The Rangers have been great all year, but they just got even better. It has been reported that they have acquired Carlos Beltran from the New York Yankees. Beltran will be an impact bat in the Rangers lineup for the rest of 2016. The Rangers will send Dillon Tate to the Yankees, which is another huge addition to the Yankees system. Lets jump into the analysis of this deal.
Monday September 12, 2011
Sam Evans (Intern Candidate- MLB reports): With the regular season coming to an end, it’s time to start looking at baseball’s awards. The American League Rookie of the Year will definitely not be an easy choice for BBWAA voters. Even though the top candidates are pretty clear, there is still about 20 games left for most teams. This last month is important for candidates to solidify their numbers and argument for the award. Here is my opinion on who should win the award.
Three of the five last winners of the AL ROY award have been pitchers. When choosing who I think deserves the award one of my key requirements is playing time. In my opinion, a mediocre pitcher who pitched the whole season is more impressive than a position player who was only in the majors for half of the season. Also, I don’t think the team of the players record is important enough to be a consideration for voters. This award should be chosen for a player’s impact in the majors, not how hyped up of a prospect he is. So I’ll try to look past the shock value and breakdown some of the candidates.
Eric Hosmer: Kansas City Royals
Hosmer made his Royals debut on May 6th and has been the Royals starting first basemen ever since. For the year, Hosmer has batted .286/.334/.462 with 17 HR and 69 RBI’s. He has been the consistent middle of the order bat that the Royals have lacked ever since Carlos Beltran got traded.
Michael Pineda: Seattle Mariners
When Pineda was named the Mariners fifth starter right before the season started, most Mariners fans didn’t know what to expect. Michael was an American League All-star and has slid into the Mariners #2 starter spot. His numbers have tailed off a little as the season has gone on, but the Mariners still haven’t made the decision to shut him down. He has a 3.72 ERA in 167 innings with 171 strikeouts. That’s more than Jon Lester and Matt Cain. Also as his 3.42 FIP suggests he has actually been better than his ERA suggests. However, he has pitched in a pitcher’s park this year which have probably helped his numbers.
Ivan Nova: New York Yankees
Nova just barely has eligibility, but he has had a surprisingly solid season as one of the Yankees backend starters. He is 15-4 with a 3.94 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 144 innings. Obviously, the number that stands out is the fifteen wins, which is impressive for any pitcher. Still, with the Yankees offense wins aren’t a great stat to judge performance. Speaking for myself, I just don’t think his numbers are impressive enough to be the 2011 AL Rookie of the year.
Jeremy Hellickson: Tampa Bay Rays
Going into the season, there were pretty high expectations set for Hellickson. ESPN fantasy baseball teams were drafting him at an average of 163rd. He definitely has lived up to those assumptions and maybe even exceeded them. He is 12-10 with a 2.96 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 170 IP. Not to mention, he has done this while pitching in the toughest in baseball. He has had a lot of luck this season, as his 4.30 FIP and 4.57 xFIP suggest (courtesy of fangraphs.com). Also, he has the highest LOB% among all pitchers that have thrown over 100 innings.
Mark Trumbo: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
After the Angels received the news that Kendry Morales would start the year on the disabled list, the Angels first base options looked bleak. Trumbo was the favorite to win the job but wasn’t a very heralded prospect. Baseball America had him as the Angels 9th best prospect. Trumbo not only won the job, but he ran with it. On the season, he is hitting .256 with 26 HR and 80 RBI’s. He leads all rookies in homers, RBI’s, and SLG%( for rookies with more than 300 plate appearances). Not to mention, he has provided an above-average glove at first base. His batting average is not great, and his OBP% is under .300(.295), so he hasn’t been perfect this year. In the end, he has made contributions to his team unlike any other candidate.
I think Ackley and Jennings didn’t play enough games to deserve the award, and Walden has been too inconsistent. However, if Jennings were to lead the Rays to an improbable playoff spot, I think he should win the award or receive strong consideration by the voters.
If I had a vote at the end of the day, I would vote for Trumbo- with Pineda, and Hellickson following. There is still plenty of time left, but in my mind Mark Trumbo deserves the 2011 American League Rookie of the year award.
***Today’s feature was prepared by one of our intern candidates, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***
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Tuesday August 2, 2011
MLB reports: Back on June 5th, we had the pleasure of interviewing author Howard Megdal. The author of The Baseball Talmud, we discussed with Howard his 2nd literary work, “Taking the Field: A Fan’s Quest to Run the Team He Loves.” You can read our interview with Howard, as well as our review of Taking the Field.
Well, we enjoyed speaking with Howard so much that we asked him back to talk Mets baseball. Guess what…he accepted! We questioned Howard on all Mets topics, including team ownership, drafting and trades. For the best in Mets discussion, we bring you published author, Howard Megdal:
MLB reports: Thank you for joining us back on the Reports Howard. You are our first return interviewee! I enjoyed reading and reviewing “Taking the Field” very much and have received great feedback on it. How have things gone so far with the book for you and what has been the response from the baseball community, particularly Mets fans?
Howard Megdal: Response has been terrific throughout- I’ve really enjoyed the chance to hear what Mets fans think. Contrary to popular opinion, it is entirely possible to get them to sign onto a clear positive vision of how to run the team. Not universally, of course, but that’s what Mets fans want at the end of the day.
MLB reports: Since the ending of your book, new chapters have been written in Mets history so to speak. The names Wilpon, Madoff and Einhorn have been in the news for quite some time. What are your thoughts on the Mets ownership situation?
Howard Megdal: I think it is extremely unfortunate, since in Sandy Alderson, the Mets have the GM they’ve needed for 20 years-and now, the team’s medium-term financial future is in great doubt. Mets fans should be hoping for a speedy resolution here, and that probably means David Einhorn: Majority Owner.
Howard Megdal: I believe Carlos Beltran will be playing outfield for a team willing to give him 3-4 years on a contract. Me, and I’m the biggest Beltran fan there is, I wouldn’t bet a multi-year deal on his knee. As for Jose Reyes, my gut feeling is that ends up a bidding war between the Yankees and Red Sox. I don’t think the Mets have the financial wherewithal to bring him back to Queens.
MLB reports: Many Mets fans have been banging their heads on the wall since Jason Bay joined the team. I had a bad feeling on this signing, specifically that the ballpark and team would not be a fit. How did you view the Bay signing originally and has your opinion changed since?
Howard Megdal: My view of it originally is that it was exactly the wrong thing to do- he wasn’t likely to age well, he brought one skill- power- and that it would probably be an albatross contract by year 3. Never did I imagine he would be so terrible from day one.
MLB report: I suggested awhile back that Jerry Seinfeld should invest in the team. I see him as a strong icon for the Mets that could turn around its popularity and fortunes. Has this been discussed in Mets circles?
Howard Megdal: It has, but it doesn’t sound like Jerry is looking to take on that kind of active role.
MLB reports: Johan Santana. While some say he “might” come back this year, I don’t see it happening. Will the Santana of old ever emerge for the Mets?
Howard Megdal: Who knows? He’s had a complicated shoulder surgery, and the number of pitchers who have returned have varied widely in their subsequent performances. The early signs are good, and I’d be reluctant to bet against a competitor like Santana. What I think he has going for him is that he already knows how to pitch- he isn’t going to need to transition from being a pure stuff pitcher. But could that shoulder give out at any moment? Unfortunately, yes. My guess is he pitches 4-5 starts for the Mets in 2011, and pitches well.
MLB reports: Mets fans must be thrilled with the team’s play of late. Mirage or real?
Howard Megdal: Well, as I told my friends and family who were freaking out over their 5-13 start: “Don’t worry- the Mets are distinctly not terrible.” I stand by that. Had them at 84 wins at the start of the year, and still see them finishing around 80, even without Ike Davis or Beltran for the last two months.
MLB reports: Sandy Alderson and his loyal foot soldiers. Have they been everything that you hoped they would be? Please give Alderson his Mets report card to date and don’t hold back!
