Posts Tagged ‘Pirates’

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Now that we’ve seen all of the negatives of the Alex Rodriguez story, lets look at the positive to come out of this ruling. The New York Yankees have reclaimed the $25 million salary that they were supposed to pay Rodriguez and are now free to spend it however they please. With that in mind, here are three ways the Yankees could decide to use that money that would benefit them.

 

It is no secret that Yankees are well below the championship caliber team that fans expect. They (officially) no longer have a starting third baseman, Mark Texeira is returning after missing the entire 2013 season, and Derek Jeter is a shell of his former self.  With all that being said, the number one thing the Yankees need right now is starting pitching. CC Sabathia struggled mightily last year, finishing with a 14-13 record and a career high ERA of 4.78. In addition, Ivan Nova was up and down all of last year and Hiroki Kuroda is 38 and also lost some of his momentum in the second half of last year. To make matters worse, the Yankees don’t even have a set #4 and #5 pitcher right now. Now they can look at this two ways.

The first way to look at this is to go for the big splash (in true George fashion) and sign Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. In 28 starts last season, the former Rakuten Golden Eagle went an astounding 24-0 with and ERA of 1.27. At only 24 years old, Tanaka has the potential to be the Yankees number one starter going forward. However, Tanaka does not come without risk. As the Yankees know, a lot of Japanese pitchers have struggled with their transition to the MLB. Daisuke Matzusaka, Hideki Irabu, and Kei Igawa are all perfect examples of that. Of course that doesn’t mean that Tanaka will not be the next Yu Darvish, it just means that he could also be the next Hideki Irabu.

If the Yankees decide against the Japanese star, they definitely have other things they can do with that money. One hypothetical scenario would be bringing in a solid starting pitcher with a solid relief pitcher for a total of less money than Tanaka would cost. Two starters that are immediately available are Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez. Both have struggled in the past couple of years and are both likely to command no longer than two-year contracts. Garza in particular, with a career ERA of 3.84, but past AL east experience with his time with the Rays, would cost only around 8-12 million on a year for a short amount of time. With no need for commitment, either of these pitchers can be a good temporary fix to the starting pitcher problem.

As far as the relief pitchers, there is once again a decent crop of short contract players available. Grant Balfour, Fernando Rodney, and Fransisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez could all be had on 1-2 year contracts for about $12 million. These would all be good temporary players for the Yankees to have if they want to make a chase for the playoffs.

Now this third option may scare most Yankee fans. I is a terrifying notion that will be a new concept to those who love the pinstripes. Save the money. The 2015 free agent market is going to be filled with significantly better crops. Asdrubal Cabrera, Chase Headley, Max Scherzer, and James Shield will be highly coveted players who would fit the Yankees perfectly. Not spending money this year will all but guarantee no playoffs this year, but it may be worth it in the long hall.

What should the Yankees do? Go after Tanaka? Get some short-term player? Maybe save the Money? Let us know what you think it s comments.

The Major League’s offseason is still going on, and Masahiro Tanaka is still singlehandedly plugging up the pitcher’s market. But lots has been done over the last few weeks, and we are going to check out which teams improved, and which teams took a step back.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Their 3-team deal with the White Sox and Angels landed them Mark Trumbo, who is little more than a power hitter, and a later deal brought in Addison Reed, who is an effective late innings pitcher. The cost was very high, as they traded prospects Adam Eaton and Tyler Skaggs to Chicago and Anaheim respectively. The question is, did it improve the team’s chance to win games? I don’t think it’s a step in the right direction, but it didn’t really hurt the team. Trending: Neutral

Atlanta Braves – They have been relatively quiet over the offseason, but they lost 2 of their key pieces in Tim Hudson to the Giants and Brian McCann to the Yankees. Their only acquisition worth mentioning is Gavin Floyd. They probably resigned themselves to losing both of those pieces, but it didn’t do much damage to them, with catcher Evan Gattis still on the roster. Trending: Neutral

Baltimore Orioles – The O’s roster took a few shake-ups the last couple of months, trading closer Jim Johnson to Oakland for Jemile Weeks, but most of the moves involved players leaving Baltimore. Nate McLouth went to Washington, Scott Feldman to Houston, and Michael Morse to San Francisco. I have to believe that next year will be tough for the O’s, with impending free agents Matt Wieters and Chris Davis to worry about. Trending: Down

Boston Red Sox – It’s tough to improve on a championship run, especially when one of your star players leaves to a rival team (understatement of the year). Jacoby Ellsbury was one of the most shocking moves of the year, going to the Yankees for 7 years. They also changed their catcher from Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Miami) to now another long last name, in A.J. Pierzynski. They didn’t improve, but they didn’t decline either. Trending: Neutral

