Monthly Archives: February 2017

The 60 Players I look Forward To Watching Spring Training

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Yes, we’re finally here with spring training games starting!!  Spring training can be such a fun experience from guys running poles during games, trying out new pitchers, or a new stance, to youngsters trying to grab attention, to guys duking it out for a few roster spots on their club.

With that, every spring I like to put a list of out of players that I look forward to watching during spring games.  There’s no rhyme or reason to be honest, as it could be a prospect getting a few innings on a big league roster, a guy coming back from injury, a key acquisition, or that teams top player.  Regardless, I love watching and listening to spring training games and am always surfing the web or tv to check these players out.

Here’s my list:

Atlanta Braves
Dansby Swanson: #1 draft pick in 2015, major steal in the trade for Shelby Miller, makes his debut a year after being drafted and hits .302 in 38 Major League games.

Ozzie Albies: I don’t think the 20-year old will have a ton of time in Major League camp, but from everything I know, I can look forward to a youngster with very good lead off potential and an outstanding glove

Arizona Diamondbacks
Taijuan Walker: Walker was part of the trade that sent Segura to Seattle, has show flashes of big potential in the past, but has had a hard time putting it together.  At 24, Taijuan has had 2 full seasons of Major League starts, along with 2 other partial seasons.  This could be the year he takes a big step forward…if he can keep the ball in the yard (1.8 HR per 9 in 2016)

Archie Bradley: Bradley had been a high profile prospect for some time before his debut in 2015 and looked to be ready to back it up as he was 2-0 in his first three career starts with a 1.48 ERA and 12 K’s.  Then Bradley got smoked in the face by a 115 MPH Carlos Gonzalez line drive on April 28th, 2015 and seems like he hasn’t been the same since.  I’m hoping that we see the guy this spring that was on all the top prospect reports and what we saw early in the 2015 campaign

Continue reading @ Sons of ’84 – You will be dropped off on my AL/NL West List and can link to the Central and East from there

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Boston Red Sox

Coming into the 2016 season, the Boston Red Sox were positioned as well as any team in baseball to be a consistent force in the coming years. With a great team filled with young stars like Mookie Betts, and veterans who would be in the clubhouse to help guide the up-and-comers, like Dustin Pedroia, things were looking up. Bolstering this argument was a farm system that was a consensus top-10 in league with top-to-bottom talent, including the number one prospect in baseball, Yoan Moncada. It’s amazing what Dealin’ Dave Dombrowski can do to a farm system over the course of 12 months. The Sox are still a force to be reckoned with in the MLB, but their farm system has been changed dramatically, after trading away Moncada, and Michael Kopech to land Chris Sale. Boston still has a decent, albeit top-heavy farm system, headlined by budding star Andrew Benintendi and slugging third base Rafael Devers.

Red Sox Top Prospects

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 28, 2017

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Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America

Mike Trout might never be universally recognized and that MAY just be a product of the current way we consume culture. Meanwhile Mike Scioscia might have outstayed his welcome.

Adapt with the times in this episode of Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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5 MLB Starting Pitchers Who Need to Build off a Strong Second Half

With Grapefruit and Cactus League games officially underway, everyone in baseball gets that coveted clean slate. The 2017 season presents endless opportunities for players and teams, no matter how good or how bad 2016 was to them.

Some are taking the field with the hopes of completely changing the narrative surrounding them, while others simply want to continue showing the progress they displayed just a few months ago is indeed the new normal.

The MLB regular season is a grind — as if 162 games in about 180 days doesn’t say that enough — and quick starts don’t always mean certain performances are sustainable over the long haul. The same also goes for poor starts, too.

The five starting pitchers below each saw their respective 2016 campaigns start on the wrong foot, but that didn’t stop them from having a strong finish in the second half.

Now, they’ll each try to use that momentum to produce from start-to-finish this season.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 27, 2017

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Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America

From the World Series to the election to the Oscars, nothing seems predictable anymore… and a certain amount of predictability is critical for baseball.

Black is white and up is down in this episode of Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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The Boston Red Sox’s 2017 Payroll Has Lots of Dead Money

The Boston Red Sox are one of the most successful franchises in Major League Baseball. Their consistent winning ways, playing in a big market and having a broad fan base all translate to them annually having one of the highest payrolls in the sport. As long as the team is winning the particulars of where the money is going never seems to matter as much. However, some of the players Boston will be cutting checks to in 2017, and the amounts, may come as a surprise.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 26, 2017

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Pool/Getty Images North America

It is Sunday and time for The Sunday Request.