Howard Megdal: I am loving the way Alderson runs this team. There are small things I’d do differently here and there- Daniel Murphy playing 2B being the only one I can think of at the moment- but I absolutely adore the LOGIC, TRANSPARENCY and PASSION of his regime. Just wrote a piece on a minor arc that some may miss- but it stands as a companion piece to, well, everything Steve Phillips did. There’s a glorious attention to detail.
Piece is here:
MLB reports: I have thrown around the idea of realignment. In my world, the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles and Nationals would all occupy the AL East. Regardless of the exact arrangement, I think a move to the AL to sit in the Yankees division would work well. You?
Howard Megdal: I have long said that if it locks in an end to the Designated Hitter, I’d be willing to consider realignment, though I am attached to the NL/AL breakdown. Will you agree to that? If so, sure.
MLB reports: You will not find a bigger fan of banishing the DH, so agreed!Turning to Francisco Rodriguez, what is his future and does he still have “it”?
Howard Megdal: I think K-Rod is one of the best closers the Mets ever had. That said, Thank goodness they got rid of that ridiculous 2012 option. Even if the team weren’t in dire financial straits, it is a ridiculous waste of resources to pay your non-Mariano Rivera closer $17.5 million.
MLB reports: From what you proposed in “Taking the Field” to where the Mets stand today, have the Mets been following your plan and direction? If you change anything about the current squad, what would it be?
Howard Megdal: See above, the use of Murphy. I don’t get it. With his bat, he’s a top-five MLB 2B, and he’s handled the position well. He is not even average at 1B offensively, and he flat-out cannot play the outfield. But again, outside of that? No, they’ve been fantastic. And because of their decision-making in other areas, I don’t conclude that they are just being ignorant about Murphy- I assume there’s more to know. Certainly the first question I have for Alderson the next time I interview him.
MLB reports: What do you think of Brandon Nimmo, the Mets 1st round pick this year? Was he drafted based on talent or cost? How has his selection been received in New York thus far?
Howard Megdal: TBD, but as I said in the last answer, their overall performance gives me confidence in their individual choices. I think projecting draft picks is a fool’s errand, however.
Howard Megdal: Best-case, he’s Alex Escobar. The guy just can’t stay healthy. I saw him in spring training- he ran like an elderly person. It is such a shame; the guy has tremendous talent, and he works hard. His body just keeps betraying him. Incidentally, I haven’t given up on Milledge, yet. He’s only in his age-26 season. .832 OPS at Triple-A with 18 SB in 24 attempts. It isn’t too late.
MLB reports: Thank you for joining us today on the Reports. You certainly did not hold back in your answers and gave us a great education on Mets baseball. We wish you the best of luck on your latest book and look forward to your next book project.
Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook . To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.
Monday August 1, 2011
MLB reports: Another hectic MLB trade deadline is in the books. This year’s trade market was just as much about the trades that were not made as the ones that were. For all the speculation leading up to the deadline, star players like James Shields, B.J. Upton, Heath Bell and Carlos Quentin stay put. The trades that did go down included Ubaldo Jimenez, Mike Adams, Doug Fister, Colby Rasmus and much more. Here is a rundown of all the trades that took place in Major League Baseball as part of the non-waiver MLB Trade Deadline, which was 4:00p.m. on Sunday July 31st:
Michael Bourn and cash (Astros) for Jordan Schaefer, Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens, Juan Abreu (Braves): The Braves get a solid leadoff hitter, center fielder and base stealer from the Astros for four average prospects. Without having to give up any of their top prospects and filled a huge hole in their lineup and outfield, top marks goes to the Braves.
Hunter Pence and cash (Astros) for Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid and a player to be named later (Phillies): A win for the Phillies, as they get one of the top outfield bats in the game in Pence, who remains under team control going into next year. I like the return of Singleton, one of the top hitting prospects in the minors. But still, the Astros should have received a higher return for Pence who was the face of their franchise. A win for both squads but give the edge to the Phillies.
Mike Adams (Padres) for Joseph Wieland and Robert Erlin (Rangers): A win for both sides. The Rangers get one of the top relievers in baseball (Adams), who remains under team control after the season. For a team that is a World Series contender, Adams and Uehara give the Rangers a suddenly formidable pen. Wieland and Erlin were two top pitching prospects in the Rangers system and give the Padres much more depth. For a team that acquired what it needed most without giving up any of its top prospects, the Rangers can chalk this trade up to a huge win. The Padres did not do badly either, as Adams was a luxury they did not require and the Padres farm system all of a sudden became much stronger.
Brad Ziegler (A’s) for Brandon Allen and Jordan Norberto (Diamondbacks): A deal that works for both teams. Ziegler is a useful reliever that strengthens the Dbacks pen in a push for the NL West crown. Allen is a highly considered first base prospect who should slot well in Oakland plus Noberto is another arm in the A’s organization. It is too bad for the A’s that the Lars Anderson plus prospect for Rich Harden deal fell through with Boston, but Allen is a good runner-up prize.
Erik Bedard and Josh Fields (Mariners) for Trayvon Robinson (Dodgers) and Chih-Hsien Chiang, Tim Federowicz, Juan Rodriguez and Stephen Fife (Red Sox): Red Sox get Bedard and Fields (the reliever, not third baseman currently in Japan, Mariners get Robinson and Chiang, while Dodgers get Federowicz, Rodriguez and Fife. Confused? Good. This was one of those three-way deals that when all is said and done, you are left scratching your head. The key to this deal is Erik Bedard for the Red Sox. If he stays healthy, and that is a big if, the Red Sox might have a valuable addition to their starting rotation. Fields should also slot in well in the Red Sox pen. Both Robinson and Chiang are considered to be good prospects and should have a very good chance at cracking the Mariners’ outfield. The trade of Robinson came as somewhat of a surprise and the Dodgers have received a great deal of negative press on the deal. The team however was looking for a prospect catcher and believe they have found it in Federowicz and the additional parts in Rodriguez and Fife. The Mariners are the big winners in this deal, while the Red Sox play with fire and the Dodgers likely just got burnt.
Ubaldo Jimenez (Rockies) for Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Joe Gardner and Matt McBride (Indians): What a difference a year makes. The Indians are going for it and have beefed up their rotation with the addition of Jimenez. When on his game, Ubaldo is one of the best in baseball. Further, Ubaldo continues to be under team control, so the Indians don’t simply acquire a summer rental here. The keys to this deal for the Rockies are Pomeranz and White. Considered to be the Indians two best pitching prospects, the Rockies add to their farm while losing their ace. While Pomeranz is considered highly in baseball circles, I would have expected to see the Rockies get more major league ready talent. Considering that they were supposed to get Jesus Montero and Ivan Nova from the Yankees or Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and/or Homer Bailey from the Reds, I give the Indians the edge on this deal. Ace pitchers do not grow on trees and the Indians got one without giving up any of their major league talent or some of their other finer prospects, including Nick Weglarz. Competing with the big boys, the Indians get the prize of the trade deadline and likely a division title as well.
Derek Lee (Orioles) for Aaron Baker (Pirates): The Pirates are going for it and while Lee is an aging first baseman, he is an upgrade offensively over incumbent Lyle Overbay. Baker is a Class A first baseman that is not considered a top prospect. This trade is a draw, as the Pirates beef up for their playoff run and the Orioles auction off an impending free agent to stock their system.
Orlando Cabrera (Indians) for Thomas Neal (Giants): This deal came out of left field, as the Indians are still contending and were expected to hold onto Cabrera. With many young infielders on their roster, the Indians were prepared to sacrifice their utility man for one of the Giants higher rated prospect bats. Speaking to Neal on several occasions, he is one of the nicer young men you will ever want to meet in the game. Considered a great tools player, both offensively and defensively, the Indians have added another piece to their offensive puzzle while sacrificing a veteran that was expandable. The Giants, with injury and offensive woes, took a chance on Cabrera, a good luck charm for each of his respective teams in the postseason. While Neal was a big price to pay, the Giants are in win-now mode. A draw, as both teams will away happy from this exchange.
