeger Sports J band and long toss programs to protect our players’ arms.
In 2017, Ben Fife joined the Catalina coaching staff and gave our program something invaluable, access to a major league resource from the Astros organization.  Catalina baseball benefited from the insights and approaches taken by the Astros and it was an education for all the coaches.   (For the record, Ben did not have time to ask permission and out of respect for that friendship, I am not including the name of his friend in the Astros organization.)
The Astros resource is someone well versed in their pitching philosophy.  Based on the tips shared with Ben over the past two years, I think I can provide some insights on what Doug White may bring to the Angels in 2019.    First there will likely be an increased focus on mechanics.  The Z-Health method will likely be used to help pitchers maintain control of their body throughout their delivery. I expect a renewed focus on core strength and flexibility in support of that goal.  Another clue this may happen comes from Brandon Sneed’s article “How Kate Upton Saved Justin Verlander’s Career.” Beside the relationship between Verlander and Upton, the article covers how Justin Verlander regained his flexibility to use his whole body correctly.  The adjustments he made reduced the strain on his shoulder allowing Verlander to regain his form – damn it.  We were advised to use short, twenty pitch bullpens that focus just on mechanics.   Points of emphasis we received were hand separation, alignment, and using full arm rotation in the delivery.   Separate bullpen sessions focused on pitch control and spin rate.   The Astros are big on maximizing spin rate to add movement to pitches.  Good movement on pitches reduces the need to go maximum effort on every pitch while still getting swings and misses.   Fewer max effort pitches will likely prolong the life span of the UCL.  Our use of the Driveline program was encouraged and Ben was told to track pitch movement and speed in the bullpens to ensure the program was effective.
The tips received from our source, helped Catalina to a 24-6 record.  We made a run in the state championship tournament losing to the eventual champion.  Most important, all of our players made it through the season without arm issues.  With any luck, Doug White will be able to keep the Angels staff healthy and all the noise about Mike Trout not being the playoffs will go away.

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