Max Scherzer certainly has had a peak and highlights worthy of Hall of Fame merit.

But he needs several more years of it and some early warning signs are troublesome.

Courting immortality in this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Phillies Top Prospects 2017

The Phillies farm system has some outstanding talent at the top of the list highlighted by top baseball prospect J.P. Crawford and the #1 overall draft pick from last season in Mickey Moniak. The farm is pretty deep as we go down the top 25 and the Phillies have a lot of pitching prospects that are very near Major League ready and have a sort of logjam at Triple-A as far as the rotation goes. The Phillies have invested a lot of money in the international free agents in the last few years, and they are starting to see the results of those investments. The Phillies may not have the best farm system in the Major Leagues, but they have young enough, solid pieces in the farm that will help them become a good team in the Majors again.

Phillies Top Prospects 2017

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 25, 2017

teamphoto_1978THE TEAMS THAT SHOULD HAVE WON: The first part of a series on the podcast that I will do for the next 31 Saturdays.

I look at the teams that if they had won the World Series, they would have done so under the best circumstances and with the best collection of players. First team I cover are my Red Sox and I look at the 1978 squad.

First of a month of Saturdays with this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 24, 2017

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Universal Pictures

A lot of people don’t like Field of Dreams. I get it.

I still love it and the reasons why I do reflect that what we love and what we consume, including baseball, do not exist in a vacuum.

No guilty pleasues in this episode of Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Jean Segura Isn’t the Only Hitter Fighting Regression Following a Unique Performance

After being a pleasant surprise at the plate for the Milwaukee Brewers during the 2013 season, Jean Segura‘s production completely went down the drain — until he got a fresh start in 2016 with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

He didn’t earn an All-Star selection for his efforts, but it was such a unique performance that the Seattle Mariners acquired him in one of the 1,000 trades they made this winter.

How unique was it, exactly? Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto accurately put the middle infielder’s accomplishments into perspective to Bob Dutton of The News Tribune:

“The year that he had is one of just five seasons in this century where a hitter was able to throw out 200 hits, a .300 batting average, 20 home runs, 40 doubles, 30 stolen bases and 100 runs scored.”

Since he literally doubled his wRC+ (63 in ’15 to 126 in ’16), there’s a lot of attention on Segura with his new team. Is this the type of hitter they can expect to see moving forward? Dipoto said himself that given the rarity of this particular performance, it wouldn’t be realistic to expect it to be sustainable.

While Seattle’s new shortstop is one of just five players this century to produce like he did in the above six categories, he wasn’t the only hitter to do it in 2016 — Jose Altuve also accomplished the same feat.

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5 Must Watch Players in Spring Training

Spring Training is finally here! Thank god; I don’t think I, as an individual, nor we, as a nation and a planet, have ever needed baseball more.

But we are not the only ones! Every year, players use Grapefruit and Cactus league games to cement their status as starters, finally earn a trip to the majors, or, in some cases, disrupt the status quo and commute chaos upon fans and front offices.

Of course, Spring Training games are far from predictive of future performance, just look at Jackie Bradley Jr. a few years ago. He tore it up in March and then struggled to hit well enough in his first season in the MLB to justify keeping his stellar glove in the lineup at all. He was eventually sent to the minors and only last year recaptured his starting spot. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn an awful lot from some of these early showcases. The pre-season can help us get an early feel for players poised to bounce back from a tough season, or not, and those who need to justify their team’s (semi-inexplicable) faith in them.

Let’s take a look at 5 of the guys whose spring performance can be particularly instructive about what their 2017 seasons might hold.

Shelby Miller, starting pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks

Talk about a bounce-back candidate.

After an All Star season in Atlanta in 2015 (despite leading the league in losses), Miller was shipped to Arizona in exchange for Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte, and others. Then things took a turn.

To continue reading about the must watch players this spring training, please click on oveer to Offthebenchbaseball.com

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 23, 2017

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Building up to Oscar season, I watched the only film connected to baseball: Fences.

Besides being a great showcase for two wonderful stars, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, it also allows a supporting cast (especially Stephen Henderson) to shine.

As a baseball fan, it also shows how we use our own experiences to paint how we appreciate the greatness of players in the past and the present.

Yeah it is worth seeing.

Also listen to the great podcast Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of All Time Period.