Koji Uehara (Orioles) for Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis (Rangers): This is a good old-fashioned baseball trade. The Rangers pick up a veteran reliever, who is enjoying his finest campaign in the big leagues and could be a setup man or closer. The Orioles continue to stockpile prospects and add a starter and first baseman to their mix. Davis has one of the most explosive bats in the game when he gets hot and the Orioles could have their cleanup hitter for the next 5-7 years. Hunter should be a good #3 or #4 starter for the team. A draw as both teams achieve their respective goals in this deal.
Mike Cameron (Red Sox) for player to be named later or cash (Marlins): Cameron was not hitting in Boston but could be a valuable veteran presence in Florida. I like this move for the Marlins as Cameron is solid player and person, perfect for their clubhouse.
Felipe Lopez (Rays) for cash (Brewers): Lopez still has pop in his bat and could be useful for a playoff push. There was no room for the Rays on their roster and they will happily take the financial relief.
Jason Marquis (Nationals) for Zach Walters (Diamondbacks): I am a fan of what the Diamondbacks are doing in Arizona, but this trade doesn’t work for me. Marquis will pitch in Arizona, but I don’t see him being the effective starter the team needs to fight the Giants for a playoff berth. Walters is a prospect shortstop who could have been Stephen Drew‘s replacement one day when he left the team. Walters has a good offensive bat and was not worth the price of Marquis. Advantage Washington for adding another prospect to its growing farm while dumping a veteran pitcher that had no place on their roster.
Mike Aviles (Royals) for Yamaico Navarro and Kendal Volz (Red Sox): The Red Sox get some sort of infield insurance, which was unnecessary in my estimation with both Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie on the roster. If Lowrie is out beyond early August as projected, then this deal makes sense. Otherwise, to give up two decent prospects for a player who has struggled this season and is unlikely to hit much in Boston does not equate for me. Advantage Royals for dumping a player who did not fit on the team and continuing to stock their system.
Wil Nieves (Brewers) for cash (Braves): Yawn. An average catcher for cash.
Francisco Rodriguez and cash (Mets) for two players to be named later (Brewers): A good trade for both teams. The Brewers strengthen their pen with the addition of K-Rod, who could close or set up for the team and is a free agent at season’s end. The Mets get salary relief and likely two decent prospects back.
Colby Rasmus, P.J. Walters, Brian Tallet (Cardinals) for Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen (White Sox) for Jason Frasor, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, Corey Patterson and Zach Stewart, three players to be named later or cash (Jays): The good news with this trade is that I will not have to struggle to spell Rzepczynski anymore. But in all seriousness, this was the first three-way deal of the deadline and probably the most interesting trade that went down. The White Sox shed the contract of Teahen (to the Jays) and acquire Frasor and Stewart. The Cardinals get Jackson for their rotation and Dotel/Rzepczynski for their bullpen, as well as three more PTBNL or cash from the Jays. The Jays get the biggest prize, Rasmus to play center and bat second, as well as Miller, Tallet and Walters for their pen. The Jays in our opinion win out, as they get a rare top prospect bat and only give up three middle relievers. The White Sox did well in getting salary relief, a prospect arm in Stewart and a useful bullpen arm in Frasor. The question marks surround the Cardinals, who give up the top player in the trade and might get left with very little more than adqueate playoff rentals as both Jackson and Dotel might not be with the team in 2012.
Ryan Langerhans (Mariners) for cash (Diamondbacks): A depth player at best, the Diamondbacks hope to get one or two big hits out of Langerhans in the push for a playoff berth. It looks like this was the best the Mariners could do in dumping another salary.
Doug Fister and David Pauley (Mariners) for Francisco Martinez, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush and a PTBNL (Tigers): For a Tigers team that was considered early in the day to be in the hunt for Ubaldo Jimenez, this one is a bit of a let down. Fister will be a #4 or #5 starter for the Tigers, good but not great. Pauley was having an incredible season for the Mariners in their pen and should do well in Comerica. Wells will likely slot immediately into the Mariners outfield and the rest of the players are prospects to their stock their farm. While I’m not excited about what Detroit received, I am equally not impressed by what they gave up. Call this one a draw. Middle of the road players for players at this point.
Rafael Furcal (Dodgers) for Alex Castellanos and cash (Cardinals): With Dee Gordon in the minors and money woes being an issue, this trade for the Dodgers is about getting younger and saving money in the process. The Cardinals are pushing for a playoff spot and if healthy, Furcal should give the team a spark offensively. Personally, I would not trust Furcal based on his injury history. The Dodgers get back a marginal prospect in this swap. The fact that the Dodgers unloaded Furcal and got the Cardinals to pick up a large portion of his contract, I will label this trade a Dodgers win.
Juan Rivera (Jays) for player to be named later or cash (Dodgers): Considering the Dodgers just released Marcus Thames, I am not sure why they chose to acquire Rivera. They are very similar players, although I would give the edge to Thames for his better defense. A win for the Jays, dumping a player that had no role on their team and was not hitting very much.
Jonny Gomes and cash (Reds) for Bill Rhinehart and Christopher Manno (Nationals): Gomes should be a good bat for the Nationals but with the team out of the playoff picture, it is a little curious why the team would give up prospects at this point. Reds get the advantage as there was no room in their outfield for Gomes, they acquire two prospects and open up space for Yonder Alonso to play everyday.
Carlos Beltran (Mets) for Zack Wheeler (Giants): One of the best trades of the year that will benefit both teams. The Giants get the top bat they so badly needed after Buster Posey went down. Together with salary relief (the Mets will kick in about $4 million), the Mets get one of the top pitching prospects in the game. The Giants had to go for it and could not afford to waste their top pitching rotation without providing offense. With Beltran an impeding free agent, the Mets strengthen their rotation for years to come.
Jeff Keppinger (Astros) for Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel (Giants): The Giants get more bench depth for the playoffs and the Astros get back decent prospects. Another boring but necessary trade for both. Consider a draw.
Ryan Ludwick (Padres) for a player to be named later (Pirates): The Pirates are looking to make a strong playoff run and former Indian Luckwick would fit well in their offense this year. It remains to be seen what the Pirates have to give up, but for a player in as strong demand as Ludwick, as long as it is not too much, give the edge to the Pirates. This one will hinge on the quality of the prospect going to the Padres.
Kosuke Fukudome and $3.9 million (Cubs) for Abner Abreu and Carlton Smith (Indians): This trade is all about the Indians going for it in a year when the AL Central is ripe for the taking. Fukudome, largely considered a disappointment in Chicago, is sent with cash to the Indians for their stretch run. Good to get on base with the occasional pop, the hope is that the change of scenery will do Fukudome good. The prospects the Cubs received back are marginal at best, as this trade was mostly about a salary dump. Credit to Chicago for ridding itself of one its huge mistake contracts, with more such contracts to go. The Indians hope they catch lightening in a bottle, but likely will get only decent production out of their latest Japanese import.
Wilson Betemit (Royals) for Antonio Cruz and Julio Rodriguez (Tigers): The first trade in the deadline dealings, the Tigers upgrade their third base situation over Brandon Inge. The Royals shed a contract and get two decent prospects. We will call this one a draw.
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Thursday July 28, 2011
Rob Bland (Intern- MLB Reports): Trade Deadline. More speculation. Teams out of the playoff race sending their valuable veterans to contending teams for prospects. This is a time of year that baseball journalists make a living out of contemplating where there is a fit. The Tampa Bay Rays have quite a decision to make as to what to do with the frustrating yet ultra-talented Melvin “BJ” Upton. Upton was the 2ndoverall pick in the 2002 MLB draft, and quickly rose through the ranks with the Rays. In his first full season in 2007, he belted 24 home runs and stole 22 bases while maintaining an OPS of .894. Every season since that breakout year, his BABIP has dropped, and he has been unable to replicate the type of power he previously displayed. Upton is a good fielder in center field and a good base runner, with the ability to steal 30-40 bases a year. This year, Upton has struggled at the Trop, where he is hitting .171/.250/.312/.562. On the road, the numbers are much better at .284/.364/.481/.845.
