Tag Archives: hot stove

Today in Baseball: San Diego Padres, Offseason Superstars?

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We’re at a point in the offseason where things are sort of at a stand-still- well, at least for most teams. Big-market, East-coast teams like the Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox haven’t made any largely impactful moves since the Winter Meetings, if not earlier.

However, there are a few Western teams that haven’t gotten stuck in this aforementioned stalemate, namely the San Diego Padres.

With their new General Manager, former Texas Rangers’ assistant GM A.J. Preller, the Pads have been one of, if not the, most active team thus far this offseason.

First, they traded a package centered around Yasmani Grandal to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp…

Then, they traded a bunch of prospects to Tampa Bay for Wil Myers…

Afterwards, they traded a couple of young pitchers to Oakland for All-Star catcher, Derek Norris.

And finally, this past Friday, the Padres received Justin Upton from Atlanta in exchange for a few high-profile prospects.

San Diego’s positional lineup/starting rotation/bullpen at this point in time is as follows:

C: Derek Norris
1B: Yonder Alonso
2B: Jedd Gyorko
3B: Yangervis Solarte
SS: Clint Barmes
LF: Justin Upton
CF: Wil Myers
RF: Matt Kemp

SP1: Andrew Cashner
SP2: Tyson Ross
SP3: Ian Kennedy
SP4: Odrisamer Despaigne
SP5: Brandon Morrow/Robbie Erlin

RP: Alex Torres
SU: Kevin Quackenbush
CL: Joaquin Benoit

Obviously, that [offensive] lineup has four bright spots, each of the four acquisitions that I previously mentioned. Last season, those four guys combined for 70 home runs, a .262 batting average, 237 runs, and 281 RBIs. Which is particularly extraordinary when compared to the combined stats of last year’s three outfielders and catcher (Seth Smith, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, and Yasmani Grandal): 36 home runs, a .238 batting average, 173 runs, and 145 RBIs.

However, those four players don’t make up the entire Pads lineup…

Yonder Alonso was, as of 2011, the 2nd best prospect in the Padres system and the 30th best in the entire MLB. While he hasn’t lived up to the hype thus far, and he’s coming off of a bad season in 2014, he’s still only 27 years old. His main downfall has been his inability to hit left-handed pitching, and if he can conquer that, he has the chance to be a solid starting first baseman.

Jedd Gyorko is another Padres prospect who hasn’t panned out fully so far. In 2012, he was the 2nd best prospect in the Padres system, and the 52nd in all of baseball. He has tremendous power- hitting for 33 home runs in his first two seasons (2013, 2014) in the MLB. He came up as a third baseman, so moving him to second base originally came with some struggles, but he has started to settle in. The real concern with Gyorko is his overall bat- he hits for a horrendous average. Of course, it’s a relatively small sample size, but thus far, he has a .231 lifetime batting average. If he, and the lineup, can overcome his inability to hit for contact, the Padres will be in good shape.

Then there’s Yangervis Solarte… He rose to fame as the unheralded backup infielder who made it into the Yankees lineup early last season. While he started off playing phenomenally, he just couldn’t keep up the pace. He had been sent down to the minors by the time the Yanks’ traded him to San Diego for Chase Headley. While he hit for a better average and nearly as many home runs during the remainder of the season, Solarte still looked like a different player than the scorching young phenom from early in the season. Given the fact that he hadn’t played in the MLB until last season, it is unclear as to whether he’ll ever be that same player, or if it was a fluke.

And finally, there’s Clint Barmes. The 35 year old journeyman seems more like a stopgap for the Padres. Maybe they plan on trading for another shortstop, or signing someone else… Or maybe they plan on starting Barmes for a year or two until a better opportunity arises, whether it be from a prospect or an acquisition. Either way, Barmes shouldn’t be tremendously impactful, regardless of how often, or for how long, he plays.

The Padres starting rotation looks pretty good, as well. Andrew Cashner had some phenomenal games last season, and it can be expected that he improve even further this season. Tyson Ross looks like a star in the making, and is also a prospect for tremendous growth in 2015. Ian Kennedy also put together a nice season last year, and although he’s been quite inconsistent throughout his career, could potentially replicate that pace next season. The Cuban import Odrisamer Despaigne had several dominant outings last season, and could be a nice #4 starter. Finally, the young-gun Robbie Erlin and the veteran Brandon Morrow will fight it out for the fifth spot.

Finally, the bullpen, while efficient, is an area in which they could improve. Quackenbush and Torres were largely reliable out of the ‘pen last season, so the real concern lies with closer Joaquin Benoit. The 37 year old only had 12 save opportunities last season, so with his age coupled with his lack of experience as a full-time closer, Benoit could end up being a major concern later on.