Chicago Cubs – The Lovable Losers so far made a bunch of minor acquisitions, such as OF Justin Ruggiano and Casper Wells, C George Kottaras, and RP Jose Veras. They are also one of the big players in Tanaka, but that doesn’t mean they have him. Their farm system is loaded with talent, so big name free agents aren’t hugely important. But, I have to believe they will be on the rise soon, with or without Tanaka. Trending: Up

Chicago White Sox – The South-Siders were busy this offseason, picking up guys like 1B Jose Abreu (Cuba), and Mark Eaton. They did lose a couple of young arms, but they took a nice step in the rebuilding saga, trying to bring back competitiveness they had years ago. Trending: Up

Cincinnati Reds – They knew they were going to lose OF Shin-Soo Choo (Texas), and they have a serviceable lead-off replacement in Billy Hamilton AKA Speedy Gonzalez. They also lost starting C Ryan Hanigan (Tampa). They still have a great roster loaded with talent, and I don’t see them losing ground in the NL Central anytime soon. Trending: Neutral

Cleveland Indians – They signed a bunch of smaller contracts, notably OF David Murphy and RP John Axford, but they lost a ton of their effective bullpen, with Joe Smith, Clay Rapada (both Anaheim), and Chris Perez (other L.A. team) all leaving. Also, Scott Kazmir, their low-risk, high reward starter is gone to Oakland. It’s not going to be easy to keep up the level of competition in Rock City. Trending: Down

Colorado Rockies – They made a ton of signings: 1B Justin Morneau, OF’s Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes, and pitchers LaTroy Hawkins, Franklin Morales, Boone Logan, and Brett Anderson. Their only key loss was OF Dexter Fowler, in the trade with Houston for Barnes and Jordan Lyles. They vastly improved their pitching, and their offense should be able to help that as well. Trending: Up

Detroit Tigers – The Tigers were extremely busy. They signed OF Rajai Davis and closer Joe Nathan, and traded for Ian Kinsler and Steve Lombardozzi. But the list of key losses is massive (not because of a certain 1B): IF Omar Infante (KC), RP Joaquin Benoit (SD), IF/OF Jhonny Peralta (STL), 1B Prince Fielder (TEX), and SP Doug Fister (WAS). They were trying to clear salary and they did. But it came at a massive cost. Trending: Neutral

Houston Astros – It’s hard for them to decline, with 3 straight 100-loss seasons. They made a bunch of small acquisitions at little cost, like OF Dexter Fowler, 1B Jesus Guzman, P’s Scott Feldman, Chad Qualls, Matt Albers and Peter Moylan. They have improved, but most of their improvement is on the way still. Trending: Up

Kansas City Royals – Building on a great season in Royal standards last year, they’ve made some improvements to their roster for this year. IF Omar Infante for 4 years was the biggest move, which included OF Norichika Aoki and SP Jason Vargas. There is still word that they might deal DH Billy Butler, but it hasn’t happened yet, and seems to not be happening at all. Still, these guys should be the main contestants to the Tigers in the AL Central. Trending: Up

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Of course losing 1B Mark Trumbo is big, but they got a great return on all their moves this offseason. They picked up 3B David Freese, and SP Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs, plus DH Raul Ibanez, if for no other reason but to hit home runs. They still have too much tied into Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, so it’s tough for them to really do much else. Trending: Neutral

Los Angeles Dodgers – Most of their offseason was spent shopping (or not shopping) Matt Kemp, and resigning their players. They did pick up SP Dan Haren, to further improve a dynamite rotation, and RP Chris Perez to help the bullpen. As far as quiet offseasons go, however, the Dodgers found all the squeaky floorboards. Trending: Neutral

Miami Marlins – Their big fish (hehe pun) was C Jarrod Saltalamacchia for 3 years, and they also picked up 1B Garret Jones, while losing Justin Ruggiano (CHC) and Logan Morrison (SEA) from their outfield. Remember when I said it’s hard not to improve on nothing? The Marlins managed that. Trending: Neutral

Milwaukee Brewers – You’ll see pretty much the same Crew next year, minus Nori Aoki (KC). OF Corey Hart signed with Seattle, making that the only news in the offseason regarding the Brewers. Trending: Neutral

Minnesota Twins – They have vastly improved their rotation, from pretty much Samuel Deduno, to now include Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. Also, they picked up C Kurt Suzuki to work with them. They seem to still be in the market for some more pitching, and it still will improve their staff. Trending: Up