The Rays would be wise to move B.J. Upton now as they could net a tremendous return from a team who may be desperate to make a push for the playoffs. There have been close to a dozen teams who have at least called to check in on GM Andrew Friedman’s asking price.
Here are five teams who would be wise to make a big push for the outfielder:
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants are looking to repeat as World Series Champs and look poised to make the postseason, even with one of the worst offenses in baseball. They do have RHP Zach Wheeler ranked as MLB.com’s preseason #33 prospect. The 2009 1st rounder has done very well this year in the California League, but does need to refine command. Offering Wheeler would probably force the Rays to make the deal, however, the Giants seem to be looking at Carlos Beltran and Colby Rasmus as their main targets.** (NOTE: Since preparing this article, Rasmus has been traded to the Jays and Beltran appears to be on the move to San Francisco. It is a likely safe bet that Upton is not headed anytime soon to San Francisco.)
With none of their regular outfielders hitting over .234, the Braves are getting pretty desperate for help. Even though they are currently three games up in the wild card race in the National League, they need to bolster their line-up in order to do some damage in the playoffs. The Braves have a ton of pitching prospects to get the deal done. Arodys Vizcaino is one of these top prospects, who has shot up to AAA from A-ball this season. With great command and a plus fastball and curve, Vizcaino could be used to bring Upton to Atlanta.
With the aging Raul Ibanez and youngster Dom Brown struggling to hit in the corner outfield spots, Upton could be ushered in to fill one of those spots. Incumbent Shane Victorino likely wouldn’t be moved from center, but could shift to left for Upton. I could actually see the Phillies going with a young athletic outfield of Victorino, Upton and Brown. Ibanez then becomes a decent weapon off the bench. Still only 19 years old, Jonathan Singleton has drawn a lot of interest from other teams. The Phillies have stated they will not move Singleton for Beltran, but I could see it happening with Upton. Singleton has an advanced approach at the plate, and as he matures, will surely hit for power.
With Grady Sizemore seemingly always on the disabled list, Cleveland needs to shore up the center of their outfield. Michael Brantley has performed admirably, however if they really want to contend in the shaky AL Central, they need a difference maker. Shin Soo Choo has underperformed this year and with the addition of Upton, I can see him being able to turn his season around. Joe Gardner, a right-handed pitching prospect could be moved in this deal. Gardner is an extreme groundball pitcher that needs work on secondary pitches, but along with Cord Phelps, a 2B/3B who played 19 games with the Indians this year, a deal could be struck.
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ string of losing seasons could soon be over, and they’re in the hunt for the NL Central crown. Only a game back, they may make a push for a complement to Andrew McCutchen in the outfield. With Jose Tabata struggling and spending time in AAA, Upton to play right field for the Pirates could be a great idea. Starling Marte, a speedy outfielder who may remind some a bit of Upton, could be dangled with an arm such as Colton Cain, a lefty who can throw in the mid 90s but needs work on his secondary stuff.
The most likely spot for Upton to land is Philadelphia. With the package that Philly could put together to obtain him, they are capable of pulling the trigger. If the Pirates do make a move, and don’t make the playoffs, they risk possibly setting the organization back again, as rushing their success could cause a tremendous fallout. Slow and steady usually wins the race. Hopefully the Pirates remember that.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland. Please feel free to leave comments and to welcome Rob aboard. You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***
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Editor’s Note: The Giants acquisition of Carlos Beltran looks to be complete. As proposed last week on the Reports, Carlos Beltran is on the move from the Mets to the Giants in exchange for top Giants pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. The trade simply needs a rubber stamp, as Beltran needs to go through the formality of waiving his no-trade clause. His agent, Scott Boras, worked diligently to land Beltran with a NL contending team and did not disappoint with the trade to San Francisco. The 21-year old Wheeler was the 6th overall pick in the 2009 draft. The Giants gave up the top pitcher in their system, no doubt. But with a major league rotation consisting of Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Jonathan Sanchez on the mend, the Giants could afford to part with pitching to acquire hitting. The Mets are also sending $4 million dollars of salary relief to the Giants as further consideration in obtaining a top prospect back. Expect Beltran to be the middle-of-the-order slugger the Giants so desperately crave, especially with top hitting catcher Buster Posey out for the year. I can see Beltran carrying the Giants into the playoffs and advancing quite far, given his previous playoffs heroics and incentive to land one more big free agency contract in the offseason. Beltran is also likely to re-sign with the Giants, so this is a win-win all around. The Giants get run production this year and in possible future years and the Mets add a much needed building block for their future which just got brighter.
Saturday July 23, 2011
MLB reports: We are now only eight days away from the MLB non-waiver trade deadline and the rumors continue to fly fast and furious. Along with the Carlos Beltran and Heath Bell sweepstakes, the names Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Willingham, Brandon League, Hunter Pence and Hiroki Kuroda have been tossed around as possible candidates to be moved next week. Another big time name has recently been thrown into the mix that we will be looking at today. James Shields, “big game James”, one of the top starting pitchers on the Tampa Bay Rays may very well be playing for a new team very soon. The Cincinnati Reds are apparently calling and with big prospect bats sitting on the farm, the Reds may very well have the necessary bait to haul in one of the biggest fishes on the trade market.
The 29-year old James Shields was drafted by the Rays in the 16th round of the 2000 MLB draft. Shields made his major league debut in 2006. Here is a quick rundown of his lifetime statistics:
|162 Game Avg.||13||12||4.02||224||227||51||188||1.244|
A definite innings-eater, James pitched almost 1000 innings over his first five seasons, making him one of the most consistent and reliable pitchers in the game. A lack of run support has definitely hurt Shields over the years, as he had the numbers to obtain more wins had the Rays offense been able to support him better. I have watched too many instances of Shields pitching complete or near complete game losses, despite only giving up 2-3 runs per game. 2009 and 2010 were not kind to James in some ways, as some analysts viewed Shields as having hit his peak and starting to decline. Going into 2011, nobody knew what James Shields the Rays would be getting. The steady ace that the team enjoyed for the majority of his career or the 2010 inconsistent version. Looking at Shields at the halfway mark of the season, he is enjoying by far his greatest season in the majors. A sparkling 2.53 ERA and 1.011 WHIP, Shields has been everything that the Rays could have expected more. But with success comes many questions, with the most pertinent being what the Rays should do with James.
The whispers and talk has been growing by the day that the Rays may be looking to move Shields by July 31st. The Reds have been the team most linked to the Rays, given their desire to bolster their rotation and the deep farm of prospects they can offer the Rays. The Reds are sitting on some of the top prospects in the game that are currently blocked at the major league level. Yonder Alonso, 1B/OF is considered one of the best hitters not at the major league level. Alonso would represent the centerpiece of a potential Shields deal. Born in Cuba and having attended the University of Miami, Alonso is often compared to his friend Alex Rodriguez, based on his combination of power and patience at the plate. Not bad company at all. The 24-year old Alonso was drafted 7th overall in the 2008 draft by the Reds and has quickly advanced in their system. Currently in AAA, Alonso sits at a .297 AVG, .871 OPS, with 12 home runs and 46/59 BB/K. The Rays, desperately in need of bats, currently have Casey Kotchman manning first. Alonso would be a perfect fit in taking over the first base job for the next decade. He is a special hitter that does not come along very often. While a pitcher of Shields stature is not easy to replace, the Rays would be filling a huge void in their lineup by adding Alonso. Dealing from strength to fill a need is smart baseball management and the reason why we are discussing the trade of Shields today.
