Archive for the ‘New York Yankees’ category

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.

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San Francisco Giants Claim Yet Another Mediocre Outfielder

June 21, 2019

The Giants’ quest to obtain every major-league-marginal outfielder in MLB continues.  Today the team claimed Baltimore Orioles wash-out Joey Rickard, who batted .203 for the major league club this year and .203 at AAA Norfolk.  Rickard’s OPS numbers are better, but not good enough to get around that consistent .203 batting average.

My guess is that Rickard will play about as well for the Giants or the Sacramento River Cats about as Mac Williamson has played for the Mariners since they claimed him off waivers from the Giants, which is to say not very well at all.

It seems to me that it isn’t too early to start the fire sale of Giant major leaguers who still have some value to other major league teams.  The Gints are 18.5 games out of the NL West lead and have the worst run differential in the Senior Circuit.  The Giants are only eight games behind the Brewers for the second wild card spot, but have eight teams between themselves and the Brew Crew.

After Madison Bumgarner‘s poor outing in L.A. and the published comment that the Yankees won’t trade Clint Frazier for a “rental” yesterday, a MadBum for Frazier trade looks a lot less likely than it did a few days ago.  Still, the Giants have a lot of other assets than another team might covet, and the Yankees’ resolve to get value for Frazier may waiver as the 2019 trade deadline nears.

It’s fair to say, however, that such trades rarely get completed before the All Star Break, and probably won’t be in the 2019 Giants’ case.  One thing I am more sure of than ever, though, is that at least one 4-A player in Giants’ system will be playing in one of the Asian major leagues in 2020.

CC Sabathia Wins 250th Major League Game

June 20, 2019

CC Sabathia won his 250th major league game, which, if he wasn’t already assured a place in the Hall of Fame, has assured him a place in the Hall of Fame.  250 career wins is almost certainly the contemporary 300 career win standard that guaranteed any pitcher (major scandals excepted) a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Future pitchers will win 250 games.  Justin Verlander will likely do it in 2021 or 2022, but it is certainly debatable whether any pitcher will again win 300 games.

Madison Bumgarner for Clint Frazier?

June 16, 2019

The New York Yankees just sent Clint Frazier down to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre in order to create roster space for the newly acquired Edwin Encarnacion.  Frazier is slashing .283/.330/.513 in 209 plate appearances after going 1-for-5 in today’s game, so I can’t imagine he’s happy to be getting sent down when he’s been hitting as well as he has so far in 2019.

Clearly, the Yankees want Frazier to continue to play every day, and he could be called up in a few days if someone in New York gets hurt.  However, it sure seems likely that Frazier will be on the trade block for pitching, and Madison Bumgarner is near the top of lists of starters who are expected to be available this trade season.

Frazier would be a steep price to pay for a two or three month rental of Bumgarner, who becomes a free agent at season’s end, but the Giants could surely throw in a relief pitcher, or something else of value to even out the trade, as well as assuming some of the remaining $4M to $6M owed to Bumgarner this season to address what are likely to be the Yankees’ salary cap concerns.

Obviously, the Giants’ outfield situation would look a whole lot better with the 24 year Frazier and former No. 5 overall draft pick added to the mix.  I’d have no problem seeing the Giants trade away MadBum to get him, since the team can always be in the running to re-sign him in the off-season if they think he can still help the team going forward.

Luis Robert, Robel Garcia and Other 2019 Hot Starts

May 4, 2019

I thought it would be fun to write a couple of pieces on minor leaguers off to particularly hot starts in 2019.  Here goes:

21 year old $26 million Cuban bonus baby Luis Robert got off to the hottest start anywhere in organized baseball.  In 19 games in the Class A+ Carolina League his 1.432 OPS was a whopping 437 basis points better than the league’s next best hitter.  Not surprisingly, he has already been promoted to the AA Southern League, where he is off to an 0-for-6 start after two games.

Robel Garcia‘s 1.050 OPS leads the AA Southern League by 100 basis points.  He’s already 26 years old and has only played 17 games this season, so it’s probably a fluke.

However, Garcia’s back-story is extremely interesting.  Before this season, baseball reference lists no professional statistics for him since 2013.  He washed out of the Indians’ organization all those years ago, but he apparently kept his baseball career going by playing on Italy’s National team, even though he’s a Dominican.

Garcia makes me wonder how many other players who can play never get the chance because they take too long to develop or don’t get the right breaks.  Some NPB teams have academies in the Dominican Republic that occasionally turn Dominican MLB system wash-outs into servicable NPB major league players.  Xavier Batista is a current example.