New York Mets – The Mets made 3 signings, OF Curtis Granderson and Chris Young, and SP Bartolo Colon. 2 guys who will average somewhere between .220 and .240, and giving Colon a guaranteed year make me scratch my head, but anything is an improvement for the Amazin’s. Trending: Up

New York Yankees – My firm belief is that building a team can’t be from just free agents. I guess my philosophy isn’t the same as the Bombers. They brought in C Brian McCann, and OF Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, and lost 2B Robinson Cano (SEA), OF Curtis Granderson (NYM), and P’s Phil Hughes (MIN), Boone Logan (COL),  Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera (retirement). Spending money isn’t the only way to improve this “team”. They need to clear the table and start over. Which in Yankee-land, is impossible. Trending: Down

Oakland Athletics – GM Billy Beane is always wheeling and dealing. This time, he got closer Jim Johnson, SP Scott Kazmir and Drew Pomeranz, and OF Craig Gentry. They lost a decent amount of players, like OF Seth Smith (SD) and Michael Choice (TEX), 2B Jemile Weeks (BAL), P Brett Anderson (COL), Bartolo Colon (NYM), and Jerry Blevins (WSH). Beane has something up his sleeves, as always, and the A’s will probably contend, like always. Trending: Neutral

Philadelphia Phillies – The Fightin’ Phils didn’t do much this offseason, signing just OF Marlon Byrd and SP Roberto Hernandez (Fausto Carmona) among others. Seems like they are standing pat with what they have, for the most part, even though they are older and falling apart. Supposedly SP Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are on the trade market. I doubt, however, that either will be moved. Trending: Down

Pittsburgh Pirates – Everyone’s new favorite team made noise in October, but not so much after. They lost a couple of pieces in 1B’s Justin Morneau (COL) and Garret Jones (MIA), along with platoon man Marlon Byrd to Philly. They gave a flyer to Edinson Volquez, and for the most part kept what they had, which isn’t a bad move. They are still dangerous, and will probably be contenders for the NL Central for the next few years. Trending: Up

San Diego Padres – They didn’t lose a ton of names, because they didn’t have many names beforehand. But they brought in a couple in OF Seth Smith and P’s Josh Johnson and Joaquin Benoit. The Friars still have a long way to go before getting back on track, however. Trending: Neutral

San Francisco Giants – Their only to additions/losses were adding OF Michael Morse and SP Tim Hudson, in the hopes of last year being a fluke. Not a bad idea, but you would think that a losing record the year after winning the Series would set off some alarms. Trending: Neutral

Seattle Mariners – The M’s got the top guy on the market, signing 2B Robinson Cano away from the Yankees for 10 years, gobs of dough, and a beard. They also picked up OF’s Logan Morrison and Corey Hart, and are top players for OF Nelson Cruz and SP Masahiro Tanaka. They are making alot of noise, and with a purpose. Look for them to continue. Trending: Up

St. Louis Cardinals – The Redbirds made a trade with the Angels, picking up OF Peter Bourjos for 3B David Freese, and signed 2B Mark Ellis, and OF Jhonny Peralta. They also lost closer Edward Mujica (BOS) and OF Carlos Beltran (NYY). Tough to say they made the right moves, but the Cards usually know what they are doing, so trust them. Trending: Neutral

Tampa Bay Rays  – The Rays made a couple of moves, mostly resigning. They did manage to bring in C Ryan Hanigan and RP Heath Bell. Some minor pieces left, but it’ll still be the same Rays you’ll see, being pesky and run-by-Joe-Maddon-y as ever. Trending: Neutral

Texas Rangers – Their 2 big splashes of 1B Prince Fielder (not a fat joke) and OF Shin-Soo Choo were very good for the Rangers, who lost a bunch of pieces like C A.J. Pierzynski to Boston (who they replaced with another initials guy J.P. Arencibia), 2B Ian Kinsler and CP Joe Nathan to Detroit, and OF David Murphy to Cleveland. They still have some pitching questions, but their offense will be dynamic next season. Trending: Up

Toronto Blue Jays – After last season’s trade for the Marlins, the Jays didn’t do much this offseason, besides wave goodbye to Josh Johnson (SD) and Rajai Davis (DET). That being said, them doing nothing won’t help them in the AL East. They are still well behind the other 4 teams. Trending: Down

Washington Nationals – The Nats brought in SP Doug Fister to bolster an already outstanding rotation, and Nate McLouth to platoon in the outfield. They lost just Dan Haren (LAD) and Steve Lombardozzi (DET), which they are completely ok with. They are a team on the rise, and a bump in the road last year won’t prevent them from being dangerous this year around. Trending: Up

There are still tons of moves still to come, as pitchers and catchers report in 2 months. Until then, Happy New Years!