In addition to acquiring Yonder Alonso, the Rays would be adding a number one catcher to their system in either Yasmani Grandal or Devin Mesoraco. I have seen both names thrown around, but my gut is that the Rays will end up receiving Grandal. Mesoraco was featured by us back in June. The likely Reds catcher of the future, Mesoraco is expected to get the call either this year or next at the latest to replace incumbent Ramon Hernandez. With a solid backup in Ryan Hanigan, the Reds have an abundance of catchers, a strength considering that few major league teams have potential superstar backstops playing in their lower levels. The 22-year old Grandal was born in Cuba and played in Miami, similar to Alonso. Drafted 12th overall in the 2010 MLB draft, Grandal recently got the call to AA. Mesoraco on the other hand, is 23-years of age and was drafted 15th overall by the Reds in the 2007 MLB draft. Mesoraco is back for his second tour of duty in AAA, hitting a solid .309 and .895 OPS, with 10 home runs and 54 RBIs. After battling injuries in his career, Mesoraco hit a combined 26 home runs over 3 levels last season and has not slowed down since. The Rays would be thrilled to receive Mesoraco in a Shields trade, but Grandal is considered by many to actually be the more talented backstop. A win-win either way for Tampa Bay.
But why trade Shields and especially, why now? Many Rays fans are asking themselves those questions right now. On the surface, Shields and the Rays look like a perfect fit. He is young and still in the prime of his career. Shields has proven to be healthy and durable since joining the Rays. He is signed through this year, with team friendly options through 2014 at $7, $9 and $12 million per year respectively from 2012-14. In baseball they say you can never have too much pitching. If that is the case, then some feel the Rays should consider stockpiling their pitchers and building their team from strength. But that is a narrow view of major league teams and how they operate. Let’s take a look at our five top reasons for the Rays to trade James Shields right now:
1) Sell at the Peak
You never know what the future will bring, so sometimes it is important to live in the moment. Shields, while a steady and consistent pitcher, is currently pitching at the highest level of his career. The Rays will need to determine if he has truly broken out or merely playing above his head. The value for Shields may never get higher than it is today. As well, teams contending for the playoffs may be willing to pay more at the deadline than the offseason for Shields. The Rays, if feeling especially lucky, could request the addition of either Mike Leake or Travis Wood to the trade mix from the Reds.
2) Numbers Game: Rotation Log Jam
The Rays have been known for acquiring, developing and stockpiling pitchers in their system. This past offseason was no different, as the Rays traded away top starter Matt Garza to the Cubs for a package of prospects, including Christopher Archer and Sam Fuld. With Jeremy Hellickson ready, willing and able to join the big club, the Rays needed to clear room for their next future star pitcher. Hellickson, combined with David Price, Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann form a formidable one through four punch in the rotation. Based on their age and salaries, none of these starters will likely be going anywhere soon. While Alex Cobb has been brought in for temporary measure to the majors, Matt Moore just got the call to join AAA Durham in anticipation of joining the Rays rotation soon. Moore, one of the top-five pitching prospects in baseball, will not likely be kept on the farm too long given his dominance over minor league hitters to-date. That is how the baseball system works. Prospects are developed and either traded for veterans or take over for departed veterans from major league teams. As the Rays have no intention of trading Moore, a spot will have to open up for him. Unfortunately for James Shields, he is the veteran most likely to go. From there, it will only be a matter of time before Archer is ready to join the big club and the cycle will continue.
3) Dollars and Cents
It is no secret that the Rays are on a very tight budget. Low attendance figures, despite continued recent major league success including a World Series appearance in 2008, has meant that the Rays cannot afford to hang onto high priced veterans. Shown the door in recent years were Carlos Pena, Matt Garza and Rafael Soriano, among others for financial considerations. While James may have what is considered a team friendly contract, paying him close to $10 million or so per year for each of the next three seasons does not work for the Rays budget. Moore, combined with Alonso and Grandal, would fill three positions for the Rays at a combined salary that will be a fraction of what Shields makes. In other words, Shields is a luxury that the Rays cannot afford and can fill quite adequately within at a cheaper cost. While we do not like to think about the economics of the game, it can drive roster decisions on the same level as talent and ability.
4) Innings- Wear and Tear
James Shields is starting to enter a zone that many MLB teams dread. The 200-innings per season for over five seasons club. While an informal group, there has been much talk in baseball circles that most pitchers after their first 1000 innings pitched have a high risk of injuries and decline. Pitchers like Brandon Webb and to a lesser extent Ben Sheets, are shown as examples of modern pitchers that have arm/shoulder problems after pitching many major league innings over a span of 5+ years. While Shields has not shown any risks yet of developing injuries, his numbers going into this season were of concern for the Rays. So while Shields is having a Cy Young caliber season, the Rays may be fearful that he will be susceptible to injuries or declining performance very soon.
5) Pitchers Need Run Support
In the same way a fast car needs a powerful engine and reliable tires, a major league team needs both offense and strong pitching. The current build of the Rays is starting to mirror the San Francisco Giants. Great young pitching but not enough hitting. The Rays can stockpile as much pitching as they like, but if they cannot score runs they will have a difficult time making the playoffs, let alone win a World Series title. Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal are two superstar bats in the making that the Rays desperately need and do not have in their own system. The expression goes that teams “develop pitching and buy bats.” In this case, the Rays will be taking to buying the bats that they themselves cannot produce. With a starting lineup of nine hitters, that Rays will be instantly filling over 20% of their lineup by way of this trade. The hit the rotation by losing Shields would be absorbed by the addition of Matt Moore to the major league club. But the boost to the team’s offense as a result of the addition of Alonso and Grandal is invaluable.
Verdict: The bottom line is that the Tampa Bay Rays are in a quandary. James Shields is the heart and soul of their pitching staff, the go-to guy who has earned his nickname of “big game.” But as the most expensive starter on the staff, with the team’s top prospect almost ready to receive the call to the show and the team desperately needing good young hitting, the Rays have no choice but to consider moving Shields at the trade deadline. As the team is still in contention, management will have to be careful of not sending a message that they are throwing in the towel on the season. But to get the biggest reward, the team will have to pay a big price. It will be difficult in the short-term to accept the trade of James Shields from Tampa Bay. But considering the hitting that the Reds would be sending to the Rays, this is a deal that the Rays cannot afford to miss out on. Keep an eye on Tampa Bay as the team will continue to improve, get younger at a competitive payroll come deadline day and still remain in contention. If this is truly James Shield’s last week in a Rays uniform, please be sure to catch his last start live or on television from Oakland this coming Wednesday July 27th. With Desmond Jennings and Dane De La Rosa just recalled by the Rays from AAA, the cycle of player and prospect replenishment has already begun again in Tampa Bay.
Tuesday July 19, 2011
MLB reports: The MLB rumor mill is working overtime as the non-waiver trade deadline of July 31st quickly approaches. With less than two weeks to go, the speculation is heating up as to which players will be changing uniforms. Francisco Rodriguez is already a Brewer and Jeff Keppinger was just traded to the Giants. But rumors persist that the Mets and Giants are not finished with their activity. With both superstars Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran eligible for free agency at the end of the season, talk is that one or both players will be moved out of New York. With the possibility of the Mets trying to retain Reyes, the most likely scenario is Carlos Beltran changing addresses. At the center of the speculation is the San Francisco Giants. The defending World Series champions have been simply atrocious this year offensively. With their cleanup hitter Buster Posey out for the season, the team cannot afford to miss out on the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes.
The Giants were very fortunate to win the World Series last year. The playoffs are a tough road and requires the perseverance normally of a balanced team to make it to the end. The Giants, while solid in the pitching department, were essentially using smoke and mirrors to score runs last year. The team relied on the likes of Aubrey Huff, Cody Ross and Freddy Sanchez on offense. While useful role players, these players are not the big sluggers that are supposed to win championships. Now with Buster Posey out, the Giants are forced to rely on Eli Whiteside, Miguel Tejada, Aaron Rowand, Pat Burrell and company to score the team’s runs. Possessing one of the best, if not the best pitching staff in baseball, the Giants can ill-afford to limit itself offensively and essentially waste such strong pitching. To defend its championship, the Giants will have no choice but to beef up their offense.
