Archive for July 2016

Yankees Score Still More Talent for Andrew Miller

July 31, 2016

The New York Yankees traded reliever Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians for four prospects in a deal that looks as lucrative for the Bombers as the Aroldis Chapman trade to the Cubs.  And the Yanks still have Dellin Betances to be their new closer.

Clint Frazier is obviously the key piece in this deal.  He was the fifth pick of the 2013 draft, and at age 21, his .825 OPS was the 9th best in the AA Eastern League more than half way through the 2016 season.

In addition to Frazier, the Yankees obtained another 1st round draft pick in Justus Sheffield and two late-round draft picks in Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen, who have developed into legitimate high-minors prospects.

As with the Aroldis Chapman trade, it’s an exceptional haul for a relief pitcher, even one as good as Andrew Miller.  However, the Yankees did turn around and trade prospect Jose Campos for veteran Tyler Clippard, presumably so their 2016 bullpen doesn’t completely fall apart.

If the Yankees were going to walk away from competing for the post-season in 2016, they at least set themselves up future success with all the terrific young talent they obtained in these two trade-deadline moves.

San Francisco Giants Trade for Eduardo Nunez

July 29, 2016

The Giants obtained Twins’ 3B/SS Eduardo Nunez in exchange for starting pitcher prospect Adalberto Mejia.  The move solves a problem the Giants had at 3B since Matt Duffy got hurt, but it certainly has the potential to be a deal the Giants regret for many years.

At age 29, Nunez is having the best season of his MLB career, but he doesn’t have much power and he walks very little (career .312 on-base percentage).  He could possibly get hot for the last two months of the season, but the odds are just as good that he has trouble adjusting to a new league and playing in more of a pitchers’ park than the one he played in in Minnesota.  He certainly doesn’t look like the big bat the Giants need to shake themselves out of their post-All Star Game doldrums.

Meanwhile the 23 year old Mejia looks almost ready to start a successful major league career.  In seven starts in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, Mejia has struck out 43 batters in 40.2 innings pitched while allowing 42 hits and only 11 walks.  His 4.20 ERA isn’t impressive but that’s down from 5.71 four starts ago.

Could Mejia be the next Francisco Liriano, who you will remember the Giants traded away with Joe Nathan to the Twins in 2003’s disastrous A.J. Pierzynski trade?  I think the odds of that happening are about as good as Nunez getting hot and leading the Giants to the post-season this year.

Chicago Cubs All in for 2016

July 26, 2016

The Cubs really, really wanted Aroldis Chapman for the next two months and the post-season.  It is little short of amazing that the Cubs would give up this much talent for a 2+ month rental, but that is what happens when you haven’t won a World Series in more than 100 years and you can taste the possibility this season.

In my mind this trade is an unmitigated win for the Yankees.  While they are still kinda, sorta in the play-off race, they turned two-months of Chapman (and the sandwich pick that would have come with tendering Chapman the one-year deal at season’s end) into some really excellent young talent in Gleyber Torres and Billy McKinney.  They also get a serviceable major league pitcher in Adam Warren and a B-grade prospect in Rashad Crawford.  That’s an awful lot of talent for a two-month relief pitcher rental, even if the relief pitcher is Chapman.

The new budget-conscious Yankees will be out from under Mark Teixeira’s contract at the end of this season and could well end up signing Chapman as a free agent this off-season if they want him back.  Since Chapman was just traded mid-season, the Yankees could re-sign him without losing a draft pick.  Meanwhile, they’ve done a lot to rebuild their farm system in one fell swoop.

It will be hard for New York’s win-now fans to accept, but the 2016 club surely does not look like a team that would make the play-offs, no matter what the current standings are.  When your only hitter (in a hitters’ park no less) with an OPS over .800 is 39 years old, it’s hard to argue that some rebuilding is not in order.

How Many More Starts Will the Angels Give Tim Lincecum?

July 24, 2016

To say that Tim Lincecum‘s comeback with the Angels hasn’t gone well would be an understatement.  After allowing eight runs, all earned, in only 1.1 innings pitched in today’s loss to the Astros, Timmy now has an ERA of 8.70 through seven starts for the Halos.

Lincecum has 28 Ks in 30 IP, but when opposing hitters put bat to ball, it goes a long way, with nine HRs served up so far.  This seems to be a trend in today’s game — it seems that many pitchers who are still striking out almost a batter an inning are still getting their brains beaten out.  I assume that almost every hitter in baseball is now swinging for the fences all the time and in any count in today’s game, meaning that there are a lot of strikeouts and seemingly high strikeout rates don’t mean what they once did.

It’s hard to see the Angels giving Lincecum more than one or two more starts, given the results so far, before they give up on him, and try someone from their minor league system.  In fact, an argument can be made that the Angels would be better off promoting 24 year old Nate Smith  or 25 year old Tyler Skaggs right now, and either sending Lincecum back to Salt Lake City or just releasing him and writing off the couple of million they owe Lincecum for the rest of the 2016 season.