 

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Before you read this ensuing article, you should know a couple of things. Firstly, I will admit that I am an Arizona Diamondbacks fan. But secondly, you should also know that I am writing this as a baseball fan, not a disgruntled Diamondbacks fan. I have had the same core view on MVP in the never-ending controversy of “what does value mean” for as long as I can remember. So without any further delay, here is why Paul Goldschmidt should have won the NL MVP award over Andrew McCutchen.

Silver Slugger. Gold Glove. Hank Aaron Award for best offensive player in the entire National League. League leader in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, on base plus slugging, extra base hits, total bases, and numerous sabermetric stats. Sounds like an MVP, right? Actually those are just some of the accolades Paul Goldschmidt accumulated over the 2013 season. This amounted to a total of zero 1st-place MVP votes. Zero.

Goldschmidt did it all at the plate this year. Besides for leading the league in the categories above, he hit .302/.401/.551/.952 with 36 home runs and 125 RBI. He even led all 1B in stolen bases with 15. Maybe his shortcomings came from not being a clutch hitter? Think again. He led the league in go-ahead RBI with 37, game-winning RBI with 19, go-ahead home runs with 20 (4 more than any other player), home runs after the 8th inning with 7, and walk-off home runs with 3. And for the new-age statisticians, he was 3rd in the league this year in WAR, wins-above-replacement, with 7.1, and led the league in win-probability-added with 6.91.

Okay, maybe his deficiencies are in the field. Nope, try again. He trailed only C Russell Martin and 1B Todd Helton in fielding percentage with a stellar .997. And Helton played 50 fewer games that Goldschmidt. This was rewarded with his first career Gold Glove award.

So how could a player of this caliber not receive a single 1st-place MVP vote, let alone win the MVP award? In short; because his teammates weren’t as good as Andrew McCutchen’s. As illogical as that seems, it’s basically true. The Pirates making the playoffs and the Diamondbacks missing the playoffs is the reason why McCutchen won and Goldschmidt lost.

Team record plays a major role in determining the MVP. The debate over what defines value has been around for decades, and has been argued yearly, including last year in the AL when Mike Trout had arguably a better statistical year than Miguel Cabrera, but Cabrera’s team made it into the playoffs. Should team record play a part in determining the MVP? Yes. But should it to the extent it does now? Plain and simple, no. In 2011, a player with a batting line of .289/.369/.529/.898 with 31 homeruns and just 88 RBI came in 4th place in the NL MVP ballot. Seems like a stretch to call this player an MVP, right? Well that player was former Diamondbacks RF Justin Upton. So why did he get a first place vote and come in 4th overall with a solid but undoubtedly non-MVP-caliber statistical year? Because the Diamondbacks made the playoffs.

McCutchen didn’t even really “lead” the Pirates to the playoffs. His line of .317/.404/ .508/.911 with 21 home runs and 84 RBI is undoubtedly impressive, but it didn’t carry the team. The pitching did. The Pirates were 3rd in the MLB in team ERA, 2nd in opposing batting average, and 2nd in saves. Whereas the Diamondbacks were near the bottom of the league in those respective categories. So Goldschmidt is less valuable because Trevor Cahill and JJ Putz are on the mound instead of Francisco Liriano and Jason Grilli?

If the Diamondbacks had blown as many saves, 20, as the Cardinals, only 13th most in MLB, instead of 29, tied for 1st, they’d make the playoffs. And that probably vaults Goldschmidt into 1st place for MVP. If the Diamondbacks Take David Hernandez & JJ Putz out of 8th & 9th inning and put in Trevor Rosenthal & Edward Mujica, the MLB is saying that’s the difference between Goldschmidt being MVP or not? That’s not even putting Heath Bell’s statistics into account.

I know the Pirates making the playoffs for the first time since 1992 is a nice story and all, but that should bear absolutely no impact on the current MVP race. Crediting a player now for the shortcomings of players that played before McCutchen was even drafted would be absurd.

I may be a Diamondbacks fan but I am presenting only facts. At the end of the day, should team record impact the choice for MVP? Sure. But should the shortcomings of a player’s teammates discredit that player’s statistics, even if they are superior to his competitor? No. But this is just part of the never-ending debate of what value is. So what is value? You decide, because the Baseball Writers Association of America sure doesn’t know.