Overall, it can be assumed that the Padres aren’t done making acquisitions. They have a surplus of outfielders, with Seth Smith, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, Carlos Quentin, and others practically in limbo. Maybe they trade some of those guys for a bullpen arm, a shortstop, a third baseman, or even a starting pitcher… Maybe they flip the newly acquired Wil Myers to Philly for Cole Hamels… Maybe they sign Cuban shortstop Yoan Moncada…

All in all, it remains to be seen what A.J. Preller will do next…

Today in Baseball: The Offseason Just Keeps on Trucking

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After a highly eventful Winter Meetings, this past weekend was relatively quiet in terms of MLB transactions. We basically just saw the finalization of moves made at the Meetings, like the Twins-Ervin Santana signing, the Wade Miley-to-the-Red Sox trade, and the Astros signing of two relievers- Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek.

However, today, a few MLB transactions came to fruition:

For one, the Astros signed shortstop Jed Lowrie to a three-year deal. The deal guarantees $23 million, with another $5 million potentially added, which will be dependent on a 2018 team option. Lowrie developed in Boston, playing for the Red Sox from 2008 to 2011. After the 2011 season, he was traded to the Houston Astros in a deal that sent reliever Mark Melancon to the Red Sox. After playing just one season with the Astros, he was shipped to Oakland in exchange for a package centered around power-hitting DH/1B, Chris Carter. After playing two seasons in Oakland, Lowrie hit the free agent market. His return to Houston should be a substantial upgrade for the team, who was previously expected to play Marwin Gonzalez at short. Lowrie is a horrific baserunner, especially when you consider that he’s a shortstop, usually a position that warrants speed. However, he’s an above-average hitter, and has had some flashes of good power, and he’s quite a solid defender.

Lowrie was previously considered to be one of the many options to fill the Mets apparent void at shortstop, but now that he’s off of the market, the Mets will have to look elsewhere for such. Stephen Drew, Yoan Moncada, Jung-Ho Kang, and Brad Miller appear to be the most likely options as of today (if they don’t stick with Wilmer Flores).

The other notable move of the day was the Yankees re-signing of third baseman Chase Headley, who they’ll pay $52 million over 4 years. Headley, one of the top third basemen in the MLB today, was traded to the Yankees at last season’s trade deadline. He’s mainly known for his tremendous 2012 season, in which he won a Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, and led the NL in RBIs, but that’s not the only season in which he’s impressed. He was one of the Yankees top priorities this season, and their locking him up should be viewed as a positive move. This will likely send either Alex Rodriguez or the former Met, Chris Young, to the bench, while the other will play Designated Hitter.

Lastly, on the homefront, the Mets made two moves today, one of which resulted from the other. The Mets agreed to sign John Mayberry to a 1-year, $1.45 million contract on the last day of the Winter Meetings, last Thursday. The deal was finalized today. While not a tremendously “sexy” move, it shouldn’t go unnoticed… After signing Michael Cuddyer to play right-field, the Mets had three main priorities: signing a right-handed backup outfielder, acquiring a starting shortstop, and acquiring a left-handed relief pitcher. Through this signing, they’ve achieved one of those goals. The 30-year old outfielder hasn’t been very consistent over his six-year career, but he has displayed tremendous power at points. As a specialty backup player, Mayberry could be quite impactful. He’s a lefty-killer, an unbelievable pinch hitter, and someone whose power doesn’t apply to Citi Field, as we saw throughout his six seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies.

In order to clear up room for Mayberry on the 40-man roster, the Mets were forced to DFA Gonzalez Germen. Germen, who has constantly been called-up and sent-down by the Mets since 2013, is a 27 year old Dominican reliever. He is expected to either be sent to the Mets AAA affiliates, the Las Vegas 51s, or to hit the open market.

Today, we saw the Mets lose out on a shortstop candidate, see their crosstown rivals sign a nice player, add a solid bench piece, and DFA a fringe-MLB reliever. Now, they just need to get a shortstop…

Nick Markakis signs with Atlanta Braves

MLB: JUL 20 Rays at Orioles

Outfielder Nick Markakis has signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves. The contract will be for 4-years, $45 million. This deal was first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan.

The former Baltimore Oriole is a two-time Gold Glove Award winner, and while he’s never been selected to an All Star Game, he has been a very good hitter throughout his career.

After trading away one of the best outfielders in the MLB just a few weeks ago, they’ve just signed another player in that same category. As of now, Markakis will man right field while the Upton brothers will be placed in left and center field.