Yordan Alvarez is ready for the majors.  The soon-to-be 22 year old Cuban’s 1.421 OPS leads the admittedly hit-happy Pacific Coast League.  Alvarez is an LF/1B and the 35 year old also Cuban Yuli Gurriel isn’t hitting in Houston, so Alvarez may get his first major league shot right quick.

Brian O’Grady‘s 1.189 OPS leads the AAA International League by 58 basis points.  Alas, he turns 27 in two weeks and has yet to play in the majors.  Hopefully, he can get some major league action this season in order to put himself in a position for an Asian payday next year.

21 year old catcher Sam Huff is ready for a promotion.  His 1.189 OPS leads the Class A Sally League by 127 basis points, and he’s thrown out 10 baseball stealers in 16 attempts.

25 year old 1Bman Chris Gittens has a 1.264 OPS, which leads the AA Eastern League by 110 basis points.  He’s also ready for a promotion.

Trey Cabbage leads the Class A Midwest League with a 1.029 OPS.  I wonder if his teammates call him “Cole Slaw” or “Trey Cole”.

What is former NL home run champ Chris Carter doing in the Mexican League?  He’s leading this hot weather hitters’ league with a 1.397 OPS.

Is Willians Astudillo Baseball’s Best Pure Hitter?

April 28, 2019

I saw that Willians Astudillo was placed on the 10-Day Injured List today, and it made me sad.  Astudillo is one of MLB’s most interesting players.

Sometime last season I read a post on fangraphs.com about Astudillo‘s unique skill set: he almost never walks or strikes out.  He also apparently can hit .300 at the major league level.

Swing at everything — hit .300.  That sounds like baseball’s best pure hitter.

Sure, small sample size.  Sure, his defense isn’t great, and he runs like a truck with the grounded into double plays to follow, but fangraphs.com says he’s been worth $7.9 million in only 44 career games.

At age 27 and listed as 5’9″ and 225 lbs, Astudillo is still something of a dark horse, which makes him easier to root for.  Yogi Berra is a better, 1950’s version of Astudillo.  So maybe Astudillo could still develop the kind of power Yogi had and become a true, if brief, superstar.

Astudillo also reminds me of the Round Mound of Pound, like Berra a historically great bad-ball hitter.  If I were AL pitchers, I would not throw Astudillo more than one strike per at bat until he proves he will take a walk.

Maybe Astudillo will stop hitting when pitchers figure out his weaknesses and throw him fewer stikes, maybe he won’t.  He is an exceptional talent, and I’m sorry he he will be out for any period in a season where he still needs to prove he’s a major league player.

It’s apparently a ham-string injury, so Astudillo could miss well more than 10 games.  You need to do all of your stretching regularly when you are a 27 year old player trying to establish himself.

Anaheim Angels and Mike Trout in Agreement on 10-Year $360 Million Extension

March 20, 2019

The Angels and Mike Trout are reportedly in agreement on a ten-year extension for the 2021 through 2030 seasons that will pay $360M for these seasons and nearly $430M guaranteed going forward.  Mike Trout is certainly worth a record-setting deal, although I have my doubts about Trout’s ability to remain healthy during the second half of the commitment.

Some commentators think the Angels got a bargain, given that Trout has arguably been worth about twice the annual contract average since becoming a full-time major leaguer in 2012.  Even so, $36M per season takes up a big chunk of budget (although the big market Angels can afford it), and Trout can’t win by himself no matter how well he plays, as evidenced by the fact that he has played in only three post-season games in his eight seasons with the Halos.

My guess is that this will be a great contract for the Angels for the next six seasons through 2024, but will become an albatross like Albert Pujols‘ deal, which still has three expensive years to run even though Prince Albert is no longer even a replacement level player.  Mike Trout is just too big (listed at 6’2″ and 235 lbs, roughly the same as Pujols) to expect that he will age gracefully once he passes the age of 32.  It could happen, but I sure wouldn’t bet on it.

In short, it is probably a fair contract that well benefits all concerned.  The Angels get to hold on to the game’s best player for all or nearly all of his major league career; Mike Trout gets a record-setting deal that well tops the deals that Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Giancarlo Stanton got; and future major league superstars and their agents get a new record to shoot for in future contract negotiations.  It’s a win-win all the way around, and, as I like to say, Mike Trout won’t be going to bed hungry any time soon, even if he did leave some money on the table.