It is an honor to be nominated in this episode of Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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The Bizarre Ending to Pitching’s Longest Winning Streak

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In addition to winning twenty-six games in 1912, Marquard was unbeatable throughout the campaign’s first three months.  He won an astounding nineteen consecutive games for the Giants from the time he defeated Brooklyn in the opener on April 11 until he beat the Superbas in the first game of a doubleheader on July 3.  Rube was finally vanquished on July 8, during a game at West Side Grounds, which was won by the Chicago Cubs, 7-2.

While the main story line from the afternoon should have revolved around the Cubs ending Marquard’s winning streak, a perceived jinx perpetrated by a demented woman seemed to grab the headlines.  While a large crowd was in attendance watching New York and Chicago battle, much of the attention was directed at a woman perched in a tree outside the ballpark, overlooking the playing field.  READ MORE

MLB’s 10 Best MVP Seasons Since 2000

What makes a player so valuable?

The answer to this question varies depending on the person asked. However, it always becomes a hot-button topic of debate in baseball throughout the latter part of every season when discussing potential National League and American League MVP candidates.

We’re not here to discuss the definition of Most Valuable Player, though. We want to know which players have put together the best overall seasons while earning the award since 2000.

The best way to figure this out is by using Wins Above Replacement (WAR). While the statistics shown below focus on offense, WAR takes a player’s offensive and defensive contributions into consideration before providing an overall value for their performance.

FanGraphs’ version of WAR (referred to here as fWAR) will be the metric used to create our rankings. The definition of “Most Valuable Player” may forever be up for debate, but there’s no debate in figuring out which MVP winners have enjoyed the most success since the turn of the century.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 22, 2017

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Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America

I listed my thoughts on the greatest players in each franchise’s history. I realized that Francisco Lindor has the outside chance to become the greatest player in Cleveland Indians history.

It is there for the taking.

It is a legacy episode of Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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CHICAGO CUBS TOP 25 PROSPECTS

This farm system has been built on the backs of Elite position players and the ability of the minor league staff to help them reach their potential. The Major League lineup is one of the most potent in baseball, and there are still prospects who could add more firepower to the order. The up and coming prospects cover a wide range of ages so that the team can be primed to defend their championship this season while also having insurance policies as arbitration years approach shortly.

The top of the list is again loaded with positional talent as Chicago looks to have options in the infield (Happ, Jeimer Candelario) and the outfield (Jimenez, Mark Zagunis, Eddy Martinez). Though there is limited star power, the Cubs starting lineup has enough to hold over the city. More important for the short-term, players such as Victor Caratini and Wladimir Galindo should see extended time on the 25-man roster.

Chicago Cubs Top Prospects

Detroit Tigers Centerfield Options Heading In To Spring Training

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With all other positions pretty stable, there really are only a handful of battles for the Detroit Tigers heading in to spring training.  The 5th rotation spot will be interesting, there will be bullpen spots up for grabs, but I believe the main focus will be Centerfield after the trade of Cameron Maybin to clear some salary from the books.

The centerfield job is pretty much up for grabs as spring games commence later in the week with JaCoby Jones, Tyler Collins, Mikie Mahtook, Anthony Gose, David Lough, and Alex Presely all via for the position to name a few.  Mahtook in my opinion has a slight edge; however a lot can change over the next month.  Let’s take a look at some of the options…

Continue reading @ Sons of ’84

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 21, 2017

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Gregory Shamus/Getty Images North America

The Cubs won it all last year. Perhaps you heard. But let’s savor how infrequently a team wins in the year they are SUPPOSED to win!

Perfectly timing titles on this episode of Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Is Matt Kemp’s Late-Season Revival With the Braves Sustainable?

Matt Kemp isn’t the MVP-caliber ballplayer he used to be with the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier in his career. Despite that, the Atlanta Braves have high expectations for the right-handed hitting outfielder in 2017.

Those expectations aren’t coming without them getting a glimpse of what he could do for the offense, though.

After the San Diego Padres shipped him to Atlanta at last summer’s non-waiver trade deadline, Kemp was one of the reasons behind the Braves offense going from being historically awful to finishing as a top-performing unit.

His arrival also spurred a personal boost in production — he hit 23 homers in 431 plate appearances with San Diego, but produced just a 102 wRC+. Once the trade took place, that number jumped to 120 in 241 plate appearances (while hitting 12 more homers).

Yes, the Braves are technically still rebuilding, but with a new ballpark opening and their flurry offseason moves, they’re aiming to at least be competitive this year, and Kemp’s performance will play a significant role.

The big question with Spring Training now underway is whether or not his two-month stretch of above-average offensive production is sustainable for an entire season. If it’s going to be, he may need to make a few changes.