Carlos Beltran has been one of the most consistent hitters in the game over the course of his career. Taking a look at his numbers, we see a consistently high level of production:
|162 Game Avg.||621||110||175||28||106||28||.282|
|KCR (7 yrs)||3134||546||899||123||516||164||.287|
|NYM (7 yrs)||3108||544||870||148||552||100||.280|
|HOU (1 yr)||333||70||86||23||53||28||.258|
|NL (8 yrs)||3441||614||956||171||605||128||.278|
|AL (7 yrs)||3134||546||899||123||516||164||.287|
His resume speaks for itself. Beltran is a 1999 AL Rookie of the Year. He has won four Gold Gloves for his defensive work in the outfield. He won two silver slugger awards. A lifetime .282 AVG, .360 OBP and .495 SLG. In 2004 he hit the magical 30/30 mark (30 home runs, 30 stolen bases), and was actually two home runs short of 40/40. For the most part, Beltran in his prime could do it all. Hit home runs, hit for average, steal bases, catch and throw the ball like few players could. One of the few true five-tool players in the game. The aberrations we find in Beltran’s statistics were the last two years. Due to various injuries, particularly knee woes, Carlos Beltran was forced to miss much of the last two seasons and saw his production sharply decline. Now healthy and extremely motivated, Beltran has come back in a big way.
Beltran played in his sixth All-Star game this year in Arizona. While he rarely steals bases these days, the rest of Beltran’s game has returned as shown by his numbers. The only issue surrounding Beltran is whether his knee will hold up for the rest of the season and into the playoffs. From there, a team will need to determine his long-term health and abilities in awarding him a free agent contract. But from all indications, Beltran is a player that can still play ball at the highest level when healthy. An ideal fit for the Giants that lineup that desperately needs run production.
How bad has the Giants offense been in 2011? Going into tonight, the Giants as a team are hitting .243, with a .309 OBP and .363 SLG. The team has collectively hit 63 home runs and scored 356 runs. Yet somehow the team continues to sit in first place in the NL West, 3.5 games ahead of the Diamondbacks. If not for Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Brian Wilson and the rest of the Giants pitching staff, the Giants would be in the basement of the division. The run of the Giants over the past two seasons has been incredible, but clearly linked to its pitching. To support its pitchers and put runs on the board, the Giants have to step up and beef up its offense. While Jeff Keppinger is a useful player, he will not be enough to get the job done. Rather, the Giants need to acquire a bomber, the way the Cardinals acquired Matt Holliday a couple of years ago in their playoff run. Or closer to home, when the Astros acquired Carlos Beltran in 2004. Beltran hit an incredible 8 home runs during the Astros playoff drive that year. Coincidentally, Beltran was an impending free agent that year as well. Fast forward to 2011 and the very same Carlos Beltran is available. Having a fantastic campaign, Beltran in 2011 has hit .287 to-date, with 14 home runs, league leading 28 doubles, with a .381 OBP and .512 SLG. Again during a free agency year. Definite playoff calibre numbers and a perfect fit out west in San Francisco.
The Giants and Carlos Beltran are well suited for one another. San Francisco needs a strong cleanup hitter. Carlos Beltran wants to compete for a World Series championship and boost his free agency stock for one more prime contract. The odds of getting a ring don’t get any better than joining the defending world champions. Some experts have speculated that Beltran may not waive his no-trade protection to join the Giants. I am not buying that theory. The Giants are a terrific organization to play for, with highly regarded management, a fantastic ballpark in a beautiful city, and are one of baseball’s most historical and treasured teams. Beltran would look fantastic in a Giants uniform. What better way to showcase his abilities and earn his last free agency contract than by playing for a contender and fighting for a World Series championship.
Remember 1994, the year that Beltran was traded from Kansas City to Houston and played like a man possessed in nearly single-handedly leading the Astros to the World Series. That performance, combined with his numbers to-date, earned Beltran that off-season a 7-year, $119 million contract from the Mets. Now Beltran is on the cusp of free agency again and has the potential to “earn his pay” so to speak with the Giants in the same manner that he did with the Astros in 1994. With Scott Boras as his agent, Beltran will surely receive the advice that playoff performance equals free agency dollars.
The Giants will have a choice in making a pitch to the Mets for Carlos Beltran. They will either have to absorb the majority of the contract and provide fairly decent prospects, or have the Mets absorb a large chunk of money and offer 1-2 elite prospects in return. The Giants are well stocked in the minors and have excellent pitching at the major league level. The Mets may request Jonathan Sanchez off the major league roster or a combination of minor leaguers from the farm. Outfielder Thomas Neal and pitcher Zack Wheeler could be on the Mets wish-list. Or perhaps the Giants will be able to give up a package of lower level prospects and not lose their top prospects and major league level. The decision will boil down to the money involved and players offered by other teams in trade packages.
At the end of the day, much like the Yankees must acquire Ubaldo Jimenez from the Rockies (see our recent feature), the Giants have no choice but to trade for Carlos Beltran. The Yankees cannot afford to waste their superior offense without enough top-level pitching and the Giants in turn, need to surround their talented pitching staff with consistent run production. It is a lot of pressure to have a team win 2-1, 3-1 games night-in and night-out. Carlos Beltran has proven that he can carry a team on his back when he is on his game. Well, in 2011 he is definitely playing at his highest level in years. Beltran needs the Giants for his next contract and a chance for a ring, while the Giants need his bat and glove to increase their chances of a championship. The perfect marriage, expect Beltran to be a Giant by the end of July. This acquisition makes too much sense for the Giants and Brian Sabean will continue to stock his team on route to a possible back-to-back World Series run for the Giants. Carlos Beltran to the Giants. Not a question of if, just a question of when.
Wednesday July 13, 2011
Rob Bland (Intern Candidate for MLB Reports): This year’s edition of the Midsummer Classic, the 2011 MLB All-Star Game, had a record-setting vote-getter. Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays received over 7.4 million votes in fan voting. This game was said to have lost some of its lustre due to the amount of players who elected not to participate. A total of eight players that were voted in by fans or chosen by coaches dropped out due to injury, timing or just plain wanting to rest. For the American League, David Price (TB), Derek Jeter (NYY), Mariano Rivera (NYY), Alex Rodriguez (NYY) and Jon Lester (BOS) all withdrew due to various ailments and injuries. Chipper Jones (ATL), Jose Reyes (NYM), and Placido Polanco (PHI) were the players who bowed out in the National League. One of Major League Baseball’s rules pertaining to eligibility for pitchers is that they must not start on the Sunday prior to the game. Due to this rule, CC Sabathia (NYY), James Shields (TB), Justin Verlander (DET), Felix Hernandez (SEA), Cole Hamels (PHI), and Matt Cain (SF) were ruled ineligible and unable to participate in the game.
Surely not having Price, Sabathia, Shields, Verlander, Hernandez and Rivera hurt the AL. Although he has had an impressive start to the season, CJ Wilson (TEX) probably should not have been pitching when he gave up the 3-run home run to Prince Fielder (MIL). It easily could have been one of those more accomplished aces as mentioned. However, that is the way it turned out, as the National League took advantage early and defeated the American League by a score of 5-1. The MVP of the game was Fielder, because of his huge home run that put the NL on top early and as it turned out, for good.
My pick for MVP was Roy Halladay (PHI), as he started for the National League and was dominant as only the Doc can be. He faced the minimum six batters over two innings, including Curtis Granderson (NYY), Adrian Gonzalez (BOS) and Jose Bautista (TOR); all potential MVP candidates. Halladay managed to throw only 19 pitches as part of his historical pitching performance.