That is, unless Justin Upton is traded. He has been on the trading block for virtually all of this offseason, with teams like the Mariners and A’s at the forefront of that conversation. With the addition of another outfielder, this could be the end for Justin Upton in Atlanta.

While Markakis is surely a good fit in Atlanta, this pairing, just like any other, is not without its pitfalls. Virtually all of his power is towards right field, and what with Turner Field having a quite deeper right field than Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a slight dip in his home run numbers can be expected.

In regard to his old team, the Baltimore Orioles, several former teammates of his have been publicly disappointed by the move:

The Orioles are set for a large regression next season. With Nelson Cruz in Seattle, Markakis in Atlanta, and Andrew Miller likely on his way out, the O’s are on the verge of losing their most productive hitter, fielder, and reliever, respectively. As a result, they’ve already seen a major drop off in right field (now David Lough) and at designated hitter (now Steve Pearce). If they do indeed lose out on Miller, their bullpen will be in shambles as well. With the re-emergence of the Red Sox and Blue Jays, don’t be surprised if the O’s go from a 96-win team to an 80-win one…

Trade Talk Tuesday: Xander Bogaerts

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The Red Sox recently signed star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, and while he says that he’s willing to play anywhere, and analysts no longer view him as a shortstop, and he’s now expected to play left field, things can always change. Han-Ram has been viewed as a shortstop his whole career, and a pretty darn good one at that. If they get an offer that they like, it seems likely that the Sox would be willing to trade Xander Bogaerts and play Hanley at the position he’s most comfortable with. While trading Bogaerts isn’t a priority for them, it is expected that Boston will listen to offers for the star prospect shortstop. It’s likely that they’d have to acquire at least one pitcher that would slot near the front or middle of their starting rotation.

The Mets need for a shortstop and their surplus of pitching has been cited in nearly all of our previous “Trade Talk Tuesdays”. The basic overview is no different in this case. Bogaert’s would be a great fit to start at short in Flushing, and the Mets are looking to trade at least one of their starting pitchers.

With the Sox potential willingness to move Bogaerts, and the Mets possession of plenty of talent at starting pitcher, it seems as though these two teams would be more than able to get a deal done.

However, due to Bogaerts high prospect ranking, and the Red Sox apparently wanting to trade Yoenis Cespedes, a third team may have to come into play. The Cincinnati Reds would be a perfect team to fit that role, what with their weak left field position and strong starting rotation.

Here’s my proposal:

Mets get: Sean Marshall, Xander Bogaerts
Reds get:
Yoenis Cespedes, cash from New York
Red Sox get: 
Jon Niese, Mat Latos

This blockbuster trade seems as though it’d make sense for all involved parties…

The Reds benefit by letting go of two contracts that are set to expire within the next two years (one for Marshall, two for Latos). While these are both very good pitchers, they can become expendable with the right price. Letting go of Latos clears up a rotational spot for their top prospect, starting pitcher Robert Stephenson. Also, moving on from Marshall frees up a lot of cap space. Losing Marshall doesn’t affect the bullpen that much, as the Reds’ “pen” is quite deep.

Addition-wise, the Reds adding Yoenis Cespedes in left field is huge. Cespedes, Billy Hamilton, and Jay Bruce could form a lethal outfield trio for years to come. Cespedes is a terrific hitter and fielder, so he would be a tremendous upgrade over Skip Schumacher at this position, on both sides of the ball. He would be a game-changer, and could potentially push the Reds into the playoff discussion.

The Red Sox acquire two front-of-the-line starting pitchers for the price of two semi-expendable players. Yes, Cespedes and Bogaerts are good, but with the increasing depth of this lineup, their placements have come under question. Latos and Niese would slot as their first and third starting pitchers, respectively, giving the pitching staff an immediate boost. If they were then able to sign Jon Lester, this pitching rotation would go from pretty terrible to really good in a matter of weeks, if not days.

Finally, the Mets adding Sean Marshall and Xander Bogaerts would be tremendous, as they would fill their two biggest needs at the moment. The Mets are in need of a viable left-handed relief pitcher, and Marshall fits that bill perfectly. And of course, the Mets need a shortstop, and Bogaerts is just the right guy.

Let’s take a closer look at young Xander Bogaerts: he has good power, great speed, a fluid swing, can hit for a nice average, and is quite a good fielder. He’s also only 22 year old. All of those skills are what the Mets would be looking for out of an everyday shortstop, and he’s got all of them.

