Archive for the ‘Minnesota Twins’ category

Will the Baltimore Orioles Finally Dump Chris Davis?

August 8, 2019

News out of Charm City is that Chris Davis had to be restrained from going after manager Brandon Hyde today after being pinch hit for in the bottom of the 5th inning.  You know what?  You don’t get to cop an attitude when you’re an aging slugger with a .589 OPS in August.  Not now, not ever.

If I were the Orioles’ General Manager, or whomever holds the real power in the Orioles’ organization, I’d release Chris Davis tomorrow and eat the remaining $69M+ on his contract.  When a player is playing as far as Davis is playing below replacement, you just have to eat the contract and hope somebody else is willing to pay him the major league minimum — the same cost to the O’s as the replacement level player they should be able to find to replace him.  A team can’t afford to accept attitude from a worse-than-marginal player no matter how much he is being paid.

It’s uncertain if Hyde will last beyond the end of the 2019 season, but that’s beside the point.  Even if Hyde is proving he’s no better as a manager than Davis is a 1B/DH, you can’t hold onto a player who isn’t performing now and isn’t likely to perform in the future.  Hyde’s record as a manager would certainly be better if word wasn’t coming from somewhere higher that he has to keep playing Davis solely because of all the money the O’s committed to Davis.

Just admit that a mistake was made, and move on.  The Orioles are so bad that it is certain that no matter how much of a comeback Davis could potentially make going forward, he won’t be good enough to make the Orioles a post-season contending team.  Find that replacement-level player now, and try to develop a real star for 2020 or 2021 or 2022 and on.

Chris Davis’ contract is yet another reason why teams have gotten a whole lot stingier on free agents thanks to sabrmetrics than they once were.  Hope springs eternal, but the objective data says that free agents are way overpaid when they ought to be merely overpaid.  For every Chris Davis and Albert Pujols, there is a Nelson Cruz, but those aren’t great odds.  And teams have been generally stingy with their contracts to Cruz since his PED positive test to their great benefit.

The objective lesson is treat ’em all like Nelson Cruz and then some.  The Mariners gave Cruz a four-year $57M deal going into this age 34 season, so even in Cruz’s case, the team took some risk.  Teams collectively only benefit by holding the line on free agent salaries, and superstar players will still get paid because many teams still believe and will likely continue to believe that they are only one or two free agents away from contention.

If Davis gets the axe in Baltimore, it will be interesting see if another team signs him to a major league contract, even at the MLB minimum salary.   If Davis can’t hit playing half his games in Baltimore, is a change of scenery really going to make a difference.  Maybe the Rangers would sign him to play at the major league level — Davis is from Texas, and there’s no better place to hit in the Junior Circuit than the Ballpark at Arlington (or whatever it is now called).  The O’s should let the Rangers give Davis a shot.

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Busy Trade Deadline Day for San Francisco Giants

August 1, 2019

After being up in the air about how they were going to go into the trade deadline, the Giants made a flury of moves that kind of split the difference.  The Giants sent away relievers Sam Dyson, Mark Melancon, Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black, held onto Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, and added 2Bmen Scooter Gennett and Mauricio Dubon and a bunch of B and C-grade prospects.

Dyson was the only really important piece for the Giants in 2019, and the Giants got three prospects for his last 1.33 seasons of control.  The three prospects are Prelander Berroa, a 19 year old right-hander who has never pitched above the rookie league level; Jaylin Davis, a just turned 25 year old outfielder who is a former 24th round draft pick but is having a big year this year in the high minors; and Kei-Wei Teng, a big (6’4″, 260 lbs) Taiwanese right-hander pitching well at full season A ball this year at age 20.

After a promotion from AA, Jaylin Davis was slashing .331/.405/.708 after 41 games for AAA Rochester, and he runs well. However, his career minor league .812 OPS is probably a better reflection of his true talents.  MLB.com doesn’t rank any of the three prospects the Giants received as being in the Twins’ top 30.

The Giants got a big return from the Brewers for Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black.  Just turned 25 2Bman Mauricio Dubon was slashing .297/.333/.475 after 427 plate appearances at AAA San Antonio.  Dubon was born in Honduras and went to high school in Sacramento.  He is just the second Honduran born player in major league history — the first was Gerald Young.

The trades involving Mark Melancon and Scooter Gennett were mostly about moving salary for the selling teams.  The Braves will reportedly pay all of Melancon’s remaining contract, which is close to $19M through the end of the 2020 season.  The prospects the Giants got in return reflect it.  Righties Tristan Beck and Dan Winkler don’t impress much.

Beck is a former 4th round draft pick out of Stanford, but missed all of the 2017 season to a stress fracture in his back.  Now age 23, he has an ugly 5.65 ERA in the normally pitcher-friendly Class A+ Florida State League after eight starts this season.  After a fine major league campaign last year at age 28, Dan Winkler pitched his way out of the Braves’ bullpen this year and has had trouble throwing strikes for AAA Gwinnett.