In the 2nd inning, the defensive play of the game occurred when Brian McCann (ATL) hit a towering flyball in foul territory that Bautista caught as he slid into the wall. Aside from being one of the top home run hitters in baseall, Bautista is also an accomplished fielder who is capable of winning a gold glove at either third base or right field.
The scoring in the game started in the top of the 4th inning, when Adrian Gonzalez blasted a Cliff Lee (PHI) cutter over the right center field wall for a solo blast. The AL followed with three straight singles, the last of which was off Tyler Clippard (WAS). Hunter Pence fielded the ball and threw a laser to the plate to catch Bautista who tried to score from second for the third out. In the bottom of the inning, Carlos Beltran (NYM) and Matt Kemp (LAD) hit singles to set up Fielder`s massive bomb.
Jordan Walden (LAA), another player who probably didn`t deserve to play as much as the other big name starters, began to light up the radar gun last night, hitting 100 mph on his first four fastballs. Starlin Castro (CHC) came in to pinch run at first base after Troy Tulowitzki (COL) hit a leadoff single. Castro proceeded to immediately steal second and third base. He then set up another play at the plate, where Walden bare handed a weak ground ball by Rickie Weeks (MIL) and threw Castro out. Weeks stole second and came around to score when Andre Ethier (LAD) hit a single to right field, making the score 4-1.
The scoring continued in the bottom of the seventh inning when Pablo Sandoval (SF) hit a ground rule double over the wall in the left field corner. This scored Hunter Pence (HOU) after his leadoff single and a passed ball that allowed him to move to second base, and eventually score.
Fan favorite Brian Wilson (SF) came in the top of the nineth inning with runners on second and third. A fly out and ground out later, and the game was in the books. Make the final score 5-1, as the National League wins for the All-Star Game for the second year in a row and secures home field advantage for its league in the up coming World Series in the fall.
This year`s All-Star Festivities were enjoyed by so many fans, and continually impressed me. I have had a great time covering the 2011 All-Star Game, everything from the Futures Game, Home Run Derby and of course, the All-Star Game itself. With Major League Baseball now entering the dog days of summer and the secon half of the season, it is time to speculate on trades and the calling up of prospects. Pure heaven for this baseball writer!
***EDITOR’S NOTE: With Chase Field still buzzing, the trade market has already begun. The Milwaukee Brewers announced right after the game taht they had acquired closer Francisco Rodriguez and cash considerations from the New York Mets for two players to be named later. With the Brewers acquiring Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in the offseason, clearly Milwaukee is going for it. Will be interesting to see if Brewers allow K-Rod’s $17.5 million option to vest for 2012, which is based on number of games finished in 2011. If K-Rod finishes 55 games, the option will vest. As he has already finsihed 34 this season, so the option could vest depending on how the Brewers use K-Rod and how close they remain to a playoff berth. It will be interesting to see what prospects go from Milwaukee to New York. Long-term this deal could hurt Milwaukee depending on which top prospects they give up. But in the short-term, this deal will make the Brewers’ fanbase happy and their slugging free agent to be, Prince Fielder, may have more thinking to do before selecting his new team for 2012. The ground work has been set with respect to the trade market. Now we will see if the K-Rod deal has indeed open the trading floodgates for the rest of baseball. ***
W: T. Clippard
L: C. Wilson
S: B. Wilson
|R Weeks 2B||3||1||0||0||0||1||12||.000||.000||.000|
B Phillips 2B
|C Beltran DH||2||1||1||0||0||1||7||.500||.500||.500|
a-A Ethier PH-DH
b-G Sanchez PH-DH
|M Kemp CF||2||1||1||0||1||0||15||.500||.667||.500|
A McCutchen CF
|P Fielder 1B||2||1||1||3||0||0||6||.500||.500||2.000|
J Votto 1B
|B McCann C||2||0||0||0||0||0||8||.000||.000||.000|
Y Molina C
c-J Bruce PH-RF
|L Berkman RF||1||0||1||0||0||0||3||1.000||1.000||1.000|
J Upton RF
M Montero C
|M Holliday LF||1||0||0||0||0||1||7||.000||.000||.000|
H Pence LF
|T Tulowitzki SS||2||0||1||0||0||0||5||.500||.500||.500|
S Castro PR-SS
|S Rolen 3B||2||0||0||0||0||2||8||.000||.000||.000|
P Sandoval 3B
|a-singled to right for C Beltran in the 5th
b-popped out to second for A Ethier in the 7th
c-struck out looking for Y Molina in the 8th
2B: Y Molina (1, C Perez); P Sandoval (1, B League)
HR: P Fielder (1, 4th inning off C Wilson 2 on, 0 Out)
RBI: P Fielder 3 (3), A Ethier (1), P Sandoval (1)
2-out RBI: A Ethier
All-Stars RISP: 3-8 (P Fielder 1-1, J Upton 0-1, S Rolen 0-1, B Phillips 0-1, R Weeks 0-1, A Ethier 1-1, G Sanchez 0-1, P Sandoval 1-1)
Team LOB: 3
SB: S Castro 2 (2, 2nd base off J Walden/A Avila, 3rd base off J Walden/A Avila); R Weeks (1, 2nd base off J Walden/A Avila)
CS: L Berkman (1, 2nd base by D Robertson/A Avila)
E: S Castro (1, throw); J Bruce (1, throw)
Outfield Assist: H Pence (J Bautista at Home).
First-pitch strikes/Batters faced: R Halladay 4/6; C Lee 4/8; T Clippard 1/1; C Kershaw 1/3; J Jurrjens 5/6; C Kimbrel 0/2; J Venters 2/2; H Bell 0/1; J Hanrahan 1/3; B Wilson 2/2
Called strikes-Swinging strikes-Foul balls-In Play strikes: R Halladay 4-3-2-5; C Lee 4-1-3-8; T Clippard 1-1-0-1; C Kershaw 1-1-2-2; J Jurrjens 3-5-3-4; C Kimbrel 1-2-4-1; J Venters 1-2-0-1; H Bell 1-0-0-1; J Hanrahan 1-2-4-2; B Wilson 1-1-1-2
Ground Balls-Fly Balls: R Halladay 3-2; C Lee 4-1; T Clippard 0-0; C Kershaw 2-0; J Jurrjens 2-2; C Kimbrel 1-0; J Venters 1-0; H Bell 0-1; J Hanrahan 0-0; B Wilson 1-1
Game Scores: R Halladay 57
|C Granderson CF||2||0||0||0||0||0||3||.000||.000||.000|
J Ellsbury CF
|A Cabrera SS||2||0||0||0||0||1||6||.000||.000||.000|
J Peralta SS
|A Gonzalez 1B||2||1||1||1||0||0||6||.500||.500||2.000|
M Cabrera 1B
M Young 3B
|J Bautista RF||2||0||1||0||0||0||5||.500||.500||.500|
C Quentin RF
|J Hamilton LF||2||0||1||0||0||0||4||.500||.500||.500|
M Joyce LF
|A Beltre 3B||2||0||1||0||0||0||10||.500||.500||.500|
K Youkilis 3B
M Cuddyer 1B
|D Ortiz DH||2||0||0||0||0||1||10||.000||.000||.000|
a-P Konerko PH-DH
|R Cano 2B||2||0||0||0||0||0||4||.000||.000||.000|
H Kendrick 2B
|A Avila C||2||0||0||0||0||0||7||.000||.000||.000|
M Wieters C
|a-walked for D Ortiz in the 7th|
HR: A Gonzalez (1, 4th inning off C Lee 0 on, 2 Out)
RBI: A Gonzalez (1)
2-out RBI: A Gonzalez
All-Stars RISP: 2-5 (M Joyce 1-1, A Beltre 1-1, H Kendrick 0-1, M Cuddyer 0-1, P Konerko 0-1)
Team LOB: 6
DP: 1 (A Avila-R Cano).
PB: M Wieters.
Outfield Assist: J Bautista (A Ethier at 2nd base).