Check out what the Mets positional lineup would look like:

C: Travis d’Arnaud
1B: Lucas Duda

2B: Daniel Murphy
3B: David Wright
SS: Xander Bogaerts
LF: Curtis Granderson
CF: Juan Lagares
RF: Michael Cuddyer

That is, without a doubt, a massive improvement over the lineup that we have today, and if all of these guys pan out, the Mets would be looking at October baseball.

Let me know what you think about this potential trade in the COMMENT section! Would the Red Sox do it? Would the Reds? Should the Mets do it? Does this make the Mets a playoff team?

Josh Donaldson Traded to Toronto Blue Jays

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All-Star Third Baseman Josh Donaldson has been traded by the Oakland A’s to the Toronto Blue Jays. The deal was a 4-1 trade. Toronto gave up Brett Lawrie and three prospects: Sean Nolin, Kendall Graveman, and Franklin Barreto.

The addition of superstar Josh Donaldson, who is just as good a fielder as he is a hitter, is the second huge acquisition that the Blue Jays have made thus far this offseason (see: Russell Martin). Adding Donaldson at third base elevates the Blue Jays tremendously on both sides of the ball. They still have two major weaknesses and one minor one with Kevin Pillar in LF, Dalton Pompey in CF, and Ryan Goins at 2B, respectively. If they can solve as many as two of those weak spots, they’d be in a position to be a playoff contender in the AL East.

Brett Lawrie is the only proven MLB talent that Oakland receives in this deal. He was the 40th best prospect in the MLB in 2010, and as a result, became a fixture in the Jays’ starting lineup upon first being called up in late-2011. He still has tremendous potential, as he is a solid power hitter, has an abundance of speed, and is quite a good fielder, but there has been one thing that has consistently put a damper on his career progress: injuries. He’s only 24, and yet, the most games that he’s played in a season was 125 in 2012. If he can stay healthy, Lawrie has a huge upside for the A’s.

Sean Nolin, Kendall Graveman, and particularly Franklin Barreto all seem to be important prospects for the A’s going forward. Nolin, a southpaw, and Graveman, a righty, are both starting pitchers that are expected to be MLB-ready by this coming season. Barreto, a shortstop, slots as the A’s third best prospect. His great speed and above-average fielding ability are enough to make Billy Beane and his cronies salivate with excitement.

Sources are saying that the Oakland A’s aren’t done making blockbuster deals. Jeff Samardzija, who they acquired from the Cubs in a blockbuster deal last summer, looks like he could be on the way out. Some rumors say that he’s on the verge of being traded to the Chicago White Sox, while others are saying that he may be sent to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Justin Upton and Evan Gattis. Whatever the deal is, the A’s are going to make another trade, and in all likelihood, Jeff Samardzija will be the centerpiece.

Trade Talk Tuesday: Offseason Blueprint Edition

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Usually, Trade Talk Tuesday consists of me laying out a potential trade and explaining the logic behind it.

However, due to the offseason moving along swiftly, the model for this weekly post will be modified. Every so often, I will post an Offseason Blueprint Edition of Trade Talk Tuesday…

Here’s a blueprint for the Mets Offseason:

Sign Yoan Moncada
Yoan Moncada is another Cuban teenage sensation, who has recently been declared an MLB free agent. Moncada is a switch-hitter who possesses great speed and power, and can also hit for a very good average. He has even drawn comparisons to LA Dodgers’ superstar, Yasiel Puig. The 19 year old phenom can play anywhere in the infield, including at shortstop, which is of course a major area of need for the Mets. Rather than trading a lot of young talent away for a star shortstop like Starlin Castro, Troy Tulowitzki, or Alexei Ramirez, the Mets can acquire Moncada without giving up any assets. Adding him to the lineup at shortstop would greatly benefit the Mets, and likely make them a bona fide playoff contender.

Sign Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller was a shutdown reliever with the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles last offseason. As a free agent, he’s expected to receive the biggest contract for a relief pitcher with no closing experience in MLB history. He’s also a southpaw, and the Mets are in serious need of a left-handed reliever, otherwise they’d end up overworking Josh Edgin tremendously. With Miller added, the Mets bullpen would be one of the best in the league, with 4 very good relief pitchers (Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, Bobby Parnell, Andrew Miller). While he is fielding interest from many teams, the Mets should use their resource and location to beat out the competition and lure Miller to Citi Field.

Sign Jonny Gomes
The Mets are in need of a backup corner outfielder, and Gomes fits the bill, The 12-year veteran would solidify the Mets bench. He is a very good leader, and has a playoff (and World Series) experience. He’s also known as one of the best hustle players in the MLB. Gomes could fill in for Michael Cuddyer in the outfield when Cuddyer fills in for Lucas Duda at first base against left-handed pitching. Due to his intangibles and his level of play, Gomes would be a perfect fit for the Mets final bench position.