The Giants gave the Reds “cash considerations” for Scooter Gennett, which I assume means that the Giants will be paying all of the remaining $3.25 million owed to Gennett, plus maybe another $25,000 or $50,000.  Gennett has been awful this year since coming back from an injury.  It doesn’t seem likely he’ll hit better in pitcher-friendly San Francisco than he did in hitter-friendly Cincinnati, but you never know.  One thing is for certain — the additions of Dubon and Gennett mean that Joe Panik‘s playing time will be limited going forward unless he gets hot immediately.  It also seems almost certain the Giants will non-tender Panik this off-season.

In another very minor move, the Giants swapped lefty Jacob Lopez for LF/1B Joe McCarthy.  I’m doubtful either player ever reaches the majors, but again, you never know.

The Giants promoted Derek Rodriguez, Andrew Suarez and Jandel Gustave today to replace the traded away bullpen pieces.  None of the three deserved the promotion more than Sam Selman.  However, the odds that all three of Rodriguez, Suarez and Gustave can hold their major league roster spots seem slim, so Selman may get his shot soon enough.

Did the Texas Rangers Get Lucky Or Is It Just One of Those Things that Makes Baseball Fun

July 12, 2019

Lance Lynn won today’s only game, an MLB-best 12th win against MLB’s 3rd best team.  The three-year $30M deal the Rangers gave Lynn this past off-season looked like an over-pay, given that free agent contracts are down and Lynn had had to settle for a one-year $12M deal for 2018.

It’s probably safe to say that the 2018 deal was too stingy and the 2019-2021 deal was too generous, at least until Lynn pitched in 2019 like he was worth the whole $30M (fangraphs.com says he’s been worth $31.8M so far in 2019).  Lynn wasn’t great in 2018, at least until the Twins traded him to the Yankees, so the 2017-2018 off-season lack of interest seemed to be an accurate reflection of his likely future value.

It seems likely that teams have been overvaluing the draft pick loss that comes with the qualifying offer (which the Cards had extended Lynn), although free agent frugality always benefits the teams on average.  Free agents have been overvalued in terms of where MLB is currently; there isn’t much doubt of that.  MLB sorely needs another round of expansion to let the superstars stand out and to keep the oldsters starring for another season or three.

Teams don’t err by erring on the side of frugality with free agents.  Still, one of the things that keeps baseball interesting is that the future can’t accurately be predicted in all circumstance.  Sometimes the Lance Lynns of baseball will make the apparent overpays look like strokes of pure genius.

I don’t think the Rangers’ management really knew something nobody else did.  I suspect that Lynn’s great 2019 (so far) was a lot of good luck, possibly but not necessarily favored by some good forecasting.

All of that said, the Rangers still need to make the play-offs this season.  At age 32 this season and listed 6’5″ and 280 lbs, it’s hard to imagine that Lynn can continue to be great even only as far into the future as 2020 and 2021.  I will admit, however, that I never suspected that CC Sabathia, all 6’6″ and 300 lbs of him, could still be pitching effectively on the eve of his 39th birthday.  In my mind that’s nothing short of a modern-day baseball miracle.

Wow! The Twins Are Really Good Again

June 2, 2019

After today’s win, the Minnesota Twins have the best record in baseball and they’re playing that well with the best run differential in baseball.  With a 10.5 game lead in the AL Central, the Twins already look like a lock to win the division although we aren’t quite at the 60 game mark.

I used to write about the Twins a lot back when they were a small-market can-do team.  It was a lot harder to find good things to write about the Twins when they weren’t winning and couldn’t seem to catch a break.

It was a long re-build but it’s working this year.  Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton are all-home grown and only Rosario is as old as 27 this season.  The same for Jose Berrios, who looks like he’s going to be a great pitcher for however long his arm lasts.

Also, the bargain free agent signings have worked out better this year, with waiver-claimed C. J. Cron posting an .866 OPS, Martin Perez winning seven games, and Jonathan Schoop posting an .816 so far.  Relatively highly paid Marwin Gonzalez has been the only significant dud.

Jake Odorizzi is having a great year going into free agency.  The bullpen looks like the team’s best in some years.

What will slow the Twinkies’ down are the fact that’s highly unlike their catchers will keep hitting the way they have so far and their pitchers, in particular, could get hurt.

I’m glad to see that Ehire Adrianza is still a fine back-up middle infielder, and a little sad to see that Adalberto Mejia is hurt after pitching ineffectively.   Their both former Giants, and I root for them to do well in Minnesota.  I still like Williams Astudillo, but he’s got to start walking or getting hit by pitches enough to force pitchers to throw him a few more strikes, and he hits into a fearsome number of double-plays.

 

What Will Cody Bellinger End Up Batting in 2019?

May 18, 2019

After today’s game in Cincinnati, Cody Bellinger is batting a lusty .404 46 games into the 2019 Dodgers’ season.  What might he end up hitting when the year is out?

I’ll go out on a limb and say that Bellinger won’t hit .380 this season, let alone .400.  The last player to hit .380 in a season was Tony Gwynn in 1994 when Gwynn batted .394, the closest any player has come to .400 since Ted Williams last did it in 1941.  Since 1941, only three other players have batted .380 in a season: Ted Williams batted .388 in 1957, Rod Carew batted .388 in 1977 and George Brett batted .390 in 1980.