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Chris Sáenz – A History-making Cup of Coffee

Only four pitchers in baseball history have started only one major league game, thrown six scoreless innings or more, and recorded a win in the process.  Chris Sáenz (pronounced SYNS) of the Milwaukee Brewers is the most recent, and actually the first hurler since 1899 to accomplish the feat.

 

As with most cup of coffee players, a perfect chain of events had to play out for Sáenz to make just one appearance and disappear, never to be heard from again.  The early 2004 season for the Brewers was ripe with issues – enough in fact, for a Double A pitcher to be called up to face the Central Division rival St. Louis Cardinals in late April.

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A Vindictive President Destroys a National Institution

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A story of a bombastic, vindictive man who brooked no challenge to his authority, had no tolerance for weakness, and hated whom he saw as “losers.” We’re speaking, of course, of Ban Johnson, founder and president of the American League.  READ MORE AT PLATE COVERAGE

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 20, 2017

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It is Presidents Day. Will we ever have a baseball player President?

Why not?

Hail to the Chief on this episode of Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 19, 2017

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On Twitter, I posted YouTube clips of the person I declared the best of each franchises. People today call that a GOAT, Greatest of All Time. I am not ready to use that term.

Goat still means something bad to me!

But the reaction I got to the clips inspired The Sunday Request

Try Johnny Bench? Honus Wagner? Wrong? Um, I have given this some thought. I am just trying to get some healthy debate about something that ISN’T politics on line!

Feeling like a goat on this episode of Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

Here are the Tweets with the video clips.

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Atlantis Casino Wagers For 2017 MLB Win Totals

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The old adage here is ‘you want to know the truth, follow the money.

We have been talking projections for win totals in the upcoming MLB Year on a all offseason basis here at the MLB Reports. While we agreed a lot with the fangraphs.com prognostications, we had a problem with Baseball Prospectis’s PECOTA System yet again.

In the 1st total listed below are the official Win/Loss Over/Unders For All 30 MLB Clubs posted by Atlantis Casino.

We have to say that they pretty much mirrored what we have on the board for our projections.

Casino’s have a vested interest since it will cost them serious money if there are poor predictions.

In the last week, we have seen the Royals ink Travis Wood, but more importantly Alex Reyes was lost for the season by the Cardinals due to his upcoming Tommy John Surgery. Read the rest of this entry

Why Pablo Sandoval is in a Position to Succeed With the Boston Red Sox

Once a ballyhooed free agent signing, Pablo Sandoval’s 2016 season with the Boston Red Sox ended after a total of three games and an unacceptable number of trips to the dinner plate. Plagued with shoulder issues and an alarming weight gain, the third baseman barely made it on the field to try and follow up on a miserable 2015 campaign that was his first with the team. Now noticeably slimmer and reportedly healthy, his bid for a comeback is being aided by his team, which has put him in the best possible position to succeed.

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Randy Levine proves to be classless

Randy Levine Makes All The Wrong Movements Post Betances Arbitration Hearing

The Dutch Baseball Hangout

As you may know, the Yankees and their setup man Dellin Betances were involved in a harsh dispute about the 2017 salary of Betances. Betances was asking $5 million, while the Yankees did not want to spend more than $3 million. During the past weeks, both parties did not get closer to each other. So an arbitration hearing was needed.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor Dellin BetancesDellin Betances (photo by Alchetron.com)


The outcome of the arbitration hearing was that the Yankees don’t have to pay Betances $5 million but only the $3 million they wanted. Nothing wrong with that. It is a part of the business. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Setup men, even though they are elite, are simply rewarded less than star closers. And while Betances was lights out as a setup man, he struggled as a closer after the Yankees got rid of Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller.

But there is something that…

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Who’s in Command Here?!?

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So if pitchers who strike out a lot of batters while walking few tend to be very good, is the converse always true? Are pitchers with lousy K/BB ratios… lousy?

Well, yes.

And no.

It depends.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 18, 2017

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The card of the day for Sully Baseball was a Mark Davis Topps Card. I bet you do not know this, but he is a Cy Young winner once traded for a Hall of Famer and another time dealt for an MVP.

I am POSITIVE you didn’t know that.

Pad your resume on this episode of Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast -February 17, 2017

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Former Cleveland Indians All Star reliever Sid Monge joins the podcast today.

We talked about his days with the Tribe and the Tigers, his 30 years of coaching and what other sports he could have mastered.

Passing on knowledge with the AL Pitcher of the Month for July, 1979 on this episode of Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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