At least with the youngsters they might yet be developed into serviceable major league arms.

Will the Chicago White Sox Trade Chris Sale?

July 24, 2016

I read today on mlbtraderumors.com that the White Sox are “listening” to trade offers on Chris Sale.  That made me curious to see how long Sale has until free agency.

Sale will have six years of service time at the end of this season, but he signed what has turned out to be a sweetheart deal for the Pale Hose, which has him receiving a guaranteed $12 million in 2017 followed by two team options for 2018 and 2019 for a grand total of only $26 million more.  It doesn’t get much better than that for a team in today’s market for a pitcher with Sale’s chops.

In short, why would you trade a No. 1 starter with three more full seasons of control on these terms?  You wouldn’t, except for the fact that I read on espn.com today that Sale and White Sox management aren’t getting along.

The White Sox pulled Sale from his start tonight when he got into it in the clubhouse with someone from the front office.  Sale complained about having to wear a throw-back uniform, which sounds like a dumb complaint unless the uniform is overly baggy or otherwise uncomfortable, and it escalated from there.  However, the argument reportedly never became physical.

The back-story on this is that Sale was one of the ChiSox players most unhappy with the way Executive Vice President Kenny Williams handled the Adam Laroche situation this spring.  Also, after a tremendous start to the 2016 season (they were in first place as late as May 27th), the Sox have since gone over a cliff and are now in fourth place in their division, 10.5 games back.  That’s going to make for some very unhappy campers in the White Sox clubhouse.

Sale’s season has mimicked the team’s.  He was almost unhittable through his May 19th start.  Since then, his ERA has jumped from 1.58 to 3.18 over his last ten starts.

If you were going to trade Sale for the best possible return, now might be the time to do it.  He’s 14-3 and he’s controllable for all those future seasons at a bargain price.  However, his strikeout rate is the lowest of his career so far, and he’s been worked pretty hard the last few seasons, at least for a guy who is listed as 6’6″ and 180 lbs.  In other words, there are indications a major arm injury could be in his not so distant future.

All of that said, I don’t fully understand how the strictly verbal argument that has been reported results in Sale being pulled from his start.  Obviously, he’s the team ace, and in today’s game I don’t see how management apparently sending a message that the best player on the team is still just another employee who has to toe management’s line is going to create a winning mentality in the clubhouse.

South Korea’s KBO Dealing with Gambling Scandal

July 22, 2016

The KBO is dealing with another gambling scandal.  23 year old pitcher Lee Tae-yang has been indicted for accepting 20 million won ($17,540) to allow runs in a game in May, and the South Korean military is investigating Moon woo-ram, a player currently performing his two-year compulsory military service by playing baseball for the military team in KBO’s Futures (minor) league, for accepting half that amount in clothing and a watch.

Young KBO players aren’t paid a whole lot.  Lee was making 100,000,000 won this year (roughly $88,000), and Moon was likely making a lot less serving in the military.  This makes them susceptible to being bribed to fix games.  However, KBO salaries are now  pretty high for players who reach free agency after nine years of service and can command multi-year contracts paying more than $1,000,000 per season.

KBO dealt with a similar scandal four years ago, resulting in two players being banned from the KBO for life.  They also received suspended criminal sentences.

KBO is on a pace to break last year’s all-time attendance record, but game fixing scandals sure won’t help.

It’s always disappointing to see young players throw away their careers in this way.  Lee, in particular, had promise, and I doubt that many 23 year olds in South Korea make even $88,000 a year.  Korean society highly values age and experience, and you have to work your way up from the bottom to make the big money once you have put in the years of hard work.

Former Cardinals Scouting Director Gets 46 months in Prison for Stealing Astros’ Data

July 19, 2016

I was a bit taken aback a few minutes ago when I read that former St. Louis Cardinal scouting director Chris Correa was just sentenced to 46 months in prison for breaking into the Houston Astros’ computer network and stealing the ‘Stros scouting reports.  I never expected it would result in criminal sentencing, as opposed to civil monetary damages.

David Barron’s article in the Houston Chronicle has most of the details.  What it apparently boils down to is that the judge treated this like any other serious cyber-crime.  Obviously, big corporations have long since made sure that Congress criminalized the stealing of their valuable proprietary information.

Further, the Court obviously wanted to send a message and set an example in this high-profile case, making a point to state during sentencing that cyber-theft basically costs everyone money by forcing them to buy increasingly costly systems designed to prevent hacking.  The judge has a point there.

Also, Correa accessed the Astros’ system 60 times in a 35 day period, far more than was originally reported.  Correa was also fined $279,000.

It remains to be seen what penalty MLB imposes on the Cardinals.  I would expect it to be steep in light of the punishment Correa received.  MLB would look bad giving the Cardinals a slap on the wrist after Correa received almost four years in the can.

My guess is that the Cardinals will be ordered to pay the Astros some seven or eight figure sum, and more importantly lose one or more future first round draft picks.