What do YOU think about the plan that I laid out? Did I miss anything? Do you disagree with anything?

Share your RESPONSES in the COMMENT section!

Red Sox Sign Hanley Ramirez & Pablo Sandoval

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Earlier today, the Red Sox signed two All-Star infielders: Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.

Hanley Ramirez’s deal was first reported by Ken Rosenthal, who also reported the terms of Ramirez’s deal. Ramirez is a former Red Sox prospect who was eventually traded to the Florida Marlins in 2005 for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. Ramirez, normally a shortstop who also has limited experience at third base, has been emphatic about his willingness to “play anywhere” on the diamond. With top prospect Xander Bogaerts in line to play shortstop for Boston, it looks as though Hanley may be making a move to the outfield. However, if Han-Ram ends up staying at shortstop, Bogaerts could be on the way out.

Pablo Sandoval, AKA Kung Fu Panda, is coming off a record setting posteason with the San Francisco Giants, which culminated in a World Series victory. After Will Middlebrooks struggled mightily at third base this past season, change was imminent. And with one of the premier third basemen in the league, Pablo Sandoval, available as a free agent, all signs pointed to him moving to Boston.

This deadly duo adds to an already powerful Red Sox lineup that can only get better as the offseason continues.

Today in Baseball: Boston Just Got a WHOLE Lot Better

Hanley Ramirez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Late last night, we found out that Hanley Ramirez was flying into Boston to finalize a deal with the Red Sox. At about 1 PM ET on today, November 24th, this rumor was confirmed- Hanley signed with the Red Sox for four years, $88 million.

Then, at about 7 AM ET this morning, Jon Heyman tweeted that Pablo Sandoval would be headed to Boston as well….

During the course of about six hours, the Red Sox went from being a mediocre team coming off a 91-loss season to a bona fide World Series contender.

These two guys have been absolutely phenomenal in recent years. Let’s check out what these two combine to have accomplished thus far in the MLB…

  • 17 years of MLB service (Ramirez-10, Sandoval-7)
  • 5 All-Star Game appearances (Ramirez-3, Sandoval-2)
  • 3 World Series wins (Ramirez-0, Sandoval-3)
  • 2,349 hits (Ramirez-1403, Sandoval-946)
  • 297 home runs (Ramirez-191, Sandoval-106)
  • And much, much more….

The Red Sox positional lineup is now as follows:

C: Christian Vazquez
1B: Mike Napoli
2B: Dustin Pedroia
3B: Pablo Sandoval
SS: Hanley Ramirez (*he may end up moving to outfield in order to keep Xander Bogaerts in the lineup)
LF: Yoenis Cespedes
CF: Rusney Castillo
RF: Shane Victorino
DH: David Ortiz

That team has insane levels of power, especially considering that they’re playing in Fenway Park, one of, if not the, most hitter-friendly ballparks in the MLB.

Boston still has a lot of cap space, and a lot of young assets, so it seems as though these two moves aren’t the only high-profile ones that the Red Sox will make this offseason. Maybe they bring back Jon Lester… Maybe they trade Xander Bogaerts and other prospects for Cole Hamels…

Whether or not the Red Sox are done making moves remains to be seen, but today, we know that the Red Sox will, once again, be serious competitors in the American League.

Will they go from Worst-to-First again? COMMENT your answer to this question and YOUR RESPONSE to these moves as a whole!

Ike Davis Traded to the Oakland A’s

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Former Met Ike Davis has been traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Oakland A’s. Davis was traded by the Mets to the Pirates in April for two low-end prospects.

The Pirates designated Davis for assignment earlier this week, in order to clear room for their top prospect, pitcher Jameson Taillon, on their 40-man roster.

SF Chronicle’s Susan Susser first reported this deal. The Pirates received international slot money in exchange for Davis.

With Ike Davis gone, all indications point to Pedro Alvarez, who was an All-Star in 2013 but struggled in 2014, moving to first base.

Trade Talk Tuesday: Alexei Ramirez

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The Chicago White Sox were, as a whole, a pretty woeful bunch last season. There were three exceptions to this lack of success- Jose Abreu, Chris Sale, and Alexei Ramirez. Abreu won Rookie of the Year, Sale is a finalist for Cy Young, and Ramirez earned a Silver Slugger award. Aside from Chris Sale, the team’s starting rotation is lackluster, and definitely won’t do the job in the coming years. The White Sox clearly have tremendous needs all over the diamond, however mainly with the pitching staff, and as a result, it seems as though they’re open to trading Alexei Ramirez.