First-pitch strikes/Batters faced: J Weaver 4/4; D Robertson 1/3; M Pineda 3/3; C Wilson 3/6; J Walden 2/4; C Perez 2/4; B League 3/5; A Ogando 2/2; G Gonzalez 1/1
Called strikes-Swinging strikes-Foul balls-In Play strikes: J Weaver 3-3-0-2; D Robertson 2-1-3-1; M Pineda 3-3-1-1; C Wilson 4-2-4-4; J Walden 2-3-5-3; C Perez 2-2-2-3; B League 1-4-4-4; A Ogando 2-0-1-2; G Gonzalez 2-1-0-0
Ground Balls-Fly Balls: J Weaver 1-1; D Robertson 0-1; M Pineda 0-1; C Wilson 0-2; J Walden 1-0; C Perez 0-2; B League 0-2; A Ogando 2-0; G Gonzalez 0-0
Game Scores: J Weaver 53
***Thank you to Rob Bland for preparing today’s article on the All-Star Game. You can follow Rob on Twitter.***
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Tuesday June 28, 2011
MLB reports: Our last feature was on Danny Espinosa, the Nationals rookie second baseman who is taking Washington by storm. For all the talk of Espinosa’s strong play, many readers wrote in to suggest that Dillon Gee should be at the top of the National League Rookie of the Year talk. For many MLB fans, the first question will be: Who the heck is Dillon Gee?
Dillon Kyle Gee was born and raised in Texas. The 25-year old right-handed pitcher went to high school and university in Texas. The New York Mets drafted the 6’1″ pitcher in the 21st round of the 2007 draft. That is where the story should begin and end. Most players chosen beyond the 2nd round have a very small chance of ever making it to AAA, let alone the majors. This is the not the case though for Dillon Gee, who as a 21st round selection has beaten the odds to make it to the show.
Before joining the Mets full-time this year, here is a snapshot look at Dillon Gee’s career numbers in the minors:
|AAA (3 seasons)||AAA||15||12||4.76||221.1||228||62||215||1.310|
|AA (1 season)||AA||2||0||1.33||27.0||18||5||20||0.852|
|A- (1 season)||A-||3||1||2.47||62.0||57||9||56||1.065|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||8||6||3.25||127.1||117||19||94||1.068|
Dillon Gee was good, but not great in his minor league career based on the above numbers. While he was stellar in the lower minors, Gee was not exactly “lights out” in AAA. In 221.1 innings pitched in Buffalo over parts of three seasons, Dillon Gee had a 4.76 ERA and 1.310 WHIP. By failing to dominate in AAA, one would have realistically expected Gee to require more seasoning before coming to New York or end up running the risk of getting lit up in the majors.
As you can see from Gee’s Mets numbers, quite the opposite has occurred:
|162 Game Avg.||18||6||2.97||37||31||200||156||13||83||125||1.193|
Dillon Gee’s numbers speak for themselves. 8-1 record, 3.32 ERA and 1.184 WHIP. While he walks a shade too many batters (30/51 BB/K), he gives up far fewer hits than innings pitched. Based on his minor league numbers, I do not expect him to keep up his current pace. The 2nd and 3rd times through the league, I expect NL batters will have a better book on Gee. As the amount of innings pitched increases as well in the hot summer months, Gee will likely wear down. In 2009, Gee missed most of the season due to a shoulder injury. The Mets will likely wear kid gloves with him to some extent and not over extend his arm or risk causing further injury.
The New York Mets currently sit at 39-39, a .500 record with almost half a season completed. Not much was expected of a team with a great deal of scandal and turmoil surrounding it. One of the few bright spots though, in addition to the strong play and resurgent seasons by Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, has been the emergence of Dillon Gee. The patchwork pitching of the staff is nothing to write home about. Jonathon Niese, Mike Pelfrey, Chris Capuano and R.A. Dickey have combined with Gee to keep the Mets afloat and the team competitive in ball games. Chris Young fell early in the season and Johan Santana remains out following shoulder surgery. If not for the play of Dillon Gee, the Mets could have found themselves in the basement of the NL East. Instead, the team is in striking distance of the Braves for 2nd place in the division.
We should know by August if we have a possible Rookie of the Year in New York or another hot-shot prospect that had a couple of good months in Dillon Gee. With so much misery surrounding the Mets, it is a pleasure to see a bright hope emerge within its pitching staff. Dillon Gee this year evolved from an unknown minor leaguer that was considered a middle-of-the-road prospect to top starter status. Mets fans are hoping they have caught lightning in a bottle in Gee for the long-term success of its team. In the meantime, Gee will continue to pitch every fifth day in New York and give his team the best chance to succeed. That is really all the Mets can ask for at the end of the day.
*** As a special note, the Dillon Gee feature represents the 100th article in the history of MLB reports. We wanted to thank you, the readers, for all your support. We hope that you enjoy reading our articles as much as we enjoy writing them. At the end of the day, it all comes down to one love for all of us: Baseball. ***
Monday May 23, 2011
MLB reports: As if the New York Mets have not faced enough issues during the past few seasons, owner Fred Wilpon has brought the team’s troubles to the media forefront again. The laughing stock of baseball, only the Dodgers and the McCourt divorce rival the embarrassment of the once proud franchise. In a John Rocker type interview as given to Sports Illustrated in December of 1999, Fred Wilpon recently spoke extensively with The New Yorker. In a no-holds barred interview, Wilpon lashed out at anyone and everyone associated with his team. I could only describe the piece as the final nail in the coffin, as Wilpon is about to receive a backlash from the Mets media, fans and major league baseball that he likely never expected. As the Mets attempted to recover from the Madoff scandal and sell a portion of the team to save itself financially, the Mets are back in the news for all the wrong reasons. What you are about to read is going to shock you.
On Carlos Beltran, who starred for Houston in the 2004 playoffs before signing a seven-year, $119 million deal with the Mets: We had some dummy in New York, Wilpon says, referring to himself, “who paid him based on that one series. He’s 65 to 70 percent of what he was.”
As the game progresses during the interview, a Mets rally expires, during which Wilpon refers to his team with an expletive and, again, with the word lousy. He says the team is “snakebitten” and essentially agrees when Toobin suggests the Mets could be cursed. “He gave sort of a half laugh,” Toobin writes, “and said, ‘You mean’ — and then pantomimed a checked swing of the bat.”
“He’s happiest when he’s talking baseball, arguing about baseball,” Omar Minaya, whom the Wilpons fired as the team’s general manager after last season, told me. “I always felt best when we were arguing over a player and Fred would say, ‘Omar, you’re full of s***'”.
Ike Davis, the sophomore first baseman and the one pleasant surprise for the Mets so far this season, was up next. “Good hitter,” Wilpon said. “S****y team—good hitter.” Davis struck out. Angel Pagan flied out to right, ending the Mets’ threat. “Lousy clubs—that’s what happens.” Wilpon sighed. The Astros put three runs on the board in the top of the second. “We’re snakebitten, baby,” Wilpon said.
And Wilpon has now suggested that he may be willing to sell up to forty-nine per cent of the team. The combination of his financial troubles and the value of the Mets—perhaps more than a billion dollars—has driven speculation that he will have to surrender control of the team.
The first day the architects came to the site, they started saying blah, blah, blah, and I said to them, ‘Let me tell you how this is going to work,’ ” Wilpon told me recently. “ ‘The front of the building is going to look like Ebbets Field. And it’s going to have a rotunda—just like at Ebbets.’ And then I said, ‘Guess what. Here are the plans for Ebbets Field.’ And I handed them over.”
To read the entire Wilpon profile in the New York, click here. If you are a Mets fan, detractor or a general follower of baseball, you won’t want to miss this one. In this day and age of history and instant media, you think that people would learn to be smarter and conduct themselves in the best possible manner. For a man that has lost much of his fortune and jumps from one scandal to another, Fred Wilpon does not appear to have learnt his lesson. After this latest episode, the book may be finally closed on the man who will go down in history for almost destroying the Mets franchise and setting the team back as a result.