By my calculation, Bellinger would have to bat .372 for the rest of the season (assuming that Bellinger stays healthy) in order to hit .380 for the season.  Seems unlikely.

The last player to bat .370 or better in a season was Ichiro when he hit .372 in 2004.  While a great season and a great hitter, Barry Bonds had hit .370 in 2002 and both Nomar Garciaparra and Todd Helton had batted .372 in 2000.

To hit .370 for the season, Bellinger would need to hit about .356 the rest of the way.  Certainly doable, but I’d think certainly less likely than not.

The last player to bat .360 or better in a season was Joe Mauer when he batted .365 in 2009.  As with Ichiro’s 2004, Mauer’s 2009 was not wildly better than other batting leaders of the previous few seasons:  Chipper Jones had batted .364 in 2008, and Magglio Ordonez had batted .363 in 2007.

To bat .360 on the season, Bellinger would need to hit .344 the rest of the way.  That certainly seems doable, given Bellinger’s talent level and the facts that he is a left-handed hitter who runs extremely well.

The last player to bat .350 in a season was Josh Hamilton, who batted .359 in 2010.  To hit .350 for the season, Bellinger would only need to hit .328 the rest of the way.  I’d be willing to bet even money on Bellinger hitting at least .350 this season if he can stay healthy.

Tim Lincecum’s and Jake Peavy’s Hall of Fame Chances

May 5, 2019

Jake Peavy officially retired today although he hadn’t actually pitched professionally since 2016.  Peavy and Tim Lincecum had very similar major league careers, and it got me thinking about their respective Hall of Fame chances.  After Lincecum’s failed comeback in the Rangers’ organization last year, it’s pretty clear Timmy’s professional career is over too.

I don’t think either has a good shot at making the Hall of Fame.  Both pitchers were the National League’s best for roughly four or five years, but were basically back-of-the-rotation starters for the second halves of their respective careers when injuries wore them down.  Peavy lasted long enough to finish with a career record of 152-126, while Lincecum finished a modest 110-89.

Lincecum won two Cy Young Awards to Peavy’s one, Lincecum pitched for three World Series winners to Peavy’s two, and Lincecum pitched two no-hitters while Peavy threw none.  But, as noted above, Peavy won 42 more games.

In my mind, pitchers with career highs of a Jake Peavy or Tim Lincecum still need to win at least 190 games in today’s MLB to be realistic Hall of Fame contenders.  Another similar, if even better short-time ace, Johan Santana (career 139-78 record), hasn’t received much love from Hall of Fame voters.  In his first and only year of HOF eligibility, Santana received so few votes (10 or 2.4%) that he was dropped from the HOF ballot the next year 2019.

Given where the game is going, I think that Santana will get more love from future Veterans’ Committees and could eventually make the HOF.  I don’t think either Lincecum or Peavy will, however.  At least both Lincecum and Peavy won a lot of awards, multiple World Series rings, and made a boatload of money.  They’ll never forget Lincecum in San Francisco or Peavy in San Diego, so it’s hard to feel too sorry for them.

Hot Pitchers

May 4, 2019

23 year old Zac Gallen is ready for his major league promotion.  He’s leading the AAA Pacific Coast League with an 0.81 ERA, his 38Ks is tied for 1st, and the Marlins suck.  Gallen could pitch in relief to start with or one of the Marlins’ currently not very effective young starters could be moved to the bullpen to make way for Gallen.

It’s worth noting, though, that New Orleans with its below sea level air appears to be one of the PCL’s best pitchers’ parks — three of the circuit’s top five ERA leaders play for the Baby Cakes.

Rico Garcia (1.82 ERA, 35 Ks in 24.2 IP) deserves a promotion to AAA.  Devin Smeltzer has already received a promotion to AAA Rochester after recording an 0.60 ERA and 33 Ks in 30 IP at AA Pensacola.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that top two-way prospect Brendan McKay is going to be mainly a pitcher at the major league level.  In 14 AA games, he has a .481 OPS as a hitter, but on the mound he currently has a 2.41 ERA with 33 Ks in 18.2 IP.  If he ever catches up with the bat, he’ll already be a major league starter that no one’s going to want to f@#$ around with.

Great namers MacKenzie Gore and Ljay Newsom are dominating the Class A+ California League.  Their respective 1.32 and 1.47 ERAs are the only ones under 2.00.  Gore has stuck out 38 batters in 26.1 IP, and Newsom has struck out 54 batters in 36.2 IP.  Each has allowed exactly four walks so far.  Gore is the better prospect, because at age 20, he’s two years younger.

22 year old Dominican Cristian Javier is impressing in the Class A+ Carolina League with an 0.73 ERA and 32 Ks in 24.2 IP.

Former No. 1 overall draft pick and recent no-hit throwing Case Mize is not the best pitcher in the pitcher-friendly Class A+ Florida State League.  While Mize has recorded an 0.35 ERA with 25 Ks in 26 IP, Bailey Ober has a perfect 0 ERA (and run average) with 26 Ks in 24 IP.  Meanwhile Damon Jones has an 0.77 ERA with 36 Ks in 23.1 IP.